Flotsam [67]

By Mark Pearson

This edition of Flotsam would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dave Whyte, Margot Todhunter and Dee Ratcliffe

Flotsam Editorial — A Tribute to the Heroes of Bundeena

With uncanny parallels to the heroic action of the 300 Spartans, the valour of the 28 loyalists and their narrow defeat by massed rebel forces at the Battle of Bundeena marks a turning point in our long history.

Led by charismatic warrior David Hipsley, this small band of heroes gave their all to keep alive the alliance with Australian Canoeing. History will record the complacent and arrogant approach of the rebel hordes, who turned up at Bundeena field expecting their foes to flee, only to find themselves against a determined, well organised and resolute opponent.

Although defeat for the loyalists on that fateful day was inevitable, the war itself may not be lost. Chaos is now likely to reign. A new Dark Age of unregulated adventure and enjoyment threatens to descend along vast stretches of the New South Wales coast. The sea peoples may yet pine for what they lost.

But having fought so bravely to keep alight the hallowed beacon of regulation, control and high tariffs, the 28 heroes of Bundeena will live on in legend. The memory of their epic deeds will be kept alive by seafaring generations to come.

2007 Rock’n’Roll Review

Flotsam reporters at the Club’s marquee event observed hopeful signs that club is emerging from “a long period of slumber”, noting a welcome return to the chaotic events and questionable behaviour of the past.

Cold Front Chaos

In what has been described as “potentially the worst on-water disaster since the events of November 2000” a simple grade 2 paddle descended into chaos on the return from Surf Beach after departing Batehaven in heatwave conditions.

Trip Leader Paul Loker told Flotsam “I had told my group to don the Zigloo© neck coolers as I was worried about heatstroke out there, then on the way back the southerly hit and we were soon in a really bad situation. Most in the group were unable to take their hands off their paddles due to the rough conditions, and the wet Zigloos© got very cold and also tightened around the arteries in the neck region … so within minutes my paddlers were turning blue with cold and partial asphyxiation.”

Assistant Trip Leader Laurie Geoghegan added “Mate, it was terrible out there, once that cold blood reached their brains it was hard to keep them out of trouble. They were like zombies, they wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t follow directions at all. I tried to keep them focussed on getting back to the venue but it was like herding cats…”

Geoghegan, who also wore a Zigloo© but was relatively unaffected thanks to the insulating properties of his facial/neck hair, added, “that was scary having to look after so many club members who just weren’t there mentally. They honestly just couldn’t think for themselves… I haven’t been in a situation like that since the AGM in 2001!”

The brain function impairment was particularly noticeable as several paddlers landed on Casey’s Beach thinking they were back at Batehaven. Here locals reported “a mixed group of paddlers” wandered onto the road in a confused state chanting “a cappuccino and an apple turnover please”, apparently looking in vain for the warmth and sanctuary of the Batehaven Bakery.

Although all paddlers eventually made it back safely, Club Safety Officer Mark Sundin told Flotsam “The brain cooling effect of this product is obviously disturbing with such a sudden change of weather, and I will be publishing a detailed procedure for Trip Leaders to follow on this matter”.

Flotsam caught up with Elizabeth Thomson as she sipped on 1979 Grange Shiraz in the Presidential marquee. Displaying a new brand of relaxed leadership following the disaffiliation from AC, Ms Thomson told Flotsam, “OK so a few nancy paddlers got cold and had some problems … I reckon it’ll do ‘em good!”

Kayaker defies physics!

A test of the latest generation of mini surf kayaks at Surf Beach ended in high drama when senior club paddler Laurie Geoghegan “totally wrote off” a $2000 test boat after a “massive uncontrolled front endo”. Geoghegan, although not hurt in the incident, was trapped in the crushed kayak for over an hour until local road rescue authorities arrived to free him using the Jaws of Life.

The manufacturer’s sales representatives of the surf boats, still polite despite the obvious financial distress, told Flotsam “It was truly a high energy incident… Mr Geoghegan showed no fear, no judgement, no skill, in fact no anything when he took on that wave…”

The sales representative continued “but we’ve obviously got some work to do. We thought the boat was tough enough. Our construction engineers obviously understand that energy = mass x velocity squared, but they obviously didn’t reckon on the energy and mass of a very big and square sea kayaker..!”

Kayaker to “learn to swim”

Following a “disturbing” surfing incident on the Batemans Bay bar, erratic sea paddler Greg Murray has been ordered to undertake an eight week swimming course before he can again participate in Grade 3 Club paddles.

The incident, in which Mr Murray wet exited and then quickly lost his grip on his boat, became serious when wind and current swept the kayak away. Luckily a nearby paddler was able to capture the runaway boat and right the situation.

Club Training Officer David Hipsley told Flotsam “Its for Greg’s own good… he has to learn that if he is going to let go of his kayak like that his swimming must improve … “

Mr Murray, who has consistently claimed that his kayak was “slippery” with his partner’s hand cream, and that swimming with a paddle in one hand was “difficult”, is thought to be considering appealing the decision.

Celebrity shocks membership

Justine Curvengen’s entertaining presentation on her kayaking exploits led to a stunned silence and then uproar after she spoke of a solo experience in Iceland. The world-renowned sea paddler told a packed audience that after landing on a remote beach after a particularly frightening experience on the water, she had succumbed to the urge and “did the biggest poo I’ve ever done”. Although this comment brought out the biggest laugh of the evening, Flotsam has learned that many males within the club were privately shocked at the confronting realisation that female paddlers actually did that sort of thing.

NSWSKC Adult Education Officer Rob Mercer admitted to Flotsam “Although we have all but completed the course curriculum for our male members on the reproductive differences between men and women, I’m afraid we haven’t yet covered this, err, rather taboo issue as yet.”

Club morals campaigner Margot Todhunter was outraged, telling Flotsam “We lady paddlers have for years hidden this aspect of our lives, and for Ms Curgenven’s to just reveal it so brutally in front of so many men… well I don’t think we need bloody foreigners coming over here saying these sort of things!”

Wet man causes furore

In what is now thought to be premeditated behaviour, Flotsam has learned that “a tall and well built” male sea kayaker was observed visiting several ladies in their cabins while their partners were out conducting training and leading trips in the Saturday afternoon rain. In all cases the individual (who unfortunately cannot be named) gained access to the ladies hospitality by claiming he was “looking for Arunas Pilka”, telling a complex tale of how his friend had his car keys and that he could not get to his dry clothes. After lulling each lady into a relaxed state with what have been described as “very smooth patter”, he would then sensually discard more clothing items claiming he was “damp”.

Trip Leader Harry Havu fumed to Flotsam “I returned to my cabin looking forward to a welcoming hug from Dee only to find this man semi-naked in my master bedroom… it was a disgrace.” Havu continued “As everyone knows, my Dee is highly sexed and should not be faced with such temptations! The club must do more to shield our ladies from this sort of thing when we men are doing our duty running club activities!”

John Lipscombe was another paddler who returned to find the unwanted visitor in his expensive accommodation…”Mate, I got back to find him asleep on my bed and my Margot all giggly and, err, morally relaxed after he plied her with several beers… I wouldn’t mind so much but it was my beer!!”

A diplomatic furore erupted when the lone male entered the crowded and rowdy Victorian cabin and apparently made “overtures” to Annie Woollard, partner of senior VSKC club paddler John Woollard. Mr Woollard was furious, telling Flotsam “We knew your club was keen on establishing closer relations with us Victorian paddlers, but this is taking it too far..!”

However, the canny Dirk Stuber was one male member not upset by the wet paddler, telling Flotsam “There is nothing new about this… this character has been pursuing other men’s women for years. That’s why I kept my Vicki attached to a tow rope all weekend… on and off the water!”

Flotsam Guru

Got an awkward problem related to sea kayaking? The Flotsam Guru has the answers.

Dear Flotsam Guru

I am a light sleeper, particularly when camping on club trips. My problem is that on every trip I’ve been on, there is always one individual in the group who wakes up really early (that is, in the dark before dawn) and moves back and forth around the campsite. I never get back to sleep after this and am tired all day and its affecting my paddling. What can I do? Please help!

Mark Berry

Guru — yes Mark, unfortunately you, as with many others, have been the victim of the Dawn Creeper, a type that is surprisingly numerous within the camping fraternity of the NSWSKC.

Studies have shown that the classic personality profile of the Dawn Creeper is a man aged between 50 and 65, often self employed or semi-professional, occasionally bearded, but always with flamboyant nose and ear hair. He invariably has lots of gear to organise, much of it electronic, due to his meticulous and serious approach towards sea kayaking.

Consequently the Creeper is burdened by worry. He has a permanent mild anxiety state that affects his sleep, causing him to suffer disturbing dreams associated with gear failure or salt water intrusion into his dry bags. These disturbed sleep patterns can also see him classified during periods of deep sleep as another common NSWSKC camping type, the much feared Snorer and Groaner!

Unfortunately, such is his focus on routine and preparation for the paddling day ahead, the Creeper is totally oblivious of the rest requirements of his companions. He has no understanding of the basic human need to get quality sleep in the important 5am to 6.30 am time window.

In a typical camp, an hour before dawn the Creeper will announce his wakefulness to the world with an extensive and staccato tent zipper “symphony” as he exits and enters his tent several times in rapid succession.

The Creeper will then don his footwear of choice… cheap thongs. These diabolical sandals allows him to noisily “flip flop” forwards and backwards along a “thong trail” that links his tent to the communal eating area. No one knows why, but a Creeper’s thong trail never follows a straight line, but invariably snakes around the camp passing at some stage within 30cm of most of his companions’ tents. Few are spared the hideous torment of the flip flop.

Having at last settled down behind his thunderous “Mini Cyclone” gas stove, the Creeper will commence preparation of his breakfast. He will have a vast array of pots and pans, invariably including advanced coffee-making apparatus. This equipment allows the Creeper to effortlessly generate a cacophony of clinks, clanks and steam whistles as he works his way through a complex routine to heat up various fluids.

Some minutes later, the Creeper’s bleary and understandably crotchety companions will at last be flushed out of their cosy sleeping bags by the noise. Typically, they will stagger to the communal eating area only to be amazed that such a din is required to produce a bowl of bland porridge and a tiny shot of black coffee!

So how do you defend yourself against the predations of the Dawn Creeper?

There is no easy answer. Solid ear plugs can be effective but have drawbacks. Not only have these devices been implicated as a possible cause of tinnitus, they also rob the wearer of the precious sound of the surf throughout the night. Adding a ground up sleeping pill to a Creeper’s evening noodles has also been considered but rejected as an idea due to possible adverse effects on his paddling the next morning.

Camping exclusively with female paddlers has also been suggested, as no member of the fair sex yet been attracted to Dawn Creeperism. This policy may become more achievable as women increase in numbers in camping trips. However, as has been documented, camping with women has its own risks for males due to the possibility of acquiring MEPS (see Flotsam, Issue 59).

But the one club member who has really got his act together on this issue is Mark Pearson. After being severely traumatised in tight knit camp spots in the late 90’s to such an extent he nearly sold his sea kayak, Mark’s philosophy is now simple… treat all male sea paddlers over the age of thirty as potential Snorers, Groaners or Creepers.

So even at the end of a long day on the water, Mr Pearson will make the effort to camp a minimum of 40m from his companions or, if the camp site is too cramped to allow this, on the next beach. He has reported quality sleep outcomes for his trouble and is now enjoying his sea kayaking again.

Magazine content causes outrage

Another furore has broken out over content within Issue 66 of the club magazine. The row centres on the “Lifting Your Kayak” article which included a series of photographs of President Thomson demonstrating a technique for putting a kayak on a car that is particularly useful for people with no friends and/or muscles. Avid magazine reader Leonie Loker told Flotsam “The text was fine, but what was with the colour? All those shots of a purple kayak going on a purple car with that green background made me feel quite ill by the time I’d finished the article!”

Likely Presidential challenger Trevor Gardner was also outraged, telling Flotsam “Here we have ten, yes ten, repetitious photos of the President, her kayak and a car in full colour, yet there were several obviously scenic photos in the mag in plain black and white! It is quite obvious to me that the President has raided the Club’s Future Fund to pay for a colour article that is simply blatant political advertising!!”

Gardner continued “Let me pledge that in my first term as President, I hereby promise to only appear in small black and white photos and then only when absolutely necessary.”

Flotsam Editor Mark Pearson was moved to also make a rare public statement, telling Flotsam “in Flotsam’s long history never once has it been given the honour of including a colour photo .. not even that classic shot of Harry Havu on that rock in 2003!

Flotsam spoke to magazine editor Sue Webber about whether she had been pressured to colourise the President’s article, but Ms Webber refused to discuss the issue, adding “but slag me off in your crappy column and Flotsam will be in Chinese sunshine…”

Ms Webber remains the finest Editor in the 17 year history of the NSWSKC Magazine.