Video: Magic Moments - Rainbow Downwind

Sunday, 03 June 2018 11:40 | Written by 
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Roman Rock lighthouse - the halfway point on the Miller's Run Roman Rock lighthouse - the halfway point on the Miller's Run Credits: Rob Mousley/

"Wow!"  "That's incredible!"

So we were paddling the "Reverse Miller's Run" in Cape Town; that's just like the summer Miller's Run that we do in the southeaster in summer, only we do the reverse in winter when the prevailing northwester blows!  We'd been enjoying the clean offshore runs for a km or two when suddenly the sky lit up with a complete rainbow...  breathtakingly beautiful.

Reverse Miller's Run

The reverse is about 11km in distance and is more or less a straight line route from the beach in Fish Hoek to the north ramp at Miller's Point.  Because the wind is offshore, we typically start in flat water, small runs begin anywhere from a km (in 20kt plus) to 3km (15kt) into the paddle and they typically get better and better.  The video looks best in 1080p if you have the internet speed...  It also looks pretty cool full screen!


The run needs to be regarded with respect; if you get into trouble, you're headed offshore!  And it's not unknown for the wind to rebound off the mountains 2km from the finish in such a way that you find yourself in a 30kt crosswind and nasty crosschop.  So, yep, respect.

On Thursday 31 May, 2018, my paddling buddy John Blacklaws and I set off at 3pm to do the reverse.  The wind was great - just less than 20kt and there were small white horses just outside Fish Hoek bay, and we knew we were in for a good one.


But we didn't expect to see the rainbow - it was beautiful, the video doesn't do it justice - and it got brighter and brighter as we approached the lighthouse, briefly became a double rainbow and then faded away.  

Clean Runs

In the second half of the clip, you can see where I had a half minute sequence where I almost didn't take a stroke.  Pure magic.

Reverse Buffels

When there's sufficient north in the wind direction (NNW is ideal) you can carry on, passing Miller's Point to head for Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve.  This more or less doubles the distance (and the pleasure)...


Hurricane Alley

But there is a sting in the tail of this route: a section of the route along a line of steep cliffs where the wind is compressed by the mountain and comes ricochetting across the water, sending squalls of 40kt plus that smash writhing clouds of spray off the surface of the water.

Yesterday Hurricane Alley performed for us spectacularly - but happily the wind direction was such that the blasts of wind hit us from behind.  But if there's any west in the wind direction, the squalls can blow directly offshore and a 40-50kt white-out side-on can be quite disconcerting.

Fortunately the squalls usually hit and move on in a few moments - it's a case of hang on to your paddle, hunch down the boat and wait!  

Here's a brief video of yesterday's Hurricane Alley blow-out:


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