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Packrafting the Franklin and Lower Gordon Rivers January 1981 Part 2

The first picture below was taken somewhere in the middle reaches of the Franklin. By my expression it seems that my confidence and skills were developing nicely at this stage. This picture shows the home made paddles we made for our first journey down the river in 1981. The shafts were 1″ timber dowell with marine-ply blades glued and screwed into sawn slots. The central ferrule was a solid piece of stainless steel pipe, with countersunk holes to screw the shafts into place. The ferrules were kindly made by my dad. The paddles were not strong enough and repeatedly broke, requiring us to make many rough repairs. These yellow boats were also not very good. They tended to rip apart at the seams. The black patch on the stern in this picture shows a repair; we stitched with fishing line and used old car inner-tube rubber with Selley’s Quik Grip for the patches.

John triumphant

Below: We began to shoot bigger and bigger rapids, mostly successfully.

Peter Slowitzky Coruscades

Frank shot the Churn, but it was ugly. He could have lost his life in this mess. I portaged!

Peter Slowitzky Churn

Peter Slowitzky Churn2

Below: That’s me with the rope as Peter Woof approaches the Thunderush. No pretense at control; no paddle. Just holding on!

peter Woof

Once again, I was more conservative and portaged. Maybe that’s why I’m still packrafting over 30 years later!

peter Woof 2

Below: The Pig Trough Rapid

peter Slowitzky Pig Trough Rapid

mark gibson Pig Trough Rapid

Newlands Cascades

Newlands Cascades

Newlands Cascades 2

Lower Franklin Campsite, showing the tents and billies we used back then. L-R: Peter (Frank) Slowitzky, Peter Woof, Robert McLaine.

camp near Newlands Cascades

Just having fun on the Lower Franklin.

fun on double fall

double fall

Below: Big Fall was (and still is) a nasty rapid. In the first picture below, Mark is struggling to get out of the back-wash zone.

big fall 3

The next one is me, just after I’d successfully shot the drop. you can see my old-fashioned marine life-jacket tucked neatly in behind my black barrel. Our theory was that if we got caught in the stopper it would be better to have less buoyancy and hopefully come out below the white water.

big fall 2

Peter Woof on Big Fall.

big fall 1

The Lower Gordon was a blissful float during that year. This is Frank, just stretched out and relaxing. Frank sadly died young, so this is a sweet memory of Frank enjoying good times.

drifting down the Gordon

Pick-up was by the Denison Star, at Butler Island on the Lower Gordon.

denison star

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