National Park Fees
The bastards! The rotten bastards!
I’m referring to that great bureaucracy, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which has just announced that $6.00 entry fees for vehicles will be slapped on another 23 National Parks in NSW from November, including ‘little’ Bournda and Ben Boyd parks down here on the south coast.
I don’t know if this item belongs in Training Notes but to me it sure is important. These parks are my backyard, damn it. I paddle in them, my children have birthday parties and school excursions in them, our family has picnics in them… and now we’ll have to pay $6.00 for the privilege each time we go in there. You can be sure too that this is the thin end of the wedge. We’ll soon have fees for all parks and for paddlers, cyclists and walkers too! Really, what’s the matter with the NPWS? This is bad, bad, bad PR in a small community.
If you feel strongly about it, write to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus, at Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney… And while you’re doing it, you might also write to Eddie Obeid, Minister for Fisheries. NSW Fisheries is presently ‘softening up’ the NSW public for a saltwater fishing licence. Seems that these government departments can’t get along on the money we already give them in taxes!
I feel some civil disobedience coming on!
A few years ago I made a prototype for the kayak I now make and I flow-coated it olive green. In Sydney Harbour, a kayak of this colour would probably get you run over by the JetCats on your first day out, but down here on the south coast I figured it would one day be the boat colour of choice to be able to camp undisturbed by rangers on our beaches and estuaries. Maybe that day will arrive sooner rather than later: Dirk Stuber tells me that all bush camping in the Royal National Park has been banned… no more Royal Banquet paddles.
Try this exercise: Write a list of all the coastal places in your paddling areas where you can legally camp with your kayak free of charge. If your shire is like mine, you’ll have a very short list.
In the latest issue of US Sea Kayaker magazine are two articles concerned with rolling. One deals with mental attitudes and the other with a manoeuvre whereby the paddler twists their body around the side of their capsized kayak to get breaths of air before rolling up.
What is it with the Americans? Are they trying to make an involved science discipline out of a truly basic sea kayaking skill? Why do they treat a basic roll as an advanced manoeuvre? I mean, with the latter article mentioned above, why contort your body to breathe when you could just roll up and do the same thing… and be a lot warmer too!
A few years ago, Norm Sanders went to America to check out the kayak shops, many of which are situated right on the water. He tells the story of doing a few rolls in a demo boat and all the staff gathered around to watch because they had never seen it done before!
As for mental attitudes, I think there is just no substitute for practice. Forget about visualizing this and that… if you get bowled over by a wave, just roll up! Just do it.
Rolling is a basic sea kayaking skill – it is the very best self-rescue method there is. Nothing even comes close… not paddle floats, not compressed air bladders, not sea wings or sponsons, NOTHING! There are no gimmicks, aids, costs. All you need is your paddle (and some paddlers don’t even need that) and practice.
Yes folks, practice is the key to good, reliable rolling… and lots of it. You need to do thousands of them to be able to rely on your roll. Luckily, they’re fun to do! A few of the guys I paddle with have a rule: Do some rolls EVERY time you launch your kayak. Try it! It works.
In the NSWSKC, there is no excuse for not having a good reliable roll. We have lots of proficient rollers in this Club and all are willing to share their knowledge with you. Why not tap into this vast store of knowledge at our Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend in November. If you can’t roll, come along and learn. There is no trick or secret. You can do it! I promise you this: the better your roll, the less likely you are to need it!
Bass Strait Crossing Report
Every so often a really good piece of sea kayaking literature comes along that you just have to have. When that book, report or whatever concerns some of your local paddling waters then it becomes even more important that it becomes part of your sea kayaking reference library.
Such a volume was published in April of this year.
Ian Dunn of Cheltenham, Victoria, crossed Bass Strait with Peter Provis, Julian Smith and Tina Rowley earlier this year and then wrote a report of the crossing which includes just about everything you would need to know about crossing the strait.
Whether you’re planning a crossing in the near or distant future or just want to read up on the crossing, I can recommend Ian’s publication.
Copies of the report can be obtained from Ian at 18 Booker Street, Cheltenham VIC 3192 for $10.00 (including postage) or you can call him on (03) 9584 7682 for further information.
If you have a day hatch on your sea kayak, what do your call the other hatches? Some thoughts on day hatches:
I was talking to a paddler recently who has a day hatch on his boat and he told me that he doesn’t use his day hatch at sea.
“Where do you store all the items you need at sea?” I enquired.
“Oh, in the day hatch, but I only get them out when I’m ashore,” he replied.
To me this is bad planning. All items you may need at sea must be readily accessible from your cockpit in all conditions… things like your cag, drink bottle, extra food, radio, tow bag, knife, etc… the list goes on.
No matter where you store them, they MUST be accessible all the time or one day you’ll come unstuck in a big way. Some points:
If you have a day hatch on your boat, why not use it? Practice using it in choppy conditions. Beam on to a stiff nor’easter is ideal. Sure you’re going to get waves sloshing into the hatch occasionally but most day hatches have low volume so it shouldn’t be a problem should it? I once had a wave come over the back deck while I had the day hatch lid off. It filled the day hatch right to the top. Couldn’t get the water out, out there at sea, so I just put the lid on and continued paddling. Actually, the day hatch was full of gear so the actual extra amount I took on wasn’t that great… which brings me to the next point:
The gear you store in the day hatch should be able to take an occasional dunking. If not, put it in another hatch or put it in a waterproof bag. The day hatch is an ideal location to store some of your heavy items such as water bags and bottles, stove, camera, etc.
Realise that after a vigorous surf exit, maybe with a few rolls, that your yummy muesli bar may have re-located in the day hatch to the other side of the boat. Can you still reach it?
Don’t count on a mate getting your lunch out of your front hatch for you at lunchtime out at sea – he or she may not be around when you need some food. Store everything you need close to you!
What sort of hatch lid does your day hatch have? Can you get the lid back on securely and quickly before the wave of the day descends on you? The most popular day hatch would be the 8″ round from Valley Canoe Products in England. They can be removed and replaced in seconds. They also seem to benefit from an occasional spray of Armor-All. There are some Valley clones around too. I’ve seen a few of these which are pretty stiff to operate with one hand behind your back. Check them carefully for ease of operation – both coming off AND going back on before heading out to sea.
In the last issue of NSW Sea Kayaker I wrote about basic turns in your sea kayak and I made a mistake on page 55. Did you find it? More importantly, did it confuse anyone? Check the centre column on page 55 in the last issue.
Turning a Sea Kayak – continued from Training Notes in issue 37
Let’s continue with some turns.
OK, last issue we were leaning the boat out away from the turn by lifting the inside knee and pivoting at the hips to keep our CG (centre of gravity) over the hull as much as possible. By using different lean angles at different boat speeds, you would have found that the turn rate was different too. Practice is the key here. By doing a little each time you paddle you’ll quickly become familiar with your sea kayak. Don’t forget to practice with a loaded boat too – 20 kg of camping gear will make quite a change to your boat’s behaviour on edge.
Let’s have a look at turning a sea kayak in strong winds. This seems to get paddlers into all sorts of bother at times… and rightly so because wind is often a sea kayaker’s enemy on the water.
If you sit in your boat in open water in a wind of, say 20 knots (that is a pretty strong wind – many paddlers overstate wind speeds), your kayak will more or less turn beam on to the wind and stay that way. Why? Because it’s now in equilibrium. It has even wind pressure fore and aft of you pushing against the water under the hull fore and aft of you. Your boat is happy!
If you have a rudder fitted, put it down and you’ll notice that the bow now swings a bit more downwind. It does this because wind resistance has been removed from the rear deck and ADDED to the water resistance aft of you. Result: bow moves downwind slightly.
OK, we’re sitting pretty much beam on and the boat is plopping over each wind wave. The direction you’re pointing though is not where you want to go. Suppose this wind is a westerly and you’re at sea. If you can’t turn upwind, your next stop will be New Zealand paddling with Rob Gardner!
To get your kayak to go upwind (or downwind which we’ll cover in a moment) will require some effort. You need to take control of your kayak from the wind. As wind speeds increase (25+ knots), you’ll find it more and more difficult to move your kayak out of this equilibrium by conventional short BACK PADDLE, FORWARD PADDLE, BACK PADDLE manoeuvres. The wind becomes too strong and pushes the boat back into the beam-on equilibrium. The problem is also exacerbated with longer boats because the wind has more purchase on your kayak further from your paddle (levers, young Winston, levers).
What we need is speed! We need water moving past the kayak’s hull so that any steering stroke we initiate will have a greater effect in countering the wind.
Let’s paddle hard straight across the wind. Get that boat moving. Let’s use the boat’s tendency to weathercock to our advantage. Now, using the outside-of-the-turn foot pressure with inside-knee-lift we’ll initiate a turn. We can help the boat to turn more forcefully by leaning well forward to lighten up the stern (remember the stern needs to swing out) and making our paddle strokes on the outside of the turn wider for more turning moment. We can also slide our hands along the paddle shaft to make that outside stroke into a genuine sweep stroke. Keep those paddle strokes going on the inside of the turn too. We need the speed. The boat will come around. (Matt Broze makes additional comments)
Our strong wind has of course generated waves which are slapping against the boat as we paddle across the wind. We can use the waves to our advantage in turning the kayak. You’ll need to time an outside-of-the-turn sweep stroke with the bow section of the boat being out of the water over a wave. Get this right and the boat will move onto your new course very quickly. (Matt Broze makes additional comments)
Right, the boat has come around towards the wind but your course is not quite bang-on upwind… perhaps 10-20 degrees off. What can you do to help hold the boat on this course without using the rudder?
The answer is: use your bodyweight to change the weight distribution in your kayak. How well this works will depend on various factors but it is another thing that you need to work out for yourself in your boat. So… heading upwind, perhaps 45 degrees off the wind: if the wind is blowing you back to that beam-on position, lean well forward, well forward, whilst paddling. This will lighten the stern and force the bow in. Use the wind here to change your course. (Matt Broze makes additional comments)
Similarly, if you want to turn off the wind, lean well back to force the stern in and lighten the bow. These two manoeuvres should be accompanied by degrees of boat lean – use everything you’ve got – don’t make your paddling too hard.
Turning downwind from that position of equilibrium is not too difficult but remember that your kayak may suddenly pick up a wave as it comes onto a downwind course, so be ready.
Again, paddle hard across the wind. Now, initiate some upwind boat lean by lifting the downwind knee and also pushing hard on the upwind footrest only. The other thing you have to do is lean well back. Get that keel well into the water and lighten the bow as much as you can. Keep the lean-back position until the bow turns downwind. The boat may turn very quickly when the waves pick it up so be ready. On ANY downwind heading, all your turns should be made while still in the lean-back position. Try it. (Matt Broze makes additional comments)
The key to all this is practice. You just have to get out there and do it. So next time it’s blowing a gale on the harbour, get your kayak out there and practice. Probably wise to practice with an experienced paddler if you haven’t done too much of this before. It’s also wise to practice near a LEE shore with a safe landing.
Sea Instructor Assessment Candidates: A wind is blowing from the west over an island. Which side of the island is the LEE SHORE and which is the WEATHER SHORE?
Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend, 2000
Our Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend is on again this year on the last weekend in November (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). Check the Trips Calendar in this issue.
Each year we have lots of paddlers who want to develop and hone their sea kayaking skills and we sometimes have a great need of experienced paddlers to assist.
So, what we ask is this: if you have well developed sea kayaking skills, (and maybe the Sea Proficiency Award) which you have gained with the assistance of Club members, why not come along to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend and pass those skills on to some other paddlers?
If we all do a little of this, the skill level of all paddlers in the Club will continue to rise.
See you there…