It is all about comfort

.. and when you don’t get that right you are really off your game.

This week, after about an hour I got very uncomfortable – and it took me a good 20-30 minutes to settle down.  My cushion was not quite right and I had to try and shuffle it around under me.  As soon as It became a problem, my speed really dropped off and I never really got back into the rhythm  again.  In hindsight, I should have stopped, got out and re-adjusted my seat.

Once again, I managed to get lucky and pick the best weather this weekend – Saturday was raining nearly all day and wind was blowing – basically terrible and I was not holding out much hope to get out on Sunday.  Well, Sunday morning, overcast, but no rain and very little wind, a quick check of the tide charts to determine a suitable course.

Anti-clockwise around Torrens Island

Tide this week was outgoing and the low was going to be about 1.2M.  This is enough (just) so that I can get thru the cutting at the northern end of Torrens Island, so I decided to do an anti-clockwise  of the Island and to go up the River to add a bit of extra distance in.  When I started, it was about 3 hours from the top of the tide, and I knew I would still have enough water to get thru.

As it was, when I got to the cutting it was quite shallow – I had less than 1/2m of water under me, but at least I could paddle the whole way and not walk.

The highlighted “X” on the water is an interesting point – it is basically where the tide does not flow – but simply goes up and down as it is where the water meets as it flows around the Island.  So, with an outgoing tide, when going anti-clockwise – I am actually padding against the tide for a little way.

I was tucked in quite close to the Island as there was just enough water to paddle in and the mangroves offered a little bit of protection from the wind.

This week the wind was quite light varying from N to NW at around the 5-15km/h.  I was actually going quite well for the first hour until I got a numb bum about the time I was going thru the cutting.  Basically most of the way along the Island back up the Port River I spent time trying to sort this out which slowed me down.   Once again, I had to battle with the wake of the tug-boats going up and down the river.  Only had 1 small rough patch from the wind – as I came thru the cutting into the Port River, in shallow water with the wind almost in my face until I crossed the river.

Speed Plot – 9km mark where I was adjusting my seat

  • Distance: 22.8km
  • Time”  3:13.20
  • Avg Moving Speed: 7.1km/h
  • Tide:  2.1 High /  1.2 Low
  • N to NW wind 5-15km/h

Not a Pretty Site!

Well, it is a look – but not a great one.  When I go out paddling I am not going to win any fashion awards, but I am going to ensure that I am warm and comfortable.

The Fashionable Kayaker!

It took me a little while to work out what works best for me and it is all about layers.  What I wear as a base layer is compression garments – long legs short shirt.  Next layer is a long layer of thermals, followed by another layer of shorts and t-shirt, then the cap.  Getting in and out means getting wet feet.  I have lightweight foot cover that has a rubber sole.

I found that without the compressions, I would get cramps in my legs several hours after I finished – something that I no longer need to deal with.  The thermals are for warmth, the shorts are for extra padding on the seat, the shirt help keeps the wind out.

In summer, I tend to go with a short sleeve thermal layer or go without if it is warm enough.

Motivation and Reason

A small extract from the HCC 2012 Newsletter #1

…but who said people who paddle 111km down a river, overnight, are normal ??

Earlier this year, I set myself a few goals, one of them was that I would
again front up and enter the 2012 HCC –

You simply cannot just turn up and hope that you will be able to complete
an event such as this – it takes considerable commitment (not the sort
with men wearing white coats) and planning. What this means is that at
around 16:45 on Saturday the 27th October, I will set off from Windsor and
about 14-15 hours and 111km of paddling later arrive at Brooklyn.

The HCC is not just about a bunch of Kayakers having fun paddling 111km
down a river overnight, it also has a serious side to it as well. This
brings me to another of my goals I set – and that is to exceed the
Sponsorship that I raised last year.

I keep coming back again (and again) because paddling 111km IS a big
challenge. Not just the physical challenge – with a bit of effort almost
anyone could do this, it is also the mental challenge – it is far harder
to overcome the doubt. The 3rd aspect is doing something for others who
are less fortunate – and that is where the fundraising comes in.

My commitment is that having submitted and paid my entry fee is that I
will head over to Sydney and complete the event. My personal aim this
year is to complete the event in less than 14 1/2 hours. My commitment
does not end there, with travelling over to Sydney, it costs us well in
excess of $1K just to participate.

Last year, with your support and help I raised $684 as part of the total
(approx $125,000), this year, I am aiming for $750. If you cannot get out
and do this event yourself please get behind me, by either sponsoring me
directly or by referring others. If you would like to sponsor me please
go to – all
donations are tax deductible.  Even $10 or $20 will help me get to my

Thank you for supporting me in this my 3rd HCC.

Longer Distance

Well, now it is getting down to the pointy end, 10 weeks out, it is time to get out there and be paddling bigger distances.  After my non-paddling last week, it was time to ramp it up somewhat and toady, it was 27km.

Once again, winter is not a fun time to get out there, so I picked the day that was least likely to rain – with the downside of some of the biggest tides.  I was lucky enough to start out just before low tide – I got the last 15 minutes of the ebb.

Slightly longer at 27km

Basically the tides was similar to a fortnight ago, but the conditions were much better – with the wind being 10-15km/h from the North West.

I headed out of Angus Inlet into Barker Inlet and turned right towards to Port River.  Before I reached to river, the tide had turned and I was paddling against the incoming tide.

With only a 10-15km/h wind it made for fairly easy paddling, against the wind and tide until I turned around and headed back up the Port River.  Unlike a fortnight ago, I kept going all the way up to Bower Road where the river ends before tuning around and heading back.

Once I turned around at Bower road the wind dropped right off – it was probably on 5km/h at this point.  When I turned back out of the Port River into Barker Inlet, it was immediately evident how string the tidal flow was.  The plot clearly shows the massive jump in speed as I turned the corner.

Speed Plot – It is fairly obvious where I was paddling with and against the tide.

  • Distance 27.0km
  • Time:  3:33:22
  • Avg Moving Speed: 7.6km/h
  • Tide: 0.5 Low / 2.6 High
  • NW wind 10-15km/h dropping to 5-10km/h

With a 27km paddle now under my belt, I can really start looking at my Race Plan in the next few weeks.  This is around 1/4 of the total distance, and given my pace with the mixed tidal conditions, I am looking at a race time of around the 14 hour mark.

I really did notice today that I was paddling with a lighter paddle – I had no sign of fatigue from holding the paddle for this time – which is a good sign!

What I did notice was that my Energy was rally starting to fade around the 3 hour mark – which means I need to start looking at my addling snacks if I am doing more than about 24km at a time paddling.

Running Total

At the moment, since I have started training specifically for this event, I am now up to 103km.  This is around 1/3 of the distance that I need to get under my belt before the event.

Not all Preparation

… is going out and paddling!

This weekend, I took some time out from paddling to brush up on other essentials that most paddlers do not do enough of.  This weekend was about going back to the basics and doing a refresher on basic strokes, boat control and the big one – rescue.

Yes, This weekend involved having the bottom of the boat above water and getting getting back into it while on the water.  As I have been paddling this boat for about a year I thought it was about time to do something about this essential skill.

While I have been lucky and not been tipped out of the boat, it was really quite easy to flip it upside down, doing so in a controlled environment simply gives you the confidence to know that in the event of a capsize, it is not going to be a mad panic, but one of those things.

No, it is not such a crazy thing to practice rescues in the middle of winter – especially when it is in Angus Inlet.  Angus Inlet is the outlet for the Power station so the water is always warm as long as there is an outgoing tide.  So while it was only about 15 deg, the water was around the 18 deg mark and not too bad.

One thing that I did discover is that a wing paddle is great for going fast in a forward direction, it is not so great when it comes to support strokes!  I have never really had to worry about support strokes even in the worst of conditions I have been in – which is a real testament to the real-world stability of the boat.

So, with the weekend out, it means that the Rowing Machine and the Exercise Bike will get a bit of use to compensate for the reduced paddling.  I’ll have to ramp it up a bit from the 30 minutes 3 mornings a week.

As an aside, when you start getting the Newsletters from the HCC you know that it is not that long to go (again).


No matter

.. What the weather is doing, with only 12 weeks to go, I just have to pick which ever day the weather report tells me is going to be the best.

This weekend the reports were not the best, but Saturday looked better than Sunday, so a quick check of the tides, along with the predicted and observed windspeed/direction and I choose a time and course to paddle.  The predicted wind of 20-25km/h was not quite right, it got up to around 30-35km/h.

The best of the bad conditions.

With the wind from the North-West, and having about 15 minutes of outgoing tide, I made the choice to head out of Angus Inlet, around into Barker Inlet towards the Port River. As soon as I rounded into Barker Inlet the wind started!  Not too bad – going with the last of the outflow, I was protected somewhat and the wind was a gentle 10-15km. From here, things started to get worse, a lot worse!

As I went under the bridge I was suddenly copping the lot of the wind right in my face. As I rounded into the Port River I was hit with he full force of 30+km/h wind, and it is clear to see the effect on the graph below (around the 4km mark). It was a hard slog down the river, as not only did I have the wind in my face, but the tide had turned and was flowing in as well.  It got worse, much worse!  I had no choice but to stay out of the channel of the river and in the shallows as the river was very busy – with the Port River Sailing Club out racing in the river.  Then, just to make things harder again, the tug boats started moving on the river.

So, here I am, with a 30+ km/h wind in my face, incoming tide, paddling in less than 2M of water, with a nice wind chop of up to 0.5M when a tug boat comes up the river.  Yep, a “nice” 1M+ wake on top of it all was pretty messy, look at the plot, you can see where my speed dropped right off – I was trying to stay upright as the tug boat went past, the wake was almost washing me backwards!

I had to wait a little while to pick a break in the river traffic to scoot across to the other side for my trip back up the river – look at the plot around the 8km mark when I turned.  Now with the wind and the tide at my back.  The wind was not as much assistance on this side of the river as it is a little bit more protected.

As I passed the entrance to Barker Inlet, I hit the start/finish line of the sailing, and continued down past all of the yachts before I turned in front of the Rowing Club back across the river and a short, final hard workout into the wind.

Once I got back out of the Port River (around the 15km mark), I had another bit of reprieve, shelter from the wind (well a slight tail wind)  and the incoming tide assisting me.  Now, out of the chop and boat traffic I had a pretty good run until I copped the wind in the face for the last 800m back across Angus Inlet to the boat ramp.

Speed Plot – It really was tough into the wind and against the tide

  • Distance: 18.5km
  • Time: 2:36:42
  • Avg Moving Speed: 7.1km/h
  • Tide: 0.6 Low / 2.6 High
  • NW Wind up to 35km/h

This is by far the worst conditions I have been out in for a long time, and even though I only averaged 7.1km/h I was pretty pleased!

I was paddling with my new lighter paddle and in such conditions, I didn’t really notice if it was any easier.  What I did notice is that the shaft of my new paddle is about 1 or 2mm thinner than my other paddle – so it feels a bit different in my hands.

PS – I was glad I picked Saturday, as Sunday was even worse – much more wind and a fair bit of rain as well.