2010 June WWCC Newsletter



2010 June WWCC Newsletter
June 2010
White Water Canoe Club Inc.
2010 – 2011 Committee
Robin Rutter-Baumann
027 209 6101
[email protected]
Vice President
Graeme Wilson
0274 802 405
[email protected]
Bruce Leslie
027 438 8168
[email protected]
Heidi Whiteside
(03) 339 2288
[email protected]
Instruction &
Safety Officer
Ian Mann
027 496 5009
[email protected]
[email protected]
Graeme Wilson
(03) 323 8623
[email protected]
Gear Hire
Bill Parks
(03) 389 6999
[email protected]
Dave Boughton
(03) 322 1200
[email protected]
Social (on Committee)
John Hunter
021 624 724
[email protected]
Chee Chang Ho
(03) 981 8858
[email protected]
Ian Fox
027 479 4059
[email protected]
Off-Committee Portfolios
Trip list Coordinator
Becs Boughton
021 2100 243
[email protected]
Newsletter Publisher
Debbie Bloxham
027 459 9118
[email protected]
Social (off Committee)
David Binstead
021 0220 7822
[email protected]
Colin Robinson
(03) 389 5614
[email protected]
Dan English
021 370 927
[email protected]
Brass Monkey
Nick Hempston
(03) 310 6401
[email protected]
Bob Morton
(03) 322 7433
[email protected]
Darren Rooney | Dirk Passchier | Neville Barkhausen | John Howie
Carsten Schill | Catherine Tatarniuk | Jon Roebuck | Danielle Geminis
Jesse Dykstra | Karen Bruce | Louise Egerton
For those of you who were unable to
make the AGM there's a list of who's who
on the new committee elsewhere in this
newsletter. The committee is smaller this
year than last. It's made up of the usual
suspects plus one new face. Heidi
Whiteside is the new secretary (John
Hunter having done three years in the
position). It's great to have Heidi on board
because without her the committee would
be all male. I know men predominate in
kayaking but given the strong presence of
women on many of our trips it would
probably be a good idea to have a more
balanced committee. Oh well, that's the
way the cookie crumbles, perhaps next
year will be different.
Off committee there are a few more new people volunteering to make the club run well. Colin Robinson has offered to act as slalom
contact person, Dan English is doing the same for polo and Nick Hempston is going to shadow the Brass Monkey organisers to learn
more about the running of the race because this year is probably the last for the current organising team.
There were a couple of proposals to amend the constitution considered at the AGM. The first to clarify membership for people who join
after 1 January was passed. The second to change the committee clauses and specify ―off committee roles‖ was more or less not
passed except for the clause specifying that the roles of President, VP, Treasurer and Secretary cannot be held by the same person.
The proposal regarding the ―Conservation Fund‖ was not passed, the general feeling being that while conservation is undisputedly
important it is not necessary to ring fence funds to ensure committees understand this. John Rice asked the AGM to consider
supporting ―Our Water, Our Vote‖ coalition, and to nominate an amount to be given by way of donation. The AGM agreed the club
should support ―Our Water, Our Vote‖ but left the decision of the amount to be donated to the committee.
Finally the AGM closed with the annual prize giving. Kerry Hoglund won the ―Chocolate Fish‖ for the year‘s best swim. This was in
recognition of his Upper Hokitika swim out of the gear shed's newest boat, his ability to ―out‖ his own epics in the newsletter was also
a contributing factor. The ―Broken paddle‖ for feats beyond sensible reason was awarded to Geoff Price, I forget now what Geoff did to
be nominated but it must have been good because he edged out Daniel Babinski who rolled his mum‘s car whilst on route to
Murchison at Christmas. ―Canoeist of the year‖ went to Nick Hempston for his wonderful contribution on so many trips and activities
where he supported the learning and development of others. Susan Conrah won the ―Achievement Award‖ for her progress since the
beginner‘s course and commitment to learning and growing as a paddler.
So AGM and Queen‘s Birthday mid-winter dinner completed, the Ashley topping 500 cumecs and Brass Monkey just around the corner,
I guess that means Winter is upon us and the official club trip list is on hold again until the first weekend in September. Where did that
boating season go? Perhaps the real question is ―Where didn't it go?‖ Becs did a great job of organising the last nine months of
boating, with trips both near and far so it was pleasing to see her put her hand up for another year of organising at this year‘s AGM.
Becs is working off the committee and anybody wishing to run a trip next year should contact her soon to book a weekend.
For those of you still planning to boat over the coming months, please make sure you take care and have sufficient warm gear etc in
your boat as well as on your body. There has already been one person helicoptered out of the Ashley in the last couple of weeks so
let‘s not add to the total. Also don't forget the Brass Monkey races, we still need volunteers so check your diaries and get in touch if
you are available. Keep warm and I'll catch you on a river sometime soon.
Robin Rutter-Baumann
An interview with
our Secretary
With the AGM done and dusted
and the end of the season almost
upon us, we thought we‘d catch up
with the outgoing club secretary John
Hunter, who has served his maximum
three year term in this position.
Have you enjoyed being the club secretary and would you
recommend the role to others?
I‘ve enjoyed being involved in committee process and adding
my own unique sense of humour where possible, more often
than not, not possible. If anyone thinks they can make a
difference and assist in the management of club activities,
don‘t hesitate to get involved.
You started kayaking in 1990, in the twenty years you have
been involved in the sport do you feel you have accomplished
everything you originally set out to do?
That‘s a strange question. I used to sail small boats prior to
taking up kayaking. I found kayaking scary , I still do
sometimes, but I also found it thrilling, you also get to meet a
lot of genuine people and see parts of NZ few people have the
privilege of seeing. I‘ve been a member of the Otago,
Waimanui, Westland, Southland, Ruahine clubs & then White
Water. There are still many rivers I‘d like to paddle, I‘m looking
for experience & this does not necessarily mean taking on
Grade IV.
Wow, you‘ve covered the country, what is your most
memorable kayaking experience?
I have many.
Scariest; the Cleddau River, Milford Sound, after recent
rainfall. I paddled it with some friends from OCKC in a
plastic reflex, things were happening so quickly I had
very little time to react, I don‘t know how on earth I
stayed upright.
My favourite trip is the Upper Shotover,
My longest swim was in Roaring Meg and
Most painful trip was on the Rangitikei when I broke my
right ankle.
I can also recommend not doing the Catlins River; 27
portages due to fallen trees etc, extreme bush bashing
over a seven hour period.
This is a question I‘ve been itching to ask; how many kayaks
do you own?
Four + a Burn unpaid for yet
Not quite the answer I expected. How many have you owned?
Quite a few
Why so many?
I buy, I try, I buy something different and then I think the last
boat was better. I had a problem with Pirroettes where two
split and were replaced by the manufacturer. I‘ve owned five
RPM‘s at different times. I liked the RPM but I have moved on
now, similar with the four Reflex‘s I‘ve owned. I like Pyranha
product but am weary of the meta-lite plastic. Buying and
selling used kayaks is a lot easier now thanks to Trademe &
rivers.org. Transportation has never proved a problem either,
just last week I brought a Pyranha i3 back from Auckland for
no charge thanks to Air New Zealand as it was my only piece of
luggage. Also a supportive and understanding wife helps.
Are you paddling through winter?
Yes, as long as the Ashley is running. I‘ll give you a call!
Easter trip to
Queenstown 2010
We woke to a crisp clear morning at the council campground on
Lake Pukaki on Good Friday ready for white water action. I had
been looking forward to paddling around Queenstown for the
first time in 11 years of paddling. In actual fact we didn‘t make
it into our kayaks until after 2pm due to the faff factor and
heading to the Shotover via Cardrona. We ended up on the Dog
Leg section of the Kawarau River with Welsh Matt as our guide.
On rounding the first corner Matt decided to raft up with Bara
and we bounced down the friendly wave train with a bit of
trepidation. Apparently at certain flows the first rapid can get
messy. The trip was pretty mellow with the odd rapid and lots of
flat sections until we got out to look at the Dog Leg rapid. I
quickly spotted a chicken line down left. Bara said ―I‘ll just go
down the green bit‖. She was a bit oblivious to Matt‘s dry
humourous reply of ―Ok we‘ll just get out at the end of the
green then‖. I guess she didn‘t realise that either you started
left or committed to the jumbled huge waves on the right. We
all went left and I failed to boof the surprise steep drop into a
curling tongue that flipped myself and Bara as we blobbed into
it. Pat and Matt missed walking back up to the more
challenging right side as they needed to chase and retrieve
Bara. We enjoyed one more rapid and then headed back to
Matt‘s house for a feed of salmon and a nice wine. Matt
headed off to join his family on the south coast and generously
left us to house sit his awesome Queenstown house. Rachel
and Dave arrived later on and became welcome members of
our mission.
Earlyish on Saturday we wound our way up the Skippers Canyon
road to the Upper Shotover with Don Leach and his 80 year old
Dad as our shuttle driver. We had an awesome run, playing on
as many waves as we had energy for, with enough shapes and
sizes for everyone. Personally I‘m like more of the gentle and
glassy variety. Rachel got a buzz from using the river to help her
across the river and catching her first few wave rides. The river
was low and mostly friendly, with Rachel having a close shave
with a rock with good pinning potential.
On Sunday against my better judgment we walked up the
Greenstone track to the footbridge. I‘ve done my share of
walking into the Toaroha and vowed to use helicopters rather
than carry my boat in future a fair few years ago. The run was
short but sweet and Dave helping carry my boat the last stretch
was very much appreciated. We were lucky that we had had
rain the night before so the river was at a decent flow. The top
rapid was sort of 3+ but I managed to scout down the left side
to ensure staying upright. Pat chose a more challenging line
and Bara hopped in at the bottom. Bara did great on some
2+/3 rapids with no problems until I looked in horror at an
undercut chasm and the whole river boiling through a 2-3m
wide gorge at the bottom of a rapid that I led down. Pat was the
probe and we followed as he seemed pretty relaxed on the
other side. An awesome little paddle followed by a wander by
the lake then back to Matt‘s for some more good food and
wine. I very much enjoyed and appreciated the awesome food.
Many will vouch to the fact I don‘t believe in doing much
cooking whilst on holiday. Ian will probably say that I don‘t do
much anytime but I do sometimes get inspired. Probably the
fact my smaller boys will eat almost anything and even though
we‘re trying to teach them broad and varied tastes they‘re really
happy with simple cuisine. It was great eating grownup food for
four days.
The trip to the Roaring Meg section on the Kawarau was my
idea. I was keen to sample the section that didn‘t look too
intimidating from the road which I had watched from the road a
fair few times. I knew about the ―Maneater hole‖ and was
assured that it was easily avoidable to the right. I feel
responsible for the carnage that followed although I was naively
trusting in Matt‘s opinion and the guide books summary. I
managed to choose to ignore Matt‘s assessment that the lower
Shotover was very low and friendly at that time after reading
the bit where the guide book graded it at 4-5. I guess hard core
paddlers like Matt have different gauges. We met Alan Hoffman
and a young aspiring paddler of no more than 16 years of age
at the get out. At first they seemed relieved to be part of our
band but they may have quickly had other thoughts. Alan or
―Sarg‖ as he is affectionately called by many, started taking
charge and talking up the river as ―a coming of age paddle for
the young paddlers of the Otago club‖. His barking instructions
didn‘t help relax Rachel or Bara at the top. So by the time we
were sitting in the second eddie I didn‘t blame Rachel for
feeling like climbing out up the rocky bank. The eddy lines
certainly looked scary enough to me at 220 cumecs. With no
warm up we headed down the first rapid blind and it was
surprisingly long and sustained. I stiffened up when I saw
Rachel swimming thinking to myself ―don‘t make this situation
worse by tipping over!!‖ So of course I was so rigid that I
passively let the river flip me and then by the time I was upright
again Dave was swimming too. I flipped again on some boils
and luckily Sarg was there with a T-rescue after my 3rd roll
failed. For future reference if my second roll fails come quick as
I have a very poor lung capacity and my rolls go from bad to
worse. Luckily Sarg managed to rescue both Dave and Rachel,
one on each end of his boat - what a star. In the confusion I
hung onto Dave‘s boat and didn‘t clip as per Pat‘s instruction.
As I paddled hard to make the last eddy before the next drop I
realised a second too late that I should have had the boat
upstream in order to barge it into the eddy too. At this point I
made a mental note to myself to participating fully (ie. in my
boat not just on the shore) at the next river rescue course. As
Pat paddled down after Dave‘s boat I yelled in anguish
―Where‘s Bara?‖ Poor Bara was left way upstream by herself
having witnessed all the carnage. She bravely came down and
made it most of the way upright. The hero of the day was the
young teenager who paddled the next rapid with Bara on the
back of his boat. His comment was apparently ―I haven‘t done
this before but I‘ll give it a go!!‖ Bara was very grateful and he
definitely earned bragging rights and the last block of chocolate
we had. Further down Dave, Rachel and Bara waved me off for
the rest of the trip. Sorry Dave for letting go of your boat!! My
only contribution to the rescue was a paddle!! Not very proud of
rapid.‖ He suggested that on top of the huge waves just put in a
good paddle stroke. I followed close behind and paddled till my
shoulders burned. I declined Sarg‘s coaching to practice eddy
drills until my arms had decided to function properly. Despite
gunning the rest of the section we failed to catch up with Pat.
Near the end we were relieved to hear that Pat was safe from
the Jet Boaters. Further down still we were told that he had
missed the get out. It was a relief to finally regroup and debrief
at the bottom. Hopefully Rachel will regain her confidence after
some nasty downtime in a hole. I take responsibility for us
ending up in such a situation. Meg is certainly not a good
section for paddlers starting to have a go on Grade III white
water and it is certainly not a good place to end up swimming or
retrieving gear. I guess we can all make bad calls. I guess
letting go of Dave‘s boat was better than getting myself and the
group into more trouble. I will certainly reconsider the fact that
big water can be as dangerous as low bony rivers even if it is
―only Grade III.‖ In hindsight we should have probably done a
scouting mission to check things out before taking Bara and
Rachel down – knowing what to expect and what to steer
people away from is very helpful. At the very least we should
have got a better idea from Sarg. Unfortunately he didn‘t know
the abilities of the group until it was too late. Flat sections after
rapids to regroup are definitely a good thing and something I
take for granted. Let‘s learn from this disaster and all sharpen
our rescue skills.
I was somewhat fearful as I knew we still had ―Maneater‖ to
avoid. Sarg gave us good advice for I think it was ―rollercoaster
large and small kayak and canoe repairs
plastic or fibreglass
Carbonfibre or Kevla.
28 Gasson Street, Waltham, Christchurch
Email. [email protected]
Website. www.plastec.co.nz
Or call Craig on (03) 377 1116
Colin’s Coast to Coast
The week of C2C had arrived, no more training, just to get
prepared. I took Tuesday, Wednesday off work to prepare —
sorting out equipment, clothing, food, drink, checking with my
brother and son-in-law who were going to be my assistants. Rod
my son-in-law wasn‘t available until Friday afternoon.
Slowly the car filled up with the tent, sleeping bags, cooking
equipment, pillows, plenty of food, Christchurch water, coffee,
tea, milk and of course some recreational drinks — oops and of
course kayak gear, cycle gear and running gear.
Thursday arrived, my brother turns up with his gear, and
surprisingly enough we had enough room for the two of us. We
set off, first port of call being the Sheffield Bakery, they make
some of the best pies you can eat, they taste delicious and
serve coffee to match. Steve, my brother, said he could drive
while I slept.
We arrived at Kumara, set up the tent and hopped across to
register and collect a race pack and a transponder. I organised
my labels for my helmet, bike and car, by this time it was
4.30pm so my brother and I set of the C2C banquet which was
held at 5pm.
Well, as per usual, plenty of good tucker and pudding. Well
satisfied we set off back to camp, organised the equipment for
the next day, drink and food as well. At 7.45pm we went back
to the hall for the briefing and was astonished to find we
couldn‘t get inside, due to so many people, so we joined the
others outside, where speakers were set up. After the briefing
we returned to camp and settled down for the night.
Well, morning arrived very quickly, breakfast, cup of tea and
whatever else was on the menu. Steve left with all the gear that
was packed up in the car, and set off for Kumara Beach. I was
all set with the bike and running shoes, and kayak shoes
attached to the bars went down to the cycle stands, I placed
bike and shoes on the rack, the rack being No.8 wire. Now the
walk to the Beach.
Everyone had arrived at the Beach, chatting and waiting. Well
7.00am arrived at the beach and the hooter goes, the rabbit
and hares first, followed by the tortoises — including me. I
arrived at the bikes and set off for Aitkens Corner. Not being so
quick in the run didn‘t enable me to go with the bunches,
truthfully I wasn‘t really worried as it was still raining slightly.
Eventually I arrived at Aitkens Corner, Steve was set up for my
change into my running gear minus my running top, running in
my Icebreaker top a little bit warm, but manage to cope. It was
surprising how heavy my pack was, straps chaffing, time to
settle in on the tramp. I had tried running but hang in there so I
tramped, then continuing up the Deception, finally meeting up
with a young lady and we teamed up, her and I stayed together
until Goats Pass but we finally caught another person named
Patrick who was using walking poles, he eventually joined us,
one helping the other. As we got closer to the top another lady
caught us up, both the ladies were fitter than I and Patrick. So
when the girls arrived at the top, they celebrated by letting out a
―YAHOO‖ and with that they ran away. Patrick and I were asked
if we would like a coffee by some officials, I accepted but
Patrick declined and carried on. As I entered I noticed they had
Milo, and was offered a large cup of Milo, I‘m certain it made a
The officials kept talking to me and at that point I realised they
were assessing me. I continued down catching up to all those
who passed. Eventually I caught Patrick up and we stayed
together and Patrick then realising I could walk as fast as he
could run. We were greeted by our families who cheered us on
to the finish of Day 1. At the end of day one my family informed
me that Day 2 plan had changed due to the weather conditions
changing. People were leaving Klondyke Corner for safer
camping, we stayed through, our tent did get buffered by the
storm, there was lots of rain.
Day 2, Judkins wanted us to dress to the nines due to the rain
and conditions. Start time was delayed waiting for a favourable
change. Finally everyone arrived finding shelter, start time
delayed by 30mins, eventually we were away in groups of 10
cycling towards our first stop, Waddington, most competitors
weren‘t prepared for the long cycle, but certainly showed good
spirit. Plenty of good climbs with many walking up the toughest
— Flock Hill.
The friendship and camaraderie came through which kept us
going and finally our first transition Waddington, what a relief
being able to get rid of our warm clothing. Steve and Rod were
all set up for the transition, food and drink and a chat, I
changed over my top for a lighter cycle top and got rid of my
polyprop trousers. Being much more comfortable, I set off
chatting to different ones before leaving Waddington, and then
a lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was racing
or socialising — my response was the latter.
Finally away cycling to Christchurch to the Kayak transition
setting up a good pace, I finally reached Harper Ave at the
Kayak transition, in the kayak and off down the Avon River, one
long slow paddle to the last cycle stop at Pleasant Point domain
Yacht Club, not the easiest transition from Kayak to dry land,
but finally on my bike heading towards Sumner.
Place changing all the way with one lady and guy but finally I
arrived at the beach first, heading down the chute to the finish,
the chap that I past caught me up and I said ―Go for it‖ and his
reply was 'you were here first' so I charged on to the finish, a
handshake from Robin Judkins and a Speight's beer and a cup
of water. Next thing was a girl removed my transponder and
another placed over my head, my finishing medals.
The world has changed
...since the last conservation report I wrote in February – it
seems like a long time ago.
Hurunui Water Project‘s application to dam the Hurunui is still
―live‖ and we have submitted against it – and this will go
through the hearing process at some stage.
However, in the last few days Whitewater NZ has joined the
North Canterbury Fish and Game Council, Forest and Bird and
the Water Rights Trust to formally request that a moratorium be
placed on water permits allowing the taking, use, damming and
diverting of the Hurunui River. In particular, this would
effectively place the Hurunui Water Project application to dam
the Hurunui River and take water on hold.
The groups argue that the Hurunui is approaching full allocation
even before an allocation and flow regime is settled, and note,
"If the CWMS is to have any chance of success in North
Canterbury, it must have time to work through the best
available options to deliver irrigation in a sustainable manner
and also deliver benefits to other values such as cultural
values, environmental values and recreation." The CWMS
process also allows the consideration of alternative schemes
that could achieve similar benefits with less damaging effects.
Just prior to Easter the government passed the Environment
Canterbury (Temporary Commissioners and Improved Water
Management) Act 2010, which
stripped Canterbury voters of their ability to vote for
Environment Canterbury councillors until at least 2013, and
removed the accountability from elected councillors to
government-appointed commissioners,
removed our ability to gain a water conservation order
(WCO) for the Hurunui – although we can still apply for a
lower level of protection.
Although the Creech report on Ecan was used by the
government to justify the sacking of the council, the Creech
report did not make any reference to water conservation orders
– and in fact WCO applications are dealt with through the
Ministry for the Environment.
Papers released since (some under the Official Information Act)
have indicated the government‘s intention to increase irrigation
in Canterbury. The potential impact on our rivers is huge and
appalling. John Rice and others have done a marvelous job of
representing WWCC‘s interests in various forums, and we have
met with a group of local Labour MPs as well as local National
MP and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.
Please take every opportunity to get out and make your voices
heard. Go to the wild rivers website, www.wildrivers.org.nz and
use the link to send an email to our MPs. Or go to
www.ourwaterourvote.org.nz and register. This government has
shown that it does take note of public pressure – so please
keep the pressure on.
We were expecting to be in the Environment Court in May to
progress with the Hurunui WCO application but this is now ―off‖.
We made a number of submissions to Ecan on the Canterbury
Water Management Strategy, and were broadly supportive that
the CWMS might provide a way forward to address competing
demands for Canterbury‘s water. We remain committed to the
CWMS, and are encouraging members to get selected for the
various zone committees. The Waiau-Hurunui zone committee
is expected to be named in June. We are hopeful that at least
one kayaker will be on that committee. Expressions of interest
are open for the Waimakariri Water Management Zone
Committee (which also includes the Ashley in its region). Notice
of expressions of interest for committees in the Selwyn-Waihora
and Ashburton zones are expected within the next month or so.
For more information go to www.canterburywater.org.nz
It is most important that we get members willing to put their
hands up to take part on these committees, to ensure that
kayakers‘ voices are heard. If you want to stand, or even want
to just talk about it, please contact me –
[email protected]
We have also been involved in the last phases of the Central
Plains hearing. The hearing is now closed and we await the
Commissioner‘s decisions. Our latest work has been to try to
ensure that low summer flows are affected as little as possible
and that the hazards posed by the intake structures are
reduced – but no matter what there will be an affect on our
kayaking resource
In another blow, just after Easter the Mokihinui commissioners
approved the proposed hydro scheme 2-1, but the decision has
been appealed by DOC, Whitewater NZ and Forest & Bird. We
submitted in writing against the scheme and presented in
person to the hearing in late 2008. The Meridian plan would
flood the lower section of the river up to near The Forks, and
create a 14km narrow lake. We wrote to DOC encouraging them
to appeal, and Robin and I met with Conservation Minister Kate
Wilkinson and some senior DOC staff to explain our views. In
the last few days DOC has applied to the Court to suspend their
appeal while they have some negotiations with Meridian – so
watch this space.
e a be
Arthur and his new lady
This one’s a cutey! Al’s first born in the arms of Minn
Al carving it up one Sumner Day
It all started over a few drinks...
The lads got together to witness
Tom and Andy tying
the knot
Susan looked on
while Mr Boughton paddled off
Who knows what wi
happen next year!
The new committee members as voted
in on Monday 31 May at the AGM for
the 2010/2011 season are:
(Drum roll please)
President: Robin Rutter-Baumann
Vice President: Graeme Wilson
Treasurer: Bruce Leslie
Instruction: Ian Mann
Secretary: Heidi Whiteside
Prussic practice
Membership: Chee Chang Ho
Gear Hire: Bill Parks
Web: Dave Boughton
Social: John Hunter
Committee: Ian Fox
Slalom: Colin Robinson
Communication: Bob Morton
Trip list: Becs Boughton
Newsletter: Debbie Bloxham
Brass Monkey Assistant: Nick Hempston
Social: David Binstead
Polo: Dan English
Contact details are now updated on the inside
front cover of the newsletter.
Rope demos by Brendon at the Shearer’s Quarters - Hurunui
Reefton Trip 17/18 April 2010
After a restless night‘s sleep the alarm signaled it was time to
give up the tossing and turning and roll on out of bed, Belfast
bound. So it was in the slightly damp car park under a grey sky
we met. Hugh, our Great Leader was looking a little less perky
than usual having endured a week of losing a few kg via an
orifice. Sporting some gruff, grey facial stubble he barked
orders at his willing servants!?! Car load after car load arrived,
boats were jiggled about, and vehicles eventually trickled out
onto the highway. Pretty apt were the colour of the sky and
Hugh as we were heading for the Grey River. I tried to suppress
the familiar, tight knot in my stomach that is always there when
my mind knows it‘s going to be messed with in moving water.
So I pushed those thoughts to the back of my head as I knew it
was a long journey before we had to get out, get cold, get
changed into ridiculous gear, get squished into uncomfortable
vessels and bob off downstream. There was the scenic drive,
yummy pie and coffee to enjoy from the bakery in Culverden
and, of course, annoying Chris with my stereo fiddling for a
whole three hours!! J That was enough to make me smile, even
on kayaking day!
So there I was, quite happy on my roadie, singing along, eating,
drinking…the usual roadie activities. I was able to stay in my
happy little bubble a bit longer when we stopped to re-convene
at Springs Junction café. Some indulged in a little sustenance,
others stood outside stamping their feet and huddling for
warmth. At least the cold kept the sandflies, that often dive in
for a feast there, at bay. Then it was in convoy that we headed
up and round a few bends, through forest and eventually out to
open space. Hugh talked at us about the Brown Grey meeting
the Green Grey and turning into the Blue Grey and back into the
Brown Grey via the Black Grey and with a section of Purple Grey
and then it was time to do the aforementioned unpleasant bits
(i.e. get changed, uncomfortable etc.) This time we did have
sandflies to contend with so we hopped around a bit whilst
waiting for the shuttles to get sorted. All the while, the usual
anxious anticipation (a.k.a. dread) of what lay ahead rose from
the pit of my stomach up towards my throat where my
restrictive dry top seal was strangling me!! If I was lucky maybe
it would constrict enough to kill me before I got on the river.
That would save me from a more dramatic and entertaining
death by water.
In any case, not remembering too much in between launching
and getting out whilst in a trance-like state of petrification, I
know the time spent on (rather than in) the water must‘ve been
good, my gauge of this being that I stayed in my boat!! In fact, it
could possibly have been measured as a successful river run
‗cos I even managed a combat roll after trying to play on a
wave!! Yes, definitely successful J And just for the record, what
was someone in my petrified state doing attempting to play on
a wave and risk being upturned? Well, let‘s just say I wasn‘t
even thinking about it but a little ―encouragement‖ from Bob
Spam brought out the boy gene in me and I had to prove
something, like the fact that I wasn‘t a silly, scared little girl,
which of course everyone knows I am when it comes to water!!
The end of the successful day was rewarded with a bed and
roof over our heads, although not where most of us thought
we‘d be staying. The Old Nurses Backpackers was fully booked,
despite having emailed well in advance to reserve rooms (well,
a few of us had). Anyway, sticking together as us paddlers do
(sometimes!?!), we all dutifully traipsed off down the road to the
alternative living quarters as instructed. There was ample
kitchen space, living room, bedding (well almost, poor Debs
ended up pulling cushions off the armchair to make her bed!).
After a few lounge room nibbles over the usual banter, most of
us made a bee line for the remaining public house in Reefton
for a feed and a couple of jugs. Then it was back to the lounge
room for a few more wines and talking more s**t before hitting
the hay at a fairly respectable hour.
So with Sunday morning came the world‘s longest shuttle (to
my limited knowledge) and the prospect of a four hour paddle,
potentially cold if there‘s a chance you might swim (which is
highly likely when you‘re me!) So, following the example set by
some of the other girls (and some boys too), fighting my desire
for comfort, I donned my wetsuit and struggled down to the
river. Now today was not to be such a successful day for Minn
on the river, unless you consider Queen Swimmer to be a
desirable title!! Hmmm, yes, what can I say? In my defense it‘s
possible that our wonderful President may have been spotted
bumping plastic with me and causing instability in his
conscientious shepherding down the first scary rapid! On the
other hand, Debs said she saw the whites of my eyes trying
hard not to look at the pointy up bit of wood in the rapid, so
perhaps (to give Robyn the benefit of the doubt) in doing so I
set myself of balance somehow…? However, knowing of
Robyn‘s proximity as I upended I held on…and held on…and
held on…but no one came to my rescue L Eventually, knowing I
was at the bottom of the rapid and in relatively safe water I
pulled my deck for what would be the first of many times on the
river that day!
The only other swim I could have been excused of was at the
end of another rapid where a kicker wave caught all bar Becs
out and almost everyone was forced to practice their combat
rolls! Sadly my combat roll was taking a holiday and after
failing to roll up off a rock it was deck pulling time for me again.
Another swim made it a hat trick but it didn‘t stop there.
Becoming more and more knackered, Paddy was kind enough
to empty my boat whilst I recovered like a washed up, drowned
rat. The grand total for the day was five swims but Kim said the
last two didn‘t count as they could be attributed to pure
exhaustion. However you choose to look at it, I definitely
would‘ve won top prize if there had been one for Queen
I‘m glad to say I was still smiling at the end of it, even waiting
for the two hour shuttle as darkness fell. I most definitely owe
that smile to the encouragement, support and smiles of those
around me on the river. Thanks guys ‗n‘ gals (Kim my Green
Guardian Angel ;). My beer debt is heavy after all the rescues I
cashed in that day! Thank you Bara for thinking I would not
have swum if I‘d been in a more stable boat (!?!) and thank you
Linda for my ever eye-catching, much envied portable changing
room which I‘ve found so many more uses for! It makes a very
good ―over everything‖ layer of warmth when waiting for two
hour shuttles as the sun disappears, the temperature drops
and the need to lie on the ground becomes greater with energy
and adrenalin levels dissipating. Another brilliant use for it is to
throw on after a chilly skinny dip but that has absolutely nothing
to do with this trip! On that note, Happy Brass Monkeys you
crazy folk!! J
Return Address: Whitewater Canoe Club
PO Box 4476

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