Paddle to Cockle Spit from Port Germein — 19 March 2022

Paddling from Port Germain

The plan was a Club paddle to Cockle Spit off Port Germein Jetty. We had been attempting to combine our efforts with the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club who have for the last few years organised a cricket match on the Spit.  Originally it was with the Whyalla Yacht Club but this had folded as some events do!  The vision is for the Adelaide Canoe Club (ACC) to join the event in the future and perhaps field a team. Tina from the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club has been very helpful and we are hoping to catch up with them next year.

The preparation

We considered all the potential routes for the day including Pirie to Spit. The longest option was Weeroona Island to the Spit or just Port Germein to the Spit. Unfortunately, all included the dreaded 1.3 km portage at low tide at Port Germein. The option of Weeroona to Germein was decided. The paddlers from Adelaide were supposed to meet the Upper Gulf paddlers on Saturday. Then on Friday night COVID struck and Mark was in isolation as a close contact. Our Adelaide members had to cancel and left Greg Watts and myself (Steve Carter) to hold the fort and paddle out to find the Spit.

The paddle

We met at 1:00pm near the jetty at Port Germein and commenced the 1.3 km portage out to the 3rd steps off the jetty. Kayak trolleys essential – but there has to be a better way!

Paddling from Port Germain

The paddle was straightforward on a bearing of 240⁰ from the end of the jetty ruins. Conditions were ideal with a SE wind of 0 to 5 knots. The white of the Spit became visible after 3 km. After another 2 km we hit the southern end and paddled along the Spit for 1 more km just to be sure.

We had a break on the Spit. True to its name, it is made up of cockle and other shells, rather than sand. After a brief wander around – no cricket being played today – we commenced our return journey. We expected a tail wind home after the change of tide and usual afternoon sea breeze. But the slight wind dropped off and the sea glassed over, which made for a very pleasant return paddle.

On return, the tide was out even further. We landed near the jetty with 2 cars parked under it, just like a carport. Then a long portage alongside the jetty back to our vehicles.

The pub

Off to the pub where we learnt more about driving out on the flats. This has always terrified me as I wish for my car to last longer than rusting out.  We found out that some of the specialist vehicles can be arranged to do a pick up.  The solution to cleaning salt and sand under the car is to place the sprinkler under the car for 10 minutes or so. Guess what: next time it’s a car drive out to pick up kayaks!

This is the 5th or 6th journey for me, however on my favourite trip we didn’t even see the Spit but had a downwind journey in 20 knots winds from Third Creek (south of Pirie) to Port Germein. There is much more to do in this area, and I look forward to other trips