(this should end all doubt the NSW Seakayaking Club is the Mirage Appreciation Society. Note Eco.)
One of the great things about Seakayaking that you don’t get in say, stamp collecting, is that you can fairly easily be killed doing it. In fact, there are a good many number of ways you can be killed. You’ve got your drowning, exposure, and being smashed against rocks as well as being eaten by sharks. They’re your standard methods and on top of that there’s a whole lot of unsuspecting traps for both the old and new player. Things like getting your pants caught on the coaming of your cockpit while you’re upside down, or not packing your thermals for an overnighter in July when the weather turns. A Saturday recreational paddle can easily lead to sunburn, dehydration or hypothermia if you’re stupid enough not to prepare and believe me I’m stupid enough not to. So, if you can mitigate any of those painfully obvious ways to die with some training and practical advice from people who are still alive then you take it.
At long last, my club, the NSW Seakayaking Club, ran a training course for mugs at Swansea and as a result of this enlightened decision, I attended. A bloody good thing too. Enter Henry van der Kolk and David Hipsley, two instructors of vastly different stature but of similar experience and expertise none-the-less. I won’t bore you with the details, but after two days of training the ol’ RJimlad was, to coin an Australian phrase, rooted. Getting in and out of a kayak fully clothed in kayak gear with a whole bunch of people watching and trying not to look like a clueless twat is exhausting. The venue was well picked and idyllic, the company of apprentices friendly and cheerful and the level of instruction, thorough. In short, I learnt heaps and left a better kayaker. My bracing is much better, I can self rescue, assist rescue and behave as if competent. For two days of great training I paid bugger all. I mean NOTHING. Henry and David did this for nix because they support the club. If that alone isn’t enough reason to join then better get the stamp album ready. So via this humble blog post I want to thank Henry and David and the club. I actually feel like I’ve been inducted into the scene rather than being a fee paying by-stander. There’s a long way to go to Grade 3 but I’ll get there in my own time. In the meantime…
Now, another matter. Look at the top photo of the post. All but two boats are Mirages. David Hipsley brought a Penguin but he also owns a Mirage 580. Eco is stuck in the middle of this squadron and is looking a bit odd. BUT! On the water, Eco was every bit as fast, as maneuverable, as stable and more durable than the Mirages. Sure, the Mirage is a fantastic boat. You could even say the Mirage is the archetypal Australian boat; the Commodore of the kayaking world. No wonder it’s the club’s boat of choice. The Eco Bezhig is a New Zealand built boat designed by John Dobbe and is popular there. It is every bit a match for the Mirage. Walk tall Eco, you are a god among tupperware.