Winds [46]

By Sundra John

Wind has always been the one of the ‘most’ determining factors on whether we kayak or not.

I have always been aware of wind conditions when checking the forecast, but never really understood its origin.

As part of my Sea Instructor training, the request to contribute an article to the magazine on this topic has been a self-learning exercise. The objective with this article is to generate interest and receive feedback to create a better understanding of winds and weather. For the purpose of sea kayaking I have focused on local wind patterns.

In definition, wind is the movement of air measured in relation to the ground. Wind originates when air moves from an area of high pressure to low pressure. Weather patterns are generally dominated by areas of low pressure called depressions.

In the southern hemisphere air flows clockwise around low pressure systems and anticlockwise around high pressure systems. This rotating effect around a cell is caused by the earth’s rotation called the Coriolis effect. Therefore, if you face the wind, the low pressure will be on your left, with the high on your right. By looking at the synoptic charts below we can better understand these pressure systems.

Figure 1 - a fairly typical summer weather map

Figure 1

A fairly typical summer weather map is shown in Figure 1.

Northerly winds over eastern Australia on the western flank of a Tasman Sea high. They carry hot, dry air from inland Australia southward over Victoria and Tasmania. With winds strengthening ahead of an approaching front, this represents a classic weather situation with extreme bushfire risk.

Moist, easterly flow from the Coral Sea onto the Queensland coast causes very warm, humid and sultry weather east of the Great Dividing Range. This air, often susceptible to the development of showers and thunderstorms, is described as ‘unstable’.

The cold front passing South Australia replaces the hot, dry north westerlies with southerlies carrying cooler, often relatively humid air from waters south of the continent.

Such summer fronts are often quite shallow and may not penetrate far inland, particularly if they are distorted and slowed over the Victorian mountains.

Figure 2 - a relatively common winter weather map

Figure 2

In Figure 2 a relatively common winter weather map shows: Very cold, unstable air from well south of Tasmania flows northward over Tasmania, Victoria and southeast New South Wales, reducing normal day temperatures typically by five degrees or more. Note the cold front, the deep low pressure (pressures below 976 hectopascals) south of Tasmania and the high (1020 hectopascals) south of the Bight. Occasionally, rapid interaction with other weather systems around the southern hemisphere can almost halt the pattern’s eastward movement, causing successive cold fronts to bring a prolonged spell of cold, showery weather to southern Australia. Easterly winds dominate over inland Australia. Although southern cold fronts become shallow and diffuse as they move into northern Australia they often trigger a surge in the strength of the easterlies and this, combined with their extreme dryness, creates a very high fire danger in the tropical savannah region.

An active low pressure system near Perth is ‘cut off’ from the southern westerlies. Situations of this type may cause rain and rather cold weather over southern parts of Western Australia.

Figure 3 - wind strength of 4

Figure 3

Figure 4 - wind strength of 8

Figure 4

Wind strength is determined by the difference in pressure within a depression (low), i.e. where the isobars are spaced closely together indicates a deep low and therefore strong winds. Figure 3 indicates a wind strength of force 4 (11-16 knots) at Rockhampton on an approaching cyclone. Figure 4 indicates a wind strength of force 8 (34-40 knots), a gale although not the highest speed for the day. Wind strength is also the highest at the core of the low.

Figure 5 - wind speed to pressure relationship

Figure 5

Figure 5 indicates wind speed to pressure relationship. Notice the highest wind speed (124 km/h) is reached as the pressure is still falling (970 hPa). Note: Figure 5 is related to Figures 3 and 4.

Additional information;

  • Wind speed is highest at 500 metres above sea level.
  • Wind speed at sea level is 70% the speed at 500 metres.
  • Wind speed on land is 50% the speed at 500 metres.
  • The reduction in speed is caused by surface drag.

From the information above we can therefore assume that the wind we can feel on land would be stronger at sea.

Figure 6 - how wind affects our speed

Figure 6

Figure 6 is a useful indicator of how wind affects our speed.

By averaging a paddling speed of 3-4 knots we can see a 20 knot headwind would cut our paddling speed down to 2 knots.

Sea conditions in Table 1 are indications of sea state for wind influence only. Conditions change (generally worsen) when combined with other factors such as tides, topography (under & above water), current and swell.

A barometer is an invaluable device for monitoring pressure changes, and has been used by the experienced to provide accurate short term forecasts.

Micro weather patterns generated by seasonal change, land/water temperature difference and topography create the land/sea breezes we commonly hear of in reports.

From studying the table on the previous page most of us should be able to judge the wind speed we can cope with. Knowing the wind prediction will help us determine:

  • Whether we paddle or not
  • What distance to target
  • Which direction to paddle

In conclusion, I would encourage any further contributions towards this topic to make it as resourceful as possible.

Material used in this article has been sourced from the following:

Table 1: the Beaufort Scale (from the Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory Weather Workstation)


Web Site Reviews [46]

Arctic Kayaks – Renowned kayak expert David Zimmerly’s site includes details on kayak types, kayak construction, kayak history and a comprehensive kayak database.

As an Arctic anthropologist with the Canadian Museum, David developed a passion for studying, building and writing about Arctic kayaks, and this site is an extension of that passion.

Extensive bibliographies of Arctic kayaks, detailed construction plans and a library of David’s kayak books make this a site well worth visiting for any kayak enthusiast.

Traditional Arctic Skinboats – Harvey Golden’s site features extensive photos of Inuit and Aleut kayak replicas that he and his friends have built, plus pictures of traditional kayaks and the Greenland Kayaking Championships as well as plenty of information on traditional kayaks and ships.

As you can see, traditional kayak sites are the flavour of the month in the editorial offices, and for good reasons apart from the Editor being skin boat mad. The history of kayaking makes fascinating reading, and these sites offer an abundance of information. Log on and check them out know… you’ll be hunting down sources of whalebone and sealskin within days.

Qayanek – A native owned kayak preservation centre involved in building traditional kayaks, saving Yup’ik traditional kayak knowledge and establishing a kayak knowledge facility.

Currently this is a simple site with promise of much more to come, but so far tells of the life and talents of master boat builder Frank Andrew, 82, who was raised in a traditional nomadic Yup’ik lifestyle, and who is one of a few remaining elders who can construct the rare Caninermiut kayak. His knowledge is now being passed on to others through the Yup’ik educational kayak knowledge facility and the products are sold to promote traditional practices and techniques.

Check back often.

In Pursuit of Indigestible Trivia [46]

By Andrew Eddy

About the Club

The Club currently has about 200 members. About 100 members are subscribers to the Club’s Internet mailing list. Join the fun now!

About 50 members have passed the Australian Canoeing (Inc) Sea Proficiency assessment, plus at least a dozen more are awaiting the next assessment weekend.

The Club has about 25 approved Trip Leaders. Another half dozen will be approved when they have been successfully assessed for Sea Proficiency.

The Club has about a dozen AC Board of Canoe Education Instructors. Three more Club members are awaiting results of the instructor assessment in late May.

Our Internet Statistics

The Club’s Internet facilities are: the Club’s Internet mailing list and the Club’s website. Part of the Club’s web administration includes a ‘statistics server’ which provides a lot of information on who actually uses the Club’s website.

In May, our web server served 7,600 ‘sessions’ – that comes to about 250 users browsing our web site every day. Of these, 5,300 are ‘referred sessions’ and don’t really want to know anything about us, but 2,300 per month are people who really want to read something about us.

During May, we served sessions to people in 43 countries, just managing to span all the continents. About sixty percent of sessions are from the US. A lot of these sessions may be the major web indexing engines, as three states (California, Virginia and New York) show disproportionate levels of attempted traffic. All the major indexing engines (except our favourite, ‘Google’) are forbidden access beyond their first attempt. This is deliberately to reduce traffic. We pay for the excess!

If we count out the likely indexing sessions, then Australians gaining access to our web site account for about 60 percent of usage. Americans account for about 15 percent, followed by the Japanese, British, Canadians, Taiwanese, French, Dutch and Chinese. Does this fit with your impression of the major sea-kayaking countries?

Our most popular pages are the magazine ‘Contents’ page, pages on design and equipment, especially wooden boats, sails and pumps, the ‘For Sale’ page, the ‘Suppliers and Outfitters’ page and the Trips Calendar. The ‘What’s New’ page and our ‘Home Page’ don’t count of course, as they aren’t meaty articles of prose. One big surprise is our ‘Poetry’ page. It is possible that people are guided to this page, not because they are sea kayakers, but because our site is known as a prime source of classical poetry of the sea.

It’s a little harder to work out when people seek access. Peak activity usually seems to be during the week. Maybe people are out paddling on the weekend. Maybe they’re just using their desktop computers at work. Time of day in each country is impossible to ascertain.

The majority of serious readers look around and read for about a quarter of an hour, but some people are still looking and reading after an hour. The rest are only interested in one or two pages, perhaps just checking the ‘For Sale’ page or updates to the Calendar.

All of the articles from the Club magazine, NSW Sea Kayaker, from August 1994 (Issue 21) onwards, are available on our website. Several Club members are working towards scanning and archiving all of the Club’s magazine history. This may be available by the end of this year, if we can find members or former members with copies of the earliest issues.

If any member would like to contribute material specifically to the website, please contact the Webmaster. Articles intended for future issues of the magazine should go to the Editor.

The Trip Leaders’ Training Course 2001 [46]

by Andrew Eddy

The May 2001 Trip Leaders’ Training Course

For the last two years, the NSW Sea Kayak Club has been formulating its own Standard Operating Procedures. While the draft procedures clearly show their military heritage, they are most definitely a civilian document with considerable value for the Club and its members. These procedures have the potential to drastically reduce the risks that    we might take, due to misunderstandings about the roles taken by leaders and participants in Club trips.

During September last year, the Club held its first Trip Leader’s Training Course. This course was experimental in nature and had limited attendance, but was a valuable learning experience for those who presented course segments and those who participated in the course.

One valuable lesson we learned was about venue; we probably won’t be going to Shoalhaven Heads again in a hurry! We were extraordinarily lucky with the conditions and equally unlucky with camp security.

In Issue 44 of NSW Sea Kayaker the Committee explained several new policies for the conduct of Club events. The restriction of trip leadership to approved Club Trip Leaders has made it necessary for the Club to hold regular Trip Leader’s Training Courses.

On the weekend of 12-13 May 2001, the Club held its first course for the 2001 calendar year. The organisers chose Murramarang Resort so that we could have comfortable accommodation and classroom space as the weather cools into winter. The resort has very comfortable cabins and heated conference rooms with all the facilities we could have wanted for our program of talks, discussion and theory exercises, plus it has beach frontage and quick access to sheltered water in Batemans Bay. Most participants were happy to share the luxurious cabins (which had baths and double showers!) and the remainder were able to camp only metres away.

Twenty one members attended the course over the weekend. All but three participated in the entire weekend.

The course was structured around morning sessions in the conference room and afternoon sessions on the water. The morning indoors sessions were composed of a series of brief presentations, each followed by group discussion then group theoretical exercises. The afternoon outdoors sessions were practical sessions on the water, organising and running a sample grade 2 trip on the Saturday and a sample grade 3 trip on the Sunday.

The format of presentation and discussion was a valuable one for presenters and participants alike. It is worth noting that a considerable number of NSWSKC members have extensive experience and skills, not just in sea kayaking but in sailing and other maritime activities, bushwalking and other outdoor activities requiring strong abilities in navigation and judgement, specialised knowledge and leadership skills. The course organisers planned on using the discussion component of the course segments to harness the combined experience and abilities of the group.

Participants in the course now have a solid grounding in the Club’s view on the role of a Trip Leader when leading other Club members as peers, Club procedures for grading and advertising a trip, planning the details of a trip, how plans change with conditions on the day of the trip, how to manage a group on the beach and on the water and how to deal with a trip that goes awry.

There was a lot of material covered in the course, some of which doesn’t yet appear in the Standard Operating Procedures. Some key skills and knowledge were not covered, as they were declared to be assumed knowledge. First Aid skills are best taught by WorkCover approved course providers. Navigation skills are a course on their own.

The course was a resounding success. It was a great learning experience for us all, presenters  and participants alike. With the planned format, it was also a good social event with a relaxed Saturday evening and plenty of time on the water.

The Club will hold another Trip Leader’s Training Course later in the year. Since the May course clashed with Mother’s Day and this affected several people who wanted to attend, it seems appropriate that the second course should not be held on Father’s Day in September! Keep an eye on the calendar in October, both the current version on the Club’s website and the printed version in the magazine. See you there!

Announcement: Trip Leaders Approved

On Sunday 27 May, the NSWSKC Committee met at Tathra and approved the following categories of current members as Trip Leaders:

  • ABCE senior sea instructors and ABCE sea instructors,
  • participants in the first and second Trip Leader’s Training Courses, who hold a current ABCE Sea Proficiency Certificate and First Aid/CPR qualification.

Several more participants in the May 2001 course will be approved as Trip Leaders, upon notifying the Club Secretary that they have been awarded their ABCE Sea Proficiency Certificate.

All of the participants at the May 2001 course received copies of the course material, detailing the application of the Club’s policies and procedures to the organisation and leadership of groups of peers on Club trips. The relevant parts of the course material will be included in the draft Standard Operating Procedures and distributed to all of the approved Trip Leaders.

From the June 2001 Trip Calendar onwards, all Club trips will be led by a Club-approved Trip Leader. The printed calendar in this issue will also be the last calendar where trips may have a Trip Coordinator. From the September 2001 Trip Calendar onwards, the Trip Leader will be the only contact for information about Club trips. The option of being a Trip Coordinator will cease to exist.

Approved Trip Leaders are:

  • Current ABCE senior sea instructors and sea instructors who are members of NSWSKC:

    • Ross Boardman
    • Gordon Carswell
    • Andrew Eddy
    • Wayne Langmaid
    • Arunas Pilka
    • Ian Ribbons
    • Norm Sanders
    • Dirk Stuber
    • John Wilde
    • David Winkworth
  • Additionally, from the September 2000 Trip Leader’s Training Course,  participants and presenters:

    • Sharon Betteridge
    • Andrew McAuley
    • Kevin Melville
    • Rob Mercer
    • David Whyte
  • Additionally, from the May 2001 Trip Leader’s Training Course, participants and presenters:

    • Michael Culhane
    • Nick Gill
    • Sundra John
    • Paul Loker
    • Andrew McPhail
    • Tony Neiderberger
    • Mike Snoad
    • Stuart Trueman

Congratulations all!

The next Club magazine (issue 47 – deadline September 14, 2001) and Trips Calendar are in preparation now. This is the best possible opportunity to practice the skills that we have discussed and put a trip in the Club Calendar. Contact the Trips Convener, Stuart Trueman, with your trip ideas.

Further to the above list, the following members will be approved as Trip Leaders when they notify the Club Secretary that they have received their ABCE Sea Proficiency Certificate: John Caldwell, Chris Halliday, Robyn Harris, Mark Pearson, Peter Rattenbury, Rob Richmond and Margot Todhunter.

The (Not So) Perfect Storm [46]

By Sharon Betteridge

Sunday 14 January 2001 Paihia, Bay of Islands, NZ

Hordes of noisy tourists disembarking at the wharf left Rob and I feeling a tad disenchanted with this choice of kayaking destination for our annual holiday. We had just spent a few days tramping through Tongariro National Park with 400 plus tourists, in the middle of what could have been described as the longest conga line in history rather than a wilderness experience, so these tourists should not have concerned us excessively.

However, we sat on the sea wall, nonchalantly licking ice creams and planning our next move. Tomorrow’s weather, and indeed the weather for the next few weeks, and possibly the last few, was predictable: calm, fine, 25 degrees, afternoon sea breezes to 10 knots …  perfect. Perhaps tomorrow would be quieter …

Monday 15 January 2001 Paihia, NZ

Up early after a quiet night spent at a ‘motor park’ a few kilometres away from the crowds and the noise of the beachfront, beside a river sheltered by gums, grevillea and bottlebrush, just to remind us of home.

“Si’ in or si’ on? Si’ in 45 dollars and si’ on 40 dollars,” said Trev in his cockney accent when we arrived at the beach and asked about availability of sea kayaks for rental. He pointed to his collection of  Tupperware craft, half of which were ‘Scupper Pros’ and the other half  ‘Storms’. We avoided getting into a discussion about whether or not a sit on top was a sea kayak as we were more interested in itineraries, safety gear and camping spots, places to visit and emergency procedures.

“It’s so busy just stick your paddle in the air and one of the yachties will come and get you,” Trev said. “Garbage,” I thought so I asked about VHF radios, maps, float plans, cell phone reception, current weather forecasts, and distances to the islands.

“Well, you sor’id yet?” asked Trev.

Keeping an open mind we chose two plastic ‘Storms’.

“Now they are the perfect kayaks for you,” he said, adding, “I’ll throw in a couple of spray skirts, not that you’ll need them, but i’ sometimes gets a bi’ choppy in the afternoon.”

He had also provided paddles and, at my insistence, a laminated map, although it was unscaled and ended just short of Urapukapuka Island, 20 kilometres or so away. Trev  wasn’t concerned about when we’d be back.

“Just call on your cell phone and tell me,” were his parting words as we launched. So began our taste of sea kayaking in Northland.

Being avid kayakers we had brought a mountain of ‘essential’ gear with us across the Tasman and our kayaks were heavily laden as we pushed off the grey pebbly beach into the calm blue waters. It was still early. Except for a few sooty oyster catchers, the beach and bay were deserted. The splash of the paddle blades and the squawk of the ubiquitous seagulls, another reminder of home.

After rounding the peninsular at Russell, islands were spread out as far as we could see: Motuarohia, Moturua and Urapukapuka and several smaller one rising from the sea, their cragginess the legacy of a volcanic past. To the north and south headlands spread like elongated arms, protecting the bay from seas and swell. With little rebound we were able to spend hours exploring the shoreline. Sneaking into caves, shooting through arches and paddling around rock gardens with relative ease, timing our runs effectively. It was truly paradise: beautiful one minute, perfect the next.

After circumnavigating Urapukapuka Island we found a quiet cove and enjoyed our lunch in the shelter of some Pahutakawa trees, their red flowers contrasting vividly with their suede green leaves. Nearby a family were busy filleting and cleaning their morning’s catch, nets spread across the beach in readiness for a late afternoon repeat of the morning’s success.

As we prepared to return I realised the morning’s continuous paddling and tight manoeuvring had put a strain on my muscles. Not that I lacked fitness, and I was certainly used to paddling long distances with a laden kayak, but this boat was slower, heavier and wider than my own lightweight, plywood kayak.

“This is not the perfect ‘Storm’ for me!” I yelled in frustration to no-one in particular, but the Black Back Gulls and Terns took offence and squawked back. They mistook me for a predator, and were guarding their young charges jealously. I paddled off quickly to allay their fears.

On our return journey we found the southern shores of the islands were no less beautiful. There were more rock gardens to play in, sea caves to explore and arches to paddle through just because they were there. Weaving around a submerged rocky platform I became absorbed in watching the sunlight filtering through the water and fish darting between clumps of seaweed. A loud scraping sound brought me back to reality. Momentarily high and dry I  realised these cumbersome craft were the perfect ‘Storms’ for playing around these sharp rocky shorelines.

As predicted the afternoon sea breeze arrived for the final few kilometres and we arrived at Paihia just ahead of the last fast ferry returning from Cape Brett…

Wednesday 18 January 2001 Orua Bay, NZ

“This can’t be safe!” My knuckles turned from pink to white as I watched the land disappear from three sides and a spectacular scene overlooking Stephenson Island opening up before us.

“I’d feel a whole lot safer in a kayak,” I continued. The directions stated: ‘Follow the road to Orua Bay’ but there was no mention of needing a four wheel drive.

Richard’s place was set up high, overlooking Stephenson Island. To the south, the Cavalli Islands and to the north, Whangaroa Harbour looked likely spots to explore and indeed they were, over the next few days, in some more Tupperware craft. Richard was the perfect host, and his plastic ‘Puffins’ were the perfect craft for exploring these sharp rocky coastlines.

Launching from the pebbly shore into a gentle wash we realised how protected this section of coast was from big seas and swells. We headed north, hugging the coastline to give us ample opportunities to play in rock gardens. At the entrance to Whangaroa Harbour we explored many spectacular sea caves, each with its own identity.

One was so narrow Robert and Richard had to reverse out. I refused to venture inside fearing I might get stuck. Another was so dark it took ages for our eyes to become accustomed to the lack of light. Whilst sitting in the blackness with the sonic boom of the sea rebounding in the cave around us we felt very small indeed. One had a right hand bend before you exited.

In another there was a curious phenomenon where the tunnel funnelled and amplified the local 5 knot wind creating a headwind almost impossible to paddle against. My favourite was big, easy to get into, and where the vines hung down. I could almost hear Tarzan calling through the jungle…

Heavily vegetated jagged mountains surround the many coves and creeks inside Whangaroa Harbour and the rising tide afforded us the luxury of some exploratory paddling in an ancient and  beautiful landscape before we headed back to Orua Bay…

Thursday 19 January 2001 Orua Bay, NZ

“Let’s paddle to that island,” I exclaimed, waking Robert from a deep sleep. Our previous evening’s accommodation was quirky. The front wall was glass, allowing an uninterrupted view to Stephenson Island and, as the first rays of sunlight struggled over the horizon, the scene looked like a freshly painted water colour, the window’s architrave its frame. Hidden in a grove of tree ferns, a short walk from the cabin and completely open to the elements, was the outdoor ‘bathroom’, complete with a flushing toilet and shower.

Several small blue penguins accompanied us the seven or so kilometres to Stephenson Island. The clarity of the water enabling us to see them flying through the water, popping their glossy blue heads up momentarily before diving under our boats to continue their chase. Like the other sections of coast and offshore islands we had visited, there were many rock gardens, sea caves and beaches to explore. We never tired of exploring all the nooks and crannies, and marvelling at how kind the weather had been.

We stopped for lunch in a delightful cove before climbing to the top of the highest peak on the island where a panorama from Whangaroa Harbour to the Cavalli Islands opened before us. It was stunning.

We continued our circumnavigation, successfully trolling for Kawai for dinner…

Tuesday 23 January 2001 Auckland Harbour, NZ

“Hi,” Rob Gardner called out, leaning over the balcony adjoining his office. “I’ll meet you in the pub in ten minutes.”

Rob had generously offered to show us the delights of Auckland Harbour by kayak. Over lunch we finalised plans for an evening paddle.

Since returning to New Zealand Rob has done what so many of us kayakers only ever get to dream about. He landed a job on the Auckland waterfront and found a house close to the beach from where he is able to paddle to work. He also works a couple of evenings a week for a local kayak company as a guide, sharing the delights of his home patch with visitors. We soon discovered Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf form a paddlers paradise. Multi-week expeditions can be planned without leaving the gulf and there are many spectacular island destinations to explore.

It was late in the afternoon when we met up with Rob and his son Jamie. Rob rolled up the shutter on the club boathouse revealing racks of boats. The local kayak club has around five hundred members. They have club rooms, a large boat shed and adjoining launching ramp which they share with the famous ‘Fergs Kayaks’ business. There is even a cafe on the premises.

We carefully launched our kayaks from the boat ramp trying to avoid slipping on the ever present algae. Helping to steady the double ‘Sea Bear’ for Jamie I realised he was a seasoned kayaker. He needed very little assistance and then confidently paddled off with his Dad in the rear. In the distance we could see the volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island rising symmetrically from the water.

A third of the way across we stopped beside a marker and waited for the fast ferries to pass before continuing. From Rob’s guiding experience he was aware of ferry movement, and had this been a commercial trip he would have followed the standard procedure of radioing the Harbour Master to indicate our whereabouts and intentions. Guides leading commercial groups all carried small waterproof VHF radios for this purpose.

A group of paddlers passed us but we caught up again as we landed at the island’s wharf together. The walk to the peak up the steep, sharp and stony track was worth it. Rob entertained us with his guide’s spiel, outlining the history and geomorphology of the area. We sat and ate our picnic tea, whilst admiring the magnificent view over Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf complete with sailing boats, a trade mark of this harbour.

Our paddle back in the dark was into a gentle headwind. I think Jamie was paddling on auto pilot. He looked exhausted, his eyes closed and he still didn’t miss a beat. It was late and we were all pretty tired as we pulled our boats up the ramp, talking about our next rendezvous, somewhere on the sea…

Trip Planning Information

  • Bay of Islands: The waterfront at Piahia is bristling with commercial operators. They offer the trip we did in a day as a three to four day tour, as well as renting kayaks and sit on tops, for single and multi-day use.
  • Northland: Richard Israel, of Northland Sea Kayaks, runs single and multi-day trips for beginners to advanced paddlers and organises his trips according to your level of skill, fitness and time available. He can be contacted at
  • The Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers (KASK) Handbook has useful information about paddling and venues. It can be purchased through KASK Treasurer Max Grant at
  • Auckland Harbour: Fergs Kayaks are on the waterfront in Auckland. As well as offering guided trips, his store stocks a plethora of kayaking gear.

Skills and Drills [46]

By David Winkworth

Sea Instructor Weekend

On the weekend of 25, 26 and 27 May 2001, John Wilde and I conducted a Sea Instructor Training and Assessment course at Tathra. The weather was fine, the surf OK and the seas almost big enough. The Bega River, where we conducted the strokes sessions, had closed off at the bar and the water was pretty cool.

Nevertheless it was a great weekend … well, pretty busy … but then assessment weekends usually are that! Our evening venue was the Tathra Amateur Fishing Club and a better venue would be hard to find! Situated right on the local boat launching bay, we had direct access to the ocean south of Tathra Head. It’s a great spot … but then I may be biased!

There were eight Sea Instructor candidates including Rob Mercer, Nick Gill and Sundra John from our own Club and Peter Provis from the Victorian Sea Kayak Club. Both John and I thought the standard of the candidates on the weekend was excellent. At the time of writing, exam marking is not completed but we do look forward to increasing the number of Sea Instructors in the NSW Sea Kayak Club by three! This can only be good for instruction and training in the Club! Seek out these guys and ask them your questions. They have a wealth of knowledge on sea kayaking.

Andrew Eddy, Wayne Langmaid and Dirk Stuber were candidates for Senior Sea Instructor on the same weekend and we are recommending to Australian Canoeing that they all be appointed as Senior Sea Instructors. Congratulations! These members have attained this level through practice and dedication to sea kayaking. I know we will all benefit through their continuing involvement in Club training.

Lastly but not least, a big thank you to Ian Ribbons who travelled up from Melbourne to assist on the weekend. Ian, who operates Meridian Kayak Adventures in Victoria, is a Sea Instructor and a Victorian and NSW Sea Kayak Club member. Thanks Ian.

2001 is the year of transition into the Australian Canoeing new award scheme. The complete sea kayaking award sections are not up and running yet but I hope it won’t be too much longer. In the meantime we are continuing with the ‘old’ scheme which has served us well for quite a few years now.

I will be running a Sea Instructor Training only (i.e. not assessment) weekend here at Tathra on 28, 29 and 30 September 2001. There are a few spots left if anyone is interested. If any Sea Instructor (or training-completed candidate) would like to assist, please give me a call. These weekends are good opportunities to keep up your skills and knowledge. I think there will then be one more Sea Instructor Assessment weekend later this year under the ‘old’ award structure and after that the new award scheme will take effect.

Quick Quiz

This question is from the Sea Instructor weekend written exam paper. Have a go at it. Answers are at the end of this column. No peeking!

Q. When dealing with seasick group members, describe your approaches to:

  • Prevention
  • Alleviation
  • Recovery

Spirit of Tasmania

Last month, Sue and I went across to Tasmania on the Bass Strait ferry Spirit of Tasmania with a couple of sea kayaks on the roof racks. As we were queuing up to drive onto the ship we met up with Chris Morgan from Canberra who was taking his family across for a holiday. Later that evening up on deck, as we cleared Port Phillip Heads, Chris had his GPS operating just to check that the Captain knew where he was going! There is no truth to the rumour that Chris whispered in my ear, “If this ship goes down forget these rusty lifeboats… I’ll take one of your kayaks and you take the other!”

Navigation Skills Weekend

On the subject of GPS units, we’re running a Navigation Skills Weekend at Boydtown on Twofold Bay on the weekend of 18-19 August 2001. We will be mucking around with GPS units a bit to confirm locations but mostly the weekend will be about fixing position without them. Seems to me coastal piloting could one day be a lost skill with the increasing use of GPS.

There are plenty of whales around the south coast at the moment heading up north – hopefully they will still be travelling when we’re there. Boydtown is on the south western shore of Twofold Bay right on the beach. It’s a great base for sea kayaking weekends – acres of open space in the caravan park and the historic Seahorse Inn, built by Benjamin Boyd in the 1850s, is right next door if you want some upmarket accommodation. If you feel like doing the tourist bit down this way, I can recommend the Killer Whale Museum in Eden – well worth a visit.

Give me a call if you’d like any further information.

Murray River 2002 – Echuca to Swan Hill

This is an advance notice for a paddle I’ll be running over a week in late March 2002 on the Murray River from Echuca to Swan Hill. I know it’s not the ocean, etc, etc, but it was a nice paddle last year and a nice change from salty water so I reckon it’s worth continuing next year. The Murray is a really special river – if you haven’t been on it, then it really is time you did!

If you have the River Murray Charts, get them out and have a look at the river. The distance is slightly longer than last year at about 312 km for the week which we’ll do over 5 or 6 days. Nobody wanted a rest day last year so we might skip it next year too! The current assistance on this section falls away as we head downstream to Torrumbarry Weir and the first lock on the river. Hopefully we can pass through the lock to avoid a portage. Below Torrumbarry the river runs well below the high banks. Sandy beaches are fewer but flat camping sites are as plentiful as ever. As we approach Barham/Koondrook (the only towns we’ll pass) the river shallows but I expect a fairly high river in March and the depth is not a problem for kayaks.

If you’d like to come and you didn’t come last year, you’ll need a copy of the River Murray Charts by Maureen Wright. It comes in book form for about $15 and is available from Boat Books as well as all good map shops.

Buying Your First Sea Kayak

I sometimes get calls from people new to sea kayaking asking about this boat, that boat, etc, etc. It would be oh so easy to steer these paddlers to boat A or boat B but not really responsible. I mean, do I really and truly know what sort of paddling they want to do? Of course I don’t. Problem is, they often don’t know either, but it’s better that they make a mistake in choosing a boat than me making it for them!

Anyway, I think it could be good if we roughly agreed on what advice to give new paddlers. Below are some points I use in helping newer paddlers. We’d all be interested if anyone has any to add:

  • Do not rush out and buy the first sea kayak you see… even if it’s a bargain. There will always be another bargain.
  • Join a sea kayaking club. Go to meetings, make friends, ask questions. Beg, borrow or hire a boat to attend club paddles. Learn some skills.
  • Read everything you can on sea kayaking – books, websites, magazines, videos. Gather knowledge on the subject.
  • Paddle every boat you can lay your hands on… preferably longer rather than shorter paddles. Paddle boats at club outings, visit shops, showrooms.
  • Collect brochures on all the boats you paddle. Make notes about the handling, specifications and characteristics of all the boats you paddle.
  • Talk to the people selling the boats but above all, talk to the owners.

Quiz Answers

Seasickness in group members is serious! Seasickness victims lose all interest in paddling – it seems sometimes that they want to curl up and die! It’s therefore up to you to look after them. Seasickness victims quickly lose fluids… and can’t keep them down. They run the risk of severe dehydration and hypothermia.

  • Prevention – This is best: Carry seasickness medications in your first aid kit. Advise new paddlers to use them. They must be taken an hour or so before paddling so start looking around at breakfast time – tell your paddlers to avoid fatty meals before paddling – foods such as processed meats are not a good idea. Full cream milk is not a good idea. Good substitutes are skim milk or water. Advise your paddlers to keep their heads up when paddling – to keep their eyes on the horizon.
  • Alleviation – One of your paddlers is seasick? A support boat may be needed… and a tow. Head the group for calmer waters. Avoid rebound sea areas. Tell the victim to try to keep their head up. Putting heads down makes motion sickness worse. If they need to vomit, tell them to do so on their spray skirts. Leaning to the side to vomit invites capsizes. If they are vomiting, don’t place them in the middle of the paddling group. Seasickness can be ‘contagious’. There may be other paddlers ‘just holding on’. If they are being towed, are they warm enough?
  • Recovery – Flat calm water is OK but going ashore is best. Keep victim warm. Most will recover quickly but they may be very tired. That may be the end of the group’s paddling for the day. Replace their lost fluids – use electrolyte drinks, tea, maybe soup.

Another Great Roll [46]

… and the Stationary Pivot

By Larry Gray

Forward Brace Roll

I call it the forward brace roll because you end up in a powerful, ready for anything position completely braced!

Your body rises, leaning forward so your nose has no water in it.

It shortcuts the Pawlata in that there’s no sweep movement at all. It’s less complex than the put-across roll. Like the Pawlata it requires an extended paddle. The set up is at right angles to the kayak unlike Pawlata where the paddle is pointing in front of you.

So the paddle is flat on the water straight out to one side. Your hand grips under the blade like Pawlata but the other arm is in deep brace position.

Over you go, arms stay locked, no movement. Your off-side knee winds the kayak under you as you curl up to the surface leaning forward face down, head out last in the most powerful brace known. I use this technique to easily roll Kleppers!

Another tip: With all rolls scrunch your lips up to your nose then slowly exhale bubbles. This stops water entering and possible barnacle growth inside your nostrils!

Stationary Pivot

To rotate end-for-end on a sixpence with four strokes only and no forward or reverse travel, tilt your boat on to one side – and I mean right over. The keel needs to be out!

Your body should be quite vertical and braced into the hind quarter of the combing. Your leg position should be braced with the top knee, bottom leg must be out straight.

The paddle needs to be extended with blade in at 45 degrees to give support while sweeping – otherwise you’d fall in. Hands must be low, in fact, the one in the air is against the top gunwale. As you sweep around to the tail, the kayak pivots.

You may find at this point you are falling over. Instantly crank the blade over to the other face without lifting it. Skim it across the water to the start point once more. This will keep you upright then just do it again times three. The manoeuvre is done entirely on either gunwale.

Tip: Keep the boat on balance, try not to let the keel enter the water until the pivot is complete. Handy for about facing in rock gulches or rock gardens, manoeuvring into or out of a cave, quick facing a breaking wave, etc.