It was with great excitement that Kees Wesselink and I took possession of our new downriver (DR) kevlar kayaks back in about 1986. For years these two craft and their equally important paddles carried their owners on several kayak and multisport events - South Island Coast to Coasts - North Island Coast to Coasts - Ruapehu to the Sea (at Whanganui) - Taumarunui and Waikato downriver events and some coastal races - and not to mention numerous weekly Saturday morning teas on the Waikato - always social and always competitive! Kees died some years ago, as did Eric another kayaking friend. So the old kayak languished in the boat shed for several years.
A couple of years ago I dusted it off to have an adventure with two of my sons - from Hamilton down to the Port Waikato, two days away by kayak. My cunning plan was to use my fastish DR, which would enable me to keep up with the two young fifty-year-olds, David and Warren. But along with fastness comes instability.
|Start of its Last Journey
We packed up and set off on Easter Saturday. All went well until the afternoon. But after rafting up with David to have a break and a bite to eat I pushed off and promptly turned upside down. My out-of-practiced Eskimo roll failed to work so I had to be rescued. And it happened about half an hour later, The next day in the estuary of the Waikato River wind and current were against one another and making waves so I managed to turn over five more times - being ignominiously rescued each time. In amongst all the thrashing about, the kayak became somewhat damaged and stayed that way until a few months ago. I decided that it was beyond repair and mentally consigned it to the Hamilton rubbish dump.
With the kayak on the car roof rack and with my granddaughter, Tasman, for company I arrived at the dump to find a long line of cars and trailers waiting to get in. This is no good I thought - parked the car on the berm - and untied the kayak. With it on my shoulder I walked past the waiting cars and into the recycling section of the dump. No, they couldn't use it, so I proceeded on towards the great concrete chasm in the ground.
"Hey! You can't take that in there" some official said. "I AM taking it in there" I replied. No, he read the riot act and all the OSH (Occupational Health and Safety) regulations. I continued walking into the dumping area. When he saw that he was getting nowhere he said " OK old chap. Give it to me. I'll dump it for you." The last I saw of it was it disappearing between the trailers and into its concrete graveyard on the man's shoulders. Hardly a decent burial for an old mate. Back in the car, Tasman was waiting. As we drove away, she said, "Have you got dust in your eyes, Grandad?" Sad day for Grandad.