Despite the dire weather warnings, the Sapphire Water Dragons managed to hold their third Mallacoota Marathon on Saturday, May 3.
Dragon boaters from Nowra, Narooma, Moruya, Merimbula, Bairnsdale, Mornington, Albury and Canberra gathered at Gipsy Point for a 15km social paddle .
The paddle travelled through the Mallacoota Lakes system as a fun way to mark the end of the competitive season.
The weather forecast was simply horrible, with snow on the lower peaks expected, as well as torrential rain, gales, and a dramatic drop in temperature expected early on Saturday morning.
Obviously dragon boaters are tough, because nearly every one of the expected 70 paddlers arrived, in time, at Gipsy Point.
They all happily piled into the four boats for the first leg of the Marathon to the Sandy Point picnic area.
Organisers said the water was glassy calm, the sun shone, and there wasn't a breath of wind as the crews disembarked for morning tea.
The designated Road Crew, led by Di Stuart and Colleen Meehan, had managed to have the (very large) billy boiling, the camp fire lit and a morning tea of mammoth proportions set out under the trees.
And the sun still shone!
The next stop was lunch, 5kms further East towards the Mallacoota township, and again the Road Crew had managed to get lunch set up prior to the boats arriving.
By this time it was a little windy, and the sun was slowly disappearing behind the clouds, but it was still fine.
As it was obvious that the weather was going to get very nasty, very soon, lunch was cut short and the boats rounded Rabbit Island with the gusty westerly wind blowing them along at a great rate.
They arrived at the Main Wharf in Mallacoota a full hour before the advertised arrival time, and belated apologies to the Mallacoota residents who were promised a fanfare finish to the paddle.
The boats were all packed up in double quick time, and 30 minutes later the heavens opened and the rain, gales, freezing temperatures and sleet arrived with a vengence.
Most paddlers then gathered in the Mallacoota Hotels' dining room where there was a welcoming log fire and hot meals.
Thanks to the Mallacoota Ambulance Crew who followed the paddlers, by road, all day. With the average age of everybody on the boats well over 55 it was very reassuring to have help at hand if it was needed. Luckily all went well.
The planned cycle ride to Betka Beach on Sunday morning did not happen for safety reasons. The night had been wild with torrential rain, trees and branches were everywhere , and the wind was still blowing at gale force
Paddling will still take place over the winter period, with the emphasis on fitness and endurance.
Monday nights and Friday nights leave from Top Lake Merimbula at 5.30-5.45pm
Phone Mary Balmain to let her know if you are coming 0448 825 785. If you are expected, you can be notified if there is a change of plan.