A Short Trip with a Yankee Cruiser [43]

By Peter Sanders

As a native of the North Eastern part of the US, reading NSW Sea Kayaker provides an opportunity to learn different techniques (and humour) from another skilled group of kayakers.

Some values and experiences are the same, others due to locale are quite different. Yes, there are crazy people here that paddle in the snow and ice, but would think twice about it if there were sharks, nasty jellyfish, crocs or any other vicious or deadly creatures in the water!

If I can digress for a moment – there are many Clubs in the New York City metropolitan and surrounding areas. I am a member of several, but none have the depth, standards or opportunities offered by the NSWSKC. This particular trip described below is offered as an intermediate tour from Atlantic Kayak Tours. I have always thought it better to paddle with known, educated paddlers when a demanding trip is expected than with a Club where the experience levels are unknown. Please understand I am not a snob – just concerned with my own safety.

For most Clubs in the US, plastic sea kayaks are the majority: Perception, Necky, and Sealution boats are popular. Fibreglass denotes a larger wallet or years of experience (you’d be surprised how many people are the former rather than the latter).

Wooden kayaks are a rarity, most are owned by the occasional paddler (with an even bigger wallet than fibreglass), but not necessarily by the experienced kayaker. Please keep in mind this is an observation not an opinion or fact. I apologise for the backtracking and will continue.

Paddling the Connecticut shore of the Long Island Sound is beautiful and demanding. Bluff Point is a state park and coastal reserve. Launchings are restricted to small craft.

Our trip goal was to cross the channel to West Harbour of Fisher’s Island – there is a Race to be concerned with, it can travel about 5 to 6 knots and the waters can get difficult.

Paddlers were screened for this Bluff Point day trip – I’ve known many of the people for years. Most paddle the Romany 16, there is one Romany 18, two Valley Anus Acuta’s, one Necky (but he has a Romany on order) and one P&H Sirius (myself). None of us have rudders, we use either skegs or nothing at all. We have found that in rescues, one can lose a finger on rudder cables.

Unfortunately, the morning weather report had increasing winds forecasted from 15 to 20 knots gusting to 25 or so from the northwest. The plan was to paddle to the south east from the Connecticut shore to Fisher’s Island and return after lunch. The trip itself was fine, about 5 or so miles out, have lunch and return by late afternoon. However, with the wind and the Race, a group meeting was held and the trip changed to exploring the coast, surfing and rolling for the day.

The coast of Connecticut is lined with beaches with little vegetation, marshes with green trees or rock gardens with huge boulders. When the land is not a state preserve, the coast is lined with huge mansions and numerous marinas – the Connecticut and Massachusetts areas have been sailing and whaling towns since the 1600’s.

When crossing coves and no longer protected by the shore, the full force of the wind forced some bracing, but more hard paddling into the wind than anything – I must admit the group may have been correct in cancelling the Fisher’s Island crossing. After 3 hours we decided it was time for lunch.

Surf landing is always a big thrill. Berating the capsizing victims while saving them is normal. I was given some assistance with my landing with the kind instruction, “Brace you idiot!” when a rogue wave hit. My landing was met with a compliment or two…

After lunch, our return trip with the wind was faster then expected. This allowed for some game playing – surfing in, bracing and then paddling out without landing. When this grew tiring we continued for a bit until a new game, ‘Killer Kayak’, was created.

The object being to get directly behind a friend, paddle hard there-by bringing the bow of your kayak up onto your friend’s stern. If successful, the kayak on the bottom is forced sideways and capsizes.

Escape is achieved by side slip, draw on the move, or a severe low brace turn. My personal preference is to roll over, count to 10, and roll up followed by a reverse sweep. This provides excellent position for visual and verbal comments at my protagonist.

All done with fun in mind – any one not wishing to play stays out. This may go on until someone capsizes or we just grow tired.

Towards the end of the day, when the water was at its warmest, we practiced different rolls – the instructional part of our trip, where each of us learns from the other. We spent a half hour or so before landing.

Woy Woy Weekenders [43]

by Anthony Gates

We have recently established a small team of paddlers on the Central Coast, acting as a local arm of the Club. We initially started out by meeting on Wednesday nights for a paddle out of Woy Woy to wherever the mood takes us.

Generally we head out for a couple of hours on Brisbane Water with a short stop to boil the billy somewhere along the way. Those of you who are on the Club’s e-mail list are probably already aware of our outings as they have been advertised on the list each week.

Last Saturday we decided to spread our wings a little and six of us set out from Patonga for a leisurely stroll up the Hawkesbury River. Our initial plan was to do some exploring up Patonga Creek but being a fairly impromptu event, we had the tides wrong and therefore decided on a trip over to Refuge Bay.

We figured it to be about a 14 km round trip and as the photos show the conditions were great. We pulled in for lunch and a bit of a wander around before loading up for the return journey. Our American visitor, Jose, looked a bit weary on the way back as his paddling experience was limited but all in all a nice easy day on the water was had by all.

We would welcome anyone from the Club who would like to attend our ‘Woy Woy Wednesday’ paddles. We meet at the public wharf at Woy Woy at 7 pm for a 7:15 departure. We also have a few other ideas in the mill. In particular a weekend trip from my place at Woy Woy (waterfront living has its advantages) to Putty beach on 2-3 September and another at Port Stephens on 14-15 October.

If you are heading up our way anytime for a paddle, make sure you drop Anthony Gates a line on (02) 9923 5059 BH, (02) 4341 9096 AH.

Web Site Reviews [43]

The Great Cardboard Boat Regatta
The website of the original cardboard boating event, this is a premier event in America attracting 1,500 participants each year. Participants must create a vessel from cardboard that will survive several water trips.

Perhaps an ideal event for the plywood boat fanatics to test their designs and skills on…

Bergen University Kayak Club
Situated on the west coast of Norway, this club undertakes sea and whitewater kayaking trips.

Great pictures of the COLD coastline and kayaking through ice make for worthwhile viewing. I just wish I could read Norwegian…

Doug’s Boat Page
A wooden boat builder, Doug has created this website as a resource to wooden kayak building.

Free plans, links to boat design software, good photos of finished products, interesting links and a good list of resources make this a great site for anyone thinking about or already building a kayak.

Training Notes [43]

By David Winkworth

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!

Green Boats

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.

Rolling Psychology

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.

Day Hatches

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…

Top Tips [43]

After our fantastically successful debut with Top Tips in the last issue, we received a plethora of submissions to Top Tips for this issue…

Alas, of the hundreds received, we can print only one, so self-confessed kayak devotee and all-round good guy Wayne Langmaid gets the stamp of approval this month, with a fantastic suggestion for tricky pump installation.

All that is needed is a willing 7-year-old who is handy with the tools. Wayne declined to comment when asked by our own Flotsam & Jetsam reporters whether his lithe 7-year-old daughter Emmy was available for hire to Club members building and repairing their own boats…

It’s That Time Of The Year Again [43]

Membership Renewal Alert

Membership renewal time again… time for you all to raid the piggy banks and lift the lounge cushions for the necessaries to keep us functioning for another year…

Alas we cannot continue to function on the super-value membership fees that we have maintained for many, many years.

The Club’s two largest expenditures are the production and distribution of the Club magazine four times a year and Public Liability Insurance.

The magazine production costs have been slowly increasing over the past few years which is reflected in the standard of the magazine produced.

Public Liability Insurance was introduced last year and the premium has increased this year.

The membership fee has not increased significantly since the Club was established in the late 1980’s and the current membership fee does not reflect what the Club now has to offer.

To ensure the Club’s future existence and enable some expansion in areas such as training and assessments, a membership increase has to be implemented.

With this in mind, individual memberships are now $50.00 per year, and family memberships are now $55.00 per year.

All the normal training, insurance, trip opportunities and quarterly magazine issues are still provided as part of the yearly membership fee.

We are sure you will agree that the NSWSKC is still great value for money and I hope to see you on the water next year.

To renew your membership, simply complete the renewal form at the back of this magazine and pop it together with your cheque into the reply paid envelope enclosed with this magazine (no stamp required) and whiz it into your nearest post box.

Stuart Trueman – Secretary/Treasurer

Product Review [43]

Mountain Design “The Hutt”

by David Whyte

I have just been checking out a new tent which is ideal for sea kayaking. My son bought it for doing Tasmania’s south coast track hike next January so I had a chance to have a good look at it.

The tent is a new model out by Mountain Design called The Hutt and is aimed at the bushwalking market. It is classed as a two man tent but it was pretty snug, though it had slightly more room than my Macpac Minaret and weighs the same. The floor space is uniform (i.e. not tapering) making it easier for two people to share. My son plans on sharing it for 10 days on his hike.

The tent was easy to put up using two cross poles as a sort of elongated Dome. The inner can be put up as a free standing tent to give you insect protection but you’d want to hope it doesn’t rain. It has a feature that is not common amongst dome style tents but certainly is in the Macpac range; that is the ability to put the fly up first. It does this by providing a set of cross tapes. This turns it into an excellent light weight shelter or allows you to put the fly up in the rain and the inner later.

Entrance is via a round front vestibule with a protected zip allowing both top or bottom opening providing good shelter in bad weather. It has another interesting feature with a second door on the inner tent that doesn’t appear to go anywhere. There is only one entrance in the fly and the second inner door opens onto the non-opening side of the fly. Although you cannot use this as an entrance, the shape of the fly provides a small vestibule for shoes, etc. It also allows a good bit of ventilation with both doors and the fly open.

Construction was very sound and the tent appears to be well made. It has loops for four storm guys but I found it very firm without the guys attached. The floor has an abrasion resistant coating on the bottom and comes up the sides several inches for those heavy downpours.

  • Weight – 2.4 kg
  • Poles – 2
  • Floor area – 2.7 sq metres
  • Internal height – 1.1 metres
  • Length – 2.3 metres
  • Width – 1.2 metres
  • Vestibules – 1.6 sq metres
  • Fly – Poly UV70
  • Inner – breathable nylon
  • Floor – Waterloc Ten-K (hydrostatic head of 10,000 mm)