President’s Report [33]

The AGM

Another year, another AGM. Honeymoon Bay was the venue again, but without all the usual hassles with hoons and noise. We were allotted our own area, due to the understanding and generosity of National Parks. There were well over 50 kayaks and a good time was had by almost everybody.

Sadly, the Club lost two stalwart members of the Executive. Arunas Pilka wanted a rest from the taxing job of Sec. Treas. and Fishkiller (AKA Mark Pearson) decided that it was time to wash the printers ink from his hands for the last time. Both of them served the NSWSKC with distinction and deserve our heartfelt thanks. Under Arunas’ skilled (some uncharitable folks have called it tightfisted) guidance, the club treasury grew to monumental proportions.

Fishkiller transformed a rather stodgy London Times type newsletter into a racy Rupert Murdoch tabloid. Of course, the truth had to be bent a bit along the way, but that’s show biz.

Guest speaker

Tasmanian legend Laurie Ford was the speaker at the AGM, enticed to the mainland by a fare paid for by the NSWSKC. He recently commented on his impressions of the visit in a copy of his own club Newsletter, “The Sea Canoeist.” In general, he thought our AGM was too structured. He also attended the AGM of the Victorian sea kayakers, which was held in a pub and was more to his liking. He was also quite critical of our club Grading System.

He says:

“I first saw this about 12 months ago and my first impression was that this was a device to stop people going sea canoeing – you virtually don’t go anywhere interesting unless you are a bit of an expert.”

Ford would rather depend on his own assessments of the paddlers on a trip. This is all very well for him and his club which is small enough to know everyone personally. Laurie Ford says:

“If it ever gets more than 20 members, I’ll start to worry.”

However, with our large membership, the NSWSKC needs some sort of reference point for safety.

Safety is a big item in Laurie Ford’s lengthy writeup. He was rightly concerned over the lack of cohesion on a trip he took with club paddlers on the South Coast before the AGM (see Arunas Pilka’s article in this issue – Ed).

However, he chose not to say anything at Honeymoon Bay:

“I actually took a lot of photocopied material specially for this AGM, intending to distribute it and have a few words to say about various subjects – but after the Eden trip I had a rethink. They have about 180 members and if that’s the way they want to have their club run, then that’s their business. So I just ended up showing 160 slides of Japan, Fiji and Tasmania.”

Ford then included in his writeup a garbled list of the “disasters” which have befallen club members due to alleged carelessness or neglect. It is a pity that he avoided the chance to state his disquiet publicly at the AGM and thus spark a discussion which would have been a good learning experience for us all.

Strangely, he was also disparaging about using kayaks in the surf. He actually ran a picture in his newsletter which was taken from a kayak advertising brochure. It shows a kayak with a breaking wave in the background.

He says:

“Picture this conversation as Mr. Eskimo looks out of his igloo entrance. ‘Gee darling, there’s a good 3 metre break over the bar today. I think I’ll go out and play for a few hours.'”

“…the above advertisement gives the impression a modern day sea kayaker going out for a day’s fun in the breakers, exactly what the Eskimos never did.”

Laurie Ford’s Tasmanian paddling grounds are blessed with a plethora of sheltered bays and coves. For many of us in NSW, punching out through the surf is the only way we can reach the open ocean to go sea kayaking. But then, as they say, different strokes for different folks.

Laurie Ford and I do share some common ground: We both agree with Victorian Sea Kayak Club member Pete Dingle who Ford quotes as saying:

“Sea kayaking is about journeying. Sea kayaking is about sharing experiences and memories with others. There is more to sea kayaking than just paddling.”

Have a good year.

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