Outgoing President Dirk Stuber has left the club in great shape — lots of new members and an enlarged coffer.
Congratulations, Dirk. I hope that my tenure will be as successful.
I will try to draw on all my years of experience gained messing about in boats. To give you some background, I started my seagoing career in 1935 on Lake Eire, Ohio at the age of three, paddling a raft constructed by my father out of a packing crate and four innertubes. (Contrary to popular belief, I was not found drifting down the Mississippi on a mat of bullrushes as a new-born baby.)
I have since built two racing multihull yachts, a single hull ocean cruiser, three Grand Banks dories and three sea kayaks -the most recent being the Inuit Classic. In 1974, I crossed the Pacific from California in a 29- foot fibreglass sloop. When my scurrilous crew jumped ship in Fiji, I sailed single-handed to Hobart where I bought and campaigned a Huon Pine ocean racer. I have now arrived at that pinnacle of sea-going sport, sea kayaking. I wonder why it took so long.
My view of the club is simple: The NSWSKC is a meeting place for people who want to have fun sea kayaking. Fun means different things to different people. To some, it is paddling all night into a howling gale or crossing Bass Strait in a welter of spray and adrenalin. For others (including myself) it is gliding along on a warm morning through a twinkling fairyland of sunlight reflecting off the chuckling ripples while dolphins play about the bow in the crystal-clear water.
Of course, to have fun, it is necessary to develop skills –an important function of the NSWSKC which offers a number of training events. Other events involve graded trips. The club’s grading system, devised under the guidance of Gary Edmond, generally works quite well, but only in one direction. Grade 2 or 3 paddlers are not allowed on Grade 4 trips. However, some experienced paddlers on Grade 2 events go paddling off in Grade 6 style, leaving the slower paddlers wallowing in their wakes. This is discouraging and can be dangerous. If it is a Grade 2 paddle, then EVERYONE should paddle at a Grade 2 speed.
We often bemoan the fact that there are so few women sea kayakers. However, when they do show up, all they see of the rest of the group is the occasional flash of paddle blades on the horizon. I once asked the famed Canadian professional sea kayaker Jaqui Windh why women were so scarce on our seas. “It’s because of those macho Australian men,” she replied. I am therefore taking this opportunity to make a plea for togetherness on club paddles. I also plan to organise events for beginners ( of any sex) and their families in the near future. Others will no doubt schedule more adventurous outings. There will be something for everybody. Think about what YOU would like to see on the schedule -and then contact Andrew Eddy, the new Trips Convenor and make it happen. With your help, we’ll have a great year.
Peace and Semolina.