Thursday, September 29, 2016

____________ KAYAKS, POHUTAKAWAS AND AN UMBRELLA _____________

Today I went kayaking with my brother Tony. The aim was to enjoy some kayaking again after a rainy and cold winter and to inspect the Pohutakawas trees that my good friend Gerry had planted and asked me to keep an eye on because he was relocating to Wellington.

The 21 small, newly planted Pohutakawa trees ( right foreground) were generally doing very well indeed and were thriving after a winter that had come with a few pretty ferocious storms. One had died and one is looking a bit worse for wear, but the rest are doing well. This is the third time I have checked on them since they were planted at the beginning of the year. Two of the previous visits were to apply fertilizer. This trip I weeded some of the planting sites that had become inundated with weeds, completely enveloping some of the trees. I will go back again soon to complete this work.

With a fast incoming tide only half way in, a first circumnavigation of Rat Island was cut off by a rapidly disappearing section of sand. There was only one thing to do - some good old fashioned portaging. I like the word portage, it reminds me of stories I used to read about the exploits of North American Indians and their adventures in the wilds of the USA and Canada. In the stories I read as a youngster they were always portaging their bark canoes from one lake to another as they traversed the wilderness hunting, foraging and exploring.

So my brother and I, two guiltily overweight old age pensioners (and both recipients of quadruple heart bypass surgeries) had a go at portaging. It's hard work. We stopped frequently, discovered again that the rear end of the kayaks are much heavier at one end - the stern -  and took turns in this position as we portaged them one at a time across a strip of sand that ended up being a lot longer than it looked.

Three quarters of the way across and time to have a discussion about whose idea it was to portage across this strip of sand. We could have sat in the middle of the sand in our kayaks and waited for the tide to come in, but, call me old fashioned - once a couple of pensioners have made a portage commitment they are not apt to give up easily.

The last stretch of sand. My kayak is sitting waiting on the horizon.

On the run back to the launching ramp Tony produced his 'piece de resistance', a medium sized umbrella which pushed his kayak along at the rate of a steady paddle pace. I had forgotten this trick of his with the umbrella and wasn't equipped in a similar manner - bugger.

As he gradually forged off into the distance I spent some time on the paddle back designing a suitable sailing device that can be readily attached on the fore deck of my kayak - either that or an umbrella of my own!

Back at the launching ramp and loading up the boats. When we got home we drank some 'Spieghts - Pride of the South' beer and talked portaging with arms so yanked in their sockets it was hard to lift the beer cans to our lips.

I will have to email Gerry and send him some photos showing how well his beloved Pohutakawas are doing.


Dan Gurney said...

Having a sail for your kayak can really improve an outing, especially for paddlers who have a sailing background. I've tried several sails made for kayaks. The one that I use the most is effective downwind, easy to deploy, and can be used on all my kayaks. It's called a Windpaddle.

I don't know if they're available in NZ.

Kudos to you and your brother taking care of those trees.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for the link Dan. Kayaks sails are available in NZ. Ideally I would like a regular triangular sail so that I could sail efficiently across the wind when running. I could use one paddle blade as a centreboard while doing the usual rudder steering with the foot pedals. If I can't get anything to suit or they are too expensive I will build my own.

My brother found that the umbrella requires a window in it so that he can see where he is going, also his body blocked the wind a bit so he had to hold the umbrella up high to capture the wind more efficiently, which tired his arms. But for all that, I put an umbrella in the cockpit of my kayak when I put it away this morning so that I am not caught umbrellaless again going downwind.

Paul Mullings said...

Me thinks you need to build a trolley Alden! That sand looks plenty firm enough?

Paul Mullings said...

Just found this Alden!

KAYAK SAIL Paddle - Go Sailing in your Kayak or Canoe - Wind-PADDLE -Rowing Boats #1008

Alden Smith said...

Paul, the sand is firm enough for a trolley and we discussed trolleys as we struggled with the portage. I do have a trolley that I use to launch the kayak when I am single handed but unfortunately it doesn't fit in the stern locker on my kayak. There are though smaller folding trolleys that would fit and I must get one not only for the unexpected portages but also for getting from the water across the sand to the launching ramp when I arrive back at low tide - very useful.

I looked at the link about the Kayak Sail Paddle, thanks, very useful - I will either purchase some sort of commercially produced sail, or make my own.