Flotsam & Jetsam [57]

Hard Hitting Investigative Reporting Bringing You The Latest Furphys From Deep Inside The NSWSKC

This edition acknowledges the witting (or unwitting) contributions of Ian Coles, Laurie Geoghegan, David Winkworth, Norm Sanders and Dave Whyte. Parts of Flotsam may contain elements of the truth.

Flotsam Editorial

A roving Flotsam reporter ‘on the beat’ in the vicinity of Currarong north of Jervis Bay came upon a group of sea kayakers running a training exercise in strong wind conditions. Maintaining a discreet distance so as not to be seen, the reporter watched as drama developed.

On the water were two obvious ‘instructor’ types observing a trainee kayaker attempting a triangular course in the testing conditions. However, with the strong wind the trainee was blown down the beach towards nearby rocks. The ‘instructors’, although badly positioned, realised this and moved in to assist, the first to get there attaching a tow rope. All looked under control, but calamitously the tow rope came away as a knot failed. Then it got worse, the other ‘instructor’ came in to help, but in the heavy chop his old kayak began taking in water due to an ill fitting spray skirt and he could do nothing but look after himself. Meanwhile the hapless trainee washed on to the rocks. It appears the boat was not damaged and the paddler was uninjured.

Although our Flotsam reporter was unable to identify any of the kayakers involved, (however in his dispatch it was observed that one ‘instructor’ was paddling a Nadgee and had a “large beard”), it is assumed they were a loose collective of keen but obviously badly equipped locals trying to improve their sea skills.

With our reporter’s account revealing the dangers of undertaking training exercises in testing conditions, Flotsam would like to take this opportunity to commend the experienced and dedicated NSWSKC team that has been seamlessly rolling out the Sea Skills 2 program this year. Coincidentally, Flotsam believes that a SS2 event was also held at Currarong recently. What a pity that these ‘locals’ did not take the opportunity to watch our splendid team in action and learn how a truly professional training event should be run!

A Tall Tale

Last week ex club President Norm Sanders contacted Flotsam to talk about a supposedly amazing wildlife encounter. Here is the transcript of the ensuing discussion between Sanders and an increasingly cynical Flotsam reporter…

Flotsam – ”so Mr Sanders, you have a story for us?”

Sanders – “I sure do! A scoop! Exclusively for Flotsam!”

Flotsam – “excellent .. pray tell.”

Sanders – “well I was on Tuross Lake last week and noticed a commotion in the water up ahead. So I paddled up and there, right in front of me, was a seal fighting a large eel …”

Flotsam – ”a seal?”

Sanders – “yes …. and the eel was putting up a good fight …”

Flotsam – ”what sort of seal?”

Sanders – “it was a bull fur seal .. anyhow then the seal got the eel by the head …”

Flotsam – ”whoa Mr Sanders .. now let me get this straight. You are telling me you saw a bull fur seal fighting an eel in a semi-urban east coast estuary .. had you been drinking at all?”

Sanders – “No of course not! Anyhow then the seal gulped the eel down …”

Flotsam – ”how big was this, err, fur seal?”

Sanders – “two metres easy! A big animal .. so I paddled up and then it dived down and swam under the water. I paddled alongside for a while following its trail of bubbles ..”

Flotsam – ”you followed a trail of bubbles..”

Sanders – “yes .. then it started to get shallow but still the seal was under the surface and then ….”

Flotsam – ”.. the seal came up balancing a crab on its nose?”

Sanders – “No! It attacked! It reared up out of the water, high above me, with its teeth all orange and sharp looking … I could even smell its eely breath …”

Flotsam – “so how did you react to this ‘attack’ … Let me guess, an Eskimo roll?”

Sanders – “no … I held my paddle in front of my face for protection … like this! My heart was racing I tell you, then the beast flopped back into the water with a huge splash!”

Flotsam – “.. uhhhmm”

Sanders – “What!! That’s the way it happened…!”

Flotsam – “Mr Sanders, how do I put this .. the team here in Flotsam HQ uphold high journalistic ethics. We are proud of our record for checking the veracity of all material before we go to print … but I’m afraid this ‘seal’ tale of yours simply doesn’t wash..”

Sanders – “ .. but it’s true, it’s true!”

Flotsam – “well I’d like to suggest, just quietly, that perhaps you are paddling alone just a bit too often. Look, how about we organise a nice little club trip down your way, the company will do you good ..?”

Sanders – “ .. but I’m serious, it was a big seal Goddamit !! … you’ve got to listen to me!”

Flotsam – “Mr Sanders, you’ll find the exit is the second door on the right .. thanks anyway for talking to Flotsam ..”

Kayakers on DVT Alert

A senior club member has contacted Flotsam to warn kayakers about the perils of Deep Vein Thrombosis, the deadly condition already known and feared by long distance air passengers, and something that should be of concern to some long distance paddlers.

Laurie Geoghegan, who tragically lost his left leg below the knee after developing chronic DVT at the end of his Bass Strait crossing in March this year, told Flotsam “I’m slowly coming to terms with what’s happened, and thought I needed to tell my story so the same thing wont happen to someone else.”

Geoghegan, who in 2003 sold his Pittarak and bought a ‘Dodgee’ (for legal reasons Flotsam cannot reveal the specific brand name at this time) continued, “I did notice with the Dodgee that I was never comfortable no matter how I changed the seat. Unlike my Pittarak the coaming seemed too low at the front, so my legs seemed to be permanently held in an awkward position when paddling. Anyhow I just ignored the pain because I’m Tasmanian, but nearing the end of the Bass Strait trip the pins and needles were just ferocious. Then at Port Welshpool I just fell over getting out of the boat, and the next thing I knew I was in a Melbourne hospital having my leg sawn off. What a bummer!”

Geoghegan continued “so I’m setting up a Dodgee Paddlers DVT Hotline for those seeking advice on avoiding DVT, and also to reassure paddlers who may have paddled a Dodgee at some time and are worried that early-onset DVT may have been contracted. The Hotline number is 1300 623433, that’s 1300 Dodgee so even I can remember it. ”

Geoghegan added “life goes on, and I’m now paddling again, though I’ve got to be careful I don’t push my stump through the front bulkhead! Despite everything, would you believe I still love my Dodgee … just hope the bastard doesn’t cost me my other leg!”

Meanwhile Flotsam contacted a Dodgee Corporation spokesman who stated “The Dodgee has been designed with every consideration for postural and circulatory health, and we do not accept at all that our cockpit set up is in any way responsible for Mr Geoghegan’s condition. However, we do advise all our customers to regularly flex both legs and feet while paddling, and if possible get up and move around the cabin every hour or so.”

Although the NSWSKC’s peak body, Australian Canoeing, declined to make a formal statement on the DVT issue, a spokesman did warn all paddlers to ‘be careful out there’.

Footnote: In breaking news, Flotsam sources have confirmed that a large number of rudderless Dodgee’s have been returned to the factory for urgent fitting of after-market skegs. It remains unclear if this development is in any way connected with the DVT issue, although Flotsam will continue to monitor developments.

SpearinG Gets Thumbs Up

During the AGM whale watch paddle club stalwart Andrew Eddy was speared in the arm by the notorious Stephen Meyn in his appropriately named Southern Skua. Mr Meyn told Flotsam “I was bracing myself for some flack after the incident, as I must admit the pointy end of my boat has a bit of a reputation, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of support and encouragement I’ve received, not just from NSWSKC members but all over the world ..”

Mr Eddy, who seconds after the incident self-diagnosed his bruised arm as a “radial subcutaneous tissue rupture”, was unavailable when contacted by Flotsam.

Club moves on ‘Gauntlet Rage’

A Special Flotsam Feature

Recently, as sea kayaking has boomed in NSW it has attracted younger paddlers who are in fact addicted adrenalin junkies coming to sea kayaking from other extreme sports. They now get their kicks by taking on our coastline’s biggest and meanest gauntlets, once the sole property of NSW Sea Kayak Club members.

However, there are simply not enough quality coastline gauntlets available to satisfy the demands of these thrill seekers. This has led to disgusting displays of intolerance that has been branded as “Gauntlet Rage” by the State’s kayaking press. Ugly fights have developed as paddlers queue to test their skills and nerve in these watery cauldrons. Kayaks have been smashed, paddles and teeth broken in shameful displays of violence … and that’s before they take on the gauntlets! Club executive members have watched these developments with concern.

Veteran club gauntleteer Dirk “Rockjaw” Stuber spoke to Flotsam reporters recently at Jervis Bay “Mate, I tell you,” said Mr Stuber, wiping blood from his nose, “it’s getting ugly out there! I’ve been coming here to “Mother-in-Law” and “The Ex-Wife” (local names for nasty, vindictive gauntlets) on the JB cliffs for nearly fifteen years and I’ve never seen it so bad. We used to have the place to ourselves every weekend but now there are fights every day just to get in the queue! Mate, somethin’s gotta be done!”

Well now something is!

The NSW Government, anxious to avoid a bloodbath and keen to be seen to be doing something without actually spending any money, charged Australian Canoeing with regulation of the sport. After furious behind-the-scenes manoeuvring and last minute lobbying, the job was passed to the new NSWSKC Protocols and Policy (PAP) Officer Richard Birdsey in what industry observers see as a major coup for the club.

Mr Birdsey told Flotsam “As part of this first PAP initiative, what we have done is survey every gauntlet on the NSW coast, having regard for tide, wind and sea conditions. Each gauntlet has been given a rating out of 36 which is connected, via a complicated formula, to the skill level of the paddler. Helmets will be compulsory and stainless steel 2 x 3 metre signs have been cemented to the rocks at each gauntlet. Paddlers must pay a small administrative charge, complete an annual gauntlet waiver and answer a few simple questions on a 4 page “Notice of Intent to Gauntlet” form to be submitted in triplicate.”

Mr Birdsey continued “the procedure is really quite simple, before entering a gauntlet all paddlers are required to call a club hotline number on their mobile phone, quote the gauntlet number and obtain a verbal approval code. This code must be given to inspecting Club or Waterways officers if requested.”

Flotsam suggested to Mr Birdsey that some may think the forms and procedures seemed very complex for the simple act of going paddling.

“Well, we’ve got nothing against a few forms” he said “it helps us keep tabs on what’s going on, and really, do we want to see the current chaotic situation continue? We’ve only asked the necessary questions and in point of actual fact the whole procedure is only marginally more complicated than your average tax return…”

And, in a final comment in response to those sea kayakers who are demanding that order also be restored to our surf beaches, Mr Birdsey added “yes, there are still too many incidents in the surf zone, and if this Gauntlet Policy goes well the Executive will see what can be done there …..”

New Member Shows The Way

Since sea kayaking requires so many hours on the water, most male kayakers have mastered the art of the half bottle or the sponge to neatly evacuate their waste fluids. In recent times those more well-endowed club paddlers have discovered they can manage the ‘hang it over the side’ manoeuvre with some aplomb (although interestingly enough, not one Nadgee paddler has been successful at this technique). However, new member Chang Shin, having witnessed these coarse if effective on water practices, decided that it wasn’t for him!

Chang, a Sea Skills trainee with a shiny new Mirage 580 was returning from a club Bonnie Vale Whale watch paddle. Needing to go, he spotted a toilet block visible on the foreshore at Oak Park, Cronulla and asked the group to detour and stop there. Not at all perturbed by the rocky, surf-pounded shore, Chang refused the pleas of his colleagues to just pee where he was. With his boat held by a friend, he swam in, relieved himself in style in the council toilet, and then swam back out to an assisted rescue to re enter his kayak.

On hearing of Chang’s amazing effort, NSWSKC Anti-Permissiveness campaigner Margot Toghunter told Flotsam “as you would know, my morals group is regularly appalled at the wanton toileting practices that are rife in this club. Why the other day one of my group looked back and was shocked to see an adult male doing his depraved business only four hundred metres away … disgusting!! So I would like to personally thank Chang for showing other men the way it should be done. Which is in private and in a urinal!! “

Phillips Shatters Record

Ian Phillips became an instant Chatline legend with his epic record-shattering 903 word contribution on 13th July. Vanquishing the previous 826 word record set by Rob Mercer in 2001, Mr Phillip’s eloquent piece revolved around his workload as Sea Skills 2 Coordinator, his resignation as RnR coordinator, and his plea for the position to be taken on by Dave Winkworth. Mr Phillips then used his incredible literary skills to infuse this simple plot with several interwoven themes which drew heavily on his traumatic childhood experience and personal life philosophy, laced with just enough titillating detail to explain his consequent sexual proclivities and lifelong hatred of peanut butter. All in all a wonderful read that had chatliners feverishly clicking to the next page.

On hearing that he had smashed the record, Philips told Flotsam “I’m stoked, truly stoked. I really never thought I could out-word Eddy and Mercer… those guys are legends! I just love this club so this is a … “

(Mr Phillips then spoke at length about his unconditional love for the NSWSKC and all its members, but unfortunately space considerations preclude Flotsam from including the entire speech in this edition)