The Legends’ Night [58]

By David Whyte

NSWSKC was privileged to have had two legends of sea kayaking give talks to a keen bunch of members – Paul Caffyn, whose name has been synonymous with sea kayaking for many years and newcomer, our very own Andrew McAuley.

The theme of the evening was determination and although neither of them appeared to have mentioned the word, it became very clear during their talks that this was a fundamental part of them being able to complete their trips. Andrew spoke first about his recent solo crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Six and a half days of paddling took Andrew from one side to the other. The journey in itself was an achievement but the real determination would have kicked in when Andrew started developing salt sores and by the end of the crossing, Andrew was in a significant amount of pain. Many set out on great trips but what sets the legends apart is their ability to continue on when events make the ordeal much harder than expected. Andrew brought his kayak along and showed us his sleeping arrangements. Even if it was just in a backyard pool, quite a few of us would have had trouble sleeping in it, let alone sleeping in it on the sea.

Many of Paul’s trips could be a night’s entertainment in their own right. He has circumnavigated New Zealand, Great Britain, Japan, Australia and more recently, in 1991, Paul completed a solo trip around the entire coastline of Alaska. Paul started off his talk with a fascinating black and white film of a group of Cambridge adventurers learning to kayak in Greenland in the 1920s. The film gave some good insight into the early kayak designs as the Cambridge lads had their own skin-onframe boats built for them. He then went on to show slides from his own paddle around Greenland plus a film on his circumnavigation of Alaska, which took 3 years. He finished off with a talk and slides of his Australian circumnavigation and it was interesting to see shots of areas we knew.

The Legends’ night was the highlight of a weekend of kayak activities at Bundeena, and the large turnout made it a very social and enjoyable weekend. The gusty wind on Sunday saw several groups head up the southwest arm of Port Hacking for a leisurely paddle before our respective drives home.