On October 23,2020, the Chairman of the FCC Board declared: ”River is high, FAST, furious and swirly. After tonight's rain it will rise again. If you are not confident in these waters ... wait until the flow and level go down”.
Question:”So what if I am not confident ‘in these waters? What can I do to improve?”
History Group Answer: “Go back in time & practice skills of yesteryear”
This is just what we have done. Having recently looked through the photo collection of Fred Allen (FCC in ‘30’s) with his son Geoff (FCC 50-60’s), it seems that both father and son got up to the same pranks with their canoes.
Photo top: Fred “Generally mucking around”
If Geoff is to be believed, he and his mates would regularly tip their canoes over for fun, fill them up with water, for fun, and then empty them whilst in the water (out of their depth) for fun, and then climb aboard – all in midstream.
As Geoff relates: “It was quite a technique. You would get at the end, once it is full, surge it (the water in the boat) up & back, and get enough of the water out doing that and then be able to climb in without re-sinking it. Then bail the rest out with your hands. It takes a while. But we had lots of fun doing it. We did it just off the bottom of the club landing. The other thing that I used to like doing was pushing the boat into the water off the landing, dive into the water after it and push it down to Fairfiled Park, or even the length of “Hospital Straight”(Pipe Bridge to Freeway today) where I would climb back into it midstream and paddle back”. (Ed. No doubt in front of an appreciative crowd on the banks of the river?)
This “mucking around” (Ed: some would say” showing-off”) led to the Canoe Carnival events of Bouncing Races, Gunwale Walking and Canoe Sinking events
As Geoff describes it: ”The gunwale walk was just that, for fun or a challenge. Walk from aft to bow and back. I used to do it”
It was suggested that he might be ‘showing-off to the girl’s’. A suggestion that was not denied!
However Geoff has some words of warning to any wannabe of today: “Old canoes were different to today. I later had a fibreglass canoe I got from Canoes-plus and it did not lend itself to that activity at all! You'd sink it if you stood on the back deck!” Anyone doubting these wise words should check-out Marg Buck’s Peterborough canoe on the racks in the clubhouse. Canoes from the 1950’s and earlier are significantly heavier and of a broader beam! (Ed. True of the paddlers from that vintage too?)
FCC members were recruited by Australasian Post 59 years ago to promote water-safety in canoes. More good advice from former members!
“Don’t take chances this summer. A little common sense goes a long way in the water. POST thanks the Fairfield (Vic) Canoe Club for their expert assistance”
"Don't panic and abandon your craft in a situation like this. It will stay afloat - and can still be paddled - even with a passenger. Think before you jump"
Hopefully these frivolous antics of yesteryear will prepare you for the above-mentioned ‘swirling’ Spring-time waters of our Yarra today. Have fun paddling (& bailing!)