Womens’ Issue Number 1 [40]

I Have To Go

By Shirin Richards

Lucky me, as I was going through some papers the other day I came across an old copy of the NSW Sea Kayaker, issue 28, October 1996. I was reminded of that little black mark against my name, thanks to Mark Pearson, going down in history as the fIrst woman to enter the’ Hall of Shame’. “Women’s Issues”. me and my big mouth! Unfortunately, my involvement with the club has lapsed, what is sadder the fact that my kayak has been dry for a year or so as I pursue other interests. I prefer to think of it as merely a hiatus, with the ever-hopeful view that one day soon. …Regardless, I feel compelled to extricate myself from the shackles that has bound me for the past 3 years to the Hall of Shame.

‘Women’s Issues’. Yes, I admit there are few issues that apply to women and not men while on the water, kayaking seems to be the great equaliser . However one issue that comes to mind is the delicate matter of ‘pissing’, weeing, relieving oneself, urinating … okay, okay you get the idea. It’s definitely not dinner conversation, but it’s an issue that affects every paddler at one time or another, so lets talk openly. This is an art form for women consisting ofbalance, coordination, and timing, the latter is very important in order to avoid carrying extra water in the cockpit, during those long crossings. Men, born with the ability to pee easily into bottles, may not understand the difficulty for women in performing this crucial act, however, as I have personally experienced, if the urge is upon you, and land still a few hours away, then one does what one can.

I am reminded of the 3-month expedition, I did with friends a couple of years ago, from the Township of 1770 to Cooktown. I became quite skilled in peeing from my kayak in almost all weather conditions, though in the early days I required assistance to steady my craft. As I crouched precariously in my cockpit to relieve myself, aiming for my bailer, someone would drape themselves over the back of my yak, in an attempt to stop it rocking, a result of me trying not to fall out. As you can imagine, after 3 months I was quite able to wee independently, regardless of sea or swell. There were times when my overconfidence lead me to be careless, when losing concentration might mean falling into the drink, but thankfully my dignity remains intact.

One of my other companions on that trip, also female, achieved greater fame, one I’d personally prefer to avoid. In her case she successfully did number 2’s! Now that’s an achievement, it’s funny what one founds impressive after 3 months on the water.

Admittedly the issue of peeing from a kayak is not only women’s issue, but our uniqueness provides an interesting challenge. I can offer an alternative for women if they are sick of ‘holding-on’, a simple American device called Freshette or colloquially termed “piss-a-fone” or “4U2P”. Let me just say, it allows women the freedom to stand (or sit) to pee, and makes aiming a whole lot easier!

Good paddling.