50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 61

that on cattle, but it’s all I have” said Doc casually. Back in the city an ophthalmologist prescribed cortisone eyedrops, and when they didn’t clear it up, cortisone tablets, so that was one stubborn inflammation. His paddling partner Scotty says “Paul was suffering from badly sandblasted eyeballs, caused by the constant smashing into mud laden waves. Doc managed to lay his hands on a bottle of eye drops for cows. This sent Paul break-dancing around the campsite for 10 minutes, but they did the trick. “ Doc Curson, starting one race with the loud-hailer on the 2nd morning, spied two exhausted paddlers (one was Barry Dingle) dragging their boat over the rise having finally made it to the overnight stop after a night out in the valley. “If you guys hurry up” he hailed them mischievously “I can start you in the next batch.” History discreetly does not record what their reply was. Doc was woken in the officials’ tent one night by a feverish paddler with a ‘galloping gut’ seeking urgent medical attention. A shleepy Doc reportedly asked him to show him his arm and fumbled for his hypodermic needle!? Disillusioned, the poor paddler chose to rather suffer on and discreetly took his leave. Delicate Negotiations Some of the dangers were far from the swirling waters. KCC sent Allie Peter & Rob Fleetfoot2 Cunnama as ambassadors to the annual negotiating / wooing ceremony in which farmers are politely asked if we can use their land for the overnight stop, or thanked if they have done so. They took along two bottles of whisky to lubricate the transaction (Allie: “Not a bribe, a gift”). Hours later, Derek Freeman took affront to their wanting to leave his farm ‘Whisky Canyon’ - for while the negotiations were finished, both whisky bottles were not. We must let Allie tell the story of THE (thirst) SPIRIT OF WHISKY CANYON. “One hot, lazy Sunday afternoon after a minor race Rob Cunnama and I went to thank Derek for the use of his property and drop off the customary gift of a couple of bottles of the “water of life” at his homestead. He was entertaining a Natal Parks Board officer and insisted we two intrepid KCC organisers stay for a dop. He proceeded to order more ice and glasses from the kitchen, removed the top from one of our bottles of scotch, squashed it and despatched the top into the bush - and that was when the trouble began!” “The bottle was duly finished and we made to leave but Derek was hard of hearing so we eventually rudely got up and walked to Rob’s truck followed by an entourage (Derek, Mr Parks Board and a servant bearing glasses, ice and a fresh bottle of whisky on a tray). Derek insisted we had another drink at the truck and when the offer was politely turned down, Mr Parks Board took out his service pistol and shot one of Rob’s tyres. Then we clearly understood what Derek wanted! So while the game guards slowly changed the wheel the next bottle of whisky was dispatched.” It was now dark and our intrepid organisers were not well when they eventually hit the road with Rob doing a great job up Josephine’s pass until halfway up they got a puncture on Dead Man’s Bend – now what? Rob locked Allie in the truck for his own s afety and hitched to PMB arriving on the outskirts at about 8pm where in the car park of a block of flats, he happened to observe a car with a kayak on the roof. After knocking on a number of doors he located Chips St Leger who was happy to help. They went to a mate of Chips’ farm and picked up a wheel and returned to the 61 stranded car, dropped off Rob and replaced the punctured wheel – it was now about 10pm and Chips, understandably, went straight home. The boys were on their way home - or so they thought. However, the new wheel had studs on the inside and made a terrible racket and what about the damage? So Rob stopped, locked Allie in the cab again and hitched back to PMB, knocked on a not-too-impressed Chips’ door again - it was now about 1am. The two saviours returned to the vehicle - again - at about 2.30 am. “I was very tired from organising, racing and entertaining the good farmer, so was no good to man or beast,” mumbles Allie, “but after a discussion Chips and Rob wisely decided “what the hell, the studs would wear off”. Blocking our ears to the noise, we set course for home at about 3.30am, arriving with the sun rising over the Indian Ocean. Not much work was done that Monday”, ends the chairman’s report. He warns direly: “BEWARE OF WHISKY CANYON!” footnotes: 1. Derek Freeman also once told us in no uncertain terms that his mother’s name was Josephine and that Josephine’s Bridge was named after her and she was no saint, “So DON’T call the bridge “St. Josephine’s!” Derek’s son Ron continues the Freeman tradition of hospitality and is an Umko supporter to this day. TV Bulpin in ‘Natal and the Zulu Country’ says the bridge was named in 1889 after the wife of the Colonial Engineer Lt-Col AH Hime; 2. You didn’t know that in his youth Cunnama ran like the wind? Picture it. Before The Start Scatter tells: “A Scottish gent of our acquaintance who shall remain anonymous as Bull Turnbull was not averse to chemical assistance in his unfulfilled pursuit of athletic honour. Not by any stretch of the imagination a big water operator, he stopped the Kombi one kay from the Hella Hella Bridge and puked out the largest pile of undigested multi-coloured pills ever seen.” (Copper Simpkins thought the hypochondriac Dabulamanzi-based Scot may have beaten SA to the term “rainbow nation”). The Start On the morning of a race at Hella Hella before the start, Hugh Raw asked Ernie Alder and John Oliver if he could change his entry from a K2 to a K3. In those days a K3 was a nuisance as entry forms did not cater for them. Hugh supplied all the extra info and with the help of The Bespectacled One and The Bearded One it was sorted out. Ernie Alder, John and Margie Oliver pic by Joan “The Rhino” Saycell UMKO 50 Years