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Pamela is a 22 person standard racing Dragon Boat built in 2005 for the Ottawa Police Dragon Boat Club (The Blue Dragons). She is named after one of the founding members and has played a key role in several fundraising events. The OPDBC is a not-for-profit group that not only paddles but also gives back to the community by raising money for local charities and causes. One event, in particular, was the Dawn to Dusk paddle to collect pledge money that supported a local family that suffered a tragedy in 2005.

I like to hear the stories of the canoes because it reminds me of their journey. Sometimes when I am frustrated with a project or working too quickly on a section, I remind myself to take time and remember the story. It helps me focus and regain perspective.

Starting at The End

I will start at the stern and work my way up the boat. I plan to do sections at a time. I have removed the steering brace and sanded it - there is a bit of rot so I will need to clean and fill that section. Removing the old sealant between the gunwales and the hull is a bit of a chore. I am using a putty knife to carefully scrape out as much of the rubberized compound as I can.


The steering brace was removed, sanded, and rot cleaned out and sealed with a liquid epoxy.

Sanded gunwales and now the task of removing old sealant.


The stern sanded and varnished.

Seat Replacement

Pamela is fitted with 10 wooden laminated seats. Bill provided me with 5 new wooden seats to replace the most damaged ones. I will need to identify the most damaged seats and then remove and replace them with the new seats. However, what seemed to be a straightforward task has revealed an extra step. I need to consider the next situation carefully.


You can see the slight tilt forward of the seat on the farside. It was created by small wedges inserted under each seat. 

Somewhere in Pamela's life, she had small wedges inserted on the bottom ends of the seats to tilt the seat forward. I imagine this is a functional part to provide the paddler more stability in the seat as they lean forward to paddle. Removing and replacing these require extra attention.


A birds nest was found under one of the seats. Unfortunately birds are not allowed to paddle in races.


in the middle support, you can see the small wedge inserted.

The Hull 

A section of the hull midship on the starboard side has come away from the frame of the boat. I will use marine grade adhesive and clamps to reconnect.


First coat of varnish. 


I want to call it a paddle but the correct name is a steering oar or 'sweep'.  I sanded and varnished the sweep and was intrigued to see a faded Grey Owl logo on the blade. 

I admit, Pamela takes up a lot of space and there were times I had to get inside to do some fiddly work but now she is gone and I miss her companionship. Having paddled in several Dragon Boat races over the years, I was able to appreciate her design, I was familiar with the seating arrangements, and I knew how she would sit on the water. This was all helpful when it came to working with her. 


I will use a clear sealant bead along the gunwales to prevent water from getting under the wood.

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