Training Notes [37]

By Dave Winkworth

Training Venues

Hi Everyone,
I thought I’d start this piece by mentioning a few of the issues raised at the Rock ‘n Roll/AGM weekend at Honeymoon Bay in December.

Firstly, venue. Honeymoon Bay is a great spot but we don’t seem to be having much luck with the weather over the years and the canvas marquee is quite a bit of work to erect and dismantle…..not to mention the generator….which this year cooked our guest speaker’s $3,000 computer/slide projector. (Hey Steve, all that smoke is an expensive way for the computer to tell you it’s switched itself off!) So, this year our Rock n’Roll/AGM venue will be Currarong Caravan Park. It has great facilities and a superb undercover area. We will still be close to Honeymoon Bay should the ocean at Currarong be windswept and we will still be using Honeymoon Bay for other weekends throughout the year. Any objections…call Norm Sanders!

At the AGM, a motion was passed that the club pick up the tab for any club member who wants to be assessed for the Board of Canoe Education Sea Proficiency Award. This is a great idea – once you have this award you are on your way to higher sea kayaking skills and formal recognition of them. I advise all members to go for it.

Our first Training and Assessment weekend is on 27/28 Feb at Shoalhaven Heads.

All you will pay for here is your caravan park accommodation and if we get enough starters for the weekend, we can pay at a bulk rate and get a good discount. Shoalhaven Heads Caravan Park has a great undercover area with full cooking facilities and a fridge. If coming along, please give me a call as soon as you can to confirm attendance. Even if you don’t think you’re of the required standard, I’d still advise you to come along for the experience. See you there?

On 21st/22nd March, Frank Bakker and I are conducting a Sea Instructor Training and Assessment Weekend at Batemans Bay. Gaining the Sea Instructor Award is a longer term objective. If you would like to discuss this award , please give me a call. Those paddlers who have notified an intention to attend will be sent some information shortly.

At the Rock’n Roll Weekend, some of the advertised sessions were cancelled due to my unforseen trailer wheel bearings – unforseen alright…they bloody well disappeared completely! I plan to cover these topics in “Training Notes” and Skills Weekends throughout the year. Sorry for the change.

Also at the Rock n’ Roll Weekend, some paddlers expressed a desire for some more advanced skills sessions at this year’s event. We can cover that at “The Next Step” Weekend which will be held at Currarong Caravan Park on Sat/Sun 17th and 18th April. Stay tuned.

Obtaining Current Weather Forecasts

Sea kayakers live by coastal waters forecasts. No doubt about it. If you have to cover distance or you have a lengthy crossing to make which will leave you exposed for a few hours you NEED a current coastal waters forecast. So where do you obtain one?

Quite obviously, newspapers are out…they were printed yesterday. They can give you tidal information and expected developments in the synoptic chart but they don’t give you the CURRENT situation. They’re more useful for the fish and chips!

I suppose at this point I should stress that a forecast is just that…a forecast. It is not a promise that a predicted weather pattern will develop. Sea kayakers therefore need to obtain all the information they can get and be prepared for a WORSE THAN FORECAST SITUATION TO DEVELOP.

Telephones, and especially mobiles are undoubtedly the modern communication tool. If you have a mobile, get a waterproof case for it and use it at sea. Why? Because mobile phone reception is pretty much line of sight and the ocean is FLAT! Enter the numbers you’ll need in the keypad for a quick dial. Some suggestions: Police stations in the area of your paddle, Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol stations (RVCP) – these are monitored 24 hours – or the recorded messages from the Bureau of Meteorology. The latter will cost you but they are the easiest to obtain. You just have to wait as the message runs through the forecasts for other coastal waters areas.

Before you embark on a paddle you can use a public phone with your phonecard or telecard to check the latest forecast too. Coastal waters forecasts are issued several times a day and the Bureau attempts to give 12 to 24 hour lead times for wind and sea state warnings.

Really, there is no excuse for not having an up-to-date forecast in populated areas.

The popular 27 MHz (marine CB) radios will keep you in touch with amateur fishing boats and also the local RVCP station for forecasts. Just remember to keep the batteries in good condition and don’t let a headland get between you and the base. I’ve transmitted 30 kms without problem and Norm Sanders has even got up to 50 kms I believe. If you can climb a headland you’ll do better obviously.

Moving into remote coastal areas like Nadgee means no reception for mobile phones. A 27MHz or a VHF (expensive) hand held set will keep you in touch with Gabo Is. or Green Cape lighthouses. There is reasonable reception there for public broadcast radio. You should however call the radio station and find out when the coastal waters forecasts are given. Be careful when listening – time is money on commercial stations and they race through the forecasts, sometimes leaving out bits here and there. No local forecasts are available on ABC radio stations on weekends – budgetary cutbacks have meant that the whole show comes from Sydney on weekends! I must say though that ABC radio is pretty good for forecasts early in the day on weekday mornings!

We shouldn’t forget the Internet too. Enter the Bureau’s website address in your Favourites and you can go straight to it. Don’t forget to check “Warnings” for details of any wind warnings. Address is

Start checking in your local area on where you can get a coastal waters forecast . All of the above are more reliable than sticking a wet finger up in the air! Good luck.

Preventing Fatigue

This topic comes up every so often. There four or five basic things you can do to lessen the impact of fatigue on a long paddle. Let’s run through them – they’re all important.

  • Paddle as often as you can and over the distance you want to cover mostly. A 5km training paddle wont give you much condition for that 50km weekend trip.
  • Be comfortable. Change the seat if it’s no good..or pad it out. If your PFD chafes under the arms do something about it! Get the right clothes and gear. Heavens,this is all commonsense!
  • Carry accessible food and water. Muesli bars are great on deck but no good in the hatch with everything else! Carry enough accessible water for the trip….and drink it. Dehydration is a truly rotten feeling.
  • Wear a hat…either for shade or warmth and also for deflection of spray.(A saltwater hosing in the face every 10 seconds does get tiring) Make sure it has a stiff brim that won’t distort in a strong headwind and a chinstrap to keep it where it belongs – on your head.
  • Wear sunglasses. They cut down the glare reaching your eyes and also keep out the salt spray. They’re useful even on dull days.

See you at the Mystery Bay weekend.