Flotsam & Jetsam [52]

The Fishkiller Files

By Mark Pearson

Head Turner

Mild mannered Andrew McAuley has been inducted into the elite ranks of the Senior Bruisers after his gutsy solo crossing of western Bass Strait in January.

At a special ceremony attended by Senior Bruisers from all over Australia, his tremendous feat was recognised by a solemn presentation of the ultimate bruiser accolade… the traditional four-pack of GoreTex® socks sewn into custom tailored GoreTex® Super Codpiece® underpants.

After a week of strutting around in his new ‘outfit’, a very proud Mr McAuley told Flotsam, “It’s extremely difficult to walk properly with the four-pack in place, and it gives you a nasty rash, but what the hell, it’s a head turner and a Bruiser’s life wasn’t meant to be easy…”

Gill Forces Policy Rethink

Senior paddler Nick Gill has been involved in yet another serious incident during a Club activity. After receiving publicity in Issue 45 of NSW Sea Kayaker for his seeming lack of interest in a fellow kayaker who appeared to be drowning right beside him, this time a Flotsam reporter actually witnessed Mr Gill’s significant role in an incident which resulted in serious damage to a Pittarak!

Returning from a casual paddle north of Mystery Bay, Lawrence Geoghegan naively followed Mr Gill into what he thought was an innocent looking rock garden. But on attempting to paddle out, he found his path blocked by Mr Gill’s kayak, as Mr Gill apparently “waited for the perfect line” to make egress into open water. Some time later a steep wave came through, driving the two kayaks back, the unlucky Pittarak striking rocks and sustaining several six inch cracks to its keel.

Back on shore while draining the water from his shattered rear compartment, a distraught Mr Geoghegan sobbed, “I was waiting behind Mr Gill for ages and ages… but I guess I was being polite given he’s an Instructor and has a PhD and all, then there was this wave and that terrible cracking sound… it was horrible…”

After Mr Gill again refused to talk to our reporter, Flotsam’s Research Department studied the comprehensive NSWSKC Incident Archives to see if the controversial Instructor had been involved in any similar incidents in the past. Amazingly, there was a record of a similar event back in the mid-nineties involving Gill and ex-President Norm Sanders at Camberrawa Point, south of Batemans Bay.

Flotsam contacted Mr Sanders, now almost retired from sea kayaking to allow him more time to fly his ultralight and chase women, at his Tuross home. Mr Sanders told Flotsam, “Well, of course my memory’s not what it was, but I recall that day clear as a bell.”

“There was a big swell coming through that canyon and I was trying to get through it, but there, right in front of me, was Nick Gill in his Puffin, waiting and waiting, totally oblivious to anything behind him… it looked bad.”

Asked what he did to actually get out of the gauntlet, Sanders continued, “Well, I’m a loud impatient American, so of course I did what comes natural… I yelled, ‘Paddle asshole, PADDLE!’ at the top of my voice. And it worked… poor Nick was out of there like a shot with me just behind him, but it was a close call… I’m just so sorry that Mr Geoghegan didn’t know what to do.”

Flotsam then contacted Andrew Eddy to see if the Club’s recent policy guidelines on entering rock gardens were comprehensive enough given the Pittarak incident. Mr Eddy told Flotsam, “Obviously the policy is deficient in that it does not contain clear warnings about the dangers of entering a gauntlet with Mr Gill already in there, and the committee will address that urgently.”

Meanwhile back at the incident scene, David Winkworth, the charismatic CEO of Nadgee Corporation, seized a brilliant PR opportunity by pledging to fix Mr Geoghegan’s Pittarak promptly and “free of charge”, to large rounds of applause from onlookers.

Prospective Gonads Face More Angst

However, the newly formed consumer group, the Association of Paddlers Waiting for Nadgees (APWN) has expressed concern that repairs to Geoghegan’s kayak may further slow the output from Nadgee Corporation’s Kalaru HQ.

Group spokesman Robert Mercer, who has recently ordered a new top of the line Kevlar Nadgee after scratching his current boat, said, “We were heartened by recent reports of a lift in production to just over two boats per month, but this Pittarak repair job is going to slow things down again. Of course I already have a Nadgee which, although scratched, will at least get me through the short term. I can only imagine what this delay will mean for those on the list who don’t even have one yet. These people are desperate and something has to be done!”

Another aggrieved member of APWN suggested that consumer action may be initiated if Nadgee Corporation does not honour existing contracts within a “reasonable timeframe”. Talking to Flotsam after arranging a secret rendezvous for fear of “being sent to the bottom of the list”, the member told our reporter “of course we appreciate the quality control and all that, but waiting for your Nadgee is an ordeal, and I’m not getting any younger…”

VHF Takes Out MLT 2002

Not surprisingly, the NSWSKC Chatline discussion on VHF radios has been voted in as the MLT (Most Loved Topic) for 2002. With an overwhelming 64% of the vote, VHF easily beat the perennial Electric Pumps (17%), Energy Drinks (11%), Paddler’s Itch (5%) and Why Won’t My Pittarak Go Straight? (3%).

Chatline Convenor Max Brettargh told Flotsam, “Yes, it’s been yet another brilliant year on the Chatline, with a fantastic array of topics providing information and entertainment for all. I think a big vote of thanks should go to the members of the Super Anal Diehards (SAD) faction, which is often the driving force behind many of the topics that are raised.”

Mr Brettargh continued, “And with 169 items posted over five weeks, VHF was in itself a magnificent achievement… a topic that was sliced and diced, turned upside down and inside-out by an extremely dedicated bunch of SADs.”

In acknowledgment of the levels of excellence reached in the VHF debate, Flotsam has extracted the following highlights from a truly awesome discussion. To those who have not yet subscribed to the Chatline, this is just some of what you are missing:

  • “The manufacturer of the ICOM IC-M1V VHF claims that this radio was the top ranked in a comparison of VHF handhelds carried out by the US magazine Practical Sailor.” – Terence Uren (5 postings)
  • “I too like the idea of a 12V system; in fact I run a 12V Rule pump system!” – PJ Rattenbury (5 postings)
  • “One of the radios even claims to have 1W and 25W operation. I’ll bet that one would fry your brain pretty quickly!” – Dave Winkworth (6 postings)
  • “The 725e uses AA alkalines or a NiCad rechargeable pack!” – Andrew Eddy
  • “Neither ICOM user had much trouble operating the on/off/volume or squelch knobs through an Aquapac.” – Andrew Eddy again! (4 postings)
  • “This one has got legs! To VHF or not to VHF? What kind of batteries? Alkaline? Ni-Cad? Ni-MH? Li-Ion or Li-Polymer?” – Mike Snoad (6 postings)
  • “Correct me if I’m wrong but Power=Volts by Amps. If the panel puts out more amps for the same watts then the voltage is lower!” – Trevor Gardner
  • “My understanding and practical experience is that Li-Ion batteries have more grunt for the weight especially with respect to voltage which seems to be quite important.” – Trevor Gardner again! (5 postings)

Club Member Takes Initiative as President Goes to Ground

Meanwhile, while our leadership continues to grapple with the Club’s policy position on ischial tuberosities, a prominent member has taken the lead on this issue. Dr Peter Osman told Flotsam, “Someone needed to rise above the petty politics to get something done, and, given I have a bigger set of tuberosities than most, I thought, ‘Why not me?'”

Dr Osman then proudly showed his invention – two longitudinal recesses in the seat to accommodate his tuberosities as they “do their stuff” during each paddle stroke. After a number of secret trials Dr Osman added, “It works really well, I’m paddling strongly, and my tuberosities are really enjoying their new freedom!”

A Flotsam reporter attempted to contact President Mercer at his harbourside office suite to enquire if Dr Osman’s breakthrough was being considered by the Executive, only to be told he was “unavailable to anyone from Flotsam until further notice.”


Meanwhile a concerned parent and Club member has taken umbrage at the news that that a small group of younger members are calling themselves the Salty Pups, apparently in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the large number of elderly and grizzled Salty Dogs getting about in the Club.

The woman, who identified herself as The Sea Cow from Thirroul, fronted a Flotsam reporter, aggressively poking him in the chest while screaming, “This is an outrage, who are these people? What have they ever done? That title clearly belongs to my son. He rolled on his first lesson, surfed after his second… clearly my son is the one and only Salty Pup… do I make myself clear?”

The Flotsam reporter is now receiving counselling and should return to work soon.