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BLACKWOOD RIVER PADDLE AND CAMPING TRIP November 2022

The Swan Canoe Club’s annual November camping and paddling trip, attracted ten paddlers this year, but what an enthusiastic group!  In particular, the newer white-water paddlers, Kelly, Vicki, Trudy, and Margie were very enthusiastic, while Ross and Steve showed manly reticence.

 

We all camped in the group camping area at Chapman Pool, close to Warner Glen Bridge, with most of us arriving early on Friday to set up our camp in daylight, especially those who were new to camping. It was disappointing that the gas BBQ’s at the site were gas-less, but with a roaring campfire and a couple of gas stoves, we all managed to have a hot dinner. Friday night was cold, but sitting around the campfire telling tall stories, while enjoying a beverage or three kept the cold at bay.

 

Saturday morning dawned crisp and blue-sky-clear, enough to encourage Kelly to go for a morning run. The rest of us were focussed on waking up, followed by breakfast. With breakfast done, paddle gear collected, and Geoff’s briefing done, we were off down Denny Rd to Sue’s Bridge where we dumped kayaks, paddle gear, and the non-drivers. We drove all the cars back along Denny Rd and down to Hut Pool where we left most of the vehicles and used a couple of vehicles to ferry the drivers back to Sue’s Bridge. After all the driving, we were on the water about 10.30am, with one of our warmer paddlers deciding to have a cooling dip. It was a magnificent day, and we all enjoyed cruising downriver, pausing at each rapid. We were fortunate to have several keen paddlers, new to white water but eager to learn, and we had a good team with Geoff leading, Colin as tail-end Charlie and Des and Elena giving tips and supervising. It was great to see Kelly, Trudy, Vicki, Margie, Ross, and Steve paddling through each rapid with confidence and skill that meant none of them capsized. Unfortunately, the only capsize was instructor Geoff, who was attacked by a bush and a turbulent eddy line, while playing in a rapid. Unable to roll up, Geoff exited the Dancer, and tried to pretend that this was an intentional example of what happens if you grab hold of bushes in rapids.

 

After about ten or eleven kilometres of paddling, we stopped for lunch at our usual inviting beach on river left, where Kelly supplied a dessert with her fantastic port and fruit cake. Batteries recharged, legs stretched, and the calls of nature answered, we were soon back on the water and working our way downstream through small rapids, a couple of which were challenging. Along the way we saw several canoe paddlers and an intrepid dog squatting low on the foredeck of one boat as they went through a rapid. After paddling for a total of about eighteen kilometres, we made it to the weir at Hut Pool around three thirty in the afternoon. Then it was car shuffle time again, to recover the vehicles left at Sue’s Bridge and return to Chapman Pool camp. Back in our warm, dry gear, we relaxed around the campfire and told tales of derring-do. Geoff was strangely quiet.

 

Sunday dawned a cool, beautiful blue-sky day, and after breakfast we broke camp and moved our vehicles down to the Day Activity area at Chapman Pool. All ten paddlers were soon back at Hut Pool and paddling downstream, with Colin leading and Geoff as tailender. Trudy was taking each rapid seriously, while Margie, Vicki and Kelly seemed to be having fun. There were some tricky bits to negotiate, and Des and Colin did a great job in getting each paddler into an eddy and around one tight corner, where a tree waited to trap the unwary paddler. After about six kilometres, we made it to Morning Tea Rapid and Colin, Des and Geoff had a little play, until Geoff realised, he was carrying Henrietta’s morning tea carrot cake! It ended up with nine of us having morning tea, while Des kept playing on the rapid. Kelly and Ross had a mud sliding competition while back in the rapid, Des capsized, failed a roll but made it up on the second attempt. Nice work as usual Des.

 

After morning tea, the longer sections of flat water began to wear on the short boat paddlers, Des, Colin, and Geoff.  Des was wishing he was in his new slalom boat instead of his Diesel, and Colin and Geoff just wanted to get there. After around three and a half hours of paddling for twelve kilometres, we made it to Warner Glen Bridge and Chapman Pool by one o’clock in the afternoon. Steve was so pleased he did a victory roll to celebrate. Margie’s husband, Pat was kind enough to drive the three drivers back to Hut Pool to collect cars. Unfortunately, we met a kangaroo on the way along Denny Rd and neither the kangaroo nor Pat were happy. Back at Chapman Pool we had a bite to eat and then hit the road. It ended up being a long day, with Steve, Trudy, Kelly, and Geoff washing club boats and putting them away around six thirty that night. However, despite the tired bodies and the chills and spills we all had a great time, and it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm and skill of the newer paddlers who hopefully will be future leaders.

 

Geoff Emery 10/11/22.

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Murray Delta Paddle – October 2022

“History is written by the victorious” – and something similar applies to
paddle trip notes when they are written by the Trip Organiser – it’s a
certainty that it will be reported as “wildly successful with glorious weather”!

Starting and finishing at the beach adjacent to ‘Jetty’s Bar and Grill’ in South Yunderup, this half day paddle trip avoids the need for a car shuffle and enables participating Swannies (14 this time) to explore the lower reaches of WA’s Murray River where it forms a multi- channelled delta before entering Peel Inlet, roughly midway between Mandurah and Pinjarra.

We had cool overcast conditions for most of the day with a gentle to
moderate westerly breeze. A small case of Mandurah mist (aka rain) around mid-day, but pleasant paddling conditions overall, and a contrast to the unseasonably hot day before.

After paddling downstream on the main part of the river past an eclectic mix of houses, private jetties and ‘pleasure craft’, we then entered the more un- touched environs of the channels that divide the delta into islands with plenty of natural bush and birdlife.

We emerged from a channel south of both Yunderup and Little Yunderup Islands to pass a sand spit crowded with pelicans (somewhat baffled by our presence) before briefly entering Peel Inlet where we met another group of paddlers. Peter Ormond was eager to try out his newly acquired ‘Valley’ kayak to its fullest extent and created minor mayhem while attempting to spilt up (or ram) the oncoming pack – well done Pete, it serves them right by asking if we were the over 55’s group!

Turning into a channel on the northern side of Yunderup Island we headed back to the main section of the Lower Murray and then across to Cooleenup Island where we had our picnic lunch, and some explored the old Coopers Mill. Surprising few mosquitoes this year, and in the absence of an ‘official tour by the caretaker’ Geoff Vine could recite whatever dates and facts you ever wanted to know (and more) about the history of the place.

After lunch we paddled through the Mandurah mist out into some mildly choppy stuff in Peel Inlet before turning into the lower reaches of the Serpentine River, then around Jenala Island and back to Coopers Mill. The return journey to the main channel of the Murray was via the narrow tree- lined channel on the northern side of Cooleenup Island. Amazingly quite on these back channels with no traffic noise or competition with power boats.

Tony King battled bravely with the skeg of the red Hydra for much of the day, fully admitting he had no control over its direction and it was a bit of a struggle to keep up. After lunch he took a short cut home but we reconnected with him in the main channel on the homeward stretch. So, against the odds, we returned to our starting point with a full complement of paddlers – what more could anyone ask for!

Janet Stanford (a.k.a. dolphin whisperer) made the official count of seven for the day, although some may have been countered twice? Some of us DID see one dolphin do a very speccie jump from the water on the final stretch.

Ross Ladyman demonstrated he was the hard man of the team with his lightly dressed attire enabling us to use him as mosquito bait, although not needed in the end. Clive Jarman impressed the punters by bringing along the result of his wooden boat-building skills, although his relaxed paddling style meant his craft wasn’t a significant challenge to Geoff Emery and Colin Scully’s not-so-secret passion for boat speed.

In the absence of some of our usual bird spotting experts, a local woman walking her dog did however spot not one, but two, of the normally elusive ‘budgie smuggler’ species. Tony and Paul Covolato were responsible for this traumatic sight (and more!) while they were getting changed in the car park at the end of the day.

Well done everyone, a pleasant and relaxing paddle trip for your organiser thanks to your patience and sense of humour. Thanks also to instructors Colin and Geoff for back-up duties controlling this wild rabble!

Marty Wells
Photos courtesy of Geoff Emery and Christine Eyres

Paddling Walyunga White Water 2022

It looks like we’re seeing the last of the white water for a while, as the Walyunga gauge, wherever it’s gone to, would be showing about 0.5 metre today. Hopefully the disappearing wooden Walyunga gauge will be skulking underwater and can be recovered once the water drops. Meantime, we have been lucky in being able to paddle white water while the sun shines, instead of enjoying the usual grey skies and rain.

Colin, Elena, and I had a pleasant play at Walyunga on Monday 26 th September when the water level was about 0.65 metres and lived to embellish the tale. However, what was more impressive, was paddling at Walyunga on Saturday 1 st October with Kelly, Vicki, Ash, and Colin at a water level of about 0.57 metres. We spent over two hours paddling from the top pool at Walyunga to the bottom pool below the slide, playing at nearly every eddy. There were a few wobbles and serious faces and that was just me! Despite being relatively new to white water, Kelly, Vicki, and Ash were terrific in not having a capsize, but also having fun in the sun. Ash looked totally in control, burying the nose of the Katana in the stopper at Viper’s Tongue, and Vicki practised her ferry gliding in the Corsica until she mastered it, while Kelly slid the Mamba into the eddy at the top of the slalom poles with style and without capsizing! Just as impressive, was everyone breaking out of the eddy and into the fast flow and large waves and smiling while they did their low brace turn.

As if white water and sunshine weren’t enough, Kelly produced her usual bread rolls, pulled lamb and hot gravy in a flask for lunch! Ash whipped up some fancy chocolates, Vicki some watermelon and nougat, and Colin brought some cake, while slack-Geoff was almost empty-handed, apart from a flask of hot coffee and lots of talking. I jokingly labelled Kelly, Vicki, and Ash as ‘The Dream Team’ but we do have other new paddlers like Fran, Margie, Nick, and Ross who are equally competent and just as keen to enjoy the white water. Many of these paddlers have put their hand up for the Blackwood River Trip, in November where we paddle nineteen kilometres from Sue’s Bridge on the Saturday and about twelve kilometres on the Sunday from Hut pool, playing in whatever rapids we can find.

Hopefully by the time Elena, Colin S and Colin P and I are using a Zimmer frame to get in out of our kayaks, we’ll have a new cohort of younger white-water paddlers, guides and maybe even instructors. Clearly the writing is on the wall, because as I finished teaching a thirteen-year-old boy to kayak yesterday, he commented as we finished,” Gee, there’s a lot of old people in the club, isn’t there?”

Geoff Emery
Paddle Aust accredited flat water,
white water, sea instructor and assessor.
gemry13@gmail.com
5th October 2022.

Moonlight Paddle

Great turn out for this event from Swannies of all ages and abilities, so much so that we ended up with 3 groups on the water and staggered start times to avoid chaos on the ramp.

Each group got on the water with their nominated group leader, Jen, Elena and Sarah and headed off for an adventure on the river.  Perfect evening, calm waters, minimal boat traffic, though the cloud cover caused us concern that we would miss the event that we were all there for.

Just around 6pm, the moon made its appearance from behind the hills, and behind the construction occurring at Canning bridge! We got to see it for a minute then the moon played hide and seek with us as it moved up through the cloud layers. Mind you to the west was also a magnificent sunset, so as we slowly headed back to the club, we had a colour show to keep us entertained.

Lights on for the last bit back to the ramp, our staggered start also meant a staggered finish so as one group headed upstairs, the next arrived.

Back at the club rooms the various cooks ensured that no one went hungry, soups for all palates and plenty of fresh bread for dunking. It all went down amid a babble of conversation only intermittently interrupted by groans of despair from those die-hards watching the Freo match…… Their spirits revived by the arrival of cake and cheesecake as we all dug into some fantastic sweets!

Thank you to all who came along and made the evening such a social event, to the cooks and to Jen, Elena and Sarah for keeping everyone safe on the river.

 

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Upper Murray Paddle with Geoff E

Last Sunday, eleven club paddlers set off from Yarragil on the Upper Murray River to paddle the ten kilometres downstream to the Baden-Powell picnic area. The river was flowing well at a level of about 1.85 metres at the Baden-Powell gauge. Six of the paddlers were relatively new to white water, but what they lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm. Even an unexpected swim or two failed to cool them off.

Watching Fran, Vicki, Margie, Kelly, Nick, and Ross, it was great to see them remembering some of the techniques they’d learnt in the Introduction to White Water courses run by Colin Scully, Geoff Emery, and Colin Priest. Colin, Elena, and Des were giving lots of good advice about ferry gliding, breaking in and out and of course remembering to edge or lean the kayak downstream.

Margie was enjoying herself so much, that she became over-heated and decided to flip her yellow Katana to cool off. The problem for the rescuers, was that they couldn’t stop her laughing! Kelly was looking cool, and colour coordinated in her blue Mamba and matching cag. She remained focussed, controlled, and dry all day! Nick was enjoying his red Katana and getting a bit excited, as he pushed himself to play in each rapid. Despite a couple of close calls, he maintained boat control and stayed dry too. Ross was just cruising along in the yellow Tsunami, not feeling the cold in his tee shirt, and enjoying himself. Vicki had difficulty getting the smile off her face and appeared to be enjoying herself way too much, throughout the day. Fran was paddling well, keeping the Dancer straight, when Colin distracted her with a discussion about lip balm. She assumed he wanted her to wash it off and flipped the Dancer near a bush. Determined to remove the offending lip balm, she took her time getting out of the kayak, but finally emerged with clean blue lips. Gillian was enjoying the paddle in the Green Boat, while Elena had a bit of fun surfing across one rapid with her paddle in the air. Colin was doing a good job leading the group, while Geoff as ‘tail-end Charlie’ wasn’t doing much at all.

At about four kilometres from Yarragil, the Island Pool rapid looked a bit intimidating from the top. Des didn’t help the confidence levels a lot when he made the first run and hit something solid on the way through. Nevertheless, one by one, each paddler made the run into a nice open V chute and into the large pool below. Last year at the same rapid we had three or four capsizes, but I was impressed that this year everyone sailed through like experts. The group moved over to river left and beached the boats for a lunch break, while Des, Colin, Elena, Nick, and Geoff had a play on the rapid before joining the luncheon crowd.

Back on the water after lunch, we left Island Pool and paddled about four kilometres to Bob’s Crossing, playing on a few small rapids along the way. The water was running over the roadway at Bob’s Crossing and making a lot of noise, as we got out of our boats on river right and portaged. There was a large and turbulent eddy downstream from Bob’s Crossing and it needed a bit of care getting back on the foamy water. After another two kilometres we reached the Baden-Powell picnic area and our vehicles at about three o’clock, making it a four-hour trip. Once in dry clothes again, Geoff drove Margie back to Yarragil to collect her car and we returned to Baden-Powell to pack boats and gear. From there we drove to the Dwellingup Pub for a well-earned drink in the sunshine and the usual ‘war stories’. It ended up being a great day, with great company and I would like to thank everyone for coming along. I was left feeling positive that the club is developing more white-water paddlers who are not only younger than me, but enthusiastic and keen to go on the next trip.

A special thanks too to Colin, Elena, and Des for all the usual help and guidance.

Geoff Emery. 190922.

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Serpentine River – Mandurah Lakes Trip Report

With the heavy rain and the river rising from 0.45 metres to over 1.2 metres, this twenty-kilometre paddle down the Serpentine River was looking in doubt. Some paddlers were in doubt too, with colds and car breakdowns, but come 9.30am, Sunday 7th August 2022, eleven intrepid Swannie paddlers entered the Serpentine at Karnup Road and paddled south, assisted by a gentle flow. The Dog Hill Station on the Serpentine River was showing about 0.45 metres, a Goldilocks water level. It appeared that the rain gods had heard our prayers and there were even patches of sunlight showing through the grey clouds and while we didn’t break into song, the sunlight lifted our spirits and helped us on our way.

 

Our happy band included Colin, Trish, Marty, Vicki, Steve, Val, Nick, Kelly, Gillian, Fran, and Geoff. Dodging bushes and trees, we cruised down to Kerulup Pool, and navigated around the Water Hyacinth boom net, by paddling across flooded ground. Finally, we arrived at the small lake above the maze of trees, reeds, tiger snakes and swampy ground at the top of Lake Amarillo. The route wasn’t very clear, and Geoff’s navigation left a bit to be desired, as paddlers disappeared amongst the reeds and paperbark trees. Fortunately, there weren’t many drop bears in evidence and apart from one spill, we all finally emerged among the dead trees at the top of Lake Amarillo, a little battered and bruised but not bloody.

 

Paddling across Lake Amarillo the wind kicked up, the rain came down and several black swans decided they’d rather be flying and took to the air. Once across Lake Amarillo, we turned right and took the short-cut where the river is trying to form ox-bow lakes. On the way we navigated another Water Hyacinth boom net and then arrived at Limbo Bridge, ready for a lunch break. The bridge is unhappily listing upstream and reluctantly answering the siren call of gravity, making the gap under the bridge tight. Getting under it , while staying dry, requires either some limbo or downward dog and the river flow adds to the challenge. Most of us got through unscathed, but one unlucky paddler got caught sideways against the bridge and was rolled upstream, the current pinning her boat to the bridge. Fortunately, Marty, assisted by Colin, managed to rescue the situation and the paddler, despite being attacked by a dangerous steel cable strung between the bank and the bridge.

 

Having survived the bridge and covered about eleven kilometres we were all happy to stop at Lunch Island, stretch our numb legs and answer the call of nature. Kelly excelled herself as usual, by providing everyone with fresh bread rolls and slow cooked lamb covered in hot gravy! Luxury, total luxury! After a relaxing lunch break, we climbed into the kayaks and headed off west and south into Guanarnup Pool, paddling against significant fetch from the west wind. From there we wound our way into Yalbanberup Pool, where several squadrons of Pelicans were on the ground having a committee meeting, presumably to discuss the flying weather. Not long after emerging onto the pool, the Pelican pods broke up and they began to get airborne and work the thermals, slowly disappearing into the clouds.

 

Entering the narrow section of river near the end of the paddle we were surprised by the number of Nanking Night Herons lurking in the trees. I wondered if they were trying to get on camera, as there was a nearby solar powered camera perched on a metal pylon? Arriving back at Woodland Parade about 2.30pm, after yet another excellent trip, we were happy to load up and head home. Thanks again to everyone for the company and especially to Marty, Colin, Steve, and Gillian for helping and for just being there.

 

Geoff Emery 7/8/22.

 

 

Intro to White Water with Geoff E (and an awesome gang!)

WALYUNGA WHITE WATER FUN.

Swan Canoe Club recently ran two white water courses for paddlers new to the joy of getting wet, while playing in the rapids. Geoff Emery and Colin Scully ran both courses and enjoyed the water, the teaching, and the camaraderie. Geoff and Colin are somewhat amazed at how quickly new paddlers can pick up the skills required to enjoy themselves and be safe in moving water.

The first course on the 25/6/22 was in sunshine, with the Walyunga gauge at a pleasant 0.6 metres and Ash, Steve, Mark, and Peter enjoyed themselves, despite a few capsizes and some swimming practice. In contrast the second course on the 23/7/22 was very wet, with some heavy rain at times, mainly at the start and as we finished, but the water was at a good level of 0.56 metres. We had a larger group of seven, consisting of Nishani, Lafe, Yannick, Fran, Kelly, Vicki, and Nick and once again there were a few spills and chills. Fortunately, Kelly made a fantastic soup, supported by bread rolls from Vicki and chocolate from Fran. Luxury, total luxury when one is cold and wet despite wearing the right gear.

We started in the lower Walyunga Pool and had to contend with a Wildwater Race that was going on, dodging over thirty Downriver kayaks as they arrived about a minute apart. Despite that slowing us down a bit, after a soup break, we carried our craft above the Walyunga Slide to a rapid known as Viper’s Tongue and practised leaning downstream and breaking in to the flow from an eddy and out again. With confidence building, even among the instructors, we moved upstream again and paddled past Wooroloo Brook where the Avon River becomes the Swan River.

After a bit more ferry gliding and breaking in and out, we headed back to the fast water in the slalom pole area and eddied out on river-left to practice the white-water safe swimmer position and how to use a throwbag to rescue a swimmer. By now we had some tired and wet campers, and that was just Colin and Geoff. Everyone was relieved when we left the slalom area and headed downstream. Most of us stayed in our kayaks, as we paddled through heavy rain, Viper’s Tongue and Walyunga Slide to the lower pool and dry clothes.

With boats and gear loaded, Geoff handed out the Introduction to White Water certificates and the Avon Safety Competency Assessment Certificates for the four paddlers planning on doing the Avon Descent. It was a wet, tiring day, but we all learnt something, and I think we all had fun. We happy wet few!

Thanks to Colin for always having my back and to Kelly for that great soup and to everyone else for their company and tolerating my weak jokes and tendency to talk too much.

Hope to see you all on the water soon.

Geoff Emery

Flat Water, White Water & Sea Instructor & Assessor. (25/7/22)

 

 

Moore River Meander – July 2022

After a two-day postponement due to predicted miserable weather, the thirteen of us who presented for the Moore River Meander were rewarded with a magnificent sunny winter’s day with negligible wind and great company. Our paddlers for this Tuesday excursion were – Mike Glasson, Bernadette Berrell, Tony King, Christine Eyres, Peter Ormond, Gillian Henderson, Linda Godlonton, Alan Wilson, Patrick Carmody, Trish Schuttler, Geoff Emery, Jocelyn Sisson, and Marty Wells.

Firstly however, I extend my apologies to those who signed up for the advertised trip on Sunday 10th and were then unable to come when it was postponed to Tuesday 14th.  A call needed to be made based on the forecast a few days before, and yes, work is the curse of the paddling class!

A preliminary coffee and loo stop at Woodridge enabled a brief catch up with Chessen, a former Swannie and now local Guilderton resident, who had relayed the potentially catastrophic news that the Guilderton coffee shop was not open on a Tuesday. However, her good news was the sand bar at the mouth of the river was intact, and the river water level was therefore high enough to enable smooth paddling along our planned route without any dragging boats through shallows.

After placating Patrick who had been waiting patiently at our start point on the southern side of the river (Caraban locality) since around 4 am, we unloaded the boats and prepared for the safety briefing, but not before Geoff had a crack at seeing how high his boat could bounce whilst being unloaded solo from his vehicle.

With a trail of dripping blood from a damaged thumb (actually a pathetic wound Geoff, self-inflicted I reckon to gain sympathy!) we ventured onto the water keeping a watchful eye out for crocodiles, sharks, and any other creatures who might be attracted to the possibility of a free meal.

Forming two paddle groups with myself as ‘full forward’, assistant guide Jocelyn as ‘full back’, and the master instructor Geoff as an unattached ‘rover’, we headed upstream for about 2.5 km with the river meandering across relatively flat farming terrain and the river fringed with flooded gums, melaleucas and tuarts (some with Osprey nests). Despite recent rain, the water was pretty tranquil, and we paddled until it started to narrow into a potentially challenging maze.

Returning downstream, we picked up Linda who had remained at the starting point to enjoy the peace and quiet for a while. We then headed into the broader sections of the river heading towards the coast. After passing Diamond Island land adjacent to the river became noticeably higher and steeper, and away from the tree-lined river margins there were undulating sand dunes over buried limestone, and the vegetation became more scrubby. The bird life changed as well with a flock of screeching corellas making if difficult to have a conversation.  By this stage our two paddle groups had merged, and the faster paddlers restrained themselves from having too much fun.

Five km downstream from the vehicles, we stopped for lunch at the base of the large Guilderton sand-sheet where it spills down into the river. Climbing to the top of this dune provided impressive views back up the river, towards Guilderton, and out to sea.  It also showed us how unused to steep climbing our wobbly legs were. The shear fun of sand boarding down from the top and skimming out onto the water was demonstrated by some local kids. Note to self – bring a board on top of kayak next time!

Paddling for another kilometre we were at Guilderton, a very scenic collection of holiday shacks/ houses on elevated terrain around a caravan park adjacent to a protected beach by the river, just inland from the sandbar and the ocean.  Having worn out their legs on the dune climb, most of the group opted for an immediate 6 km paddle back to the vehicles, while four of us remained to briefly enjoy the views along the coast from the headland lookout.

After returning to the vehicles we had all completed the 17 km trip without drama (no capsizes, no rolling, no rescues) and just a sense of how lucky we had been with a magic day weather-wise.

Thanks to all participants, particularly Jocelyn and Geoff on the day, and also Mike for doing the recce trip with me a few weeks earlier.

 

Marty Wells

Flat-water Guide and Caffeine Addict