Surf play at Middleton — 21 August 2022

Preparing to surf

Some of the club members decided to get adventurous, and brush up our surf skills at Middleton on Sunday. Conditions were good, with a small, choppy but manageable surf, and some most welcome sunshine.

After some basic theory and warnings for those new to surf, we dragged the boats down to the water to get wet. It is always a problem knowing how close to get to the surf before trying to get into the boat: too close and you get knocked about by the waves before you are ready; too far away and you are left high and dry, waiting for a big wave to come and rescue you.

Once in the water, the less experienced paddlers stayed closer to the shore getting a feel for the waves while gaining a new appreciation of the necessity of bracing and support strokes, in-between practicing wet exits and emptying sand and seawater from kayaks.

Surfing in Middleton

Further out, the more experienced paddlers were managing to find a few nice rides amongst the choppy waves. They were mostly in control, but there was still the occasional upset. I think everyone had at least one swim.

With the cold water, it only took a few hours before everyone had enough. We then retired to the nearest bakery for a hot pie and coffee.

Check the YouTube video

Day paddle at Port Elliot — 23 May 2022

A much reduced group of three paddlers set off from Victor Harbor on Monday morning. Originally scheduled for Saturday, but thanks to the government declaring an election on that day, we decided to move it to Monday. Apologies to all the working people, blame the government!

Starting to paddle in Port Elliot

We launched from Kent Reserve again, but this time we turned left and headed for Port Elliot and lunch.

We had a quick stop to admire the new causeway to Granite Island. After looking at the state of the old causeway from underneath its clear why a new one was needed, very corroded and damaged.

The entrance to Port Elliot looked its normal intimidating self. Waves breaking on the headland and Pullen Island, but with the small swell the passage between them was easy and were soon stretching our legs and soaking up the sun on the beach.

Around Port Elliot

On the way back we went around the outside of Pullen Island to have a look at the rocks there. Some interesting spots to explore, but they will have to wait for another day, in a smaller boat, with calmer seas.

The trip back was quicker thanks to the wind behind us, but felt longer, possibly due to the paddle the previous day. Whatever the reason everyone was grateful when we reached to beach and the cars.

Day paddle at Victor Harbor — 22 May 2022

Five paddlers took advantage of the glorious weather to go for a paddle out of Victor Harbor, around the Bluff and out to West Island

Paddling around Victor Harbor

The swell was a manageable 1-1.5m as predicted, but the weather forecast did not mention the chop, which made conditions a bit challenging, especially around the Bluff where there was a lot of rebound.

After launching from the shelter of Kent Reserve we made slow, steady progress to West Island, where some of the group chose to go around the exposed seaward side for some excitement while the rest chose to go on the sheltered side to check on the seal population, which is looking very healthy.

Kings beach looked inviting, so we stopped there for lunch and a leg stretch and a chat with the passing hikers. Launching should have been easy except for a sneaky rebound wave coming in from the side which resulted in one swim and a few near misses.

Choppy water around Victor Harbor

Pushing back into the 10 knot wind made things a bit chillier, but we were soon around the Bluff into some more sheltered water. We stopped in at Wright Island to check out the bird population which is also looking very healthy.

Some dolphins made an appearance, but were not feeling social and moved off following a school of fish.

Landing back at Kent reserve we left the kayaks on the beach while we went to retrieve the wheels from the cars. Unfortunately someone in the group neglected to pull up his kayak far enough, and by the time we got back to the water it was upside down in the surf a fair way down the beach. It is going to take me a while to get rid of all that sand in the kayak.

Surf Play at Middleton — 6 February 2022

About to catch the wave

Four intrepid paddlers had a very wet Sunday morning playing in the surf at Middleton. Apart from the side wind, which made conditions a bit choppy and caused us to drift away from the carpark, conditions were great, with mostly manageable waves and the occasional bit of rolling practice.

It was a nice warm sunny day, and the beach was busy with surfers and swimmers taking advantage of the good conditions. The waves were a manageable 1-meter waves, and the SE wind tended to push us along the beach, but at least did not make for steep waves.

After a warm up in the smaller surf near the beach (with a couple of worrying capsizes on my part, but at least my roll was working), we threaded our way through all the swimmers and surfers to find some bigger, cleaner waves out near the backline. We sometimes had a long wait between sets, but were rewarded with some lovely rides, with the waves dying out as they reached the deeper water of a gully rather than breaking right on top of you!

Anthony had a great time in his new boat, and couldn’t stop smiling. He must have doing ok because he had fewer capsizes than me. Simon was looking very comfortable, and even managed to show off by waving at the camera as he surfed past.

After a couple of hours of play aching muscles suggested that maybe it was time to call it quits. Unfortunately, while we had been having fun the wind had pushed us quite far down the beach, so we had a stiff paddle to get back to the launching spot. Deciding to catch one last wave back to the beach, we waited patiently for a good looking wave, and were rewarded with an excellent one, and had a good run in. This wave however was not so well behaved, and promptly broke right on top of me, tumbling me over a few times, knocking the breath out of me and wrenching the paddle out of one hand. Choosing discretion over valour, I did a wet exit and had the walk of shame back to the beach while the others watched, having made it back to the beach with their kayaks.

We retired to the nearest bakery for the customary pie and de-brief, and all agreed that it was an excellent day!

Bernard’s Kangaroo Island Challenge – solo 10 – March 2014

A Kangaroo Island Challenge!

Departing towards KI

An enthusiastic interest in sea kayaking will naturally lead to any one of us wanting to improve our skills, from paddling, personal fitness, an understanding of environment we are about to enter, our own readiness to set ourselves personal goals and the challenge of actually getting out of one’s own comfort zone!

Hugh Stewart and I after much paddling together on coastal trips including a Wardang Island circumnavigation now recognised each of our strengths and weaknesses and felt that with the right conditions, a crossing to Kangaroo Island together was feasible.

Fitness wasn’t an issue, boat preparedness was good, equipment carried was fine, our respective partners had even given approval, however, was Mother Nature going to play ball?

This is always the key factor in planning a paddle across the notorious Backstairs Passage, as two previous successful and some cancelled crossings for myself had clearly shown.

For a safe crossing, it’s essential to ensure that wind strengths, directions, wave and swell heights and very importantly, tidal movements are all carefully monitored and factored into any decision to attempt this paddle. Canoe SA and the Adelaide Canoe Club for years have offered excellent training and advice to enable ones skills to reach the required level and recognise which conditions are appropriate. My strong advice is, do not attempt this paddle without serious research, advice and training!

Our chosen day for the crossing was to be the Adelaide Cup Day, 10.3.14.  For several days prior, the forecast had shown favourable conditions, gentle to moderate winds from the south and tidal movement was minimal.

However, an important lesson is to never take forecasts “as gospel”, an 8 to 10 knot Southerly predicted, proved to be a 10 to 12 knot North Easterly on arrival at Cape Jervis.

This was actually ideal for our crossing and after 2 hours of surfing down 1metre waves we arrived at Cuttlefish Bay on the East coast of KI.  Whoohoo!!

Clearly, the weather wasn’t behaving as expected, so a call to American River Voluntary Marine Rescue confirmed that a trough of low pressure that had moved in could result in winds of 20 knots later in the day.

A decision to paddle south to Antechamber Bay into now Southerly winds of around 12knots along the dramatic eastern cliffs of KI was most rewarding. By lunch time, conditions were still very benign so we decided a return to Cape Jervis was quite achievable and by paddling initially to a more Easterly location of the Cape, a safety margin could be built in to our course should the southerly wind increase in strength.

Forty minutes after leaving Antechamber Bay and nearly 3Nm’s from KI, well into Backstairs Passage, conditions began to change rapidly. From the occasional white cap, very quickly a mass of white caps were developing.

Whilst still manageable, two choices were evident. Continue, but head in a more northerly direction up the Gulf to Cape Jervis and hope the wind strength didn’t increase too much more, or run diagonally with the sea back to Kangaroo Island. The latter was definitely one of the best Kayaking decisions we have made, as the wind did increase, a mass of rolling white caps developed further out in Backstairs Passage emphasising that it was certainly not a safe place to be in a kayak.

A long paddle surfing waves along the East coast of KI eventually to Penneshaw and a safe return crossing by ferry was the culmination of a great day of adventure Kayaking.

In conclusion, although the return paddle was not possible, the satisfaction in knowing that the years of training, skill development and  awareness of sea conditions led to all the right decisions being made, resulted in the trip being so rewarding.

Kangaroo Island is definitely one of Australia’s Kayaking jewels!

Bernard Goble.