Page 1

Issue 3

ThePaddler ezine com International digital magazine for recreational paddlers


By Seth Ashworth


By David Truzzi Franconi


By Simon Chapman




of the Rio Coypisa

By Chris Scott

Central Europe By Sandy Robson


By Beth Ettinger

Sea Fishing

By Simon Everett

Recon review By Phil Carr


Tracking the Fitzroy River


How to plan a whitewater kayaking expedition

Contents November 12


Peter Tranter peter@thepaddler.co.uk Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824 www.thepaddler.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/ ThePaddlercouk http://www.linkedin.com /pub/peter-tranter/36/bb8/134

Advertising Sales

Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081 advertising@thepaddler.co.uk

Front cover:

Seth Ashworth taking a dive by Mathias Fossum.

Huge thanks to:

Seth Ashworth, Mathias Fossum, Will Hartman, Lukas Strobl, Robert Machacek, Dave Truzzi-Franconi, Simon Chapman, Phil Carr, Chris Scott, Sandy Robson, Patrick Kinsella of Paddlemag magazine, Simon Everett and Andy Grimes.

Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! Thepaddler.co.uk magazine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is December 2012 with a deadline of submissions on November 30th.

Technical Information: Contributions preferably as a Microsoft Word file with 1200-2000 words, emailed to submissions@thepaddler.co.uk. Images should be hi-resolution and emailed with the Word file or if preferred, a Dropbox folder will be created for you. ThePaddler.co.uk magazine encourages contributions of any nature but reserves the right to edit to the space available. Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishing parent company, 2b Graphic Design. The publishing of an advertisement in ThePaddler.co.uk magazine does not necessarily mean that the parent company, 2b Graphic Design, endorse the company, item or service advertised. All material in ThePaddler.co.uk magazine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission from the editor is forbidden.

Where we’ve been… 6


How to access the white waterfall’s paradise that is Mexico. By Seth Ashworth

Issue 3 Mexico 06

20 Other Mexico stories One from the archives. By David Ashplant

22 French Riveira

Dave and his crew set off for a rendezvous with super yachts and casinos. By David Truzzi-Franconi

36 Bolivia

France 22

Simon extols the virtuesofthe pak canoe as he manages to dodge insects and Peccaries on this frist descent of the Rio Coypisa. By Simon Chapman

60 Australia

Tracking the remote Fitzroy River in Western Australia - in Packrafts. By Chris Scott

71 Other Australian stories

Bolivia 36

Walking with sharks. By Chris Scott

72 Central Europe

Tracking the paddle strokes of Oskar Speck’s 1932 expedition from Europe to Australia. Part one. By Sandy Robson

80 Nepal

Australia 60

Twelve young people from east London make a difference to the local people and find something about themselves. By Beth Ettinger

The Big Banana waterfall, Mexico by Seth Ashworth

90 Other Nepal Stories

Two from the archives. By Kevin Stainthorpe and Dave Burne

92 Sea fishing

Central Europe 72

Getting started.. Simon Everett

Regulars… 4


Access denied. By Peter Tranter

46 Coaching

Incident management and safety. By Andy Grimes

Nepal 80

48 First paddle

Phil Carr puts the Wave Sport Recon through its paces in the first UK review.

54 Testing, testing 123 Top kit reviewed..

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Access denied

Peter Tranter Editor

To the rest of the world, it may seem a little strange that recreational paddlers are denied access on the nation’s rivers throughout England and Wales. It reminds me of Muhammed Ali’s story about his return to the US after winning Olympic Gold in Tokyo 1964 – when he was denied a burger in a restaurant due to his skin colour.

Here after a glorious Olympics when Team GB paddlers won two gold medals, a new and enthusiastic group of paddlers heading for the river are told to ‘get off ’ by land owners. Amazingly, only two per cent of our rivers are free of restrictions!

So paddlers in England and Wales have come together and formed a new campaign to tackle the issue in a more direct way.

For all you paddlers out there in the rest of the World, please read on. That by the way includes our Scottish neighbours who do have a statutory public right of navigation!

The website invites those that contest the public right of navigation to challenge these assertions and in particular to say which legislation or exercise of statutory authority ended the historic right of navigation. No such challenge has been received.

A new campaign has been launched with the objective of gaining recognition that there is, and always has been, a public right of navigation on all rivers in England and Wales subject only to the physical constraints of the river and the size and nature of the craft using them. ‘River Access For All’ has been well received by paddlers and wild swimmers who have welcomed the clarity of the campaign’s key assertions which are:

1. “Historically, there was a general public right of navigation on all rivers subject only to the physical constraints of the river and the size/nature of the craft using them.” 2. Mr Justice Lightman (in the case Josie Rowlands v Environment Agency, 2002) said “Public Right of Navigation may only be extinguished by legislation or exercise of statutory powers or by destruction of the subject matter of PRN e.g. through silting up of the watercourse.” 3. Other than specific Navigation Acts, there has been no legislation or exercise of statutory powers which has extinguished the general public right of navigation. 4. Therefore there is a common law public right of navigation on all rivers where the situation has not been changed by specific Navigation Act(s).

The website invites those that contest the public right of navigation to challenge these assertions and in particular to say which legislation or exercise of statutory authority ended the historic right of navigation. No such challenge has been received.

November saw the submission of a petition to the House of Commons making similar claims and challenging DEFRA’s policy for most unregulated rivers, which is that canoe access requires the agreement of riparian owners. “The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to adopt a policy for navigation on unregulated watercourses which is consistent with current legislation or explain by what authority the Department holds a contrary policy.” A report on the campaign’s website, commenting on the petition, says, “It will be interesting to see DEFRA’s response. Will they:

• Identify the legislation or exercise of statutory authority which extinguished the historic public right of navigation? • Concede that there is no such legislation or exercise of statutory authority and therefore the public right of navigation still exists? • Dodge the question with evasion and obfuscation? • Introduce new legislation like the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, 2003 to confirm that there is a public right of navigation which can be responsibly exercised subject to an outdoor access code as in Scotland?” More information on ‘River Access For All’ to be found at:


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Left: Will Hartman dropping in on Twisted Pleasure, Lower Jalacingo

Sturges film You may have seen Mexico depicted in the Rush . Perhaps you ‘Frontier’ and ‘Source’ as a warm, waterfall paradise rnet as well. You have read about it in magazines and on the inte r own but may even have looked into organizing a trip of you lable. Well this have been a bit stumped by the lack of data avai and have one of article is here to help you get your act together imagine the best and steepest kayaking holidays you can

Right: Seth Ashworth paddle huck and tuck on cascada TruchasJalacingo

How to plan a whitewater kayaking holiday to the‌

o c i x Me e s i d a r a p l l a f r e t a w of

By Seth Ashworth Photos by Seth Ashworth, Mathias Fossum, fWill Hartman, Lukas Strobl .and Robert Machacek

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There are two

main areas for kayaking in Mexico, Veracruz state and Chiapas. While both are beautiful and contain some stunning whitewater, they are not usually paddleable at the same time of year, so realistically you can’t do it all in one trip. The characteristics of each area is different, Chiapas has unique travertine rock which is very grippy, whilst Veracruz has a smoother more slippery rock type. Veracruz has the biggest variety of different runs, concentrated together in a small area, whereas whitewater kayaking in Chiapas is more spread out, usually requiring days of traveling between rivers. The following will help you plan a trip to Veracruz, which is ideal for shorter holidays as you can really make the most of your time.

Who should you go with?

If you are not too keen on the idea of traveling solo around Mexico then you are going to need to find yourself a killer crew to travel and paddle with. Because of the steep and often committing nature of Mexican Whitewater you and your friends should ideally be comfortable on Grade 4/4+ with a view to paddling on more difficult whitewater or making some tricky portages. Try to keep your group to three or four, or multiples of this, as it will make it easier in terms of vehicles.

When should you go?

Whitewater in Veracruz is totally dependent on the amount of rain that falls during the rainy season. This rainy season lasts from August to September meaning that the safest time to book for is between October and January. However it is possible that, if the rainy season was particularly wet, October could see water levels generally very high. Or if the rainy season was fairly dry, all the best water could be gone by January. There are a variety of runs that are still great with very high water as well as numerous possibilities for exploration. Furthermore at the lowest water it is still possible to make it down many of the classics, it just wont be as much fun. Therefore a safe bet for your holiday should be around the November/December. Two to four weeks gives optimal time to paddle many different sections.

which is very grippy,

Chiapas has unique travertine rock

whilst Veracruz has a smoother more slippery rock type

Your friends should ideally be comfortable on Grade 4/4+

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Mattias Zeiner styling cascada Truchas

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What will the weather be like?

Six of one &


The creeking hub of Tlapacoyan is in the mountains and can go from lovely hot sunshine to cold rain in a few hours.

As a result take shorts and sunblock as there will be plenty of hot days, but don’t be surprised if you have to wear trousers, a jacket, socks and shoes a little more often than you would like.

Seth Ashworth, Dane Jackson, Todd Richey and Will Hartman around the top spots on the upper Jalacingo, and Roadside Alseseca

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Where do I stay?

Half dozen of

Aventurec is a Tlapacoyan based raft company with options for camping, hostel, or cabins, depending on how fancy you feel. I stayed in the hostel during my stay.

The hostel is a good basic option, which is dry and provides light, power and a mattress (bring your own sleeping bag). It also keeps you away from a large number of biting insects. Aventurec also has a delicious and moderately priced breakfast option, which will fill you up for a full day on the river, without even thinking about eating until nightfall.

the other ThePaddler 13

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How do I get there? For my trip I flew from the UK with charter airline Thomas Cook to Cancun, then made a long (25hr) bus transfer to the town of Tlapacoyan, which is the heart of classic Veracruz creeking. Alternatively fly to Mexico City, which is just four hours away from Tlapacoyan. However, Iberia (and a few other airlines) will only take windsurf equipment and not kayaks. This means it is vital to pack your boat in a careful disguise which, is both visually deceptive and looks time consuming to wrap/unwrap thereby discouraging the person at the check in desk from taking a closer look at it.

How do I get to the river?

You are going to need a car of some description. Car hire is available from the larger cities. In order of distance from Tlapacoyan these are Xalapa (sometimes written Jalapa), Veracruz, Puebla and Mexico City. If you get a selection try to get something with a strong engine, good tyres and a high clearance. If the selection is not so great then just ensure your boats all fit on top and be prepared to walk up some of the steepest hills. Don’t worry about high fuel costs of an American style, big engined vehicle as petrol is around 50p per litre. Some rivers will only require a short shuttle, usually with a possibility to run/hitch. Others will require a driver, however these are available from Aventurec for a nominal fee.

How do I get river information?

The most accurate guidebook that featured a range of good quality runs, including useful information was the ‘River Gypsies guide to North America’. You will also find some good info on wikipaddle.org. Furthermore Antonio, the owner of Aventurec is a wealth of knowledge of the local area and knows most of the put-ins and take-outs.


Cars: try to get something with a strong eng not so great then jus

Don’t worry abo big engined vehicle

Will Hartman watches as Todd Richey fires up the cascada San Pedro

What to eat?

Eating out in Mexico is the norm as it costs very little, and gets you out of cooking, which after a long day on the river will be the last thing you want to do. Mexican food can be delicious but take care and choose wisely when selecting a place to eat. Typical Mexican cuisine usually includes some kind of meat, refried beans, usually onions in some form, rice and corn tortillas. Corn tortillas are a staple and served with every meal, if you are not a big fan of tortillas, Mexico might not be the place for you. There are options to eat more of a range of food from all over the world, but the local food is really good. Most food seems to be fried, or grilled and is fairly greasy. Vegetarians who eat fish will have a lot of options, but those who don’t may have to look around more carefully for veggie options. A big variety of fresh fruit and

alk up some of the steepest hills

ine, good tyres and a high clearance. If the selection is st ensure your boats all fit on top and be prepared to

out high fuel costs of an American style, e as petrol is around 50p per litre.

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What kit to take? The obvious: a creek boat

A breakdown paddle and first-aid kit (at least one between your group). Throwline: 15m or longer is essential to help on some of the portages.

A dry/semi dry cag: although the weather is generally warm, some of the gorges are deep and dark. Shorts: I prefer neo-lined shorts for extra warmth round my important bits! Sturdy shoes: there is some walking, scrambling and climbing about. A spare paddle: I saw a surprising amount of broken paddles.

Elbow pads: I ended up buying some from another paddler after repeated knocks. Solid helmet: if you are as good looking as me – you may even consider a full face!

Some decent thermals: including one for the legs, which will help on cooler days and in areas with many biting bugs. A camera: because nice photos to show your mum are almost guaranteed.

Putting on below the Big Banana waterfall ready for a day of fun

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Asir stomping down on cascada Truhas

Is it safe? ThePaddler 20

Mexico is represented in the news as being extremely dangerous, with instability between drug cartels and the government. Now I am not saying there is no danger, but with a little common sense you will be able to keep your nose clean. Avoid driving at night and try not to make yourself stand out more than you already do (there aren’t really any other gringos in Tlapacoyan – so you will stand out!). Don’t move round with huge amounts of cash, or valuables and you should stay trouble free. In my 10 weeks of traveling there I was only stopped at two checkpoints whilst driving and never had to pay a police bribe.

How much will it cost?

Living expenses once you are there are anything from £50-150 ($75-225), (60-180 Euros) per week depending on how much you live.

Top tips

Don’t drink the water: There is a lot of pollution in Mexico, don’t drink the river water or water from the tap. Only drink bottled water and also use this to brush your teeth and wash your vegetables (if applicable). Learn some Spanish: Not many people in Mexico speak English so some key phrases are essential and the more you understand the easier it becomes. Learn some Americanisms: There is a lot of kayakers from USA who go to Mexico each year and if you don’t listen carefully you may misunderstand what they are telling you. Seriously, somedays it is like another language. Don’t be surprised if its not always sunny. Expect to be sick at least once: The D catches everyone at least once. Just expect it and take some medicine with you.

California dreaming

By David Ashplant Photos: Gary Luhm

Imagine kayaking in a place where the water is turquoise and so clear you can see hundreds of tropical fish beneath you and if you are lucky a blue whale – the largest living creature on the planet.

This is the reality of kayaking in Baja California, the narrow 800 mile Mexican peninsula south of the much better known American California, with the Pacific ocean on the west side of the peninsula and the Sea of Cortez on the east side. It is estimated a third of the world’s whale and dolphin populations live, or at least spend the winter months, in the Sea of Cortez.


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There is a very easy way to return from go there with a large one. Or‌ maybe not!

The Riviera pa

David Truzzi-Franconi, Sim

m a casino with a small fortune:

mon King and Steve Seinet-Martin ThePaddler 23

Simon King and Steve Seinet-Martin off Monte Carlo


ThePaddler 24 Our Van drew to a stop at 5.50am in the deserted Piazza Marconi in Ventimiglia, Italy where the dawn mist was lifting off the sea ahead of us. We had driven nearly a 1,000 miles from home overnight and were pleased to see the adjacent cafe opening an hour later. Fortified we headed west along the Ligurian coast and past the border with France at Grimaldi – home to our distant ancestors whose cave homes pierced the Balzi Rossi or Red Cliffs. BY DAVID TRUZZI-FRANCONI

This stretch had produced

some concern when planning the trip due to the lack of get outs in adverse conditions. However, we slid over the dark indigo seas, where the continental shelf is at its narrowest and plunges to considerable depths. Mid day brought us to some contemporary cliff dwellings as the serried ranks of ochre coloured houses of the Italianate town and French lemon capital of Menton, rose from the sea. We were too late for the lemon festival and had to content ourselves with a refreshing but caustic glass of fresh lemon juice.

David Truzzi-Franconi and Steve Seinet-Martin near Cap Martin.

The beaches on this coast shelved steeply and to launch or beach involved jumping in or out of the water and riding the waves. By late afternoon we entered the Baie de Roquebrune having rounded Cap Martin, a rocky headland full of Aleppo and Maritime pines, with villas jutting out arrogantly from every promontory. It was now time for the search for somewhere to camp for the night. To begin, we had studied Admiralty Charts, Michelin maps and Google Earth and marked possible areas for a night’s wild camping using the tried and tested technique of arriving late and leaving early with no trace.

Simon King in front of the Oceanographic Institute Monte Carlo

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We pulled up short

As we left we had to skirt the buoyed exclusion zone around the heliport forcing us to enter

a confused and lumpy

sea caused by the wash of motor yachts and the downdraught of helicopters

Simon King at St Jean Cap Ferrat.

of Monte Carlo where the lights of the super yachts were twinkling in the twilight. A bag of wine was cooled in the sea whilst we dragged the boats up the beach and unloaded our tents, which erupted into shape and we had a home for the night. We left early the next morning and soon we had Monte Carlo and Monaco on our beam the where the skyline looked like an American City. Passing Porte Hercule, we cruised beneath the 300ft high Oceanographic Institute set into the rock – Jacques Cousteau was for many years its Director. Entering the more approachable Porte de Fontvieille we passed beneath a rock amphitheatre verdant with cacti agave and aloes, the harsh calls of a magpie type bird echoed off the rock. Nosing our way to the slip we got out and stretched our legs we were in Monaco! As we left we had to skirt the buoyed exclusion zone around the heliport forcing us to enter a confused and lumpy sea caused by the wash of motor yachts and the downdraught of helicopters.

Most of the coast here is an intensely developed strip between the mountains usually shrouded in mist and the sea. We landed at Plage de Marquet for a couple of beers before continuing onward passing capes a'Ail and Rognoso and the Pointe de Cabuel. This coast is the home of luxury yachts each with their own helicopter pad and smaller recreational boats and sailing yachts waiting to be craned into the water with most flying red ensigns. We snuck into the exclusive resort of St Jean Cap Ferrat fully aware of our 16 feet and 12 inche

David Truzzi-Franconi and Simon King off Cannes s freeboard and waited for dusk to fall and the wine to cool, whilst parakeets settled down for the night in the palm trees. The bay was a mass of mooring lanterns and the headlands draped in lights. We were awoken by the beach cleaners each beach we landed on had its pile of white quartz sand waiting to be spread in readiness for the start of the season and would soon be covered in sun loungers and parasols making us far less welcome, but we were early in the season and shared the beach with a few locals. All the way along this coast a flash of silver would betray the presence of the railway as it burrowed through headlands and passed behind the beachfront houses. Today our first task was to paddle along the Cap Ferrat peninsula to Pointe Saint-Hospice to assess the sea state at the point. The waves were two feet high but at short intervals with white caps in the distance, we decided we could end up in a situation where we could not move forward but unable to turn back, so we did, while we could, re-trace our steps back to the isthmus at Beaulieu sur Mer and set out to recce the portage it was possible.

Above: Loaded van at La Napoul Left: David TruzziFranconi cooking at Palm Beach near Cannes

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David Truzzi-Franconi and Simon King portaging Cap Ferrat.

We hauled the loaded canoes uphill in the heat and bemused traffic

and across a busy road junction before the downhill section. We then carried the canoes one at a time down a long flight of steps and subsequent trips with our gear took most of the morning, asking a lady if she could move while we launched into the Rade de Villefranche. She confirmed that today Cap Ferrat was tres tres dangereux, our caution vindicated we paddled across the bay in search of coffee. The bay was temporary home to two cruise liners and their attendant ferries to shore. Entering the small harbour and heading for the slip we were waved away by the Port Captain and our registration numbers taken by a minion – so much for Villefranche, although we were all flying the Union Jack as it was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee! We left skirting the surreally named Pointe des Sans-Culotte and then the Cap de Nice, waved on and given the thumbs up from a group of youngsters engrossed in hurling themselves off a cliff and climbing up again to repeat the exercise. We gave a wide berth to the Corsica Ferry and into the port of Nice, capital of the French Riviera and home to Dufy and Matisse. We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon coasting the promenade des Anglais and its palms, passing the private beaches in front of the hotels; we managed a stop before the three-mile paddle around Nice airport and its buoyed exclusion zone.

David Truzzi-Franconi in front of Chateau at La Napoul near the mouth of the River Siagne

Entering the small harbour and heading for the slip we were waved away

by the Port Captain

and our registration numbers taken by a minion – so much for Villefranche

David Truzzi-Franconi and Steve Seinet-Martin on the beach at Ventimiglia.

The sea at this point was covered in the aptly named 'By the wind sailors' – small translucent discs of jelly tinged violet at the edges with a small ridge across the back, at the mercy of the wind and current causing mass strandings. Being slightly more evolved we were swept by the River Le Var along the coast and stopped for a break. On seeing the front was full of marquees – it was an alternative fair, dwarves extolling the virtues of recycling soon accosted me, it was time to grab a yoghurt and go. We headed for a spot we had earmarked for camping at Cagnes sur Mer home of Renoir near where the River Loup debouched into the sea.

Truzzi-Franconi and Simon King entering Porte de Fontvieille

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Our first attempt

found us surrounded by rats! Moving on, we eventually tucked under the promenade where scores of rollerbladers, cyclists and the inevitable joggers, all took advantage of the wide promenade. It had been a 16-mile day and we were pleased to settle down for the night. We awoke to day four of our trip on the Sunday and waited to cross Antibes Harbour entrance as a stream of classic yachts sailed out – contestants in the Panerai Yacht race.

On crossing and rounding the corner we forced a wedge with our canoes into a small

David Truzzi -Franconi posing in front of Menton

beach packed with bathers so we could hop ashore for some water and provisions. Leaving the beach found us heading for our most challenging paddle yet, that of the Cap d’Antibes. It has a blunt tip three quarter mile wide of exposed rock with outlying rocks and shoals, cutting between the headland and the exposed rocks into a headwind and a short steep sea on our quarter. This often meant paddling out to sea to ride the waves head on before picking a spot to turn and head along the coast again, usually with a wave trying to climb in over the side. It was a long and slow

Leaving the beach found us heading for our most haul taking an hour before we managed to turn and head for Juan les Pins surfing on the now following sea and then a beam sea as we paddled along the coast looking for a place to stop for the night.

challenging paddle yet,

that of the Cap d’Antibes

We washed up outside the Buddha Bar for a few... actually a lot of beers and Moules, Steak Tartare etc. At this point a crewmember from one of the yachts told us the forecast for the morning: strong winds of 25mph due to increase at 9am tomorrow. Our alarms set for 5am we retired, launching into a cool and calm morning we worked our way up the coast passing inside the Lerin Islands as we reached Cannes at 8am. The wind freshened to force 3 to 4 and we had to claw our way around the point to a bay in the lee of the wind at Palm Beach home to a Casino. We made a shelter in the Tamarisk and prepared to sit the storm out it was now 5 to 6 with white horses all across the bay of Cannes. The wind veered forcing us to drag the canoes through the sand to get in the lee of the wind once more on the other side of the bay here it was very hot and still. Simon went into town dodging the Lamborghinis to find the tourist centre and managed to get a rail timetable for our return journey to the van and the information that a campsite existed 25 miles away in La Napoul. I decided to cook that evening and headed into the shops for supplies. I had spotted a fishmongers called La Pescaille-Poissons de ligne-Coquillage et Crustaces. We bought two fine fish – a Dorade Gris, a type of Bream and a wonderful red Rockfish beautifully prepared and sealed in foil bags. I lit the two disposable barbecues I had bought in England and when the flames and smoke died down lay them on the mesh. Whilst they sizzled I made a fennel sauce with some white wine a large moon hung in the sky and the lights of the Ile Sainte Marguerite and its Fort light up the dusk. We had only covered four miles that day.

Slip at Porte de Fontevielle in Monaco.

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Next morning

we paddled the large curve of the Bay of Cannes, stopping for breakfast before cruising a parallel course to the Croissette and its Palm trees with the continuous honking of car horns to mark a wedding jarring the day. At one stop some locals came to inspect the canoes, not having seen one on these shores and were interested to know about them. We headed for La Bocca and La Napoul, hoping for a shower that night, eventually stopping at a secluded beach whilst two of us went to find the campsite on foot, booked us in and found it had a slipway off the river!

However, Simon emerged triumphant holding a 10-euro token and still had his original stake! Reboarding the train

and still had his original stake!

10-euro token

However, Simon emerged triumphant holding a

We hopped of at Antibes to explore for a while and again at Monte Carlo so Simon could fulfil an ambition to play the tables. We had smartened up but still expected to be turned away, however, we entered the vast ornate entrance and found the dress code to be relaxed. Simon however wanted to enter the inner sanctum so bought a day’s membership, which gave entrance to the terrace, private rooms and the right to lose his money and pay £15 for a gin and tonic.

David Truzzi-Franconi and Simon King off Menton.

Setting off and turning into the mouth of the River Siagne we passed a small chain ferry to take golfers from one links to another! And then off to the left tributary and found our slip-hot showers and a restaurant meal followed. A trip downriver to the Chateau the following morning and up to the station to book our tickets to Ventimiglia that afternoon a visit to the patisserie and the boulangerie and we were off on a sleek double-decked train to collect the van.

we enjoyed the rest of the journey from the top deck rolling into Ventimiglia in the early evening. We found the van untouched, drank a farewell coffee in our beach cafe and in two hours arrived back at the campsite. Heading home next day battling against driving rain and headwinds we pulled off into Beaune for a meal, as it was Steve's Birthday. We drew our chairs up in le Bistrot Bourguignon and the cork was pulled out of a bottle of local wine-SALUT!

Beach camp near Monte Carlo.

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TheTullett Prebon London Boat Show returns to ExCeL London from 12-20 January 2013 and promises to light up the capital with a stunning showcase of all things marine. The annual Show, this year situated within ExCeL’s South hall, is widely renowned for being the first place to see the latest marine innovations, design and technology. The 2013 Tullett Prebon London Boat Show will host the latest launches, products and marine brands, as well as offer a wide range of activities that will entertain the whole family –there will be something to suit every taste and budget!

2013 Show Attractions Include The Knowledge Box

This is the place to head for those keen to learn from leading experts on a wide range of subjects. This year’s Knowledge Box programme will consist of a variety of talks such as how to successfully maintain an engine, which lifejacket to select to compelling tales of journeys across the oceans. The Show’s lineup includes Richard Harpham, kayaking traveller, along with marine experts, nautical adventurers, experienced sailors and technical specialists daily.

Multi-Activity Pools

The On The Water multi-activity pools are at the centre of the Show’s action and offer the perfect opportunity to test your skills at a variety of activities. You can either try canoeing or kayaking, or if you prefer not to get wet, head down to the Micro Magic attraction to watch and take part in the model yacht racing. Mini match racing and regattas of the radio controlled yachts will be taking place throughout the full nine days of the Show, don’t miss your chance to be crowned champion!

World Cruising

Brand new for 2013 the World Cruising attraction will immerse visitors into the life of a cruiser. Show visitors will have the chance to speak with experts and gain first hand ‘how-to’ advice as well as being able to talk with specialists who provide equipment for these type of journeys. You will also find three ARC and ocean cruising yachts that are fully kitted out to enable long term living on board to explore. To top this off there will be the opportunity to take a tour of the globe through a range of masterful photography showcasing beautiful images from the world’s seas and oceans.

The Marina and Dock Edge

Scaling from model boats right through to the largest vessels on display at the Show, the marina is an essential spectacle, as is the 500m of dock edge which will boast some impressive craft and onwater displays from four times British Jet Ski Freestyle Champion Jack Moule.

Used Boats Marina

Amongst the action outside, the Used Boats Marina is perfect for perusing a variety of used boats for sale, catering for all budgets and needs. Whether you are in the market for a previously loved boat or simply intrigued about the price of your current vessel, make sure to visit this additional sector in boat retail to see just how far your money can go, and of course with no build time, these boats are ready to sail away straight after the Show.

Feature Boats

Two Global Challenge yachts will be out on the marina for the 2013 Show. These 72ft boats that have sailed around the world twice, the wrong way,

will now be available for visitors to climb aboard and explore. Sarah, from the Tall Ships Youth Trust who now use her to provide people with ‘the ultimate Sail Training experience’ and CatZero from the company of the same name who work with young people to get them back into employment, will be there for the full 9 days for you to get up close and personal with.

UK Star Championships

For three days Fine Art Sails, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between world class yachting and internationally acclaimed fine artists, will bring something truly different and exciting for spectators and Show visitors. On Friday 18 through to Sunday 20 January 2013, ten Star class keelboats will take to the waters of the Royal Victoria Docks, outside the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show, to race in the introductory CNM Estates UK Star Championships. See over 18 renowned Olympic and World champion sailors, boasting up to 10 Olympic medals among them will be taking part in the regatta. This includes triple Olympic medallist Iain Percy, double Olympic medallist Andrew Simpson and Olympic medallists Pippa Wilson, Ian Walker, Mark Covell, Michael McIntyre and Bryn Vaile.


Back inside the South Hall the boardwalks are designed to look exactly like a marina; just without the water. For the 2013 Show there will be several boardwalks dotted around the Show allowing you to step onto a selection of the world’s best power and sail boats.

The Luxury Brand Show

The Tullett Prebon London Boat Show continues the element of enjoying the very best that the marine lifestyle has to offer. Enjoy even more luxury and glamour at the 2013 Show, with the complementary Luxury Brand Show, situated within the South hall.

The London Bike, Outdoors and Active Travel Shows

From Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 January 2013, the North Hall, opposite the Tullett Prebon London

Boat Show, will play host to the London Bike, Outdoors and Active Travel Shows. Access to all these shows, including The Luxury Brand Show is granted with just one ticket, offering excellent value for money with entrance to five shows for the cost of just one. Located at ExCeL, it could not be easier to visit the Show - with the new cable car spanning the river from Greenwich to the Royal Docks; you can take in views of London on the way! It is also accessible by DLR, rail and car parking tickets can be purchased in advance for a daily price of £12 with an adult or concession advance Show ticket*. Keep updated on Show news and developments via the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show website



Book Standard Adult tickets in advance from £10, valid Monday 14 – Wednesday 16 January 2013 OR come on any other day from £14. To take advantage of this £14 ticket offer, simply call the ticket hotline on 0871 230 7140** and quote your promotional code of L32, offer ends midnight 11th January 2013. For every adult ticket purchased, two children aged 15 years and under can be admitted for free†.

Other great ways to experience the Show:

• Late Entry Tickets from £10* • NEW! Parking book in advance and save – from £12. Subject to availability terms and conditions apply see website for details * £10 tickets available for all day admission on 14th, 15th and 16th January 2013 only. £10 tickets are also available for admission after 3pm on any day of the show. ** Calls cost 10p per minute plus Network extras. Calls from mobile phones may cost considerably more. † Terms and conditions apply. See www.londonboatshow.com for details. All details correct at time of going to press. E&OE.

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By Simon Chapman. 28th August 2012

Simon carr poles for th

t t s n e r if desc ypisa o C o Ri

e h t f o

The Rio Coypisa: Bolivia. The buttress roots of rainforest giants reach right down into the scarcely-moving greenish water and a ‘vee’ ripple spreads away from the front of the canoe as we paddle gently forwards, taking care not to make any noise that would scare away the maroon and orange ball of fur that is sitting on an overhanging branch. It’s a ‘Golden Palace’ monkey, only just discovered and named after the Las Vegas casino, which put in the highest bid to name the new species. Minutes before, an otter – the giant type: six feet long with blue goggle eyes and a blotched white throat – swam under the canoe. It’s late afternoon on a perfect jungle river and the insects don’t seem so bad. For a while!

rying the he frame

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Yet this river unexplored at its headwaters

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and barely even marked on our map, was never the intended destination of our expedition. This first descent of the Coypisa was a ‘cop out’, a quick way back when our attempt to get to another river, the Enatahua, failed.

With hindsight it is clear that we totally underestimated the task we had set ourselves; trek over a mountainous watershed carrying a disassembled portable canoe, build the boat up, then explore the river beyond. It was a plan that had worked well on previous trips, most notably in 1997 when Julian Singleton and I had made the first descent of the Alto-Madidi. This trip would start where that trip had left off. We would trek to the Alto-Madidi and paddle up it for two or three days to get to a point just 10kms over a small range of mountains from the Enatahua. How hard could it be?

The Pak Canoe is brilliant for exploring jungle rivers. I have used them in Brazil, Siberia and several times in Bolivia. The boat consists of a five and half metre neoprene skin into which you slot poles and cross pieces to make up a Canadian canoe which is light enough (about 24Kg) to pull upriver or carry over obstacles but will also take some fairly hefty rapids. Building the canoe takes about 30 minutes. Packing it up takes half the time. That means you can trek to the headwaters of a river, build up the boat and paddle it downstream; and you always have the option of breaking it down, packing and carrying it if ever the river becomes too rough, choked with snags or swampy to continue. Our canoe was for three people. We knew we were pushing it by squeezing in four plus gear in but we reckoned that Julian, myself and our two Bolivian guides/ porters (Miguel and Mauro) were all fairly small and, in fact, we had no problems with the canoe at all; it was the terrain that was to provide all of the trouble.

Pak The

I have use

k Canoe

Simon trying to clear yet another logo jam

is brilliant for exploring jungle rivers. ed them in Brazil, Siberia and several times in Bolivia.

A little passenger

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ThePaddler 40 ThePaddler

A jeep ride

and a tough trek in and we were paddling up the Alto-Madidi, Mauro and Miguel perfecting a regime of standing in the boat and poling it up the minor rapids using bamboo cut from riverside thickets. On the fourth day, we reached the mouth of an un-named river; and that’s when the weather turned. July and August in southern Amazonia is dry season. The meanders are edged by beaches of mud, sand or large, rounded stones. With the rain, these disappeared and dragging the canoe up the rapids became treacherous. Things came to a head when I tried to cross a narrow section of what looked like a shingle waterslide.

bare human footprint

On one raised patch of mud I found a single, I showed Julian but we opted not to tell our guides as by then we were jittery about entering the territory of the uncontacted Toromonas Indians

The river was now running red with mud and rising visibly. I set off across, got to waist height (which was quite high enough given that I was carrying a full pack), then I hit sinking mud. The classic rule is not to struggle but it’s hard not to when waves of frothing water are rushing towards you. Seconds later, I was chest-deep. The others appeared in the canoe just as I started screaming for help, but I was stuck fast and, trying to pull myself up onto the boat, I nearly capsized it and then sliced my finger on Mauro’s upturned machete. By then my feet were free and I was floating in the current holding onto the back end of the canoe as I was towed to shore; at which point the others pushed off to get to the high bank on the other side, saying they would prepare a camp then come back for me. That was a long 20 minutes wait. By the next day the river had gone down enough for us to push on upstream. However, the water was still running fast and soon we were spending more time outside the boat than in, hauling up increasingly large rapids as the valley narrowed into a gorge with black, rock cliffs dripping with ferns. On one raised patch of mud I found a single, bare human footprint. I showed Julian but we opted not to tell our guides as by then we were jittery about entering the territory of the uncontacted Toromonas Indians. Soon after, we opted to breakdown the canoe and continue on foot. Ten kilometres to the Enatahua over two hard days, we assured ourselves. We cooked up all of the heavy food that night. Tomorrow we would find a ridge that headed west and follow it over the watershed. The ascent, up a rain-worn gulley, was nearly vertical and the canoe poles sticking out the top of my rucksack caught on every vine and horizontal branch. An hour’s struggle had us on the top of the first ridge being shouted at by a lone black spider monkey whose space we had invaded, and four hours more had us sitting roughly over (but a 1,000 metres higher up than) our camp of the night before.

Spectacled caiman

Our map, obtained by bribery at army base in La Paz, had been wrong. We had followed the wrong ridge. Our decision; canoe back down (the rapids were great) and find a flatter way to get across. This time, the terrain which on our map appeared to only rise one 80-metre contour turned out to be a maze-like network of interlocking knife-edge ridges and narrow gullies. We tried following the high ground for a while but all the ridges ended in sheer drops or were tangled with vine thickets that blunted our machetes. The best we could do was to follow a westward bearing up and down, up and down. Julian was miserable that night. “I can hardly walk” he said, peeling his socks off to reveal exposed bare flesh along the sides and heels of both feet. Wet sand in his boots had acted like a grinding paste and worn the skin away. Mauro and Miguel took much of his load, we bound his feet tightly and we carried on. Luckily, we found the jungle paradise river: The Coypisa.

By now we were back in high rainforest and the wildlife (monkeys of various types and a couple of anteaters) were everywhere. We opted to rest for a couple of days and use the canoe to explore the river’s headwaters. On our first night there, a tapir came into our camp. I didn’t see it. When I heard its footsteps, I slipped out of my hammock ready to ambush it with my head torch on full beam, and just then Julian started snoring, a sound which my guides later told me sounded remarkably like a jaguar growling! Unsurprisingly, the tapir took fright and clattered away into the riverside thickets. The next night, we tried a ‘stake-out’. We canoed down to a river beach where we had noticed a fruiting fig tree, sat on the shingle, ignoring the biting insects and waited until it went dark. The plan worked. Two tapirs (or maybe the same one twice) turned up. About the size of a donkey with a trunk-like nose that snorkelled out to sniff the air ahead, our tapir came remarkably close and was unfazed by our shining torches at it or even flash photography. Seeing wildlife like this is a sure sign of an untouched river. This animal had clearly never seen people before.

“I can hardly walk” Julian said, peeling his socks off to reveal exposed bare flesh along the sides and heels of both feet. Wet sand in his boots had acted like a grinding paste and worn the skin away!

Julian poling forward

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Unfortunately, with abundant mammals come the biting insects that prey on them.

The dawn and dusk canoe trips were a joy but, once the mosquitoes, sand-flies and bees discovered our camp, the rest of the time became an ordeal. Trying to dry our feet out to avoid trench foot became pointless. The raw areas just attracted flies and got bitten whenever we uncovered them. We made the decision to give up our crossing to the Enatahua. We couldn’t face two more days across the knife-edges and besides, we had found an unexplored river right where we were.

It was a good decision; and good to be back on the water again, even if the deep water meanders of the headwaters became increasing interspersed with pebbly shallows and minor rapids as the Coypisa descended through a rocky stratum. Stingrays were abundant in the shallows and each time we got out to drag the canoe, we probed ahead with our paddles (frequently a ray would splash out of the water when one made contact!). Just as worrying was the electric eel that surfaced next to us just as we were about to get out and start pulling.

electric eel

Just as worrying was the

that surfaced next to us just as we were about to get out and start pulling

The character of the river changed. Seemingly breaking the rule that rivers should get bigger as streams join them, the Coypisa shrunk until it was three metres wide and encased in a deep red mud trench. The problem now was log jams. There were frequent tree falls across the water and piles of driftwood that (we presume) had been deposited when the water level fell at the end of the wet season three or four months earlier. Getting past these was another of those occasions when the Pak Canoe came into its own. I have descended Amazonian rivers on dugout canoes and on rafts made of balsa wood logs. With both types of craft, riding rapids is fine. Pulling across water-slide shallows also works, but at snags you are stuck.

wild boars, not Jaguars, Peccaries, South America’s equivalent to

are the most dangerous animals in the Amazon

Not so with a light canoe, which you can just lift across the fallen trees, sometimes with kit still inside and other times without even getting into the water (you just perch on the fallen trunk and pull the boat across thus avoiding the stingrays, electric eels and pirañas). The frequent short portages were a pain but the wildlife made up for it. The deep water pools between the fallen trunks were home to giant otters that would pop their heads out to snort at us and the smaller ‘Lobos del Rio’ (Southern River Otters) sometimes would swim just ahead of our bough wave. But, the best encounter of all was when a herd of White-lipped Peccaries crossed the river just behind us. Peccaries, South America’s equivalent to wild boars, not Jaguars, are the most dangerous animals in the Amazon. Their herds can number hundreds of individuals and they charge

when they feel threatened (on a previous trip, Julian and I had to climb a tree when around 40 went for us). This time, luckily, we were downwind. Around 50 peccaries swam across then tried en-masse to climb the mud bank on the other side of the river. This was too steep and for 20 minutes and, at only about ten metres distance, we watches as pigs climbed, fell on top of each other, tumbled into the water, grunted, squealed and fought until some enterprising individual found a way up and the whole herd followed. The stench (imagine stale sweat mixed with liver pate) was overpowering. It was like one of those wildlife documentary moments and I was in the middle of it, quietly tugging a flimsy red plastic canoe free of the sticky mud that it had grounded on just in case the herd turned and we had to make a quick getaway. The intensity of the situation was amazing, one that made the torture of getting the canoe over the mountains, the trench foot and the thought of the forthcoming return up the River Alto-Madidi worthwhile.

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INFORMATION Highest and largest: Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in

the world at 3,810 metres above sea level. It is also one of the deepest lakes in the world.

Bolivia The Salar de Uyuni is the largest deposit of salt in the world and contains over 64 million tons of salt!

The largest deposit of lithium in the world is found under all that salt!

Cerro Mutún is the world's largest iron ore mine and is run on natural gas instead of Amazonian wood.


Bolivia is located within one of the wettest zones on the planet with over 8000 millimeters (8 metres!) of rainfall per year.


The world's largest butterfly sanctuary is located in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Bolivia is the leading country on Earth for certified tropical forests.

Bolivia is home to the two highest cities in the world. Potosí is the highest, and La Paz is the second highest. In the 1570s Potosí was also the most populated city in the world!

Diversity: Bolivia is among the top "mega-diverse" countries on our planet. Together, the mega-diverse countries contain over 70% of all species known to humankind. In plant species Bolivia is the 11th country in the world (over 20,000 plant species). In vertebrate species it is 10th in the world. In bird species it is 7th in the world and in butterfly species it is 4th in the world. Population: 10.1 million. Bolivia is one of the least-developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in poverty. Visas: See: http://bolivia.embassyhomepage.com

Safety: Be vigilant and cautious about your surroundings on arrival and while travelling in Bolivia because of the number of violent crimes against foreign nationals. Exercise caution when choosing which type of transport to travel in. Look out for established transport companies and ask widely for guidance - avoid people offering cheaper transport. Beware of individuals offering help at taxi points and at bus terminals where many thieves work in teams to distract their victims. Language: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara were Bolivia's three official languages. However, as of December 2009, when Bolivia adopted a new national constitution, all native languages and dialects have been declared official languages. Electricity: Electricity in Bolivia is 230 Volts with two-flat pin US and two-round pin European plugs Geography: The country has three main geographic zones: the Andes

mountains and ‘Altiplano’ (high plateau) to the west; the semi-tropical Yungas (jungles) and temperate valleys descending the eastern slopes of the Andes; and the tropical lowlands which cover the eastern half of the country.

Money: The Bolivian Boliviano is the currency of Bolivia


705.569.2595 (May 1 – October 15)

Winter Phone:

406.600.5297 (October 15 – May 1)

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Complete Gear and Food Outfitting Guided Trips Canoe, Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals Ultralight Souris River Canoes





ThePaddler 46

Coaching by Andy Grimes of Fluid C

When it comes to us having a positive and enjoyable time on the water a strong knowledge of river safety and incident management is essential. In my last article we talked about aspects we should consider to be a good river leader and strategies to help avoid potential problems we could encounter. In this article I hope to discuss what happens if something fails and what systems we should work through to manage the situation and recover it safely. So let’s talk now about how best we should manage a situation.

Andy would like to thank his sponsors SystemX and LiquidLogic Kayaks.

Andy is the managing director of Fluid Combinations Kayak Coaching and Guiding. Further information and courses please see www.fluidcombinatio ns.co.uk

Incident manageme Chapter 3

First of all we should begin by talking about what’s most important in managing any dangerous situation…


Before beginning any recovery we must remember that we are the most important person involved in any situation, we must protect ourselves before diving head first into a situation that could put us in danger and even make things worse for all involved.

If we can be sure that we not putting ourselves into any danger we can continue into recovering and managing the situation effectively. Firstly we should think about stabilising the situation to prevent it from getting any worse, for example making sure our group is pulled in safely into an eddy or safe static position before we start trying to solve any problems. We can then think about recovering any victims or people in need of assistance.

Lastly we should help recover any equipment that we may need to reunite with the victim. One golden rule we must also remember is that equipment is replaceable, but yourself and the rest of your team aren't and are always the most important thing! Please refer to diagram 1 for a table explaining this situation management style.

Priorities 1. Self 2. Team 3. Victim 4. Equipment

The priority is you/self, your safety and then you can be of use to the team and the victim

We have many options available to us to safely recover people from white water. All of them have differing levels of risk some being very high others being very low so naturally it makes sense for us to start using the lowest risk recovery methods and progress to the more dangerous if we have no other option.

Let’s look now at the risk options diagram below right, this shows us a low to high risk recovery process we should aim to be working from. Starting from the low risk option of talking/shouting at the victim to gain their attention and verbally encouraging them to swim to safety also known as self rescue.

The next low risk option would be to reach for the paddler using your hand or if they are to far away you could use a paddle or length of tape sling you should have in your buoyancy aid.

We then move onto throw line rescues. Plenty could be said about the use of throw lines and how/when best to use them. We wont go into much detail regarding the actual throw line techniques used and would recommend that all people paddling on white water should attend a BCU white water safety and rescue course which covers the use of throw lines in white water.

Something very important to remember when using throw lines is that we should always have a sharp knife on our persons that is easily accessible, in case we needed to cut the rope if somebody became dangerously entangled in the line!

Towing or paddling out is next and being capable paddlers we should all be aware of the ways to tow a swimmers to safety e.g. holding onto front or rear grab loops of the rescuers boat. By paddling out to a swimmer we are putting ourselves at risk, the main risk being approaching a panicking swimmer that’s trying to grab the nearest thing to keep them afloat which may end up being you resulting in them pushing or dragging you over by accident and making the situation a lot worse.

See Andy’s coaching feature 1 and 2 at: www.thepaddler.co.uk/coachbalance.html and www.thepaddler.co.uk/coachleader.html

Combinations Kayak Coaching and Guiding

ment and safety The last and most high risk recovery strategy is ‘GO’. Put simply this means the rescuer going into the water chasing after the victim by swimming after them or using the live bait method which is taught on the BCU white water safety and rescue course. Jumping into the water ourselves is always the most dangerous option we have and should be avoided at all costs unless we have no other option e.g. Face down unconscious victim floating down the river.

Group Dynamics

Whenever we go out paddling there will always be a group dynamic or group persona being used around the group. For example being very relaxed and less formal also known as laissez-faire can be a good group dynamic when paddling on a calm section of easy water with no obvious danger. However, being laissez-faire isn't so good in a high risk or dangerous environment where a more dictatorial or autocratic approach would be better suited. Lets look now at the diagram below, which shows us an image explaining in more detail the different group dynamics available to us and when best to use them.

We should consider all the group dynamics in the diagram and consider their uses in different environments and situations. It would make sense in a reactive situation for us to consider the use of our team and even assign responsibilities for each member of that team to aid in the recovery process. Some simple roles for the team could be: first aider, incident manager, upstream spotter or even being the kit man organising any rescue equipment.

In all major recovery incidents communication is key and must be kept constantly throughout any incident to ensure that a methodical and safe recovery for all involved is made.

In summary

The most important thing in any situation is you and we must remember that to prevent making a situation from getting worse we must firstly protect the interests of ourselves and any of our other group members before moving into help any victims. ●

Low to high risk options

Talk (lowest risk on river bank) Reach (low risk on river bank)

Throw (medium risk on river bank) Tow (higher risk on water) Go (highest risk on water)

We should aim to work through the low to high risk rescue strategies to avoid putting people in unnecessary danger when solving incidents.

By working as a team and assigning responsibility to each team member we can be sure that we are making use of all available members of the group while staying in complete control. Keeping constant communication within the group through the whole incident is vital and will ensure victims are recovered as quickly and safely as possible.

Group dynamics

Autocratic dictator

benevolent dictator

Laissez - faire



laid back


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The leader

of the PACK

I had the pleasure of being the first person (probably) in the UK to paddle the new Wave Sport Recon. I had seen the boat a couple of weeks ago and had arranged to hook up with Tom at the Tees Barrage for an evening paddle.The Tees Barrage has always been a great place for me to test boats as it’s been my local paddle spot since the day it opened way back in the last century.

By Phil Carr

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ThePaddler 50

The boat I tested is a Wave Sport Recon 83 and is a final prototype, so apart from the quality of the plastic finish in a couple of areas it is the same as the final production model.

Getting the boat setup was easy. I added a couple of shims to the hip pads and raised the front end of the seat. The boat had many different outfitting extras that included shims for the hip pads, an additional seat pad to raise the entire seat and various other shims and blocks to customize the full plate footrest. In the past I had a Riot Glide with a surf seat that had a seat with a raised front end – I really liked this and was able to get a very similar feeling in the Recon. The rubber band that retains the footrest bolt (to prevent loss) was a little fiddly and did slow me down a little when I was adjusting the footrest. Not a big deal at all and I still think they are a good idea, as is having bright yellow bolts. On the negative side I’m not a big fan of using white for the outfitting exteriors and on a personal level I would prefer black

or dark grey, which to be honest is a little picky. Overall I think the outfitting is great, I was able to get setup in a new boat in the car park in less then ten minutes. I’m 6ft 1 or 2 inches on a good day, with size 10 (UK) feet. During the paddle I was wearing a pair of Water Tennies (UK 10.5s). The boat was setup with the seat bang in middle and I found that I had huge amounts of room for my feet and much more scope to push the footrest forward if I desired. On paper I should really be in the 93, however, the boat sat really well with my 210lb bulk (+ kit). This did surprise me and in many of the photos that were taken, you can see me looking back at the stern of the boat. I was expecting it to be under water and to find myself trying to wrestle the boat down the whitewater course. In fact the Recon was super balanced, it just looked right and it definitely felt right.

The boat had many different outfitting extras that included shims for the hip pads,

an additional seat pad

to raise the entire seat ThePaddler 51

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From the start

I found the boat incredibly fast, much faster than any other creek boat that I have paddled recently. It turns incredibly well and you can really carve the boat into eddies thanks to the really strong edges that sit below the water line. A couple of times during my paddle I tried to lean the wrong way and attempted to catch an edge, each time without success. I found that the boat handled well and was beautiful to paddle. If I gave it some beans the boat really came alive. This reminded me more of a play boat, which for me is a great plus. There were a couple of times this evening that it just whipped into an eddy with very little input from its pilot.

I’ve paddled a hell of a lot of boats over the last 25 years and the Recon has to be one of the few that have really left

a lasting impression The best way I was able to describe the Wave Sport Recon this evening is that it is really fun to paddle. I wish the Recon was sitting in my garage right now, as I would definitely be out again with it at first light.


Go on, give us a ‘like’ on our Facebook page and be entered into a free draw to have the chance to win a pair of tickets toThe Outdoors Show at: https://www.facebook.com/ThePaddlercouk

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New paddles

Jackson Kayak begins shipping its new Karma whitewater kayak.

Jackson Kayak of Rock Island, Tennessee has begun shipping its newest whitewater kayak, the creek running Karma Series. Available in three sizes (small, medium and large), the Karma adds an exciting new line of steep river performance boats to their growing river running products.

Following the footsteps of the 2012 release of the Zen, Jackson Kayak has taken the hull design of the Zen and built the accents of an elite creek kayak.The end result is a unique blend of speed and creek performance.This 4th generation creek kayak improves on its classic outfitting with its Uni-shock bulkhead, improved Sure-Lock back band, new stainless steel grab handles as well as Jackson Kayak’s full Boat Armor Outfitting: seat brackets, welded floor support, Thermo U-channel, 4 lb density walls and Thermo Seat. “Bow to stern, the Karma creates confidence and excitement, putting a smile on my face,” states Jackson Kayak President, Eric Jackson. “Where have you been all of my life?"

“The Karma takes the all-out creekability of the Villain series and adds extra speed, surfable planability and taller sidewalls to create a Zne/Hero/Villain evolution with the best features of each craft,” adds whitewater guru and team lead, Clay Wright. “The Karma comes back around to exactly where Jackson Kayaks should be for 2013 taking the innovative planing hulls we are famous for into a package designed for the wildest whitewater arenas in the world." http://jacksonkayak.com/jkkayaks/whitewater/2013-karma/

Testing, Lifedge Waterproof Case for iPad http://www.lifedge.co.uk

How to bomb proof your iPad

We were really looking forward to this case and when it arrived in its sweet packaging it really looked the business. This is for us outdoor types who need full protection for their iPads and it really does do the job in that respect. We bounced, dropped and submerged it and each time it came up smelling of roses. So that’s what you buy it for and it does the job very well - so what’s the problem?

Well I for one nearly had a seizure getting it onto the iPad. The website makes it all look very easy and flexible but I’m afraid we didn’t. All three of us found the casing hard and unbending - in fact we nearly gave up. However, persistence pays off and once we had shoe-horned it into place, and this is something you should definitely do before you leave, it very much looked the part.

In bright green it looked really funky and the touch screen worked really well too. In fact I think the matt screen of the casing subdues any bright reflections and is better suited to outdoor use than the glossier screen of the iPad. The case also has a very handy handle on the rear, which you can use to hang it from various places if you wish. There are also two plastic stands that have to be carried separately that as well as being used to attach the case to the iPad also come in useful as a small stand.

I am pleased to report that the case has become more flexible over time – the more it is used the easier it bacame to fit. One very useful tip to make life much easier from the start is to use a lubricant around the lip of the case and it becomes much easier to fit. We feel so comfortable with it now, my son now reads it in the bath! In short it’s bullet proof! Available for iPads 1,2 and 3.

Anti-glare screen for viewing in bright conditions.

Features • 100% Waterproof. Shockproof. • Anti-glare screen for sunlight viewing. • Total functionality of touchscreen, Wi-Fi and cameras. • Compact case for everyday protection. • Exceptional sound transmission. • Comfortable handstrap for ease of use. Plastic stands Available in grey, blue, green and pink. Lifedge waterproof case for iPad. From £74.99 UK; From $99 US; From 79.00 Euros



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A hydrophobic outer lens coating sheds water and reduces salt residue, whilst oleophobic technology is applied to the inside face, repelling fingerprints, sun lotion and skin oils all culminating to provide optimum clear vision.

of be will

We all know the dangers to our sensitive eyes with prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV and the glare off the water making the exposure far more intense.


d it d an ove

There isn’t much chance of them falling off you’re face as they feel firmly attached in a very stylish wrap round design. They feel very comfortable, snug and lightweight with a soft rubber bridge for the nose.

interest t

Simple solutions are always the best and when they look as good as this – then it’s even better! Gill has specifically designed these for use on the water with maximum UV protection from the sun and 100% glare free polarised lenses. Plus – they float – so should you be clumsy enough to drop them in the water, they don’t sink out of sight!

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Simple solution to an old problem


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Gill Speed Floating Sunglasses

ThePaddle r.co .

Each pair of sunglasses is supplied with a soft non-scratch pouch that can also be used for cleaning the lenses.

The Speed glasses are just one of an extensive range of floating and traditional sunglasses now on the market from Gill. We like these for the lightweight, style and fit.

Soft non-scratch pouch that can also be used for cleaning.

Hydrophobic outer lens coating sheds water and reduces salt residue.

Available in black. Gill Speed Floating Sunglasses. From £34.99 UK; From $89 US; From 79.00 Euros

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ThePaddler 56

The Sea Kayak Navigation Aid (SCANA) http://www.howardjeffs.com Bearing cord locator

Bridging the gap

The Sea Kayak Navigation Aid (pronounced ‘scana’) has been designed to bridge the gap between professional ‘Chart Table’ navigational instruments such as the Bretton Plotter & Dividers and/or the SILVA (Type 4) Mountaineering style compass used commonly by outdoor enthusiasts. 1:50,000 ROMER grid

The sea kayaker frequently travels along the coast, requiring not only detailed land information that is usually found on Ordinance Survey maps, but also specific nautical information such as tidal streams, drying areas etc, which will be found on marine charts.

1:50,000 nautical km scale

1:50,000 nautical mile scale

The sea paddler’s chart table is their spraydeck and foredeck, the rigidity of the Breton Plotter and the sharp points of the dividers are not practical here. However the base plate of many mountaineering compasses is frequently too short to draw out an extended course or measure distance quickly and easily.The ability to transfer from one scale (kilometres) to another (nautical miles) is essential!

The SCNA addresses all these points in a simple, effective and robust manner. The base is made of a flexible clear plastic which copes with the undulations and flexibility of the cockpit area. The range of scales and specific dimensions of the instrument allow measurement of distance quickly and accurately. The compass rose and bearing cord allow angles and/or indented coastline to be measured with ease. The clear plastic plate is made of UV stable material.The scales and markings etched into the plastic are scratch resistant and also made of UV resilient ink. Its flat profile allows storage under deck elastics and the additional lanyard reduces the possibility of loss. It also makes an excellent kayak repair patch if you are really pushed! Available direct from www.howardjeffs.com. Trade enquiries welcome. Email: howardjeffs@btinternet.com Retail price £14.95 including post and packing within the UK.

New style for winter 2012 http://www.hellyhansen.com

Introducing the Warm T – a first for Helly Hansen

The Warm Relaxed Fit Ice T from HH is a departure from their more normal tighter athletic fit garments and their first ever HH Warm t-shirt design. It’s much looser and heavier than normal HHs and all for a reason.The weight is added by the exterior Merino wool, which gives the garment an almost luxurious feel and keeps you warm in colder weather. Beneath this lies another layer of HH’s more traditional LIFA material that draws moisture away from the skin in warmer conditions - a jack of all trades really! But it works and it works so well that it is now my t-shirt of choice for the winter indoor circuit sessions, which start out with me feeling cool and end with the sweats. This shirt keeps me feel comfortable all the way through – top marks! Warm Relaxed Fit Ice T is available for men in sizes small through to 2XL in expresso (left) and black.

Top layer of Merino wool and loose fitting gives the Warm T a relaxed feel.

More traditionally for HH, one of their best selling base layers, the Freeze ½ Zip has been updated. Wool from Merino sheep provide the insulation, durability, odour resistance and moisture control. Soft and itch-free, it is ideal for base layer garments and designed to be worn next to the skin.

As I have often said with HH base layers – they are tight fitting and sometimes feel a touch claustraphobic at first – however, that soon gives way after a few minutes and you thank the heavens for such a warm layer whilst out in cold conditions. Back at base you strip off your top layers and let the front collar zip down and you’re as snug as a bug in a rug in front of a roaring fire. To add to the comfort the seams are flatlock and placed outside of friction areas.

Available for both men and women in a variety of colours and in sizes from small to 2XL, there is something here to suit everyone. Warm Freeze 1/2 Zip. From £49.99 UK; From $72 US; From 59.00 Euros Warm Relaxed Fit Ice T. From £52.99 UK; From $68 US; From 55.00 Euros

Half zip and flatlock stitching gives temperature control and next to the skin comfort.

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ThePaddler 58

Aquapac 100% Waterproof iPhone Case http://www.aquapac.net A perfect fit

In response to consumer demand, Aquapac has launched a 100% waterproof case specifically for the iPhone 4 and a slightly larger version for the longer iPhone 5.


Previously Aquapac’s mini and small Whanganui cases were used to protect iPhones from water, dirt and sand. This new iPhone case has been cut-down in size so the fit is better and more compact.

As with all of Aquapac’s phone cases you can make calls, send texts and search through the case as well as take photos thanks to the Lenzflex™ window in the rear of the case.

If taking your phone onto the water to take photos or listen to tunes then you know your phone will be safe and dry thanks to Aquapac’s water-tight clamp mechanism – the patented Aquaclip® – which seals out water and sand. Guaranteed to IPX8 the case will cope underwater at depths of up to five metres for one hour.

Locking clips

Adjustable shoulder straps

I completed an indoor swimming test with the Aquapac and an old mobile phone (just in case) and everything was tinder dry 40 minutes later. Afterwards I inserted my iPhone to see if the operating claims were true and rest assued they were. Excellent!

Aquapac Stormproof Padded Drybag

Carrying a laptop or other valuables on the water could easily become a recipe for disaster, so lash them down in our padded drybag and worry no more. Aquapac’s Stormproof padded, rugged and simple to use dry bag is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and leaves you worry-free whatever the weather. Manufactured from TPU-coated Nylon, it features welded seams and a classic 3-roll seal for complete waterproofing to IPX6 (fire hose proof). It has thick foam padding all-round for protection from impacts. Supplied with an adjustable shoulder strap, the bag also features a unique front lashtab for securing to kayak, raft or other luggage and 4 D-rings for great adaptability. This bag is big enough to fit a 17-inch laptop and anything smaller in fact we had two laptops inside. There are no separate compartments but we had a simple piece of cardboard so they didn’t rub each other.

Padding for protection against minor bumps and knocks

The internal area of the bag is foam-padded for protection against minor knocks only and is certainly not bomb proof. That’s not the aim of the bag though – that is to protect against water, which it does with ease. ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Lashtab to tie it down to deck or luggage rack. Adaptable shoulderstrap so you carry it as you prefer. The roll-down seal will keep out any rain or mud, or spray on a kayak. The integral lashtab is perfect for lashing it down to a deck. Guaranteed for 5 years from first purchase. Waterproof rating: stormproof. Colours: cool grey/black and orange. Materials: 70D PU-coated ripstop nylon with taped seams. Weight bag: 7.0oz / 199g. Two shoulderstraps: 2.4oz / 69g.

100% Waterprood iPhone Case. From £20 UK; From $30 US. Stormproof Padded Drybag. From £50 UK; From $70 US.

ThePaddler .co.uk Online digital magazine for the recreational paddler


1. Visit: www.thepaddler.co.uk/paddlermagazine.html to find out… and whilst you’re there subscribe to issue 3 of the free ThePaddler magazine

And huge thanks to Liquidlogic and SystemX for supplying this superb kayak The world of canoeing and kayaking at your fingertips News/events


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By Chris Scott

ThePaddler 60


Chris Scott returns to Western Australia, this time to track the remote Fitzroy River in lightweight packrafts.

Following our brilliant run around Shark Bay in 2006, in 2011 Jeff, and I headed into the Kimberley in the far north of WA for an 80mile run down the wild Fitzroy River. Located just 17° south of the equator, during a big wet season the Fitzroy becomes Australia’s highest volume river, although by September we were expecting a string of pools requiring tiring portages. For that reason we chose three-kilo packrafts, light enough to roll up and carry if necessary. If we hit trouble there were nearby cattle station tracks and most importantly, the menace from 20-foot saltwater crocodiles was much reduced this far upriver. We’d see plenty of smaller freshwater crocs, but unprovoked they’re no more dangerous than lizards, feral bulls or snakes, though we carried thick canvas ‘snake gaiters’ for walking in long grass.

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Disposable slackraft vers lackraft’ s ‘ 20 lilo a of

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Next morning we were dropped off by river some 15 miles from Dimond Gorge. Here the Fitzroy

Out on the water my Alpacka Yak was a superbly taught and responsive packraft. Jeff was in a vaguely similar £20 pool toy, a ‘slackraft’ with all the rigidity of a lilo.

ith a W

the only town for 150 miles in either direction, we dumped the van and took a short flight north over the hills to an isolated wilderness camp. Once the noisy Cessna was airborne Jeff gave me a thumbs up. The previous Wet had been broken all records and 1,000 feet below there was a lot more water than we expected so late in the dry season.

Jlel thfefr in his £

At Fitzroy Crossing,

sliced through the King Leopold Ranges before meandering 60 miles to Geikie Gorge, a day from Fitzroy Crossing. In between there was nothing; we carried food for five days plus whatever we could catch.

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ThePaddler 63

hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

By 6.30 it was dark and Jeff had already passed out after admitting, “This is going to be the

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Geikie’s famous East W flooding had carved the fo into scalloped

Wall where eons of ormer subsea reef d and fluted forms

Beyond the Gap, the Fitzroy weaved across the baking savannah, obscured by its corridor of thick trees

hiding who knows what!

We set off along a deep, tree-lined pool but soon came to our first rock bar. Tramping in the midmorning heat with maximum loads and boats on our heads underlined how effortless it was to paddle, although maybe not in a flaccid slackraft. Before us stretched a long pool where Jeff battled a headwind for hours, trying various paddling permutations. Nothing could shift the PVC toy at a satisfying speed. Mile by mile the spinifex-clad hills crept by until we finally called it a day on a sandbar and tucked into the first of our dried bag meals followed by several cups of tea. By 6.30 it was dark and Jeff had already passed out after admitting, “This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” At 5am it is light enough to get stuck into our first full day on the river. Jeff chose to walk the three miles to Dimond Gorge while I paddled, occasionally dragging the Alpacka through shallow rapids. We rendezvoused around ten and fought another headwind where the Fitzroy cuts dramatically into the ridge. A couple of hours beyond lay the Gap marking the southern limit of the King Leopold Ranges. The ochre sandstone cliffs became grey granite rubble and at the Gap we clambered onto a ledge and knocked back a litre of soup and a litre of orange drink while Jeff cast a handline, without luck.

Up again with the light, we were expecting more ankle-twisting portages. Little did we know this would be one of our best days on the Fitzroy. Soon we entered an area of rocky outcrops and knotted rapids where freshies basked on sandy banks or dozed submerged, close to our feet. As the day progressed we paddled lazily or towed our rafts over sandy shallows, as effortless as walking a dog. At times the main channel got blocked by flood debris, diverting the flow into the fringe canopy of trees. Here, shaded from the sweltering exterior, we were ensconced in a benign riverine underworld where blue-winged kookaburras squawked, lanky-necked egrets stalked the pools and yard-long water monitors licked the air. After the previous day’s effort this was more like it.

Beyond the Gap, the Fitzroy weaved across the baking savannah, obscured by its corridor of thick trees hiding who knows what! Sure enough, the flow soon disappeared into a huge rock pile and dense woodland. Shouldering our packs, we staggering up and over the boulders, boats on our head. An hour later I was parched from the effort and croaked to Jeff, ‘Let’s camp at the end of the next pool.” We’d put in an 11-hour day of just thirteen miles and were beat. Another bag meal, lashings of tea and Jeff was out by six – a personal best. As the stars lit up, out on the billabong crocs chased the fish and bats dashed overhead while I pottered around, before squeezing into my tiny K-Mart tent to grab a mozzie-free night.

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A day later,

soon after mid-morning ‘smoko’ I came across a deposit of alluvial gold, sparkling in the shallows. Using a plastic bin lid I’d found earlier, Jeff panned the sediment and we soon had some colour. There certainly was gold in the Kimberley and the 2011 flood had clearly exposed riches beyond our wildest dreams. Then, like so many heat-struck prospectors, we came to our senses. ‘Fools’ Gold?’ ‘No fools around here mate’ we chuckled.

Ankle-deep wades led to pandanus-lined pools, but were often preceded by exhausting, hip-deep quicksands. Elsewhere log jams or jumpy cattle

hampered progress, but the ever-present Kimberley soundtrack of squawks, whistles, warbles and chirps filled the air. At one point the thick aroma of urea choked the air; up ahead a huge colony of brown bats clung from the river gums, lifting with a rowdy shriek as we slowly paddled by. In the heat and pitiless UV, Jeff’s PVC cheapie was softening like tar and picked up another flat. Fixed in a jiffy we pressed on, squeezing under roots or over fallen logs, and a one point scrambling up the steep banks to dodge a cranky bull.

In the heat and pitiless UV, Jeff ’s PVC cheapie was

softening like tar

and picked up another flat.

Dimond Gorge Above: Jeff panning the sediment.

An hour from sunset another huge sandbank deflected the flow into a knot of flood-mangled timber. With cowpats and bat shit all around, it wasn’t a great spot but we were done in. According to the map we were close to the Big Bend which led to Geikie Gorge. Fifteen miles – it had been another tough day but we were getting to grips with Fitzroy pack boating. Jeff prepared a delicious garlic damper on the embers and we were out like lights. Mid-morning Day Five we turned Big Bend and spied the Geikie Ranges in the distance. Though the road bridge was still 25 miles away, it marked the beginning of the final leg. The rock changed again to limestone and as we picked our way through some gnarly rapids Jeff’s floor got snagged. It was smoko time anyway, so while the water boiled he made another repair.

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Soon we’d be

Gliding under overhangs and nosing into caves, we entering Geikie were enjoying a break in the pace when up ahead a Gorge National Park where, as you’d expect in rulebabe in a red kayak came into view. As we got close she clad WA, private boating was restricted in favour of started chuckling. tour boat cruises and camping was banned outright. Paddling down from the Leopolds was unheard of, but we’d not been able to inform the ranger beforehand, so were expecting a bollocking. From the plane we’d seen that the river passed the gorge in a deep green channel. For me in the nippy Alpacka She said as we filled her in on our adventure, that was great news, for Jeff it wasn’t.

We rocked up onto a slither of an island for lunch and I offloaded the Yak for a quick blast, skimming across the water like a pebble. “Have a go, Jeff.” He did and of course, loved it. “I shouldn’t have done that. I really shouldn’t have done that,” he realised. It made getting back in his insufferable pool toy all the more galling. As we entered the main gorge the blaring commentary from a tour boat bounced off the walls, scoured by 40-foot-high tide marks from the annual flood. We’d been spotted for sure; they’ll be waiting for us downriver, hands on their hips. We decided we’d deal with that when it came; it’s not like we were pissed and shooting at crocs while honing around on jet skis. Without the protecting tree canopy, the full heat of the 40°C afternoon bore down on us. The river was always cooler, but with weary arms, Jeff set off across a sandbank by way of a rest. Half an hour later he flopped back into his boat, clobbered by the radiated heat. I hitched him up and we set off along the Geikie’s famous East Wall where eons of flooding had carved the former subsea reef into scalloped and fluted forms.

“Good ON-ya guys!” something she’d wanted to do herself

“I hope you’re not laughing at us” I said with a stern grin. It was Ingrid, the Cool Ranger in her Scupper Pro sit-on-top kayak, the only person north of the 26th parallel remotely impressed by our achievement. “Good ON-ya guys!” She said as we filled her in on our adventure, something she’d wanted to do herself. Ingrid confided that a big sandbank a couple miles ahead was out of the park – we could camp there. We’d slipped through Geikie without a getting a ticket and the end was now in sight, but Jeff had well and truly had it with his slackraft and talked about walking to town. By dawn he’d come to his senses; he’d nursed his bloated paddling pool for nearly a week, past sleeping crocs and charging bulls, over boulder fields and under fallen trees, patching it as he went. Yesterday had been a slog, but he knew he had to see it through to the road bridge.

Ingrid, the Cool Ranger in her Scupper Pro sit-on-top kayak ThePaddler 69

ThePaddler 70

INFORMATION Weather: Western Australia has a number of climatic zones due to its enormous size. In the north-west, heavy rains mark the summer 'wet' season, although the interior is mostly dry with high summer temperatures; while the southwest has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Perth’s rainfall is highest between May and September. February is usually the hottest month of the year, averaging temperatures of 31°C. A sea breeze called ‘The Fremantle Doctor’, blows from the south-west providing relief from the heat. Winters are relatively cool and wet with temperatures of around 18°C.



Money: Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.


Visas: Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a visa to enter Australia. New Zealand passport holders can apply for a visa upon arrival in the country. All other passport holders must apply for a visa before leaving home. You can apply for a range of visas, including tourist visas and working holiday visas, at your nearest Australian Consulate. You can also apply for certain types of visas online.

There are important things you should know before applying for, or being granted, an Australian visa. These include applying for the right type of visa, application requirements, your obligations while in Australia and the importance of complying with visa conditions.

For more detailed information visit the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

Population: The 2011 population of Australia is estimated at approximately 21,766,711 people. Most of the population (83% in 1996) live within 50 km of the coast and concentrated mainly in the large coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Animals: Our unique animals are one of the many reasons people visit our country. Australia has more than 378 mammal species, 828 bird species, 4000 fish species, 300 species of lizards, 140 snake species, two crocodile species and around 50 types of marine mammal.

More than 80 per cent of our plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and are found no-where else. Some of our best-known animals are the kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat.

Surf and water safety: Australia’s popular beaches are usually patrolled by volunteer lifesavers from October to April and red and yellow flags mark the safest area for swimming. For information about marine stingers and crocodile safety read the Queensland Government website.

Language: Australia’s official language is English. However, being a multicultural nation with a significant migrant population, there is also a tremendous diversity of languages and cultures.

Electricity: Our electrical current is 220 – 240 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet is different from some other countries, so you may need an adaptor.

And so at

6am we set off separately for the final 13-mile leg which I figured I’d complete by noon, collect the van and meet Jeff back at the bridge. With nothing to lose I went for it, but by ten miles I was fading. The familiar cycle of headwinds, quicksands, log jams and enervating heat took its toll as iridescent green jabiru storks carved the sultry airwaves. There were a lot more roos down here too, but what about that bridge? Finally there it was, less than a mile away. Tripletrailer road trains hammered across, oblivious to the tiny raft below, its paddler up to his knees again in quicksand.

Presently a shadow passed overhead, but it wasn’t a fallen river gum or a rustling cadjeput; it was the bridge on Highway 1 which ringed the entire continent of Australia. Worn out and parched, I crawled up the steep bank, rolled up the Alpacka and headed for town.

Information: Alpacka Rafts are available from: www.alpackaraft.com or in Europe at: www.packrafting-store.eu

Chris Scott’s IK&P blog is packed with valuable packrafting info and helpful suggestions at: http://apaddleinmypack.wordpre ss.com/packrafts/

Walking with sharks By Chris Scott

Chris Scott asked “Why doesn’t anyone paddle around Shark Bay, Jeff? It seems ideal for beginners like us.”

“Name puts them off I reckon,” he replied. “It’s famous for big Tiger sharks; National Geographic made a documentary there once.”

“Oh really?” I said. “I thought it was just a name...”

I had just flown in to Perth, Western Australia (WA) from London and together with Jeff ’s girlfriend Sharon we’d hit the road for the 1,000km drive to Shark Bay.


To read further visit:

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ThePaddler 72

In 1932, a 25-year-old German electrician called Oscar Speck jumped in his folding kayak and began paddling through the waterways of Europe looking for work. Along the way he fell in love with the journey itself, and carried on until he reached Australia, seven years later. As he arrived on the shores of Thursday Island, World War II had just erupted and he was promptly interned for six years. Last year, Australian expedition kayaker Sandy Robson, set off to recreate Speck's astonishing adventure in several stages.

Following the

paddle strokes of

Reproduced courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Oskar Speck

Story and images by Sandy Robson Edited by Patrick Kinsella First published in Paddlemag in Australia

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story on paper and a map For me it has gone from being a

showing a route through places whose names I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pronounce, to a story that I'm living

We sit side by side on the precipice. This is Jugo's special place where he comes to breathe the river. He held my hand to get me on this edge safely and now I can see why we have climbed over the railing. Jugo tells me what he sees.

The whole thing was originally Oskar Speck’s idea. I thought most kayakers would know about Oskar, but I was wrong. Even in his homeland, Germany, I was telling people his story for the first time.

This Dunav vista is intertwined with his life in Novi Sad and with his love for his country. Dunav is the Serbian word for the Danube. He can see himself kissing a girl by the river when he was just a teenage boy. He can smell the blossoms of the riverside trees. He tells me about his decision to leave a good job, wife and child in Canada to return and fight for his country alongside his brother. He was up here when the NATO planes were dropping bombs on the bridge below.

I am telling the story now, not with words but with paddle stokes as I re-trace the 50,000km kayaking journey Oskar Speck took from Germany to Australia. For me it has gone from being a story on paper and a map showing a route through places whose names I couldn’t pronounce, to a story that I'm living. It's a tale that travels through many countries, and not much of it is in English.

The war is over, but the people's problems continue. Jugo says that when he sits here, the problems get smaller. "The river is their escape," he says of the many men that I have seen out fishing on the river in the past few days. Sure, they're catching food to put on the table, but when they go to the river they are joking around and life is simple again. The river shows them what is important and what is not.

Left: Entering the Iron Gates Gorge in Serbia. Right: Novi Sad to Belgrade with Jugo – 100kms in a day..

I can relate to what he is saying because kayaking is my escape. I am escaping the lifestyle that most people in my world consider 'normal'. Normal seems to involve getting up and going to work each day until you are 60 years old, and then retiring, perhaps having paid off a house in the suburbs in the process. The ocean and wild places have given me a different perspective on what is important. So here I am overlooking the Dunav with Jugo. I am taking some of my retirement now.

Exactly why I am doing it, I think I will find out with the passing of time. That's something I have plenty of. It took Oskar seven years to reach Thursday Island in a folding kayak. I will try for five. The water under my bow started on the Danube River in Ulm, Germany in May 2011. I first met Oskar while reading his water-stained diary penned eight decades earlier. As I got to know him, I tried to imagine how I would cope with the challenges he faced. This research, coupled with my subsequent experiences, not only gave me a perspective of what the journey would have been like for Oskar, but also revealed what had changed and what has endured over the last 79 years.

I thought most kayakers would know about Oskar,

but I was wrong

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My first challenge

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was not the rapids and whirlpools that Oskar experienced, but getting past 35 dams that now punctuate the Danube, using locks or portage routes. In the first week I had to traverse 18 small, self-operated locks. Each involved 30 cold minutes of standing in the breeze in wet paddle clothing.

Oskar and I both used a network of kayak clubs on the Danube for accommodation, support and the companionship. In Austria I was lucky to be launching in Linz on the same day as two German kayakers, Patrick and Johanna. I was intrigued by their retro folding

kayak, which was similar to Oskar’s, and they were an inspiration to me as we paddled bigkilometre days together through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. It was a very hard day when we had to part ways early one morning in Budapest. My friends packed up their kayak and took the train home, as I went off alone into Serbia. Oskar had at least two dogs during his voyage, and what I found most remarkable was how he had paddled the 35-nautical-mile crossing from Turkey to Cyprus with a young puppy in the kayak. During my first night camping alone in Serbia, I found myself wishing I had a dog with me for companionship and security.

I know what Oskar would say. You don’t need money to see the world in style. In his words, a kayak is a

“first-class ticket to everywhere.”

With Postmaster Willy in Austria. Below: Patrick and Johanna.

The start of a lifelong friendship with Patrick and Johanna and a love of the biscuit called Doppelkeks. Photo by Wilhelm Mayrhofer.

On my last day on the Danube, I met Brza. She arrived in the morning as I was packing my kayak, and pursued me a kilometre down river until I finally gave up and let her climb on board. She was the perfect kayak dog and eventually found a place to sleep on the back deck, with her head curled around my waist. With sadness, I returned Brza to her hometown, Brza Palanka, at the conclusion of the 18km trip to my take-out point. I didn't think the border police would let me take her across and I was unsure if she would survive the whitewater on the Vardar. I was not even sure I would! The Serbian kayakers that I had become friends with in Belgrade assisted me with passage from the Danube in Serbia to the Vardar in Macedonia, and provided all the

contacts that I would need to paddle this river that is little known outside of the Balkans. On a one- or a two-week expedition, you can plan every detail. A four-month journey is another situation entirely. Sometime you simply have to take things as they come. Prior to the expedition I couldn't find any information about the Vardar. In Germany, paddlers asked me how I planned to get myself and my kayak from the Danube to the Vardar, and I surprised and worried them when I said I didn't know. Having undertaken huge journeys before, I was confident it would work out. When you follow your dream, things often just fall into place in ways you could never imagine, so I continued to paddle into the unknown until the day I arrived in Novi Sad and met Jugo.

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We sat down for a coffee

and to my utter delight and surprise he said: “It's all arranged.” It seems the bush telegraph is not unique to Australia, and the Serbian paddlers really did have everything sorted, from route plans to contact details of English speaking people in every town I would stay in as I passed along the Danube in Serbia. The mayors of some towns had been made aware of my impending arrival and I even had the name and telephone number for the chief of police.

The icing on the cake, though, was contacts for paddlers in Macedonia and a detailed description of the Macedonian section of the Vardar River. I was humbled by my experience of Balkan hospitality. If you only paddle one part of the Danube River, then I urge you to go to Serbia. “So, how’s your relationship with Oskar Speck going?” I am asked as Stage One of my expedition concludes. Well, it’s pretty tough at the moment actually. The first stage took me from Germany to Cyprus; I have very little money left and finding work and sponsors to fund the next stage is tough. But if we could sit down right now and have a beer and a chat about the trip, I know what Oskar would say. You don’t need money to see the world in style. In his words, a kayak is a "first-class ticket to everywhere." Jugo would agree with Oskar. He paddled for three months last year on a budget of one Euro per day and he says of such adventures: "Everyday is like a fairytale." Long-distance kayakers are rich in adventures that travellers staying in the finest of hotels could never imagine. So, I know what Oskar would say, but maybe the question about my relationship with Speck is delving for something more. Perhaps

people think I'm out there paddling solo and talking to Oskar like an imaginary friend. Okay, I have to admit, I may have sworn at him when confronted by the weir on the Vardar River that I had to portage 5kms past, and again the next day when I arrived at three wire-covered rockwalls spanning the river and prompting yet another portage from hell.

And Oskar and I had a difference of opinion when it came to the Vardar. I would have been content to continue on the river Danube from Serbia all the way to the Black Sea and even across to Istanbul. But Oskar got his way, so I went from the Danube in Serbia to the Vardar River in Macedonia, put my sea kayak into the whitewater and hoped my boat would not be damaged like his was in the rapids.

Below: The Paddling Mafia in Serbia... Dejan and Dragan were watching my back.

It was a relief to arrive at the sea. Then my relationship with Oskar was okay again. We were off to the Greek Islands together and a sea kayaker really does belong on the sea. I probably set out on this next phase of the journey with more confidence than Oskar. His craft was not designed for the ocean and, surprisingly, he couldn't swim. When he got worried he would tie himself to his kayak with a rope. At times it must have been terrifying.

Part two next month: Greece to Turkey

To help sandy continue with her adventure, she needs 1,000 people willing to give 20AUDs. Contact Sandy for details on how to make a donation at: robsonsandy@hotmail.com www.sandy-robson.com To follow Sandy’s expedition view: www.vskc.org.au/ExpedDashboard.asp?ExpedID=13 For more information on Oskar view: www.anmm.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=1416&c=915

I was humbled by my experience of Balkan hospitality. If you only paddle one part of the

Danube River,

then I urge you to go to Serbia

Demir Kapija Gorge on the Vardar River in Macedonia with Marijan.

Sandy paddling with Werner Gotz in Germany.

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So far from home andâ&#x20AC;Ś

Standing on the roof of the

It had been a year since the project began. Meetings, fund raising, planning, sponsored events and determination had led us this far and now we were on a plane to Nepal! Twelve young people, aged 14-21 and staff from Laburnum Boat Club in Hackney, east London were on a cultural, community and kayaking adventure of a lifetime. The group raised ÂŁ20,000 over 12 months to make the trip happen and all the hard work was finally coming together. The aims of the trip were simple: To undertake an expedition, which benefited each individual, their local community and the communities, which we visited. By Beth Ettinger ThePaddler 81

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Finally, we arrived in Kathmandu Everyone was overwhelmed by the massive differences we encountered straight off the plane and on our ride into town we sat with mouths open and faces pressed against the windows, drinking in all the sights, sounds and smells of a new country. The next day we flew to Pokhara, at the foot of the Annapurna range, where we met our guides, Santosh and the team from Paddle Nepal.

The first part of the expedition was a three-day trip on the Seti River. We had a paddle raft, a gear raft and eight kayaks, giving everyone the opportunity to paddle, raft and swap around throughout the trip. The experience of spending two nights camping on white sandy beaches by the river, with nothing more than we had carried with us, was a first for most of the group. The question “where are the toilets?” This was answered with a paddle for a spade, a tarp for privacy and directions where to dig!

Group member Moneer Elmasseek describes the trip,

"On the first night camping by the river, I saw something I had only seen in films. I saw the Milky-Way shadowing the mountains of the Himalayas, we were standing on the roof of the world, so high up I felt I could touch the moon. I saw three shooting stars, most people go their entire life without seeing one. We were so far from home, yet it didn't matter as I was surrounded by close friends I call family. When we got on the river the next morning, we left our campsite in natures hands again. In Nepal I discovered things about myself, about the world and about people, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.” The Seti definitely showed us what we had in store for the rest of the trip. The scale of things in the world’s highest mountain range was going to take some getting used to. It was more than the size of the rapids, which were huge compared to the canal in Hackney. It was the sense of adventure, of the challenges we would face as a group and as individuals, the teamwork and support required by being so far away from home, the differences in the way people lived and the achievements everyone would share during the expedition and as the trip went on, the team bonded through common experiences and the need to support and be supported. The next three days we spent in the homestead of the three brothers who run Paddle Nepal called Simental, on the Banks of the Trisuli River, where the villagers survive by subsistence farming.

We were there to undertake a community project: to build toilets as there was only one in the whole village. The game was on to provide each of the remaining four homes with a toilet of their own. We split into groups and set about collecting rocks to build the structures and digging holes to house the tanks. We spent each day working hard and it wasn't long before we were working alongside the villagers, not sharing a common language but spending all day together, digging, carrying and finding ways round the problems of building on the side of a mountain. We left each house with a permanent structure as well as tin for the roofs, concrete, pipes, and toilet pans. We helped make a real difference to their community and for future generations.

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Apart from the physical man hours we contributed, the best part was the community spirit shared between visitors and villagers. The young people from one of the most deprived areas of the UK had seen how hard things can be living hand-to-mouth. Apart from the physical man hours we contributed, the best part was the community spirit shared between visitors and villagers. The young people from one of the most deprived areas of the UK had seen how hard things can be living hand-to-mouth. Travelling from inner London to a remote mountain village in Nepal certainly puts things in perspective and was summed up by

Ryan Whittingham

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I'm never going to call myself poor again,â&#x20AC;? another reflection on the scale of the Himalayas, where having nothing means exactly that.

On the last night the villagers gave us an evening of traditional songs and dance round the bonfire and we handed out toys to the children. The next morning the villagers came out in full traditional dress and gave us a Nepalese send off and blessing for the journey ahead, with vibrant decorations, incense and flower necklaces handmade that morning. We left the village exhausted and headed for the next challenge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a day of canyoning!

We hiked up hill for 45 minutes

in wetsuits and bouyancy aids to the base of a massive waterfall, where we were given a safety briefing before starting our descent down the canyon. There were whoops of joy, screams of terror and a few tears along the way, but after numerous slides, lowers, leaps and prayers we all made it, safe and excited, back to the bottom.

The next day was one of rest and an opportunity to explore the town of Pokhara, albeit for a short time, before we hit the road again and headed for the Kali Gandaki, one of the holiest rivers in the country. The water was colder and more powerful and the rapids were definitely bigger and harder than the Seti. The crux of the trip were the two rapids, Big Brother and Little Brother. Both had the group out on the side inspecting and deciding whether to paddle, raft or walk around, which took some time!

bigger and harder than the Seti The water was colder and more powerful and the rapids were definitely

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ThePaddler 86

One decision was made for us as Big Brother is a portage for the raft, leaving the eight kayaks waiting to be filled. Eventually the challengers lined up in their boats and took on the grade IV rapids, a huge achievement for a group more used to the Dart. The experiences so far must have had an effect, as everyone arrived at the bottom grinning from ear to ear, some people even had their kayaks with them when they eddied out at the bottom! Any embarrassment for swimming was dwarfed by the respect in the group for people making their own decisions and taking the consequences of their actions.

Rowan, known to all for his 'face of panic' every time he falls in the water overcame his worries on swimming the rapids stating “the kayaking is much more fun than worrying about swimming”. The last day on the Kali marked the end of the adventure, leaving us each with a sense of achievement for what we had done, individually and more importantly, together. We overcame perceptions, disagreements, fear and tummy bugs and enjoyed our final day in Kathmandu visiting the Buddahannath temple and taking rickshaws to Durbah Square on the last night of Divali, a real assault on the senses with light and colour everywhere and the whole city it seemed had come out to celebrate.

Beth Ettinger

the trip leader, summed up the trip by saying, “The best bit was waking up on the side of the river, knowing that I was going boating again that day. We learnt how hard village life and living hand-tomouth can be and also how far a little help can go.”

The group are now delivering lectures to local youth and community groups to inspire others to take part and to show what a lot of determination and team work can achieve. The aims of the expedition were met, and then some, and the benefits for all involved will last a lifetime. A big thank you to all those that made the trip possible, including the Team at Paddle Nepal who were more than fantastic, the Jack Petchey Foundation, the Canoe Foundation, the Marston Group Charitable Trust, Hackney and Camden YOFs and to everyone who took part.

s n o i s i c e d n w their o

dwarfed s a w g in imm nt for sw king e m s s a r eople ma ar p b r m fo e p y u n A gro ect in the p s e r e h t by

s heir action t f o s e c en consequ e h t g in k and ta

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Nepal: kayaking for beginners By Kevin Stainthorpe

As Kevin explains, my vision was blurred and those all too familiar muffled sounds of surface noise and rushing water started to mix together and try to confused my senses even further. I was upside down. But unlike any previous experiences I was not in a state of panic. The water wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cold, the river wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t shallow, and the conditions were perfect for setting up and attempting to roll.

I remembered what I had been taught, I wrestled my paddles forward, tucked, paused to make sure my blade was level and had purchase on the surface, then as I brought the paddle across the surface I gave the now familiar hip flick and in an instant I was bathed once again in warm sunlight as I grabbed some more fresh mountain air.

www.thepaddler.co.uk/expnepalbeginners.html To read further visit:

Monsoon boating in Nepal By Dave Burne

It all began after our group triumphantly completed the Tsarap-Zanskar (India) multi-day expedition in very high water, then hitched into Leh. It was here we found that river levels were the highest they had been since the 70s, which explained the mysteries of why we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t recognise any of the descriptions of rapids we had just paddled!

So, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in Leh, and all of the classics you had planned on paddling are too high. What do you do? Go and discuss your options with a local raft company, have a whisky or two, then a few more, challenge some Nepalese raft guides and a six-foot six legend of a German to a drinking competition et voila!


To read further visit:

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ThePaddler 92

Kayak fishi The kayak is ideally suited for fishing, that is, after all, what the craft was originally developed for. The origins of kayaking are as a survival craft used to fish for cod and salmon and hunt seals and walrus. The modern fishing kayak bears stark similarity to those skin on frame kayaks, other than the overall profile and ethos behind the method of using a small, paddle powered craft to access better fishing grounds than can be reached from shore. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be fooled by the sit-on-top configuration the better, modern, purpose designed, fishing kayaks are highly evolved to suit the task.


in the sea

By Simon Everett

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ThePaddler 94

public calls to the coastguard

It is interesting that kayak fishing results in more

than any other type of kayaking.

Taking a quick

look around the basic design, there are good reasons why the open decked kayak has become the favoured layout. There is a well on the after deck to house a box or crate that is accessible from the cockpit whilst at sea, some also have a cargo hatch below this for camping gear. On the foredeck there is another cargo hatch, which is often used to house the 12Ah battery to power the fish finder and chart plotter. Then, in the cockpit itself, there is a fish hatch, long enough to stow fishing rods and your catch. On the better kayaks there are bulkheads and the fishbox is a separate moulding, not simply access into the hull. Astern the seat you will find two, flush-mounted, fishing rod holders with rod leashing points and angled in such a way as to keep the rods out of the main paddling arc. Further rod holders are added forward in the cockpit. Running along the gunwales are the anchor hauls, so the kayak can be anchored in a tide run with the stern facing the flow, yet still be controlled from the cockpit. The freedom of movement required to reach all these features and to have the stowage and deck space to mount them is really only possible with an open cockpit.

Get the proper kit

The next consideration is the paddlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s kit. A PFD is mandatory, no kayak angler with any experience will launch without a proper PFD, not only do they provide buoyancy in the water, but wind protection and certain amount of insulation whilst out of it. It has also become a standard recommendation that a drysuit, with appropriate under layers for the season, be worn even in summer. The kayak angling fraternity pride themselves on their preparation and safety kit carried. VHF is seen as a must, not a luxury, likewise a compass, whistles and waterproof torch. Flares are carried, mini flares in the PFD pocket and offshore flares on the kayak. Most regular kayak anglers have their craft registered with the Coastguard on the CG66 scheme, it is a worthwhile practise and every launch will be notified to the regional station,

and again upon landing, this is most important as without the notification that the party is back ashore safe at the time stated alerts are put out. If the time back ashore changes, a quick message over the VHF to the station is all it requires and they will make a note of the new ETA ashore. Failure to log back in normally triggers a phone call to the registered telephone number first, so as to avoid false call outs. It is surprising how many times people forget to tell the station they have gone home, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be one of these!

Notify the coastguard

Why is it important to notify the coastguard? What business is it of theirs what I am doing? It is interesting that kayak fishing results in more public calls to the coastguard than any other type of kayaking. This is because good hearted cliff top walkers, or observant deckchair sun-tanners, notice a kayak remaining in the same place for some time, sometimes with a regular arm wave (where the angler is casting) and with no visible sign of any attempt to paddle or make headway the shore watcher naturally assumes the kayak is in some kind of trouble and in good faith alerts the authorities. This is most frequent when fishing close to shore, simply because four miles out the kayak cannot be seen, but 800 yards off the cliff or beach they can be. Therefore it is the kayak angler who isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t going far out who most needs to notify the coastguard. With the information the coastguard station will then simply put out a call on the VHF to ask if you are OK, so it is important to constantly monitor channel 16. When you answer in the affirmative, that all is well, the coastguard will then ask if there is another kayak in your vicinity that might need assistance. You can tell them you are the one(s) out there and all is well, thereby avoiding an unnecessary lifeboat launch. If the coastguard cannot raise you on the VHF they are obliged to launch the lifeboat to investigate. The number of these instances is rising, so it is important that kayakers operating within sight of the shore, that means all of us, notify a paddle plan every time we launch, even if it is only 400 yards off the beach. In fact it is MORE important if you are only 400 yards off the beach.

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ThePaddler 96

So, having got kitted up

what is there to catch and how do you go about

catching it?

Mackerel are probably the mainstay of many kayak angler’s catch, as they are ubiquitous and easily caught. They are a sporting fish in their own right, especially if caught using ultra light spinning gear or light fly fishing tackle. Fly-fishing from a kayak in the sea is gaining popularity all the time and mackerel are a popular quarry. Garfish are often caught when fishing for mackerel, these snake-like fish with their serrated bill are terrific scrappers and become acrobatic, tail-walking and dashing about all over the place.


Many mackerel and garfish are caught with the intention of using them for bait for bigger fish, people tend to use a variety of multi-hook rigs, colloquially known as ‘feathers’, these can also be attractive to a nasty little fish called a Lesser Weaver. These spiny fish are actually quite venomous and you need to be familiar with their recognition features. If you catch one, do not touch it; instead remove it from the hook using pliers or other tool, over the side of the kayak. We had one angler touch one and the venom caused him to go into anaphylactic shock and he had to be medi-vacced off the water, it was a real Mayday situation, thankfully he and his friend had attended one of our safety courses the week before and his friend immediately put in a

Mayday emergency call on his VHF, again stressing the importance of this vital piece of safety equipment!


Recreational paddlers are often astounded at the size of fish kayak angler’s target, with tope, conger and even the mighty common skate being caught regularly, the largest yet recorded in British waters being a leviathan of over 200lbs by Dover angler Laurence ‘Lozz’ Taylor at a mark in loch Crinnan on the west coast of Scotland. This mark means anchoring the kayak in water nearly 400ft deep and with a 1 knot current running. This kind of extreme kayak fishing requires sturdy gear, proper preparation and solid technique. It is probably best not gone into here as anchoring is an art in its own right, it is probably the most dangerous aspect of kayak fishing, because if the kayak gets beam on in a tide flow whilst anchored a capsize is almost immediate, but to give an idea of the predatory nature of the common skate, use a hook the size of your hand and a 2lb – 3lb pollack as bait. Tope are another species fished for at anchor, again in a flow of tide, often stronger at 2 knots or a bit more on a spring tide. The advantage of the tope though are they are very shallow, between 15 feet and 100ft deep. Early in the season, which starts in April, a whole mackerel is the preferred bait. If

We had one angler touch one and the venom caused him to go into

anaphylactic shock

and he had to be medi-vacced off the water

the tope are picking the bait up, running off with it but not getting hooked then making the bait smaller often works and the mackerel are cut in half, so you get two baits from each one. Tackle for tope need not be as strong as for skate and a rod rated 12lbs class is sufficient. The reel needs to have sufficient capacity and a smooth, reliable drag to deal with a fish that can run off 100 yards of line in one go. This is the attraction of these fish, their sporting prowess is second to none and they are fairly evenly spread around the coast. The rough skin of the tope requires the use of a 100lb rubbing leader of around 10ft in length, I use a tapered leader meant for beach casting as an easy transition from the thin braid on my reel to the thick monofilament line for the rubbing protection. The final 14â&#x20AC;? of the trace is 80lb wire to prevent bite offs and a minimum of a 6/0 hook, I like Gamakatsu hooks or Sakuma Manta extras as they are strong but incredibly sharp. Fishing for tope is dead easy, it is simply a matter of dropping the bait to the sea bed and waiting for the first knocks that then metamorphose into the first run as the fish takes the bait and swims off with it, let it go and then set the reel in gear and start winding, your drag should be already set to allow the fish to take line against the curve of the rod. Little I say can prepare you for that first searing run of your first tope hook up â&#x20AC;&#x201C; enjoy!

Black bream

Mackerel, garfish





The venomous Lesser Weever

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It isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t all just about big

sport fish though;

Various baits

catching fish to take home for the table is all part and parcel of the game. Pollack and cod are mainstays of the table fish, with whiting and gurnards featuring strongly too. The cod family will all happily take rubber lures fished close to the seabed and can grow to a good size. Just recently a friend of mine caught a Pollack of nearly 14lbs from the reef off Lizard point and fish around the 6lb mark are commonplace, a good fish by anyone standards.

Flatfish, in season are a welcome treat and fortunately the humble flounder can be found in sheltered estuaries and harbours through the winter, caught by using peeler crab for bait or a bunch of ragworms fished right on the bottom, sometimes in no more than a few inches of water. Plaice are a fish of the spring and summer over sandbanks or a clean, sandy, gravelly bottom. One of the most famous marks available for the kayak angler is the Skerries bank in Start Bay, Devon or the seafront along from Southsea to Leeon-Solent. Given a chance both these flatfish can be great fun and surprisingly sporty. Light tackle is all that is required and a spinning rod and reel will cope with any flounder or plaice that swims. Another summer species that is both fabulous to eat and catch is the black bream. These migratory fish turn up in the early spring, the biggest fish first and can then be caught right through the summer months. They can be a real nuisance at it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t difficult to catch dozens times when fishing for other species, shredding in a session, so restraint needs your bait in seconds of dropping it down, if this happens the only thing you can do is move.

to be shown

for the future of the stocks

Bream shoal in such numbers over reefs and broken ground that it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t difficult to catch dozens in a session, so restraint needs to be shown for the future of the stocks. A selfimposed limit of five fish is plenty for anyone, especially if they are big ones of 3lbs or more. The best bait for these very hard fighters is a small piece of mackerel, or a squid strip just hooked at one end on a size 2 hook. Use fine fluorocarbon for your trace of 16lb breaking strain for better presentation and more success.

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ThePaddler 100

catching conger eels in t

For those who are confident of their kayak handling and angling skills,

has to be one of the most exciting fishing trips there is. Congers are found right around the coast wherever there is cover of some kind. Rocky ledges such as those along Dorsetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jurassic Coast, breakwaters like that across The Sound at Plymouth and wrecks will all hold conger eels, some of enormous size. The best bait for a conger is mackerel or a couple of whole squid presented on a large, strong hook like those used for tope. Although conger have no teeth they have immense crushing power and hard bony plate that will make short work of your trace if it is less than 150lb breaking strain. Once hooked conger fight very hard all the way to the surface and they are the only fish that can swim backwards as fast as they can forwards. A tussle with a conger is a tug-of-war in the vertical plane and it will test every piece of your tackle to the utmost. Once on the surface they will often spin, going round like a rubber band motor on a toy aeroplane. Once you can grab the trace and get the head out of the water they then tend to calm down and can be carefully unhooked. Barbless hooks make this task easier and if you want to try cooking one, they are best used in a Bouillabaisse. Other fish taste better, but few fight as well. If you are fired up to try your hand at kayak angling, rather than just a bit of mackerel bashing, then the Angling Trust run dedicated kayak fishing safety courses which provide more than just the basics, plus techniques on how to anchor safely and using a drogue to drift more strategically. You can find details on their website below.

Tight lines and stay safe.


the pitch black of night

ThePaddler 101

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ThePaddler ezine issue 3 Nov 12  

Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...

ThePaddler ezine issue 3 Nov 12  

Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...


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