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Paddle Club back in the water

The first time I saw a team of paddlers was during Sunday breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant. Fairly new to the Coast, the scenery caught my breath and I was mesmerized by the boat traffic.

The first time I saw a team of paddlers was during Sunday breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant.

Fairly new to the Coast, the scenery caught my breath and I was mesmerized by the boat traffic. Sailboats, fishing boats, a pleasure yacht, a tugboat and the Dogwood ferry didn't compare to a tiny craft coming into view from the harbour.

I've never seen a boat like it. From afar the oars in unison reminded me of a centipede, with its baby following alongside. This boat commanded a peaceful presence and a semblance of teamwork that the larger vessels couldn't grasp.Within moments the boat glided by the restaurant, and I had to ask my friends what I was looking at. They told me it was an outrigger canoe.

Thinking back three years ago to my first glimpse of the Gibsons Paddle Club, I wouldn't have believed that today I'm a member and a director of our non-profit club.

Boasting more than 200 members from Langdale to Powell River, we have one, two and six-person outriggers with launching and storage access in Gibsons, Sechelt and Powell River.

I became a member because the paddle club offers so much. Our group will paddle to get out and enjoy a mellow trip of sightseeing and wildlife watching.

Another group will be paddling to get a workout and burn some calories. Both groups are out there to have fun and add a little excitement to life.

The club makes it easy for beginners: a basic lesson, boat, life jacket and paddle are provided, along with the wisdom and experience of the team captain to assure a safe journey over gorgeous waters. And if you like paddling, we have a reasonable annual membership fee: adult $100, family $200, post-secondary students $50 and children $25.

The Gibsons Paddle Club has been up and running since 1999. It began because of the strong support and interest that arose due to the Howe Sound Iron Race (which will be held again in Gibsons July 10 to 11) and a few brave and hard-working souls who planted the idea of a club to provide everyone the fantastic opportunity to paddle our beautiful waters.

Now the Gibsons Paddle Club is a fundamental recreation tool of our community; we provide boats and time slots for school youth groups.

For information on this, call Bill Beamish at 604-886-2463. Our vice-president is designing a launch system for people with special needs. Anyone can paddle, and the directors have agreed to launch a bid to host the 2010 summer World Outrigger Sprints competition, bringing Gibsons some world-class canoe fever.

I hope by now that I've got you by the paddle. If I do, come join the club at our drop-in times at Gibsons Marina on Mondays at 4:50 p.m. and Fridays at 9 a.m. For more information call director of membership Lorne Lewis at 604-885-3295, l_lewis@sunshine.net, past president Angela Letman at 604-886-8114, aletman@telus.net or see our webpage at www.folkstone.ca/outrigger.- Submitted