Meet the Outrigger Canoe Club of Traverse Bay

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And, of course, at the end of the day, it’s about the serenity of being on the water.

“A lot of people have been on motorboats in the middle of the bay, but there’s something about being out there, the water right below you, with no motors and no noise,” she says. “You look and can’t believe how deep and clear the water is, and you move that big canoe through the water – with your own strength. I can’t even explain it. It’s like medicine for your soul, calming and soothing.

John Robert Williams, a regular club paddler, provides boat storage on his property. “It’s a completely different view there,” he says, “and you really appreciate the water and our city from that perspective.”

And although Williams has always been into watersports, he says there’s something different about the OC6s: “The synchronization of the six paddlers is like dancing – all pairs of feet move together so they don’t hack.”

Traverse City’s Mary Schlimmer-Willoughby often joins the club with her husband Weston. They are also experienced
competitors in the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.

“My husband and I sometimes have a hard time getting along in our two-man marathon canoe because we both want to be the boss,” Willoughby laughs. “With the club’s six-person canoes, you can get in with a group of others of all different abilities and personalities and work as a team. Plus, you can stick a few people between you and your hubby if you need to!

Seriously, Willoughby says she loves the chance to do something that isn’t about training and competing.

“What I love about the club is how patient and caring everyone is, from experienced paddlers who show up every week to newcomers who have never held a paddle before. When someone is in trouble, no one hesitates to pause and help,” she says. “Everyone is always in a good mood, has a smile on their face and there are plenty of good-humoured laughs.”

To get involved, visit tbocc.organd look at them Facebook page for upcoming events.

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