It was a blustery day, the last weekend of August 2010, with white caps visible from the dock where community members gathered to bless and welcome the first ever Dragon Boat, to the Sointula fleet.
The next day, when seas calmed, a team of young and old, experienced and inexperienced, lifted their paddles to safely bring the beautiful new Dragon Boat to Sointula’s breakwater. The arrival of the boat formalized the introduction of a “new” sport to Sointula. Dragon Boating was introduced to a group of women from Sointula in the spring of 2010 in Port McNeill. The paddles barely hit the water before the passion for it caught hold. So much so, a decision was made to get a boat here in Sointula.
While the enthusiasm for Dragon Boating is new to Sointula, the passion in our community for boats and paddling on the ocean is as old as Sointula. In an article in the Aika from January 1, 1904, cofounder of Sointula, A.B. Mäkelä laments about his delight with his boat Dragon (which in Finnish is Lohikäärme). In his words translated into English,
“ That Dragon is just a simple thing, but much lies in it. It holds in visible form exactly the things I enjoy here the most: freedom and independence from the rest of the world… I don’t know if this longing for complete and infinite freedom is as strong in other people as it is in me.”
As it turns out, many of the people recently introduced to Dragon Boating can relate to the feelings expressed by A.B. Mäkelä. It seemed ideal that the boat he speaks about is named Dragon, so ideal, that the dragon boaters decided to name the boat after his: Lohikäärme, pronounced closely to Lucky Karma. History has a way of repeating itself. In this case it is a good thing. As the community embraces the introduction of Dragon Boating to Sointula, we will be connecting with the history of our community and the passion for being on the water lives on.
Submitted by Oonagh O’Connor