08-07-26 Mattawa River Canoe Race Report

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    Saturday July 26, 2008 was an eventful day. It all started with the RAIN and boy did it rain in the morning. Bill VA3SPT and Betty were on the Mattawa River in a canoe during the rain and thunderstorms. There in no truth to the rumour that they were wearing scuba gear during the rain and thunderstorms!! One canoe in the race was hit by lightning with the paddles being blown right out of their hands. They were alright and although they didn't finish the race (they went to the hospital to get checked out) they were at the dinner afterwards and got honourable mention. One canoe, piloted by amateurs so the reports go, got stuck in the rapids at Portage des Roches. It took over an hour before Checkpoint 3 (VA3BDR and VA3DLJ) got word that they were stranded but ok. This area is accessable by canoe or foot only. The walk from HWY 17 is about 2K. By the time rescuers got there (Conservation officials, OPP and VA3SPT) the canoeists had decided to walk out. HOWEVER they took the LONG way out to HWY 533, about 14K-15K. It was after 10pm before they got to an area where their family picked them up. Other than these few snags it was a good time. Radio work was a challenge but we managed. Checkpoint 2 is in a RF hole. Bill had to set his truck radio on crossband repeat. He then had issues with the receive of his UHF handheld. For a first time things went well. From the sounds of it they will be wanting us back next year. The phrase "we don't know what we would have done without you this year" was used more than once. Next year we will be looking for 2 to 3 more people to help. We need at least 2 of us at each checkpoint. Doug VA3DLJ was initally at Checkpoint 1. Getting a radio signal out took some work but he did manage to do it. He moved to Checkpoint 3 to help Bruce VA3BDR when he was clear. Bill VA3SPT and Betty canoed into Checkpoint 2. Bill took a moderately sized (32AH) gel cell with him and some masting to run his portable radio. He had contemplated a larger one but thought about it sitting in the bottom of his back pack while he hiked it in and decided against it. They than had to canoe back out. Gerry VE3YO and I were at the Finish in Mattawa. Next year we are going to try to get closer to the finish to make life a little easier. Chris VE3CEA's repeater VE3NBR 147.15+ is like a new machine in its new location. Thanks Chris. I was able to access both VE3NBR and VE3ERX from the moblie sitting in downtown Mattawa at the finish. There was discussion that next year we may get the old ERX 145.15 machine stuck on 15 to 20 feet of mast along the route in a location where checkpoints 1 and 2 might be able to access it. The dinner afterwards was well worth it. "GO BACK FOR SECONDS AND THIRDS IF YOU WISH!!"
    Coming up this weekend is SUMMER IN THE PARK. I know Keeling is ready to go. After that we can have a break.