Paddling Safety and Scouting [40]

By Bob Head

For my sins I am a Rover Adviser to 1st Caringbah Rover Crew — ages 18-26, (but not mine and don’t ask!). To be a good Rover adviser, they say you just need to know a good lawyer!

In the past few months I have been taken up on my offer to lead two short expeditions in the ‘safe’ waters of the Port Hacking River and Bate Bay, as an induction for the Rovers into kayaking. Trying to find a common time amongst active young people who have jobs and are studying is difficult so when I fmally got them all down at Wally’s Wharf on a blustery afternoon I was so single minded about going that I failed to notice the southerly squall developing. I had checked all the weather info but was so determined to go that I do not know if I really was listening to it anyway.

Needless to say, a short time into the paddle, one of the group was over and the kayak filled with water, while the rest of the group was literally blown away.

At this point I woke from my single-minded stupor and had to move into assisted rescue mode. What amazed me was that, due to the several safety training sessions I have received with the NSWSKC, I had not only automatically put in all the required safety equipment without really thinking about it, but I actually knew how to use it.

I don’t think the Rovers realised how awkward the situation could have become, because, to my own amazement, I just followed the training and brought it all under control.

As if this wasn’t enough, some weeks later, I took them out again, this time at night (Rovers are like that) from Dolan’s Bay to Jibbon Beach where we lit a beach fire and chatted before setting off for home, enjoying the excitement of phosphorescent waters and splendid feeling of isolation.

On the way back one paddler capsized in a wave, doing so very silently and might not have been missed for some time, but due to the group keeping close together, we discovered hii absence after a gap of only approximately thirty seconds. We had to get the 9 dunked Rover back in the kayak as we were too far out to swim back and again my training came to the fore. Everything I had been taught worked well and I was feeling prematurely pleased with the rescue when somebody realised that, in the darkness we had fitted the paddler back in his kayak the wrong way round, so we had to tip him out and do it all again. He wasn’t at all impressed, but I was beginning to enjoy the practice!

Yet another paddler lost the kayak rudder and couldn’t paddle a straight line, so had to be towed back which also worked well as I had automatically put deck lines on all the borrowed kayaks and had been taught how to use them at Honeymoon bay.

All this, and we haven’t got onto the open sea yet! I should point out, for the benefit of worried NSWSKC Committee members, that the public liability risk for these activities lies entirely with the Scout Association!