Rowing around the Bay

by Chris Banner

Chris Banner rowing with his niece

Chris Banner rowing with his niece

I can hear my breath when I row into Cherry Point. I’ve worked hard against the southerly breeze, but I’ve enjoyed the slapping waves, the hull’s contented gurgle and the creak of the rowlocks. My ears hear the whistle of Eagles high in the trees, the croak of a startled Heron wading on the shore and the raucous rattle of the Kingfisher, darting from tree to tree. I rest on my oars sheltered from the wind. My GPS informs me I didn’t exceed three knots, but as I turn and row from behind the marina’s breakwater, I feel the wind press the Acorn’s transom, push against my chest and tug at my hair.

SmallHeron_one of hundreds in estuary1

Wading Heron

I return in half the time. The trees flow past, then the government dock, then the boats and finally I turn into the Maritime Centre’s dinghy dock.

Cory Baker, Lew Penney, Tony Owen and I have worked to put some of the Maritime Boat Centre’s dinghies into the water. Too many were on static display and needed to be used. There is now an Acorn, an Ian Oughtred design, with a single rowing position; a classic Maine Peapod, it has two rowing stations, and a dory with two rowing stations.

Cory and I painted antifouling on the hulls so they are ready for use in the water, Toni Own renovated oars, and Lew, Cory and I re-installed the keelson, seats and floor on the dory. These boats need to be rowed. Cory has taken his children on a rowing adventure, I have taken my wife, Lenore, a novice rower, out in the Peapod. (We even managed to row in synch!) Other Maritime Boat members are enthused and have discovered the delights of the dinghies.

Chris and Lenore in the Peapod

Chris and Lenore in the Peapod

It’s only the price of a season’s membership at the Maritime Boat Centre ($35 individual and $50 family), but these boats are free for members to use. I have explored the estuary (but watch out for the low tides). I have thrilled to the whistles of alarmed Osprey’s when I approach their nests atop the old dolphins, I have been amazed at the disdainful glances from the hundreds of haughty Herons wading the shallows for supper, surprised by the dozens of seals splashing as they submarine under my dinghy. I see the small heads of the babies, scent the fishy odour of the adults and endure their silent stares as I row past.

Cory Baker and his children

Cory Baker and his children

I am almost inured to the mewings and lamentations of the gulls, but as I grunted to my oars recently, I looked up and saw a sleek Tern. I watched its wings flap and then it folded them, assumed it was an arrow and plunged into the water. It quickly re-surfaced and flew off with a small fish in its beak. As I rowed away, the Tern dived three more times.
I watched the contractors refurbish the Polar Prince until it looked painted and purposeful rather than drab and dejected and Cormorants and Ospreys have populated the empty wharf, now the Dominion and Beaver have left.

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Disconnect from the beeping busy world and take an hour to row around the Bay. Your thickening middle will appreciate the exercise and your spirit will soar with the Eagles and Ospreys.

“Row, Row, Row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.”




Chris Banner rowing with his niece – courtesy Lenore Hietkamp
Chris and Lenore in the Peapod – courtesy Alma Owen
Cory Baker and his children – courtesy Lenore Hietkamp
Wading Heron – courtesy Chris Banner
Osprey in flight – courtesy Lenore Hietkamp

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  1. Martin Milner
    October 1st, 2013 at 22:24 | #1

    My Dad and I used to row up and down between Cherry Pt and Randels trolling for coho with bucktails, we would troll away till dark good memories…..Martin

  2. October 3rd, 2013 at 08:23 | #2

    So good to see these boats getting some TLC and some real use. It would make their builders really happy, I’m sure!

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