Coffee Cruisin’ up South West Arm [57]

By Dee Ratcliffe

31 August 2003
Bonnie Vale, Royal National Park
Trip Leader:
Trevor Gardner

Not knowing what the TLA NLT actually meant, getting it from a trip leader signing off his emails as Deer Hunter made an impression. All participants turned up at Bonnie Vale well before the NLT 0800, and were set up and ready to go 10 minutes before the designated start time of 8.30am.

Trevor gave us an excellent trip briefing, using weather forecasts, various weather maps, tide charts and his local experience and knowledge. He quickly put us at ease about concerns that today’s winds might turn into those of last Sunday (24 August 2003).

As we worked our way up Port Hacking towards South West Arm on an incoming tide Trevor, in his role as trip leader, kept us informed about the local flora and fauna. Of particular interest is the local Homo Sutherland Shireus — a species that transports itself short distances on flat water in large white boats, also termed Gin Palaces. These craft travel to a local mating spot. Trevor explained that this activity is usually associated with summer months, however to his surprise a number of the species braved the last day of Winter for some ritual mating.

A bushwalk to Winifred Falls was a highlight of this trip. The water flowing over the rocks and down the falls being so pure and pristine that (female) members of the paddling party braved the cool water to fetch liquid supplies at the request of our leader. Indeed, so fussy was he that, of all the males present, he alone took to the chilly rock pools in search of his water.

This paddle demonstrated how first aid should be administered on club trips. Once away from the water, and more than 2m above sea level, the trip leader rendered no assistance to a paddler (now bush walker) who got a splinter in his leg. Yet when another paddler got a splinter while only 1 metre from the water’s edge, a fully equipped medical kit appeared and tender caring attention was given to the splinter’s removal. Then again, perhaps it was because the lovely Lisa is his wife and Kevin is well, Kevin, that Trevor chooses his patients with great care.

Trevor showed what the term Coffee Cruiser truly means and set standards that the rest of us can only dream of….morning tea was held on a picturesque rock platform at the upper end of South West Arm, the kayaks having been lifted out of the water with the greatest of care. Trevor and his sous-barista Mark provided chairs and stools for the comfort of all. Our preferences were carefully noted and an amazing array of coffee machines were used to supply us with cups and mugs of glorious caffeine brewed from the pure waters gathered at the Falls.

Discussion on the return paddle centered around the need for constant boat maintenance and care. Many participants were shocked at the obvious lack of cleaning given by this boat’s owner.

The trip ended with some towing and rolling practise. Dee and Peter sadly stuffed their rolls (at some considerable expense to Peter) while Claudia had great success under Mark’s tuition.

Note: TLA NLT = Three Letter Acronym No Later Than

Another note: Mark Berry will be running a trip in this area, have a look at the calendar on the club’s website.

Skills ‘n Drills [57]

By David Winkworth

Let me start with this question: How Well Do You Know Your Kayak?

Gee, there could be some interesting answers to that question! However, I’m being serious on this occasion, so I’ll continue. Because we often spend a long time in our boats I think it’s important that we all know how our kayaks perform in as many different wind and wave combinations as possible. That knowledge can’t help but make us all better sea paddlers.

Wind is universally regarded as one of a sea kayaker’s enemies. Paul Caffyn once said “wind is the curse of the kayaking class” or something like that. Sure, it often is our enemy but we also use wind and the waves it creates to help us on our way. So, if wind is our enemy on the ocean, and also our friend, then shouldn’t we know just how it affects our kayaks?

Wind will affect all kayak designs differently. Some of the many factors affecting wind influence on sea kayaks and their paddlers are:

  • Length and beam of kayak
  • Hull profile and shape
  • Deck profile and shape
  • Load being carried
  • Fore and aft distribution of load
  • Fore and aft lean of paddler
  • Seated height of paddler
  • General size of paddler
  • Gear on aft and/or fore deck
  • Rudder parked on deck
  • Rudder in water
  • Skeg deployed or retracted

There is a simple way you can test some of these factors for yourself and the influence they may have on your kayak in beam winds. All you need is a compass, an expanse of water away from ocean swell (such as a coastal lake) and a very windy day.

Secure your compass to the foredeck where you can read it easily – a bushwalking compass will do if you don’t have a marine compass. Paddle out into the lake away from wind shadows such as trees or buildings. Turn your kayak beam on to the wind, lay your paddle along the deck and sit there very still. Note the compass reading after a minute or two. Now lean well forward in your cockpit as far as you can and check the compass reading again. It may take a few minutes for the kayak angle relative to the wind to change, so give it time. Now note the difference between the two readings. See, your weight distribution does change the angle! Try it leaning back too, and with your rudder or skeg up or down. Do a combination of all these. Fill a few water bottles and try it with these in your hatches. Compare your results with your friends. See if you can account for any differences – it’s a good exercise.

You can use this knowledge to help trim your boat for a day’s paddle. Above all, remember that some movement of your torso is a valuable tool in catching or dropping off waves and turning or tracking your kayak in wind.

You Know You’re a Sea Kayaker When:

…you sit around in the pub trying to check out calluses on other people’s thumbs…just to see if they’re as big as yours! (Thanks Margot. Hmmm…..anyone got any more?)

Care of Gear

I heard recently of a sea kayaking hire and guiding business where all the paddling gear – PFDs, spray skirts, cags etc is soaked in a water and Armor-All solution after each use. I’m told that it works well. Anyone ever done this?

I do know that hanging a salt water- soaked spray skirt out in the sun to dry is probably the worst thing you can do to it. The salt crystals that form in the fabric will eventually cut up the surface covering. It is nice on a trip to slip on a dry skirt the next day but the best care for the skirt is to rinse it, fold gently and store it wet up in your cockpit out of the sun.

The Surfboard Launch

Ever watched board riders launch out into the surf off the rocks or off the beach? They just put the board down, leap onto it in a prone position and they’re off. It’s a bit more difficult for a sea kayaker, who has a paddle, a cockpit and a sprayskirt to contend with but we can certainly learn from that launch style. The aim here is to lie flat on the kayak and paddle out with your hands to where an easy cockpit entry can be accomplished. Occasionally we all have to launch from rocky or muddy shores and if we have a strong current or wind to contend with as well, it can all get a bit messy. An option here is to use this surfboard launch. I’ve used this launch style in a surging flooded coastal creek and, by launching in a brief lull, I even got through a nasty shore dumping surf once without even getting wet!

You only need one small piece of equipment – a short length of shockcord and an olive to secure your paddle to the deck. Using this little cord will mean you can concentrate on hand paddling and your paddle will be there when you reach for it. It also means you can go walking around looking for a spot to launch from with your kayak on your shoulder and your other hand free for balance. Slide one paddle blade under the fore deckline, secure the shaft to your deckline near the cockpit with the shockcord and you’re ready to go.

You can either push your kayak out in the water, jump in, swim over to it, climb on the deck and hand-paddle to where you want to enter the cockpit OR float the kayak and lie on the deck as you push off and hand-paddle. The latter method is the one to use if the water is really cold or you’d like to stay dry.

Experimenting is the key to deciding what works for you. Like many sea kayaking skills, you do need to practise this to make it work. A few points:

The aim of this launch is to get you and your kayak to a place where you can most easily get into the cockpit. For example, if I was launching from a rocky oyster encrusted shoreline, I’d use this surfboard launch…..not much joy in a possible capsize in the shallows as you get into your boat and put your hands down onto the oysters!

As you launch out, keep your weight low – lie right down on the deck. I lie right over my cockpit opening with my chin over the coaming. It’s a bit uncomfortable but it’s not for very long. Try to keep your legs out of the water and you’ll be surprised how fast you can hand-paddle in this position. Paddle out to where you’re going to enter the cockpit and sit up on the deck behind your cockpit. If your kayak has a large cockpit opening, the next bit is easy – just slide forward and slip your bum into the seat followed by your legs. If your cockpit is too small to do this, you’re going to have that wonderful moment of instability to contend with as you bring up one leg and then the other! You could try using your paddle in an outrigger position to help stabilize the kayak but if you’re going to do it without paddle support speed is the essence! When you lift up your second leg do not stop! Slip straight into the cockpit – you may find that what you thought was going to be a capsize as you entered the cockpit, does not eventuate – the rapid lowering of your CG has saved you!

This last element of the Surfboard Launch is more easily done with a loaded kayak. If you’re tipping over a bit, put some gear in the boat and try it like that. Good luck!

You Know You’re a Sea Kayaker When:

… you go to the Sydney Motor Show where Playboy Playmates drape themselves over millions of dollars worth of sexy macho machines….and you came to look at roof racks!

Enjoy your paddling!

Skegs And Wing Paddles [57]

Little things that make a big difference

By Lawrence (Gages) Geoghegan


Let me introduce my idea for putting together this report. Almost two years ago, I had a skeg put in my Pittarak. It was such an improvement from having nothing at all for directional stability. And by that, I mean, the only input I had prior to the skeg for steering control was traditional leaning and edging.

Dave Winkworth was also working on an idea to put a skeg in his Nadgee. He installed it in the Pittarak for a test run to see if all the bits and pieces worked. To Dave’s credit, it worked well except for a few small things that he improved on before installing them in my new Nadgee.

The skeg is a small piece of equipment that I think has two advantages over rudders:

  • It is adjustable up and down unlike a rudder that is either down all the time (Mirage style) or up or down (like 99% of other rudders).
  • Unlike many of the rudder users, who just use the rudder as a means of steering, the skeg still encourages the traditional edging and leaning aspect of boat control. Let’s face it, a kayak is designed to have paddler input for boat control, rather than just relying on the rudder.

Personally I like having the option of being able to adjust the trim of the skeg to suit conditions. Having trialed the skeg for some time now, in moderate conditions, I have it approximately 1\3 down. In a howling (20+ knots) wind with a following or quartering wind and swell, I have it down another third. While the Nadgee does not need the skeg fully down, the Pittarak sometimes needed full skeg in similar conditions.

Diagram 1

You can see in the diagrams what a difference a skeg can make and the impact it has changing the central lateral resistance. For the not so technically inclined, like me, I would say that in following winds and sea the skeg helps slow down the overtaking movement of the stern over the bow. When you use a skeg, you can actually feel the back of your boat try to overtake the bow (yawing) and then feel the skeg bite in and stop that movement. Depending on the size of wind and or swell, you can adjust the depth of the skeg to suite the conditions, unlike a rudder that is up or down.

Diagram 2

A skeg is a simple device that can help a lot more than a rudder, that is if you still like to have the old edging and leaning movements as part of your skill repertoire. Really, it’s a bit of both worlds as far as directional stability is concerned. You have a fin that keeps you straight and it still leaves you with the process of edging and leaning to keep your boat under control. And most importantly, you don’t have to press left and right chasing your course line all the time with that Rudder!

The popular Pittarak with its skeg set up, which is becoming quite popular amongst Pittarak paddlers, is shown in the photograph with the skeg fully down and the skeg control box is in the inset.

The other two photographs are of the skeg setup in the Nadgee with the skeg about half to two thirds down along with the control box.

The two boats are similar but have completely different handling characteristics. They behave quite differently with no skeg or rudder and both handle well with the skeg down.

Wing (Propeller) Paddles

I did a trip with Andrew McAuley two years ago and have seen him in action many times since. He uses a wing or propeller paddle. I have watched him and others using wing paddles and the benefits of it have played on my mind. I wanted to give a paddle a go and was quite lucky to borrow one from Rob Mercer (Thanks Rob!). Since then I have picked it up and tried it, thrown it away saying, “definitely not for sea kayaking” and finally given it a fair dinkum go. It was not until I had paddled with it for some time that I became convinced of the advantages of using a wing paddle on the sea. I took the ‘wing’ on a 90km training paddle in preparation for my Bass Strait crossing and learnt the technique required to get the best out of it. Easier to use than a straight paddle and efficient through the water, it was to my liking and, from that moment, I was a convert. Now I won’t use a “straight” paddle, even if you pay me.

Now for a few guidelines on what makes a wing or propeller paddle different from a “straight” paddle.

Every one knows the physical difference between the wing and straight paddle but there are two different types of wing:

One type is parallel and more symmetrical. It is the “older” design or wing blade and lends it self more to sea kayaking as it can do sculling and sweep strokes. Although, it is a bit harder than with a “straight” paddle; but with practise it definitely is achievable. The ‘newer’ design is more teardrop shaped. This is the propeller and is much harder to scull or do sweep strokes with. It lends itself more to the racer and is great for forward propulsion.

I use a wing paddle. It is easier to use for most strokes and for surfing. But I must say, I have dedicated a fair bit of my paddling time in the last year to improving my forward paddling stroke and using this paddle correctly. I believe if you do not use the wing paddle correctly, you can do all sorts of damage to shoulders and other bits needed to paddle. Before you pick one up spend some time making sure that you have good forward paddling technique.

In the surf, the paddle can let you down as the cupped lines of the paddle do not lend themselves to stern or support strokes, but with practise and a little bit of “corrective technique”, this is not a problem. After a few months of getting used to my wing paddle, I now have no problem in the surf and don’t even notice the difference these days. One big advantage, other than forward paddling of the wing or propeller paddle is rolling. I have heard that they are harder to roll with than a straight paddle. I was surprised to find how much easier they were. I have never had the best left side roll but with the wing paddle it has helped me so much that I am up every time on my left side. How’s that, eh?

In summary, wing and propeller paddles are more efficient at holding water, which makes for faster paddling, easier rolling and encourages much better forward paddling technique, which is something we all try to achieve with our paddling, whether it be recreational or racing. There is a place in the sea kayaker’s arsenal for a wing or propeller paddle. So don’t be put off by the old school. Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. BUT don’t just pick it up and use it when you are trying to go fast on flat water such as on the Wednesday night time trials, use it all the time and really get used to it!

See you on the water with your new wing or propeller paddle!

If Pain Persists, See Your Doctor … [57]

By Terence Uren

For most kayakers, the risk of shoulder injury through surf zone trauma or repetition strain is well known. Issue 53 of NSW Sea Kayaker, for instance, included two reports of shoulder dislocations to paddlers, whilst Issues 21, 27 and 44 covered rotator cuff injuries in some detail.

Through personal and painful experience, I have recently become aware of another form of shoulder injury to which some paddlers may be susceptible – adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder.

What is ‘frozen shoulder’?

Frozen shoulder is a condition that results in stiffness and loss of movement in the shoulder joint, due to a tightening and thickening of the capsule of ligaments that support the shoulder. The condition develops slowly and in three stages.

  • Stage 1 (the ‘freezing’ stage): Certain arm or shoulder movements cause pain and there is a progressive loss of flexibility in the shoulder joint.
  • Stage 2 (the ‘frozen’ stage): Pain begins to diminish and moving the arm is more comfortable but the range of movement is much more limited – up to 50% less than before the onset of the condition.
  • Stage 3 (the ‘thawing’ stage): The condition begins to resolve and most patients experience a gradual return of movement.

The overall duration of the condition is typically 9-18 months, although it can last as long as 3-4 years.

In my case, the first sign that something was wrong was disrupted sleep due to difficulty in finding a comfortable position in bed. Over the next couple of months, lifting my kayak onto my car at the end of a paddle became more awkward, my stern rudder stroke became weak and my upwind paddling speed fell off dramatically. I felt no discomfort whilst paddling but many off water activities began to cause pain. Simple daily tasks, such as opening a car door or taking off a shirt, became difficult.

What causes the condition?

The causes of adhesive capsulitis are unknown and it does not occur in any other joint of the body. Although a proportion of those with the condition report a shoulder or arm injury prior to its onset, in most cases there is no obvious trigger. My suggestion to those treating me that my trigger may have been poor paddling technique; a surf trashing; or overly vigorous dancing at a family wedding drew a ‘who knows’ shrug.

The condition mostly affects those over the age of 40, with women twice as likely as men to suffer the condition. Most commonly, only one shoulder at a time is affected and, more often than not, the condition starts on the non-dominant side of the body.

How the condition is treated

The first step for me was a series of X-rays and ultrasound scans to ensure that there was no underlying disorder such as a rotator cuff tear or degenerative arthritis.

With no underlying disorder detected, I have moved on to stretching and physical therapy. At present, my treatment regime consists of twice-daily ‘shoulder stability’ and ‘range of movement’ exercises and (painful) weekly manipulation by my physiotherapist. Anti-inflammatory medications have provided no relief.

For some, the pain associated with such therapy is too intense to make it a feasible option and total rest is recommended until pain disappears or alternatively, manipulation under anaesthesia. Under this process, the shoulder is forced through a range of motion to release scar tissue, which is then removed by arthroscopic surgery.

How will the condition resolve itself?

I am still in the ‘freezing’ stage and my prognosis is uncertain. Those treating me are unwilling to speculate on when I might be paddle-fit again. Their advice is that, with time and ongoing therapy, the condition will eventually resolve itself and that it will be unlikely to recur. Some residual symptoms may persist but these should not limit my ability to continue kayaking.

Can the condition be prevented?

It seems unlikely that the condition is preventable, although maintaining strong and flexible shoulders may help. If you suspect you may be contracting frozen shoulder, the best thing you can probably do is hope to minimise its impact by seeking early treatment. Contact your doctor if you experience shoulder pain that limits your range of movement for more than a short period of time.

Further information

From the Secretary/Treasurer [57]

By Nick Palmer

At our recent club AGM for 2004, a review of our current membership subscription fee regime was undertaken. I pointed out that the club’s financial position was not healthy and that we were potentially exposed to some financial risk.

In response to some vigorous discussion, two motions were moved that have significant impact upon our membership fees. The first motion proposed to increase single membership fees by $25 per person. A second motion then proposed to increase family memberships by $25 per person. Both of these motions were supported by those members in attendance and both motions were carried by a strong majority.

As a result, annual fees for a single member have increased from $75 to $100. In addition, annual fees for family members have increased from $110 to $160, (this figure assumes 1 primary and 1 secondary family member). These increases will take affect from September, 2004 onwards.

Those members in attendance at the AGM also expressed a desire to understand how membership fees are utilised by the club, so I have provided the following breakdown:

The two main costs incurred by the club are:

  • The club magazine – based on figures to date from 2004, the magazine costs around $7.50 per person, per edition to produce and distribute. With four editions per year, this equates to $30 per full-paying member annually
  • AC affiliation (including insurance premium) – Single members cost $39 per annum, while family members cost $46 for the primary member and $20 for any additional family members.

This leaves $6 from each single membership and $14 from each family membership (based on two persons per family membership), lying in the club coffers to pay for other miscellaneous expenses such as NTP registration, web hosting fees, administration etc.

Anyone with experience managing budgets or with other clubs will understand that this situation was not tenable and that some action had to be taken to correct it. I trust from the information provided here that you will recognise the need for the membership fee increases and continue to support your club.

It is important to note here that all committee members, trip leaders and instructors (past and present), work on a purely volunteer basis and receive no financial assistance or compensation from the club. Club members get the services of these people for free!

The exceptions are:

  • Accreditation costs for instructors, sea guides and sea skills etc. These costs are paid for by the club as the skills gained are immediately utilised within the club and increase our capacity to run training, trips and other events
  • The annual Rock ‘n’ Roll extravaganza, which is historically self-funded and incurs a separate registration fee
  • Additional (‘off-water’) training materials such as folders and manuals etc, which are paid for by members undertaking official club training.

I strongly believe that your current committee is passionate about the club and passionate about delivering high quality services and value to members. It is worth highlighting some of these once again and thanking those responsible:

  • Ian Phillips and the Training Group for our professional (and extremely popular) training program
  • Peter Kappelmann for his outstanding work on the club website
  • Richard McNeall for his commitment to delivering the highest quality magazine – (enjoy your new life as President)
  • Richard Birdsey for his ‘behind-the-scenes’ work
  • Laurie Geoghegan for his contribution and passion, both on and off the water
  • and Kevin Brennan for compiling an extremely comprehensive trips calendar for 2004/2005.

A final thank-you to the outgoing committee members and a warm welcome to the new!

See you on the water …… somewhere !

Nick Palmer

A Ramble From the Editor [57]

By Ian Coles

Well this is our first issue.

It has taken a lot of hours and my fitness level has taken a dive. I get up and go for a run or a paddle before breakfast. Instead for the past month I have been at the computer screen. It is a huge task to put together 100 or so pictures and to try and show off the contributors work at its best.

Thank my lucky stars that Elizabeth volunteered her expertise as copy editor. Words are not my cup of tea. I will manage the magazine and look after layout, print production and marketing, finding ways to reach a wider audience of readers and advertisers.

Elizabeth will use her considerable language skills as copy editor. In simple terms ET is Keeper of the Words. I am Keeper of Production and between us we will run a pretty tight outfit. So if your favourite picture gets a full page I did it. If your story sparkles with perfect prose ET did it.

If your story didn’t make it I am sorry. We have budget restrictions and some stories have been held over for the next issue. This issue has the new trip calender, the AGM minutes and some committee reports that pushed it over the edge.

Thank you all for your contributions, and please submit your stories early for the next issue.

I hope you enjoy this issue


From the President’s Deck [57]

By Richard McNeall

F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C ! ! !

It must be obvious to all that this is a time of renewal and tremendous energy in the NSWSKC and being President, I feel compelled to state the obvious, so here we go >>>

Let’s look at what we have we all achieved in the 9 months since the last Rock‘n’Roll:-

  • Completely re-vamped web site.
  • Our biggest and best-organised
  • training program ever with NTP
  • legitimacy.
  • Membership list smart and accurate.
  • Magazine chock-a-block and on-time.
  • A huge trips program running through to August 2005.
  • Something totally different organized for R’n’R 2005 with a “task force” of close to 20 volunteers to make it happen.
  • Etc etc

Please feel free to chastise me privately and/or publicly for my numerous omissions.

And this does not even take into account the achievements of individuals both on and off the water who do so much to raise the standing and energy of the Club. I was going to start a list here, beginning with Andrew McAuley and his historic direct crossing, but the ranking system would have been too controversial. (Actually, Andrew would only have made the top of the list if I’d ranked it on a first name alphabetic basis ! )

Congratulations everybody ! ! !

Interestingly, with at least half the Committee being replaced with first-timers in November 2003, and again in July 2004, we now only have 1 survivor from before Nov ‘03, and even he occupies a different spot. In fact, we have a really gutsy team here, with the dual advantages of a fresh approach and the ability to benefit from the foundation laid by those who built the club, and saw it through its various challenges. And our Training Group, Instructors, Trip Leaders, Mag Contributors, R’n’R Task Force, and everybody who paddles anywhere are the essence of this unique and quirky Club.

So what are we planning to do from here ? Here’s a hand-picked selection from the last committee minutes:-

  • Really drive and develop the trips program.
  • Expand our Training Program and look at how we can increase throughput without compromise.
  • Take a proactive approach to seeking advertising funding for the mag.
  • Use extra copies of the mag to promote the Club.
  • Establish a web content-management system.
  • Ensure prior notification of agenda for General Meetings.
  • Make this new R’n’R really happen.
  • Establish a second chat line stream allowing commercial content. (from AGM)
  • Improve our accounting process.
  • Develop budget projections and financial priorities.
  • Improve magazine print quality.
  • Facilitate communication in the club.
  • Expand opportunities for members to contribute.
  • Improve our approach to welcoming and “inducting” new members.
  • Implement opt-out contact list. (from AGM)
  • Inform members of membership fee increase to $100.00. (from AGM)
  • Implement other AGM commitments. (see minutes this issue)

Well that’s enough from me. I’m heading off to the snow now (with Beagle 3 on the racks of course). So let’s keep paddling, training, committeeing, leading trips, helping with R’n’R (contact Kevin Brennan or myself to help with Rock‘n’Roll), and contributing to the mag, and we’ll keep this amazing show on the road !

See you all on the water !