Backstairs Passage (Cape Jervis to Kangaroo Is.)
We loaded up the kayaks and paddled out of Cape Jervis to head towards KI in idyllic conditions. There was a small and gentle swell rolling in, however the water was smooth with not a white-cap in sight. Although there were impressive cloud formations over the mainland and light rain on KI, we experienced a sunny crossing for the majority of the trip. We took advantage of the ebb-tide and veered southeast towards Antechamber Bay, stopping regularly for rests and snacks.
After 3 hours the island was starting to feel closer and we paddled into a misty rain that produced a spectacular rainbow. Finally after 4 hours and 21km of paddling, we made it to KI just west of Antechamber Bay, and then continued to paddle close to the rugged and rocky coastline until we reached the beach. We negotiated a dumping shore-break and landed at Antechamber Bay then proceeded to portage the kayaks into the Chapman River. About 300m further upstream, on water that resembled a mirror, we were greeted by a campsite with a shelter shed complete with gas BBQ, rainwater tank, long benches with chairs and a flush toilet – very civilised!
We set up our tents amongst the melaleuca trees and brought out a diverse array of cooking equipment to cook up the evening meal. After tea we rugged up even further to huddled around the flame of a Trangia for warmth, sipping the many and varied wines that we’d brought, sharing stories and enjoying a few laughs late into the night. The next morning we were greeted with similar conditions to the previous day – little wind, plenty of sunshine, with the odd light-rain cloud hovering around.Following breakfast, we paddled down the Chapman River to the mouth, then portaged across the beach once again to negotiate the small surf and paddle further east towards Cape St Alban. After an hour (and heading into a brief and squally rain storm) we landed on the rocks at the base of the Cape St Alban light-house and climbed to the top. The views were impressive in the sunny conditions – we could see from Cape Willoughby to the Pages Islands to Waitpinga in the distance, then to the rugged coastline of Deep Creek and around to Cape Jervis.
Back in the kayaks we took advantage of the incoming flood-tide and headed for Cape Jervis, being careful to point towards Deep Creek to ensure that the flood tide didn’t pull us past Cape Jervis and up into the gulf. The return trip from Cape St Alban was 25km and we were paddling at a decent speed to get back to Cape Jervis before we hit the outgoing ebb-tide. On the way we were visited by a pod of dolphins and a very friendly seal, but otherwise the trip was made in flat conditions with a slight tail wind and a tail current – perfect!