Canadian Bay paddles were introduced in the early 1990s and were traditionally held on the last Sunday of the month, leaving from Canadian Bay Club and going to either Mornington Harbour or Marina Cove, Mount Martha and return. If the wind was from the North, we would paddle to either Frankston or Seaford and return.
I feel that these paddles have provided a valuable opportunity for members to get to know each other and for ideas to be exchanged, and this has been one of the key factors that has enabled the VSKC to evolve into the remarkable Club that we have today.
I joined the VSKC in 1991 after becoming involved with the Murray Marathon and I had designed and built a sea kayak that could accommodate my height and large feet and I wished to become more proficient at saltwater paddling. The Club was composed of a great bunch of characters - all male and bearded who were great innovators who often built their own boats or equipment.
There was minimal formality and minimal rules or regulations. I was made very welcome and learnt a lot from them.
Little did I realise that in the early 1990s the old guard would decide it was time to move on and I found myself elected as Secretary/Treasurer who was the person who basically ran the show with the assistance of the Trip Convenor and the Editor of Sea Trek. For some strange reason the President was almost an honorary position and for some years the position was filled by the female partner of the Sea Trek Editor and I think she was a non-paddler.
It was a good experience for me to be placed in the role and with the help of Julian Smith as Trip Convenor and Tina Rowley as Sea Trek Editor we managed to help the Club grow and develop over the following years. I have lived above Canadian Bay since 1972 and am a member of the Canadian Bay Yacht Club so it seemed to be a good place to start our regular monthly paddle.
In those days we were able to negotiate a deal with the Club where during the colder months we were able to use the Club facilities and have post-paddle tea, coffee and scones. My wife Kate would deliver a tray of hot scones after the paddle and many great friendships were forged and adventurous trips planned after these paddles.
The Club owned a Greenlander kayak which had been built by the old guard and also had a plastic Penguin which I kept at the Club, and we were able at times to allow new members to gain experience in them.
Members travelled a long way to come to the paddle and the Gippsland Mob was very special: John Woollard, Mick MacRobb, Terry Barry and Glenn Taylor to mention a few. They were great innovators who went on to make a massive contribution to the Club.
We used the Canadian Bay Yacht Club for a memorable kayak building conference and I remember we spent a whole day with guest speakers and displays on how to build boats and gear.
Many people who would later become legendary members of the VSKC such as Peter Costello, Peter Treby and Greg Murray came on board at Canadian Bay, and they would go on to lift the standards of the Club to what it is today.
Several Bass Strait crossings had their genesis from people getting together at Canadian Bay and the Yacht Club and beach was used for much of the training that was required.
Julian Smith facilitated many successful Bass Strait Crossings and I recall much of the planning happened over a feed of Canadian Bay scones.
Robin Boundy who lived nearby used the Canadian Bay paddles as the main training area for the two most successful crossings that he led.
During the paddles I would often chat with members about my involvement in the Murray Marathon and over the years quite a few came up to the Murray and discovered that paddling a sea kayak on the Murray can be a lot of fun.
At one stage the Canadian Bay paddle lapsed, but Robin Boundy reinstated it and he commenced the annual welcome to new members BBQ at Mornington, and I now consider this to be an important event on the Club calendar.
It gives me great pleasure to see the professionalism and goodwill from all concerned at every Canadian Bay paddle that I attend and hope it will continue into the future.