Dave Podhaczky: How did your bum go on the 3 longer crossings? Did conditions change much any days while you were paddling?
Great question Pod man. Oddly enough- or not, the more you paddle, the less the hard seat becomes an issue. False reason really. In saying that, I had my blow up thermarest pillow and it was a godsend the day after the 17hr paddle. Conditions were completely predicable- as they should be when making a major crossing (to an extent), given how much information we now have access too. You could certainly paddle in bigger conditions, but when a choice is on offer, and going fishing for another day- or rockpooling, or cloudwatching, or napping on sheoak nettles, then you wait.
Mitch: What was the best meal you ate and who cooked it?
I was not so famously poo-pood’ when producing a tin of no-name corned beef- Brazils finest, when hiking in the NT a few years ago. I ate the tin of pink and pasty sludge on my own. Risking it again on this trip, the boys were most impressed with a chilli-con-carn number made with the same tin of high grade cow. It earned me the number one gong until I outdid myself with fried mushroom burgers on toasted sourdough on night 14. A wheel of Flinders Island Brie was cut flat-ways (cheese ring the size of burgers). I nailed it, taking the top two gongs for the trip. In your pants Mitch and Sass (original doubters).
The shed: How many emails did you have waiting for you back at work?
Lots and lots of emails. The important ones were personal- well wishers, news, questions. And surprisingly, because most of my close crew, and work team, knew I was off in the blue, it was an easy and cathartic emergence back into farm, town and land life. The bubble defiantly breaks when you engage in the online, abstract world of seemingly no consequence.
Hakim: Apart from the physical rigours of sea kayaking, navigating and paying attention to what the weather was doing. What was going through your mind once you’ve gotten into a good rhythm?
Good question my dear man. Everything and nothing goes through your mind. If I am anything, it is good at both thinking wide and wonderfully, or locking off and almost meditating your way through a paddle day. Often, there is little to ‘think’ about. As in, technically, it really is just a case of rolling over the arms, 50-60 times a minute for up to- in this case, 17 hours a day. That’s a hell of a movement to repeat. There is immense satisfaction in doing something so similar, so minute (like a single step) that gets you so far in the end. On several occasions I thought of entire movie scripts, testing myself on frame by frame for the whole play. Or books, trying to imagine each pivotal plot turn, inspiring quote or shocking revelation. I’ve always thought I’d be good at crime, as I’d make use of my mind in jail.
Jimma: How does/did your partner take the news and cope with your adventurous aspirations? And how did you convince her to let you go?
This is a frequent question my man Jim. A good part of me thinks little of the prospect of departure. As in, asking if I can go, or not. Yet the other half of me is so damned loyal and loving of these people that I think I’m an arsehole for entertaining the idea of 1) long bouts of being away and 2) the prospect of disaster. In all, I think I balance this pretty well. Absence makes home even stronger and the loves in my life even heavier. And remember Beau, don’t cock it up!
Hoops: What was the hardest aspect of this expedition, in terms of mental/physical/emotional?
Hi mate. Well. Decision-making can sometimes feel like a burden. But with tent time, this prospect gains perspective and you thank your lucky starts that you’re out there! The longer I’m out, the easier this process becomes. You/I become the decisions and it’s the easiest thing in the world to do after a while. It makes life back at home seem easy (when there are more factors at play- political some would say). As my mum says- all you have to do is live by your body and the weather!
Jimmy: Did Nooramunga have a different feel to it on the day of your departure than to the many other experiences there?
I actually left from Tidal River. Really disappointed actually not to leave from the familiar waters of Port Albert of Port Welshpool. But, not long off heading back to those beaut, shallow grounds of so many seasonal voyages. By golly what a place- a place in the world that’s an ode to BSOR and my old mate Ponch!
NB: for those who have not paddled Nooramunga in Gippsland. Do you mind and arms a favour and go and get tidally marooned on Snake Island. It’ll change your life.
Kathy: What’s the best time killing game you guys played on those days marooned on land waiting for the weather to get better?
Good Q K. Not sure about that lads, but I embraced the down time with every inch of me. I read a lot, and walked around, drank a lot of tea and thought long and hard about the world. It was one chunk; 6 days on Deal Island. I say I ‘down time’ but I also got busy with some tasks. I made a new garden bed and mallet for the garden, fished for myself, the lads and the caretakers, and re-packed 6 times to iron out my systems. Priceless amongst all this was long sessions of tea and early dinners over boyish banter. Great great times.
Nicola: Did you take any zucchinis from your garden with you?
Nadda miss Nic. and half regretted not taking a few of my pumpkins…Next time!