This article appeared in Full Circle Magazine in 2004
One of the great things about living on the South Peninsula is there’s so much to do! One of the most affordable ways of getting out onto the water is in a kayak. You can buy, borrow or steal one, or you could take a guided tour for a few hours. If you’ve never done this before, best advice would be to go with the tour option. You don’t want to get into trouble out on False Bay and become Great White bait! (can we lose the reference to sharks and say just “get into difficulties?)
Full Circle approached Derek Goldman and Margaret Silk who between them own Paddlers Kayak Shop and Simon’s Town Sea Kayaking Tours and asked if they could show us the strokes. They are very easy going and fun, yet professional, operators whose high standards ensure clients are well looked after and bound to enjoy a new experience.
Kayaking is very weather dependant, so it’s not always possible to go out when you planned to. Set aside a couple of days to increase your chances of getting out there.
The trips leave from the Simon's Town waterfront early-ish in the morning. Derek gives everyone a quick but thorough run-down on how to handle a paddle and kayak and what to do, and not do, when out on the ocean. There was quite an excited buzz as people from different parts of the world got together for an adventure that most will never get the chance to repeat.
The going was very easy in the shelter of the harbour and only slightly more work beyond it. The kayaks are surprisingly stable so all the guests quickly relaxed into the rhythm of paddling and soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of everything around us.
We got up close and personal with the Amatola, a quarter of the new corvette fleet, recently delivered to the Navy. We stopped and formed a raft while Derek told us about the history of Simon’s Town and the Navy. It was really interesting and somehow had more impact when having to crane your neck for a duck’s eye view of some of the ships.
We headed south towards Boulders and the world famous penguin colony. Derek had told us what to do should we see any whales but they didn’t come to party that day. No vessel may approach within 300 metres of any whales. This is easier said than done when paddling a kayak. For whatever reason, whales apparently seem to be attracted to the tiny craft and as hard as one could try, you’re not going to out-paddle a curious whale. Derek is a responsible and experienced guide though, and would steer the group away from any whales in good time.
When we got to Boulders we made our way carefully among the huge rocks and some brave or thick-skinned bathers swimming in the sheltered waters. Paddlers has permission to do this but it didn’t stop one irate resident from delivering a verbal tirade at us. Derek calmly explained to the man that he had authority to be there but this arrogant individual bragged that, as an attorney, he would see that all permission was stopped. The overseas guests were very embarrassed and it seems incredible that anyone in Cape Town could be so offensive to tourists. How to win friends and attract foreign exchange!
We glided passed the penguin colony and also had a close encounter with a pair on endangered Black Oyster-catchers. Then we left Boulders, and the smug lawyer, behind and headed for a quiet cove to land and have a drink and snack. All the novice paddlers chatted and compared notes and experiences like true old salts!
Heading back to the harbour, we had to paddle Bob Seger style against the wind! It had picked up and the swells were bigger than the outbound leg. This just added to the experience and the upper-body workout. Still, everybody coped easily and made it safely back to the harbour.
Kayaking is super fun, a great way to spend a morning and well-worth the R200 charge. I’m not saying you’ll rush out a buy yourself a kayak but you never know. These things happen!