Let’s take the BIG BOAT today

It was a calm Autumn night, although a little warmer than expected as I laid in my sleeping bag on the beach. The three of us were scattered around trying to get a few hours sleep before our pre-dawn departure. I shut off the phone alarm and checked the latest weather forecast which confirmed calm conditions for today and a light tailwind for tomorrow. Perfect conditions for Steve’s first 20 km open water crossing of Investigator Strait to Kangaroo Island.

Michael, Steve and I stuffed our kayaks with gear and posed for a photo on the beach.

All ready at the Ferry Terminal – Cape Jervis

Steve was determined to get a photo with the three of us in,  which was not an easy task given the darkness but he succeeded.

That’s us… L to R    Steve, Ian and Michael

Then it was on the water to clear Cape Jervis before the sun rose. The first couple of kilometers were perfect conditions with almost glassy calm water and the sun peeking through the clouds. We had checked and double checked the forecasts as there was a strange cloud formation over the island, but all seemed perfect including our speed which was over 8km/hr.

Calm conditions as the sun came up

It wasn’t long before we felt a gentle headwind spring up and not much longer before it increased, but our speed was good given the tidal assistance and the laden kayaks easily handled the conditions.

The headwind was increasing creating a confused sea due to the wind against tide

We kept an eye out for traffic as we crossed the shipping channel and this one passed well behind us.

Missed us by a mile

After 3 hours of paddling into the headwind we rested in the wind shadow of the high cliffs of Kangaroo Island, just east of Cuttlefish Bay, with Steve very happy with his first crossing.

Great coastal scenery for the next few kilometers

It was then onto our campsite in Antechamber Bay close to the Chapman River.

Out of the wind but not the rain

The good weather didn’t last long with heavy rain setting in for most of the day and night. Still we were prepared with shelter and a good bottle of McLaren Vale red wine kindly supplied by Steve.

A good end to the day

Next morning the rain subsided to occasional light showers as we headed west, hugging the coast to keep out of the wind. The sun occasionally broke through the clouds lighting up patches of the calm waters in Antechamber Bay.

The sun was still shining….well sometimes it was

The forecast wasn’t good with a strong wind warning being issued for Investigator Strait and surrounding areas. The prospect of 20-30 knot winds was not pleasant so we hugged the coast and dropped in on the local wildlife.

Calm water as we paddled out from the shelter of Antechamber Bay

The end of shelter in the bay was near

This is a stunning coastline with large tracts of natural vegetation

Sea Lions came out to play around the kayaks. Maybe they were the smart ones being ashore for the day

After a 3 hour stretch” on the paddle” we rounded into Hog Bay ……

We arrived just before the storm hit Hog Bay

….and waited to board the “BIG BOAT” that would take us home.

The Sea Link ferry

We quickly organised fares and climbed aboard, sandwiched between cars.

Safe and sound on the car ferry

I have been paddling this stretch of water since the early 1980’s and it’s different every time. Not only was it Steve’s first crossing of the Strait but the first time Michael and  I had come back with our kayaks on the ferry. Another great adventure paddling the coast of South Australia.

Michael

Ian

Steve

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Gone with the wind

Our cunning plan was to paddle to Kangaroo Island for the weekend and explore the camping and photo options on the Chapman River. This would mean a crossing of the notorious Backstairs Passage which I had done countless times, but for Steve it would be his first trip. However, it seems that Euros the god of the South East wind was looking over our shoulder again and our plan would be “gone with the wind”.

After our windy experiences on a recent trip we activated Plan B. Instead of an 18km crossing each way we decided on a 77km down wind paddle from Cape Jervis to Steves’ home beach of Christies Beach, Adelaide.

Steve all packed and ready to go

Steve all packed and ready to go

With the wind around 20-25kn in Backstairs Passage we could hardly make out features on the island.

It was calm in the marina but we knew that the winds were around 20kn and increasing on Backstairs Passage

It was calm in the marina but we knew that the winds were around 20kn and increasing on Backstairs Passage

We were able to sneak out around the marina into Gulf St Vincent hugging the coast where the effects of the wind were greatly reduced, but still enough to give us a wet ride. We planned to keep in close to the cliffs as the SE wind would sheer over the top of the cliffs giving us calm water at the cliff base.

It's this way along the coast

It’s this way along the coast

All set for a wet ride home

All set for a wet ride home

We negotiated the first couple of kilometers past Morgans beach and Starfish Hill until we reached the base of the cliff line. We were then able to hug in close out of the wind and enjoy the scenery towering over us as well as the seabed in crystal clear water.

Nice easy paddling

Nice easy paddling

I was able to get in a little kayak sailing practice with a fully laden boat, something I haven’t done for a while. I’m not sure Steve really appreciated me zig zagging around him, giving him a quick history and geography lesson as I passed, but it did allow for a couple of photos.

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A very relaxed sail as we kept inshore out of the wind

I never tire of this stunning coastline with its cliff plunging straight into the clear water or the small caves and fissures that abound as well as the wildlife that plays here.

Investigating a small cove

Investigating a small cove

Steve the photographer

Steve the photographer

Steve was always among the rocks

Steve was always among the rocks

Do not disturb

Do not disturb

Sea lions played around us

Sea lions played around us

It was hard to get them to stay still for a photo

It was hard to get them to stay still for a photo

Not interested in our passing

Not interested in our passing

Our destination was Normanville where we camped at the local Caravan Park. A nice place to spend the night and there is even a small cafe operating by the jetty.

Next morning the forecast was again winds 20kn SE strengthening to 25-30kn during the day. We launched in the calmer Normanville bay with Steve telling me that having a kayak sail was definitely not “playing fair”.

Not playing fair

Not playing fair

Perfect sailing weather

Perfect sailing weather

We took advantage of the slightly calmer conditions inshore until we reached the cliffs at Carrickalinga where we again hugged the cliff base.

Lolling around in a protected inlet

Lolling around in a protected inlet

Again we were treated to clear water and high cliffs as we slowed to investigate many rocky inlets.

Second Valley ahead

 

Lots of small caves and fissures along the way

Lots of small caves and fissures along the way

Strange rock formations

Jumbled rock formations

Calm water in the cove

Calm water in the cove

As we reached the bluff before Myponga Beach we swung to seaward plotting a course across several kilometers of open water that would see us land at Christies Beach, where we had arranged a pick up. I’m afraid I didn’t have the opportunity to take photos as I was too busy controlling the kayak under sail. I was able to catch waves and often saw the GPS clock 16km/ hr, before being buried into the wave in front.

As the wind increased I had to drop the sail partly because it was getting a little hairy, but mostly because I was  unable to stay in contact with Steve. From there on it was a large wind driven following sea that gave us lots of fun as it sped us towards home.

We had paddled and sailed some amazing coastline covering 77km in 2 days with an average speed of 7km/hr which included lots of time playing along the way. Steves’ first crossing to Kangaroo Island will have to wait until another day.

Happy paddling (and sailing)

Ian                                                     Steve

ian smurf crop (2)

king

 

 

 

Starfish Point

Travelling the west coast of South Australia we sometimes heard local legends about the landscape or the sea. One local legend tells of a point where starfish seem to come together in the last months of summer, much like the aggregation of Cuttlefish at Point Lowly in winter. The idea of having starfish in large numbers seemed odd at first but we decided to check out the area for a likely point of land.

With a rough idea of the area we started our search on foot plodding along the deserted beaches that are covered in shells in all stages of disintegration.

It was a nice day for a walk along the long stretches of deserted beaches and allowed us time to do a little beachcombing

It was a nice day for a walk along the long stretches of deserted beaches and allowed us time to do a little beach combing

The beaches were seperated by limestone headlands that afforded a great view of the coastline

The beaches were separated by limestone headlands that afforded a great view of the coastline

As we had no luck in the general vicinity of our campsite we took to the water to check a number of points and bays along the coast. You can see our campsite on the cliffs in the centre of the photo, which made a perfect spot to admire the view at the end of a long day, whilst enjoying a cold beer.

Our campsite on the cliffs with our own beach

Our campsite on the cliffs with our own beach

Another cove to check out

Another cove to check out

We even tried asking a couple of locals along the way but they seemed more interested in playing in the waves than helping in our quest.

NZ fur seals playing around the kayaks

NZ fur seals playing around the kayaks

Looks like a lot of fun

Looks like the dolphins were having a lot of fun

Everyone on the wave

Everyone on the wave

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We spent hours paddling along the coastline and although it was an incredibly enjoyable pastime, we had no luck in our search. We were buzzed by the local dolphin pods out fishing and had young dolphins play around under our kayaks, but they were too quick for my camera.

Back at camp, Robyn had stern words with 3 “banditos” who she caught stealing carrots, but they too remained silent on the location. They stayed around our camp for days and we would often find them sitting on our doorstep in the morning.

The 3 Banditos often dropped into the camp

The 3 Banditos often dropped into the camp

Our next task was to extend the search a little wider by using our Fatbikes to cover more distance along the beaches. This meant a trek up some sandy tracks and dunes before going cross country to the beach. With the tyre pressure at 6psi it was possible to ride most of the track but sometimes we sank in the fine sand and had to push the bike.

Sometimes the sand was too soft and we had to push

Sometimes the sand was too soft and we had to push

It was cross country from the tracks until we came to the beach

It was cross country from the tracks until we came to the beach

The rewards were some stunning views across the ocean

The rewards were some stunning views across the ocean

Ready to ride another sweeping bay

Ready to ride another sweeping bay

Time for a rest

Time for a rest

Unfortunately our search was unsuccessful, so we decided on one last effort to locate Starfish Point. We visited a few spots  that we had thought less likely to harbor a carpet of starfish.

The points were very rugged and the swell was making them very dangerous even from the shore.

The rocks gave us a great vantage point

The rocks gave us a great vantage point

We realised it was not a safe place to be when a wave crashed over rocks

We realised it was not a safe place to be when a wave crashed over rocks

The bays and surrounding country are stunningly beautiful and certainly worth the effort of visiting.

Sweeping bays bordered by sand dunes

Sweeping bays bordered by sand dunes

Stunning sand dunes with varying shades of colour

Stunning sand dunes with varying shades of colour

San dunes with the contrasting afternoon sky

Sand dunes with the contrasting afternoon sky

We were exploring along a protected rocky point when Robyn spotted flashes of red in the water. We climbed down as far as was safe and found starfish dotted every meter around the point. Unfortunately the conditions were not the best for photography but I will bring my snorkeling gear next time.

Starfish dotted the sea floor

Starfish dotted the sea floor

Maybe it wasn’t just a local legend talked about in the country pub but a real Starfish Point whose location will continue to remain a secret.