Saturday, September 19, 2015

Betsey By Boat: South Arm, Iron Pot and Betsey Island By Kayak

Somehow a month has slipped by since we have been kayaking. Or perhaps I should say blew by as one of the reasons we have not been out in the boats has been the strong and steady winds. Not that anything really changed yesterday, the swell was still forecast to be high, the winds strong, and the seas building, but, it would be sunny and we had a sheltered paddle planned from South Arm, at the mouth of the River Derwent, out into Storm Bay and around Betsey Island. Storm Bay is exposed to true southerly swells, but, if there is any westerly component to the swell, the waters remain relatively sheltered. 

Calm water at Cape Direction,

Apart from launching at Hope Beach, which has a dumping swell, the closest easy launch is at South Arm where there is a small jetty, boat ramp and sandy beach nestled in suburbia. We had some side-ways chop from a west wind as we paddled south down the River Derwent (more like the ocean here) to Johns Point and around to Fort Beach. Fort Direction, on the hillside above, is some kind of military restricted area and is all wired off with big fences. 

Iron Pot

Passing Cape Deliverance and Pot Bay, we entered into Storm Bay and could see Iron Pot, a small islet with a prominent light station ahead. Islands are a magnet to kayakers, so we paddled out and sat for a while as raucous sea birds cried over head. We paddled around Iron Pot looking for seals, but today there were none, only large streams of kelp stretching across the ocean. Doug suggested we paddle straight across to Betsey Island, a distance of about five kilometres rather than hugging the shore and this took about 50 minutes with a slight headwind and getting blown downwind a bit. 

 Sheltered cove at the south end of Betsey Island,

Betsey Island is a nature reserve and an important for breeding site for Little Penguins, Shearwaters, and Cormorants. Today, the island seemed to be the domain of the Pacific Gull, and, I assume it is now breeding season for these large noisy gulls as they were in pairs all around the coast of the island. It's a distance of about 7.5 kilometres around Betsey Island. The north end has a pebbly beach which you could land on in a pinch, but otherwise the island is steep sided and comprised of short cliffs and steep bluffs, small bays, and little passages. At the far south end, we paddled into a very sheltered little bay over clear green water. Three hundred metres to the south is Little Betsey Island, again, no seals but hordes of gulls and cormorants and worth paddling around. There are some small sea caves on the west side of the island, but most are low roofed, and the one higher roofed cave had too much surge for us to poke our kayaks into. 

Wondering if I am game to venture in
PC, D.B.

By the time we were back at the north end of the island, we had been paddling four hours and were keen to get out of the boat for a bit. I thought we might be able to find a sheltered landing site on Calvers Beach perhaps getting some protection from Black Jack Rocks, but, when we had paddled over, we found the swell as big on Calvers Beach as it was on Hope Beach. We could have landed, but, it would have been a bit wet, particularly relaunching so we opted to paddle back west along Hope Beach to weave our way through the reefs off Cape Direction into a small sheltered beach, where, after five hours, we fell out of the boats. The final four kilometres back to South Arm was on glassy water overlooked by Mount Wellington. 

 Mount Wellington from the mouth of the River Derwent,

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