No matter what sort of river, lake, or other waterway it is located on, every rowing club has the special thing that every rower or crew crashes into. It could be a black buoy, the arch of a bridge, a pile in the middle of nowhere, or even an overhanging tree – but hitting it is almost a ‘rite of passage’ for rowers on that course. You know it’s there. Your coach has reminded you. You’ve heard the stories from other club members. But you hit it anyway. The stories I could tell you about the Moomba Masters waterski jump on the Yarra River…
In Hong Kong the thing that everyone seems to hit (aside from bridges) is the seasonal dragon boat race starting pontoon. It’s there every year. There’s plenty of room to row around it. The course is straight. And my friend rowed his Carl Douglas 1x right into it and fell backwards, flattening the wash boards (‘V-piece’ ).
I eagerly agreed to repair the boat as long as I didn’t have to pay to fly to Hong Kong to do it. Since my friend has a bazillion frequent flyer points this part was going to be easy. My plan was to enjoy a fully paid for holiday to catch up with friends and do a bit of boat repair on the side.
Then the pandemic hit and every plan went right out the window.
After putting up with a wet backside for over a year, my friend finally cracked and decided that he had to get it fixed immediately. (The area of bare timber was sealed and the boat was perfectly rowable in fine conditions).
I agreed to provided detailed and illustrated instructions so that a local carpenter could do the job. Since both halves of the wash boards had broken free fairly neatly and were recovered, it should have been a fairly simple patch up. The boat was duly transported to the club’s marine boatyard (the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club isn’t your average ‘rowing club’…).
Then another disaster struck. The wash board pieces were misplaced!
Luckily I had a set of new ‘blank’ wash boards – in the correct timber – that I had prepared earlier for another job. I say ‘luckily’ as cutting, preparing and laminating 5 layers of timber veneer in a -I-I- orientation is a very big job. With a bit of a lengthy re-write of the instructions and many more pictures attached, I sent everything off to Hong Kong.
I think you will all agree that ‘Si Fu’ the local master craftsman (師傅) did a fantastic job, especially considering he’d never worked on a rowing boat before let alone a CDRS, and had to do it all with the aid of translated instructions and a bunch of photos.
I’ve told my friend to pay more attention to his course and to NOT DO IT AGAIN!.