Flotsam & Jetsam [58]

Keeping it real

Trueman Show

Tough guy Stuart Trueman has contacted Flotsam to say he is ‘bitterly disappointed’ at the cancellation of his July ‘Survival’ weekend in the Myall lakes.

The professionally run $200 a head retreat had been widely advertised, promising to bring out the best survival qualities in its participants through a ‘forced endurance paddle’, followed by ‘an authentic starvation and hyperthermic experience’, all this accompanied by ‘physical and emotional brutalisation at the hands of a team of sadistic ex-British Army Commandos!’

This attractive sales pitch was enough to initially entice a rush of applicants, but with a minimum of eight participants required, the event was cancelled at late notice after all but one paddler, the archmasochist Andrew McAuley, pulled out.

Trueman told Flotsam “fookin’ ‘ell, this could ha’ been sooch a laff!! I worked bluddy ‘ard to set it oop, and to get this sort o’ response, well, its no wonder I get fookin’ groompy …!”

Mirage paddler faces court

Following a short but sensational trial, controversial club member Andrew Watkinson has been cleared of the unusual charge of attempted molestation of a juvenile southern right whale.

Mackay District Court was told that Watkinson, 47, unemployed, and described as an ‘itinerant Mirage paddler’, had adopted an ‘unusual’ posture as the whale passed under his kayak during an island crossing. Expert witnesses testified that the defendant had dropped his paddle and was seen with both hands deep in the water and a ‘strange’ expression on his face as the young whale approached. Although no actual contact with the whale was made, the prosecution maintained that the intent was obvious and serious enough to warrant the charge.

Conducting his own defence, Watkinson spoke confidently and loudly, informing the court “that the charge was the result of a cultural misunderstanding”. He explained that his father had taught him “the ancient art of guddling” many years ago, and that he had “regularly guddled trout” during his boyhood in southern England. On the day in question he was “simply trying to see if these skills could be applied to a larger and more intelligent animal.”

Watkinson assured the court that “with the correct finger technique, guddling causes no discomfort, and in my experience many fish actually quite enjoy it”. To further emphasise that the practice was not harmful no matter where applied, Watkinson closed by proudly telling the court “I know several female acquaintances who, when relaxing in my hot spa, are very receptive to my expert guddling …”

After lengthy consideration Magistrate Ian Cohen dismissed the charges, but took the unusual step of warning Watkinson that “in my view there is obviously a very fine line between molestation and this, err, guddling. The practice may be acceptable in northern Europe, and even in spas with a consenting adult, but guddling of our unique Australian fauna is not to be encouraged ..”

As he left the court, Watkinson defiantly showed his guddling finger but declined to comment to Flotsam reporters.

Hunk denies everything!

Rumours continue to rage over whether quietly spoken club member Harry Havu received expert female assistance in a recent sewing project!

Havu turned up for a north Queensland expedition with a new yellow sail, boldly claiming it was his ‘first effort at making one’. But his companions became curious when it was noticed that the beautifully sewn rig bore not a hint of the usual NSWSKC sail making mistakes, such as the traditional drunken stitch lines, 3426 exposed unpicking holes, random changes of thread colour, and bits of untrimmed thread hanging off everywhere.

With the Pod agreeing that the stitching was well beyond the capabilities of any male club member, their suspicions were confirmed with the startling discovery of a small hand sewn label in the bottom corner reading “made with TLC for my hunky Harry”!

Contacted by a Flotsam reporter on his return to Sydney, Mr Havu, a Finn with a reputation for driving women wild with his northern European sophistication, would only admit to using a ‘friend’s sewing machine’ for the job. But despite the seemingly incontrovertible evidence the very private Havu remained tight lipped about any female assistance, telling Flotsam “I deny it .. I deny it .. it is not true, now please Mr Flotsam, leave me alone, please ..”

Golden moment ruined

The scene: Two kayakers, part of a group of five, 20 kms off the coast of Mackay, paddling out to Keswick Island. Blue sky, no wind. Silence.

‘Eerie, haunting sounds emerge out of nowhere. Amazingly, whale song from the depths resonates clearly through the hulls of the kayaks. Entranced, the two kayakers stop paddling to fully savour this unique, once in a kayaking career experience.’

‘But the golden moment is shattered. An incessant drone suddenly assaults their ears, overwhelming the soulful music of the great cetaceans. Slowly they recognise the awful sound as a distant human voice. From a kilometre behind, Andrew Watkinson is approaching …’

(excerpt from ‘A whale of a time in the Whitsundays, by David Whyte)

Forensic evidence identifies Croc

In sensational breaking news, experts have confirmed that the 4 metre crocodile that attacked campers in far north Queensland was the same beast that nearly claimed the life of our own Arunas Pilka in July 1999!

The legendary Pilka attack, in which the senior paddler sustained serious injuries to his legs and groin, was foiled by the heavily muscled Dave Winkworth leaping naked onto the back of the reptile, understandably causing it to flee. This time a 60 year old woman bravely attempted to mimic the ‘Winkworth Manoeuvre’, but made the mistake of not removing her clothes first. As a result the croc became even more aggressive and turned on her before it was shot by her son in law.

Some days later, in a major scoop, Qld National Parks Chief Forensic Investigator John Scale contacted Flotsam to advise “as is required by law, my team examined the carcass for any other indication of human predation, and although the stomach was empty we found one tiny and unusual clue .. a decaying human pubic hair was lodged between two of the front incisors. We then asked Mr Pilka to provide a sample, and a simple DNA check confirmed a perfect match, which I think will be welcome news for all you kayakers .. !”

A Flotsam reporter was despatched to personally break the news to Mr Pilka, who since the attack has become a tragic figure, living as a virtual hermit and rarely leaving his Canberra home. Through a heavilybolted front door, the Flotsam reporter told the famous victim the good news, to which a clearly relieved Mr Pilka whispered “so its safe? It’s really dead? I can come out now …??”

Flotsam Nature Watch

In a first report of what promises to be a fierce territorial struggle, a Flotsam source has witnessed a pack of Mirages attacking and killing a lone Nadgee that had strayed into Sydney’s southern waters. In an incident that was ‘horrible to watch’, the source described the attack as ‘premeditated and merciless’ as the Mirages brutally signalled their intent to stop the migration of Nadgees into their ‘homeland’.

The Nadgee (Rampagius Bargus), is commonly known as the ‘Cane Toad Kayak’ due to its relentless territorial expansion after its deliberate introduction into south coast waters in 1999. Thought by marine genealogists to be an Australian ‘mutation’ of a North American species, it has proved to be an aggressive pest, and although not yet numerous has wreaked havoc in the wild, where it will typically dominate the best nesting sites. As a result Nadgees are thought to have caused the rapid extinction of two timid local competitors, the Southern Dung Beetle and the Stingray, and have even marginalised advanced species such as the Inuit. Consequently Nadgees are widely regarded as a threat to native Sydney fauna, of which the Mirage genus (Symboli Yuppius) is already so numerous that in the opinion of some experts it is already in plague proportions itself.

However, despite Mirage resistance, naturalists predict that the infestation will only accelerate, with some Nadgees predicted to have established themselves as far north as Queensland waters by 2008.

Photos cast doubt

Canberra paddler and camera freak David Whyte has contacted Flotsam to query the photos accompanying Nick Gill’s Bass Strait article. The sharp eyed photographer told our reporter “well firstly I noticed the size and shape of the waves – by my calculation the average wave height in the photos was about 10 – 15 cm and the waves were very close set. Hardly what you’d expect of a fearsome body of water like Bass Strait, but very typical of the average afternoon chop on Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin in March!

“Then, on closer inspection with a magnifying glass, I found I could also just make out small parts of some man-made structures in the background. In one case it looks part of the High Court of Australia building, and another the old Parliament House, both of which had been mostly air brushed out! But the clincher was when I noticed the leg of what looks like a public servant walking under a tree in the foreground!”

Mr Whyte continued “So what I’d like to know is, were the wrong photos included with the article, or was the whole expedition a cruel hoax, particularly given the high dramas this publicity-hungry group supposedly experienced?’

Despite numerous attempts, Flotsam was unable to get any response to Mr Whyte’s allegations from Mr Gill or his fellow ‘Bass Lake’ expeditioners.

Expeditioner’s Beauty Tips with Laurie Geoghegan

I’m often told that I look more attractive at the end of a gruelling expedition than I do at the beginning, and let me tell you, it’s no accident! I get enormous satisfaction from still turning a few heads after returning to civilisation, especially when my companions usually look terrible and seem to have aged years in a couple of weeks. But with a bit of thought and the right mix of beauty products, believe me, everyone can look as good as I do!

When you think about it, it’s a tough environment out there for our poor complexions .. extreme UV, salt, wind, sweat, you name it, we blokes need help! So I strongly believe that all paddlers should adopt a complete beauty routine that should be adhered too at least twice a day. And here’s how I do it!

Dawn – I rise early to apply a Max Factor SPF 25 foundation. Lips are taken care of with Ella Baché Supra Gloss (SPF 30), a lip balm which I find really hangs in there despite the attentions of my rasping tongue. Then I moisturise. Fella’s’, I really can’t emphasise this enough .. moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! On my recent Bass Strait trip I took 5 litres of St Tropez Coconut Essence Body Moisturiser and that was only just enough! If the wind is strong I’ll often take regular moisturiser breaks on the open ocean, rubbing it in to every part of my body I can reach .. so have a large tub handy.

Night – at the end of a long day, I really do look forward to my routine back in the tent. Here I use cotton swabs with Fabergé cleanser and toner to rid my skin of the salt spray and creams, brushing the swabs carefully out and away from the centre of the face. Next I apply a mild Biolage exfoliant to remove dead skin cells followed by a gentle night cream such as Oil of Olay. Then I’ll smooth some avocado oil on the delicate skin around the eyes to stop those wrinkles forming. Finally I address my facial hair. I find a vigorous comb through with natural almond oil gets rid of ticks and food remnants and keeps my ‘mane’ glistening and sexy. A dab of almond oil up each nostril keeps the nose hair looking good too!

But beware guys .. you do need to take care of these delicate products. I store my beauty kit in a small white dry bag which I always keep out of the sun, and packed low in my Nadgee to keep everything cool when on the water.

So there you have it fella’s, a few simple tips to allow you to enjoy your expedition sea kayaking and still maintain that glamorous ’je ne sais quoi’ !

Sea Skills? A hard hitting Flotsam Report

Flotsam is not surprised that incompetent paddler Mark Pearson has again hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time he has capsized while sailing alone in “gusting” winds near Carlisle Island after wilfully electing to leave the security of his pod during a FNQ expedition (see trip report in this edition). Typical of the man, Pearson blamed his equipment, in this case a new wing paddle, for the failed brace that led to the capsize. Pearson then went on to blame the ‘wind and current’ for denying him a fair chance of a re enter and roll, although again he was lucky in that he was able to swim the boat to the nearby island and sort himself out.

Over the past ten years, this mediocre Canberran has earned himself a reputation for calamitous sea kayaking; rescued after a capsize by the Tuross Rescue Squad in 1996 (he blamed the kayak), ramming and holing a Mirage in 1997 (he blamed the victim), wrecking his Inuit Classic on rocks in 1999 (he blamed ‘a wave’), capsizing onto rocks while playing a fish in 2002 (he blamed the fish), his feats of bad judgement and poor seamanship have become legend. Worse still, it is widely held that Pearson took up sea kayaking not because of any natural affinity for the sport, but to gain ‘machismo’ in what appears to be a pathetic and as yet failed quest to attract women.

Flotsam spoke to respected Snr Instructor Rob Mercer to find out how exactly Pearson was ever granted the Sea Skills 2 award given his appalling record. “Well’ said Mr Mercer ”we knew Mr Pearson would be a controversial recipient of the certificate, but there is no denying that he can do some things right on the water some of the time. Just not very often unfortunately ..”

Flotsam then asked if the award had been given under duress, given Pearson’s supposed influence over the contents of this very column, to which Mr Mercer replied “yes, it was obvious that Flotsam was being used over a period of several years to apply pressure for his award, so that may have been a consideration. After all, Instructors are volunteers and only human – we can take only so much abuse and character assassination!”

On hearing of Mr Mercer’s controversial comments, President Richard McNeal immediately contacted Flotsam HQ to thunder “This is absolutely outrageous! If Pearson was granted the award in any way due to pressure from …

(Flotsam regrets that due to space restrictions, this increasingly libellous report has had to be stopped right there…)