A Ramble From the Editor [51]

By Ian Phillips

I think the general idea was to provide support kayaking duties at the inaugural Paddle Polaris rather than attempt a marathon distance effort into obnoxious headwinds. Well I’d better say straight up (for fear of a severe beating from my fellow supporting paddler, our highly esteemed President) that we did provide the support as required, but in addition we successfully drove the Waterways and SES crews barking mad as they found us at yet another obscure checkpoint, and in the process completed a respectable 49 km paddling on the first day. Regrettably the latter part of the day took its toll on my rickety lower limbs, and the last couple of hours was pure torture as we battled some decent headwinds and a welcome bit of chop on our trek to the Overnight Camp. Rob did his best to equal my pain by paddling around every available island 4 times whilst I slowly made my way past.

The weekend started exceptionally well, meeting at Rob’s house early Friday afternoon, where we carefully selected 24 fishing rods for every conceivable type of fish expected to be encountered, 427 differently coloured lures in case we happened upon colour blind fish, and 1,459 hooks in case the bottom was unkind and we lost the odd one. The space for all this essential gear was made available through the clever use of extreme summer camping gear and string bikinis in place of sensible polar gear that is highly desirable in the Snowy Mountains for basic survival. The trip down was calm and uneventful, mainly because Rob was driving and I wasn’t allowed to play my Megadeath CDs for driving inspiration. Instead we talked sensibly over the delectable sounds of jazz and blues (proof if ever it was needed of the mind-altering abilities of decent music). Back at the Overnight Camp, where Champion Polaris Organiser Huw made us camp high on a loft so he could amuse the general populace with my uphill waddle, the ‘acquiring’ of Dave Winkworth’s long johns was certainly a highlight on a ferociously chilly night, and although Mark Berry won the most inappropriately dressed kayaker award with his pink beanie stolen from an unsuspecting child, I did pretty well with the two-sizes-too-small long johns and the ensuing awkward gait (blamed conveniently on my meccano ankle). A nasty weather change overnight saw about 400 knots blowing through my tent (the equivalent of 15 Eddy-knots), which dashed Rob’s hopes of his gold-plated MacPac showing its true worth against my $50.00 No Frills tent. My sinister, rough-edged beauty held strong, with the tent completely horizontal as I slept soundly in Uncle Dave’s underwear. Hmmm… for fear of scaring old ladies and frightening young children I’d better stop this story right now…

But before I toodle off, I think it important to announce that 2003 will be my last year as Editor of NSW Sea Kayaker. Four years as Editor have regrettably taken their toll, to the extent that I barely kayak now, and when I do I feel guilty for neglecting the poor magazine. But I do not plan to go quietly, nor do I intend to stay quiet. Instead I hope to continue to abuse kayakers from the sidelines, and I may even get around to leading a trip one day. I was hoping a Grade 26 from Sydney to Christchurch — any takers? Stepping aside will also allow some new and enthusiastic people with much more vision than myself to infiltrate the system with their own style and fervour. And I think four years is long enough for you all to have put up with my snide and darkly sadistic messages littered throughout the magazine — you deserve a break!