50 Years of Umko 1966 - 2016 1966 - 2016 - Page 74

needed some serious repairs (what Pete Fatboy Geach called ‘boat admin’). That legendary stalwart Meyer Steyn immediately got stuck in and assisted us rebuilding our boat for Day 2. This took some time, the sun had long gone to sleep. “What I hadn’t noticed was that the sole of Cliffy’s brand new shoe had parted company with the rest of the shoe. He was not in the best of moods when we passed the Tripper stand. Manning the shop were two young chaps who had been gulping down diesels all afternoon (as we did in those days) who were obviously in a much more jovial frame of mind than Cliff. (Fatboy described them as ‘taking their job very seriously’). “Cliffy, with his hands on his hips lifted his toes in displaying the offending shoe. In the most pissed-off voice he could muster he demanded of the two young soaks, “Spot the Mistake!”. “Without missing a beat the one youngster replied, “You only have one leg” and immediately took off in a sprint.” Winston Smart - Leatherman Repairs “Disaster struck at No.4 in the form of a boulder which buckled our (until then) only slightly shop-soiled Tsunami. Fortunately it was soon shrugged off the rock and joined us in the swimming gala to the next plunge pool. In assessing the damage, we found that the hull was torn through between the cockpits, seam popped from back of rear cockpit to the front seat. In all, not good . . . Fortunately my resourceful partner Brian McGyver Bader (no relation of WW2 pilot Douglas) took charge of the situation. Out came his Leatherman. The awl was used to drill holes along the split seams to stitch-zip them up with cable ties. Next the bone-saw was used to saw slots along the tear in the hull which was then duly sewn together using a roof-rack tie-down which was stowed in the boat. By now we were surrounded by local spectators who insisted that we were crazy to be paddling on the Umko. They kindly let us use their T-shirts to sufficiently dry the boat for duct-taping the wounds closed and fixing stick splints to the back cockpit rim. The boat was now suitably repaired for flat water, which happens to be fairly scarce on (old) Day 1, and the Umkomaas River as a whole for that matter.” Shoes Mosheu! Paddling a K2 Neil Blue broke up on the section between Josephine’s and Riverside. During the swim he lost one shoe. He and his partner walked for about eight hours to get to the overnight stop escorted by a local maiden. It was tough going without a shoe so the two of them took turns with the third shoe, swapping every few kays. They eventually located the camp some time after dark. No such co-operation was evident when Denis Banks and Trevor McWade walked out one year. Trevor had lost his right shoe and Denis his left. They were not on perfect diplomatic terms, each believing the other had been the main cause of their boatless predicament. Finding one-shoe walking uncomfortable, Trevor removed his and hurled it far into the bush, determined Denis was not going to have it. Denis immediately removed his and hurled it in the opposite direction and the silent barefoot march continued. UMKO 50 Years Snakes alive! Ken Reynolds paddling with Ian Zola Budd broke up around 5&6 and while walking back to No.8 Ken spotted a snake which would bring in some beer money from the snake park in Durban. He caught it and stuffed it into his juice bottle for safe-keeping. The bottle was placed in the car at No.8. When it came to departure time the snake was no longer in the bottle. Budd refused to travel back to Durban in the vehicle but he needn’t have worried - Ken found the snake a few days later. Ed Gevers was lying down in the very crowded overnight tent to sleep “when a 1.5m water snake or ‘Vusa Manzi’ slithered over my arm. I jumped up shouting ...SNAKE!!... Needless to say chaos erupted...” Dickie Edwards - In the good old days when the Umko was the Umko, we were on our way to the sea and had been paddling for a good many hours - not showing any signs of competency. We had more or less broken completely, to the extent that, at any sign of a rapid we made a bee-line to the bank to portage. At about eleven in the morning I suggested to partner Hugh His Highness Raw that we spend a half hour on the bank repairing our canoe. “The finish is just around the corner” was the curt reply and so on we trudged. At last at 3.30 pm, Hugh finally conceded that we should stop and do a repair job. Now I have to admit - although it hurts me to do so - that Hugh Raw is the best plastic surgeon in the canoeing fraternity, but at 3.30 in the afternoon it is starting to cool off, the sun has dipped a little and it takes much longer to dry the boat than at 11 in the morning. So instead of taking half an hour to do the repair it took an hour. Still, my skipper did a remarkable job of fixing and we set off at pace to get to the finish - which we did in less than ten minutes! Had we done the repair when I suggested we should at 11am, we might have been in the prizes. Our faithful wives were the only seconds on the river by this time, and we missed the prize-giving in Amanzimtoti by about two hours. W e have never been seconded by our wives again. (This brings to mind another Charles truism: “The nuptials endeth the seconding”. Just as one cannot win an argument with a customer - as thereafter he or she will no longer be your customer - so one dare not marry your second). Andre Hawarden’s Yellow Banana In the early ‘90s I came back to KZN to do the Umko. I brought a nice Cape boat all the way with me, jumped on the river and paddled off, very nearly last as the locals - Oliver and crowd - had seeded me way back in the last batch. So off I went on about 1.3m from Hella Hella, heading for the overnight stop at St. Elmo’s. I trundled through the Approaches, loving being back on the river and bombed through the middle of No.1, as one should, with no problems at all. Thinks to self, “Ha! Didn’t touch a thing!” and actually I didn’t. In the pool my steering felt a bit sluggish, but that had never bothered me so I was ambling along when a guy paddled past with an amused expression and asked. “Having trouble with your rudder mate?” I looked back and saw a yellow banana with a rudder on it sticking up out of the water. Lesson number one at No.1: Cape boats aren’t constructed to withstand the rigours of big water. Even moderate to low Umko water! “Oh gosh!” I thought (or something with slightly more feeling and maybe slightly louder than just a thought!), “I’ll just have to see if I can get to Josephine’s. I’m sure they’ll have patching facilities there”. So I bumbled off down the river. After all, the sun was shining, I had lots of buoyancy in the boat, what’s the rush? 74