Flotsam [71]

Editor’s note: This online edition is a cutdown version of the printed magazine as some of the material relies on pictorial elements that are not able to be included on the website.

This edition of Flotsam would like to acknowledge the contributions of David Winkworth, Elizabeth Thomson, John Wilde, Audrey McDonald and Andre Janecki.

Members are warned that Flotsam is classified MA15+. It contains: Adult Themes, Truthful Bits

The Flotsam Editorial — Signs of Hope

With our club having regained its independence, free at last from culturally opposed peak bodies and their financial crises, the times appear to be a’changing.

Reports are coming in of a new spirit in the club, evidenced by the re-emergence of long dead behaviours and a defiant attitude to bureaucracy and procedures. There are rumours that some trips are departing without waivers being signed, that these same waivers are being used as firelighters on cold winter campsites. There is news that some paddlers, perhaps inspired by Mark Pearson’s boutique head wound, have thrown away their helmets and are rejoicing in a newfound cranial freedom. Fibreglassing workshops are reporting a surge in broken and written off Mirages as once cautious Sydney paddlers gallantly test themselves against the meanest bomboras the NSW coast can offer. Coastal hospitals are reporting a healthy increase in the number of shoulder dislocations as our paddlers again experience the thrill of using the high brace in big surf. More remarkably still, after years of whingeing from the sidelines, this new spirit has even seen a number of the old salts returning to club circles. Many have been seen participating at paddle events, others enjoying the brilliant Rock’n’Roll entertainment. One or two are even paying their fees.

Around campfires up and down the coast, paddlers are again experiencing the delicious bonding experience that is talking about incidents and excitement ‘out there’. The writer of this editorial recalls reading his first NSWSKC newsletter in early 1994, and the thrill of reading about Gary Edmond’s epic solo paddle. His Estuary Plus kayak taking on water in the huge seas off the cliffs north of Point Perpendicular. The desperate abandonment of the sinking vessel, his terrifying swim to the rocks and a dramatic landfall helped by rock fishermen. Then the amazing recovery of his kayak 300 km south near Mystery Bay two weeks later. The stuff of legends. So many new club members at the time were inspired not just by Mr Edmond’s daring, but his incredible blending of poor decision making and woeful kayak maintenance.

Now in 2008, club membership, stagnant during the dark years, will surely trend sharply upwards as news spreads of a new generation of adventurers and their exploits. However, even with these signs that the club is finding its way back to its traditional values, there is still one club facility whose return would complete a marvellous renaissance. That simple collective method of instant communication; that resource that once kept the club informed and buzzing with gossip and lively debate: the much missed open chatline.

Notoriously closed down in 2004 by the bureaucratic jackboot after someone almost typed a swear word, the loss of this medium and its influence on the subsequent fragmentation of the club has perhaps been underrated.

The open chatline. No passwords, no threads, no hassle. Communication of the members, by the members, for the members. It’s time.

Study casts doubts on shark ‘hit’

A forensic examination of the Nadgee hull apparently attacked by a large shark off the Tasmanian coast has cast doubt on both the species and size of the creature involved. The paddler, Mr John Wilde, had claimed the hull damage indicated a bite radius of ‘over half a metre’ and surmised the shark was ‘at least three metres in length’.

However, Flotsam engaged Dr Richard Kinghorn of the National Marine Studies Institute (NMSI) to examine the damaged kayak, and his findings may reduce the stress on the kayaking community after Mr Wilde’s experience.

Dr Kinghorn told Flotsam: ‘There were indeed a large number of scrapes and scratches on the hull, but on examination we now believe that the upper scrapes were caused by paddle strike due to Mr Wilde’s peculiar paddling technique, and that the lower markings were mostly rock and oyster scrapes that are common on paddle craft’.

Dr Kinghorn continued, ‘However, we do believe a marine animal did make contact with the kayak … we found a much smaller bite radius amongst the other marks, which we have identified as probably being caused by the rasping teeth of an adult Eastern Bull Mullet … this species is breeding off northern east Tasmanian at that time of year and the males become very territorial. A large bull mullet can grow to 90 cm in length and weigh in excess of 10 kg’.

But how a 10 kg bull mullet could lift, as described by the colourful Mr Wilde, ‘200 kilos of sea kayak’ out of the water remains a mystery.

Flotsam attempted to talk to Mr Wilde about the NMSI findings, but was advised by his agent that he was ‘in the US talking to Oprah about his ordeal…’.

Ozzie fauna hater unrepentant

The Department of Immigration has come under fire after permitting a noted hater of Australian fauna to enter Australia as a guest of the NSWSKC. Senior paddler John Kirk-Anderson is also the President and Founder of the controversial NO POSSUM organisation (National Organisation of Paddlers Opposed to Sympathy and Succour for Undesirable Marsupials).

With the cute little creature being in plague proportions in NZ, Mr Kirk-Anderson is well known for his ‘original’ possum extermination practices. He is reported to have recently attempted to impress a couple of American girls at a paddler’s campsite in New Zealand by ritually disembowelling one of the creatures. When interviewed by the Auckland Examiner after a complaint was made to the US Embassy, Mr Kirk-Anderson was unrepentant:

‘Look, I don’t know what went wrong really. It was sux o’clock in the evening, we had a muxed group around the campfire and the little bastard…er…possum came into our camp. I did my standard truck with the possum, a cin opener and some veseline. I thought ut was all going really well until they started screaming! Look, if the girls had been Kiwis, they would’ve been viry ermpressed…’

Given his reputation, one of the conditions of Mr Kirk-Anderson’s entry to Australia was that his activities be strictly monitored at all times. Veteran club member David Winkworth was charged with supervising the club’s senior guest both prior to and after the Rock’n’Roll weekend.

Mr Winkworth told Flotsam: ‘Phew, I’m glad it’s all over, that was really stressful! We camped in the national park at Jervis Bay and of course possums came into our campsite at dinner time. Well, didn’t John go off! … shouting strange Maori obscenities, dribbling at the mouth, slashing at the possums with his spoon … he wasn’t allowed a knife. I eventually had to wrestle him to the ground and tie him up with duct tape for the night. Those possums owe me big time!’

At the end of his stay Mr Kirk-Anderson was escorted aboard an Air New Zooland flight by wildlife protection officials.

President Steinfeld has admitted that he is being pressured by the RSPCA to ban Kiwi kayakers from future club events, telling Flotsam, ‘It’s a great pity … we certainly didn’t have all these problems with that nice Paul Caffyn!’

Hot author writes again

Budding author Elizabeth Thomson has announced she is about to release her second essay on sea kayaking. Ms Thomson’s racy ‘feminine sensual’ style has raised eyebrows in conservative, male dominated sea kayaking literary circles. In 2007 she released ‘Rough shore play and lovin’ it!’, a no holds barred description of her bruising journey to eventual mastery of the surf in her Mirage 530.

The new work is a very personal account of how Ms Thomson employed subtle pelvic movements to her paddling technique to ride out and even enjoy tough rebound conditions off Green Cape. Evocatively titled ‘Stroking the clapotis’, it is likely to be another hot seller.

President not happy

In a controversial aftermath to the gadget competition, President Steinfeld has cast doubt over the event’s future. Mr Steinfeld told Flotsam, ‘Many of the exhibits were borderline acceptable in my view, and I know several ladies were shocked at the, err, nature of some of the exhibits. Unfortunately this competition may have revealed elements of our members’ thinking that perhaps should be kept out of the public domain…’

Empty dam no mirage

South Coast Water Authority officials became alarmed at the usage rate of town water supplies between 3-5 pm on Sunday 6 April. The officials tracked down the loss to the Batehaven Van Park, and very soon afterwards to the dozens of NSWSKC members who were washing every grain of sand and salt from their beloved stool-mounted Mirages.

‘We’ve got level 4 restrictions down here,’ said Water Inspector Jack McMinn, ‘so there’s no vehicle washing, however we’re not sure whether sea kayak cleaning should be banned too’. With the Deep Creek dam now at only 32% capacity, Mr McMinn added that he wasn’t sure if Council could support another Rock’n’Roll event ‘unless we get substantial rain soon’.

R’n’R Coordinator Stephan Meyn told Flotsam, ‘It will not be a problem, next year we plan to head up to Port Stephens and give the Grahamstown Dam a good flogging!’.

Flotsam letters

Dear Flotsam

Last weekend, a fellow paddler and I were trying to organise a car shuffle for a long south coast day paddle. We thought we had three vehicles available, including a Toyota Prius hybrid owned by a Mr John Wilde. Having worked out an efficient shuffle involving similar effort for each of the vehicles, we were then shocked when Mr Wilde refused to involve his hybrid in the arrangement on the grounds that his ‘fuel consumption would suffer’.

Mr Wilde explained that he budgeted on getting 4 litres per 100 km on a road trip, but this increased to 5.5l/100 km with one kayak on his rack, and that carrying another kayak would see his fuel consumption blow out to ‘6.6l/100 km or worse’ and this was unacceptable given the state of the share market and his declining superannuation!

Because of Mr Wilde’s stance, we were forced to double the use of our gas guzzling vehicles in order to return Mr Wilde to his precious hybrid at the end of the day! I write this letter in case others become victim of hybrid misers such as Mr Wilde.

M. Snoad
Nelligen, NSW

Dear Flotsam

I wish to complain about a repair job to my Inuit Classic sea kayak.

Days after damaging the kayak on 31 December 1999, I delivered the boat to a Mr David Winkworth of Kalaru, who said he would bring my Classic to almost new condition ‘no worries’.

In the eight years since, despite several hundred phone calls, emails and faxes, there appears to have been no progress at all in fixing my boat. Mr Winkworth has come up with a range of excuses over this time, such as, ‘I’m designing a new kayak’, ‘I have a large waiting list’, ‘I’m paddling in FNQ’, ‘I’m wrestling a crocodile’ etc, but at no time has he committed to a date when I might get my beloved Inuit Classic back.

As a result I’m now seriously thinking of giving up the wait and buying another sea kayak. I write this letter in case others become victim of ‘no worries’ kayak repairers such as Mr Winkworth.

M. Pearson
Canberra, ACT