Lifestyle

Cancer survivors paddle to Penn Cove

Sporting a new head and tail along with a drum, the North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club weighs anchor from the Oak Harbor Marina Saturday morning With 20 paddlers, a steerer and a person beating cadence in the drum, the 54-foot dragon was headed for Coupeville.  - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Sporting a new head and tail along with a drum, the North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club weighs anchor from the Oak Harbor Marina Saturday morning With 20 paddlers, a steerer and a person beating cadence in the drum, the 54-foot dragon was headed for Coupeville.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

What could be more fun than paddling from the Oak Harbor Marina to Penn Cove on a warm Saturday morning in September with a bunch of your good friends?

For some people an excursion down Saratoga Passage by sailboat, cabin cruiser or kayak is almost a mundane, everyday experience.

Not so for the members of the North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club.

The club is composed of cancer survivors and although they are regular competitors in dragon boat races, Saturday’s outing to Coupeville was the longest distance the group has ever paddled in their 54-foot watercraft.

“We are really excited about this trip,” said Dragon Boat Club member Diane Peters. “This is our first opportunity to do a distance paddle.”

Usually, the club takes the boat only as far as the mouth of the channel in Oak Harbor.

Saturday morning was also an exciting time as club members had the new dragon tail and head installed on the boat in addition to drum.

“When we practice, we don’t have the head or tail on the boat or the drum,” Peters said. “Also today, all of the club members will be wearing their team shirts.”

With both the boat and its paddlers decked out in their finest, they shoved off from the marina dock and set their sights on Coupeville across the waters of Penn Cove.

Peters said Coupeville was where the boat was originally kept after it was purchased before being moved to the Oak Harbor Marina a couple of years ago.

With 46 club members, all of them couldn’t fit in the dragon boat at the same time.

“Some members of the club will paddle from Oak Harbor to Coupeville and other members will paddle the boat back,” Peters said.

The boat will hold 24 passengers consisting of 22 paddlers, a steerer and a person who beats cadence on the drum to keep the paddlers in time.

During races, you are only allowed to use 20 paddlers.

The club has been successful during the 2008 racing season, winning the gold medal and the Cancer Cup in a race held on Lake Washington during the summer.

The season is winding down and the club will be taking the dragon boat out of the water Nov. 1 to be stored until mid-March when the 2009 season begins.

The North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club offers a unique opportunity for cancer survivors and their support people to have fun, improve fitness and make friends.

Club membership has increased over the past two years for the sole dragon boat club on Whidbey Island.

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