Like you, I know some people who feel passionate about the strangest thing…how about growing orchids in your basement, or collecting stamps, or throwing darts, or…old wooden boats that leak and won`t start. Oh, shucks, that would be us!!! Have you ever stopped to consider how others might see this crazy passion of ours? I did just that on the Sunday of the Huntsville regatta. It was the Poker Run. Robert and I were hanging out in our dippy, in the rain, in the middle of Penninsula Lake, waiting for other dippys to find us, pass by our boat, some at ramming speed…and pick up a playing card as part of a game. At one point I began to laugh uncontrollably. When I could finally get a grip enough to answer Robert`s obvious question, “What`s so funny?”, I blurted out. “Who in their right mind would sit in a cold, wet boat in the middle of a lake on a rainy day handing out playing cards? On top of that, I actually think this is fun! In fact, it`s my favourite part of the weekend! I think I should get a life! I`m nuts!” I guess that`s what passion is all about. Any sensible human would have been somewhere else.
But that`s just it…all of you folks that were out there with us are just as certifiable! My mind flips back to seeing Paul Gockle heading across the lake in his serviceable sou`wester, rain dripping off his nose, to help a boat that wouldn`t start. And Paul Doddington gently siddling up to our boat, an equally gentle smile on his wet face to receive his playing card as if he did this every day and it was normal. Perhaps I`ll have to reconsider the orchid growers!
So for those of you who were not able to join us, here`s a synopsis of the goings on that weekend. If you were there, sit back, suck your thumb and enjoy the memories of happy boating days. Either way, none of this will surprise you. The 32nd annual Dispro Owners Regatta was held at Hidden Valley Resort near the beautiful Town of Huntsville on the weekend of September 10 – 12. Friday was warm and bright and we arrived in the afternoon. As usual many members were already there. We exchanged greetings and renewed acquaintances with Mary and President John Storey and Happy and John Thompson right in the parking lot.
After checking into our room overlooking pretty Penninsula Lake, we headed to the launch ramp where Mitch and the crew assisted us to slip the dippy into the water. The boats then could be moored at the dock or pulled up onto the sand beach. I don`t know about you, but I love walking around in the shallows of a sandy lake and wouldn`t miss that part . You may have noticed my love for hanging out in the lake. And when it also includes tinkering with my boat, well, that`s just awesome.
The fine weather permitted us to enjoy our first meal together -a barbeque on the deck overlooking the lake. There was a lot of happy chatter as people got reacquainted. As the sun set, we retired indoors for the speaker and the skippers meeting. The guest speaker was Tricia Markle from Heritage Village who transformed herself into Mrs. Hunt, of Huntsville fame, for the telling of the tale of the founding of Huntsville, through the eyes of this early settler.
Saturday dawned bright and clear skies, if not a wee nippy. All skippers and crew proceeded after a substantial breakfast (which I ate with my eyes sleepily closed) to rendezvous at the lake and prepare for the trip. The group photograph was organized and snapped efficiently by Tim DuVernet, we picked up our box lunches, and then all boats were started –well mostly all boats! The route took us from Peninsula Lake to Fairy Lake, then westward to Huntsville. As we proceeded through the river that connects Fairy Lake to Lake Vernon, we went under the bridge in the centre of downtown Huntsville. Many people smiled and waved as 40 “dippys” passed through town. I guess it is quite a sight to behold!
Once we entered Lake Vernon there were choices. We chose to follow the beautiful treed south shore to the west end and found it to be very quiet and undeveloped. We had the feeling that we were in a wilderness area and could even imagine ourselves much further north. Others followed the north shore past the sand beach which was to be the lunch stop, and proceeded up the Big East River. Bob Burk told us that it also was a beautiful run and that he never would forget the experience! After a time to eat our lunches and to visit with our friends on the beach, we retraced our steps to the resort. I never cease to marvel at how often the trip back feels like a totally different trip. The light and the images are always fresh.
Though chilly, again the weather was with us for the evening traditional ‘wine and cheese’ party on the deck. Even bundled up a bit, this trusty bunch would rather be outside than in. That`s another thing that makes me feel at home with you guys. You love being outside. Yeah!!! This was a wonderful and fun affair hosted by Rachel and Vice-president Gary Campaigne. The dinner too was excellent, but oh, the best was yet to come! Now most of us were having a great time up until now, but little did we know that we would have an even bigger giggle at the auction. It was an absolute hoot! When you`re having so much fun it`s really hard to keep your hand from shooting up enthusiastically, isn`t it Les and Bob? -especially when all manner of interesting “things” were to be had, some things you needed and some you thought you might need! Joking aside, there were some pretty fine items. But, one item up for auction was very special indeed -a handmade quilt, made and donated by Ian Dickson`s sister. A big thank you goes out to Maureen for this donation. Knowing the hours and hours involved in this venture, we are grateful for such a beautiful and generous donation that now graces the Burks` dining room table. Thanks,Maureen. The auction committee including Past Presidents Sheila Burk and Ian Dickson did a superb job and they thanked all of the donors and purchasers who made the auction a great success –even those wacky auctioneers (don`t leave your day job, Robert!). So start working on your auction treasures for the next auction in two years time.
As I made clear at the beginning of this story, Sunday`s weather was very different from Saturday`s -very quiet and subdued, not bright, and dare we say it, rainy! Not to be deterred, President John and Mary set us up with a watery floating poker game. And it was great fun -four dippys stationed around the lake – each crew given a deck of cards and a stick with a clothespin taped to its end. To begin each boat drew a card from the deck before leaving the dock. Once in your dippy you set out to find the four host boats with the rest of the cards to complete your poker hand. The idea was to carefully come along side a host boat and to retrieve a random card offered on the stick. I don’t know who had the most excitement -the skippers in the moving boats attempting the rendezvous or the crews in the stationary boats anticipating the arrival of anxious boats. Let me tell you this, each skipper has different speeds for this maneuver –as mentioned, the calmest and slowest was Paul Doddington who was talking to his passenger all the time and at the last instant looked up, calmly took the card, said “thank you” and proceeded on his way. We all managed to get back before the rain really began in ernest.
We met one last time –to enjoy lunch together, to check out the poker hands, and to reward and chuckle about the various antics that had occurred during the weekend. The story that most clearly shows how incredibly committed dippy owners are was the story of Ian Dickson`s hard luck, for which he received the new and beautiful “Hard Luck Trophy”. This trophy was donated by the Gravenhurst Power Squadron and gorgeously restored by John Storey. Near and dear to my heart, the flag pennant pole atop the trophy belonged to our sweet friend Patrick Wren. I`m sure Patrick would smile broadly at this whimsical use of his pole. To hear a complete rendition of this amazing Ian Dickson adventure story, be sure to ask Ian or Barb or Happy. It is far tooooo long and unbelievable to reiterate here! But, it`s sure worth the telling and retelling. It`s the classic dippy owners hard luck story! And in place of the goofy stories and there requisite reward of varnish in past years, Happy presented a choice of rope or a flashlight to the winners. At that point, Mitch and the launch crew went to work retrieving dippys and everyone said their goodbyes. But before we end this tale of yet another successful dippy weekend, let us for a moment reflect fondly on the wonderful times we have all had at the hands of these quirky and wacky little boats. Take a deep breath and let`s utter a collective sigh, remembering the sun and the fun (and the rain) and the happy sound of “Putt Putt Putt”. See you all next year, my friends!
-written by Pamela Gibson and Robert Clipsham