Kayaking in Cape Town

Went kayaking outside of Cape Town in 2009. Here are my notes . . .

Started about 830am for about a 45 minute to hour drive to Simonstown.
Remember to be prepared to get wet.  Wear a swimsuit or water resistant clothes.  Barefoot is ok, if it isn't too cold.  I wouldn't bother with socks or anything that might stay wet.

You are given a spray jacket to keep the water off whatever shirt you are wearing.  Also recommend taking a hat and sunglasses.  Make sure to have a string to tie your sunglasses to so they dont fly off your head. There is a small public bathroom near the dock where you can change if necessary.  They are clean.

The guide, Derek, had dry cases for cameras.  He also carries a dry bag on his boat.

The process was arriving, then climbing down a ladder to the kayaks.  Sitting in the kayak to size the rudder system to your feet.  The rudder system is easy to work, press left to go left and press right to go right.  It really helps with keeping your stroke consistent and not having to worry about steering with your paddle.  Also lifejackets are provided.  

Paddles are cheap plastic ones that are long with the heads at different angles.  Suppose they are cheap because pepole drop a lot of them.  There are no paddle keepers or anything like that.  So you must take care when taking  photos from the kayak and holding your paddle.

We paddled out, took a left a the dock, followed a breakwater up to the naval yard, then went left again around the naval yard.  Got to paddle next to South African navy frigates!  There were about four in dock at the time.  One of the problems with the ships is that there are not enough ranked officers and crewmen to man the ships, so they usually just sit in port.

Laying on the breakwater was a seal and lots of seagulls.  The seal was lazy as anything and barely took time to move his head to look at us.

There are two person and one person kayaks.  For those will a little paddling experience you can go out on the one person kayaks.  Couples can go out on the tandem kayaks or single kayaks.  The tandem kayaks have the rudder system worked by the person in the back.

Paddling around the naval yard there was another seal that was playing along the wall.  He was graceful to watch.  When in calm water it is nice to sit and watch the wildlife while enjoying the waves go up and down, with no noise from engines.  Just the sounds of the sea and birds.

Continued around the naval yard and into the wind.  Going into the wind can be difficult, but rewarding knowing that eventually you get to turn around and surf the waves back.

We navigated some kelp fields that aren't scary or difficult to manuever in.  On the right is Boulders  Beach.  Lots of seagulls and most importantly penguins.  All standing on the beach and some of the low boulders.  Usually after the morning dew wears off they dive in the water and head out to sea for the day before returning in the evening.  The numbers of penguins are decreasing, most likely because of overfishing.  The penguins have only been in the area for about 20 years.
The boulders also have rock hyrax, which are known for the distinctive smells they deposit on the rocks.  Small animals, almost like oversized gerbils, they are related to the elephant.  If you pay attention to the boulders you will see them watching you as you enter and exit the beach area and kelp fields.

All the beaches in South Africa are public land, so you are able to land your kayak whereever you please.  The guide Derek has a favorite small beach to land on.  We cruise up to the beach  and have a 5 minute break for pictures.  A penguin couple stolled by us and dived in the water and gave a swimming demonstration.  The water was very clear and it was easy to see the adaptations of the birds to swimming underwater.

After visiting the beach we headed back out and towards the dock. Derek tried to give lessons on surfing the waves, but I think the large sit on top kayaks are not as suited for the sport as his sea kayak was.  The trip back resulted in my kayak taking on a bit of water, so I was essentially sitting in a pool of water on the way back.  Not too uncomfortable with the weather, but might be uncomfortable if I were in a pair of jeans.

We arrived back, beached the kayaks and called it a day.  There is a restaraunt above the dock that you can eat at, as well as change in the public restrooms.