A long time between C-Boats

What’s a C-Boat ? It’s a slang term for canoe and generally one that is used for racing or white water.

Over 25 years ago I thought that it would be fun to try paddling an Olympic flatwater C1. It was extremely challenging having to balance on one knee whilst engaging maximum effort with the paddle. It took me 12 months to be able to paddle the C1 around Delphin Island, West Lakes; that’s a bit over 5km and that was not at full power. I made it to the start line of a few local Sprint Regattas, wobbling my way into the starting lane and somehow managing to make it across the finish line.

That’s me on the way to the starting line….it’s an old photo and has slowly deteriorated, just like the paddler.

I was invited to race a 500 metre event in a C2, when no one else was available. We were disqualified because I fell in with 100m to go, but paddler Hugh Stewart finished strong and upright. Swimming across the line with your paddle is apparently not counted. Later I actually paddled a 100 km race as part of the Riverland Paddling Marathon in a C4 and I think that was the finish of my C-boat career and my right knee.

Earlier I had paddled a Gyromax C1 on a white water river managing to stay upright until the final rapid where I centre-punched an avoidable rock, capsized and was washed upside down into a large eddy.  Everyone was laughing so much they didn’t get any photos.

The Final Rapid aptly known as the “Final Fling”. I was close behind Marty who was paddling a plastic Polo kayak (a Combat from QK in New Zealand from memory) We had decided to try some “odd kayaks” that day !!

Recently I inherited an ageing Gyromax C1 from Roy Farrance, of Canoes Plus in Victoria, and set about restoring the foam saddle and knee blocks. Being vintage late 1980’s the craft was manufactured from cross linked polyethylene which is not repairable, so when the cockpit coaming parted company from the rest of the craft it became a flat water C-boat.

My dreams of paddling it the local ocean surf breaks were dashed; probably a good thing !!! I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of Jesse Sharp who paddled a Gyromax C1 over Niagra Falls in 1990 and hasn’t been seen since. (the Gyromax survived)

A high price to pay for a world record.

After a re-fit it was down to the beach for sea trials.

Now I remember what it feels like to be kneeling.

In line with “the period” I rummaged around in the shed and found a “Geoff Barker” canoe paddle (circa late 1980’s I think)

Amazingly light and certainly beautiful

I slowly worked on technique…or what little I could remember of it.

Well it’s just another “Toy in the Toybox” according to Robyn but I think it will spur me on to a lot more leg stretching.

To finish off have a look at this vintage piece of film. Linville Gorge 1989 features the amazing (in it’s day) Gyromax and the Perception Dancer kayak (Yep I had one of those as well circa 1984).



Seakayakers’ birthday

So what do you give a crusty old sea kayaker for his birthday?.

Well certainly not something in the way of kayaking or camping gear. They probably already have it or tried it or discarded it years ago.

What about a kayaking book or DVD ?. Probably not as they would have already read it or seen it.

Clothing perhaps ?. Again they probably already have at least 2 of everything in the wardrobe.

A new paddle ?. That’s a possibility, however there’s so many to choose from it’s hard to get it right.

I just had my birthday and received 2 things that I appreciated.

A great sea kayak keyring and a nice bottle of wine. The keyring reminds me where I should be and the wine helps me forget my age.


The keyrings are great,  a reminder of time on the water.  I bought the full range of colours so I have a few birthday presents for others on hand. I found them on the Hobkey site here . Nicely made and easy to have delivered by post.


Guess who’s got a new Cagdeck ?

Guess who’s got a new Cagdeck ?

Super comfortable, lightweight and of course fashionable, yep that’s my new Cagdeck. A combination spraydeck and paddling jacket (Cag).

Ok, I do use a Greenland paddle and have occasionally been seen practicing my rolling off the local beach in winter, but I think I will draw the line at wearing the traditional Greenland Tulik (Tuliq). The most active paddlers in Australian cold water conditions are slalom and rodeo paddlers and I found that the top paddlers in that arena all seem to use a one-piece Cagdeck instead of a separate spray deck and paddling jacket (Cag). I talked to a couple of coaches who spend considerable time on the water and they were sold on the Cagdeck combination for maximum dryness and comfort.

So it was a Cagdeck for me. The standard spraydeck and Cag meant 2 layers of neoprene around my waist which I found a little restrictive and sometimes uncomfortable. On a longer paddle the Cagdeck is more comfortable and allows different layers to be worn underneath without feeling too bulky. In the surf kayak, where I spend a lot of time getting wet, the more comfortable waist also allows easier movement and therefore harder turns and often some panicky support strokes.

If you happen to be practising rolling in cold water then simply add a neoprene diver’s neoprene hood for extra warmth.

Cagdecks are mainly available in small cockpit sizes because they are made for the competition slalom kayaks and they will fit many of the Greenland style kayaks but I couldn’t find one big enough to fit my Nimbus Njak sea kayak. Luckily a couple of phone calls and I had one being custom made through Liquid Life kayaking gear.

I even did a paddle along the coastline, stopping in for a coffee at a café and yes there were a couple of strange looks at my paddling attire, but try that in a Tulik and you risk setting off the armed robbery alarm.

Check out some of my happy cagdeck surf kayaking photos at the bottom of the page.
Happy Paddling
Ian Pope

Cagdeck                                                              Tulik

Pros                                                                      Pros
Keeps water out                                                   Keeps water out
Comfortable fit                                                     You look like a Greenland kayak expert
Latex wrist seals
Super-stretch neoprene neck seal
Neoprene deck stretches to fit
Easy to get on/off

Cons                                                                      Cons
Can be a little hard to fit fibreglass                     Not accepatable attire in Cafes
cockpit rims

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Kayaks and Great White Sharks

I just read the latest research on the Shark Shield electronic deterrent device by Government researchers. Unfortunately the research was done in my back yard so to speak, with tests conducted off the Neptune Islands of Southern Australia. This is not far from a few recent paddling trips to outlying islands out of Port Lincoln and to areas around Althorpe Island and Innes National Park.

The verdict seems to be that they just don’t work.
Now I always had my doubts about these units, even when they first surfaced as the Shark Pod, several years ago. Anyway I ended up with one supplied by the manufacturer to try out . If it worked and I survived it would be great publicity but if it didn’t, well  I probably wouldn’t be in a position to complain.

I was sceptical, but hey, what if it really worked. I had been spending a lot of time paddling around the bottom of South Australia and especially loved to snorkel with New Zealand Fur Seals on the Wardang Island  group about a 10 km paddle from shore. Great times for both Robyn and me filming seals and friendly dolphins, even with a slightly cumbersome Shark Shield attached to my leg, giving me the occasional electric shock when it brushed against a bare bit of skin.

See the report  here.

Of course one of my favourite places was Shell Beach in Dolphin Bay part of the Innes National Park . Just lolling about in the clear green water was fun and we often went  paddling or snorkelling on the nearby reef. But then this bloody nosy 6 metre Great White Shark started frequenting the area and decided that small kayaks were fair game, and had a chomp on one. The kayak was a  Dagger Wiz white-water kayak from the University Mountain Club and luckily the paddler was not seriously hurt in the attack.

Check out the report  here.

So what to do now ? Simple, get out there, keep paddling, keep surfing and having fun.  Always remember, it’s much less dangerous than my Saturday morning group bike ride.

One good thing though. I just removed another piece of superfluous electronic gadgetry from my kayak kit. Maybe that means more room for wine and cheese !!

Anyone want to buy a shark Shield ? Great condition, hardly used.

Keep paddling
Ian Pope

Old Paddles

In a dark corner of the shed hidden behind an old Canoe Polo kayak and some old kayak seat moulds I found some very used paddles from the 1980’s. Now I remember why I like the look of wooden Greenland paddles.

A Greenland Paddle ? No thanks !!. That was what I remember of my first introduction to Greenland paddles in the 1980’s.  I was paddling a Nordkapp at that time and just getting into long distance sea touring when I came across a couple of “salty old dogs” who were dabbling with GP’s they had built from plans sourced from magazines ( no internet in the good old days). However, I ended up owning a paddle made from these plans as well as one purchased from overseas. (Mitchell brand I think).

Then arrived a new Kober Augsburg, followed by a Nimbus Capilano and a Linimat racing paddle, along with commitments in Canoe Polo, Marathon and Sprint racing for many years as well as instructing Sea Kayaking. Lots of other paddles came and went after that.

I now spend my days paddling or pedalling and the lure of the GP resurfaced using the Elver Greenland Paddle (made in Australia). I find that I like the feel of the GP and it seems to relieve my creaking joints. I even found rolling easier with the GP, maybe it’s just the longer surface area; and that’s rolling a Nimbus Njak kayak, not some low volume Greenland rolling kayak.

I did take time to get used to the GP in heavier conditions and clapatis but it all seems pretty normal now, no matter which paddle. I like the idea that I can move my hands up and down the GP to change direction which is quite different from what I have taught others in the past.

I worked out the approximate surface area of the Greenland paddle compared to my Feather brand Spoonbill paddle and found that they are actually very similar, which sort of surprised me a little as I always had it in my head that the GP was smaller in overall surface area and offered less support when bracing. I know that it feels that way when bracing sideways in a wave but maybe it’s just that overall it has a “softer feel” (is that a technical term ?).

I don’t get into the “which paddle is better” arguement. Have both and have fun – I also have a ruddered and a skegged kayak !. I find them equal, just different.

What next ?  I have ordered a new Greenland paddle from a local craftsman made exactly to my dimensions, and I have found a box of old kayaking photos in the shed so maybe more laughs to come.

Happy Paddling

Kayak Sail for Passat G3 Seaward kayak

I’ve been mucking about sea kayak sails for many years and had a variety of shapes and types fitted on lots of my kayaks, starting in the early 1980’s. I’ve been using the common fold down mast on my single kayaks with a 1sq metre sail for many years and thought this was the simplest model.

With the arrival of our Passat G3 double from Seaward Kayaks, Robyn and I have had to rethink the sailing idea. We looked at a couple of normal style mast fittings, but decided that we needed a” through the deck” mast socket. I wanted it to be able to paddle effectively whilst the sail was up so I decided on a central sail mount, between the 2 paddlers, and close to the front paddler, meaning that I couldn’t actually reach the mount to insert the mast.

I enlisted the help of Mal B, our Mr Gadget on this one. His design was  a stainless steel tube with exterior flange, matching underdeck reinforcing plate with a bracing bracket to the bulkhead. It incorporated a “lead in” section in the tube so that the mast could be inserted at an angle, and then pushed upright by the rear paddler. Luckily Mal had a few ideas and some expert engineering skills to install it and make it work. After buying some tube and plate it was off to the workshop to cut and weld it together. The fairlead cleat for the boom rope is not attached by bolts through the deck as is common practice, but threaded onto a spectre cord that is attached to the deckline mounts meaning fewer holes drilled in the kayak.

Then the problem of deck storage. Because the sail mast was not attached to the foredeck as in my previous fit-out with single kayaks, I had to get a more streamlined full length bag made for the furled sail and store it on the deck.

As my sewing skills are well known to be zero, I contacted an old friend who makes kayak sails as well as doing windsurfer sail modifications and repairs.

Di knocked up a perfect storage bag suitable for storage on the deck. Di had previously built lots of sails for me and all are still in excellent condition, so if you’re in Adelaide, or infact anywhere in Australia, and  need a sail repair or bag made give Di a call on (08) 82965464 or her mobile 0404040593.
I’m sure she will be able to help you out.

I took a couple of photos and filmed a little of the Passat under sail during our recent trip along the coast of Yorke Peninsula. Hope it gives you an idea of the mounting system and sailing fun.

This is only a basic overview of the system so if you want more information please contact me. The next project is to design a sail fitout for my Nimbus Njak kayak, that doesn’t involve extra holes drilled in the kayak and can be easily fitted as one unit. I’ll get onto that one when I get back from our next holiday.

Happy paddling
Ian and Robyn

PS. There is a review of the Passat G3 double sea kayak here