A Report from the other Anne Lachlan Memorial Whitsunday Kayak Expedition [61]

As told by Peter Osman and team members

The postscripts to this report are works of fiction. All names in the postscripts and the report title are fictitious, including the name Anne Lachlan, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

It’s midwinter. It’s 6am and a bitter frost holds Sydney in its unforgiving, ice cold grasp. But who are these shadowy figures conspiring to escape? It’s Osman, Thomson, Hollow, Eddy and Ratcliffe, slipping away on the first day’s driving to the fair Whitsundays! It’s the OTHER expedition!

Our Intended Route

  • 1st July, Depart Sydney
  • 3rd July, Flametree Tourist Village
  • 4th July, Shute Harbour to Northern Spit, Henning
  • 5th July, Boat Port, Lindeman
  • 6th July, Neck Bay, Shaw Island.
  • 7th July, Whitehaven Beach
  • 9th July, Crayfish Bay, Hook Is.
  • 10th July, Maureen’s Cove, Hook Island.
  • 12th July, Curlew Beach, Hook Island.
  • 13th July, Dugong Whitsunday Island,
  • 14th July, Cockatoo Beach, North Molle Island.
  • 15th July, Shute Harbour

Our Actual Route (no dates – we lost track of time)

  • Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island;
  • Windy Bay, Hazelwood Island;
  • Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Island;
  • Lookout at Tongue Point;
  • On the way to Border Island, stopped at Esk Island;
  • Cateran Bay, Border Island;
  • Crossed to northern point of Whitsunday Island;
  • Crossed to Hook Island and then north to Crayfish Bay, Hook Island;
  • Rounded the Pinnacles, northeast Hook Island;
  • Maureen’s Cove, Hook Island;
  • Crossing Nara Inlet to Curlew Beach, Hook Island;
  • Explored Macona Inlet, Hook Island;
  • Crossing Hook passage to Dugong Beach, Whitsunday Island;
  • Crossed to South Molle, Deedes Point via Cid Island;
  • Past Middle Molle across Unsafe Passage to Cockatoo Island, North Molle;
  • South past Daydream Island to Shute Harbour.

Favourite events

Tenterfield Saddler

I drive from Sydney to Muswelbrook, Rob from Muswelbrook to Armidale and Andrew from Armidale to Tenterfield. Despite storms, heavy rain and massive coastal flooding, the inland route is clear and undoubtedly faster than travelling along the coast.

As the evening draws on Rob shows us Mercury, Venus and Saturn very close to the moon near the horizon and Jupiter overhead.

Dee and ET arrive half an hour after us, with Tenterfield Saddler thundering out of the boom box in Dee’s car. They have requested a pink room with spa and masseurs. We the Lads have thoughtfully organized a room at the Henry Parkes Comfort Inn. While we were there it had a big sign calling it “The Pink Place”, however we’re told the sign is near the end of its days, likely to disappear at any time. The Motel does have a spa, and a masseuse (we misheard Dee and ET’s request) is available by appointment.

The rooms are good value and the hotel staff helped us out giving ET a bundle of packets of marmalade/jam/vegemite for our camping. Thank you Henry Parkes Comfort Inn, your hospitality was much appreciated.

Andrew puts a fair bit of effort and vocabulary into desalinator repairs in the motel room. In fact he doesn’t swear once but we would have understood if he had!

The Barge

Shute Harbour and the forecast is a storm warning, 30knot winds and 2-3m seas! A bit beyond our group’s capability so the decision is for ferry transport and a water drop off with Peter and Paul, the ferry operators from Camping Connections. Peter has spent the last few days rescuing kayakers from different islands and bringing them home. He doubts we’ll get a decent kayaking trip between islands considering the weather and tells us that people have been mainly restricted to paddling in bays. Paul’s opinion is reinforced by one of his passengers, a lone kayaker returning on ‘Scamper’. She is a trip leader for one of the companies and shakes her head telling us “It’s rough out there.”

An unconscionably early and unnecessary start as I missed Paul’s phone call the night before. He arrives at the dock and suggests waiting until 11am to accommodate wind and tide for a ride that won’t damage the boats. While waiting for the ferry, “Scamper”, another group of kayakers arrive, David Hipsley and Henry, with companions yet to come, Paul (a young sailor) and Norm (my mate from a kayaking trip to Gallipoli). They hope to follow us a few days later.

‘Scamper’ lands and we lash our kayaks carefully into racks on the boat then Paul ferry glides out of the harbour and takes us at high speed to Whitehaven. ET rides with Paul on the bridge. Dee, Rob, Andrew and I stand near the front of the boat, flexing our legs deeply to withstand huge jolts as the ferry hits the waves and great swathes of spray crash over us. Apparently this is a mild trip compared to earlier in the day. On the way across, in the distance to our port side, a couple of intrepid kayakers in a plastic double are paddling furiously from Whitehaven to Hook Island.

Finally Whitehaven, and its time to offload amongst various excited or lethargic day-trippers who arrive by helicopter, ferry or sea-plane. And amongst the melee is Tony White of NSWSKC and his family, who just happen to be camping next to us. They have hired boats and fitted them with ingenious home made V sails, adaptable to any kayak.

‘Where the Wild Things are’

Rob organises the first of the communal desserts with a fruit chocolate fondue. This is popular with Tony’s children as well. They help finish off the dessert and then clean up all the bowls and plates. Good kids!

In the morning Tony’s children are playing at being holograms. There are no constraints on their imaginations as they think up increasingly tortuous logic to prove whether or not they are holograms. Dee teaches them a song “Where the Wild Things Are”.

Fishing and Gutting

The morning starts with yoga on the beach led by ET, this becomes a regular event, a good way to start the day or unwind at its end. Then we all paddle into Hill Inlet looking for crocodile slides. There are several possibilities but they are false alarms, turning out to be no more than watercourses. ET paddles on ahead and starts fishing, catches two bream in quick succession while the rest of us meander amongst the sand banks. Landing the fish is a collective effort, advice flows freely but somehow ET remains calm and competent through the barrage of suggestions. The fish are quite a reasonable size, and she shows us how to kill and fillet them. The remnants and carcasses are thrown on to the beach for the gulls and a sea eagle, which Andrew and Rob photograph as the birds swoop up and down cautiously checking out their supper. ET cooks the fish, which are superb and also puts together a fantastic custard and chocolate pudding with myself adding enthusiasm, muscle and many exhortations about lumps while whisking up the custard.

Starship Enterprise Crew go to Tongue Point Lookout

Starting off to Border Island we detour to the Hill Inlet lookout on Tongue Point, overlooking Whitehaven Beach. A passing Queenslander woman smiles and quietly says “You won’t be catching sunburn then”. Tourists glance quizzically and quickly step aside as if mistaking us for aliens, or escaped inmates from an asylum. Maybe it’s the body hugging multicoloured stinger suits, perhaps our frequent references to Captain Kirk, Spock, Scottie and the crew of the USS Enterprise. Or could it be Anne Lachlan’s ghostly presence?

After trekking up the hill and approaching the lookout a tourist grins lopsidedly and says “Go back, the view’s terrible”. Of course it turns out to be spectacular, looking out over line after line of surf breaking into Hill Inlet and on to the pristine sands of Whitehaven Beach. As we leave, the tide is going out and with it are stingrays, floating in the shallows moving with the current in pairs and groups, like a marching formation from Disney’s Fantasia.

Butterfly Glen

Esk is a grand place for sailing and exploring the coral reefs. It’s on the way to Border Island and well worth stopping for. Andrew is looking out for turtles, They sit like boulders in the water and then dart off, almost too fast to see.

The forecast is 15 to 20 knots and a moderate sea. We explore Border Island and Dee leads us to a secluded glen. The place is magical, full of vivid blue butterflies and we get a couple of good photographs, particularly a pair poised motionless together on a twig.

Hammerhead Shark

During the paddle from Border to Hook Passage, a butterfly accompanies ET and I. We ferry glide to the point while the others drift south with the current. Just before arriving ET shouts, there’s a hammerhead shark, slim and three quarters the length of her Mirage 530. It half seems to be chasing its tail like a dog, jumping out of the water ahead of us and turning to circle first ET’s kayak then mine. It has a delicate silvery grey, blue body and is not at all aggressive, just curious and playful.

Eagle Fishing

All of us, including the butterfly, arrive at the same time at the northerly point on Whitsunday Island. On the beach the group discover a huge goanna, while I drift over the rock gardens looking at black fish darting amongst the blue-green-orange coral.

A quiet lunch on the beach is interrupted by an eagle diving to take a fish off the line that has been cast by a group of fishermen in a nearby tinny. The eagle gets caught in the line and dragged into the water. The fishermen make no effort to help the bird. I know many decent powerboat users but there seems to be a small community amongst them that feel consuming petrol gives them the right to be selfish, criminal or foolish! ET calls out “Cut the line.” I run to cut it but fortunately the bird is able to break the line first and escapes. Those sea eagles sure have sharp teeth!

Skeg Acrobatics

The wind is a steady 10 knots with a light sea on the way to Hook Island and north along the coast to Crayfish Bay. En route, about two thirds of the way across I try out several ways to repair a skeg on the water. My efforts to sit astride Andrew’s boat are clumsy but elicit laughter, photo opportunities and a toffee from Dee. It’s worth it!

The shoreline is a maze of small cliffs and boulders and filigree lace weathered rock outlined against the sky along the cliff top. Along the shore grottos, small caves and fissures hold tough little Hoop Pine trees and glades of Pandanus.

Finally we land at Crayfish Bay.

Stargazing and Earthshine

Evening and the sky shows us Mercury, Venus, the moon and separately Jupiter. Rob describes the constellations and we wonder at passing satellites that flash on and off as they rotate. Then the moon sets, changing from a crescent to a full moon as it picks up reflected light from the earth — earthshine! Rob is elated. It’s the first time any of us have seen earthshine.

‘Sea Fever’

Dee has brought along a poetry book. Most nights after turning in, one of us reads a couple of poems, tent to tent: Robert Frost ‘The Road Less Travelled’; D.H. Lawrence “Snake”; Tennyson ‘Crossing the Bar’; Lear ‘The Owl and The Pussy Cat’; Elizabeth Browning ‘How do I love thee?’; the hobo poet, Davies, ‘What is this life if, full of care’. Tonight Andrew reads “Sea Fever” by John Masefield. It proves to be the most popular poem of the trip being repeated three times in the days that follow.

Snorkelling, tropical fish, clams and turtles

The snorkelling is breathtaking. Big fish, little fish, colourful fish, fast fish, lazy fish, long, thin, speeding fish…looking at them, following them, marvelling at their exquisite beauty. It’s like swimming in space. ET’s exclamations of delight are heard from the beach. Her scream, too. She thinks it’s a dead giant clam, but it’s a very alive giant clam that shuts on her flipper.

And then there is the coral. Forests of it, with colours so vivid that in comparison, the postcards are dull. There’s one kind that look like rocks in a stone pathway…but between them, the mortar isn’t boring grey, but rather iridescent corals of blue, green, pink, purple. And then some of these rocks move…Turtles! They gently amble around us doing their own thing. But they’re easily frightened at which point they turn into hull-seeking torpedoes desperate to escape. We get used to shouting warnings. “Turtle coming in on your left. Look out!”

Rounding the Pinnacles

The weather forecast at 7:30am reads 18 to 23 knots SE/SW, possibly dropping slightly in the afternoon. High tide is about midday. The decision is to leave at about high tide depending on a confirmation of the forecast at 11:30am.

Andrew plans for a two hour delay favouring an ebb current over the more choppy conditions of a flood current. The ebbing tide and SE winds are heading in the same direction making for a smooth, fast ride past Pinnacle Point. Waiting for this is definitely worthwhile.

The crossing is short and sweet with one metre seas and a 15 knot wind. We all sail around Pinnacle Rock rather than through the gauntlet to minimize group risk, as the waves are a bit high in the gap and the currents around the Pinnacle are much slower than on Andrew, Rob and Sharon’s previous passage. Dee is bracing hard against the wind as she sails fast around the rock. And after the exhilarating ride is Maureen’s Cove, a beautiful but quite steep coral beach. No mozzies, no sandflies!

Dee Reclining

The crossing to Dugong Beach back on Whitsunday Island is uneventful but livened by more skeg repairs and Dee carrying out the Mike Snoad Manoeuvre, reclining along the top of her boat in a pose reminiscent of Hollywood! The silver-tongued Andrew persuades her to take up this pose, pointing out that if an ancient mariner like Mike can manage then she will surely have no problem. He forgets to say that Mike used two sponsons either side of his boat. Dee unwittingly and skilfully achieves a world first in kayak photography, reclining along the boat without the aid of sponsons!

Dee’s attack and retreat

Dee is in top form for this last full day. Having mistressed the reclining on boat pose, she repeats the feat and only occasionally falls in! Then volunteers to be Andrew’s gunner, climbs onto the back of his boat, takes his hand pump and proceeds to viciously attack a bemused Rob with jets of water. Rob recovers and looks thoughtful as Dee returns enthusiastically for a second ambush. He then quite coolly picks up his paddle and ever so gently, slowly, deliberately, pushes it into Dee’s chest. Her expression is astonishment, disbelieving and wet as she topples off the boat amidst raucous laughter.

Deed’s Point tidal races

Deed’s point and we play in a soft tidal race experimenting with various manoeuvres in the strong current; ferry gliding, seeking out eddies, Andrew sees a turtle in a calm back eddy and tells me they collect there for food.

‘When I am an old woman’

It’s the end of the journey. The tents are set for the last time, in a field overgrown with thick, springy grass. There are no clouds, the evening draws in, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury are still visible. Dee reads Christina Rosetti “When I am an Old Woman”, Auden’s “Stop all the clocks” and again “Sea Fever”. She reads simply and beautifully with her soft Irish voice. In the distance a sea eagle sounds a plaintive whistle and the wind sighs through the casuarinas.

Racing home

Wrong turn to Bundaberg — that’s my excuse, actually I was trying to visit the rum factory! While Rob and Dee speed through Brisbane and ET flies over us all, Andrew and I make up for our gross miscalculation by taking the Kilkivan road to the Gundy pub along the way to Woolooga. This is a pleasant lane crossing the Mary River on an ancient wooden bridge. The diversion allows us to catch up with Dee and Rob. They are taken by surprise! Words such as “fat bastards” and “jammy sods” float through the ether!

Useful advice

  • The barge — don’t sit out bad weather if you get stuck on the mainland. Hire a barge to get you out there and get going.
  • Water drop — ask the barge to drop off water at an island halfway through the trip.
  • Rat bag warning — always put food dry bags away inside the kayak hatch. Don’t leave juice poppers out where eagle-eyed crows and bush rats will spot and attack them.
  • Duct tape coated on the sticky side with contact cement is a quick fix for the rat bag. But don’t use the repaired bag for food as the contact cement smell will taint it.
  • Check the tides and currents — check actual heights at high and low as well as the times of the tides
  • Read the 100 Magic Miles book — it has lots of detail on tides, currents, history & much else.
  • Insect repellents that worked (Aeroguard, Autan Repel and a Citronella/Emu oil mix — NOT Bushman 80%, which dissolves many plastics and does amazing things to watch straps!). Also antihistamines in moderation fixed the few mozzie bites we did get and Paddy Pallin sells a special insect repellent you can wash into your clothes.
  • Stinger suits — provides all kinds of protection, but mostly sun protection (but the two colour versions made us look like Trekkies).
  • Snorkelling gear and a paddle float helps for snorkelling from the kayak.
  • Skegs and coral beaches — use four or five people to carry the boats up the beach. If a skeg jams it’s easily fixed but don’t force the lever as this will kink the cable, just pick out the coral with a knife or piece of wire – it’s simple to do and easily done on the water.
  • An external aerial connected to the short wave radio gives a loud enough signal for communal listening to the weather — encourages group decisions.
  • Digital camera batteries (take as many as possible, preferably AA, you will need them!)
  • Sarongs, excellent for drying yourself out after a day soaking at sea. Over short periods they filter the sun enough for a slight tan to prevent saltwater sores — peruse the shops at Airlie Beach. Make a group decision on all purchases. Andrew’s choice toned beautifully with his orange Adapt-a-Cap!

Postscript 1 — The Anne Lachlan Legend – from the correspondence of the late Professor Roy-Lachlan and a diary owned by Anne Lachlan-Troy Jnr (PO Box 21a – Rookwood cemetery)

The trip theme celebrates Anne Guinevere Lachlan who in 1905, inspired by the recent victory of Queensland women winning the right to vote, attained a degree of notoriety as both the first lady taxi driver to practice in the town of Bowen and perhaps the most imaginative scam artist in that very respectable municipality.

The 1905 archives of the Northern Supreme Court at Bowen show Anne to have been arraigned before Mr Justice Edward Mansfield for enticing an intoxicated group of young men to travel a not inconsiderable distance by taxi to a local beach. Ostensibly to sight a mermaid!

As these brave souls staggered along the beach Anne, who had some experience in vaudeville, scampered behind the dunes and quickly changed into a rather fishy costume. All would have been well but for a startled seagull knocking the mermaid off her perch on a somewhat slippery rock. This led to a wardrobe malfunction and a series of most un-mermaid like expletives revealing Anne as the erstwhile mermaid. She was subsequently arraigned before the said judge for conduct unbecoming a taxi driver, perjury and unconscionably exorbitant fares.

Anne got off on a technicality – lucky girl. It turned out that the beach had 75 years earlier been the site of a voyage by the colonial cutter ‘Mermaid’ on its way to Bowen to found a penal colony. The beach was subsequently named Mermaid Beach, whether in light of Anne’s exploits or in celebration of Oxley’s voyage is still a matter of hot dispute amongst local historians.

In 1905 and as a direct consequence of this debacle the Queensland Government introduced the first Act of Parliament regulating taxis and in particular their fares.

The other expedition voted to take the centenary of Anne’s adventures as a suitable theme for the voyage. The expedition members sought to obtain sponsorship from the NSWSKC by selling a nice line in grey, woolly G-strings.

Postscript 2 — Notes pertinent to the history of Anne Lachlan

During our research into the darker side of Anne’s adventures two characters pre-eminent at her trial confused us. Just to unravel the Roy/Troy confusion, the following is an expurgated account from the 1905 July edition of the Bowen Truth. “Love Pentangle at Mermaid Beach”

Samuel Ponsonby Troy was Anne’s quite brilliant defence council at the Supreme Court at Bowen. Frederick Emmanuel Roy was the constable who took her in custody. It was Samuel who discovered the plaque commemorating Oxley’s voyage in the cutter ‘Mermaid’ and pointed out that Anne had fulfilled most of her obligations to the intoxicated young men by leading them on to the beach with the plaque. A furious Fred, who was a rival with Sam (and two others) for Anne’s affections, subsequently destroyed the plaque sadly leaving only your faith in this reportage to attest its veracity.


“Sea-Fever” [61]

By Dee Ratcliffe

The seed was set at Mike Snoad’s housewarming party. Rather a lot of fine wine was consumed. John Wilde’s rousing rendition of some classic songs was inspiring. Then Peter Osman and I discovered we have a shared love of poetry. We had even memorised the same poem (of eight lines). Peters recitation was more measured, melodic and accurate than mine.

A morning spent scouring the bookshops of Newtown produced a treasure – One Hundred Favourite Poems. No matter what other gear got jettisoned, this book would be made to fit into my hatch for our Whitsundays trip.

Close quarters within our campsite on the second night started the reading that became a nightly routine. With us all settled and snuggled in our tents, the holder of the book selected and read aloud a couple of poems. Andrew Eddy was the first to select this particular poem; it was then requested twice more. It seemed to match the mood of our trip and the life we lead for that brief period. I believe that all us sea kayakers must be romantics at heart, to go where we go and see what we see, to be so privileged, to encounter some of the fine places of this earth. The call to return is constant.


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)

Ramble From The Editor [61]

By Ian Coles

I am excited about this issue, a feature on ‘folders’ and our first ever survey of sea kayaks available in Australia, thanks to the manufacturers and distributors who supplied the information.

I have introduced a new column PROFILE ON. This is a place where suppliers can tell us about their company, what they do, and a bit of their history. I will tie this in with a magazine features so that it fleshes out the chosen topic.

I am giving each issue of the magazine a different perspective. Last issue we looked at wooden boats. This issue it is ‘folders’. For the December issue it will be sailing and possibly a paddle survey. All you sailors out there, If you don’t volunteer an article I will be chasing you up.. you have been warned.

If you have a small company or a service you wish to offer members I have introduced a new advertising space. It is a quarter page advert and really cheap at $40 less 20% for members. Have a look at the SharkShield advert on page 10.

Now … this issue is put to bed I can get back on the water and to some other projects like the construction of my skin on frame kayak. I have not touched it for a month. The last session I amazed myself by cutting 28 pairs of stopped mortises in the underside of the gunwales. At 3 holes per mortise that is 28 x 2 x 3 = 168 holes. I used a bench drill and set a fence either side of the drill bit. I tried to slide the drill bit sideways along the mortise to break out the wood but it was not quite as neat as taking out the waste with chisels. My next task is to cut 24 deck beam mortises on a 70 degree bevel.

Happy paddling


President’s Report [61]

By Elizabeth Thomson

Dear All,

Well, here I am … President, fancy that, and writing my first report. Firstly, I want to thank the Committee for all their hard work last year and particularly thank the two guys who have chosen to move on and spend their precious spare time doing other things, Nick Palmer and Kevin Brennan. Their time, effort and enthusiasm will be sorely missed. As for the new Committee, I want to welcome Mark Berry as our new Trips Coordinator and Stephan Meyn as our new RnR Coordinator. Richard McNeall, Mike Steinfeld and myself have stayed on but in different capacities: Richard as VP, Mike as Secretary/Treasurer and well, me as … Pres Apart from that, the line up is much the same as last year with Ian at the helm of the magazine, Peter at the helm of the website, Harry running the training program.

I thought I would use my President’s report to keep members updated on the work of the Committee, issues relating to kayaking and any other items of interest.

But before launching into the detail of the recent AGM and Committee meeting, I want to give you a sense of how I see my role over the next year. In a nutshell, I want to encourage and support a diverse and inclusive culture in the Club both in terms of gender and skills, as well as have a stabilising effect on our Club life, particularly after the unavoidable ups and downs of last year. Essentially last year was a watershed in many ways, with events both internal and external to the Club precipitating a number of policy changes and responses. As a result the Committee has a lot of changes that need to be bedded down and made to happen. Of these, I feel the most important ones are as follows:

  • implementing our new grading system which involves increasing the number of Assessors in the Club and rolling out the Introduction to Sea Skills training program in 2006 and which now forms the basis of our Grade 2 qualification, while maintaining the existing Sea Skills training program for Grade 3 qualification (further details will appear in the December magazine);
  • developing a trips calendar that caters clearly and evenly to the three grades (1, 2 and 3) and to a variety of geographic locations;
  • continuing to support and encourage our on-water volunteer base of Sea Leaders, Guides, Instructors and Assessors, and our off-water volunteer base for Club events such as RnR etc., and
  • making connections with other sea kayak clubs around Australia to encourage exchange of ideas and build lobbying strength to better deal with government bodies and legislation in and around kayaking issues and use of waterways.

As we all know, sea kayaking is becoming more and more popular. The sport is growing quickly. As a result, the Committee is fielding more and more calls about what we can do for novice kayakers. This is a vexed question and one that I want to take a moment to discuss. The most important thing to remember is that NSWSKC is a club. It is run entirely by volunteers. These people volunteer because they want to put something back into the club having benefited in many ways from their association with it. Amongst other things, Club life is about time out on the ocean, camping in remote areas, meeting and socializing with like-minded people and basically just getting away from the day to day demands of our respective lives. Being a club means we aren’t service providers. We offer a number of incredible opportunities in terms of trips and training for members but it is entirely built on volunteerism. No one gets paid and noone wants to feel burdened or mucked around as a result of having volunteered.

So if you are a new member, we welcome you warmly and look forward to meeting you, but at the same time, we ask you to remember that we don’t work like a commercial operator. Trips are offered when and where our trip leaders can and want to offer them. Training is done entirely by volunteers who sacrifice a lot of their own leisure time. So if you want to join us on a trip, you need to have your own boat which meets the club minimum standard, http://www.nswseakayaker.asn.au/about/keydocs/grading.htm and be committed to a trip you wish to join. The places are always limited and it is important that you don’t reserve a place on a trip that you might not actually be able to attend. Same goes for training. Numbers are limited and we need you to make a firm commitment when you participate is training. Another important point is that our trip leaders have a right to refuse anyone a place on a trip if they have concerns about paddler ability, the weather conditions, the time of arrival etc etc.

This now brings me to one of the recent actions of the Committee. In order to offer our new members enjoyable, manageable and safe activities, the Trips Coordinator is planning to have quarterly Grade 1 introduction paddle days. Our trips calendar for the next three months is up on the web, http://www.nswseakayaker.asn.au/calendar/index.shtm. Have a look and take advantage of the Grade 1 opportunities. We will also be offering Introduction to Sea Skills training from 2006. Again, keep an eye on the website and book a training spot when the notice is up, http://www.nswseakayaker.asn.au/calendar/training.htm.

Another plan in the pipeline is the development of a Club Logbook. This is still on the drawing board, but I thought I would canvas member interest in the idea. We encourage logbook entries for a number of reasons. We all need to keep a logbook to be assessed for any club training we take part in. A logbook will help our trip leaders assess paddler capability. It will also be a valuable document to take with you when you go paddling outside the Club. The logbook will demonstrate your kayaking experience to others. But the logbook has a social side to it as well. At the post-paddle coffee stop, paddlers will be able to write up their trip, record the statistics and remember key moments. From a kayakers point of view, a logbook will make a good read and but also build a sense of community.

Another item is that the Committee has decided to return to an annual membership renewal date. The rolling membership system has not been effective and has made the renewal process a bit ad hoc. The plan is to have a renewal deadline of March 1 just prior to the RnR so that members can sign up for the RnR and renew their members in one hit. It’s a return to ‘the good old days’. The change over process is currently being worked out, so stay tuned.

And finally, three motions were passed at the AGM. The membership voted to remain affiliated with NSW Canoeing; to pay for the non-insurance component of the membership fee and first aid course costs of Club Sea Leaders/ Guides/ Instructors and Assessors who volunteer their time for four Club trips or training sessions per year; and to introduce a training levy. The Committee has now set this fee at $10 per day.

Well, I think that about covers it. Until my next report, happy paddling.

See you on the water,

Sea Kayak Survey 2005 [61]

Compiled By Ian Coles

At last, a complete list of kayaks to browse through. Many thanks to all the contributors who supplied information. The result is a list of sea kayaks available in Australia at this point of time in 2005. The information is authorative having been written by each manufacturer or distributor to best describe who the kayak is designed for and what it does best. This resource is a starting point to find your first kayak, or to add to your fleet. All the companies who contributed to the survey have a link on our website. More detailed information and your nearest retailer can be found on each supplier’s website.

Due to its format the survey is published as an Adobe PDF file (156 KB).
Click here to open it.

Kayak Essentials For Women [61]

By Sally Jacobs

Before you set off

Safety is of paramount importance and the following equipment is essential:

Kayak. In the male dominated world of kayak design and manufacture, most models are typically rated by length and speed, however, do look out for the new range by Prada, which come in sizes 8 to 16 and in colors ranging from hot pink, spice, sauce, vixen and sheer. Of course there are many features which will influence your choice so more on this subject later.

Paddle. Again male dominance in this field has resulted in the main features of paddles being described in length, width and weight, and ease of travel through the water. Prada have come to the rescue with a series of battery operated light weight paddles, which fit into a console on the deck – still leaving ease of access to the water tight cosmetic compartment – and the paddles rotate at the press of a button. Another exciting feature of the slim line deluxe model is the twin paddle floats that will automatically deploy at the first sign of a wave, whale, or unwarranted self-rescue exercise command from the instructor.

PFD. Should be of sufficient quality to provide long-term flotation, especially in the first few lessons when you will spend very little time actually in the kayak. Pockets for lipstick, sun screen and a mirror are a bonus. DO look out for the ones which accommodate fitting of a water bladder. Champagne fits just as well and is great for calming those beginner nerves.

Spray skirt. Much has been done to bring these fashion icons into the 21st century. Check out the new DJ’s line in sheer and fishnet spray decks worn on or off the shoulder and Calvin Klein’s line incorporating a push up bra.

Kayak Instructor

Research your instructor well. Is he qualified and experienced. What about with a kayak? The more experience on water the better equipped he is the rescue you when you fail miserably at most of the exercises he sets. Does he possess other essential qualities of someone you would want to rescue you? Good looking, strong, single, straight?

Once you have all the above in order, you are ready to begin. At this stage we are assuming you are only at the beginners under instruction level, so for the time being you can ignore the stuff about knowing weather, tides, carrying sufficient food and water, as it is unlikely you will make more than 10m from shore in the first 10 lessons.

So lets look at some basic strokes

The forward stroke. From your “neutral” position of seating with legs in front of you, slightly bent at the knee, abs sucked in and breasts stuck out, lean forward and place the blade of the paddle fully into the water as far forward as you can without prolapsing a disc. Once the blade is fully submerged, draw the paddle back by rotating your body, keeping your arms straight but not locked at the elbow, at chin height. The blade should exit the water roughly at your hip. Now repeat on the other side, and continue, wobbling your bottom as you go. This action requires minimum effort to attract most attention from the opposite sex.

The back paddle. A bit trickier but well worth mastering for its ability to really get the bosoms working. Hold the paddle lower and close to your naval and insert paddle blade adjacent to hip level, pushing it forward so that the blade exits just before your biceps explodes from the impossible eccentric contractions you just demanded of it. Repeat other side and continue.

Bow rudder. Good for looking like you know what you are doing as it will help you turn if capsizing or hitting other boats fail. Best executed underway, extend the paddle by moving your hands along it, and placing the long end in the water as far forward as possible on one side while looking confident and in control. (This Bowing action is how the stroke got its name) Once the blade is in the water, gently push it away from you and try not to look surprised when you turn.

Stern Rudder. Exactly the same as for the bow rudder, only this time place the blade in the water behind you and as you push it away, look like you really mean it.

Draw stroke. A pointless ungainly stroke that involves putting the paddle in the water to your side, leaning into the stroke and pulling the paddle back towards you, finishing with a rotation of the paddle in the water. If in doubt, imagine you standing are in a very large marguerita stirring the strawberries, if you stir too hard you will create a whirlpool that will suck you to the bottom of the glass, necessitating you having to drink your way out. Remember that voluntary euthanasia is not yet legal in Australia, and middle harbour lacks the flavour and appeal of a marguerita.

That’s enough to get started – once you have mastered these, you are ready to get in your kayak.

Some important features of the kayak

Kayaks generally come with Hatches (holes) and a cockpit (bigger hole)

The hatches are for storing anything that you think you might need for the time you are out, such as food, water and the kids if you can’t get a baby sitter. These provide excellent additional buoyancy. Remember additional buoyancy is provided by anything that will displace water. You can get inflatable bags to place in the hatches, personally, I prefer a mix of Moet and Russian Caviar. Whichever you choose, always check the hatches are sealed and watertight before you set out. The cockpit is the larger hole in the center of the kayak that you sit in, any other holes in the boat should be viewed with suspicion.

Sea kayaks have decklines. While these have been proven to be useful in assisted rescues, they really come into their own on long trips where launderette facilities are lacking.

Sea Kayaks also have rudders, complicated affairs that require a good deal of skill and hand foot coordination. If in doubt, forgo the rudder and attach your self to someone else using a towline.

Accessories include paddle leashes, lipstick leashes, coffee cup holders, and an in deck refrigerated cocktail bar for emergency re-hydration.

Pre departure checks

While tide and wind are important features and should not be overlooked, perhaps the most critical feature that will affect your perceived level of safety, comfort and well being, is the mood of the kayak instructor. His demeanor needs to be calm, confident and caring. He should not fall out of his boat laughing when you capsize on the beach, or as you screw yourself into the ocean floor as you attempt a shallow wet exit. If he does not regain composure within the first 30 seconds of your near drowning experience you probably need to take him to one side and beat him soundly with your paddle.

If he is jubilant and appears to be overly excited at the prospect of your lesson, you might consider feigning hydrophobia and postponing till another day. Remember, kayaking is meant to be fun — for you!

One Hundred Years of Folding Kayaks [61]

By Stephan Meyn

The Beginnings

Alfred Heurich was a student in Bavaria. He was fascinated with the Inuit kayak constructions he saw at the ethonological museum in Munich. He wanted to build his own and paddle it on the Isar river which went past his hometown of Bad Tölz. However he didn’t want to build a replica of the Inuit skin & frame kayaks. Instead he wanted his kayak to be easy to disassemble and reassemble for easy transport to give him access to the rivers with a minimum of effort. He spent many hours experimenting with materials and finally chose bamboo and waterproof sailcloth.

In 1905 he took his first kayak to the Isar river in Bad Tölz. He assembled it and paddled it 50 km downriver to the city of Munich where he took it apart and returned with it back home. This was the birth of the folding kayak. He filed for a patent in 1906.

Over the following years Alfred Heurich travelled many 1000s of kms on rivers, popularising his sport. He introduced many innovations, wrote river guides and built many more kayaks that he sold to his fellow student. Finally he sold a licence to Johann Klepper who started a commercial production facility.

The timing of the folding kayak was superb. Germany was in the throes of a ‘back to nature’ fashion with scores of people participating in outdoor sports. Folding kayaks provided a new form of travelling. Instead of hiking with overloaded backpacks, people could travel in relative comfort. ‘Kajakwandern’ or kayak hiking became a concept that is still well known in Germany today.

Evolution of the Kayak — The Skin

Over time the folding kayak evolved, but most innovations occurred within the first 20 years. The bottom part of the hull’s sailcloth was soon covered with rubber, making it water proof (today’s Klepper kayaks still use canvas for the top deck). Multi layer sandwich constructions of canvas and rubber were introduced to make the hull material tougher, able to withstand the demands of fast flowing rivers. These skin materials had the imaginative names of ‘Elefantenhaut’ (elephant skin), ‘Panzerhaut’ (armour skin) and Hammerit ( = ‘hammer it’).

Later, Dupont introduced an artificial rubber material called Hypalon. This material replaced the natural rubber because it was much more abrasion resistant and especially UV resistant, reducing the need for continuous waxing of the skin. This resolved most of the issues and skins that lasted decades were no longer uncommon. However they still required good care. You could not fold wet kayak skins because this introduced dry rot, which would creep under the hypalon material and start to erode the underlying cotton fabric. It was only in the 60s that polyester based fabrics came to the rescue. Today most kayak skins are made out of hypalon coated trevira fabrics.

Today the only other alternative to Hypalon is PVC. Its lifetime is much longer than hypalon. But in colder climates it becomes hard and assembling a kayak at low temperatures can become an ordeal. Over time both materials have become accepted, although the discussion about which of the two is the better material has raged for so long and been undecided for so long that many kayak forums have since banned this topic.

From Bamboo to Modern Materials

Bamboo was used for a while because it was simple, already in the right basic form and very flexible and light. It was soon replaced by Ash, which is a tough wood but not too heavy and easy to process. Today most frames in a kayak are made of Ash ply. The other frame material introduced was aluminium. It is cheaper to build and results in a lighter kayak. The downsides are that it is harder to repair and that in salt water environments, it slowly degrades.

The most modern kayaks have started to use fibreglass and carbon for the frame. The Firstlight kayaks made in NZ weighed less than 10kgs, which compares with 25-30kgs for many standard wood-frame kayaks.

Aerius — Airbags to the Rescue

A major issue with kayaks was that the inner frame needs to provide stretch so that the skin is taut. If it fails to do so, for instance, when some skins stretch in warm weather, the paddler feels as if they are paddling a hammock – the sides wobble all the time with disturbing hydraulic effects on tracking and stability. Many ideas were promoted, lever based extenders, spring loaded shock absorbers etc. They however were all prone to failure based on their complexity.

In 1950, Klepper introduced the biggest innovation for folding kayaks: inflatable sponsons inside the hull. Once the kayak had been assembled, these sponsons were inflated with a few lungfuls of air. The expanding sponsons stretched the skin and the kayak started to look like a real boat. This technology gave its name to the most successful kayak model, the Aerius. This model, introduced 50 years ago is still used today and often is copied by many other makers.

Sail and Motor

Kayaks were the poor man’s weekend yacht. Because they were built of wood, they attracted people who liked to build and extend their own boats. Many of them decided to extend the capabilities of them. Sails were and are a common sight in folding kayaks. And these are not the kind of sails found on hardshell kayaks. Instead they are often complete rigs, with main, jib and sometimes mizzen masts. Sail areas of 5 square meter are not unheard of. Side boards give the kayak the ability to point into the wind and hence be able to tack into the wind.

Another alternative was the sideboard motor. The first motors were two stroke engines with a few horsepower. The model below was used for expeditions into the Arctic Sea.

Today there are few commercial suppliers. One interesting prototype attached a propeller to the engine of a four-stroke whipper snipper.

Decline and Revival

Folding kayaks had their big boom in the 1920s. They became a common sport for many families. In 1928 Franz Romer crossed the Atlantic in a two-seat Klepper. In 1932 Oskar Speck took his folding kayak on a trip down the Danube with the intention of trying to find work in Cyprus. On the way he changed his mind and kept going — until he landed on Thursday Island in 1939 and was promptly interned by the Australian government — WWII had broken out in the meantime.

Post WWII, folding kayaking started to decline, except in the GDR where it continued to be popular until the end of the republic. Even today it is not uncommon for families to still have an old and serviceable folding kayak in the attic.

Since the revival of kayaking, the fortune of folding kayaks has strongly recovered. Klepper whose future looked grim for a while is now a publicly traded company. There are many international companies building kayaks and innovation is taking off again.

Many Manufacturers


The granddaddy of folding kayaks still builds the famous Aerius family of kayaks. The expedition model of the Aerius is in use of by many marine combat units who like it for its toughness, carrying capability and speed of assembly. This does come at a price with the effort it takes to paddle. It has been likened to paddling a clothes cabinet. Besides the single, the Aerius also comes as a two and a three — four seater. www.klepper.de

Poucher Boote

This is the only surviving East German folding kayak builder. After the collapse of the GDR it was on the brink of insolvency when it was taken over by a passionate paddler. For many years it survived as a joinery & cabinet making business. These are skills that served it well in developing new models. Pouch has brought in a series of new models over the last few years, leading the industry by introducing innovative designs and construction techniques.


This boat is designed and manufactured in China which makes it quite unique. Called a ‘light duty boat’ in foldingkayaks.org it would probably be a good buy for rivers and lakes.


This company is located in Christchurch, NZ. These are very unusual kayaks. Built in carbon fibre they weigh less than 10kg. They are built for paddling in the sea but their load carrying capability is limited. A special feature is their transparent bottom skin. You don’t have to roll to see the underwater world beneath you.


This Canadian company makes high quality sea worthy kayaks. They are very light, due to the use of aluminium frames and welded urethane skins. The flagship is the Khatsalano, a 5.4m slender boat whose shape competes with glass sea kayaks. Accordingly these boats are not cheap.


Simple, lightweight, aluminium frame kayaks that are cheap and yet good quality. These boats are said to have a good stable ride that makes them a good choice for beginners.


This is a Japanese company. For its frame it uses fibreglass longerons with plywood frames, which reduces the weight considerably. The hull is Kevlar reinforced polyester core with PVC.

Long Haul

These boats are based upon the Klepper design. The use of stainless steel makes it an extremely tough boat but it also adds to the weight. They are cheaper than Klepper and offer a few design improvements. The two seater is available as a ‘commando’ version in black.


This French company was founded in 1935 but received its name only in 1984. Nautiraid kayaks offers a family of boats both in wood and aluminium frame connection. They also offer an intriguing butterfly style sail.


A Russian builder who offers very cheap and robust kayaks that are known for their ability to carry large loads. These kayaks are very good for enclosed or semi-open waters.


This Russian company offers tough, simple and cheap kayaks. They cost about half what others ask. They have a one seater, 2 and 3 seater kayaks. The frame is made from aluminium. The one seater Ladoga has had favourable reviews in the German folding kayak forums.

Internet Links

There are, apart from vendor sites, a number of organisations dealing with folding kayaks. In the English language space, the prime web site is foldingkayaks.org. If you speak German then www.faltboot.de is a good site of discussion and access to resources. If you are interested in modifying your folding kayak then www.faltbootbasteln.de is a great resource. Even if you do not speak German, it is worthwhile to browse as there are many pictures and drawings available.

In Australia a number of kayak resellers carry folding kayaks or can organise the purchase of one. The most common brands are Klepper, Feathercraft and Folbot.