Deb and I were asked to help out the Bingles and Dawsons on their recent quest to paddle the Clarence 100 in Grafton. If you get an opportunity and you are able to help out someone in land crewing, do it, as it’s a lot of fun and it gives you a “warm fuzzy” feeling knowing that you can help others out.
The paddle (I won’t say race as their were many competitors who simply paddled with not much of a worry about times but instead about participating) went over three days starting in the upper reaches of the Clarence at a spot called Copmanhurst.
The first leg was 40km down flowing river and between towering sandstone cliffs. Some fast times were recorded by all SSCC members due to good paddling, wind at their backs and a running tide, 40km in around 3hrs 40mins, pretty good.
Our job as land crew was to get our paddlers to the start, help out with boats and equipment and to meet them at the finish line. Pretty easy, easy enough to take a wrong turn exiting the caravan park and ending up back at the pub. I blame Ross’s driving, Ross blames my navigating and the girls, well they, blamed both of us. Once we got them at Copmanhurst it was time for us to have a leisurely breakfast back at camp, hot coffee, a read of the paper, quick walking tour of the town, had time to visit Grafton Watersports to suss out Deb’s next boat and a short drive to the finish line. Once they had finished we made sure they were all OK, fed and watered, changed into warm dry clothes (this part we did not actually physically do but you know what I mean), washed the boats, packed up the gear, loaded boats and gear into the car and back to camp. Driving back to camp each day after the race one would think you would have the route down pat but no. Each day we must of taken a different “Scenic Drive” every single time. Again, I blame Ross’s driving, Ross blames my navigating and the girls, well they, blamed both of us.
At camp after the race it was virtually the same routine each day. Paddlers would rest, sleep, eat, rest, eat and then get ready for BBQ dinners and drinkies around the gazebo where a million laughs were had and stories shared. Mind you this was all concluded early in the evening as paddlers and land crew were in bed by 8:30 (again not physically all in the same bed).
The second leg was paddled from Grafton to McLean, a sleepy fishing village some 42kms towards the coast. Again it was our job to have paddlers and their gear ready for the start. I have no idea how the paddle went but the coffee in McLean was delightful and McLean being of Scottish decent, I learnt a great deal about my Scottish heritage from a quaint little shop just down the road from the café. Soon we had to go and collect our paddlers, load all their gear up and head back to camp for more of what we did the afternoon before, rest, eat, sleep, eat and BBQ. While they slept we took the opportunity to paddle our own 20kms along the Clarence R. What a beautiful river it was. This paddle of course gave us excuses to have an extra beer that night during the race post mortem.
The third leg was shorter, 20km, but apparently turned out to be a bit of a grind against the incoming tide and blustery southerly wind. Now I say apparently as the conditions didn’t stop Deb and I having breakfast at a Yamba café with a couple of other land crew and afterwards have a sit on the beach where the paddlers were to finish. I must say the water looked pretty damn good from our beachside spot. Once our paddlers had finally finished we loaded up and were taken out for lunch at the Yamba SLSC. WOW do they put on a great spread with a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean to boot. Once presentations were done and paddlers and land crew were well fed and watered (even spotted Mr Dawson partaking in a couple of celebratory brews and Mr Bingle, well that goes without saying) we drove our paddlers back to camp.
The final BBQ ending up more, “what ever you can find left over in the fridge you can have for dinner”, type of meal. Baked beans, toad in a hole 2 minute noodles vege bake it did not matter as we all still pretty full from our lunch at Yamba SLSC.
The next day paddlers were up early for their long trip home but Deb and I had a bit of a sleep in and took the next couple of days to travel home. No TV though but that’s another story, ask Deb next time you see her at the club. Can’t overdo it you know.