Monday, January 11, 2016

......................................... FIRST PADDLE OF THE YEAR .......................................

I got together a few days ago with my two brothers Tony and Chris for a paddle on Whangarei Harbour. Unexpectedly today Tony presented me with this framed photograph of moi sitting in my kayak. He said that he thought it was a great photo and decided to get it printed and framed for me - which was a very nice gesture on his part (Thanks Bro) - although I am a bit dubious about having such a large visage of myself following me around the room like the eyes on the Mona Lisa painting.

Tony (on the left) and Chris (right) have just given me a hand to get my kayak off my roof rack and onto its launching trolley. My system of a roller bar tied to the bike rack mounted on the tow bar works well and with two pairs of extra hands the job was very easy.

Chris was trying out for the first time an inflatable kayak he had purchased on NZ TradeMe.

Inflated and ready to go. This 'Pathfinder' kayak is the double paddle version and as Tony declined to be the second crew member (Chris couldn't find the second life jacket among his gear)  I had my doubts as to its single paddle performance in the wind that was starting to blow.

Downwind the inflatable worked well although with the absence of the weight of a second person the boat rode high in the water and would have performed better with a 20 litre plastic container of water up towards the bow.

We did a circumnavigation of Limestone Island, an old route of mine. Paddling up the southern side of the island and heading directly into the wind and waves the inflatable made no progress at all. This was despite the fact that Chris is a strong and capable paddler in a kayak. But he found he was going backwards. So Chris got into shallow water with the intention of towing his boat by hand to the top of the island but quickly found himself sinking up to his knees in the mud.

So the solution was to tow him. I was quite happy to do this as it gave me the chance to try out a tow rope I had on board the kayak all set up for just this kind of occasion.  Here the yellow tow rope with its little float is clipped onto the inflatables bow loop.

I found towing Chris hard work despite the fact that he was still paddling. I expended about four times the amount of energy for approximately a quarter of the speed I had been doing previously.

I think this experience shows up the limitations of inflatable boats compared with displacement type hulls made of various materials. I have a small inflatable dinghy which works well with a small outboard motor but which is pretty much impossible to row into the wind when it is very choppy and windy making it dangerous in anything other than very moderate conditions.

With a length of  5.3 metres (Just over 17 feet) the Tasman Express sea kayak is excellent for day and expedition kayaking. When I get into a rhythm I am able to maintain a good forward speed for long lengths of time, even when loaded up with gear in its generous stowage compartments. The low profile and flared bow enables the kayak to perform extremely well in rough seas and windy conditions. I find the rudder (which is controlled by foot pedals) extremely useful for turning and prevents the kayak from 'weather vanning' in cross wind conditons.

Made of polyethylene I have found the hull pretty flexible and forgiving, especially when I have found myself dumped on the top of rocks by a receding swell whilst engaging in what us kayakers call, "Doing a bit of rock gardening".

Perhaps the biggest lesson of this little trip (or reminder really) was the value of Whanau (family). I love doing stuff with the Bros!


Dan Gurney said...

That was nice of your brother to print and frame a photo for you. FWIW, I like the photo, too. It's good to have photos around the house to remind you of family and of the things you love to do. Just yesterday I framed and hung three of my best wildlife photos in our house, a reminder of what brings me happiness.

I agree with you about small inflatable boats. They have way too much windage for them to be of any use when powered only by muscle power. They blow around in any sort of breeze.

Three brothers, Tony, Chris, and Alden. Who's the oldest? Youngest?

Alden Smith said...

Our mum (mom) had 9 children. Peter (now deceased) was the eldest, Then Tony, Myself and then Chris followed by 5 daughters.

You are right about having photos around the house. Now that I am retired and have the time I must frame all those photos I have been meaning to and have them displayed. Photos make nice daily reminders of the richness of our lives.

Ben said...

Hi Alden, you have a lot of Whanau! Can you keep track of all your nieces and cousins? Easy to see that the people in the pictures are brothers.

Alden Smith said...

Hi Ben - Yes, there is a lot of Whanau. When I was growing up a family of 9 children was considered big. Many of my friends came from families of between 4 - 6 children. Today a a family of 4 children would be considered big.

Yes there is a certain family resemblance. Someone asked last week if my brother Chris and I were twins. I told them we were and that I was born 30 minutes before Chris, that we were separated at birth and that he was bought up by French parents who both worked for the Zodiac Inflatable Dinghy Company (Which explains his love of inflatable kayaks) and that we had only just met again after 64 years - the things we say and do LOL!