Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [26]

By Norm Sanders

G’Day. Well, a lot has happened since the last edition of the Magazine. For one thing, I got involved in a rafting trip down the Snowy River. We caromed, ricocheted, bounced, jounced, recoiled, rebounded and otherwise bumped in an uncontrolled manner from McKillops Bridge to Buchan. This was a severe test for my normally watertight kayaking dry bags which all leaked after being hammered by rocks in the bottom of the raft. (Why did mine have to be on the bottom? I’m a nice guy, really) Anyway, I learned that when rafting, you have to put garbags INSIDE the Dry bags.

One problem we didn’t have was, umm, well you know, urinating. This facet of sea kayaking life seems to fascinate non-kayakers, addicted as theg are to Mr. Thomas Crappers invention, the Flush toilet. (Hence the word, crap. Tme.)

There are two or maybe three generally accepted ways to urinate (aw, what the Hell, piss) in a kayak, although some very anal retentive types have difficulty in relaxing the sphincters while underway and simply wait until at last ashore. This could result in serious kidney damage. (I know they are different sphincters, but the prinicple is the same.)

Way 1. Just let fly into the bilges, wait until thoroughly mixed with bilge water, then pump with great force at accompanying paddlers as they pass. This method is reputedly favored by our President.

Way 2. Piss into a sponge. I’ve never tried this, but it sounds like it could be messy.

Way 3. Piss into a bailing bucket or other container. My preferred method. I have made a bailing scoop out of an old 4 L oil container (black of course) cut on a diagonal so that the handle is at the back of the scoop. This works well for males. The indefatigable and much missed Jacqui Windh cleverly shaped a narrower version out of a plastic container and lined the edge with soft foam.

Crapping is another matter entirely. Long distance paddlers make a practice of binding themselves up with Lomotil. Most of us aren’t that dedicated and hope for the best, squeezing hard in the morning before we hit the water. Arunas Pilka is said to have jumped overboard off Flinders Island to relieve himself of his burden.

So much for output. Input, in the form of water, has its own problems. Just about all of our (and the rest of the Planet’s) waterways are now the home of various bugs lie E. Coli, giardia and cryptosporidia. They can cause symptoms ranging from simple trots to dysentery. Trots in a kayak could be very uncomfortable indeed (See above)

Sea Kayaker magazine recently evaluated a number of water filters. The Katadyn was rated tops, but cost $US 295. The Sweetwater Guardian earned accolades for best value for money, at least in the short term. It removed as many bugs as the Katadyn, but had a much reduced filter life. I opted for the Sweetwater at $US 59.95 from REI. Replacement filters cost $US5 19.95, treat “up to 200 gallons” and are recyclable. I used it before Christmas on a 10 day kayaking trip on the far South Coast and later on the Snowy River raft episode. I was purifying drinking water for 12 people on the Snowy, which took about 20 minutes per day. We boiled our cooking and tea water. The Sweetwater worked fine, but required more frequent cleaning than advertised. I’m still using the first filer. The OSD will have more on this Riveting subject in later issues.

Mail Bag

G. E. of Woonona, NSW writes: “Dear OSD: Every time I attempt a 720 degree pirouette in 4 meter dumping surf at the entrance to a gnarly gauntlet, my hands slip on the paddle and I get trashed. What am I doing wrong?”

Dear G.E: You either need your head read by a shrink or a non-greasy, sticktype sun screen like Palmolive UV TRIPLEGARD Broad Spectrum Stick, available at chemists or, cheaper, at supermarkets. Applying liquid sun screen is a sure way of losing your grip. (If you haven’t already)

Those of us of Non-Pom ancestry don’t have to worry so much about solar bombardment, but it is still wise to take precautions. Another letter on the same subject came from N.G. of Alice Springs, NT;

“Dear OSD: Since 1 shaved my head and transported my Skerray from the coast to the Todd River, I have suffered from a sunburned scalp and eyestrain. What should I do?”

Dear N.G. Either stay in the pub during hours of daylight instead of sitting in the sand waiting for that flash flood or get yourself a good hat and sunglasses. The best hat I’ve seen is a wonderful creation called an “ARAPHAT” (fair dinkum). lt looks like Yassir’s headgear and covers the ears, cheeks and neck as well as the pate. Good value at the Cancer Council for $24. The CC also has really nifty wraparound “SUNTRAK” sunglasses, with sturdy hinges, for $20. (F.K. take note: cheaper to lose than Glarefoils). Most major cities have Cancer Council shops. Ring (02) 334 1966 for merchandise info, (02) 334 1953 for mail orders. Hang in there, N.G. It’s bound to rain sooner or later. They all laughed at Noah, too!

It is cold water , not hot sun which concerns the next correspondent:

“Dear OSD: Whenever I raise my arm to indicate some noteworthy feature to my paddling colleagues, a dollop of icy water races down the sleeve of my CAG and chills my back. I recently pointed with some enthusiasm at three nubile young women skinny dipping near Nadgee River and almost passed out from hypothermia. What should I do?” J.C., Campbell, ACT.

Dear J.C. First of all, let me congratulate you on your fine show of public spirit in alerting your companions to the wonders of nature which can be encountered by sea kayakers. This should in no way be construed as a sexist remark. I am sure that you would have pointed with equal verve at three nubile young men. Now, to solve your problem. Take a deep breath, grasp a nail with a pair of pliers, hold it over your Trangia burner until it is VERY HOT and then burn holes in the elbow area of your CAG to let the water drain out before it assaults your sensitive body. An earlier J.C. was subjected to a somewhat similar procedure, but the holes were further out on the extremities.

The next letter was from D.W. of Tura Beach, NSW.

“Dear OSD: My paddling breakfast consists of a bowl of muesli combined with powdered milk. I just add water, swallow and am on the water in the time it takes the rest of those slugs to unzip their tent doors. While I am out practicing my morning series of Eskimo rolls in the frigid dawn, I notice that the others are eating some other type of breakfast. What is it?”

Dear D.W.: Good on ya for your diligence in perfecting your technique. As the wise elders say, “There is no substitute for time on the water’ (or something similar) Now, to your question. Many of us have trouble digesting muesli in the morning. It keeps repeating as we paddle. Something to do with lack of moisture in the grains or something. We are now turning to a mixture of semolina, bran and sultanas. It cooks in two or three minutes and is very tasty with powdered milk and Demerara sugar. And one litre plastic container holds enough of the stuff for 20 breakfasts (12 breakfasts for a normal male appetite – Ed), so it is easy to carry on long trips. Some get so addicted to semolina that they refuse to leave their sleeping bags until they detect the delicate smell of the cookinq orains. There is not the same degree of consensus about lunches and evening meals.

The OSD is eager to hear of your favourites. The best suggestion will win a free packet of Tom Yum Goong.

Mail your entry to

The Old Sea Dog, Paddlers Haven,
31 Monash Ave.
Tuross Head, 2537.

Happy Paddling.