Winter is with us again. Those sunny days of Autumn are gone. No more lazing around in shorts and T shirts, it’s back to fleece jackets and beanies.
We have been travelling for a couple of months, paddling sea kayaks, bush walking and riding mountain bikes as well as some photography sessions. If you missed the sea kayak article it’s here and bike riding in the northern Flinders Ranges is here.
Our latest attempts in photography try to capture the landscape in a more abstract way . What do you think ?
Back home for a while I drag out the playboat and head out for a short session.
The beach is deserted except for a couple of dogs chasing a ball. No one else in the water today, probably because it’s chilly and only us retirees get “Fridays free time”. The swell has also deserted the beach but I still manage a few rides and get my head wet.
I find Steve (King of England) had the same idea and was already on the waves.
Robyn managed to get some video of the small wave session. We enjoyed our first winter session and hope to fit in many more between sea kayaking, mountain biking and coffee and croissants.
I never saw Spring. Maybe it had more pressing engagements elsewhere. None of those lovely Spring days with the sun shining and the temperature starting to show signs of what’s to come. No watching warm red sunsets with a favourite beverage. No sunburnt nose from forgotten sunscreen. No need to check your kayak for spiders lurking under the seat. No need to have a hat for every occasion.
None of that. We had water. Not the type you paddle on, but the type that comes in bucket loads, drenching everything and everyone. The type that causes massive flooding river systems, inundates whole towns and livelihoods. With the rain comes the wind; howling, screaming, terrorising wind that wipes out all in it’s path.
Luck was on our side as we sheltered from flooding rains in the Australian “outback”. We reached a bitumen road that headed south towards home, our path flooded in many places. I had the kayak on the car roof but fortunately the creek systems fell just as quickly as they rose.
Summer was closing fast and finally a small Spring weather window opened. Not enough time to get in any substantial sea kayaking journeys but long enough to fit in a little surf play.
Summer will come, the waves will be clean and uncrowded, the sea kayaking perfect with pods of dolphins, the water crystal clear for snorkeling and the mountain bike tracks dry, running smooth and fast.
Dreams are free. In reality I take every FUN I wave I can and here’s a few I took today before the wind reappeared
I stretched forward and flipped the spraydeck over the coaming and checked the fit all-round. How many times have I done that I wonder. Thousands of times, tens of thousands of times or more; I try a quick calculation in my head and I’m immediately hit with a searing “ice cream headache”, not from the mental gymnastics but from a wave that snuck up and pounded my head.
It’s been with me a while now, this kayaking thing. From the 1970’s when I started in river touring kayaks and graduated into just about every discipline of the sport. I have been a competitor of sorts, mainly thinking of myself as someone that “made up the numbers ” due to my lack of training time, or more likely ability.
One thing remains the same; Surf Kayaking. I loved it from the first time I took a river touring kayak out through the break and ran down a small wave. Lots changed in that time both in kayak shapes and equipment. Does anyone remember the Johnson Surf Shoe (kayak) or Valley Moccasin ? I owned both as well as an Australian designed Rosco Phase 3 Kayak and locally made Olymp 75 kayak.
Back from meandering through the past I paddled out into a freezing morning to test out my latest kayak, a Jackson Rockstar V. I jumped a dumping wave and stayed upright whilst pulling a couple of 360 spins followed by a long backsurf. The next couple of waves were not so glorious, ending in a sound dumping as I tried a forward loop. The kayak felt great and will be better with a few minor seat adjustments.
Here’s a flat spin sequence. I promise to try it on bigger waves next time !
I found another kayaker (Steve) grabbing a few icy waves as well.
Here comes another 360 spin on a small wave and then back surf.
We bounced around in the waves until my body was near frozen then grabbed that last wave to shore.
Back on shore and suitably warmed with coffee and cake I checked out a couple of archive boxes I had seen in my shed. Sure enough amongst the certificates and other stuff was an article written about our early Surf Kayaking in a magazine SA Canoeing 83.
I scanned some pages below and I remember the two people who produced it. Phil Read who wrote the surf article Noel McPharlin who took the surf photos using a Nikanos waterproof film camera
Yep I was there on another page as the first Secretary of Canoe Polo Committee that started a pool competition in June 1982. It seems a lifetime ago, probably because it was, and it meant that kayaks would become my recreation and occupation. Anyway, have a look at pages from that era.
Bumper Boats, Dodgem Cars and the Ghost Train were my favourite rides as a kid. Whenever there was a show or fair in town I was there looking for excitement and spending my money on rides, hot dogs and fairy floss. As I got a little older I still rode the Bumper Boats but often got kicked off for “rough play” and my fascination with the Ghost Train drifted towards the scantily clad girls on the high trapeze.
Times change but somethings stay the same. Hot Dogs were out and Falafel Rolls are in, and the Ghost Train is no longer scary, but I still get that Bumper Boat feeling every time I hit the surf.
The wind had dropped and the offshore wave recorder showed some activity, although the glassy waves were not as large as we hoped, but still provided some Monday Bumper Boat action.
It was a beautiful morning with a nice mob of paddlers and bound to be repeated soon.
The Witches Wind has been blowing relentlessly for weeks. The Witches reside in the East and blow across the Peninsula reeking havoc on the sea swell. At the bottom of the Peninsula they sweep across the swell making it choppy and confused and further up the Gulf they blow strong from the land, flattening any waves.
The Witches are not good for sea kayakers, causing a confused, often angry sea and certainly no good for surf kayakers chasing a wave.
The weather forecast came in. East winds below 10 knots and a small clean surf on the local beach. ACTION STATIONS. Load up my new Jackson Kayak Rockstar playboat and get there. Steve (King of England) was also on it. The swell was small but the water was crystal clear and warm enough to entice a number of rolls and other frivolity.
There were a few small peelers to be had.
I saw a flash of white break the surface nearby but luckily it was just a swimmer out for the first sunny day. No tan and lots of white flesh. Steve had a lunch appointment so he called it a day.
Then to prove it was “Almost Summer” I heard the “wump wump wump” of a helicopter overhead and the wail of a siren. Yep, you guessed it Shark Alert.
Public #SharkReport: SA – NEAR OCHRE POINT AT MOANA BEACH . 10:30, 28 Nov 21, 4m, White Shark, Aerial Survelliance → Report to Shark Watch. Helicopter pilot has seen a large 4 – 5m White Shark very close to shore (between 10 – 20m offshore) while flying over Moana Beach near Ochre Point. The Shark was seen close to surfers and it’s movement could not be established.
Oh well it made for a nice finish to the session, sitting on the beach, drinking coffee and watching everyone called to action stations. It’s almost Summer.
Many borders are closed and COVID is loose in several states across Australia so our only safe holiday choice was to stay in South Australia. Our first adventure was to clock up some mountain bike kilometres in the north Flinders Ranges with a couple of friends.
The weather was warm, the wind less than friendly but we still managed to travel loops on the Mawson Trail as well as other less travelled routes. Add in a hot day walking in the Aroona Valley, visiting the Blinman Hotel “the pub in the scrub” and we had a week of fun sorted.
The winds were still unfriendly when we left the North Flinders area and headed to the edge of the Nullabor plain to visit the iconic surf break of Cactus Beach. The surf was blown out by the southerly wind with no surfers out there today or for the next few days.
Where there’s Wind there’s Windmills. The town of Penong is several kilometres inland from the ocean but still has its’ share of wind and windmills. There is even a windmill museum with a number of restored windmills in action. These days they are for show as solar powered pumps have taken over the pumping duties.
My duty was that of photographers assistant, carrying gear and generally keeping out the way. We were in luck as in the late afternoon the wind abated and the giant Comet 35 windmill slowly came to a halt. The local Penong football team was in the grand final next weekend and was having their last training session under full lights at the nearby oval. The field of windmills slowly rotated to face the oval and the lights reflected off their blades.
Our time was running short so we headed back home to Adelaide with the surf forecast there showing signs of good swells. Sadly the swell had eased the day of our arrival and we were greeted by a less than impressive surf break. With the need to get wet I paddled out with Steve to grab what fun we could.
Here’s a 1 minute clip of fun. Thanks for visiting.