Penguin Island Blues
Sunday the 6th December dawned with blue skies, sunshine and the promise of wind. Not the sort from baked beans, but the sort that blows strongly from the south west. Undaunted, fourteen intrepid Swannies arrived early at Palm Beach and girded up their loins and their kayaks for the eighteen-kilometre return paddle to Penguin Island. After a brief beach briefing, they headed off under the Garden Island causeway under the guidance of Geoff and Colin. The wind was blowing at about fifteen knots, but Swannies laugh at danger.
After repairing a dodgy rudder on the Scorpio (thanks Pat) and dodging a few power boats, the causeway was left behind and the group paddled onward toward John Point. Three Sea Kayak Club members paddled by us on the way and we called a hello to Jill and Judy. Low tide meant a few challenges navigating south behind Mushroom Rock toward Point Peron, but Swannies love a challenge.
Guided by Russ, we made it safely to the shelter at Bird Island and had a breather in the lee of the island. From there we headed south for Seal Island, aware that the wind was swinging more south and with the south west swell, causing a few waves to break on the reef. The conditions were a challenge for some of our newer members, including one paddler who was on the sea for the first time, but of course Swannies love the sea.
Somnolent sea-lions slumped on the sand at Seal Island, but squadrons of pelicans practising their formation flying and synchronised beach landings made up for the lazy sea-lions. It was good to be in the lee of the island out of the wind again, chewing thoughtfully on a jelly baby. Graeme was having an ornithological moment, getting in touch with his inner twitcher and of course Swannies all love birds, don’t we Karen?
With the wild wind and waves, we were all pretty happy for discretion to push aside valour and land on the sheltered east side of Penguin Island for a bite to eat, a bit of leg stretching and to answer the siren call of nature. A few of us checked out our usual landing site on the seaward side and were impressed by the rocks and white caps. Swannies do love rocks it’s true, but not when they’re banging against our precious kayaks.
With the wind kicking up over twenty knots or about thirty-six kilometres an hour from the sou-southwest we all were having thoughts of the homeward trip. It didn’t take much encouragement to mount up again, push through the sea grass and so into deeper water. Geoff struggled with his sail at the back, as the other paddlers disappeared toward Seal Island and after nearly getting blown over, decided to paddle instead. Pat was looking forward to the waves and of course Swannies love the waves.
It was a fast trip back and despite the wind pushing a few of us onto shallow reef, we all stayed upright and almost dry. The wind was still blowing hard after we turned the corner at John Point, but we were starting to feel more relaxed with the causeway in sight. After bouncing through the chop and under the causeway we were all pleased to see the sand at Palm Beach. As you may have guessed, Swannies really love the beach.
As we packed up with the wind blowing at about twenty-one knots, I was impressed that one of the Sea Kayak Club WA members drove by to check that we had got back safely. Thanks for a challenging paddle to Colin, Russ, Rowan, Tracey, Claire, Janet, Rebecca, Des, Mike, Mark, Trevor, Patrick and Graeme. To borrow from Henry V and assuming the girls are honorary brothers “We few , we happy few, we band of brothers:” can look back on St Crispin Day or any day for that matter and say we were there and we survived!