The end is nigh. I feel like a traitor and it feels good. After devoting several years to my favourite pair of extendable underpants, the time has come to paddle with the group, not 14 km behind it.
My wobbly and foldable beast is sitting dark and dormant in the bowels of my garage; bent, broken, musty and forgotten as I prepare for the arrival of my newest toy. Cast aside under layers of dust, old PFDs and long-expired ratpacks, tension is mounting and nerves are shot as I grapple with the torment of discarding my favourite toy. But then I think of the dark, mysterious, soulless beast that is about to arrive, and, realising that I’m already there, I instead start to think about my new kayak.
It’s been a painstaking process that has tormented me for over 18 months, checking dozens of kayaks, paddling the handful that I can actually fit in, whilst all the time still dreaming of the perfect skin kayak. A good smack in the head was required to bring me back into line, and despite most fellow-Committee members offering on a daily basis I resisted until the necessary words infiltrated my feeble brain. Paddle… FNQ… month-long trip… FNQ… islands… month… hmmmm…
The brochure looked good so I signed up immediately. The experienced FNQers (now more well known know as the infamous ARSE Tourers) were planning another sojourn, they needed a Court Jester, and my name was in the hat.
Now I had a fast approaching deadline, a lot of paddling to do, a lot of skills to re-learn, a few more to properly learn and even more to actually learn, and I had nothing to do it in. I also had no kayak.
Well I still don’t quite have the kayak, the deadline is still approaching and I still have all those skills to learn but at least I’m now heading in the right direction. By Rock ‘n’ Roll 2003 you should all see me with a shiny new beast, as dark on the outside as your favourite Editor is on the inside. And although I never actually get time to paddle at Rock ‘n’ Roll, you’ll see my new toy proudly on display outside Rock ‘n’ Roll HQ, probably never paddled but primed and ready for my first ever Beecroft circumnavigation — the very instant Rock ‘n’ Roll 2003 is officially over.
And of course, being the obsessive shopaholic that I am, I couldn’t just get the kayak without all the accessories. Deeming it entirely necessary and completely unjustifiable, I proceeded to replace every bit of completely functional and perfectly good paddling gear I have ever owned.
I became a crazed loony, depositing large wads of cash into other people’s pockets as I walked away with new paddles, a new PFD, a new set of roof racks, new widgets, new gadgets, new hats, new tops, new bottoms, a new tent, a new stove, a new sleeping bag, mat & pillow and even a nifty desalinator for our FNQ trip next year (now I can pump out the cockpit in true style and even drink what comes out the other end)! I finally had to stop before I sold the car to fund a new drinking bottle, quickly realising that without the car I would have the sell all the gear again in order to afford the seaside house because I don’t have a car to get to the seaside. Life is a vicious circle. I’ll just have to live my old Platypus bag. I hope my new kayak can.
Oh well, the end of this column is now nigh, and despite my initial oath four years ago that I would never let a single fact pass through this column, I only have one thing to say in this, my second last column as Editor of the highly esteemed, highly rarefied and often highly rare NSW Sea Kayaker: Vote  for the new Training Coordinator at the upcoming AGM. See you all at Rock ‘n’ Roll 2003!