The Wreck of the St Martin de Porres [25]

By David Winkworth

Jervis Bay – been for a paddle from Honeymoon Bay around to Target Beach recently? Yes? Have you noticed the grey rusting wreck high and dry on the rocks of Longnose Point?

I first saw this vessel last February on a Club weekend get-together at Honeymoon Bay. The wreck was then much closer to the water and in better condition than she (notice how we prefer to address inanimate objects in the feminine gender… sorry girls, no letters please) is now.

Norm Sanders, Gillian Cross and I paddled in to the small beach nearby and walked out to the wreck. All deck and below deck structures and fittings have been removed and a gaping hole in the side of the ship led us to speculate on the events that of the “St. Martin de Porres”.

On return home I began ringing Jervis Bay authorities in an attempt to find out more on the vessel’s history. The Federal Police had the answers for me:

The “St. Martin de Porres” began it’s life as a backyard project of some 8 to 10 years. It had been on the water for a few years before coming to rest at Longnose Point. Motive power came from an auxiliary engine only and it’s gaff rigged sails…. the clue here being that vessels with this sail rig really only sail well downwind.

Anyway, in Christmas 1994 the owner and 4 of his grown children set out on a three hour cruise (a three hour cruise???). They ventured outside the heads of Sydney Harbour with strong NE wind blowing. A length of rope fouled the propeller leaving them pretty well at the mercy of the wind with their limited sail choice. They carried no radio. So they sailed south and were spotted off Jervis Bay, with a V sheet (distress) up by another yacht. This craft radioed the Jervis Bay Water Police for them and they were towed in to HMAS Creswell. During the tow, visbility decreased to several hundred metres due to a storm.

At HMAS Creswell, the prop was cleared of the fouling rope and they left Jervis Bay to return to Sydney one evening just before midnight to ‘catch’ a forecast southerly home to Sydney.

Whether they turned left too early or encountered difficulties is not clear – the were not familiar with the area – but they were blown onto the rocks near Target Beach soon after midnight. They were not noticed until midday the next day – remember they carried no radio. Fortunately no-one was injured. The “St. Martin de Porres” was not insured.

OK, what’s the message for sea kayakers from this incident. Simply this: Spend time in your boat. Develop paddling skills to be able to handle all reasonably expected sea and weather conditions. Carry appropriate safety gear.

Bad Day at Tuross Bar [25]

By Mark Pearson

Saturday 27 May 1995

… and this was serious. The wind was now starting to pick up as the tidal current eased. Out to sea the horizon was lumpy – the sou’wester was in full cry out there. Less than three kilometres and I was heading that way. A terrible looking place. I began shivering again as I struggled to keep my position draped over the upturned kayak; After forty minutes of immersion, the 17 degree water was making it’s intentions clear. Blood was now in full retreat leaving grey white limbs.

I gazed hopefully at the distant shoreline – was that a figure on One-Tree Point? I again lifted the paddle into the air and waved it wearily. Was I too far out to be seen? I guessed I was now at least eight hundred metres out. Chris Soutter’s parting word’s kept ringing in my ears ‘Hope you come back in one piece’. Yeah Chris, maybe a cold dead piece. But how did I get into this mess anyway……..

I had paddled the Dancer once before on Lake Burley Griffin in February, accompanying Chris while he test-paddled my Seafarer. I rolled her three times – the first after unintentionally capsizing while lean turning (farewell yet another pair of Glarefoils!), and the second to show Chris, who was relatively new to kayaking, the basic technique. She was the easiest boat I had ever rolled, and to prove this my third roll was just a wide sweep and lay-back with no hip-flick. Up she came. This was cheating, I told Chris – what a boat he had to learn on.

When Chris kindly offered to lend me the Dancer for the weekend I jumped at the chance. I’d seen Gary Edmond and Co. surfing in white-water boats at Coledale and, in their expert hands at least, it looked fun. So I loaded the family and kayaks and headed for Tuross Heads, where I normally go for a paddle with Norm Sanders. On this particular day Norm was applying his powerful physique to repairing a friend’s roof, so I would have to surf alone. At 11 am I took my wife Kerrie, three year old son and two of our host’s children to the sheltered Caravan Beach which adjoins the two hundred metre wide Tuross River bar. It was a fine but cool day of about 15C.

Inshore, at least, the sea was benign – even the bar, normally a place of chaotic waves, was subdued, with waves of about three feet at most. I knew that the tide was running out, and that this was not a good thing at Tuross. I well remember the day last year, in my pre-rolling era, when Arunas Pilka and Nick Gill seemed to spend most of an afternoon rescuing me and my up-turned Seafarer in nasty ebb tide waves. I made the monumental decision to have a play anyway. After all, I told myself, the waves were small and this boat just about rolls herself, right!

I quickly launched into the river-mouth, admittedly in a rather ill equipped state. Due to the lack of decklines my paddle was not leashed and I could carry neither a sponge or water. My clothing was adequate; a Dry-Tech shirt, thin wet-suit vest, PFD, nylon paddle jacket, bike pants and neoprene booties. As I approached the wave zone I thought about a quick roll, but as I had not warmed up yet decided to get the circulation going first with some vigorous paddling.

I was now ready to catch waves. I quickly found out that the Dancer was slow and hard to keep straight – despite frantic paddling I was left behind by three waves before finally getting the speed to get a ride. I was puffing with exertion when picking up the next wave, and as I paddled to maintain a line I was hit by a refracting wave coming in from my right – the Dancer spun to the left and I braced but, much to my surprise, went straight over. Now, as I am not normally prone to such a rapid capsize whilst bracing, here I must provide some background. As a result of breaking a blade against a cliff wall at Merica River a month previously, Norm had persuaded me to join the growing ‘unfeathered’ club (as an inducement he had offered to, and did, re-build my paddle in this configuration). I now think that my brain had yet to fully come to grips with the new equipment, and in the heat of the moment my right wrist instinctively turned the shaft to set the paddle flat on the water. Of course this caused the ‘new

So, such was my surprise at the speed of the capsize, I didn’t get time to suck any air in before going under. As I manoeuvred the paddle into the set-up position, I knew that I would have air for just one roll. But the anxiety caused by nagging lungs led to a rushed attempt and down I went again. There followed a difficult wet-exit due to a stubborn sprayskirt. After less than ten minutes, the fun part of the day was definitely over.

I was now in neck-deep water holding on to the Dancer and the untethered paddle. The current was strong, and although I tried to ‘walk’ the boat the sixty metres to the nearest sandbar I was soon out of my depth. It was at this stage that I realised I needed a plan.

I came up with Plan A – Re-enter and Roll. Plan A provided me with a quick education on the characteristics of capsized white-water boats – with no bulkheads and minimal in-built foam, the Dancer was about as buoyant as you would expect a lump of plastic with a hole in it to be. Reentry was therefore tricky and unpleasant, as I was unable to use the ‘reverse somersault’ technique that worked well with the Seafarer. Once in, I swept and hip-flicked as strongly as I could, but the waterlogged hull would not right itself to a point where I could then brace. I persisted for about eight more attempts but then started to tire. Why I persisted for so long with Plan A still escapes me – if I had got her up, I would been sitting in a wallowing and 90% submerged log, with no chance of bailing it out and every chance of going over again.

So when I came to my senses I instigated Plan B – Towing the Kayak. This involved towing the boat while ‘swimming’ on my back with my three available limbs. Despite several minutes of hard work, the movement of nearby trees relative to their backdrop told me that I was fighting a losing battle. Plan B joined Plan A on the scrapheap.

I was now four hundred metres out from the bar, and considered my options while resting. I doubted whether Kerrie would even be aware of my predicament. With two three-year olds playing at the water’s edge, I quite rightly wouldn’t have been the focus of her attention. I couldn’t get into or tow the boat, which was only useful to me as something to hold onto. The current and increasing wind were still pushing me out and northwards. Plan C now revealed itself!

I would swim for it; now, before I drifted too far out. If I could make it ashore I could then launch the Seafarer with my spare paddle and hopefully re-capture the Dancer before it disappeared from sight. The long swim definitely did not appeal, but neither did drifting out towards that terrible looking horizon.

But I was horribly unsure about Plan C. The two halves of my rapidly cooling brain debated. The sensible well-read half made a strong case for staying put, detailing several tragedies where the victim had left the boat/car/plane due to their own misguided Plan C. However the other half, led by a powerful coalition of Primitive Fear (of deep cold water, nightfall, sharks etc), Instinct (to head for land) and Increasing Panic forced Plan C through without amendment. I slipped the spray skirt off and rammed it and the paddle into the front of the Dancer. The sensible half continued to nag at me – how was I going to tell Chris that I had last seen his beloved Dancer drifting in the general direction of Lord Howe Island! And what about the paddle – Norm had spent hours working on it.

And so it was with a heavy heart that I pushed away from the little kayak and commenced a steady free-style towards land. But the proponents of Plan C had not taken into account the weight of water-filled arms (thanks to my paddle jacket). I tired rapidly and after about 70 metres my brain, in an emergency sitting, voted unanimously to return to the security of the Dancer. She was now on her side and drifting away, but with the aid of my now dwindling supply of adrenalin, I was just able to catch her. I hung on, exhausted, until my breathing recovered.

I realised that my energy levels were now low and that a conservation policy would be wise. Plan D was implemented – waving my paddle for the benefit of any one looking out to sea. I seemed to be the only craft on the ocean – where are all the motor-boats full of fat fishermen when you need them?

And this is where I began..

I was now trying not to panic – I knew I could do nothing more for myself, and that I would have to wait until someone came to rescue me. Kerrie would eventually raise the alarm, but given my history of disappearing for two hours when I’d said one (be it kayaking or fishing), it could be a while before my absence would alarm her. And how far from Tuross would I be when they started looking? I was drifting to the north east at quite a rate. Apart from being angry with myself, I felt vulnerable, weak, cold and increasingly aware of my mortality.

And then a siren sounded in the distance. An old World War 2 type siren. It sounded for a good minute, stopped, then started again. I tried not to hope too much that this was related to me. What if they were just testing it, or there was a fire somewhere, or it was just a noon ritual. I thought of disaster movies, and the anguish of shipwreck victims as the search plane flew over without seeing them. Poor bastards. But I was sure I could now see a figure on One Tree Point; again I waved my paddle. The shivering was now coming in waves as my body protested at the prolonged immersion; this was now torture.

Ten long cold minutes passed and then a flash of red on the bar. Soon I could make out that it was a Rubber-Ducky moving quickly, leaping over waves, two men on board. More paddle waving, but it was not needed, they knew where I was. The Tuross Rescue Squad (TRS) had arrived. They quickly pulled me and the Dancer aboard. I tried to tell them what had happened but talking was difficult due to the ‘rigor mortis’ in my jaw. They radioed ashore that they had located the boat, and that the ‘patient’ was OK. One of the guys thanked me for rescuing him from a bad round on the golf course!

They landed on Caravan Beach, and after ensuring I was OK and taking some details, the TRS headed back to base. They, at least, had enjoyed the outing (their first since the previous Xmas). Kerrie was as surprised as anyone to see it was actually me that was rescued – she had seen the Rubber-Ducky heading out to sea but thought it was on a training run. Michael, my three-year old, thought that this was all terribly exciting, and wanted to know every detail of the drama.

As I was fumbling my way into some dry clothing a middle-aged man approached. He had been taking a walk and had seen me in trouble, but couldn’t find a nearby house with anyone at home. He had finally flagged down a friend’s car, who had raised the alarm. I thanked him sincerely for his efforts through clenched teeth. I learned later that a second call was also received from another house resident.

Thank you Tuross.

Norm had heard the siren from his perch on the roof, but did not connect it with me. Given that I had come through the ordeal OK, his main concern was for his reputation – ie. the local populace would assume it was he, the only ‘regular’ kayaker in Tuross, had been rescued.

What is mild hyperthermia like? Well, despite a long hot shower and layers of clothing I found it hard to get warm for the rest of the day. I also felt dog-tired, dizzy and like I had a severe head cold.

The next day I felt somewhat better, and Norm and I headed to Tomakin with our sea-kayaks. For the first time I actually appreciated the weight and size of the Seafarer as I carried her to the water. I felt at home as I squeezed into the snug-fitting seat and slipped into the water. She picked up speed rapidly, cutting re-reassuringly through sizeable waves without fuss. This was a boat for the ocean – big, tough and capable! I rolled her a few times just for my self-esteem; to prove I still could.

What followed was a very satisfying surfing session followed by a short paddle to Broulee Island. It was a beautiful sunny late autumn day. On returning to Tomakin, my little boy ran to me; ‘Daddy, Daddy – you didn’t have to get rescued!’ he said incredulously. Obviously it’s going to take quite some time to live this one down!

So what have I learned from this life threatening experience. Well, I think a new commandment should be added to the do’s and don’ts of sea-kayaking:

When alone, never cavort with a strange Dancer in an unfriendly Bar

On a more serious note, the feelings I experienced out there will take a lot of forgetting. If I had not been spotted when I was, I shudder at the thought of the desperate hours I would have endured becoming severely hyperthermic in rough seas. For me then, the legacy of this ‘scare’ is a much more cautious approach to sea kayaking, especially when alone. As Dave Winkworth once said, ‘one minute you’re having fun, the next your life is in danger’. It’s true. Hopefully the experience will help me avoid having to write another story like this one.

Footnote: I sent a cheque for fifty dollars to the TRS the next day.

We Never Talk Anymore [25]

By Norm Sanders

Communication (n) 1. The giving and receiving of information. From the Latin communis, shared by all or many.

A pleasant paddle can turn into a nightmare if communications break down, either within the group or with the outside world.

Communication should start long before the hulls hit the water. All members of the party must be in agreement over goals and expectations. For many, including myself, the journey is the destination. I’m quite happy to drift along, just enjoying the sensation of being on the ocean in a kayak. Others are more goal oriented, revelling in the challenge of a 65 km, all night paddle into a howling gale along a rock-bound coast.

Often, people are reluctant to state what they want to do in the face of a perceived group opinion. All members of the party should be provided room to speak up to voice concerns about personal health and/or equipment or lack of clear understanding of any aspect of the proposed paddle. The more experienced paddlers should watch people’s reactions before the trip, during the briefing, and ON THE WATER. Slowing down and lack of conversation are often danger signals which indicate exhaustion or sea-sickness.

A trip briefing just before departure should include weather and other environmental considerations, landing points, and rendezvous points if separated.

Once on the ocean, it is surprisingly difficult to communicate verbally. Most conversations are punctuated by “Whaat?” repeated every few seconds. If another paddler is over 50 meters away, conversation is impossible and even a whistle may not be heard. (Plastic whistles have varying degrees of uselessness. The best and most dependable whistle for those who can manage it is with the mouth.) Visual signals take over when audio means fail. The most effective is a paddle raised vertically in the air. Other paddlers will almost instinctively come to investigate. Arm waving isn’t so obvious and can sometimes be confused with a greeting, (or rude gesture), especially by fish-killers in power boats. Flags are good, but take a while to organize. The internationally recognized distress signal is a large orange sheet with a black V in the center. I carry one in a bag on deck. The vinyl flag is big enough to use as a ground sheet or bivouac shelter.

Other means of attracting attention include flares (not to be used until rescuer is in sight), mirrors by day, reflective tape on paddles and decks at night, waterproof flashlights and strobes. Cyalume sticks can keep a group together, but are difficult to see at a distance.

And then, there are electronics. A bewildering range of glittering gadgets clamor for the attention of the innocent kayaker with some surplus cash. The traditional form of marine communication is High Frequency gear, which can be used over long distances, but which is heavy, requires a lot of power and a long antenna. Most ships and fishing boats now depend more on Very High Frequency (VHF) radios. These are lighter and cheaper (but not cheap at about $500 for a battery powered, hand-held unit). They have another disadvantage, requiring line-of-sight conditions like television.

As with HF gear, VHF requires a Restricted Radiotelephone Operators Certificate of Proficiency. This involves money and a written exam. Once passed all the hurdles, VHF can tie you in to the infrastructure through Seaphone.

Mobile phones are another option. Analog phones have greater range than digital, but both require line-of-sight and are useless behind sea cliffs. Satellite systems may soon furnish universal coverage, however. If things get tense, you can always activate a VHF/UHF emergency beacon, a $200 EPIRB, but then all Hell breaks loose and you are sure to be on the evening TV news, dripping wet, facing up to questions about why you just cost the taxpayers a million dollars in helicopter time.

At the moment, for the New South Wales coast at least, I prefer Citizen’s Band, 27 Megahertz. License requirements are minimal, the equipment is the size of a mobile phone and about $190 to buy. Every fishkiller has one of the radios and there is an extensive network of Volunteer Coastal Patrol stations. In addition, a channel is available for “ship to ship” contact, so kayakers can talk to one another without going through the system.

I belong to the Narooma Marine Radio Safety Service which is run by the Narooma Division of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol. The various Coastal Patrols have power boats which will come to your aid with a minimum of fuss. Membership costs me $20 per year, which gives me an identification number which I can use anywhere in Australia. I often paddle alone along the coast and out to Montague Island and find the radio useful for weather and position reports. The normal range of communication is about 30 to 40 Kilometers, but this can sometimes increase to thousands of kilometers when the “skip” is in. In my area, Moruya and Bermagui are available if I get too far from Narooma. There are many other stations in NSW, giving almost continuous coverage from Eden to the Queensland border.

I visit the different Coastal Patrol stations when I’m in their areas, just to say hello. I’m gradually getting them used to the idea that sea kayaks exist and are legitimate ocean users. If we all keep communicating, there is less chance of Big Brother legislating us out of existence. As Francis Bacon said, sometime before he died in 1626,

“This communicating of a Man’s (Person’s) Selfe to his Frend works two contrarie effects; for it redoubleth Joys, and cutteth Griefs in halve.”

Secretary/ Treasurer’s Report [25]

By Arunas Pilka

Hello all. Those of you that have paid your membership fees for the 1995/96 year should have received a receipt with this magazine. Those of you that have not yet paid will have received a membership renewal form which you should complete and return with a cheque, (along with the kayak survey) in the post paid envelope provided.

At the AGM it was resolved to introduce family membership. Family membership entitles all family members to be members of the Club with voting rights conferred on all adult family members. Family membership is $30.00 per year.

Some of you may be receiving a second receipt for membership fees. this is because when I received the membership database numerous people were already recorded as having being paid up for 95/96. I do not have all the old receipt books and so not knowing wether receipts had been issued already I have issued receipts for all those that have paid.

Does anyone know C. Brett? I have him recorded as having paid this years membership dues but have absolutely no further information on him; address, phone no. etc. If you do know him either get him to contact me or give me his contact details so that he can get his magazines.

South Coast News [25]

Down here on the Far South Coast, the Spring weather has been really unstable. we’ve had rain and plenty of it, strong southerly and south-easterly winds and lively seas with it. It will soon settle down to a summer pattern of nor ‘ easters no doubt but so far it has been sou’east swells and seas which have predominated, One good thing I suppose is that the water temperature has continued to climb slowly, unlike last year where it dropped at this time to what felt like single figures. Perhaps we shouldn’t complain! I heard a Victorian waters forecast last week of 6 metre seas!

Other unusual features this year include a plague of huge jellyfish (many that have disintegrated leaving millions of stinging pieces slopping around) and large numbers of bluebottles. Over the New Years weekend, club members reported being stung in waters stretching from Batemans Bay to Merimbula.

Mutton birds have are now well into their migration south. The long trip from Russia is taking its toll – many dead and dying birds have been seen on the water by paddlers.

(The NSWSKC would like to apologise for the lack of actual paddling news in this South Coast News – members can show their displeasure by throwing stale booties at missing SCN contributor Nick Gill when convenient! – Editor)

Advertisement

Paddling past Tuross Heads? Tired? Hungry? Lonely?

Why not surf in to the Paddlers Haven Guest House!

Be pampered by owner manager, raconteur and kayaking legend Norm ‘Salty Dog’ Sanders

Experience North American hospitality at its very best!

Glorious Mornings – Enjoy magnificent Ocean views from the breakfast balcony

Observe your host ‘at one’ with the local birdlife.

Action-packed days – Go surfing at nearby Tuross Bar or ‘Chicken’ Beach – range of hire boats available!

Browse your host’s amazing range of innovative kayaks and gear

Take advantage of the well equipped workshop – free repairs and advice to guests!

Cosy Evenings – Tuck into the Chef’s specialities, spicy Tom Yum Gum or the award-winning Quesa Dias.

Relax as continuous classical music soothes those tired, aching muscles

Reminisce with your host on your near-death experiences on the Tuross Bar!

All welcome *) – No need to book – Just paddle in!

Paddlers Haven, where you’ll wonder, ‘What are the poor people doing today’

Proudly serving the kayaking community since 1994

*) Please – no Pittarakers

Rock’n’Roll Weekend [25]

1996 Postscript

By Dave Winkworth

It was great to see so many sea paddlers not only turning up to the Club’s recent Rock’n’Roll Weekend but also participating in the workshops we included this year. An average of 30 paddlers attended each workshop – your interest and participation has given us valuable feedback into what sea kayakers in this state want in the form of skills training. Thanks again to the workshop presenters; Gary Edmond, Norm Sanders, Dirk Stuber and Frank Bakker.

During the year we plan to conduct a number of “specific skills” based training days and weekends and a Rock’n’Roll Weekend which will combine elements of the year’s activities and a little extra.

Feedback I’ve received since the weekend is that we didn’t advertise it widely enough for the benefit of non-members – that is, those non members wishing to join the Club. So this is where you come in. This year we’ll send out information well in advance for members to distribute around their area in outdoor clubs and shops. By the way, if you have any comments on the weekend that might be useful in regard to venue selection, activities or whatever, we would be pleased to hear from you.

During 1996, there will be a number of courses conducted by the NSW Board of Canoe Education for sea paddlers. I commend these courses to you as worthwhile steps in kayaking skills attainment and plain good fun! Some will be training days and weekends while others will be award assessments. They will all be advertised in the Club’s Magazine with plenty of notice. If you’re interested, call the organiser and have a chat about your level of skill and whether the course will benefit you.

We certainly felt the rain on the Saturday night at Honeymoon Bay! I spoke to the service station people at Tomerong on Sunday and they recorded 150mm for the night. Tent-testing weather indeed !

Speaking of rain. our Guest Speakers for the evening: Lindsay and Janice Smith from Southern Ocean Seabird Study Assn (SOSSA) spent hours marooned on the road out of Honeymoon Bay as a virtual river came down the middle of the road!

They did however make it safely back to Wollongong and are continuing their great work with seabirds in our part of the world. Following our donation of $150, the club is officially a member (No.197) of SOSSA. If any members would like to give them a hand on their field trips you would be most welcome. Please call Lindsay or Janice on 02 6271 6004. You can be guarantied to get dirty and learn a lot!

Presidents’s Report [25]

By Dirk Stuber

By all accounts the Rock and Roll weekend (3/4 November) was a huge success with over eighty people attending. On Saturday someone counted 60 kayaks on the beach and at some of the training sessions twenty to thirty people attended, which was a new experience for most of us. Six to eight is considered the optimum number of trainees per instructor. Our thanks to David Winkworth for organising and coordinating a great weekend.

The AGM (3 November) went well and a number of issues where discussed (the minutes are attached to this issue).

After the AGM, a special meeting was held to discuss the Jervis Bay paddle in July, in which some paddlers experienced difficulties due to 25 knot headwinds. In summary, it was agreed that for those who wish to undertake a trip graded three or higher a rigorous self assessment should be made in consultation with the leader (if one is nominated) or the organiser. Also the group shares the responsibility of determining if all those present at start of the trip have sufficient experience and ability and that they possess the necessary equipment. If someone needs to be told that they are not suitable for the trip the group should support the leader/organiser in this onerous task. Once the trip has begun all the usual safety guide-lines are to be followed.

In this magazine you will also find a copy of the trip grading system. It is a very important document, please read it carefully. If you have any comments on the grading system, please include them on NSWSKC Survey.

Our thanks to Gary Edmond for all his work in developing the gradings.

One thing I liked about the AGM and the special meeting was the open, lively and often passionate discussion. I think everyone who wanted to speak had a chance and some useful ideas and motions were put forward.

I think it is a sign of a maturing and healthy club if controversial topics can be discussed openly and honestly. Hopefully everyone is then able to go home free of any gripes and grudges.

The last thing I’d like to say about trips is be kind to the organiser. He/she is giving freely of their time and energy. The organiser deserves your support and encouragement and remember they also want to enjoy the trip they’ve organised.

My final task is to thank the out going members of the executive. The are Vice President Patrick Dibben, Editor Leigh Hemmings and Treasurer Peter Adams. We appreciated their hard work and dedication and wish them all the best. For the names of the new executive please see Page 1.

Happy paddling