6th Ramsgate Royal Harbour Sea Scouts

The story of the canoe that I called the Shark – Andrew Elliott

Andrew has very kindly donated his hand-built canoe to our group and has kindly shared some of the histories. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew and to share his story with you.

The story of the canoe that I called the Shark started while I was studying for my A levels in 1973. I studied at Brockenhurst Sixth form college in the New Forest where there was a workshop which had moulds from which fibreglass canoes could be made. I chose the name Shark because I felt it was apt from the way it cuts and glides through the water. I designed the Shark motif which is visible on the side of the canoe.

I used to compete in the Shark in various Sea Scout regattas including Southsea, Marchwood, Lymington and Poole Harbour; winning a few races. In later regattas I acted as stand-by rescue with the Shark for the younger Scout races.

I took the Shark across the Solent to the Isle of Wight to set up a scout camp near Yarmouth and on another occasion canoed across Poole Bay to Brownsea Island to set up a scout camp there. I used to get great pleasure carrying the Shark down the the beach near where I lived in Barton on Sea and canoe along the coast between Hurst Spit and Hengistbury Head near Christchurch.

Later, when I moved to Chepstow to work on the Severn Crossing, I had surfed the Severn Bore on three occasions in the Shark, which was quite exhilarating especially when you are looking at a wall of water roaring towards you almost like a Tsunami. The Bore is not like a normal wave which you can pass through and come out the other side if you don’t catch it right. The Bore is a seething boiling mass of water which could easily overcome and sinking you. I quickly learnt that the best way to catch the Bore was nearest the centre of the river and rode along the crest of the wave towards the side and back to the centre. I was able to ride the Bore up to 2 miles before loosing it. On another occasion I had canoed down the river Wye from Brecon to Chepstow over three days camping along the river bank. And on another occasion I caught the tide from Chepstow and canoed with the Shark up to Gloucester for lunch, then caught the tide back.

Sadly when I moved down to South East Kent to work on the Channel Tunnel few opportunities arose where I could use the Shark. However, when we had serious flooding locally a few years ago, I took the Shark to help out with people nearby who had been affected by the flooding and fetched supplies that they needed. I also took the Shark along the Royal Military canal between Hythe and Rye one Spring rather more recently.

It gives me great pleasure knowing that Ramsgate Sea Scouts will put the Shark to great use in training the next generation of Sea Scouts. I hope you and the troop get as much fun as I had over the years with the Shark.

Andrew Elliott