Patricia Stannard – ‘the boat and both paddlers moving in harmony with the water’

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Hi Pete,
I’ve attached a Word document with the K3 tales on it from 2005.
The first is mine, the second Di’s, the third is Hugh’s.
We all wrote our own accounts in the week after that memorable voyage, and they are quite entertaining read together.
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Here’s Patricia’s:
Hella Hella Race 2005, K3 tales from back to front (ed: that’s positions in the boat!)

Just some thoughts on yesterday, and an account of the last voyage of our valiant and brave water craft…

On a bright and sunny (actually, not – overcast, but bright and sunny sounds better) Sunday morning, Hugh Raw bravely undertook to get his K3, with it’s relative novice crew of Di & P. (novices to K3’s in that kind of water anyway) from #1 to Josephine’s Bridge on the Umko…herewith the story.

After negotiating the approaches with some trepidation, but no small amount of experience and skill on the part of her driver, our K3 was wrapped as a result of a sad twist of fate just above the particularly intimidating holes and stoppers of #1. Her crew, by then, determined to see the race to it’s finish, did some formidable river-side patches. By this time it had become a matter of principal to see the race to it’s end…

#2 arrived, and our flexi-K3 negotiated it with aplomb, until she panicked at the sight of the drop at the bottom and made a bold bid for the bank. Her crew, having none of this emptied her of water, added more Duct tape and saw her through the rest of the rapid with many a cry of “go girl, good girl”, heading straight through said intimidating drop. Needless to say, our brave K3 made the best of it, and bearing us through well.

#3, we had mercy on her and utilized the very effective sneak on the left. Our craft breathed a sigh of relief, and soldiered on bravely. After many cries of ‘we need to empty’ from rear-gunner P., who had noticed a steady stream of water coming through the deck, we pulled over and emptied much water from the back – much to the relief of boat and rear-gunner. More river-side repairs ensured an even distribution of water from back to front from here onwards;

At #4, we examined our lines on the right with precision and care, whilst carefully carrying our fragile craft over the rocks on said right. P & Hugh as boat-bearers, Di as intrepid paddle bearer.

# 5&6 saw us – once again – carefully examining lines from the bank. The left line still looks good. At this point, Di commented – quietly – that our boat was flexing rather alarmingly between cockpits 2 & 3 as we carried her over many a rock.

House Rock rapid saw us steering a careful line on the left – FAR away from it’s notorious namesake, although our brave craft decided to lose her crew and quit the water well above #7, perhaps in memory of the hole that had stopped her, approximately half a (K3) boat full of water and her crew in it’s tracks a few rapids previously; comment from rear-gunner P.: “Hugh and Di were swallowed [w]hole, it was one of those moments where you know that you either paddle for your life or swim, and swimming WILL hurt”. Her crew managed to move her over onto the bank, empty her, and carry her down #7, once again carefully examining lines – on the left this time…

#8 arrived, and with that our brave craft’s final nemesis. In #8A, she decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and headed for the bank on the right – managing to get the better part of herself, including the driver and ballast well onto the bank before the river decided that it was having none of this and kept the rear-gunner and rear cockpit for itself. Nothing daunted, her crew emptied her, soothed her (and their) frazzled nerves and went on to shoot #8B with aplomb (all things considered), and headed for #8C with hope in their hearts. We were even beginning to plan the long slog home from #8, with special emphasis on the sneaks around Stay-brace and Devil’s Toilet bowl. Here everything fell apart – quite literally as our brave K3 decided that she would fare considerably better as a K2 and a K1. She dumped her crew forthwith and headed off down the river accompanied by her enterprising and intrepid driver.

She was carefully removed from the river below #8, and I feel compelled to pay homage to a very brave craft who managed to get us, and herself, to #8 on one of the highest Umko trips I have ever seen in approximately 1 piece.

Occasionally the Umko reminds us why we never actually win when paddling on that river, just get released with a reprieve…

Patricia Stannard (rear-gunner)

Now read Hugh Raw’s and Diana Rietz’s accounts of this crazy K3 caper
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For the rest …

Meakin PR,  11 Umko’s is Penny Meakin, also a woman on 10 Umko’s or more.

Hugh Raw:

I’ve done a couple of Umko’s with Hugh Raw, and the memory which sticks out most clearly was the year we shot #1, while the rest of the 20 year batch portaged it.

They were far ahead of us when we arrived at the top of #1, as we’d taken a careful line through the approaches.

We swam … to the rapid just above the corner going into #2.

The rest of our batch caught us only as we went into #2, thus permitting us to shoot #2 in solitary splendour as the lead boat. Paddling with Hugh Raw is an awesome experience!

Herve de Rauville:

My first (2004) Umko was with Herve – not sure why he ever agreed to do it with me as it was number 20 for him.  He muttered something about the fact that I’d done a few Fish Marathon’s being an acceptable qualifier.

In the Hella Hella race (first time I’d seen the river) we decided to go LEFT of the pinacle rock at #5&6.  The holes in the middle of 5&6 are BIG … we swam, and it was dark for a long time down there.  Herve lost his paddle – a conventional one, and had to use my spare wings to complete the race.  He grumbled all the way to Josephine’s.

Note to self – always carry a spare conventional paddle when paddling with Herve!

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Charlie Mason:

Following Charlie down to #4 in my SOT Torrent was amazing.

His lines were stupendous.  I’ve never been so terrified and exhilarated in all my life heading down the middle channel of #3 behind Charlie, about 1m from the bank in my torrent.

He really is old man river, and his lines are amazing!

———————

Cousin Ernie Alder:
He really is a distant cousin of mine, his mother and my grandmother were cousins.  Getting to know Ernie has been a bonus, and finding a distant relative I’ve only known as a name on my family tree was fantastic, especially considering that he is someone whose company I’ve always enjoyed.  Getting my 10th Umko number (187) from him was special.
10th Umko with Diana Rietz:

Completing Umko #10 with Diana Rietz was amazing.  We started canoeing together, and realising that we’d actually managed to get into that small number of people who keep coming back again and again was incredible.

My abiding memory of this race, 2015 …and I think I’ll remember it on my death bed… is heading straight down the tiger line of #7, around the baldy rock, straight into the middle of hell.

We were in that place where you time your paddle strokes to reach for the top of the next wave it feels as if the boat and both paddlers are moving in harmony with the water in a space that feels timeless.

When we emerged, amazingly unscathed, into the ‘bouncy and fun’ rapid below #7, Diana blithely announced that she had been sure we’d make it down there as Gavin Tarr had successfully shot it in the same place on the Hella Hella Race the week before (we’d stopped to check it out). My only comment was … “um, have you ever compared the size of Gavin’s biceps to ours?!”

————

The Umko since my first time paddling it has been my spiritual mecca; I’ll sacrifice all other races, and many other things, in the year just to do Umko (in fact I’ve done only 4 Dusi’s).  I’ve paddled it in K1, K2, K3, and plastic; and at many levels from under 1m to over 2m.

Somehow though, every time I stand on the banks of the Umko, especially above the approaches, it feels like that first time of absolute terror mixed with total anticipation.

Then I remember what Charlie told me one year – listening to a first timer telling all and sundry that he “wasn’t scared of the river” … Charlie said “only a fool says that at the start of the Umko”.

The Umko humbles me every time, not only with the size and speed of it’s rapids, but also with the majestic scenery and beauty – especially on the Josephines to Riverside section.

I’ve got some digitised ex vhs footage, from a collection of Ray Bowen’s that I digitised for NCC, of one of the last Umko’s to the sea. If you would like it I’ll burn it to DVD for you. Some clips may make nice files for your site.

Will do 😉 I’ll spread the word.

Speak to Haydn Overstone (haydn@pastelprinters.co.za)

He has a spectacular pic of an overfull K2 doing a nose dive in #1 with a couple of Michaelhouse boys still on board…

Elle James may be worth contacting too
… ‪083 268 7248‬. She’s also done a few Umko’s, I think her maiden name was de la Port?

As for Ernie, I’ve always said to him that we get to choose our friends, but not our relatives, but if I’d gotten to choose he’d have been one of my first choices as a relative!

Regards, Patricia

—————————————————————————————

On 20 Jul 2015 4:52 PM, “Pete” <pete@sheila.co.za> wrote:

Darn! I was hoping for a bit of slander against Hugh and here you are praising him!
Also dodgy: Being related to ‘Carruthers’ Alder!!
Thanks guys! This is wonderful stuff!
The book will be great if we can get more of this. I’ll be hounding paddlers to cough up their confessions over the next month or two.Tell paddlers you know who have good stories to take a sneak peek at theumko.com (snippets from what we have so far) and to get involved.Actually, tell all paddlers (you never know what secrets they may be hiding!).Cheers
Pete
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Sorry! Hugh is too much of an old man river for scandal.

You may want to speak to him and Dickie Edwards about the year they shot 5&6 sans boat…when it was a compulsory portage.

Rumour has it that Dickie lost his shorts in process: they got a special award at prize giving, Umko shorts, which Dickie proceeded to put on then and there…that last bit ill verify, having been at that prize giving.

I’ve got some digitised ex vhs footage, from a collection of Ray Bowen’s that I digitised for NCC, of one of the last Umko’s to the sea. If you would like it I’ll burn it to DVD for you. Some clips may make nice files for your site.

Will do 😉 I’ll spread the word.

Speak to Haydn Overstone (haydn@pastelprinters.co.za)

He has a spectacular pic of an overfull K2 doing a nose dive in #1 with a couple of Michaelhouse boys still on board…

Elle James may be worth contacting too
… ‪083 268 7248‬. She’s also done a few Umko’s, I think her maiden name was de la Port?

As for Ernie, I’ve always said to him that we get to choose our friends, but not our relatives, but if I’d gotten to choose he’d have been one of my first choices as a relative!

Regards,

Patricia

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Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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