President’s Report [66]

By Elizabeth Thomson

The issue of the magazine pays tribute to Andrew McAuley. The tributes paint a picture of a man who loved to test himself and do great things, but who also was just someone like us who loved to go paddling and be out there on the water.

His memorial service was a fitting farewell to him. Standing in the shadow of Macquarie Lighthouse on South Head in Sydney wind swept and wet, we said goodbye. With the wind gusting, reminding us of what Andrew went through, we stood and listened to eulogies and also from Andrew himself. We were privileged to hear one of his last recordings which gave us a sense of his experience and helped us understand and celebrate why he was out there.

We then walked to the cliff face and threw wreaths and orange bottle brush stems over the cliff for Andrew. But the wind refused to bow to our wishes and launched our flowers skywards and back at us. For me, it was Andrew saying, “No tears folks, just celebrate and live life to the fullest”.

During the service, I was asked to read out a number of messages from the kayaking community. I have included my message from our club and the one from Paul Caffyn below:

“Andrew McAuley was a member of the NSW Sea Kayak Club. Over the years, he has shared with us his trips and achievements through conversations, presentations, trip reports, photography and film. We all know him and mourn him. He has inspired many of us to rise to challenges we would otherwise avoid. He has been a beacon of human kind’s possibility and potential. His legacy is a life lived showing us we, too, are capable of great things. We thank you, Andrew.

“Vicki, on behalf of the members, I extend to you our deepest sympathy and sorrow as we share with you the loss of a husband, a father and a very great man.”

Elizabeth Thomson

“All men dream, but not equally.

“Andrew was a dreamer of the day; his planned trans-Tasman solo paddle, an audacious solo attempt at the windswept swells of the southern Tasman. I admired Andrew for spending two days paddling back to Tasmania after he decided it was too cold at night during his first attempt. He didn’t call in a rescue, but slogged back to Tasmania. That takes guts.

“In 1989, after my co-paddler dropped his bundle eight miles off the coast of Tasmania, I stewed over whether to continue solo across the Tasman. But I decided it was too much for me.

“From his experience gained during crossings of Bass Strait and the Gulf of Carpentaria, Andrew developed new and innovative systems for the Tasman crossing. These systems worked well to within a day’s paddle of Fiordland. He was so close to achieving his dream.

“On behalf of the Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers, I would like to express our sympathy to Vicki, his family and fiend of Andres. Andrew’s audacious day dream will be missed.

Paul Caffyn

The other significant news to report is that we held the Special General Meeting on February 25 to vote on the motion to disaffiliate from NSW Canoeing Inc. The discussion covered all aspects of the relationship with NSWCI and the pros and cons of remaining a member of the State Association. After questions and heartfelt discussion, the vote was taken. The membership has voted, by a narrow margin of 29 to 28, to disaffiliate as of March 1, 2007.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to provide submissions for the review process including NSWCI and AC, who attended the meeting and who sent through proxies.

I also want to signal that this decision is not final in the sense that, as a club, we can’t revisit it down the line. In the same way that the club has reviewed our affiliation in the past, we will continue to review our disaffiliation.

The disaffiliation process will now get underway. A consequence of the vote means there will be a General Meeting at RnR to decide on a new membership fee and how to use the savings which will result from buying insurance directly from an insurance company.

And finally, Rock n Roll is almost here. It will be an exciting time with Justine Curgenven as our special speaker, launching her latest DVD which features segments of the John Rymill paddle. The program also includes a camp cooking competition, a rolling competition, lots of trips, a fund raising RnR dance and lots more. If you haven’t already registered, then get cracking. Registration forms are on the web.

See you all there.


P.S. Hey, Pearson, I intend to win the cook-off with my favourite banana bread dampa.