SUSSEX INLET RIVER DRAGONS AT THE BLESSING OF THE FLEET
On Easter Sunday morning which started out rather overcast, but otherwise cool and pleasant, thirteen enthusiastic paddlers gathered in Burrill Street in the north harbour area of Ulladulla awaiting the start of the procession to celebrate “The Blessing of the Fleet”.
After some unscheduled entertainment from a Karate troupe and colourful dancing girls practising their acts, we moved off and, turning left into the Princes Highway, were overwhelmed to see the masses of cheering spectators. Continuing through the main shopping centre and up the hill to South Street, the procession turned left and proceeded around the block returning to the highway at the Wason Street lights and finishing opposite the Civic Centre. What an opportunity to walk down the main street both ways on the wrong side of the road, not to mention feeling like royalty as we waved to the smiling faces on both sides of the street!
We left the 10 seater to the admiring inspection of the crowd and crossed the road to check out the many and varied stalls, particularly the coffee van and the food outlets.
After lunch we adjourned to the launching point near the Fishermen’s Co-op. where we waited in the now sunny conditions until Brenton arrived with the boat and expertly reversed down the ramp whence the willing crew easily slipped it into the water. Our sweep Barbara took us through a brief practice run, expertly “threading the needle” between the moored fishing vessels, to ensure a polished performance for our demonstration paddle.
All too soon, our hit-and-glide, hit-and- tap and race-start routines, followed by the salute to the dignitaries in the marquee on the beach, was over. Proud and relieved, we reloaded the boat onto the trailer and prepared to return home to Sussex.
It was a great opportunity for the club to participate in this event and special mention should be made of Brenton Whitwell who transported our “baby dragon” safely to Ulladulla and back. Also, many thanks to Jaimee Schofield who was our “Drum” on the day, never missing a beat, and to Frank who gave up his seat on the boat to photograph the rest of us. All who participated hope that this will be the first of many occasions for our club to contribute to this most significant event on the South Coast calendar.