Bog snorkelling is a Welsh sporting event where competitors aim to complete swims through a peat bog in the shortest time possible.
What has that got to do with a pleasant paddle down in the Garden Island area? You’ll have to read on!!
On Tuesday 24 May the following ACC members gathered at Garden Island boat ramp for the first of the winter series mid-week paddles – Phil Doddridge & Bella Kosterman (Mirage 730), Kaye & Stephen Parnell (Prijon double), Peter Carter(Voyager), Mark Loram(Prijon) and Tom Moore(Mirage 530).
It was a warm but windy day so the plan was to spend the time in the mangroves exploring a little known area called Hidden Creek. Based on limited past experience Phil though the tide would be close to ideal to paddle right to the back of the creek. The journey through the creek takes you through a beautiful mangrove forest then a stunning samphire zone. The creek ends abruptly at the salt mine; now ugly and no longer being worked.
Launch and finding Hidden Creek
Launching from Garden Island boat ramp the group worked upwind across the Angus Inlet and some way up the Barker Inlet to get a fast downwind ride to the entrance to Hidden Creek. It has this name due to the entrance being indistinct and partially blocked by fallen trees. The entrance is on the eastern side of Eastern Passage just under the power lines. Once in the shelter of the creek conditions were ideal. Out of the wind it was much warmer, the water crystal clear and the winding nature of the creek made it feel adventurous! Phil and Bella were in a Mirage 730 double with Kaye and Stephen in their brand new Prijon double. Turning these longer kayaks to negotiate the ever sharpening bends tested sweep stroke technique, strength and endurance!
The creek began to narrow and the turns were now continuous, no more straight sections. Phil recalled of a wider pond at the back of the creek and after a short discussion with Peter decided to push through as this would be the only real option to turn the doubles around.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing! Well before reaching the back of the creek we ran out of water, the tide was not quite ideal! And this is where the Bog challenge began! Those in single kayaks were able to turn around (just) to begin the journey out. No so those in double kayaks.
Phil surveyed the situation and found what looked like a nice sand bar to get out and turn the kayak around by hand. It would be possible to lift one end over the low scrub while the other remained in the water that was there. There was a bit of sand, perhaps 5cm deep, then it was thick black mangrove mud. Phil quickly began sinking down to his knees…YUK!! The blades of the spare paddle made good “snow shoes” and kept him above ground while he struggled to spin the M730. It became obvious after a short time that this plan was not going to work so Bella got out too and promptly sank down to her thighs in the mud. What a dilemma.
Boged in Hidden Creek
There was no easy solution to get the M730 turned around so one end was shoved up onto the scrub and the rest lifted from the water to point it in the other direction. Phil and Bella then got in, taking quite a bit of smelly mud with them, and began paddling back. Well it was a mix of paddling, pushing off tree stumps and poling through the mud trying to weave through fallen branches and areas too shallow to float the boat!
After a short distance they came across Kaye and Stephen who had seen the dilemma and decided to stay in their seats and paddle backwards to a wider section to turn around. Good decision! The retractable rudder on the Prijon made this possible whereas the fixed rudder on the M730 would have got caught on every shallow area and tree stump making it impossible. With a great deal of direction from other paddlers Kaye and Stephen manoeuvred the Prijon back through the maze and were eventually able to turn around. The group made their way back to the entrance of Hidden Creek stopping for lunch on the way.
Down to Ships Graveyard
The wind was still blowing quite strongly so after a quick discussion Kaye and Stephen opted for a direct route back while others wanting more punishment headed on to the “Ships Graveyard”. It was a fun ride downwind and into the North Arm to view the remains of the Dorothy H Sterling and Santiago. These two relics are a link to the maritime past of South Australia. The Santiago was one of the first iron hulled ships ever made and was launched in Glasgow, Scotland in 1856. The Dorothy was launched in Oregon in 1920 and was one of the largest commercial sailing ships of it’s era. Unfortunately, it became a victim of the Great Depression. Upon arriving in Port Adelaide in 1929 it’s crew found that the company that owned the boat had gone bankrupt and no money was waiting for them for wages and landing fees. Eventually the Dorothy was impounded and put to auction to recoup the losses. The stunning six masted schooner was sold off for £50 then dismantled for scrap. The full stories of these relics can be found online.
The journey back to Garden Island into the wind was a good workout to finish a day of fun, adventure, discovery and problem solving! Reportedly everyone had a great time of it and had never done so many sweep strokes in one day before! The pics of the adventure tell more of the story.
Come and Join Mid-week paddles
Mid-week paddles will continue through the wintery months to differing sheltered locations on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Likely locations will include West Lakes, North Haven Marina, Myponga and other reservoirs, Onkaparinga River and coastal location where weather permits.
If your interested register with Phil Doddridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you will be contacted with further details.
If you wish to learn more about Hidden Creek and exploring Garden Island, then check out Peter Carter’s websites below:
0487 663 102