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