Up the creek without a paddle, don’t worry

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Up the creek without a paddle, don’t worry. Not if you have the latest technology in kayaking.  This was the message from Gary Baguley, director & general manager of Blue Seas Marine located at Pattaya’s Ocean Marina at the September 9 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club.

Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg introduced Gary, who was born in Melbourne Australia and began his life-long love affair with water sports at the tender age of six when he joined his local swimming club. At 16, he got his first racing boat when he joined the local sailing club.

Gary Baguley provides information about the fully inflated kayak after his able assistant took only 5 minutes to remove it from its carrying case and fully assemble it ready for the water.Gary Baguley provides information about the fully inflated kayak after his able assistant took only 5 minutes to remove it from its carrying case and fully assemble it ready for the water.

At 28, tragedy struck when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. His treatment was successful and he joined a local kayaking club to rebuild his upper body strength; a year later at the age of 29 he competed in the 1982 Murray Marathon, which is a five-day, 400km single-handed kayak race.

At 33, Gary and his family moved to Malaysia where he became involved in windsurfing. In 1993 after relocating to Thailand, Gary established his own company, originally called Blue Wave Water Sports. Later renamed Blue Seas Marine it has become one of the leading companies in Thailand for yacht maintenance, rigging and spare parts on the one side and is now the leading distributor of Hobie Cats to the resort and recreational markets on the other.

Gary Baguley with Blue Seas Marine shows some of the finer points of the Hobie Mirage Drive feature on the inflatable kayak.Gary Baguley with Blue Seas Marine shows some of the finer points of the Hobie Mirage Drive feature on the inflatable kayak.

Gary began his presentation by noting that things have changed in the world of kayaking.  You no longer have to be young and strong to enjoy this water sport. This is primarily due to a revolutionary drive system developed by Hobie called the Mirage Drive. The ungainly paddle has been replaced by the efficiency of the pedal making kayaking easier and more efficient than ever.

In the Mirage Drive, two pedals drive a pair of underwater fins – much like a penguin’s flippers. The Drive weighs about 6.5 pounds and it locks into place with the fins below the keel. It can also be adjusted for use in shallow water.

Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg admires the fully assembled inflated kayak at the PCEC meeting.Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg admires the fully assembled inflated kayak at the PCEC meeting.

Gary then showed a five minute video about the drive and how it operates.  Some key points about the Mirage Drive – it is easy to use, quiet and creates no splash. It leaves your hands free for fishing, photography or holding a drink (that caught the interest of several club members). It is much faster and more efficient than paddling and best of all, no annoying dripping water from a paddle.

After the video, Gary described the different types of kayaks that are available whether for the single kayaker or for two.  He pointed out that the kayaks made today are more stable and versatile.  There are many models including one which has die-cast crossbars and side floats on each side – step the sailing rig and you have a stable sailing craft – but if the wind dies down, you still have the Mirage Drive to let you continue on your way.

Various accessories are also available for the kayak depending on how you want to use it; fun sailing or some serious fishing.  They come equipped with a movable seat, which can be placed to accommodate kayakers of all heights and ability levels. They also come equipped with an easy to use rudder. Of course, they still have a double bladed paddle which can come in handy to fend off in tight places.

Gary also brought along an inflatable kayak and called on the young lady accompanying him to demonstrate how easy it was to unpack, inflate, and rig up with seat and Mirage Drive. It was all done in 5 minutes.

Roy Albiston calls on any new visitors to introduce themselves before opening up the Open Forum at the PCEC meeting where expats can ask or answer questions about expat living in Thailand.Roy Albiston calls on any new visitors to introduce themselves before opening up the Open Forum at the PCEC meeting where expats can ask or answer questions about expat living in Thailand.

He then called on some owners that came with him to provide their own experiences and enjoyment of kayaking in and around the Pattaya area. The more people involved in kayaking allows them to join together in fishing or sailing groups.

Gary concluded by inviting everyone to a Hobie Demo and Barbeque at Mabprachan Reservoir on Saturday, September 22. For more information about the Hobie Kayaks, you can visit: http://www.blueseas-marine.com/watersports.php.

MC Richard then called on Pat Koester to give a brief update on actions taken at the last Board meeting and then he updated everyone on upcoming events. Roy Albiston concluded the meeting by conducting the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular.

Visit the Club’s website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com to learn more about their meetings and activities.