Do-It-Yourself Show & Tell [58]

By Trevor Costa

Well despite creating a very awkward acronym DIYST, I would have to say that my first attempt to organise something for the club was a pleasing experience all round. The spark for the idea for the Do-It-Yourself Show & Tell was born in a darkened garage, in the depth of a bitter Canberra winter, while building my own wooden sea kayak, high on expoxy fumes and low on creativity.

After securely taping myself, spreadeagled to the front deck by my left thumb and nearly dislocating my shoulder scrabbling to reach the scissors in an effort to free myself, I came to thinking…. there must be others who have gone down this road and have already learnt the hard lessons (well maybe not quite that specific road or that lesson).

This initial DIY idea was grabbed, expanded and bought blinking into the real world by Elizabeth Thomson, to include all things DIY in sea kayaking. And through her excellent organisational skills became a value-added reality on Saturday November 13, 2004 in the Bundeena Community Hall.

The exhibits included:

  • Dee Ratliffe’s excellent display table of DIY spare paddle bags, tow ropes, a fury (and strangely pleasing) paddle carry bag and others bits and pieces,
  • Elizabeth Thomson with her nicely presented pink Mirage and home made yellow and white striped sail;
  • Ian Coles and his custom fitted Pittarak, sail, bits and pieces and kite (and from the latest report, it seems Harry has volunteered to try out the kite on the next his trip to the Whitsundays);
  • Dave Baskett’s superb strip built sea kayak made from Western Red Cedar (much to be proud of here);
  • Andrew Eddy and his work-of-art called a Baidarka and some custom gear including a fantastic sail, somewhat faded from the North Queensland tropical sun;
  • Mike Snoad and a nicely presented Islander wooden sea kayak (Tour model) of his own design;
  • yours truly with the same model kayak made from one of Mike’s kits with some custom fittings including a rudder rest carved from Tasmanian King Billy Pine which drew comments such as ‘what the hell is that’ and ‘won’t that castrate you on a solo re-entry’; and
  • a big mention to Dave Giddings from Nau Tech Marine and his comprehensive display of Pacific Boatcraft products, including a completed ‘Iluka’ model sea kayak designed by Dave Payne.

All these brave presenters were kept busy for most of the afternoon answering a multitude of questions, comparing and sharing information and giving freely those hard earned tips to all who would stand still long enough to listen.

While watching Paul Caffyn’s talk that night (and into the next morning between short naps) on the Greenland Inuits and their incredible skin-on-frame craft, I couldn’t help but think that there is a long and strong tradition of innovation and DIY in the sea kayaking fraternity. This legacy will probably live on until more commercial operators believe that there is a large enough market to mass produce many of the items we DIY out of shear necessity. But I guess there will always be DIY followers because of the rewards involved. I don’t think anything really beats that.