South Coast News [27]

By Dave Winkworth

Aargh! The pressure is getting to me.

The ‘Hall of Shame” is always there like the Sword of Damocles! After the Editor’s latest fax I needed a drink….so I reached over at my desk, grabbed a bottle and slugged it all down in one gulp, It was ink, but it was all I had. I sat there blotting my teeth.

Well ,where to start? Down here on the far South Coast, river catchments are small and many coastal lakes would only be open to the sea say once every 2-3 years…that is if local councils would leave them alone. Sadly this is not the case. If your retaining wall or vegie patch at mean high water is going under, call the council and they’ll pull the plug on the lake for you no risk.

Recently, the Bega Valley Council opened Wallagoot Lake to the sea. This lake sits right in the middle of Bournda National Park and there are signs everywhere extolling the virtues of a pristinenatural environment. Not really bulldozer tracks are visible in the sand and commercial fishermen net it for 6 months of the year whether it is open or closed to the sea. During the prawning season, hundreds of amateur prawners trample the wetlands and seagrasses, carve new tracks through the bush and light fires in the sand all along the channel. What a mess! How are your local lakes fairing?

Still warm enough for a quick dip down here but only just! Water temperature last week was 18.5C and on the way down. The swell has returned to the south east for the winter and the south westerlies are picking up a bit. Still, we can look on the bright side! It’s only a few weeks until the winter solstice (shortest day) and the westerlies mean generally lower surf for practice. So get out while you can and practise those high braces!

Speaking of surf, Ron Mudie and I had a paddle recently together and we paddled along the beach right in the break zone which was something we used to do years ago for practice and it is good practice. You are guaranteed plenty of bracing experiences.

If you attended the recent Skills Weekend Surf Sessions, why not keep up on the skills you learned there. Give it a go at your favourite beach. Don’t forget to move out for the rocky obstacles!

I was browsing through some old Sea Kayaker Magazine (U.S. version) copies recently, and I came across the forerunners of today’s kayak tests which were actually done in the tank and not on a computer. This was in the pre-computer days of 1986! Anyway, the testers had a brief chance in a highly expensive tank to create waves and measure paddling resistance in waves as opposed to calm conditions. Guess what – at 3 knots, paddling resistance in waves from directly ahead of about 8″- 12″” height is virtually double the resistance encountered in calm conditions. Now you know why you are so tired after 20 kms of punching into a 15 knot nor easter!

Andrew Lewis called in recently after a lO day trip along the far South Coast. He said he and his group encountered lots of sea life, the most notable being a pod of Southern Right Whales and 2 decent sharks quite close to their boats. I believe paddling action for the group after the shark visits was brisk and high! Also sighted were penguins (Fairy or Little Penguins – same species) and numerous seals. The whales are on their way north to breed and will return in October and November if you’re interested in paddling with them.

Recently, I called in to the National Parks Office in Merimbula to have a chat with Lyn Evans. Lyn is the Ranger-in-Charge for Nadgee Nature Reserve. This reserve, together with the southern section of Ben Boyd National Park extends from Eden to the Vic. border. The section from Disaster Bay to the border is one of only three areas of coastline in NSW which is undeveloped for more than 10 kms. Understandably, it is a desirable paddling destination for sea kayakers. Lyn has encountered quite a number of sea kayakers in the Reserve, both club members and others. I went to see her with a view to finding out if NPWS are yet formulating any “official” policy on sea kayakers in this area.

I am pleased to say that official eyes have not yet turned onto sea kayakers. However, it could happen in the future.

Those members who have paddled in the area will know that it is a fairly exposed coast and that good camping sites are few. As such, kayakers and hikers have tended to use the same sites which of course puts extra pressure on small areas. Lyn is concerned that these sites will become degraded if not monitored closely. For this reason she has photographed, mapped and transected all popular camping sites to gauge vegetation and general condition over a period. I have seen her work folders for Nadgee campsites and she has certainly put some time and effort in to it.

Well, where does that leave us?

There is a moral and legal dimension to us paddling and camping in the Nadgee area…. as I see it….

Legally, NPWS are charged with the management of the Reserve. just a quick aside on nature reserves generally. They are usually harder to get to than National Parks and are quite often more sensitive to “people pressure” too. Thus they are managed more conservatively than National Parks.

NPWS Merimbula (now the Far South Coast Base Office) do this by restricting hikers etc to a max. of 20 at any one time. Walker registration is required at a charge of $2.00 per night. l’m told that this money goes towards rubbish removal and general management although it’s obvious that it wouldn’t even go close to covering costs. This $2.00/night chase applies to sea kayakers too ~ I’ll come to this in a moment.

So, that’s the legal position – what about the moral side? I suppose I should firstly declare my stance here…after having seen what Ranger Lyn Evans is trying to do in Nadgee, I intend to support her by registering each time I go down there and providing feedback where I can in the way of photos, sketches and notes, f would like to see the area preserved without it ending up like the popular spots in Kosciusko. I, lake most sea kayakers I know, have in the past just gone down to Nadgee whenever I wanted without NPWS notification. So, the moral position, as I see it, is to co-operate with the NPWS registration regime plain and simple.

Now, there are a few other little problems related to this “moral” position. Suppose you register or attempt to, and are told that on your upcoming-already organised and planned trip that there are no vacancies for your sea kayaking party of 4. What do you do? Well. that’s up to you.

Naturally you may also quite rightly argue that sea kayaking by definition means that the only pressure your group is going to place on the Reserve is at the campsites and the beaches! Walkers on the other hand place far greater strain on fragile areas.

Also, should sea kayakers have to pay the same registration fees as walkers when (1) we only use campsites and not the trails and (2) we have far greater carrying capacity in our boats for the removal of our own rubbish?

Another problem for sea kayakers is that we often do not know where we are going to camp or for how long, On this exposed coast we are at the mercy of the weather. These little gems, I leave with club members. Perhaps this topic would be a good one for campfire chats on club paddles. I, for one would like to know member’s feelings. Why not write a letter to the magazine editor?

The NPWS address and phone number at Merimbula is P.O. Box 656 Merimbula 2548. Ph. (064) 954130 Fax (064) 954137.

One more thing – whatever you do when you go to Nadgee, have a look for alternate campsites to take the pressure off the existing ones. Norm Sanders found a good one recently. Ply him with a glass of fine port and he might tell you where it is!

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Sea Food [27]

By Chris Soutter

(In Magazine 26 the Old Sea Dog promised a packet of genuine Tom Yung Gum for any paddler who could relieve his culinary monotony on kayaking trips. Chris Soutter becomes the first recipient of this wonderful prize with these excellent ideas – Ed)

After years of camping and bush walking and seeking to advance from dried foods and lentils …and more lentils, I have come across numerous recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and have added a new dimension to the wilderness experience. Most recipes include a variety of fresh vegetables that carry well. Meat is generally difficult to carry on outings because it can be easily contaminated with bacteria and, if eaten, will make even the hardiest paddler crook. This problem is overcome if you paddle with Fishkiller or his apprentices who are a great source of freshly caught fish.

I suggest the Old Sea Dog try the following recipes.

Pasta Combination

  • Pasta
  • 1 green apple, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 10 snow peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Optional: chopped egg (unshelled hard boiled eggs travel well)
  • Suggested dressing: mayonnaise

Boil small pasta spirals in water, with a dash of olive oil, until tender.

Rinse pasta in cold water, add ingredients and mayonnaise.

Some of my favourite recipes were originally supplied by Karen Tempest in a guide Cooking for the Bush. These include :

Asian Vegetables

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup of spring onions, chopped (top & tail before leaving home – they are easier to carry)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Olive oil

Julienne (slice) carrot, zucchini and celery. Fry onions and ginger in a little olive oil. Add vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes (note for the Old Sea Dog – a trangia stove is suitable). Add sugar, soy and seeds. Toss. Serve with rice if desired.

Measure out the ginger, sugar and sesame seeds before leaving home and wrap in individual satchels of tin foil and place a sticker on each labelling the ingredients. Soy sauce and olive oil can be carried in small quantities in small containers available at most outdoor stores,

Michael’s Pasta

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 large capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of snow peas, chopped
  • 4 slices of salami, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 serves of pasta

Cook pasta and set aside.Fry garlic and capsicum in plenty of oil until soft. Add salami and peas. Cook for a few minutes. Add pasta and a little more oil and toss thoroughly. Add the parsley and toss well. Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! Oops. I almost forgot a vital ingredient. If you can find room in your kayak, a bottle of Lambrusco goes well with pasta.

‘Arctic Raider’ Views [27]

By David Malcolm

This article is a reflection of my experiences with Arctic Raiders. I have owned three since Feb 1993 in which many ideas, enhancements and opinions have developed.

Mark 1 was a glass, large cockpit, large neoprene rear hatch combination fitted with a then standard rudder and decklines with screw down nylon toggles. It also had a sticker on the rear deck claiming design by Paul Caffyn!

This boat came to grief at the bow of a Mirage hurtling down a wave face. The point of significance was that although the boat was in two pieces, the hull and deck join showed no signs of further fracture along this usual weak spot. Ensure that you have both inside and outside taping of the hull and deck join. Following a quality repair, the boat was sold to a friend and is still in fine condition.

Mark 2 was immediately ordered following the crash. I opted for a small cockpit, three small VCP hatches, all round Kevlar and ugly deck lines through the surface mounted toggles. No rudder was fitted. Small hatches were chosen because I hated the leaky rear neoprene hatch cover and by default this included the small cockpit.

This boat was returned some time later after some hull delamination was spotted – Kevlar tends to float on resin. Canoe Sports built a new replacement.

Mark 3 was identical to Mark 2 but had no deck fittings and is my current boat. My perceptions are as follows:

  • handling – the hull is around 18 feet long with a beam of 21 inches. There is much rocker – I don’t know how to measure it relatively. Initial impressions suggest that it would be tippy (quick and easy to lean and roll), hard to keep straight (easy to turn), susceptible to wind (not too bad with a skeg or rudder) and fast (probably not as much as you may think).
  • there is definitely low initial stability; some paddlers have dropped the seat as a measure for improving this. Correct and adequate cockpit fitting will substantially improve boat control and offset some feeling of tippiness. I have glued triangular wedges of closed cell foam at the sides of the seat and beneath the deck for bracing and also added a backstrap. The aim here was to get the ‘finger in a glove’ fitting which gives boat control. Instability is now not a problem for my paddling.
  • quick turns can be very useful in tight situations and the boat performs this admirably. Yes it may sometimes turn too much, but a little leaning combined with a wider stroke is usually all that is required to compensate. Using this technique, as opposed to relying on a rudder, will improve confidence and boat handling skills.
  • side and headwinds can have a noticeable impact on handling. Surprisingly I found the larger cockpit model to be less tolerant to these winds – probably because of the lower foredeck height. Like most kayaks it is not impossible to paddle in wind situations but can be frustrating.
  • the small cockpit is really a misnomer as there is actually less room in the larger model. Coaming height is the telling factor; the coaming on the larger model sits lower and forces the paddlers legs wider (and lower) apart to be able to brace properly. A more roomy and comfortable option is with the small cockpit which allows a higher and more natural leg position. Above average sized paddlers would also have difficulty swinging their legs out from a sitting position in the larger cockpit – doesn’t this defeat the purpose ?
  • mark 1 was fitted with a rudder and after feeling and seeing the blade bend in a sea I was prompted to look at alternatives. Better quality rudders were expensive and/or complex which was not my ideal solution. After much investigation, discussion and deliberation I attacked my nice clean hull with a jigsaw and fitted a retractable skeg. I copied the basic design from VCP and shaped the blade from polyethylene (the white plastic used for kitchen cutting boards). I believe genuine VCP skegs are now offered as an option.
  • in normal light wind paddling, the skeg makes little difference but is handy to help in “point the boat and paddle straight” situations. Stronger winds and more difficult conditions highlight the skegs benefits – it holds its line much better than the rudder, becomes more sensitive to tuning adjustments and I think overall feels more stable than with the rudder. There appears to be much less of a tendency for the boat to wobble about on its tail with the skeg. The rudder is not missed.
  • downwind paddling is where the boat excels. I have vivid memories of being fully laden in a following sea and just had to lean forwards to accelerate down the wave face to enjoy 20-30 m rides ! Directional adjustments while on a wave can be easily performed by a little lean or combined with a stern rudder stroke for when a greater turning effect is required. Yes, with practice you can usually stop that broach.

The answer to the obvious question is yes, I would buy another one. The Arctic Raider is the most suitable sea kayak on the market to meet my requirements that is built to a quality standard. More importantly, I enjoy my paddling.

President’s Report [27]

By Dirk Stuber

Access to the Wilderness

In the last presidents report I discussed the issue of access and asked for a response from members. I’ve spoken with a few members and the issue was also discussed at the recent training weekend. The general consensus seems to be that sea kayaking is a low or no impact activity and therefore access should not be restricted. For example we should be able to land on the little beach at Montague Island and have some lunch, this would not cause any harm to the bird life or its habitat.

The other issue is that of monopoly practices. The National Parks and Wildlife service has given one contract only and that to a tour company in Narooma. If you wish to visit Montague lsland you must use the company’s boat and guide.

A similar problem occurs in The Royal National Park on The Port Hacking River. You cannot paddle a water craft on the fresh water section above the Audley weir. Why? Because the contract with the boat hire business at Audley includes provision for exclusive use of the waterway. There are signs everywhere: No private craft allowed. Premier Carr, when recently speaking about new national parks said The parks are for conservation and recreational use., He wants to encourage people to use the parks. Surely the two examples mentioned above discourage use and access. What can be done? At this stage David Winkworth is having a quiet chat with the ranger in charge at Narooma.

David has also spoken with the ranger in charge for the Nadgee area. Apparently there are many kayakers visiting Nadgee, some are Club members, most are not. She said the rules apply to all, ie only 20 people per night are permitted to camp in the reserve. So before you go give her a call or write and make a booking. She is aware that weather can effect the kayakers itinerary and we might not always make it to the reserve camp. However if you land at a camp Site reserved by others, we must vacate. We don’t want to get bush walkers off side. David has written about this in more detail elsewhere in the magazine.

The Club Calendar

We are always looking for people to organise club activities especially in the winter months. If you have a trip in mind and you want some company give Gary Edmond a ring. Please Note the last calendar lists a paddle for late September in the Wollongong area. The paddle has been cancelled.

I know many people are organising private paddles, this is great. A group of us are currently organising one to Torres Strait. However if possible, try listing it on the calendar as well. People say it is more convenient to organise a private trip, you can select your company etc. That is true but you can do the same through the club calendar, e.g. if you only want vegetarians say so up front. I can’t see how this could be a problem.

Broughton Island Paddle

I attended the paddle in March. It was an excellent weekend and I enjoyed The company of the Mirage boys and the passionate debates about rudder design and plastic versus fibreglass. It was unique in that it was stipulated that you should be able to paddle at 8 km per hour on calm seas. As some 16 paddlers showed up and not everyone could sustain that pace, a group A (fastest) and B was formed. I know some people are against splitting the group but I think a group of 16 can easily be split 3 or 4 times with safety assuming the necessary skills and experience are present in each group.

I hope Paul, the organiser, puts it on the calendar again next year, I’ll be back (I hope that does not give him an excuse to not run the trip). Also it is excellent to have some trips north of Sydney.

Boat Building

I have to congratulate the builders of the Mirage. I was very impressed to see that Mirage paddlers don’t put their luggage in dry bags. It appears to be the only make that is consistently water tight when it leaves the factory.

Running the Gauntlet

Unfortunately a kayak was damaged when leaving a gauntlet, this created some consternation and much discussion. For my opinion about paddling in gauntlet; see my article: Running the Gauntlet in this edition.

Paddlers Prayer [27]

While lone upon the furious waves,
Where danger fiercely rides,
There is a hand, unseen, that saves,
And through the ocean guides.

Almighty Lord of land and sea,
Beneath thine eye we paddle;
And if our hope be fixed on thee,
Our hearts can never tremble.

Though tempests shake the angry deep,
And thunder’s voice appal;
Serene we wake, and calmly sleep,
Our Father governs all.

Still prove thyself through all the way,
The guardian and the friend:
Cheer with thy presence every day,
And every night defend.

Power Paddler [27]

Feet pump, face is grim
Head locked over frantic limbs
Blade thrusts, dips and draws,
a hand grip like a claw

Pushing hard ’till lungs might burst
cannot stop to slake his thirst
eyes fixed forward, straight in line
knows distractions lose him time

Torso twists and shoulders strain
a mind set ignores the pain
in hostile races with his peers
it’s losing that’s his only fear

This automaton on the water
speed is all, so gives no quarter
blind to species, blind to drama
sees no awesome panorama

Power Paddler, what a loon!
to be so totally out of tune!
cut the chains, break the line
free your mind, take your time!

The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [27]

By Norm Sanders

The OSD has been thinking a lot about paddles lately. Paddles are, after all, what makes the kayak move. (Some might argue that sails can also be used. The OSD rejects this recidivist concept with a contemptuous snarl and the observation that If you want to sail, get a Hobie Cat.)

The fact that paddles are essential to kayak progress should startle no one, but a quick look around at the devices actually in use reveals a lack of understanding of this basic concept.

The first paddle was, no doubt, a stick or small log. The Inuit developed this design into narrow blades, separated by a short shaft. For many thousands of years, the clever users of Qajaqs fashioned narrow un-feathered blades out of round driftwood, intuitively recognising the advantages of the flat configuration: easy to stow, less wrist RSI, less upsetting tendency in strong cross winds.

Now, says the OSD, wander into the paddle section of your favourite water sports shop. Most of the stock is comprised of HEAVY squat, plastic bladed, aluminium shafted, offset paddles. Why? Well, most of the staff, if they kayak at all, are white water types. They use the paddle for steering and balance. The river itself furnishes the motive power. They need a sturdy paddle for bashing rocks and occasionally cutting down small trees for firewood.

But, you may well ask, why the offset? Wouldn’t a non-offset blade be easier and quicker to position for quick bracing and rolls? Of course, says the OSD.

The OSD has lived many years on this planet and has learned that practicality often takes a back seat to fashion. He observes that there is one activity where an offset blade might be an advantage — racing into a headwind. (He has never been particularly bothered by paddle air resistance while slogging into strong winds, noting that the drag on his kayak and body were by far the biggest factors.) When a group of top racers go at it, milliseconds count. A SLIGHT advantage could mean the difference between glorious victory and ignominious defeat. One victorious jock somewhere no doubt modestly attributed his win to his feathered paddle and the rot started.

It takes a lot of courage to state publicly that not only is the Emperor naked, he is using the wrong paddle with his sea kayak. Fortunately, the steadfast and courageous ex-fisheries inspector Dave Winkworth is up to the task and has dragged many a young (and not so young) kayaker back out of the abyss which they have dug with their offset blades.

Having established the value of the paddle in the minds of the gentle readers, the OSD then turned his attention to spares. Many sea kayakers don’t even own a spare paddle, much less carry one. Tsk, Tsk! admonishes the OSD. He observes that even the most experienced of kayakers have broken paddles while attempting to extract themselves from their craft after having landed on an unruly beach.

O.K., O.K., so a spare paddle is a good thing. But what kind? Matt Broze, paddling guru for Sea Kayaker magazine, claims that the main attribute of a good spare paddle is that it shouldn’t scratch the deck where it is stowed.

The OSD dares to differ. He observes that the average aluminium-shafted clam shovel which is normally strapped to the after deck weighs enough to have Swarzenegger himself slumped across the cockpit after an hour or two.

Shouldn’t the spare paddle be just as light and efficient as the main paddle? The OSD asks reasonably.

Of course it should. This is why the OSD asked Alan Wilson of Power Paddles to make a two piece version of his popular and light (28 ounces) sea kayak paddle. The clever OSD suggested that Alan cut the paddle shaft off-center so that the two halves would be the same length when stowed.

Now, the OSD never ventures offshore without his Power Paddle spare — a paddle which he could happily use for days on end.

‘Ah,’ the reader is thinking, ‘But where can I stow the paddle?’ The OSD slips the blades under the bungee cords behind him (and on top of a bag of shade cloth which is itself part of a Dirk Stuber paddle float. Also in the bag is a V Sheet which can be used for signalling or as a tarp.) The paddle shafts are held to the aft decklines with bungee cords and olive clips. Foam wrapped around the shafts keep them from scratching the deck (this would please M. Broze) while still allowing the paddles to be pulled free from the cockpit.

This paddle location is convenient, but may cause problems with aft hatch access. The OSD and Fishkiller have solved this problem by putting VCP hatches in the aft bulkhead rather than on the deck. The OSD marvels that most manufacturers have not seen the advantages of this system. The exception, of course, is the well-designed Inuit Classic which will have this configuration.

Some may argue that the after deck hatch location allows a larger hatch to be used. ‘Pshaw!’ snorts the OSD (and Dave Winkworth, who decked over the aft hatch on his Puffin.)

The OSD reckons that anything which can’t fit through a 7 inch VCP hatch has no business being in a kayak.

Fishkiller, incidentally, caries HIS spare paddle in the cockpit of his much modified Seafarer Plus, a practice which has earned him a despairing glance or two from the OSD. The OSD philosophically accepts FK’s aberration as merely another example of youthful rebellion.

O.K., fine. But what was this reference to the ‘Dirk Stuber paddle float’? ‘Ah,’ sighs the OSD approvingly. ‘A very clever piece of engineering by our President.’

The OSD observes that, while paddle floats are good things for self rescues by non-rollers, they cost a lot of money. The Dirk Stuber paddle float, however, is practically free. It consists of shade cloth sewn into a two compartment bag. One compartment holds an (empty) wine cask bladder. The other slips over the paddle blade after the bladder has been inflated by mouth. All this can be done while in the water, which is attested to by the OSD who owes his life to this marvellous invention.

‘Enough of paddles,’ the OSD cries. ‘On to higher matters — helmets, in fact.’

As in Harley-Davidson circles, helmets are sneered at by red-blooded sea kayakers, driven as they are by ego and testosterone. The OSD however, never one to bow to community pressure, will not set forth on ANY patch of water without a helmet on his head.

He reasons that, though drowning while unconscious might be a painless way to go, he is not yet ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. In addition, he hates the sight of blood, especially his own. He observes that paddles, rudders and Pittarak bows can cause grievous bodily harm.

Chris Soutter, a nice guy, even if he is a fishkiller, recently had two knocks on the head while touring the famous Nadgee area. In one episode, the rudder of his Puffin skidded viscously across his lid after a surf bail-out. He emerged unscathed, thankful that his scalp had been protected by the plastic shell of his helmet.

Helmets come in many shapes and price ranges. Surfers wear a Darth Vader type unit made by GATH which costs in the vicinity of $100. It is very strong and classy, but looks a bit confining and hot.

Whitewater helmets are lighter and cheaper, but seem TOO flimsy. The OSD wears a Bell bicycle helmet, which has the advantage of light weight, quality construction and price (which is free, because the OSD already owned it.)

He reports that the only disadvantage is that salt water pours on his head when he puts on the helmet to go bike riding.

Characteristically concerned with safety, the OSD has plastered his helmet with reflective tape for night visibility. (He also has patches of reflective tape on his paddle blades.)

He wears his helmet over a cap with a bill and neck protection. He also uses sunglasses with Chum straps attached. The OSD reports that the helmet holds the hat and glasses firmly in place, even in surf and during rolls. (Philip Winkworth, please note.)

The OSD senses the mutterings of the Editor, that harassed collater of verbosity, that this epistle is getting too long. So, knowing full well the dangers of alienating the person into whose hands his lovingly created words will be delivered, the OSD will leave you here. Next time, an on the spot report of North American gear. Is it really so flash or are we Antipodeans, in our own quiet way, leading the world?