HCC's 50th Anniversary Flotilla Paddle
Oct. 11, 2014
by Joe Coker
It was well over a year ago when the Club’s upcoming 50th Anniversary was first mentioned. There were early ideas about doing a paddle and having a little picnic. Look what that morphed into! We pulled out all the stops and celebrated BIG!!
As the Organizing Committee got into full swing, the word “flotilla” came into play, and overnight a major project was born. Yours truly volunteered to head up that facet of the celebration while others focused on the evening party. Amid some skepticism, a lofty goal of floating 50 boats became the target.
Work on a myriad of details proceeded. Lists were made, invites were sent and RSVP’s were closely monitored. At first, the returns were feverish, but gradually, the Flotilla count blew through the 50 mark and was soon pushing 70. By that point, the project was clearly becoming a major logistical challenge, and many hours of careful planning ensued.
The paddle itself was simple... an easy 4 miles out and back from the Houston Rowing Club docks up to Horse Pen Bayou. The route was scouted and re-scouted, and all was fine. The nightmare was how to get the huge number boats in and out of the water in a safe and orderly fashion in a rather limited amount of time.
With only a few short days to go, the count surpassed 80 and some hints of panic laced our thoughts. But much appreciated help and enthusiasm abounded. We had prepared well and were ready to go!
The only major concern at that point became the weather. The forecast was turning more dismal by the hour, and on the evening before the Big Day, cancellation seemed a very real and depressing possibility. The morning of Oct. 11 was bleak. Major storms were rolling in, but the decision was made to go forward. Our steadfast crew of volunteers arrived at the put-in and waited hopefully. A light but steady flow of paddlers began to arrive. But along with them came many calls and texts from participants stuck in rain and floods and traffic to the north. Regretfully, they would not make it.
Those that did, huddled in wait through drizzle and thunder. Spirits were not dashed! Thankfully, the worst of the weather finally began to pass, and the storm gave way to a beautiful afternoon. In the end, the Flotilla sailed with some 50 boats... not the epic proportions we had hoped for. But nevertheless, a good time was had by all, and that’s what really counts!
Photos available on the HCC website here.
|The author, Joe Coker