Terror From The Sky [31]

By Mark Pearson

Ever thought about the possibility of dying in your sea kayak? Well, I think five club members shared such emotions simultaneously on 13 July, on Lake Burley Griffin of all places. The occasion was the now infamous ‘implosion’ of the old Canberra Hospital. John Wilde, Jim Croft, David Cregan, Tony Peterson and myself were amongst a flotilla of about fifty kayaks, canoes, yachts and row boats on the edge of the 200 metre buffer zone. There was a relaxed carnival atmosphere as 40,000 Canberrans gathered to watch the first ever daytime ‘fireworks display’.

The first detonations went off with frightening volume. But several dark objects could be seen rising high into the air, and then, incredibly, coming towards us at great speed and dropping. One raced over and came down 25 metres behind me. I turned. round to see a 4 metre plume of water erupting within feet of a dingy containing three occupants. The middle aged man sitting high on the back could probably have reached out and touched the missile as it came down. As he blankly stared at the boiling water I realised that he had not even seen it coming.

Then the second round of explosions to level the nursing quarters. But this time I was not interested in the ‘spectacle’ of the dying building. I focussed my eyes on the air corridor directly in front of my kayak. A grim survival instinct had emerged; was this what war was like? We were sitting ducks. I thought about rolling if I had to but I’ll never know If there would have been time to react (and whether you could survive the loss of your backside is another matter entirely).

After it was over I had time to gather my thoughts during the paddle back to the cars. Tony seemed fairly relaxed about it all. I was puzzled by this, because Tony is not exactly relaxed when paddling close to those beautiful and benign rocks that skirt our seas. I wondered whether I had exaggerated the danger in my own mind.

But then the return home and radio reports of a death and serious injuries – and this to people on land two hundred metres behind our boats. News footage was shocking in that it showed just how many large, heavy projectiles had rained down – so many people were just so lucky. It was a day I’ll never forget.

Stained Jocks and Huge Crocs [31]

By Larry Gray

Imagine a land of a thousand islands, 99 percent uninhabited, tropical sun most of the year and warm waters. Sounds irresistible, but there’s one big problem: crocs. This September I am planning a trip through Arnhem Land, in the Top End, a journey of around 1,500km. It’s a world of extreme tides and long stretches of mud plains yet golden untouched beaches. The occupants, apart from local Aboriginal people known as Yolngu, are the world’s largest crocodiles; the fattest in the world.

I was first up this way in 1979 when my mate Colin Russon and I kayaked 4,500km from Victoria to the Torres Strait Islands, an unsupported journey that brought us face to face with quite a few saltwater crocodiles.

Struggling for water with coconuts strapped all over the decks, we spotted from sea what looked like a billabong way inland. We waded for 20 minutes through mud with near- empty water containers, parted the bushes and there was a little oasis, a twenty by twenty metre pond with sand edges.

I walked down the 45 degree sand slope with sun in my eyes to crouch beside a large black log. Suddenly, what I thought was a log turned into a huge croc. Immediately exploding into action, it about-faced and disappeared with a thunderous belly whack beneath the swamp. No need to describe the state of our jocks.

But these Cape York crocs have nothing on the Arnhem Land ones, or so I’m told. They are bigger and there are more of them. I’ve learned that, as a rule of thumb, never camp near river mouths unless you are elevated six to eight metres above. Never stay in one place for more than three days. You can’t see crocs but they can see you and they learn your habits. A croc can run at 30 km/h for a short dash and they have been seen up to 40 kilometres off shore.

They can hold their breath for over 20 minutes while lying on bottom looking up and have been known to strike and seriously damage the foot of an outboard motor You are never safe, but you are safer out at sea than near or in the rivers.

As for the mud plains, they can be avoided by landing on small islets or headlands but it’s not always possible. I clearly remember ending a long day’s paddle to pull up at least half a kilometre offshore, grounded in metre-deep mud. We had to wade in with a machete, then back again with a three-metre long stake, to peg our kayak towlines together. This safety precaution meant we could struggle ashore with food and tents and relax a little until the tide changed and we could bring the kayaks in.

With camp finally set up, sprawled out and relaxing. Colin stared into the binoculars and said, “Quick, it’s time to go!” The tide changes so quickly that we found ourselves wad- ing out with brown water flood tide up to our necks. The last 100 metres meant a quiet, gentle swim with crocodiles and reef sharks on our mind. We were afraid to make even a ripple in the water. A gutsy duck dive in the pitch black waters was required to untie the knots by feel before we could climb aboard.

You can never be totally prepared for crocs but at least on this next journey forewarned is forearmed. I will be making the trip in my Pittarak double. She’s an oldie. It’s the same boat I took around Papua New Guinea. It has been cut in half to fit in aircraft and barges and then rejoined, lowered vertically by rope into a boiling volcanic lake and thrashed around throughout various odd adventures. It’s funny how attached we get to our old water shoes. I used to think “Yes, a new expedition deserves a new kayak each time,” but they become entrenched in endless memories. Every split, crack and ding unlocks a night of camp fire wines, jokes, laughs and lies!

But this is a serious trip. My partner Mary and I have put a good 10 months into pre-planning, not just trip logistics but an acceptable format for an international television audience. Hopefully you’ll see us safe and sound on Channel 7 later this year.

When you kayak unsupported on remote and long journeys, survival dramas take place on a daily basis. I usually load my kayak to the max. Many tricks learnt over the years shortcut yesterday’s mistakes, only to reveal new challenges.

Expeditions are really about problems, one after the other, and feeling good about overcoming them. I regularly find myself in a flux of peril and paradise. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Shoulder Pain [31]

By Doug Taylor

This year I started paddling progressively longer distances. I have managed to avoid repetitive strain injuries. This I attribute to discussing in detail with the staff at my local fitness centre my paddling goals and concerns, especially repetitive stress injuries associated with the shoulder. They set up a good stretching and exercise program which focuses on preventing repetitive strain in the shoulder area encountered when paddling. Of most concern is the rotator cuff.

Secondly I went to a physio because my muscles on the top of my shoulders were sore and stiff after paddling. The physio advised me that I was using incorrect muscles groups while paddling. So with some tape placed on my back to remind me to use the muscles in the shoulder blades area and between, a belt (not tight) which I pull my abdomen away from, a slight arch in my lower back, and try to keep my chin in, the soreness and stiffness decreased. The soreness no longer occurs after my training sessions. So the paddling I started out with needed a major adjustment which I wished I had caught earlier. But according to the physio the problem I encountered is one the general population has a problem with and has to be monitored more and more as one gets older.

Now I am getting the fitness people to help me adjust my fitness program based on the physio’s findings and support the changes in back muscles movements needed to paddle better. If I could go back and start again I would have seen the physio at the start to review my paddling stroke and get it right from the start. Now I plan to look for a paddling coach to review my paddling style. Does anyone know of any recreational paddling clubs in Sydney using coaches?

In all this I am not talking about using up a lot of time and effort. Fitness stuff averages about 3 hours a week for me. Paddling time is allocated to about every other weekend if I am lucky except for a three week period prior to a paddling race. Some how I hope to schedule in a weekly evening paddle.What really left me smiling as a result of this little bit of training was being able to paddle the 111Km Hawkesbury Classic without a hitch. If there was a time to feel an oncoming Repetitive Strain Injury this was going to be the time. Also the information and tips in the Hawkesbury Classic Paddling Guide was very helpful. The process of using rubbing alcohol and olive oil on ones hands really worked to toughen up my hands. Nary a blister after 111Km and foolishly in hindsight I didn’t use any gloves. The only extra preparation I did prior to the race was in a three week period when a colleague and I went out paddling for a couple of hours.

Rather than throwing up all the individual exercise routines I used from time to time I will try to give you the flavour of the approach. In my early days of paddling all I sought was improved general fitness and performance. Sea kayaking was a recreational activity I was trying to do every other weekend. I did not want to injure myself from overdoing the paddling. In the early days a 15 to 20 Km kayak trip felt very fatiguing and I was often very stiff the next day. The most important thing I have learned to do out of this whole process is to set a fitness goal for myself and with the help of fitness staff set up a program. From time to time I would review the program, especially when things don’t seem to be happening. No one magical formula, but I found it useful to be able to lay out ones goals to someone who is in the business of setting up a realistic program and guard against injury.The big plus about the fitness centre is it is a modest suburban one with a casual friendly atmosphere. The centre abounds with people with different levels of fitness. A lot of people go there not only for the fitness but to a have a bit of a chat.

My initial fitness program was a cafeteria of options including seven weight training stations, Keiser Circuit, cardio machines ( 10 minute tread, 10 minute bike, 10 minute rower), stretching and a myriad of fitness classes to plug into. All I had to do was fill my time in with options from various parts of my menu. More importantly I was able to get the staff to review a training station or fitness class I was having doubts about. The staff were aware of the concerns for a paddling repetitive strain injury. Some of the fitness staff had suffered rotator cuff injuries which had taken years to treat. So this was a potential problem they were personally aware of. They made sure that the prevention of repetitive strain injury, especially the shoulder figured into the mix of personal training options.Not much was apparent after months of participating in the program except realising how poor my general fitness was. The fitness staff advised me that I might not see much of an effect until well after six weeks. This problem was offset by the centre’s friendly atmosphere and the staff’s patience in making adjustments to my program.

It was easy to feel frustrated by the little improvement encountered in the early days. Finally at long last, many months had gone by, my general fitness did start to pick up noticeably. Hooray.One night in early October a friend and I persuaded ourselves to enter the Hawkesbury Classic Paddle. We had less than three weeks to train. The Paddling Guide recommends three months. We roped our wives into being our landcrew coordinators and set about training. I called the fitness centre for advice on how to adjust my training program to meet this challenge. They were unfazed by my new found yet still shaky ambition to paddle a 111Km race. The staff member advising me was not only supportive and helpful but went to the trouble to check out the training approach with her own coach. The upshot of the approach was to spend my training time paddling as much as possible and to rest two to four days prior to the race. The paddle training turned out to be the most interesting part of the whole process.

My colleague and I ended up training many mornings (4am wake ups) and sometimes at night (thanks to the NSW Sea Kayak Club’s night paddles). Our final training day was paddling ! a !!long stretch of Sydney harbour early in the morning. Sydney harbour is beautiful, but that day it really looked good. We were now confident that we were going to be able to complete the 111Km paddle. And we did.Now that I am back to my normal pre-race routines again I have readjusted my personal fitness centre training program to try to improve my paddling as well as protect me from repetitive strain injuries. I attempt to go to the fitness centre three times a week for one hour. But lets get real, this doesn’t always happen.

I am trying a weight training program which includes Bench Press, Seated Row, Lateral Raise, Post Deltoid, Tricep Pushdown, Bicep Curl, Leg Curl, and Hamstring Curl. I do 3 x 15 reps at each station with a short rest (30-45 sec rest) in between sets unless I need to save time, then I do one set of 20 – 25 reps at each station. Cardio exercise is twenty minutes or so on a rower unless I am paddling the next day in which case I may use the tread or bike. I am trying to schedule in a weekly evening paddle of 18 Km. which takes about 2 hours. I do stretching before and after each session. Now this sounds all very organised and laid out but things often don’t work that way. I don’t hesitate to turn everything upside and do something else. I often select another training option or get a bothersome station checked out or both. If I find some other activity on the weekend I prefer like hiking or skiing I give paddling the flick. In the end the way I am doing things seems to work a lot better than I expected.

Kayaking has become a much more interesting and safe activity.My interest has been sparked by my experience in the body dynamics when paddling. Gradually I have been picking up tit bits about the kinesiology (parameters of body movement?) with respect to paddling. It would be good to see what other information people can post.One aspect I have been tossing around about in the kayak is whether I like my knees braced under the deck (traditional style I believe) or together and moving a bit in front of you as the sprint paddlers do, at least the one I see on a TV commercial. A Phys. Ed. teacher has indicated if one is turning ones back while paddling one needs to move ones hips to make the movement stable. Thus this requires knee, leg and foot movement such as the sprint paddlers seen to execute. So I have from time to time while paddling brought my knees out from under the deck and attempted the alternate movement. I must admit I like the feel of it. It seems to require a bit of adjustment to my foot braces.

Throughout the whole process my wife and I have been able to meet a lot of good new people and kayaks. Wayne Langmaid, who has been a contributor to this list, was one of the first people I kayaked with here. I enjoyed his half day trip around Patonga. It went a long way in persuading me to get my own sea kayak. I now paddle a Mirage 22 (boy does it go fast) and my wife paddles a Mirage 19 (which I also like paddling).

Mirages were mentioned on this list a few weeks ago. Paul Hewitson is the designer/manufacturer has provided us with high quality kayak renown around here for having no leaks, not even a drop. He also provides outstanding after sales service.

The Hawkesbury Classic Paddling Guide suggests if one is worried about hand blisters to pre-toughen them with a mixture of metho (rubbing alcohol) and a dash of olive oil. The Guide goes on to suggest breaking in a good pair of fingerless gloves available from canoe/marine shops. They warn that the gloves will chafe, especially where the paddle shaft rotates on your hand, so break them in well. I went into the Hawkesbury Classic without gloves after toughening them up during my three week training period using the metho/olive oil combo during the latter part of the period. My hands withstood the whole race.

By the end of the race I had developed a couple of very small hot spots which disappeared overnight after putting on some hand cream.Most of the veteran Hawkesbury Classic competitors seem to use gloves. Since I might be paddling a lot harder next time to improve my time I plan to break down and purchase some paddling gloves.

President’s Report [31]

By Norm Sanders

Since most of the NSWSKC members live in and around Sydney, I thought I’d see how the paddling is in that neck of the woods. Kenji Ogawa had organised a gathering at Shark Island on Sunday, 18 May. I got to Sydney on Friday night after the shattering experience of trying to negotiate the rush hour gridlock and arranged to go paddling with Kenji and Andrew Eddy on Saturday morning. We launched at McMahons Point and paddled to Shark Island to check out the area.

It was great fun to see the Opera House and city from the water – but the traffic! Ferries, Jetcats, the “Rocket”, Rivercats, and miscellaneous ferries, power boats and even the P and O liner Fairsky, with tug. I was a nervous wreck by the time we got back to McMahons Point, and was further shaken by the lack of taps for washing off my kayak. (It is well known that I never go paddling anywhere there isn’t a tap.)

Next morning I had to decide on a launching place. My fear of navigating Sydney by car was even greater than my aversion to the homicidally inclined sea traffic, so I tried to find a launching place as close as possible to Rozelle, where I was staying. My map showed a lot of potential sites, but they were either sheer rock walls or tiny pockets of sand next to large NO PARKING signs. I finally compromised with a launching ramp near Woolwich Marina. The drive was not too taxing and the concrete ramp was slippery but useable. The tide was running out and there wasn’t much traffic on the harbour. This was more like it.

I arrived at Shark Island in about 1.5 hours and found a place to land among the 60 or so kayaks. It was a good group and a tribute to Kenji’s organisational efforts.I left about 1430 and was immediately engulfed in a yacht race. Hundreds of boats surrounded me. Fortunately, there wasn’t much wind and I could outrun them. Then it was just the usual snarling harbour traffic. Just when I thought I was safe, near Woolwich, a herd of super competitive Lasers assaulted me, hurling epithets as they streaked past. I wanted desperately to get back on solid land, but had to wait at the launching ramp while a car got into difficulties trying to haul a jet ski and trailer up the slippery slope.

I finally made it, and didn’t even bother to look for a tap. The verdict on Sydney Harbour Paddling? Scary, but interesting. All in all, I think I prefer the Tuross Bar on an outgoing tide. I finally managed to get in verbal contact with Waterways over impending regulations for Sea Kayaks. I talked to Mr. John Howard (No, not THE John Howard, Pauline’s mate.)

Mr. Howard was friendly and told how impressed he had been with the presentation a week or so before by Dave Winkworth and Andrew Lewis of Sea Kayaks Australia. I got the feeling that Waterways was more interested in establishing guidelines for commercial operators than dealing with pleasure kayaking. Mr. Howard said that they were very concerned about a Byron Bay Sit On Top operator who ran diving trips from the SOTs, anchoring them offshore with nobody to see that they didn’t drift away. Anyway, Mr. Howard seemed a reasonable sort of person. I don’t think we have anything to fear, but I’ll keep up with developments.

I wrote another series of letters to various agencies after our Anzac Day camp at Honeymoon Bay. It was a zoo, with the noisiest inmates being the Hawkesbury Scuba Club. I wrote suggesting that the camp area be divided into car camping and tents only, like in the US. The heavy party goers tend to stay near their vehicles so they don’t have to carry the Eskies so far. Tent dwellers can hike well back into the campground and get a good night’s sleep. This eminently reasonable suggestion got belted back and forth between the Navy, The NSW Minister for the Environment, NSW National Parks and Wildlife, and Robert Hill, the Federal Minister for the Environment (and Greenhouse Gases.) At least I got one straight answer from Sean Thompson, Environmental Program Manager for the Beecroft Peninsula, Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. He said that there is a management plan being developed for Honeymoon Bay which “will seek to address some of the issues you have identified.” (Including tent only sites.) Stay tuned….On a more mundane level, I have noticed that some of the contact telephone numbers on the Magazine membership list are wrong. Check yours to make sure it’s OK.

See you later. Look out for those Jetcats!

The Old Sea Dog’s Gear Locker [31]

Risking banishment from the inner circle around the camp-Trangia, the OSD has purchased a new headlamp. This was prompted by his daughter stopping in at Paddler’s Haven on her way North on a camping/working holiday. The OSD gallantly gave her his Petzl Micro (along with a Eureka tent, an historic Trangia, a Thermarest and his faithful Toyota Corona.)

So, headlampless, the OSD purchased the new SOLO, a product of Princeton Tec, New Jersey, USA. (US$30 at REI, about A$50 in OZ) Obviously designed to compete with the French Micro, the SOLO looks fairly similar, if slightly smaller and lighter – 4.5 oz. versus 5 oz. for the Micro. Princeton Tec has long built waterproof flashlights, one of which the OSD has kept on his deck for night emergencies.

The SOLO, like all Princeton Tec gear, is supposed to be watertight to 2000 feet. The OSD feels he is never likely to attain this depth, but is reassured that the SOLO will let him know if he ever does – the light will go out. It won’t go out, however in heavy rain or spray. This is an advantage over the Petzl, which is water resistant. As Princeton Tec says, “Go ahead, get it wet! Swim with it, canoe with it, kayak with it – just don’t try this with other headlamps or you’ll end up with a headache, not a headlamp.” The OSD observes that rain has never dampened the ardour of his Micro, but the potential is there.

The SOLO differs from the Petzl Micro in another respect: The SOLO is fixed focus, or rather has two fixed foci. The SOLO comes with two interchangeable reflectors and bulbs. One is a halogen bulb focussed in a tight beam for burning holes in trees at 100 meters and the other is a Krypton bulb with a wider angle of illumination which is more humane and gives 8 hours of light from the two AA batteries. This is the combination the OSD uses. He leaves the halogen rig at home to avoid the hassle of carrying it around and trying to change over on a trip.

The Krypton bulb is a good compromise for cooking and general lighting. When the OSD first tried the Krypton bulb, he was very disappointed with the brightness, similar in colour to the sun viewed at sunset through dense smoke. However, he hearkened back to a stormy night on a racing yacht off the coast of Mexico in 1963 when a shipmate taught him how to scrape the corrosion off the leaden contact base of the bulb with a pen knife. Viola! The SOLO now shines with renewed brilliance and enthusiasm.

Which headlamp is better? The Micro is more convenient, with no reflector changeover hassles. It is also easier to turn on and off with one hand. The SOLO, with its “O” ring, is stiffer and requires two hands to avoid twisting the straps off one’s head. The SOLO is more compact and looks cleaner. The OSD reckons that if you already have a Micro, don’t bother running out to buy a SOLO (Unless you want to practice Eskimo rolls at 2000 feet.) If you are headlampless, well… the OSD thinks that the SOLO gets the nod, but only just. (His choice may be influenced by the sexy, Polartec fleece bag which the SOLO comes in.)

Another new gadget in the Gear Locker is a GPS. (Global Positioning System) Why, you may well ask, does the OSD need a GPS? The OSD has asked himself the same question and has had to admit that the device is absolutely useless on the coast of NSW. (“We are now 3 km from the Tollgates on a bearing of 298 degrees.” “Yeah, big deal. We’ve been looking at them for the last hour.”)

It is, however a very nifty toy.And not all that expensive anymore. The price for a Garmin GPS 38 has dropped to $US 150 at REI. In Australia, they are about $A 350. So, why bother? A GPS would certainly be useful in fog – or clouds, like for bushwalking in the Snowy Mountains. It is also good in a place like Alaska which has a lot of little islands which all look the same.

Then too, it can give you an idea of rates and directions of currents. Gary Edmond used his GPS on crossings of Bass and Torres Straits and found it reassuring, perhaps even useful. A GPS doesn’t replace maps, which are needed to enter future destinations or waypoints. Waypoints can be entered enroute at any location, however, so you can always get back to where you started, even without a map. The GPS will indicate a bearing and distance to any entered waypoint. There is a little route map on the GPS, but the OSD hasn’t figured out how to use it yet. Speed and times to destination are theoretically available on the GPS, but at the speeds travelled by kayaks, the data may be unreliable.

This is because the Yanks (who own the satellites) purposely degrade the signals so that a false position is given which varies randomly from 49 to 327 feet around the true position. If they didn’t do this, Saddam Hussein could use the GPS system to target his missiles with an accuracy of 3.3 feet. (The clever Yanks have black boxes which re-establish the accuracy for their missiles.) Since speed and distance are averaged over a minute or so, the random variations can cause problems at slow speeds.The OSD and his mates are taking the GPS up on the Barrier Reef for a month, where it may be of some use. He will report on the results later. One warning: The makers imply that the GPS is waterproof, with the electronics sealed in a nitrogen-filled capsule. However, the battery compartment leaks and even the electronics can get wet. Best keep the GPS in a waterproof VHF radio bag – which doesn’t seem to degrade performance.

OSD’s Tip of the day: Always use rubber gloves when handling epoxy resins to keep toxic substances away from the skin and to make cleaning up easier. The usual household washing-up gloves are too heavy. For the best sensitive, tactile results, a thin, disposable latex glove is best. They can be purchased in packs of 24 or so in supermarkets. Even better are latex examination gloves for medical use. They fit larger hands and are sturdier—often reusable several times. Ask your doctor or dentist where they can be bought. (Or, if you aren’t squeamish, ask for their used ones.) Sometimes they are also stocked by supermarkets.

Free! Free! Free! The OSD has located an inexhaustible free supply of white, closed cell foam – offcuts from a boogie board factory behind Batemans Bay Power and Sail. Ring me or BBP&S for details.

Keep Warm, and Dry.

Letters [31]

Dear Editor,

I would like to point out that the geographical references made by Doug Fraser in his recent article on our sea-kayaking adventure to SW Tasmania (The Wanderers’ Return – Issue 30), should not be construed as being indicative of his navigational ability. Despite him being of senior rank, I feel obliged to point out to my senior that west of Tasmania is in fact Africa and not South America as reported. I would also like to thank the sponsors for our Tassie trip who were; Adventure Foods, the Australian Army, Australian Geographic, Macpac, RFD Marine Safety and Survival systems and Roscoe Canoes. Without their support the adventure would not have succeeded.

Secondly, I would like to suggest that if the club is seeking options for spending it’s money I’d recommend the purchase of a mini B2 EPIRB (available from RFD Marine) as a worthwhile investment. Costing around $500 each (cheaper ones are available however these are the lightest and most compact), they could be held in trust and loaned (or rented) out to those paddlers venturing into remote areas or even for those who would like an additional safety mechanism to their sea kayaking forays. It would certainly reduce some of the “spouse uncertainty” as to one’s safety if he/she knows that you are carrying such a sophisticated and effective device.

Damon Howes
Braddon ACT

(Sounds like a good idea to me – might be a motion at the next AGM – Ed)

Dear Sir,

I am fed up with injustice in this world. I must speak up.

The article “Bombora Incident” in issue 30 of this journal carries a clear picure of the conditions preceding a collision in surf, and the accompanying text carries eyewitness reports of the paddlers’ actions.

From this information it is clear that:

  • there were too many surfers on the one wave
  • none of them responded by dropping off the back of the wave

Given that the scene was then set for a collision or near miss, there is a well-understood surf etiquette to decide who has a priority (I refer readers with Internet access to the URL http://www.asudoit.com/kayak_fest/surf_etiquette.html for an excellent set of illustrations of surf etiquette – note illustration 10).

From Mr Pearson’s response, and the accompanying photo it is clear that

  • Messrs Croft and Pearson were on either side of the break
  • Mr Pearson had the shoulder of the wave on the right hand side of the break, so he had priority over the third paddler in the scene, so he could have turned right.
  • Mr Pearson chose to turn left and cross the break, against best surf etiquette, merely in order to (by his own admission) save a few scratches to his gelcoat (“twelve inches of jagged rock appeared …” indeed!)
  • Mr Pearson chose to take no further action to avoid collision (“no time … for a warning shout”). He could have rolled, thereby using his body as a sea anchor. No, he chose to ram an innocent fellow paddler and cause serious bodily injury.
  • Mr Pearson has used a position of privilege for a bout of self-justification.

The final injustice in the article is in the verdict penned by our respected President Sanders. Our beloved President has uncharacteristically let his prejudices toward his own design, the Inuit Classic, paddled by Mr Pearson during this incident, affect his judgement of blame. He should have acknowledged his vested interests and bowed out of the dispute, perhaps after appointing an independant arbiter.

I believe that a few apologies are in order. We must not let these injustices continue.

Yours for truth, justice and the paddling way

Andrew Eddy

Dear Sir,

More than once, on recent club paddles, my fellow paddlers have brought my attention to the fact that something seemed to be missing from my article “Rudders Study” in issue 30 of the club magazine. The all-important data had escaped from the tables and evaporated! I hoped to blame you, as editor, for the loss of the tables of data, but I think it would be more politic to wave my hands at some inoffensive computer and mutter vaguely about “incompatible file formats” or something.

For interested readers, here are the tables of data:

  • Feathercraft no rudder: 8.45 +/- .03
  • Feathercraft with rudder: 7.96 +/- .133

A two-sample T-test shows that these speeds are significantly different (p=0.0007). The Feathercraft is 0.5 kmh faster without the rudder (about 4 minutes in every hour).

  • Arctic Raider no rudder: 8.23 +/- .054
  • Arctic Raider with rudder: 8.53 +/- .067

A two-sample T-test shows that these speeds are significantly different (p=0.009). The Arctic Raider is 0.3 kmh faster with the rudder (about 2 minutes in the hour, or about 3.5%).

The Arctic Raider in its best configuration is no faster than the Feathercraft at its best (two-sample T-test: p=0.28, i.e., the difference is not significant).

At least one reader queried my use of the two-sample T-test. I used that in preference to a two-way analysis of variance because I couldn’t remember how to “drive” the stats software. So there.

Andrew Eddy

Dear Sir,

The article “Brave Fool” in “Flotsam and Jetsam”, issue 30 of our journal, has excited a great deal of comment amongst my fellow paddlers. Not only is the article full of hyperbole and exaggeration but it contains real errors of substance and omissions of salient fact:

  • Montague Island is 6 km from Narooma and 10 km from Mystery Bay, not 9 km as stated in the article.
  • the “feat” was quietly “heralded” on the Saturday afternoon, and then celebrated with a Sunday breakfast of pancakes.
  • the author does not know that I didn’t carry inflatable sponsons. (I do own a pair, you know, and nobody looked in my day-hatch to find out if I had carried them)
  • the Arctic Raider has been willingly paddled on the open sea, by capable paddlers, in expeditions in Bass Strait, across the Torres Strait, and many many trips on our nearby coast. It is a very capable medium-volume sea-touring kayak.
  • the Arctic Raider is not “tippy” so much as it is highly manoeverable. It is easy to edge, easy to lean, and therefore easy to turn, and it is easy to roll. (Who, me? Roll? What kind of roll, and which side? Choice of 14 different flavours, according to our beloved President)
  • it is of no matter to other paddlers that my Arctic Raider spent a significant potion of the trip upside-down. I choose to paddle upside down, in order to see the seals, dolphins, fairy penguins, sea urchins, scuba divers, schools of fish, propellors, rocks and surfboard fins. The top of the ocean is much less interesting.

I had my Arctic Raider fully a year before I took it out on the ocean. That was not the boat’s fault. I paddled it in closed waters, in surf and close inshore, but didn’t feel comfortable with it until I fitted it out properly. By that I mean full hip, thigh, lower back and foot bracing. Mr Editor, I followed your example, though not to the same standard of finish-quality.

Now that this kayak fits me and is an extension of my body, it, no, WE perform as we should have all along. So, as you can see, the Montague Island paddle was not a feat of derring-do, or an act of unheralded courage, but a simple matter of fitting-out a sea kayak and learning how to paddle it. I recommend to all your readers that they fit their kayaks out with appropriate padding for full boat control, then come to the club’s skills sessions.

See you there.

Andrew Eddy

Innovations [31]

(Photo by Jeanette Mill)

Designer Tony Peterson of Canberra demonstrates his new head-turning kayaking helmet.

Tony commented, “I saw this bucket in my garage and immediately thought ‘that shape would look really good on my head’. I set to work and now have achieved both kevlar-reinforced head protection and additional storage space all in the one unit. I’m really happy with the end result”