Flotsam and Jetsam [31]

Tales From the ‘Next Step’ Weekend in April at Jervis Bay

By correspondents

Unplanned Trip

Chris Soutter was one club member cruelly reminded that danger is ever-present danger in the world of sea-kayaking. Eagerly striding down the beach track at dawn, Chris looked up to greet a fellow paddler, tripped on a tree root and fell heavily into the scrub. The result; several torn ligaments and a fractured bone in his left ankle. “It just shows” grimaced Chris, his handsome face contorted with pain, “in this knife-edged sport you just can’t afford to lose concentration – not even for a second!” Some time later, after the injured limb had been strapped by the gentle and reassuring hands of ‘nurse’ Jeanette Mill, Chris groaned “thank God I was wearing my helmet, or I might have really injured my ankle!”

Hard man hits rock bottom

Notorious tough guy Jim Croft, paddling arrogantly close to a headland near Target Beach, was surprised when large waves drove him onto the rocks. Unable to roll up, Jim bailed out, and was then thrown backwards several times by the surging swell as he tried to save his stricken Apostle from destruction. Seeing Jim’s predicament, a passing club member (luckily paddling a highly manoeuvrable kayak of advanced design), entered the danger zone and hauled the waterlogged plastic tub out to deep water and safety.

The marooned Jim then had to scale a small cliff (now forever known as Croft’s Cliff) and fight through dense scrub to rendezvous with his boat at a nearby cove. On return to the camp, wife Jenni was on hand to apply first aid for the victim’s lacerated hands and legs. But that wasn’t the end of the trauma for poor Jenni ..

“after we got home, I caught a glimpse of my poor husband as he undressed. I nearly screamed… it was huge … revolting …the biggest one I had ever seen …. his right buttock was just one big bruise!

With tears in her eyes, Jenni added “the poor thing hadn’t even mentioned this terrible injury … but then, he’s such a proud man, my Jim…”

Later, while convalescing on a comfy chair, the crestfallen Croft reflected “thank God I was wearing a helmet, or I might have really injured my poor bottom”.

Fateful Examination

Norm Sanders proved yet again that patience is no pre-requisite for holding the office of sea-instructor. Scheduled to assess three hopefuls for their proficiency, the veteran paddler set off from Honeymoon Bay with a class of only two, leaving a distraught student back at the camp still preparing the mountain of mandatory equipment required for this examination. As fate would have it, the Old Sea Dog’s precipitate action resulted in the forgotten student being on hand to rescue the stricken kayak at Target Beach some two hours later (see preceding story).

Back at camp, as the news spread of the incident, pressure mounted for the action to be officially recognised. But the obdurate Instructor refused point blank to grant the hero Honorary Proficiency. “Just because some guy hauls a boat out of a raging gauntlet means nothing” growled the defensive Sanders “no-one was there to check that his first aid kit, tow rope and spare paddle were in good working order – that’s what counts in my book”. Some time later, the plucky novice commented “I’m not bitter at all … Norm’s of the old school and his principles should be respected” And his reflections on the salvage incident “I’m just thankful I wasn’t wearing a helmet, or I might have got into serious trouble myself!”

Red Rust at Barlings Beach

The Instructors Intake at Barlings beach on 7-9 June again proved a lively event. As usual, the Senior Instructors sought to add realism to the many rescue situations imposed on the students. Thus the wily David Winkworth vacated his kayak on the pretence of taking a pee then, simulating a shark attack, screamed while releasing red food colouring in the water. But the effort was wasted – the students, unfortunately so preoccupied with the thought of lifting such a heavy body out of the water, didn’t even notice the dye..

However, one group of students was totally caught of guard. Paddling over a shallow reef off Broulee Island, their leader’s Pittarak was surprisingly capsized by a breaking wave of only moderate size. But that wasn’t the end of it – the class, open-mouthed with amazement, then witnessed three failed roll attempts and a wet exit! As the shocked students performed the required rescue, this time the red glow in the water was noticed by all. Not food colouring this time.. just the reflection from the face of one highly embarrassed and rusty Senior Instructor! Is anyone running rolling lessons in the Cooma area?


One (1) Screw Roll, at Lake Eucembene. Brute Power brand. Inflexible and not pretty to watch but works and was the only one I had. High sentimental value. Reward offered for it’s safe return.
Arunas Pilka