Overnight Trip from Wally’s Landing, Finniss River to Currency Creek and Return — 9-10 July 2022

DAY ONE – WALLY’s LANDING

Winds south westerly 0-5knots predicted felt like 8knots. The small group comprised of Simon Langsford, Peter McLeod, Matthew Eldred as trip leader. We gathered at Wally’s landing for the overnight paddle to Currency Creek. Peter was unable to stay the night due to work commitments and would return to the cars after lunch at Clayton Bay. We set off with the new paddle plan in place making our way through the reeds and into the lagoons to disturb the 100s of black swans that call it home.
Wasn’t long before the water ways widened, and we were heading to the Goolwa channel where we would turn left for lunch at clayton bay.

After lunch the team followed the northern bank of Hindmarsh Island protecting us from the southern wind. As this was a small back track west to currency creek, we were able to line Peter up with the Finniss river and send him on his way under sail.

Now there was two. Simon and Matt followed Hindmarsh Island until we reached the eastern bank of Currency creek. Finding camp at around 3:00pm we decided to set up the tents unload the kayaks and have a late afternoon paddle further up Currency creek.

The night-time activities were dinner and telling stories around the camp fire under the cold winter’s night.

DAY TWO – CURRENCY CREEK

Winds Northly 5-10knots predicted and felt like it. A frosty start to the day and the fire was re-ignited to defrost us from the night’s sleep. Camp pack up was quick and on the water by 9am. Today’s route we followed the western banks of Currency creek and around the islands at Goolwa north. Not to trace to much of our path from the day before, we stuck to the opposite sides of the rivers.

The trip was success and Simon is keen to attend again and explore more of the lower lakes.

Matt Eldred

Camping in Finniss River

Four day/three night Murray River backwaters trip in the Riverland — 26 May 2022

The Murray river was flowing strongly, so eight paddlers decided to take advantage of this to do a four day, one-way trip down the river with the current. Thursday morning we dropped off one car at our finishing point at Canoe-The-Riverland, and continued up to the Border Cliffs Campground to start our trip.

Many thanks to Canoe-The-Riverland for allowing us to leave a car at their place for the car shuttle at the end of the trip. They are the experts in the area, run guided kayak tours and have a range of accommodation if you want to explore that part of the country.

Suders Creek

The weather was warm and sunny as we crossed the Murray to find the entrance to Suders creek and get into the backwaters of the Murray. Suders is normally tricky, with a fast current and lots of obstacles, but today it was no problem thanks to the higher water level, and we were soon through it and into Hypurna creek and calmer waters. After regrouping we carried on into Salt Creek, Slaney Creek and into Chowilla Creek, making good time with the current. At the entrance to Pipeclay Creek we called it a day, and found a good place for the evening camp, having done 12 kms.

Monoman Creek and the Dingy Derby

Paddling down Chowilla

Next morning was chilly and foggy, giving the river a surreal atmosphere. After a hot coffee and some breakfast we packed up wet tents and headed out on the river again. We were making good time with the current, so we decided to detour into Monoman Creek, at bit longer and narrower, but also more scenic. This area is normally popular with campers, but with the cold weather and it being a week day, we had the place to ourselves. After re-joining Chowilla Creek, the waters became wider and more sluggish as we approached the Murray River again. I was very confused as we passed under the Chowilla regulator as I remembered it as being a lot larger and more imposing, until I realised that the increased water height had made it seem a lot smaller.

After about 3 km on the Murray main channel we turned into the entrance to Native Box Creek, just after Chowilla Homestead, glad to be back in the narrow secluded backwaters again. We enjoyed a slow paddle down the creek enjoying the scenery, but slightly confused by a large number of big arrows and warning tape fixed to the trees. We set up camp for the night near to the junction with Little Hunchee Creek, and were just starting to relax when we were disturbed by a number of tinnies with large motors rushing past. After some hurried searching on Google we discovered that there was a dingy race the following day, luckily some more searching revealed that we were no longer on the course, and we should be well on our way before the race started the next day. Something to check on for the next trip.

From Big Hunchee to Ral Ral

Cool and misty morning in Chowilla

Next morning was again cool and misty as we paddled down Big Hunchee Creek until we eventually entered RalRal Creek, and the waters narrowed again as we were surrounded by large gum trees. Just before Calperum Station we passed the entrance to Lake Woolpolool and, since the water levels were high, we decided to go in have a look. The lake was full, but unfortunately the waters were not high enough to paddle across the road and into the lake itself, and we had to content ourselves with sitting in the duckweed at the entrance looking over the regulator.

Back on RalRal, we continued ambling down the creek past the gum trees and picking our way through the snags until we reached the Wide Waters section of the river. Here we were treated to a flock of pelicans and the occasional swan taking advantage of the large body of placid, sheltered water. We found the entrance to Nelbuck Creek with no problem thanks to the GPS, and paddled slowly upstream back towards the Murray. We set up camp for the last time a few hundred meters before the Murry, where the creek was still narrow and the gum trees still large.

Horseshoe Lagoon

Next morning we were treated to the sight of a large emu wandering around completely unfazed by us, probably because he was on the opposite side of the creek. Camp was packed up quickly, either due to practice, or the desire to get back to the cars, and we were soon on the Murray heading downstream and looking for the entrance to Horseshoe Lagoon. The waters changed after we entered the lagoon, with gum trees slowly being replaced with reeded banks as we made our way through the maze of channels towards our finishing point at Canoe-The-Riverland.

The drivers were send off to retrieve our cars from the launch point while the rest of us slowly unpacked our kayaks and enjoyed the sun. Kayaks were quickly loaded, and we headed off to the nearest bakery for the customary coffee and pasty.

Map and GPX file

Click in the image below to access the map of the trip and its corresponding GPX file

Chowilla RalRal Map

Loxton Riverfront Holiday Park, Murray River, Katarapko Creek — 14-15 May 2022

The variable weather continued over the weekend and resulted in the Wardang Island paddle with overnight stay on Goose Island being cancelled. However, it was replaced with Plan B, a paddle down Katarapko Creek with more favourable weather. Mark, Abelardo and Hugh joined Phil at Loxton Riverfront Holiday Park on Friday afternoon/evening. We started enjoying a pleasant meal at the Loxton Hotel to plan the weekend’s paddle.

The plan B

The plan was for a relaxing paddle from Loxton Holiday Park upstream to Katarapko Creek’s northern entrance, then back south via the Creek to re-join the main river for a 4km run back upstream to our starting point at the Caravan Park. A nice and simple paddle, no need to waste time with car shuttles.

While a night on Goose Island would have been very pleasant, the banks of the Murray River and Katarapko were a very attractive alternative.

Saturday

Sunset on the Murray

A boat in the Murray

We were up and about just after sunrise on Saturday morning after being serenaded by several kookaburras in the nearby trees. A quick breakfast, then down to the riverside to load the kayaks before leaving the cars back up near reception until our return.

On water about 9.30am and headed upstream into the current – bit stronger than expected so we soon realised we had a solid day’s paddling ahead. We made some sections a bit easier by switching sides to the more protected bank to avoid the worst of the current.

We encountered a range of houseboats along the banks. The most interesting was an unusual vessel called “Kookaburra” that looked like she would be more comfortable at sea than in the river. After a chat with the caretaker we learnt that it originally came from the West Coast with grand plans to be refurbished – as often happens, the job was bigger than the owner expected.

Camping in a sandbar

Decided we’d had enough exercise by 3pm, so started to look for suitable campsites – and just around the next bend we spotted an extensive sandbar we’d checked out during a Bass Strait training paddle in 2020. We were still a few kms short of the northern entrance to Katarapko, but this was too good to resist. We had covered a distance of 22km with an average speed of 4.6km/hr. River flow against us was probably about 3-5km/hr, so not a bad effort.

Wasn’t long before we had our tents erected and we were relaxing, enjoying the evening, with not a skerrick of wind and a promising sunset followed by stars breaking through the cloud cover that we had experienced for most of the day.

Cheese War

We had a perfect evening at our sandbar camp topped off by an unofficial “cheese war” between Mark’s Heysen Blue, Phil’s Haloumi, Hugh’s 18 month old English cheddar and Abelardo’s Manchego …. the edge definitely going to the Manchego and homemade quince paste from the Abelardo. Of course this was matched with a nice Malbec from Bleasdale Winery at Langhorne Creek.

The return

Down Katarapko Creek

Slept well so were back on water just after 9am on Sunday. Beautiful sunny morning at departure. Another 3 km before we reached the northern end of Katarapko. As expected the current was flowing strongly into the creek so all ensured we were careful to avoid any potential “stoppers”. Our speed soon increased as we entered the creek – a much more relaxing days’ paddle compared to the previous day.

Quick stop at our favourite campsite (No 19) to check the weir conditions. The weir looked navigable with the limestone rocks totally covered by water. Soon confirmed this, as the sound of running water we heard overnight was the excessive water flowing over the weir.

After selecting the best path mid-channel, we were soon in white-water conditions but safely over the weir without a scratch on the kayaks – unlike last time! My GPS showed speeds from 5 to 12km/hr in this section.

Most of the campsites were occupied and several people also fishing near The Splash Regulator. Plenty of Whistling Kites circling their nests as we approached their territory – all looking very healthy with the extra water in the system. Even had a friendly emu at water’s edge as we paddled in close.

Surfing

Camping in a sandbar

We had made good time and had paddled 20 km since setting off, so selected a kayak-friendly bank for a lunch break at about 1pm before tackling the river again and heading back upstream to Loxton for the last 4km. The wind had picked up and we were a bit surprised as we entered the main channel and had waves breaking over the kayaks. The last 4km leg upstream was much easier with the tail wind gusting to 15 knots resulting in us catching the occasional wave – who would have thought when paddling the river.

We had covered a distance of 24km for day 2, with an average speed of 5km/hr. 6km against the River flow, so, again not a bad effort. Phil recorded speeds of 8.7km/hr on one of his surfing runs on final leg.

The Debrief

We arrived back at Loxton Riverfront Holiday Park around 2pm covering the 46km over two days in a range of conditions. We collected the cars, packed up, then off to the Highway bakery at Waikerie for a debrief to complete a great weekend. For all those looking forward to Wardang, we anticipate scheduling another trip later in the year.

The Map

Here is the map of the trip and the corresponding GPX file (uploadable to Google Earth or a GPS) .

Murray River: Lindsay Island Circumnavigation — 15-18 April 2022

Settling down

Things didn’t start well. Some of us decided to travel down a day early to avoid the traffic and find a suitable launch and landing spot. We soon discovered that the tracks in the Murray Sunset national Park didn’t match the maps we had, and some of the tracks were blocked due to the high levels of the river. Eventually we managed to find a suitable spot at the mouth of the Mullaroo Creek near the regulator, sent out new directions to the rest of the group, and settled down to wait for them around the campfire.

Next morning, after everyone arrived, we launched into the Murray River above the regulator. The regulators are wonderful for the health of the river but they don’t make life easy for kayakers: it would be virtually impossible to portage a loaded kayak around the regulator.

Toupnein Creek

We made very good progress down the Murray thanks to the strong flow adding 2-3 km/hr to our speed. After a civilized lunch on the lawn at Lock 7, and a chat to the lockmaster as he let us through, we carried on down the Murray to the entrance to Toupnein creek. The creek was also flowing strongly, carrying us between banks lined with magnificent gum trees. We quickly found a lovely site and stopped for the night.

Swim in Kulkurna beach

Next morning we woke up to another perfect day and, after a leisurely breakfast, we packed up camp and drifted down Toupnein creek again until it re-joined the Murray again. We stopped below the Kulkurna Cliffs on a sandy beach for lunch, and took the opportunity for a cooling swim. After lunch we made good time down the Murray, helped along by the current, and took the opportunity to have a look at entrance to Salt Creek, wondering how to organise a trip which would include the Lindsay river and into Salt Creek and from there to Chowilla. Maybe next time.

Lindsay River

From there it was a short paddle past Higgins Cutting to find the entrance to Lindsay River. Luckily this turned out to be wide with not much flow, as from now on it was all upstream! After a few kilometres we found a nice secluded backwater and landed to make camp. Tents were soon put up, wet paddling gear was changed for more comfortable clothes, supper was made and eaten, and the group settled in around the campfire to discuss solutions to the world’s problems.

Day 3 saw everyone packed and ready to leave at 9am, we made good progress up the Lindsay, which was still wide and slow. Eventually we made it to the junction with Mullaroo creek, had a break for lunch and turned up into the Mullaroo. Progress was now a bit slower as the creek was narrower, with a faster current to overcome. It was also more interesting, with lots of twists and turns and fallen trees to navigate past. This kept us occupied until about 3pm, when we called it a day, found a nice campsite and stopped for the night.

Here comes the rain

Peter decided that, since the weather had been so perfect with warm nights and no mosquitoes, he would skip putting up a tent and sleep under the stars. This proved to be tempting fate too much, as a few hours later the clouds rolled in and the first few drops of rain started to fall. After a hurried meal, and an even more hurried putting up of a tent by Peter, everyone skipped the normal evening conversation and had an early night.

Navigating obstacles

It rained lightly but steadily through the night, but luckily cleared up by morning. We were on the water 30 minutes early as everyone had had an early night. We were eager to get going before the rain started again. The creek slowly got narrower and more choked the further we went upstream, but we managed to navigate all the obstacles without having to resort to getting out of the kayaks and dragging: somehow there was always a way around or through the fallen trees. About midday we finally spotted the finish spot with warm dry cars waiting.

Packing back

Kayaks were hurriedly unpacked and loaded onto the cars, carefully trying to avoid getting too much mud into the cars. Everyone now relaxed as the adventure was over, or so we thought. The overnight rain had turned the tracks out of the park into a slippery mess, churned up by all the departing Easter campers. After about 20 kms of frantic sideway sliding, wheel spinning, and steering wheel gripping, we finally made it back onto the sealed road, and then on to Renmark to have the customary bakery stop to swap stories and say goodbyes.

Adelaide Canoe Club General Meeting, The Bartley Hotel — 8 April 2022

Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) General Meetings are back on the agenda. We had  a very successful evening at The Bartley Hotel on Friday (8th Apr). This meeting was particularly special with James and Dayna Fishers joining us as Guest Speakers. It was great to see General Meetings happening again following the interruptions due to COVID.

We had 30 members and family attending. The vibe during the evening was catching and everyone was enthralled to hear about James and Dayna’s successful circumnavigation of Kangaroo Island earlier this year in January.

Paddlers that have done KI circumnavigation

The evening was particularly significant: as well as our most recent kayakers to circumnavigate KI, also present was the first kayaker to circumnavigate the Island, with Peter Carter representing his team of John Hicks, David Nicolson and Mike Higginson. Peter’s team accomplished the circumnavigation in December 1980/Jan 1981, while James and Dayna completed their 12-day trip on Jan 19th 2022. Phil Doddridge also received recognition, having paddled most of the KI coast during his kayaking career. We heard the different ways the trip was researched and conducted, with Peter bringing along one of his original maps and a section of his Nordkapp stern and James talking about his extensive research on google earth and the electronics they used for weather and tidal flow. Peter’s group plan was to “keep the Island on the left”.

It was also great to have three (3) of our new members coming along to soak up the experience and meet other club members. One of the new members, Hugh Macmillan, has hit the ground running having already notched up a Backstairs Passage Crossing in March after recently relocating to Adelaide from San Francisco and joining ACC. We have been very interested hearing from Hugh about his paddling off the Californian Coast while a member of Bay Area Sea Kayaking Club (BASK).

Committee Reports and more

Sunset in KI

We started the evening with brief reports from Committee members before meals were served just after 7pm. The room was a buzz with enthusiastic conversations, and it was great to see everyone enjoying the occasion. About 8pm we introduced James and Dayna and soon became enthralled in the stories of their epic adventure.  We much appreciate James and Dayna giving up their Friday evening to share their adventure. They used PowerPoint slides backed up with stunning photographs to describe their experiences, including the highs and lows.

We heard how James and Dayna were motivated to tackle the trip to help raise funds for an incredible organisation – Operation Flinders, which uses the outdoors to encourage and support young people. Operation Flinders takes participants out of their familiar environment so that they can learn new life skills, hence the determination for James and Dayna to take themselves out of their comfort zone!

They achieved the circumnavigation over 12 days, starting and finishing at Penneshaw (although with a mid-course change from south to north coast due to unfavourable westerly winds) paddling in a clockwise direction covering 380km with 65 hours on water. As well as the paddling achievement, they raised over $3,000 for Operation Flinders – well done, a great success, showing that sea kayaking in South Australia is continuing strongly.

Backstairs Passage

KI circumnavigation

We heard first-hand about the tidal races and standing waves around Cape St Albans, Cape Willoughby and Cape Hart. Their adrenalin was flowing strongly around Cape Hart, matching the tidal flow racing out from Backstairs Passage with them getting along at 8 to 11km/hr in 3m swell. And then came Cape Gantheaume where they felt very vulnerable paddling around the southernmost tip of KI (in James’s words – “feeling very exposed in monster swells and very gnarly”).  Also very aware of how truly terrible a place it was to be if the weather deteriorated with 20km of cliffs in both directions and no escape.

Day three (3) leg from D’Estrees Bay to Vivonne Bay was a tough day heading into a head wind, and paddling against “wind set currents”, finding the water difficult to move through – however the day ended well topped off by a stunning sunset and a chance to relax in the lovely Bay.

Weather then dictated they stay in Vivonne Bay for day four (4), before changing again altogether, forcing a big adjustment to the trip and switch to the north coast.

Snellings Beach

Vivonne Bay

Day five (5) started from Snellings Beach on the north coast to make the most of the 15-20kt westerly winds, they enjoyed much easier paddling conditions, getting nice and close to the coast and exploring the coves and bays before finishing on a nice sandy beach at Dashwood Bay.

Day six (6) saw more 15 – 25kt west to north westerly winds making for a quick run from Dashwood Bay for an overnight stop at Ballast Head before continuing on to Penneshaw on day seven (7) for a reset, then back to the unfinished west end.

By day eight (8) they were back on the South Coast to finish off the final 145km of the island. They found the water difficult to move through, but visits of Yellow Fin Tuna and Dolphins helped make the day better!

They easily navigated the reef into Hanson Bay (thankfully) before spending a nice evening in the stunning Bay.

Cape Du Couedic

Day nine (9) saw the weather conditions line up perfectly to round Cape Du Couedic nice and close to the cliffs. This was certainly a highlight of the trip, but in the afternoon they faced challenging conditions to make it past the top of Maupertuis Bay and into West Bay.

James and Dayna described the amazing experience of paddling past Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Cape Du Couedic – the photos tell all!

They had an early start on Day ten (10) for the run to Snug Cove, planned to avoid the big swell forecast at 4.5m, already building up and taking them over 30 minutes to clear the beach swell. They met an ebbing tide race against, rebound waves, seas and swell, dramatic cliffs and the now familiar feeling – “this place is a long way from anywhere safe, or anyone to help us – real sea kayaking”.

James explained that when they were rounding Cape Borda they reached the emotional end of the expedition for them, as there were no more exposed coastlines remaining. The threat of 20 – 30kt head winds the next two days on the north coast did not compare to the anxiousness of the south and west coasts.

Snug Cove lived up to its name, resulting in a disturbed night’s sleep with a visit from a Tsunami wave that funneled up into the cove about 4am – gear everywhere!

Western River

James and Dayna opted for shorter legs on days eleven (11) and twelve (12) with an overnight at Western River. That gave them a break from the constant 20 – 25kt head winds. The wind continued to blow right up until their arrival there, to meet their support team of Malcolm and Alison Hamilton.

A big THANK YOU to James and Dayna for sharing their experience with the club. We had a fantastic evening.

If anyone would like to arrange a donation to Operation Flinders on behalf of James and Dayna in recognition of their KI Circumnavigation and Fundraising effort, please contact Heather Holmes (Accounts Officer – 8245 2666 or 0419 845 233) or visit the website: https://operationflinders.org.au/ and make a donation.

Videos

If you would like to experience James and Dayna’s trip from the safety of home check out their YouTube videos below:

Port Victoria coast exploration — 2-3 April 2022

Peter Drewry, Peter Vincent, Maria Kubik and Marina Walker joined Anne and Simon Langsford for an exploratory paddle from Port Victoria south 40 km to Port Minlacowie.

Saturday

Wauraltee Beach

On Saturday morning Anne and Peter V did the car shuttle to leave a vehicle at Port Minlacowie, the finish spot.  We then all set off from Port Victoria in beautiful conditions. There was a 13 knot south easterly wind which we avoided most of the day by sticking close to the coast. The water along this part of the coast was so clear we could see the range of sea weeds and sea grasses beneath us. Much of the coast is very rocky, even adjacent to the sandy beaches. When the tide was out this limited our choice of landing spots. However, there were enough clear sandy areas where landing was easy so we could enjoy lunch or snacks on the beach.

We were surprised at the numbers of campers, caravans and 4WDs on Wauraltee Beach. It looked like a nice spot to camp but not exactly ‘getting away from it all’. We arrived at Port Rickaby just before 5pm and managed to sign into the caravan park before the office closed. It was too late though for Peter V to order a hamburger from the shop. We used our wheels to get all the kayaks up to the camping area. It was a bit of work, but we had a nice grassy area and no sand blowing into everything as we would have had camping on the beach.

Sunday

Along the Yorke Peninsula’s coast

Sunday’s paddle continued south with milder (10 knot) winds, rewarding us with lots of wildlife. We had a close encounter with a pod of about seven dolphins, including a young one, swimming around us. We also saw a seal floating with one flipper in the air (from a distance it looked like a shark fin moving slowly around). Having identified the ‘fin’ as a seal flipper we were not so scared when we encountered a second seal doing the same graceful flipper wave. Peter V identified a couple of Wedge Tailed eagles attacking a Nankeen Kestrel, which managed to get away from them. We also saw Crested Turns, Sooty Oyster Catchers, Cormorants and of course Silver and Pacific Gulls. We arrived at Port Minlacowie boat ramp about midday and quickly got the boats ashore and did the return car shuttle to Port Victoria.

This was an enjoyable paddle. Highly recommended for another trip perhaps with an extra day to allow time for some snorkelling.

Backstairs Passage Crossing, Kangaroo Island — 26 March 2022

A very successful return paddle to Kangaroo Island. Paddlers were: Phil Doddridge, Mark Loram, Charlie Walker, Peter Vincent, Matt Eldred, Stephen Moore and new member Hugh Macmillan. This was the first crossing for Peter, Matt, Stephen and Hugh, so there were a few smiling faces when we arrived back at Cape Jervis. Well done paddlers! Trip was led by Phil and was aimed at demonstrating splitting of the tide to achieve the most efficient crossing.

The start

The early birds in the group arrived at Cape Jervis at 8.30am. There were a bunch of keen kayakers outside our group already there prepping for a training run to Blowhole Beach. We saw Tresh preparing his new/old 1980 Greenlander kayak, a familiar face in addition to Mark Benjamin. Mark (L). Phil and Hugh arrived just afterwards, with Mark L being a late starter, having just been released from lockdown. After loading up and a safety briefing from Phil we set off about 10.15am, following the coast east to avoid the ferry’s path.

Lumpy start

Landing in Kangaroo Island

We then set our bearing for Cape Coutts and headed out on our adventure, with only whitecaps between us and the safety of Antechamber Bay, just east of Cape Coutts. And yes, (as observed form the drive down the hill to Cape Jervis) the conditions were lumpy with swells reaching 2 to 2.5m. The wind was from the south east at around 15 Knots and slightly above forecast. The tide was still on the ebb until 12.30pm, so we had a slight advantage to balance the wind.

We had a nice sunny day but with the wind and the breaking waves, all very glad we had opted to wear CAGs. Crossing time was 3.5 hrs of solid paddling then overall a total of 4 hours including the short portage into Chapman River, over 22km.

The landing

Conditions eased as we entered Antechamber Bay. There was still enough swell to practice our surf landings. Phil showed the way and Charlie provided the entertainment with a stern first landing in his P&H Valkyrie. Didn’t take long for the portage and we were all looking forward to enjoying the campsite and surrounds with the early arrival at 2pm. Once in the river Matt noticed the plentiful mullet and wished he had packed his fishing rod. The paddle down the dead flat and picturesque Chapman River felt like another world compared to the crossing.

The camp site

We paddled further up the Chapman River to campsite No 12 that Phil had previously booked. We were welcomed by a new bridge – apparently styled on the Onkaparinga River Suspension Bridge at Old Noarlunga. Quite a few dollars have been spent since out last visit. We later discovered a brand new drop loo very close to our campsite – sheer luxury!

After we settled in, Matt, Peter and Mark completed a 3.5km exploration of the river with picturesque paperbarks on the bank. Peter was rather happy with the bird life.

The campground was pretty busy. We made an early appearance at the camp kitchen, admiring the stunning views of the Chapman River. We had a very pleasant evening and turned in early and slept well, being serenaded by several Boobook Owls during the night. Also brought back memories of Coffin Bay with a few in the group being visited by friendly mice during the night.

Back on the water

Happy paddlers in the beach at KI

The next day back on the water by 10am. The water conditions from the beach looked perfect, not a breath of wind or a sign of a whitecap as far as the eye could see. The plan for the day was to head for Blowhole Beach and play with the tides during the crossing. We stuck to this plan, however the winds and tide were not favourable, pushing us further east than we would have liked. Once again the tide was on the ebb until 12.30pm, particularly noticeable on the GPS track, but with the flood assisting our path to Blowhole Beach.

Conditions on the water started off perfectly until the seas got very mixed and choppy which made for an interesting paddle. 21km and we landed at Blowhole Beach for a welcome leg stretch and bite to eat after the 4.5 hour crossing in messy seas. Wind was from the north and again above forecast, mostly around 12-15 knots.

After lunch it was only a quick 9km paddle.  Back to Cape Jervis where 7 tired paddlers loaded their kayaks and headed home after a very successful and enjoyable weekend. For the Club it was the first paddle across Backstairs Passage for the year and for 4 of the members it was their first crossing…. but by no means their last. Stay tuned for the next planned crossing, perhaps in a spring tide to really show the tidal influence in Backstairs Passage.

Crossing to KI

Return trip to Cape Jervis

Coffin Bay — 14-17 February 2022

First leg to Black Springs

Starting the trip

Anne and Simon Langsford were joined by Frances and Bernard Goble, Phil Doddridge, Mark Loram, Stephen Carter, Matthew Eldred, Simon Delaine, Charles Walker, Jo Molsher, Julie Rohde and Peter Vincent to paddle from Coffin Bay township out into the Coffin Bay National Park. The first day saw us heading out of the town bay towards Rabbit Island. The tide was very low by the time we got there and some of us walked our kayaks over the Mussel and Razor Fish beds. However, it was not long before we hit deep water again and those with sails enjoyed a good tail wind.

When we stopped for lunch on the beach past the Yangie Bay inlet Julie found her missing spray deck which had become squashed up in the bow as she packed other things. At last water-tight she enjoyed the rest of the day.

We arrived at Black Springs with plenty of time to pitch camp and relax, looking out over the amazingly blue ocean. After dinner that evening it started raining, and Simon and Anne’s emergency shelter was put to good use! as we sat huddled under it. Most people headed to bed early as we planned an early start to catch the tide around Point Longnose.

Lightning Day

So much serenity

Lightning, thunder and heavy rain greeted us the next morning, so the early start was postponed. By mid-morning the storm had passed but the wind forecast made paddling onwards unwise, so we did the walk to view Black Rocks on the southern side of the peninsula, then after lunch split into groups to paddle close to camp. One group went along the picturesque rocks while another group went out to more open water while Jo did her first sailing effort. Although both paddles were much shorter than planned everyone had an enjoyable day.

Windy Day

Paddling along the coast

Wednesday’s wind forecast was bad – 20 knot winds with stronger gusts. Change of plan again! We paddled through the oyster beds and over to Point Longnose where we had a short stop while Mark emptied his water-filled front compartment and put the hatch on properly. Around Point Longnose is a beautiful beach where we had lunch before retracing our steps. Each day Matt would be seen looking for cockles on the beach to bait his fishing hook. He did catch some Whiting, but alas too small to keep so we didn’t get fresh fish for dinner.

Return Day

Preparing the departure

Now we had spent 3 days at Black Springs camp and there was not enough time left to venture out to Point Sir Isaac, so we decided to return to Coffin Bay township. Along the rocky cliffs we came across some seal pups that played with us and followed us for about half an hour. Then we headed to The Brothers islands so Peter could check out the birdlife. We were rewarded with sighting the rare Rock Parrots and there were also some large sea lions, one of which gave an aggressive display towards the kayaks before leaving us alone.

The group split again into ‘paddlers’ and ‘sailers’ to cross over to the northern shore of the bay. Lunch on a sand beach with a very shallow approach made us walk the kayaks again to save scratching them too much. Then it was a pleasant paddle along the rocky cliffs with some of us paddling into Mount Dutton Bay for a short distance.

Wrap up

Coffin Bay Strava

Bernard, Frances and Steve left the group to head homeward. The rest of us pitched camp at the caravan park and then headed to the pub for a drink and dinner.

In total we paddled about 66 km, a bit short of the plan but we had to manage the weather conditions and even with this shortened trip everyone enjoyed the trip.

Some memorable comments:

  • OK everyone, the plan for today is changed, – again. – Anne
  • We have got to know this camp site well. – Frances
  • I’m not talking about the wind forecast. – Simon L
  • Can we stay here another night?  -Text message from Jo (safely in her tent during the storm)
  • I’m glad I remembered everything and I didn’t capsize. – Simon D
  • My jaw is sore from smiling so much, the sailing was so much fun. – Matt
  • I’ve found my spray deck.  – Julie
  • Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening.  – Julie
  • The colour of the water at camp, amazing blue.-  Charlie
  • Great paddling with new people. – Stephen

Check the facebook post for additional pictures

Sea lions

Huddle to avoid the rain

Paddling with seals

Delta Fleet

Checking the landscape

Resting at the campground