The Flat Paddle Society

I am a paid-up member of the Flat Paddle Society. Owner and boat-maker at Pope’s Canoe Centre, Owen Hemingway was alarmed that I even existed in the year 2016 and earnestly (more of ‘earnest’ later) explained to me how much more efficient a wing paddle is than a flat blade, demonstrating with a teaspoon under […]

R.I.P Herve de Rauville

Dammit, Hervie died! Me, Herve in red, Dave Jones, Jurie the cameraman and Steve, Chris Greeff’s buddy. Greeff took the pic, cutting off the nose of the Lincoln to make sure he got my elbow in. The Lincoln is loaded and ready to take us to paddle the Ocoee River in Tennessee after a night […]

Brief Power and Glory on the Umko

I was an Umkomaas Canoe Marathon Official once. Kakhuis Field Marshall for the start of one Umko. Appointed by the uber-command of KCC, it was my job to reduce the toilet-paper-in-the-bush syndrome around the start near the Hella Hella bridge. (I had relayed farmer Barry Porter’s unhappiness at the phenomenon to the heavies, they were […]

Paddling the Umkomaas

I only paddled the actual race once (1983 Hella Hella to Goodenough’s) but I was lazy and slow and the long days with cut-off times didn’t suit! Getting-a-move-on is not my forte. So I used my tripping excuse to volunteer for sweep duties. We would paddle ahead of the start at Hella Hella bridge in […]

Tugela Gorgeous – Boats & Bosoms

Bernie Garcin (Bernie and the Jets), Doug Retief (Doug the Thief), Dave Walker (Lang Dawid) and me at Fig Tree Sandbank campsite, one of the planet’s most beautiful spots. Three plastic (or ‘tupperware’) Perception Dancers and one Quest in 1984 and 1985 – we went both years. In those early days old-timers would still mock […]

Berg River Freeze

“Please tell him not to. He’ll never make it”. That’s what Jacques de Rauville told my business partner when he heard I was going to do the Berg River Canoe Marathon. He had come across me one evening on the Bay and I’d asked which way to go, it being my first time out there […]

River trip Deepdale – Hella Hella

We left Bernie’s white Ford Escort at Hella Hella with the Porters, and drove round to Deepdale in my white Ford Cortina. Linda Grewar (who became a notable paddler herself – she later won the Fish river marathon mixed doubles with Bernie!) then drove my car back to Durban. ‘Seconds’! ‘Helpers’ ‘Chauffeurs’! What would we […]

Just Before Inanda Dam

1990 saw the completion of Inanda Dam on the Umgeni River. As always, a dam profoundly changes the river and the valley. Yet another river tamed to serve our insatiable thirst. It also changed the Dusi Canoe Marathon, inundating the Day Two sandbanks and creating a 10km flatwater haul to the new overnight stop at […]

We Kayak the Kalahari

As a schoolboy I was keen on kayaking and was tickled by a cartoon depicting a kayak on dry land trailing a dust plume with the caption Kalahari Canoe Club! I kept that on my wall for years. Kayak’ing in the desert was just a joke, right!? In January 2010 we got to the Kalahari […]

Chernobyl Gas Leakage

April         1986: Disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the Ukraine. September 1986: Disaster in the Gillmer’s old kombi near Cradock en route to the Fish. The trouble started with Black Label beer and Ship Sherry. I had wanted to buy a bottle of Old Brown, but I had fallen amongst […]

My Final Words (in Inuit)

So I’m teaching TomTom to make sealed exits from his new Fluid kayak in our pool. As a prelude to learning to eskimo roll. He was a bit nervous when upside-down in his lessons, so I want him to wear a diving mask and relax as he looks around and orients himself. Long chats about […]

Twilight River Serenade

When I paddled the Berg river marathon, that crazy 200km (‘241km Pete!’ Giel van Deventer reminds me. He’s the Berg historian) freezing flatwater foolishness, the oldest oke in the race was Ole man Myers (ancient: 60 if he was a day). He lost his boat one night when the waters rose (he’d left it too […]