Friday 14 March 2014

Rock & Roll 2014

The annual NSW Sea Kayak Club's Rock & Roll weekend returned to Bateman's Bay this year, a venue that has a bit of everything for sea paddlers, with excellent water access & a camp ground at Batehaven that is a beaut.

As is our tradition, I collected Gary Forrest from the airport on Thursday, & we drove the trailer of boats & EK gear, four hours down the coast to the event.
Gazza & Mick
As is also becoming more common, there were plenty of paddlers already there, despite the official start being the following day, which meant we not only had helping hands to set up, but also a few extra people to have some fun with in the evening, at what has become the 'unofficial' opening ceremony.

Friday dawned clear & bright despite an iffy forecast, and as the day wore on & our display took shape, more & more paddlers arrived with the early evening 'Beer & Pizza' party looming. This year's theme was Hawaii, and in full swing things did look like something in like Blue Hawaii, except there were a lot of blokes in coloured shirts who looked a bit like Max Cady in Cape Fear.
Max Cady - the template for all men at a Hawaiian shirt party
Owen having a 'coffee' at 9pm on Beer & Pizza night. Marty isn't fooled.
The EK 'Welcome to RnR' Beer & Pizza Party
Winners of the best dressed awards went to Nerissa & Shawn, a bright & cheery island mermaid &, umm, a Rastafarian Polynesian white-guy ukulele player.

The following two days on the water were pretty memorable, from the perspective of getting club paddlers out to sea, exploring offshore islands, pushing boundaries around rocks & surf, all within the excellent safety boundaries set by the club. I'll let the pics tell the story.
Wade pays the Toll
Nice waves at Surf Beach
Tollgate Rock Gardening
Nerissa heads for Black Rock
Mick in his new toy
Saturday paddlers head to Black Rock
John punching out of Surf Beach
Weaving through the volcanic rocks at the Tollgate Islands
Sea Cave at the Tollgates
Claus at 17kmh
Dave enjoying the warm water
On the Saturday evening we were treated to the extraordinary tale of David Williamson & Ben Woodcock's paddle from Australia to East Timor. 
Saturday dinner.
This was an 800km trip across the Timor Sea, battling a slowly disintegrating double kayak. They also touched briefly on their epic journey from New Caledonia to Australia years earlier, once again in a bog-standard production plastic double, one of the great ocean paddling feats, & one of the least publicised. For those of you interested in that tale, Ben has sent me a copy of the log he wrote soon after completing the journey, which is in his own words:
"an unedited version from the day I wrote it 2 days after the trip in 2004. Please be aware it is not in any way the same format as I would write today or as in depth as I would like, but it is authentic. This gives the outline of the trip and some perspective of my emotions etc."
Ben's tale is HERE, and a large PDF file with pics of their trip is HERE.
Their next adventure is an island hop across the Tasman Sea, from the top of NZ's North Island to Norfolk Island, then Lord Howe Island, then landfall in Australia on the north coast of NSW. You can read all about the trip preparations HERE. Just a bit of an island hop.

On Sunday morning I went for a quick spin with Mick MacRobb, Robin & Bob from the Victorian Sea Kayak Club. Bob paddles a beautiful skin on frame Greenland boat with his own hand made paddles, and had a few tricks up his sleeve.
Bob - Mischief Man
The best one was paddling up to a fishing boat & asking the crusty old buggers on board if they wanted him to check for any fish. Before they could tell him to bugger off, he capsized, and spent rather a while upside down, only resurfacing after they started to make some quite alarming noises. Now he had their attention, he pointed them about 20 meters to the North, 'big school of squid over there fellas'. Classic.

Sunday was the second annual Pogies, a short film festival which on both occasions has managed to bring the house down. I entered my own issues-based film, 'Why Don't Sea Kayakers Wear Budgie Smugglers', but unfortunately lost out to Fernando's more paddling focused effort (you can see Fer's excellent video HERE).

Once again, a well run, extremely well attended (over 160 paddlers), and fun, four day paddling weekend.

We have now been the major sponsor of Rock & Roll for 8 unbroken years, but the truth is, EK or not we'd be there as participants. If you're a sea paddler from anywhere in the country & you haven't been to one you truly don't know what you're missing. 

Congrat's to the club, organiser David Linco & his wing man Neil Gow for running such a seamless show, and thanks muchly to Sharon for keeping Rob & I pointing in the right direction all weekend. Well, most of the weekend....
Our favourite Wahine.

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