Howies Scuba

Scuba Diving Perth WA

Shore Diving

 Kayak Diving


Kayak Dive No#2

Bird Isl. Cape Peron. Rockingham WA.

Ok, here we go again, our second attempt at Scuba Diving from a Kayak, and I have to say it got a little bit hairy, but ultimately another great days diving. We made some modifications to the kayak and equipment since our last dive, some good, some that still require a little tweaking, but I will get to these as we go along.

For today's' dive we tried out Bird Island which is one of the string of small Islands between Penguin Isl. and Point Peron in South Rockingham, it is approx. 600 meters from the shoreline, so definately too far to swim..... or is it ?

Firstly we altered the way in which we attached the cylinders to the kayak and had tank straps fixed to the back of them (image 1 & 2) which I have to say secured the cylinders really well (good idea)...... thankfully. Secondly as the kayaks have 4 drain holes in its base in which the flag pole can fit snug, to reduce some of the bulk a new independent dive flag minus the float was made (bad idea) (image3). Last but not least we seperated the anchor and line from the dive flag and made an independent 30 meter anchor line (so so idea). 

 Choosing A Route

We got to the dive site and took a stroll down to the beach to see which route to take over to the Island. Basically you had an entry option either side of the point. Route 1 (left side as you look at the map) was a little shorter but the entry was a little rougher with some very minor surf. The second entry (right side) was approx 100 meters longer but sheltered so a smoother entry point. For the sake of 100 meters we decided to take the shorter route....... "Oh I already know what you're thinking".......

We got the equipment down to the beach, give everything the once over, felt pretty chuffed with ourselves, "again" and I made the statement "no capsizings' today"....... "Oh I already know what you're thinking".......

We decide today to wade into the water and enter the kayaks this way rather than try and enter in shallower water and then push off, which we have found is a better way of doing things, as long as you push past the surf, which we didn't.

Luke, with one giant leap successfully got into his kayak, gracefully fixed himself and was happily floating along, then I tried..... and tried again..... tried once again, and then tried some more, I tried so many times and failed that Luke took pity on me, came back to shore, jumped out of his kayak and helped me sort it out...... what a great dive buddy, brilliant, I was now happily floating along even if it was all a bit wobbly. Then luke tried to get back in his kayak..... and tried again..... and tried again..... and again....... and finally..... made it in....... fantastic we are on our way...... then I fell off....... who made the statement "no capsizing' today" ?....... that's right I did, famous last words, right !

Ok we finally got it all sorted out and started to make our way to Bird Isl. 

On Our Way oblivion 

When we first checked out which route to take (45 minutes earlier) the waters were pretty calm with the occasional small wave breaking over the reef, however by the time we had made our way out, those small waves seemed to have grown and had become more frequent. The smallest of waves were doing there best to tip an uneven weighted kayak over, never mind the bigger ones, every minute or so you had to turn the kayak right into the on-coming wave to ride it, then turn it left to head to the Island, the first few times wasn't a problem and I felt that we had the measure of this........... that's until those larger waves turned into a series of bloody great big things.

We dodged a couple of closely timed waves and Luke had gotten a little further ahead of me and then the next wave came, I watched Luke slip through this tiny little gap as the crest of the wave turned all white and frothy, I just cursed him and my luck as I knew what was coming, I turned the kayak in a fraction too late and....... BANG ! .............. capsized....... scarily capsized..... the kayak just flipped like a feather on a breeze, I got hurled out and all the gear got thrown out and about (luckily all tethered).

I made my way back to the kayak and just held onto it and used it as a float whilst the smaller waves pushed me closer to the shallower waters. For about 5 minutes I could not see Luke due to a constant two set of waves between us. I thought he was gone, then I saw the kayak but no Luke, now I was getting seriously worried and I thought he was definitely gone. The waves once again obscured my view and for a few minutes I could not see the kayak, then as they broke I saw Luke hanging onto the kayak, I put a hand up in the air and he signalled he was ok. I was so relieved..... just don't tell him that, I don't want him thinking I am going all soft in my old age.

Luke was about 100 meters away as we where getting pushed into the shallower waters, I shouted over, telling him to hold the kayak and let the waves just carry us in a bit shallower which we did. Then it happened........ another series of larger waves........ they just ripped the kayak away from me and threw it over my head, I instinctively curled up into the foetal position and protected my face and head as the kayak brushed passed me, I was lucky....... very lucky.

Luke finally caught up to me and told me he had been hit in the head by either the kayak or a dive weight and told me what had happened to him..... we both admitted that we were both worried......... to put it mildly. And I cannot believe Luke was worried about saving the stupid dive flag because it was sinking (no float), that he nearly got knocked out by the kayak a second time. And in the process lost a contact lense, which amusingly I thought to myself would affect his depth perception to the point were he would be kayaking in circles for the rest of the day.

We composed ourselves and sorted out the kayaks (more or less) and got back on board in more tranquil shallower waters. We must of been in the water fending off flying kayaks and dodging waves for about 20 minutes so. I asked Luke if he wanted to stop for the day and his simple response was..... " I am not going through all that and not diving.... no chance, lets dive", brillant, what a trooper, what a great dive buddy.

In more relaxed waters it took us about ten minutes to finish the rest of the kayak to the Island, now I stated earlier on that 600 meters was too far to do a surface swim, and maybe it is but, Luke and I covered over half of the distance (maybe more) in the water as the current and waves were relentless, not that I would choose to swim that distance and especially not in those waters.

At The Dive Site 

The Island is in the shape of a figure 8, which gave us a nice little cove to set anchor and geared up. The anchor continues to work really well and setting up in the water was easy enough. The only problem was the length of rope, 30 meters just seems like overkill if the dive sites are going to be shallow, the rope got tangled with everything and everyone and was a real pain, so a shorter line is definitely needed and a better way of containing it until we are at the dive site. After forgetting to don a few bits on the last dive we made sure our buddy and equipment checks were completed properly and off we went.  

 The Dive

The dive site was a great little dive, I cannot say it was worth nearly drowning for but definitely worth a gentle kayak. The depth was only 4 meters in the area we dived, we only covered about 1/3 of the island on the shore side, so how deep it can get is unkown to us at this point but I do not imagine it will get much deeper even on the sea-ward side.

As previously stated the dive depth was only 4 meters, the Islands are limestone formation and give you lots of nooks and crannies to explore, however you must be careful as limestone rocks are known to crumble quite easily. There was plenty of sea grasses and weeds surrounding the island and there was a fair bit of surge, which is a common feature of the Cape Peron area. The marine life was quite abundent, with lots of small to medium sized fish both schooling and solitary fish, including Cardinalfish, Goatfish, Old Wives, Juvenile Bream, Stingaree's, Banded Sweeps, Whiptails and one huge Sting Ray,to name a few, plus fish I am unsure of. The visibility in parts was perfect, however due to the surge in some small spots the sand was whipped up, somewhat obscuring the view.   

We dived for approx. 50 minutes and at times due to the shallow nature of the dive site we would pop up to the surface just to have a look at the rocks and coves. We returned to the kayaks and the surge was pushing these close to some jagged rocks so we lifted the anchor and swam them out about 10 - 15 meters just to be sure we didn't end up on the rocks. The anchor this time was strong enough to hold the kayaks without drifting, so we closed it up and just used its weight to hold the kayaks in place whilst getting things together, so that it would be easier to lift when we were ready to go.

All Aboard 

You will know if you read the first kayak dive from Penguin Isl. that loading the kayaks was an absolute farce the first time, however this time it was pretty much a breeze. We loaded the kayaks up cleanly and manoeuvred and secured the gear without any problems. We used the same technique as last time, one of us rolls the kayak and the other loads the cylinder and BCD and then roll the kayak back in the seated position, this seems the most efficient and easiest way to load the gear. We then dragged the cylinder up the kayak and used the new cylinder straps to secure them... easy. 

Again getting onto the kayaks was a little bit of fun, keeping your fins on is a definite as it gives you that power to raise in the water and get more height when launching onto the kayak. The only thing we feel we are doing wrong here is with our weights, we both use an intergrated weights system with our BCD's which leaves all the weight at one end, making the kayak unstable and back end heavy, especially as when you are seated you are at the rear end of the kayak. So our plan for next time is to go with only weight belts (I hate weight belts) and load them up on the front of the kayak to give it more balance, I guess we will have to "wait" and see. But really I cannot wait until summer comes back around and I can wear a 2mm shorty which I don't need to actually wear any weighting system if I choose.

Homeward Bound 

The journey back to shore was simple enough as we decided (2 hours too late) to return to the easier entry/exit point and kayak the extra 100 meters so as not to cut across the waves breaking over the reefs. It took us about 15 minutes in total, I am kind of kicking myself now, but they say hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we have learnt a valuable lesson.

The moral of this story I guess is that the shorter route to success is not always the fastest, as it took us 4 times as long to get to the dive site compared to taking the longer route.

Summary & Conclusion

So in summary, we started out chuffed with ourselves, "again", quickly got slapped in the face, "again", we nearly lost our gear, "again" and possibly our lives....... but we persevered and got to a great little dive site. Got to see some great little things and learnt some new pros' & cons' or Kayak diving.

Would I do it again........... absolutely...... again we had a brilliant day, the most fun and some of the hairiest moments I have had diving. I am not in a rush to repeat the mistakes of today but I cannot wait to get back in the kayak and have another go at a different site.

The Last Few Photographs 

Compilation Video 



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