Saturday, July 22, 2006

St. Catharines

Our hotel fun wasn't over last night. We had gone to bed at a reasonable hour, since we wanted to be up early, only to be awakened by the music from a Caribbean bar facing our parking lot. They had all of their windows and doors open and appeared to be blasting out Caribbean music in a desperate attempt to get customers to actually enter the establishment. We saw a guy playing pool by himself - that's not a sign of a healthy, profitable bar. While we knew that our hotel room was right downtown, and we knew that there were bars in the blocks surrounding the hotel, we didn't expect to be able to hear all of the music through earplugs. We complained, and then we checked out and went to another hotel.

When we got up, we checked the weather network for today's forecast. We were expecting sunny skies and a high of 25C when we left yesterday. The forecast changed sometime between yesterday afternoon and this morning - what we got was rain. And more rain. And then some more rain interspersed with periods of very heavy rain. They were expecting about an inch of rain to fall altogether. That may not sound like a lot, unless you're out in it all day.

Now, keep in mind that we were in St. Catharines because we were paddling in a dragonboat festival.... and we paddle rain or shine. The only time an event is cancelled is if lightning is spotted and isn't likely to let up, which unfortunately didn't happen today. So we spent the whole day in the rain and wind. About an hour after we got there, we bought some fleece jackets to help keep us warm while we waited for the rest of the team to arrive. It was a miserable day. I don't think I've ever been that happy to change into warm, dry clothes as I was at the end of the day.

There is limited parking at the St. Catharines event. There are three lots: one for people with tents, one for all other participants, and one for spectators. The one for spectators was on tarmac. The one for most participants was on a grassy field that was fortunately protected by trees. The one for people with tents was a dirt field. At least, it was dirt at the start of the day. By midday, it was a shoe-sucking field of mud (I'm pretty sure you could lose a small animal in that field without trying at all). The highlight of the day for our team was watching people get stuck in this field when they tried to drive out. One van had sunk in the mud up to its rims, and another truck kept fishtailing towards the embankment. Everyone did make it out safely and there was no damage to any of the cars or trucks in the mudfield.

The Silvermasters came in 5th out of 45 teams. That's a pretty good showing, if you ignore the fact that about one third of the teams were community teams that had never paddled before :)

Here are the things I liked about the event:
  • it's a permanent dock and permanent course with really wide lanes, as it's a course for a rowing club.
  • the water was deep (deeper water is better when paddling).
  • flush toilets. Lots of them.
  • lots of recycling bins.
  • things moved very quickly.
  • they moved very quickly to bring hay in to cover the other mudfields on the way to the docks.
  • the awards ceremonies were held after each division finished paddling the final race.
... and here are the things I didn't like so much:
  • the timing was messed up. They didn't have photo finishes, just some people with stopwatches, and so the times posted were not always accurate.
  • there were only two portalets, and they were never cleaned or replenished.
  • the lack of good teams at the event.
I might think about going back to this event, provided it wasn't going to rain :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the great placement!

Jeez you're hilarious! Lose a small animal in the mud?! You also have a very interesting way of compartmentalizing your observations about dragon boat venues (is this the place where I should use a happy-smiley-face-thingy? lol).