From the President’s Deck [70]

By Michael Steinfeld

I trust that you all have had a great Christmas break. New South Wales waters are warmer than they have been and it’s a great time to practise your surfing, rolling and messing around with your kayak.

Kayak safety has always been in the foremost of my mind. Paddling in the ocean is an unforgiving environment. There is little point in being a member of the Club without taking advantage of the excellent training program that is offered. Safety standards are reinforced in the stepped grading program which ultimately leads to the qualification of Sea Skills, an Australian Canoeing award. The Club program reinforces the need to paddle a kayak that meets grade 3 standards and encourages you to have additional safety equipment such as phones, VHF radio and a locator beacon, that will assist you to meet the unexpected on the water.

It should be the goal of every paddler to be able to self-rescue. That is, to be able to get back into the kayak after a capsize without the support of another paddler. Most learn to roll or use an assisted piece of equipment like a paddle float. But you must keep on practising. This became evident to me whilst paddling alone on the south coast and then reading the American Sea Kayaker (December 2007, pp 38-41) magazine’s account of the death of the president of the California Kayak Friends club. He was paddling solo when the winds picked up and he capsized. He was unable to get back in his boat. He did not have self-rescue skills and his ability to use the paddle float was marginal.

It is just over one year that Andrew McAuley was lost at sea while kayaking solo across the Tasman. The New Zealand coroner has presented his findings and I have set out the more relevant findings in my article in the magazine.

Now that I have got that off my chest, there are exciting times ahead.

Rock’n’Roll is almost here. We have special guests Nigel Dennis, seasoned paddler and kayak designer from the UK, and John Kirk-Anderson, instructor and photographer from NZ, and there is a great opportunity to come away with improved knowledge and skill.

This magazine has been produced by a new editor, Jacqui Stone. We wish her well in her new role and wish to thank Sue Webber for her past contribution to the magazine and to the Club generally.

It is always a great privilege to contribute to a Club which has so many members willing to freely contribute their skills for the benefit of others. So if you wish to volunteer, step right up, and in return you will find that you create new friendships and develop your kayaking skills along the way.

Until next time,
Michael Steinfeld