Waves crashed into the Island in spectacular fashion

Lancelin Weekend, May 2021

Lancelin Weekend May 29-30 2021

Report by Andrew Munyard

A few hardy souls turned up to the Lancelin weekend. Paul Cooper, Mark Stallbaum, Tony Beswick, Sean Sinclair and Andrew Munyard made the trip north despite some dire forecasts.

The problem with any proposed paddle two months in the future for the paddle program is the big factor of weather.

When I proposed the trip, I thought I might strike it lucky with a last hurrah of Autumn but instead got a welcome to Winter. As I watched the weather change over the week prior to the trip I tried to wish in a big high pressure but instead got a couple of big fronts and upper level disturbances. The forecast was for thunderstorms and heavy rain up to 25mm for Friday night and Saturday looking pretty much the same. Sunday was looking pretty rough with 20 – 25knot winds and 4 to 5 m swells forecast.

I sought Paul Cooper’s advice on whether to  throw in the towel with what was looking like a pretty terrible weekend, but Paul stood his ground against the imminent weather and said ‘Lets go, if it all turns too bad we can always go home’.  There is nothing worse as a sea leader cancelling a trip and then agonising over the weather, wondering if you were right to cancel. I liked Paul’s attitude so, a little mischievisly I put the tent back in the shed and towed the caravan to Lancelin.  I call the caravan a hard tent, it’s dry and very comfortable, I was going to be ready for whatever the weather gods were going to throw at us.

Friday afternoon was pretty warm and pleasant, little did we know what was install for us that night. After a great pub meal, we all retired and then the thunder and lightnting started. They say that if the time between lightning and thunder is 15 seconds or less, get off the water. I only counted to five before an almighty thunderclap boomed overhead and the light and sound show kept going for some time. In the morning when I enquired how others got on, Paul commented he could only sleep through the din once he put in ear plugs. Sean was happily reading a book in his camper pod when he thought , sh… that was close! True to the forecast. Down came the rain.

Camping is fun when the weather is fine, but rain can really stress test your tent and your ability to sleep whilst water drips  like  water torture from above. Mark showed true grit by pulling a raincoat over his sleeping bag to prevent the drops from soaking him and telling himself to just get over it and get to sleep! His dreams were most likely of him visiting camping stores and testing tents like a person tests mattresses.

The morning was dry, which made having breakfast easy and everyone was getting ready for going on the water. Again, the forecast was not good with possible thunderstorms and rain. Fortunately, the wind was 15 knots and less so we would not have to battle strong winds. The storms were a worry, but we agreed to get of the water if thunder and lightning started.

A white line of breakers ringed Lancelin Bay

We put in at the park to the south of Sea Rescue. Our launch site was packed with weed and a weed soup was sloshing in and out with each of the small waves that crashed onto the beach. Paul found a spot a little less weedy and we all launched without ending up looking like King Neptune covered in weed. The sky was really grey and rain was obscuring the view to the north. We paddled south to Edwards Island to see if we could find some surf. The swell was running at 3 to 4 metres so we were always cautious of one getting through the reef and finding bottom near us. Unfortunately, the waves were not well formed as they broke early on the reef due to their size and lost a lot of their energy. Going out to meet them at the break line would have been for the very brave and we decided we were not that brave.

Spray went high into the air as waves crashed into the island

We then paddled north and found some waves at the point near sea rescue. You had to be on your toes as they were not spilling waves but rather  of the type which  let go of all their energy at once. There was an interesting mix of waves with a break from the SW and one from the west and they met in a cauldron of confusion. There was some energy to them so you had to be on you’re toes. I had just had a great a ride to shore and on paddling out I did not lean hard enough  into the cross wave bearing down on me and was capsized. I was tossed about for what felt longer than 10 seconds (I checked  it on my GoPro to ), eventually putting up the white flag and wet exiting in about 6 inches of water, Sean later commented that he thought I must have dug a furrow in the sand with the GoPro on my helmet and that it was lucky it stayed fixed to my helmet. I have included the 10 seconds of video for you all to have your own underwater experience.

We paddled up to Lancelin Island into a 13 knot NW and the rain decided to really come down. It was a  white out with the destination disappearing and even other paddlers in the group hard to see. Again, no waves presented themselves for a decent ride so we explored the island and watched in awe as waves of white knuckle size crashed onto the reef in a mass of spume and noise.

We stuck our noses around the northern end of the island where some ferocius currents were returning the water that was crossing the reef had  managed to find a way to return to the deep. You had to maintain spatial awareness to ensure you were not being taken by the currents to an unpleasant outcome.

We tried to ride a wave close to the southern end of the island where waves crashed in great towering spray against the cliffs but again were thwarted in any decent ride. Always optimistic we returned to the southern end of  Edwards Island but again, the waves were poor and  whilst they had decent size, they were just  not rideable with much of the energy having been thrashed on the reef.

Sean tried to catch a wave as it wrapped around the island

Returning to our launch site we were surprised to find all the weed that had made weed soup on launching, had been swept out to the bay and the beach was now clean and made for an easy landing. For the time that we had been paddling numerous showers of heavy rain had swept through, it  was pretty handy in keeping the salt off you.

On returning  to our campsite everyone with a tent found they were now camped in the middle of a lake. Mark’s tent was particularly affected with what you would call waterside accommodation. I looked in at the puddles  in the tent and was glad I bought the caravan. Mark was busy packing up, he had endured enough, he was going to start researching tents, this one  had had served him well, but had reached its use by date. Paul’s tent was under threat from rising waters and Tony was confident his Hilliberg, now pitched  in a sea of rising water would be OK but  the enthusiasm for going through another night of forecast rain was too much and everyone decided to return to Perth. Sean and I had faired much better in campers and were pretty comfortable. We mulled over the paddle and discussed all thing sea kayaking over a pie and coffee at the bakery opposite the caravan park prior to leaving for Perth.

Mark returned to his tent to find he now had water views

Everyone had a good time and I’m glad we decided to go ,however  we were lucky that storms did not eventuate, the weather was fairly good  with a  pretty big swell running and some interesting energy getting inside the bay. Fortunately the energy is taken out by the reef that lies off Lancelin, but a trip along the coast would not have been possible with the swell that was running on the Saturday and Sunday.

Andrew Burkhill teaching leaning into a wave - Photo Les Allen

Sea Instructors Course, January 2021

SKCWA instructors Course

South Coast

20 – 24 January 2021

As a part of the SKCWA reinvigorating its leadership group, Les Allan offered to run an Instructors course on the south coast over the period Wednesday 20 to Sunday 24 January.

The course was designed to evaluate the instructor’s personal sea kayaking skills, to develop teaching techniques and  to develop an ISSA course  to be delivered on  Saturday and Sunday.

Les and Jenni had been busy the week before hosting a WOWOW paddle for female paddlers. No sooner had the dust settled on the driveway from the departing WOWOWers when we all rocked up. Les and Jenni kindly allowed us to camp in their back yard which was a great way to keep people together and chatting about all things kayaking.

Steve Haddon, Jill Sievenpier, Tony Beswick, Chris Mawson, Damon Haddon, Bruce Pilgrim and Andrew Burkhill all put their hands up to attend. It was an intensive course, with Les taking us through our paces in the three days leading up to the ISSA course. The trainees had to prepare the lesson plans for the course after a full day on the water. Les had an idea for a far more adventurous course which put some out of the instructors outside their comfort zone, however with time on the water and gaining understanding and confidence of the location, everyone become more comfortable with Les’s suggestions.

The training for both instructors and ISSA students was held at Parrys Beach about 20 kms west of Denmark. The bay has a shallow sandy beach creating a spilling wave to break toward the shoreline, a great training ground for  ISSA to learn the art of low bracing in surf.  Deeper water behind the beach allowed rescues and strokes to be taught in the relative calm. A little further up the beach the waves got a bit bigger and some reasonable surf presented itself for the instructors to practice capsize and rolling in surf.

The instructors got to play around Stanley island which sits offshore and provides great rebound and a bit of lump and bmp. Les had us paddling backwards in lumpy conditions which was interesting and doing rescues in some swell and rebound. Something hard to find in Perth at this time of year!  Re-enter and rolls were practiced with instructors having to paddle about 600 metres back to safe waters with flooded boats in the swell and rebound. This was a challenging exercise as the boat’s stability decreased and having a paddle in the water was the way to provide support. This caused group spread as instructors concentrated on paddling forwards to maintain stability.

As everyone pumped out their boats, Andrew Burkhill found that he could not keep the water out and that no matter what he did, he was continually awash. We started to understand what was going on when the front of his boat had a distinct downward presentation. Andrews front hatch had flooded and the boat was no longer buoyant. A tow was applied and Les and Damon, came alongside to clip Andrew’s decklines to theirs and now at least Andrew would not sink. Luckily the rear compartment still had some air in it so it stayed buoyant. The tow was for about 1.5km where we found a beach without a bad break. Andrew was released from the tow and paddled himself in with his bow pointing very much down. He did a great job of getting ashore where Les and Damon assisted in getting the water out. It appears the sealant on the bulkheads (it’s a polyethylene boat ) had failed and water had flowed from the cockpit to the front tank and the day hatch behind the cockpit. There was some water in the rear hatch but not enough to cause trouble. After seeing this event, I might get some air bags for my boat as a fibreglass boat will definitely sink should the same thing occur.

Friday was spent at Cosy Corner where Les shared his teaching techniques honed over many years of instruction and demonstrated how different strokes could be presented the next day. Perhaps I was distracted but the colours of the water and granite where so beautiful as the sun came out , making the little bay we sat in look enchanting.

Saturday was day one of the ISSA course with 14 students in total. Colin Millar, Mark Stallbaum, Jimmy Henley-Martin and Taneesha Stallbaum  and Sharryn Murry had driven down from Perth for the weekend joining 10 paddlers from Albany/ Denmark.

Chris Mawson explains the day’s activities             Photo Mark Stallbaum

The morning saw 3 groups practice surf launches and landings, bracing in the spilling surf, and if the waves were not there, the instructors tossed the boats about to crank up the bracing skills.  Paddle skills were practiced beyond the break. The groups rotated through each station getting about 40 minutes practice at each station.

Les Les explains paddling concepts to the students     Photo Mark Stallbaum

The afternoon was all about getting wet as the students now paddled parallel to the breaking waves applying the bracing skills of the morning. Then in bigger waves they had to capsize and swim their boat to shore. Meanwhile a second group was out the back practicing T rescues, heel hook recoveries and towing.

Damon Haddon introduces students to the role of beach master     Photo Mark Stallbaum

It was a full day and all of the instructors worked really hard to give a fantastic learning experience to the students. I’m sure all would have slept soundly that night.

Sunday was a short paddle of 10km heading into the bay on the way to Stanley Island. Les was keen for a big swell to give some excitement but the gods did not prevail but they did send in some wind. Capsizes, assisted rescues, and towing were practiced. The ISSA  students were given an opportunity to meander through some rock gardens, applying the turning skills they had been learnt on Saturday. Some of the Albany people made tow bags on Saturday evening as we mulled over the day’s events hoping that Sunday would present a chance to use them for the first time.

No, not Greece or the Med, here in our own backyard     Paddling the south coast  western Australia      Photo Mark Stallbaum

I think the instructor course with the delivery of an ISSA program was a huge success. It was a lot of hard work for the instructors, who were kept busy all through the day and evening.  Our bed times got earlier and earlier as the days wore on and was a measure of how hard everyone was working.

I was very impressed by the course presented by the instructors  for the Saturday. Its execution was excellent. I was amazed at the way the ISSA students quickly gained the skills and applied them to the surf and waves. Sunday was an opportunity to apply all that was learnt on Saturday and use it in a real paddling scenario. From what I saw, everyone was having fun which is what sea kayaking should be about.

Thanks must go to our trainee instructors, who made a huge commitment to give up 5 days of their lives to benefit our club. Thanks to Les Allen for running the course, Les has been a real driving force to get this off the ground.  I think all the instructors became more confident from this course and Les loves to challenge people. I saw our trainee instructors stand up and extended themselves. Thanks must also go to Jenni who took on the catering role of preparing evening meals for all the instructors, this followed on the heels of having organised and lead the WOWOW week. She did the catering after having participated in the days activities so it was a huge commitment by Les and Jenni to the SKCWA. Thanks to those members who want to improve themselves and their sea kayaking skills. There would have been no ISSA course and a chance for our trainees to practice without interested students who want to improve their seakayaking.

Thankyou everyone, the club is better for your participation.

Mandurah Canals Christmas Cruise

Mandurah Canals Christmas Cruise

Sunday 27th December 2020

Report by Bruce Pilgrim

The moon was full, the sky was clear, the tide was high and the lights were on. I invited the Swan Canoe club to join us for a leisurely paddle to view the Mandurah Canal Christmas Lights, following the navigation route recommended by the City of Mandurah and used by the fare paying tour boats. But we did it for free.

Seventeen paddlers fronted up to Henry Sutton Grove in Halls Head. Twelve of them from the Swan CC and five of us (Andrew Nerissa, Heidi, Peter and myself) from The Sea Kayak Club. After checking that we all had the required white light and advising everyone that the biggest hazard would be other boats, we split into three groups each headed by Andrew Munyard, Colin Priest and myself. It was just on dark as we headed off following the flotilla of boats on their journey in and out of the canals.

The suggested route in and out of the canals was about 8km long. Most of the houses on the canal had some form of xmas lighting, many with themes, some extraordinary displays and one unlit house with a simple “ditto ” in lights pointing to a well-lit up house next door meaning, I think, the owner couldn’t be bothered.

The weather was perfect with a moderate SW wind which you didn’t notice once you were in the canals. It was easy paddling keeping to the right well away from the constant stream of motor boats. A few locals were on their jetties as intrigued by the number of boats as we were by the lights. The displays must take many weeks to set up and I would imagine a few entrepreneurial types would make a dollar or two as I couldn’t imagine every house would have the knowledge of how to set up the lighting displays.

The hardest part at the end of the evening was finding

our way out of the labyrinth of canals back to our cars. However, we all agreed it was a lot of fun and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Cervantes 2020

Cervantes 2020

Paul Cooper arranged the Cervantes weekend this year (as usual). Sixteen kayakers made their way up to Cervantes on Friday evening and another arrived just in time for the paddle on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning we were awoken at about 5:00 am by screeching parrots and warbling magpies. Time for breakfast.  People slowly emerged to start organising themselves for the day. It was already windy with about a 10 knot Southwester.  The forecast was for the wind to swing to the South and pick up to around 20 knots after midday.

The rest of us set off from Cervantes for the 25 km downwinder to Jurien Bay. We roughly split into two groups; the sailors and the ones with too much energy, and the paddlers.  I lead the paddlers off while the sailors sorted their sails out.  The wind and the waves soon picked up and the sailors cruised on by.  There were nice waves to catch and we made good time.  We soon arrived at Hill River for a break.  The wind had picked up and was now consistently over 20 knots.

The following section was written by Andrew Munyard

We all launched from Hill River successfully with Richard and Damon being last off the beach. The quartering sea breeze making getting off a little difficult.  As Richard got organised behind the break, he decided to do some capsize training which Damon responded to and got him back in his boat.

Steve had headed off with the paddlers.  We were past Booker Valley (half way between Hill River and Jurien Bay) and the sailors were still behind us (just).

A little while later we got a gurgled radio message with Peter telling us he had capsized up ahead, his orange boat a real bonus in spotting it in the waves.  Richard this time performed the rescue but as Peter pumped out his boat with his head no longer looking at the horizon but down into his boat, sea sickness overcame him. A common occurrence in performing rescues. Peter decided he needed to get off the water and made a beeline to the beach, Damon raced ahead to assist with the landing.

As we stood on the beach with  Peter not feeling too good. Andrew walked to the back of the beach and found a bike track. We now had a way to get Peter out if needed. Peter had texted Pel that we were waiting for him to recover. As I walked back to the group on the beach, Pel’s voice came over the radio. I thought that was strange as he would be in Jurien but the comms were very clear. As I turned around for one last glance at the map on the bike path I noticed Pel and Des Cook walking down the path with Pel calling me on the radio. They were parked 100 metres from our position and had walked in!

The funny things you find on a bike path!
Photo by Andrew Munyard

Peter took the opportunity for a land based exit and the remainder of us paddled on to Jurien.

Setting Tony off after delivering Peter to Pel and Des.
Photo by Andrew Munyard

Andrew decided to disobey all the rules he had made for sailing and threw the sail up without making sure all lines were free. The mainsheet tangled and the sail filled with wind and over he went. Luckily for him the water was only waist deep and he managed to perform his own rescue, much to the disappointment of Damon who had paddled back hard into the wind to assist.

Wind speed on the Jurien Bay jetty was measured at 26 knots with 30 knot gusts.

Back to Cervantes to get cleaned up, have a break and head off to the pub for dinner.

The weather forecast for Sunday sunny with 18 knot southerly winds increasing during the day.  We decided to just have a short paddle to the Cervantes Islands and agreed to meet at the Cervantes jetty for 8:00 am.  By 7:30 am most of the group had left the camp for the 5 minute drive to the jetty leaving a few of us wondering whether we missed something. Heavy traffic maybe?

We had a great paddle out to the islands and enjoyed the scenery when we landed for a break. Fortunately the wind was less than forecast.

Photo by Pel Turner
Photo by Pel Turner
Photo by Pel Turner

Thanks for another great weekend. Paddlers were

Paul Cooper

Tony Beswick

Peter Seebeck

Kim Palmer

Andrew Munyard

Chris Mawson

Steve Haddon

Damon Haddon

Austin Mullen

Kevin Johnson

Alan Aitken

Richard Lailey

Wolfgang Weizig

Brenda Stubbings

Pel Turner

Des Cook

Tony Hubbard

Bunkers Bay 2020

Bunkers Bay 2020

Bunkers Bay 9-12 October 2020

Peter Seebeck

The trip was organised by Bruce, who’s neighbours Kerry and Paul kindly rented out their holiday home to us for the 3 nights. Attendees were Andrew B, Bruce, Jill, Judy, Sharryn, Jane, Jo, Steve, Daveena, Damon, Jenni and myself (Peter).

We arrived at the house Friday afternoon, admiring its location (right next to the beach), size (5 bedrooms and a dungeon), and character (colourful interior, random artefacts, and family memorabilia).

After settling in most of us set off to explore Bunkers Bay. June, Sharryn, Jill and Daveena by foot, and Steve and Damon by kayak. They paddled SE to Rocky Point where they saw seals bobbing around in the water with the surfers. Andrew and I paddled off to play in the waves off the west end of the bay. However on closer inspection found the whitewater from the 1 to 2 metre surf flowed straight onto the rocky shoreline, with no safe channel between. We gave it a miss.

Friday evening was spent having dinner together, solving the world’s problems and discussing the merits of grey hair. We also planned the important components of the Saturday morning kayak trip – sleeping in beforehand, and being on the water by 10am. 

Come Saturday the sunny weather and sound of crashing waves got us motivated earlier than expected. So much so that Jenni, Andrew, Jill and I hatched a plan to get everyone on the water a bit earlier – walking around in lycra while holding a dry bag. It worked perfectly and soon everyone was packing their yak.

The trip destination was Castle Rock, 8.5km away towards Dunsborough. The main challenge was launching through the waves in Bunkers Bay. These were thick and sudden dumpers with 1m sets. It provided a useful lesson for identifying set waves and waiting for the lull between them. To drive the learning home even further, Jo bravely and selflessly demonstrated what would happen if you paddled out during a set. She punched halfway through the wave only to be mercilessly sucked backwards over the falls and rolled over for good measure. We learnt our lesson.

Once past the waves we all enjoyed a leisurely paddle in calm conditions along the beautiful bays, rock formations and crystalline waters of Cape Naturaliste.

Back at Bunkers we found the wave size had increased and so most paddlers chose to land further up the bay. Surfing the waves in was not advisable – no kayak friendly sliding down the face here – more likely a quick hypotenuse, then twisted sideways and rolled a lot more angles than 180deg (sorry Pythagoras). 

Once back at the house several of us enjoyed the behemoth 8 seater spa. Succumbing to it’s relaxing warmth, we planned how to sleep in it without drowning. Next we headed inside for an afternoon of wine, cheese and intellectual discussion (actually I can’t remember what we discussed, probably wine and cheese). 

Saturday night was food sharing night, and everyone contributed great food they’d cooked at home or on the night. The nights conversation included the fact that this trip has perhaps set some kind of club record for the ratio of women to men, with 7 women and 5 guys present. Indeed, it was almost 9:5 but Sandy and Brenda pulled out at the last moment. The ladies enlightened the blokes about some of the challenges which women face in a club populated mostly by men. For example the value which men place on assertiveness can of course be a virtue, but it can also hinder a culture of cooperation and support. Overall the strengths of both sexes were recognised, as well as their room for improvement, such as men learning to step back and give others a chance, or women developing confidence to step forward and provide wise guidance. 

Cape Naturaliste and Sugarloaf Rock

Cape Naturaliste and Sugarloaf Rock was the destination for Sunday morning. Daveena, Andrew, Jenni, Steve, Damon and I planned to make our way there by kayak, while June, Sharryn, Bruce, Jill, Jo and Judy were keen for some bush walking in the same area. (photo by Jill)

For the paddlers, the swell had picked up overnight and it was a long wait for the smaller waves so we could get off the beach. (photo by Jill)

A bommie was breaking off the NW headland at Bunkers with 2-3m waves so we had to paddle far offshore before we could head west to the Cape. Fortunately the wind was gentle and the waters free of chop. The swells were even larger as we neared Cape Naturaliste – around 3-4m – and curious Albatross flew over us to take a closer look as we rose up and down over long, impressive walls of water. 

Amidst all this beauty my own mind still found it necessary to worry about sharks. They’d been in the news again and Bunkers had it’s own history of attacks. However Jenni coolly advised that seeing a shark “is just like seeing a unicorn.” I was concerned by this response (what kind of magical mystery kayaking tours had come to take Jenni away?) and chose to believe our most experienced paddler was actually offering a Zen-like riddle for me to solve. 

As we headed south down to Sugarloaf Rock the big swells reared even higher as they broke along the coastline and we admired their huge plumes of spray, feeling thankful to be much further out to sea. This didn’t stop Andrew from encouraging Steve to “paddle over and touch the rock” when we arrived a few hundred metres from Sugarloaf. It seemed an appropriate ritual but Steve would not oblige. Perhaps he’d left his lucky banana shirt at home. 

A quick raft-up snack and we headed back to the Cape and then to Bunkers. By this time our bush walking colleagues had been watching us from their trail, and in contact with a communications device. At one point Bruce alerted us to a whale nearby and we heard and saw the spray from its blowhole. (photos by Jill and Judy)

Our bush walking colleagues had been watching us from their trail, and in contact with a communications device.

Photo by Damon Haddon
Photo by Damon Haddon

After arriving safely back to Bunkers Bay we enjoyed a relaxing break and swapped stories with the hiking group.  A lot of the group went home Sunday afternoon, we bid farewell and looked forward to future Bunkers paddling. Staying on until Monday morning was Jo, Andrew, Jenni, Bruce, and myself. We had a quiet afternoon, though Andrew and I went for a hike on the Cape to Cape trail south of Sugarloaf Rock, trying a bit of photography along the way.

Special thanks for the trip goes to everyone really, for making the trip fun and engaging, though it wouldn’t have been possible without Bruce and his neighbours Paul and Kerry.

Sea Kayaking Turkey

Sea Kayaking Turkey, July 2020

Gulf of Gokova (Mediterranean Sea)

By Heidi and Peter Hutton

We caught a ferry from Rodos, Greece to Marmaris, Turkey, then rode our bikes to Atokoy village to meet our sea kayak hosts, Vedat and Julie
Six glorious days paddling the Bay of Gokova provided many a tall seafaring tale

Tues 2nd July: Atakoy Village is where our hosts, Vedat and Julie live and where they operate their business from. Alternatif Outdoor specialises in sea kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and canyoning. They offer fully guided tours but they are also more than happy to try and accommodate the individual. We wanted to “freedom hire” and go on our own. Vedat spent time with us in the evening helping us to plan our trip while plying us with Chai tea and treats. He patiently answered my many, and often stupid questions. We wanted a paddle that would give us an insight into the local lives, but that would also offer some of life’s little pleasures, like nice cafes and this is what we got! The only thing we didn’t get was our own lightweight paddles and Mirage 730 kayak. In our experience hire boats tend to be heavy, mainly watertight and designed for the recreational paddler. The benefits are they are hardy, can be dragged over beach pebbles and have quite a bit of storage. They are usually craft designed for a slower pace so that you can look around and enjoy the surrounds – just what we were after.

Wed 3rd July: Our paddle today started sublimely. We put in on the Azmak stream and the first 3km were meandering down to the river mouth. The stream is fed from underground mineral springs that bubble up from below, creating the clearest water we have ever seen, and the coldest we have felt for a long time. Vegetation underwater was prolific and we enjoyed paddling over this underwater oasis.

Our starting point at Azmak stream. It is fed from underground mineral springs that grow prolific underwater vegetation. You can dine with your feet in the water

Once out into the Mediterranean at Akyaka Beach we kept the bank on our left and made our way towards Gelibolu Adasi, a small island. Tour boats congregated here for their guests to swim and snorkel in the clear waters. This same island was where we set up camp later in the day under some shady olive trees. In the meantime we paddled into a small village called Camli. A lovely restaurant lined the creek we paddled up and after doing the “Superman” change into more suitable restaurant attire, we were soon drinking Turkish coffee overlooking the water. I think that I will have to give up on drinking Turkish coffee and stick to Chai tea. The coffee is thick and syrupy and way too strong for me. Pete ends up drinking mine and then gets head spins for the next couple of hours from all the caffeine! As we sat we were mesmerised by the many turtles and fish swimming by. We were also visited upon by the regular mangy cats hopeful for a feed. After coffee, another “Superman” change back into paddling clothes and then we returned to the island we passed earlier, albeit into quite a strong headwind. The island shoreline was rocky so it was not the easiest place to get to but definitely worth it once there. There were drums of water under one of the trees. We were not sure if they had been left by past visitors and it was very tempting to use the water for a shower. But we refrained and were very glad we did. They had not been dumped but were there for a small goat herd that lived on the island. These goats made themselves known just as we were cooking our dinner. At first we did not know if they were wild or tame.

Very rude dinner guests on our “desserted” Island

The big ‘ol patriarch of the family was neither wild, nor tame, just hungry and was determined to have some of our dinner. We kept them, and the numerous rabbits at bay with some determined yelling and waving of our arms. Luckily, the owners of the herd soon arrived from the mainland in their little dinghy with grain and more water. We were soon settled in our little tent loving the serenity…until the early hours of the morning. At that time we heard the voices of 2 men out in the water, then flashlights probing the shoreline. Were they headed for us? Were we known to be alone, camping on the island? Were we in danger? The mind plays all sorts of tricks when in a strange country for the first time. The men kept approaching and were soon coming out of the water straight for us. I think they got just as much of a fright when they saw us as we did when we first heard them. They were merely spear fishing and after a “Salem” they went on their way, leaving behind two very relieved Aussies.

Thurs 4th July: Time seems irrelevant when paddling and we tend to be guided throughout the day by the sun and by our “tummies”.

Oh no we didn’t bring any salt for the potatoes. What to do?

After our standard breakfast of muesli and powdered milk we paddled around a little island boasting its own “Golden Beach”. By Australian standards a little disappointing, more so when we learned you have to pay if you want to land on it as it is privately owned. So, we admired the clear waters from afar and continued on to the next village. After a brief stop we paddled on, finding a lovely beach for lunch. There were quite a few people on the shore and we soon learned, by way of hand gestures and “charades” that it was a privately owned beach and we had inadvertently crashed a family gathering. The families didn’t mind us finishing our lunch before setting off once again. By this time the breeze had picked up and kicked up a chop that splashed up on us, keeping us cool and salty. We soon found a deserted pebbly beach to camp on. Being as compact as we are enables us to camp where others may not be able to. On our narrow stretch of beach, we enjoyed million-dollar views overlooking the Mediterranean. We kept our views looking forward though as behind us was the detritus of humanity. Rubbish of all description lined the edges of the beach. We explored through this and the most common things were plastic water bottles, single thongs (Pete managed to find 4 x right foot thongs. Where are all the lefts?), plastic bags and ropes. Being in a sea kayak offers so many advantages and one of the best is finding these amazing private places to camp, accessible only by water. With no people around we could “act like natives”. Very quickly clothes became an optional extra! BEWARE though that surf shoes are probably a good idea in the water as sea urchins abound. They do hurt when you tread on one!

Fri 5th July:  A heat wave had hit Turkey so we could not be in a better place right now. Leaving early, we found a lagoon to explore. At the end of this, surprisingly, we came across a little café of sorts. Ali, the owner and fisherman was quite the entrepreneurial fellow. Being so remote though the coffee was the “3-in-1” instant sachet you buy from the supermarket (coffee, sugar and powdered milk all in one) with hot water. We didn’t mind as we got to chat to Ali as he and his mates removed their morning catch from the nets. This took some skill as the fish had spikes along their back and were commonly called “Shotgun”. They only run for a short time so everyone was spending a lot of time on the water. Ali’s English was terrific and we enjoyed chatting. He also filled up our water bladders for us (something that everyone we met was happy to do). As we chatted another fishing boat returned to the jetty and hauled in their nets by hand before beginning the laborious process of disentangling their catch. All hands were on deck, from the very young to the very old. It was a lovely scene to watch families and friends all working together, regardless of age. Time did not seem to matter and conversations were enjoyed, cups of tea were poured and the steady stream of fish filled buckets. More exploring of some of the arms of the inlet followed before settling on a small beach as our campsite. It was so small we had to dig out a spot flat enough to fit our tent. Once set up though it was perfect. We are grateful that the Mediterranean summer is a season of stableness and no high and low tides. We may have been under water otherwise!

Sat 6th July: What tourists we were today. An early start so that we could cross the 15km channel before the wind came up. We arrived in the beach resort town of Oren in time for a second breakfast. And what a breakfast it was…coffee/tea, cold meats, cheeses, tomato, olives, cheese filled pastries, bread and homemade jam and fried eggs of which we consumed the majority.

Being tourists at Oren after our gulf crossing

It was a hot day so we took advantage of all that the town had to offer. Where we had breakfast also had beach umbrellas and sun beds, the perfect place to hole up with a good book. There was a little pontoon and the water was crystal clear. Oren is a resort village so we explored the town, bought ice cream and generally enjoyed the time off the water. The wind was picking up throughout the day but was to abate later in the afternoon. So, we waited before heading off. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was wrong. The wind did not abate and it was “hairy” enough paddling that the “Go Pro” did not come out to capture the tumultuous, confused and lumpy seas as we passed the cliff-lined shores and rocky outcrops. It also made us realise that we had not thought enough about the afternoons paddle before heading off. Spoilt with calm conditions to that point we did not have the paddles secured to the deck by their paddle cords. Not an easy thing to secure once in the thick of it all! With nowhere to land we had to keep going. The sun began to lower in the sky and still we could find no place to land. We finally came across one spot but due to road accessibility there were lots of others already there. We opted to keep going and that is when the weather really did turn it on. A system came through, the wind changed 180 degrees in a matter of seconds and we were soon battling into a head wind with peaky waves. My glasses were soon encrusted with salt, Pete’s hat blew off (we retrieved it) and just as we began to despair, another small beach appeared. There was already a group there but we had no choice but to “crash their party”. We were welcomed enthusiastically by these Ukrainian sailors, travelling by their inflatable catamarans. They shoved cups of tea in our hands, helped us with our boat and soon after, they had replaced the tea with homemade ginger beer, very alcoholic ginger beer. We were invited to join them for dinner, a delicious stew and more ginger beer before the musical instruments came out and the singing started. They were awesome.

Hey ho and up she rises earli in th’ mornin’. Georgeous Ukranian sailors who saved us from certain death. They wined and dined us and let us camp next to them on their tiny strip of sand

The singing was short lived though as their other boat with 3 of their group arrived back from the town, being towed by a marine rescue boat. The seas and winds were still fierce and the disabled boat, once released from the rescue boat was quickly getting washed onto the rocks. All hands were required to save it from further damage. The saga of the boat then came out. They were returning from town when the wind changed. The sudden squalls flipped their boat. The 3 crew were unprepared so phones and wallets also got flipped out. 2 of the 3 crew did not have on PFD’s so testing times for all. The motor on the catamaran was flooded so the evening was cut short as the crew attended to the boat and themselves. It was a restless night, with the waves lapping close to our tents. Finally, in the early hours of the morning the wind abated and we could all rest easily.

Sun 7th July: It is hard to believe that we were looking at the same waters. Last night the waters weighed and crashed, today the water slumbers. The dramas of the night before had not dampened the mood of our young sailors who frolicked in the water and chatted and laughed. We left your new friends begrudgingly and continued along the rocky coast towards Akyaka. We eventually crossed the inlet (at its narrowest point) and made our way to our original café for breakfast. The shipping channel was pleasantly smooth to cross, but with a bit of rubbish and debris clustered in floating Islands. A nice paddle to our last campsite and an afternoon reading, swimming and relaxing followed.

Calm seas the day after the big blow

Mon 8th July: A beaut sleep in as the sun slumbered behind the mountains. Then a short paddle back to Akyaka beach. We then paddled against the current up the mineral spring fed river. We were feeling salty and sticky after a night of moist salt spray filled air. The paddle up the stream was again lovely but as it was a bit later in the morning, tour boats were plying their trade up and down the stream. They did not particularly like sharing the channel with us as the stream was fast flowing and narrow in parts. Luckliy we knew to stay right and were fortunate not to come across any boats coming in both directions at the same time. We were soon sitting and cuddling cold beers in Orfoz Restaurant where Vedat was to meet us. We felt very satisfied and had already begun to fall in love with Turkey.

SUMMARY: A fabulous experience and one we would recommend without hesitation. Vedat and Julie provided us with just the experience we were looking for. Have a look at their website: http://www.alternatifoutdoor.comThey offer everything from fully guided tours to freedom tours as well as transport and route options.

Ningaloo, August 2020

Ningaloo 2020

Escape from the Pandemic – paddling at Ningaloo, August 2020

By Sue Harrington

Photos by Russ Hobbs, Sue Harrington, Leonie Moore

While unfortunate Victorians and much of the world were in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in August a group of club members and partners headed north to Exmouth and Ningaloo for a week of paddling and other outdoor activities. Organised by Pel, the trip had originally been planned for May but had to be postponed due to travel restrictions at that time.

Having survived the drive up through strong winds, dust storms and heavy rain, members of the group turned up at the crowded Yardie Homestead Caravan Park. Everyone commented on their fuel consumption, due to the strong northerly winds and our laden vehicles, being alarming.

Most of the Ningaloo paddlers (photo Leonie Moore)

Richard had spent a week there already, enjoying good weather and the charming women at the next campsite!  Others in the group were Pel and Julie, Paul Cooper, Wolfgang, Brenda, Steve and Leonie, Steve and Davina, Tony Hubbard, Martin, Sue and Russ and late arrivals Dave Oakley and friend Allan.  The gusts the first evening as we set up seemed even stronger than winds that Exmouth is known for, but somehow we managed to keep our tents and other gear from blowing away. While it rained, we all headed to the café for an easy first dinner.  Paul must have charmed the chef because his serving of roast dinner was twice the size of anyone else’s!

Café group (photo Russ Hobbs)

With winds reduced to a breeze, next morning we met at the café and sipped excellent coffees while we planned the coming week. Wolfgang was well prepared with maps, ideas for paddles and past experience of conditions. The rest of the day was spent going for walks, checking out the surf conditions at Wobiri Beach and generally settling in. That evening we started our daily habit of meeting at 5pm for drinks and snacks, to share stories from the day and enjoy the sunset.

Julie and Pel at evening drinks (photo Sue Harrington)
Calm lagoon conditions (photo Sue Harrington)

After a clear and spectacularly starry night, the morning was calm and a comfortable temperature. We headed to Ned’s Beach and launched under cloudy skies at the civilised hour of 10am to paddle northwards in calm conditions to Mangrove Beach. At least one stingray was sighted, leading to some poor taste Steve Irwin jokes from Richard. From there we paddled out to the reef edge where lots of fish, corals, sea cucumbers etc were visible through the clear water. Fun was had playing in the waves coming over the reef edge. And we continued back to Ned’s Beach in sunshine. Trip distance was 12.6km, taking 2.5 hours. The afternoon was spent snorkelling and other activities before sunset drinks.

Playing on the reef edge (photo Sue Harrington)

Next day another 10am start (why rush when you are in paradise?), this time from Lakeside. Just 6 paddlers headed off to the south towards Turquoise Bay. The water was rough and turbid with a southerly current and the wind increased to 12kt. Despite the conditions we could still see lots of turtles surfacing (and hear Brenda whooping with excitement!), stingrays, fish and corals. Crashing waves created a constant roar out on the reef edge. The cloudy conditions cleared and we had a pleasant lunch break in sunshine at Turquoise Bay. The return paddle was faster in following choppy seas, arriving back at Lakeside at 1:30pm. Total distance 16.1km. Dave Oakley had just arrived with friend, Allan, and joined us for drinks.

Paddlers under red cliffs at Yardie Creek (photo Russ Hobbs)

Another windy night and morning, but it was OK for venturing south to Yardie Creek to paddle up the gorge. It is a short (2.5km return) trip but spectacular with glowing red cliffs in the morning light and a good number of Black Flanked Rock Wallabies spotted on the sides of the gorge. Some chose to walk the trail above instead of paddling so were able to look down on our colourful kayak group below. Lunch under the trees was supplemented by a slice of fruitcake to celebrate Sue’s birthday. In the afternoon people went walking or snorkelling and again met up for drinks, this time with music from around a nearby campfire.

Paddlers in Yardie Creek (photo Leonie Moore)

Waking to a sunny day at last, most of the group drove to Sandy Bay where Pel erected a shade structure. It was intended for Julie but we all managed to crowd in out of the sun. Some ventured out in kayaks to the two snorkelling moorings to the south-west and then paddled further out to the reef edge where the marine life was outstanding. Others snorkelled at Osprey Beach, enjoying the varied fish life and green turtles or relaxed in the shade. Davina had an injured wrist so had come up with a method to wear a paddle float to protect her wrist while snorkelling, making her look like a large snapping shrimp as she swam!

Davina snorkelling with arm splint (photo Russ Hobbs)

Wolfgang and others ventured out in kayaks after lunch. A sudden commotion turned out to be dolphins repeatedly chasing a school of large fish across the lagoon, with the fish leaping out in splashing arcs. Perhaps the dolphins were using Wolfgang’s kayak to trap the fish, but he found himself in the middle of mayhem and was ‘eyed’ off by a dolphin after being hit by three escaping fish. Two of the hits were on his PFD but one was to the side of his chest, leaving him with three fractured ribs.See Wolfgang’s fishy tale at the end of this post. Despite his discomfort he said that the experience was worth the pain! That night we all ate out at the Yardi Kitchen café and had a very pleasant and social evening.

Choppy conditions and looming clouds returning to Lakeside (photo Russ Hobbs)

All week we had been awaiting news from Martin about the impending birth of his first grandchild. News this morning was that a little girl had arrived safely and with hearty congratulations from us all, Martin and Tony started the return drive to Perth, as did Steve and Davina. Brenda had also headed into Exmouth to stay with a friend. Some took a commercial cruise to see wildlife, others had a rest day.

Steve and Davina glowing (photo Sue Harrington)

Some stayed on an extra few days to enjoy more of the delights of Ningaloo and Cape Range, with the others of us returning back to wintery Perth. It was an excellent trip with easy paddles and other activities in a World-heritage listed location, with great company and an awareness that we were just so very fortunate to have the freedom to enjoy a lovely holiday during a life-changing pandemic. Thanks everyone!

Paul and Martin looking friendly (photo Sue Harrington)

Wolfgang’s Fishy Tale

Here is an amazing story from Wolfgang who has had a very unusual kayaking experience  in Exmouth recently.
Hi Andrew,
I experienced a very unusual happening which occurred on the clubs recent paddle excursion to Exmouth.
Here is what happened :
It was a perfect day, our group of paddlers had finished an enjoyable paddle trip and we all had lunch on the beach of Sandy bay in the Ningaloo Marine Park. The ideal condition were so tempting that three of us decided to go back on the water to practise some rolling.
I was paddling in not more than 4 feet deep water, about 200 meters from the beach, when suddenly “out of the blue” in front of my boat, a swarm of fish were jumping out of the water and heading
in full speed straight towards my boat. The fish were chased by a dark shadow which turned out to be a large bottlenose dolphin.
Just a few feet in front of my bow the swarm jumped out of the water  and at least three of the fish hit me in full force on the chest. The fish, about one foot long had a distinct yellow tail fin and weighted close to a kilo. The chasing dolphin passed the left side of my boat only inches away, the spray coming from his breathing hole hit my face, and I will not forget how his left eye was looking at me.
The impact on my chest was like being hit by hard punches. Fortunately my PFD partly softened the force except on my left side were I felt a sharp pain. The whole happening was over in less than a minute and was fully watched by the crowd on the beach.
I was so stunned by the fast approaching armada of silvery torpedos aiming straight towards me, that I was unable to react in any way until it was all over. It was certainly an experience of a lifetime, which could have had a more severe outcome if the fish had hit me in the face or neck.
On my return to Perth I had to see a doctor as pains in my chest, caused  by the impact, became worse by the day. X-rays confirmed that 3 of my rips are fractured. The bad news is now, that no paddle activities are recommended for a while.
Wolfgang ready to catch a fish! (Photo Brenda Stubbings)
Graeme, Barb, Jogi, Kaye and Judy Pishkera Island

Dalmatian Paddling 2019

By
Russ Hobbs and Sue Harrington

Continuing a nice tradition of overseas paddling holidays that started with a trip to Fiji in 2012, a small group of club members and partners paddled together in Croatia in September 2019. It was a fairly luxurious trip based on a yacht with cabins for 8 guests. The trip was run by Southern Sea Ventures, but subcontracting to a local company Sea Kayak Croatia, with the owner Yogi as our kayaking guide. Our home for the week was the yacht Vila Vrgade which is owned by the skipper, Dejan and his wife, Tina who was our cook. All three were terrific hosts, friendly and full of information.
The group – Pel, Julie, Russ, Graeme, Judy, Kaye, Barb and Sue.

The paddling was not challenging, but very pleasant, and the water was wonderfully clear and the famous azure of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. We paddled along the shores of some of the outer islands, and also up into a long inlet on the mainland, with the yacht moving us between paddling areas. Croatia is limestone karst country, and some of the outer islands are edged by imposing cliffs. The landscape is harsh but interesting, and it’s amazing that it has been productive for fruit and vegetables for centuries.

Pel and Julie off Kornati Islands.

We started the cruise in Split, and motored out on the Vila Vrgade to an island called Solta, mooring overnight at Rogac. The original plan was to head further out to the island Vis, but forecast storms and the risk of being stuck led to us heading for the more protected Solta.  Even so, our first paddle was lumpy enough to get us used to the individual handling of the kayaks.

Launching from the Vila Vrgade.

After our paddle we reboarded the Vila Vrgade for delicious lunch, followed by siestas as we motored back to the mainland to shelter at Rogoznica. Croatia is a famous place for yachting, so we were lucky to get an overnight berth there as the yachts were crowding in to take shelter from the wild conditions offshore. Paddling was not an option the next morning so we wandered through the village checking out the resort and ‘gentlemen’s club’ and stopping for mandatory morning coffee. In the afternoon, the Vila Vrgade took off to the northwest in the rough conditions to anchor at Lavsa in the Kornati group of islands, most of which is a national park. As we arrived at our mooring, a severe thunderstorm saw the drenched crew rushing around to anchor us safely in a very narrow bay.

Kornati cliffs.

Then it was good weather at last, so we launched from the Vila Vrgade to paddle in the open ocean into 7 knot headwinds and 1m seas past numerous islands, some with spectacular cliffs, ending up on Levrnaka. Over the next few days we paddled some more among the Kornati islands, motored back to the mainland (Vodice), paddled past a 15th century fort and into the Krka River inlet past Sibenik, Zaton and ending up at Skradin.

The pretty village Zaton.

Meals onboard the Vila Vrgarde were wonderful, sometimes with fresh seafood caught by Dejan the captain, and expertly cooked by his wife Tina. We were also treated to local venison, handmade pork sausage and wild fungi, all washed down with beer or wine of course!

Dinner aboard the Vila Vrgade – Graeme, Pel, Julie, Barb, Judy, Kaye, Sue and Russ.After leaving the Vila Vrgade we had a couple of additional non-seakayaking adventures. The first was a tour of Krka National Park, which is a very popular tourist destination famous for its spectacular waterfalls. An early start allowed us to avoid the massing crowds. The following day we had a white-water paddle on the Zrmanja River using double inflatable rafts, over multiple easy rapids and one a bit more daunting for those who dared! A fun day!
Pel on the waterfall.

Our excellent, well-informed and amusing guide, Yogi delivered us all to the coastal city of Zadar in his van crammed with gear and loaded up with kayaks for final farewells.

Our guide Yogi and the Aussies.

We enjoyed the historic sites of Zadar before heading off in different directions to take in some more of Europe before returning home.

Sandy Robson

Sandy Robson – November 2016

November 2016 – Sandy Robson completed her extraordinary 23,000km kayak expedition from Germany to Australia. Read the ABC News article about Sandy’s voyage here. Congratulations Sandy for your amazing strength and tenacity! See her website and blog here. There’s also an excellent article in Wild Magazine, and a fine report of her Sundarbans section in Canoe and Kayak Magazine.

Ian Watkins

Albany member Ian Watkins – July 2016

July 2016 – Albany member Ian Watkins has had a brush with a very large shark. The ABC News article and video can be seen here.

The Club has a policy in the on what to do in the event of a shark sighting in our
Safety Guidelines and Operating Procedures (see page 23). To reduce the risk, it is wise to paddle with others, close enough to be able to communicate and raft up if a large shark is spotted. Carrying a radio could be very useful too, as Ian’s experience clearly shows.

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