Lost: Freestyle Paddle


by Chris Lockwood
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"I was wondering if you might be able to post a message on the weekly bulletin. The lower Murray was at 2.3 m yesterday and I had my first swim in Australia in nearly 8 years. Andy's drop bit me for the first time in about 25 Lower Murray trips. My boat didn't look too special after Andy finished with it :) I'd love to get my paddle back if anyone finds it again. Its got a long history and a replacement is around $700...

cheers, Chris"

The message:

Lost 21/05/05 : AT freestyle paddle on the Lower Murray, bent shaft, dark with kevlar reinforced blade edges. No name on it. Has a repair on the shaft on the back side of one blade. Somewhere below (or in) Andy's Drop :o)

The paddle has a history. It was originally owned by Mick Hopkinson (the legend), who I bought it from 18 months ago. I lost it in NZ getting punished in the cave behind a waterfall at the end of a long heli-run. It ended up being my first swim in 7 years... The paddle was ripped from my hands when I swam through the jet. Some other guys helped set up a makeshift climbing harness using throw ropes and a bit of tape to lower me into the waterfall and get my boat out. I had a breakdown paddle which thankfully was still in the boat. 20m downstream was the start of a pretty full-on rapid that I really didn't want to swim down to get out of the gorge so I was glad that I borrowed Kelvin's breakdown for the trip!

The paddle was found a few months later by a 10 year old kid washed up on the beach a way from the river mouth. He showed it to his dad who took it to work to ask a workmate, who "did canoeing", "is it worth anything?". This kind soul posted a message on a local message board. A friend in Kentucky who happened to be on the trip by some chance saw the message one day during a quiet net-surfing work break and posted me the details. I rang the guy in NZ and he freighted it to the north island, where I got Joel Tate (who was going there a week later by chance) to pick it up. I paid for the postage and gave the kid a $50 reward.

It would be great to see it again :) It sure was (is?) a nice paddle. I have a very sore thumb from where the river stole it from me on Saturday.

I'm hoping Tom Suffling might find it on one of his trips. He found the only other paddle I lost in WA on my first lower trip many moons ago. I didn't swim though but apparently it looked like an ugly situation and I freaked a few guys out. They still remember it.

I still have a lot of respect for the LM- Its always a challenge when the water is cranking...

Post Script - a week later
"Well it seems an unlikely outcome... but I got a call from Tom Suffling today and he had... drum roll... AN ~AT~ BENT SHAFT PADDLE thanks to his river guides (forgot their names) going on a paddle hunting mission in the bushes near Andy's Drop on Saturday whilst running a raft trip. Tom drew them a mental tresure map of the trees and they found it in a flash. The water level had dropped significantly so it was sitting high and dry in a bush. One carton of Coopers Sparkling Ale for the lads and one tresured paddle home safe and sound.

Tomorrow morning I will spray-paint it flouro colours and PUT MY DETAILS ON IT. (not that it would have helped in this case).

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