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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.

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

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.