Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2021
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More messing about in boats

Our Scout troop’s most recent camp was held on the east coast of Tasmania at Little Swanport, a place I’d never visited let alone explored. We had just a handful of our Scouts together with a couple of their families (it’s summer, and many people had other holiday plans). We were camped at a property not far from the entrance to the large inlet that is Little Swanport.

On the first day of the camp we — well, the kids and the leaders who know more about these things than I do — rigged George Bass with mainsail and jib, and we took it out to sea. The fun bit was getting Bass out the channel across the sandbar: there wasn’t enough wind to do this entirely under sail, so two of the Scouts manned the oars and rowed heroically through the surf, as I did battle with the centreboard to lift it when we were in the shallows lest we run aground. Once beyond the bar we were able to sail properly, but there was a good swell just to keep things lively. Bass was quite full and I ended up sitting in the bottom by the mast with only a limited view of proceedings, and I confess to feeling on the verge of getting squiffy. On our return trip, one of the Scouts had the helm and did an excellent job of bringing Bass back in through the rough channel … and there was nothing he could have done to avoid the wave that burst over the stern and soaked Skip, much to everyone’s amusement.

Having made Bass ship-shape, I took four of the Scouts and, after allowing the kids to launch off the end of the jetty, we did a little pottering around the inland waterway in the kayaks. The tide was now out, and so sand islands appeared, covered with birdlife such as pelicans. The kids went out again in the kayaks after dinner, but this time to surf in the waves breaking over the sandbar, which was lots of fun (but I didn’t get any photos of this — or most of the sailing — because looking after a non-waterproof camera in rough conditions is too challenging).

Old buildings on the other side of the entrance to Little Swanport.


Launching off the jetty.


Pelicans (“A wonderful bird is the pelican …”)


On the second day of camp, after some pfaffing around because one of the wheels on George Bass‘s trailer was totally kaput, we got everyone together for an expedition to explore the inlet to almost its half-way point. This meant putting Bass into patrol* boat/rowing mode, bringing Bob into action (Bob is our little rowing dinghy), and taking up the slack with everyone else in kayaks. There were 17 of us in all, in seven craft, making a miscellaneous flotilla as we made the most of the incoming tide to work our way up the inlet past the oyster beds.


We stopped for lunch on a stretch of rocky shoreline, where the kids amused themselves standing sticks upright in the water and using them for target practice. For most of the weekend I was completely unable to get into “chill out and relax” mode (lots of other things on my mind with work), although the photographic record will reveal that I was caught napping (kind of).




Our return journey completed the circuit of a large island, and Bob (and my own kayak) had an interesting encounter with a big patch of weeds in one shallow section. As we approached the jetty, we were surprised by the strength of the outgoing tide, which carried us along quite nicely despite the noticeable headwind.


Other activities during the weekend included some laps of the paddock in a go-kart, with later use of the traffic cones as interesting headwear (I don’t know what it is with my Scouts and witches’ hats: on another occasion one of my Victorian Scouts tried to keep one on his head while swinging on a rope swing over very muddy water, with the predictable consequences of a detached hat and a soaked Scout). We also went out and kayaked on the surf again, before finishing off with some jetty jumping.

All in all, a fun camp, with some good water activities (we are a Sea Scout group after all!).

And the Chief Commissioner reckons the Scouts and their leaders are pretty good. 🙂



* Scout patrols, which means a crew of 6 rowers, plus the helm/cox.

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