Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PFTB - A different perspective

Last year, I blogged about an event that I had participated in before, but that didn't end so well for me that year.  It was Paddle for the Border.  The link to that post is HERE.  This year, I volunteered.

Paddle for the Border is an annual event (this was the 6th annual) that is a 7 1/2 mile paddle on the inter-coastal waterway along the Dismal Swamp Canal.  In the past, it started at a boat ramp off of Ballahack Road in Chesapeake, and paddlers made their way to the NC Welcome Center, where hot dogs and hamburgers were served for lunch.  For the past few years, the trip has been reversed.  You start at the NC Welcome Center, where volunteers are there to help you unload your boat, walk around with free biscuits, and help get you in the water.  You then paddle to Chesapeake, VA to the boat landing at Ballahack Road, where volunteers help you out of the water, carry your boat to a staging area, and help load them on your car after lunch.  Lunch is now catered, and they set up tents, tables, chairs, and such with your meal consisting of Fried Chicken, BBQ, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, and Hush Puppies.  (This is included in your registration fee).  Also included in your registration fee is an event T-shirt, a very nice hat, and a bag full of swag.  They have a cap on how many boats they allow to participate (230, I believe), due mostly to the lack of parking on both ends.  Registration had completely filled up before the deadline each year that the event has been going on.  

After last years snafu - I decided to volunteer this year.  It was a completely different experience seeing what all goes on behind the scene while we're paddling so long to make it to the end.  Those in charge are keeping a close eye on how far out paddlers are, making sure that lunch is ready, getting all the volunteers lined up, and so on.  I guess I took it all for granted.  I stayed at the south end until all the paddlers were in the water, then made my way to the north end.  I was able to watch things from a different angle until hungry paddlers started making their way through the chow line.  

They got rid of the cheesy political speeches this year (last year was a first for that), and kept things running smoothly.  It appeared to be a great event.

From what I heard, no one fell in this year, but there were some large sailboats that were causing trouble.  They were speeding through the canal, and wouldn't slow down when asked by the fire department.  They were verbally abusive to the kayakers and even tried to swamp them.  Finally, the fire department boat went past them, and then got in front of them and slowed to a crawl.  Since the sailboats have to stay in the middle of the canal due to the depth of the water, they were forced to slow down.  

I stayed working the chow line from 10:30 to nearly 1:00.  I was pooped, but it was really fun to watch everyone come through the line.  

This year for the first time, I was able to take some pictures.  Here ya go.....


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