Memories of Wayne Langmaid [72]

By Peter Osman

Many of us will remember evenings at Wayne Langmaid’s shop in Ettalong, a small Aladdin’s cave of all things kayaking. Of an evening he’d have a group of us kayak novices drinking mugs of coffee at a round table with a glass top covering a map that he used to demonstrate how to plan a trip.

Wayne was a great believer in carefully planning day trips the night before and a master of creating the relaxed and informed atmosphere that helped us to learn how to do this. He drummed into us the concepts of circles of risk, descriptions of the human failings that could bring a trip undone, as well as the forces of wind, tide and sea; and went on to discuss these and many other issues of safety with senior members of the club over the years. He can be credited as a major influence in creating a culture of safety within the NSWSKC.

Wayne died on 18th June this year and I attended the funeral. It was an eye opener. I knew of Wayne’s great love for his family. This was clear to anyone who had watched him playing with Emmy, Molly and Joely; or collaborating with Linda to organize a trip; and in later years the time he had with his youngest daughter Indy. An enduring memory is watching Wayne in a kayak with one or more of his daughters clinging to the bow and stern and rotating full circle with him as he rolled; or Wayne and Linda laughing as they watched a bunch of us tourists chasing after a fruit cart in Turkey thinking it was fresh fruit when in fact it was rotten and due for the tip and the puzzled locals had no idea of what we were up to.

As I listened to Wayne’s family and friends I learned much more. His brother spoke of the adventures they used to get up to as young men, describing how once Wayne got an idea in his head nothing would stop him. There was the story of how the two of them, with barely a dollar to spare between them, built a functioning motor bike in their tiny flat in Canada out of spare and second-hand parts often scavenged from scrap. Friends spoke of his ability as a gifted naturalist, able to identify trees and plants at the drop of a hat. An army friend told of his sense of adventure, illustrating this with a story of a particularly challenging surf landing, which they both survived?just. We learned of Wayne’s love of literature and gift for words and then we all listened to his daughters read their farewell tributes and poems that were clear and beautiful and spoke volumes.

Wayne’s family will miss him more than can be conveyed here. His friends will miss him greatly also. And the club will continue to feel his influence on issues of safety and looking out for your mates, for many years.

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Bravehearts: Sea Skills Training in July [72]

By Cathy Miller

Sea Skills training in July is not for the faint-hearted or the fair-weather paddler. It’s only for us tough, thick-skinned he-men and women, and penguins. Grrrrrr! Or should I say, Brrrr.

The July Sea Skills training was held over two weekends for Grade 2 paddlers wanting to progress to Grade 3. The first weekend, 5-6 July, was originally planned for Gerroa, but shifted to Jervis Bay due to the forecast swell. We stayed at the beautiful Greenpatch Campsite. The second weekend was based at Bundeena, camping at Bonnie Vale, on July 26-27 prior to the AGM. Both weekends were fantastic, and highly recommended to any Grade 2s for improving confidence and having fun.

Sat 5 July — skills training, Jervis Bay, (12 km, plus drills)

  • Instructor: Keith Oakford
  • Sea Instructor in training: Adrian Clayton. Assistance by Dirk Stuber
  • 7 participants

We put in at Iluka Beach, a short drive from the campsite, and paddled around to the northern end of Bowen Island where we practised our sea skills. The swell was around 0.5 m, with light N to NE winds peaking at 11 knots, and gusting up to 15 knots at 3 pm not long before we got off the water. We were all dressed for immersion.

This was a great day, focusing on improving our strokes. We ran some gentle gauntlets and drilled our sweep strokes, bow strokes, reverse sweeps and reverse paddle strokes, with plenty of practice in rafting up at sea. We practised our edging and leaning, using the crest of the swell to turn our boats efficiently. We also practised a host of different tows including the direct tow, V-tow, and paddler-assisted tow. At the very end of the day, we practised a few rescues, then quickly bolted back to the campground and into the hot showers. It was great having a roaring campfire, and we managed to last until 8 pm before the cold drove us to bed.

Sun 6 July — not surf training, Jervis Bay (20 km)

  • Instructor: Keith Oakford
  • Sea Instructor in training: Adrian Clayton
  • 5 participants

Keith and Vince watched the sunrise from the hill, while the rest of us packed and prepared for the surf. We put in at Summercloud Bay, with the intention of surfing at Caves Beach. However as soon as we paddled around there, it was obvious the surf was too high (Batemans Bay swell was measured at 1.5 m and it would have been over 2 m in the larger sets). So instead we paddled northwards around St George Point and along Cape St George to around one kilometre short of Steamers Beach.

We stopped to have a ball game on the sea, with two teams of three paddlers. You had to stop paddling when you caught the ball, and you had 10 seconds to offload it to a fellow player. You had to imagine the goal posts, which was tricky, but lots of fun and great practice in manoeuvring the boats. We only stopped playing because we saw whales!

This is a totally stunning bit of coastline, with sheer cliffs rising out of the water, and water cascaded off like waterfalls. We enjoyed reversing into some cracks and caves, testing out the skills we’d learned the previous day. This was a truly beautiful day out on the water with seals, whales, penguins and a stingray. It reminded us all why we love paddling so much, and how improving skills means we can get into stunning places like this with confidence.

Sat 26 July — navigation training, Bonnie Vale

  • Instructor: Harry Havu
  • Sea instructors in training: Adrian Clayton, Laurie Geoghegan
  • 12 participants

Armed with our navigation tools, this was mainly a theory day with a practical on-water exercise at the end of the day. Adrian and Laurie took us through the navigation theory, which is outlined in the Sea Skills manual, but it’s great to hear from experienced kayakers what they do in practice. Apparently the short-cut for remembering Grid Magnetic Subtract is ‘Grandma’s Socks’, not ‘Grandma Sucks’ like I’d been taught. We then we did some exercises, including a trip plan for a Bass Strait crossing based on the weather and tide forecasts.

One of the key lessons here was that kayakers need to do a lot of the navigation preparation before setting out, because we don’t have the luxury that sailors have of being able to lay out our maps and tools on a nice flat bench while on the water! It was also quite obvious how quickly you could start getting seasick with your head down in maps while on the water. For the on-water exercise we had to find points A and B which we’d marked up previously on our maps and Harry checked how close we got using his GPS. We then did the exercise in reverse, taking bearings off a point C and then working out where it was on the map once we were back on land.

Sun 27 July — surf training, Cronulla

  • Instructors: Harry Havu, Laurie Geoghegan, assisted by Nick Gill and Dirk Stuber
  • Sea instructor in training: Adrian Clayton
  • 12 participants

We set off from Bonnie Vale early with the plan of being back before the AGM, and paddled towards the northern end of Cronulla Beach, where we were sheltered from the big swell by Merries Reef. This is a perfect place to practise surf training, and on the day we were there, the conditions were perfect with a small in-shore break around 0.5-1 m. Under strict instructions to keep our elbows tucked in to avoid shoulder dislocation, we split into two groups for further instruction before we tackled the surf. We started in the small swell practising our low braces, then worked our way slowly up the beach, moving up to high braces as the surf got bigger.

This was fantastic training. There is always a fine line between being pushed gradually out of your comfort zone in a controlled situation so you can improve your skills, and getting totally trashed and losing confidence. I think most of us found it was the former and we all gained confidence and improved our skills, even though there were a lot of swimmers!

We had been briefed earlier about what to do in case of capsizing in a rip. When Rozzie fell out in a rip, we watched from shore as the text-book rescue took place. To Rozzie’s credit she immediately swam to the back of her boat, and once it was obvious she was stuck in the rip, she followed the instructors’ waved instructions from shore to let go of her boat and to let herself be swept out with the rip. There she was picked up by Nick Gill who was waiting out at sea. Nick paddled her out of the break-zone and Dirk went to his assistance to take Rozzie’s paddle. Nick then carefully watched the shore pattern and with Rozzie still holding on to the back of his boat he paddled her in towards the beach during a break in the waves and released her before the break zone so she could swim to shore. Full credit to all involved for a safe and well executed rescue.

The paddle ended just as a hail storm drenched the campsite, but not our spirits. We were all exhilarated from the training and I think our faces showed the instructors and organisers how grateful we were for this opportunity.

So how can we thank the club? I’ve asked a few instructors what they get out of running training courses, and the answer is quite simple — they love seeing us improve. The best way we can thank them is to practise our new skills and give it a go. As we improve, we too can pass on our skills to others. Thanks again to all involved for making this possible.

Understanding the Club’s response to a major incident [72]

By Michael Steinfeld

In the event of a serious incident where members’ lives were put at jeopardy or outside authorities were called in to assist, the President will initiate the process set out below for the purposes of highlighting the event to prevent similar events in the future.

(This process does not apply in the event of a serious personal injury, which may give rise to a claim, as the insurance company will determine the level of reporting.)

  1. As soon as practical after the incident all participants should write their own account of events including a timeline so that events can be understood chronologically. (Preferably within 24 hours)
  2. The Trips Coordinator saves the Bureau of Meteorology forecast for the day and 72 hour observations from AWS positions immediately north and south of the incident.
  3. The Trips Coordinator saves Manly Hydraulics Laboratory wave data from the nearest buoy for the same period.
  4. Once all versions are collected the group meets with the President or club delegate/s to attempt to produce a version of events that all participants accept as a fair and balanced account.
  5. With regard to conflicting accounts, no attempt is made to decide which version is correct, but instead evidence for each position is presented.
  6. If the group can’t reach consensus then key points of disagreement are highlighted in the report.
  7. Refusal to participate in the writing of the report is also highlighted.
  8. The rescuing authority/ies and any other interested agencies are invited to comment and their reports are requested.
  9. If the paddlers wish to remain anonymous in reports for publication also be respected and their name deleted.
  10. The President or a delegate assembles these accounts against a timeline and highlights lessons learnt and refers the matter to the Technical and Safety Committee. The TSC will report to the President on the likely causes of the incident and how it can be avoided in the future.
  11. The paddler in charge of the group during the incident is given the opportunity to comment on the TSC findings but has no editorial control over the rest of the article content.

From the President’s deck [72]

Spring is here, so if you are fair weathered, it’s time to dust off your kayak, strap it to the roof of your hybrid car and head east to where the waves are breaking and the water is cool and clear.

Each winter many club members make a pilgrimage to northern climes. I followed the crowd this year and drove 2000 km to the Whitsundays with fellow club members, kayaking around the islands for 11 days. The rhythm of our days were dictated by the tide and the wind. With winds up to 25 knots it was not a walk in the park, but it was exhilarating all the same. Some of our photos are featured in the magazine.

I was privileged to attend a private showing of the film about Andrew McAuley’s fateful trip to New Zealand. Called ‘Solo’, it will screen on the ABC early next year. It is a soul searching insight into the mind of an amazing adventurer. A must-see film.

Learning first aid should be mandatory for every kayaker. You just never know when you will need it. I was fortunate enough to attend a remote first aid course presented by club member Bruce McNaughton. Dee Ratcliffe’s article gives a great insight into the weekend course.

The new committee for the 2008-9 year has been active. John Piotrowski and Sally Jacobs will be offering members training and trips. Keep checking the calendar on the website for updates. So far there are a number of members who have indicated that they would like to increase their level of responsibility within the club by training to be leaders or instructors. If that is also you, tell John of your interest. We are offering to pair these members with instructors/leaders on trips and at training events so that that they can build skills and gain experience through on the job training.

Jacqui Stone our editor is waiting on your articles and photos of trips, reviews of kayaking paraphernalia etc. If you want to find your way into Google just write an article for the magazine and you will be famous forever.

Rock’n’Roll will be held 27-30 March 2009 at Umina. The accommodation arrangements are a little different this year. To secure a site or cabin you will need to book one night’s accommodation direct with the holiday park by 12 December. The site is run by the NRMA and you can receive a discount if you are a member. Just see the information in the magazine on page 19. If you’d like to suggest a guest speaker or pass on other tips just email our dedicated team of Susan and Ken Day. We welcome aboard our platinum sponsors Expedition Kayaks and the Balanced Boater for next year’s event.

Our hard working Peter Kappelmann, with babies in one hand and laptop in the other, has kept the website updated. From next year we hope that thanks to Kirk Pitman our expert secretary/treasurer and Peter, we will be changing the way we renew our membership. It will be online using a financial agent such as PayPal and the membership form will be online, again keeping the club’s green credentials alive.

So until next time when the rolling season will have begun in earnest (don’t you hate to roll in cold water …)

Michael Steinfeld

Rafting down the Franklin [72]

By John Friedman

Last February, I rafted down the Franklin with a group of like-minded travellers. Safety and preparation were paramount for our 10 day self supporting trip and I could see many similarities with the NSWSKC rules regarding trips.

Our experienced trip leader has a heavy burden of responsibility. As well as ensuring the safety of the rafters, the trip leader needs to ensure that all gear is unlikely to fail. Everything is checked and rechecked before departure. We took two rafts and a kayak on our trip and our only contact with others for the 10 days would be by satellite phone if necessary. When things go wrong, they can be quite disastrous. A trip prior to ours lost a raft, food and safety gear one night when the river level rose over 1.5 m. It is also not unusual to have to sit out some days at camp waiting for river levels to drop. Unlike many sea kayak trips where everyone manages their own food, the rafting group needs to think about its food needs and prepare the menus accordingly, especially if the trip needs to be extended due to adverse conditions.

The rafts we used were purpose built for white water. Four people paddling per raft plus one at the helm. PFDs need to be worn at all times and helmets fitted whenever a rapid is encountered. It is essential that all gear is secured well. The rafts when loaded can be dragged with some degree of difficulty due to their weight, but surprisingly, can be flipped quite easily by the white water in many of the rapids. During one flip, our first aid kit was ripped from the raft and its contents were thrust into the river. Only quick thinking by the leader ensured that nothing was lost as we saw gear floating away. Talking about the first aid kit, it is essential that at least one person knows how to administer first aid in a wilderness environment. We carried very strong pain killers for any possible bone breakage as well as an Epipen. On a personal level, everyone needs to ensure that they use sunscreen and lip cream, and wears a hat, sunglasses and strong footwear. Chafing is also fairly common so take some zinc cream or the like. Your encounter with leeches is guaranteed and snakes a strong possibility, so care at the nightly campsites and other river stops needs to be taken.

Using river maps and trip notes, we knew where we were and what distances we had to travel before camps. The trip leader was an experienced river guide and knew exactly how to approach each of the rapids. He also had to make the decisions whether any of the rapids were non-negotiable and how to port the gear when this occurred. We nearly lost our leader once when one of the rafts was wedged upside down in one of the rapids and he had to dive under the raft to cut some lines. Without knowing the river, this would have been extremely foolhardy.

For those planning their own trip, I strongly recommend taking an experienced guide with you, especially when the river levels are up. An alternative is to use one of the three companies doing the trip or commissioning a guide to plan, prepare and provision the trip for you.

Helpful advice

  1. Your trip may not go ahead if the river is either too high or too low.
  2. Don’t attempt the trip if you hate leeches.
  3. Don’t attempt the trip if you don’t feel comfortable about squatting and bagging all your waste.
  4. Use of a range of dry bags as extra water protection is a must.
  5. Be prepared to sit out at camp if the weather turns bad or river levels rise by too much.
  6. Ensure you have insurance to cover trip cancellation, or the possibility that the trip extends past the anticipated end date.

First Aid in the Field … on the Beach, in the Bush [72]

By Dee Ratcliffe

What are the first two things that should come to hand when you open your first aid kit? What is the best way to get consent from a casualty? When and how does a casualty give implied consent for a first aider to get to work? What is it about triangular bandages that means having too many is never enough?

Thirteen club members recently spent a Saturday, Sunday and following Saturday on a Remote Area First Aid course run by club member Bruce McNaughton. Bruce is an accredited St John Ambulance and Ski Patrol first aid trainer. Was it worth it? Giving up three days to learn something I’d hope never to put into practice? Well simply YES.

We covered so many things that could (and do) happen on many of our trips … bites, stings, burns, wounds, hypothermia … The scenarios were many and varied … What’s the first priority? How would you prioritise multiple casualties? Whose gear should you use — yours or theirs? What about knocked out teeth? Cut off fingers? Snake bites? Punctured lungs? Flail chests? How do we care for the non-injured, the carers?

CPR formats changed a year or so ago — do you know the new drills? Have you practised them? Over and over? Moments of silliness resulted in Bruce adding another five minutes to our team (three-person) CPR drills. I’ve done CPR training at work, but never for as long a time as this. Like rolling, the more you do this, the more the actions are embedded in the mind and to muscle memory.

Ever thought of the many and varied uses for your Nalgene bottle and Sea to Summit kitchen sink? Think about the injured or sick casualty confined to their tent, think about Bruce telling us we need to measure and record inputs and outputs …

You should have seen and heard the “ohhs” and “a-hahs” as Bruce demonstrated the versatility of a SAM splint. The protocols for setting up a helicopter landing area and being ready for its arrival were explained.

The whole class went silent and reflective as we talked through Death in the Field. Not pleasant, terribly serious, but possible. It had crossed my mind given the scenarios we were considering. It has hung there over many a kayaking tale, this spectre in the background. It was acknowledged and talked through. Enough. Move on.

As with most aspects of kayaking, preparation and prevention were constant themes from Bruce. Who are we paddling with? What are their medical needs? Do we know where asthmatics keep their puffers? Their spare puffers? Where do paddlers with anaphylaxis have their EpiPens? Who has a first aid kit? Where is it stored in the kayak? What gear do we each have — communications gear? Camping gear? Cooking gear? Our regular kayaking and camping gear can be adapted to become splints and stretchers. On any trip, what communications do we have if an emergency evacuation is needed?

My first aid kit is now due for a major overhaul. I’ll be adding more gloves, the bandages that came as part of the course material, a face shield, duct tape, Glad wrap, digital thermometer, square of plastic/alfoil, a notebook and pen, saline, a SAM splint, the scissors and compression bandage Bruce showed us. Bruce stressed that each of us needs to decide on the contents of our own first aid kit; there is no “one size fits all” solution.

Phew! It was an exhausting, demanding course covering lots of ground. Bruce worked hard to keep us all alert, active and attentive, reinforcing key points over and over. “Breathing and bleeding”, “pack in position of most comfort”, “head to toe assessment”. Then there were all the acronyms … HARM, PER, RICE, SAMPLE, DRABCD, OPQRST … designed to help us retain and use all this information, but sometimes causing me confusion.

Bruce has a cool head, a great sense of humour and a wealth of knowledge. He put us through scenarios, questioning us …. “How would …?” and “What about …?’ and “Why …?” His constant message and reassurance about putting our first aid training into practice was that we’d never get it Perfect to the Letter but at least we can try and do our very best with what we have.

Eric, Mike, Gregg, John, Terry, Sue, Paul, Adrian, David, Kate, Lee and James …. I’d paddle with any of you and know that I’m in safe hands.

NOTE: I’ve never done Senior First Aid training so a lot of the course content was new to me. This course will give us our Senior First Aid Certificate (WorkCover-approved) with an added Remote Area First Aid qualification.

Next time Bruce offers this training to the club — make it a priority! Attend!

Calling emergency services

Call 000 for an ambulance. If using a mobile phone and 000 does not work, try 112.
Australian First Aid, St John

Paddling at night? [72]

Upgraded lighting requirements

Earlier in 2008 NSW Maritime published a Code of Conduct which applies to kayakers paddling at night (sunset to sunrise). A kayaker must have exhibited:

Two all-round white lights, one attached to the vessel at or near the forward end, and one attached to the vessel at or near the aft end.

A continuous white light is considered acceptable if it is visible in clear conditions from a distance of 1 kilometre.

A flashing white light is considered acceptable if it flashes at least once per second and is visible in clear conditions from a distance of 1 kilometre.

It is considered acceptable for a light to be masked so as not to interfere with the vision of the vessel’s occupants, provided at least one light is visible from any direction.

To read the full document, see ‘Code of Conduct for Rowing and Sculling Shells’ (over four metres in length) via www.maritime.nsw.gov.au.