No this was a group of folk all with one thought in mind and that was to bring Duddon Canoe Club to the attention of Furness and to give the locals a chance to see what they are missing down at the waters edge as well as trying to add to the much needed funds of the club. Duddon canoe club is run on a voluntary basis by dedicated coaches, helpers and parents with no funding from anyone. They have achieved so much that in September this year the DDC team are heading down to Nottingham to compete in the Wavehopper championships as well as being invited to race at Reading in October to compete in the Lightening Finals. The team is made up of a mixed group of all ages starting from under 10’s and above.
The preparations to this first ever event got under way early in the morning when the water in the dock was calm as a mill pond and the warm early morning sun was reflecting off the surface. In fact you could actually say it looked very photogenic with the smooth seawater looking like a giant mirror as it reflected clear inverted images back at you of the ships that were moored around.
Back at the club ribbons of tape were wrapped around cones to make several safe zones so folk could wander around with out falling in the water or getting hit by a car as even though it is off the beaten track plenty of people still take their cars along there to walk the dog on the waste ground or to go fishing off the side of the dock. When empty it looked every bit like a crime scene but it actually proved to be a very effective way of crowd control as everyone kept to the designated areas with no problems
Gazebos and awnings were put up fairly quickly but you could still see the odd dark cloud above them as the air was turned blue by the odd expletive being let loose as the bits wouldn’t join together as easy as they thought they did last time. Trestles were put up for the brick a brac and cake stall. Because we ran out of places to rest our things we put to good use large chunks of polystyrene blocks. They came in handy to use as small tables. I did think about having a “CARVE A SCULPTURE” competition but I think I would have been keel hauled by the chap who originally bought it in to be used as internal floats for the kayaks and canoes. Having said that I think he would have given him self a serious hernia which would have put an end to his days paddling had in tried that in a canoe.
Buoyancy aids were set up on racks by the waters edge. All the craft would be got out later by the coaches and members of the youth team as they needed them. It would also give them a chance to show off the extensive collection of craft that have been amassed over the years, what facilities the club has and what had been achieved.
Well by ten o clock we were all set ready to welcome the crowds. Everyone was stationed at their designated areas such as the pirate art & craft tent, lucky dip, quiz & raffle as well as face painting which proved quite popular. Keeping everyone happy and well fed were burgers, hotdogs and drinks. Some even had a burger for breakfast. This was to make sure the burgers were quality tested you see and the bbq was working properly. No good having everyone turn up and the thing had run out of gas. Honest.
Have to admit we were all secretly worried as the start time arrived but no one else did. Slowly at first then gradually increasing came families from around the area. Everyone was soon busy turning youngsters in to Pirates, cooking burgers, selling homemade cakes and importantly getting as many folk out on the water to try their hand at kayaking or canoeing. For some it was their first time.
The coaches and helpers were certainly kept busy and everyone who went out on the water had a great time so much so that a few families even signed up as members there and then.
Later on in the afternoon there was a raft building race between the lads and lasses. I have to admit the lads built a great raft and sailed all the way across to the other side of the dock and back. The girls weren’t quite as lucky this time and not long after their launch the raft drifted apart ceremoniously dumping the crew in the water. Not to be out done they swam back to shore with the help of the rescue craft gathering up their shattered raft on the way. Alas it was too late to rebuild that day but it will have given them a few thoughts on how to improve on their design next time ready to beat the lads.
After everyone had gone home we all worked together to get the place back to normal and all the kit and craft safely away for another day. Looking forward now to Friday when we will all get a chance to meet the new members of the club and tell them of the adventures they could have in the future of sailing up the estuary, round Piel island, racing in kayaks over white water, slalom racing or just gently paddling along the canals and lakes on family days. I don’t think folks realise just what can be achieved once you catch the paddle bug and thanks to the dedicated coaches, helpers and parents of Duddon Canoe Club our youngsters have achieved loads, far more than we or they could ever have imagined.