Bayou Boat Race Fundraiser

Boat Race Flyer


Racers getting ready

Properly refitting a sailboat is expensive work and although we’ve been given some very valuable donations (such as five gallons of epoxy from the folks at West System!) we still need some funds in the kitty. What better way to raise a little money and get the word out about our project than to throw a party, with music, and food, and, of course, boats?


Rowan operating our ‘gambling’ table

Obviously we wanted to have our party on, or around, the water, but we also wanted it to be easy to attend for folks who don’t already have a boat (that’s the whole point of our project after all) so we decided to have a canoe and small boat race on Bayou St. John, one of the picturesque bayous running through New Orleans.


Bayou St. John, with our boat race in full swing

After a postponement due to rain we ended up with perfect weather- it was just chilly enough that everyone wanted a hot drink or two but the sun was shining all day and a lot of people came out to race canoes or cheer on their friends. To go with our race (and to make a little money!) we sold raffle tickets which could be used for a bunch of great raffle items donated by friends and local businesses or for various silly gambling games, like our take on the British Tombola.


Our homemade Tombola: Pay 1 ticket, spin until a ball flies out, and win the prize on the ball

Some of our prizes included a gift certificate to local bike shop Bicycle Michael’s, assorted goodies from the vintage store Blue Dream, ceramics, prints and line drawings from local artists, potted flowers,  sailing lessons and a private concert.


The prize table

This being New Orleans we had a donation bar set up as well and a grill going with a bunch of food that we made and that was donated by the New Orleans Community Kitchen.



And Popcorn!

We also had a bunch of prizes for the canoe race- ceramic canoes and bottles painted with boats:

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At the raffle booth spectators were encouraged to bet raffle tickets on their favorite winners (or losers)


Our youngest racer getting ready. Not much good on the paddles but great for the cute factor


And look at that stylish lifejacket!

The race itself was a wild affair. Everyone started at once and they were tasked with a few challenges along their way to the turn-around buoy.


First races had to collect a balloon from the water on their way to the Cabrini Bridge, a veeery low bridge that they needed to canoe under

The bridge was a bit confusing for some of the racers…


Others hit it as just the right speed to coast on through. Here’s our first-place winners flying under:

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After the bridge was a buoy that needed to be rounded and at the buoy each boat picked up a ceramic medallion which was hung on a string of mardi gras beads.


Then the return trip: under the bridge again, collecting a ribbon along the way and one of the orange plaster eggs which we had hidden under the bridge, and back to the start/finish line!


I think the median age in this team is about 12!




The race was a total success- not a single capsized canoe! With the racers back on land we continued our party into the night with more food and hot drinks and, of course, music!

There were sets from two New Orleans based brass bands- Steamboat Calypso (who actually collectively own their own sailboat, a beautiful mostly wooden ketch which they’ll be touring aboard this Spring!) and Wit’s End Brass Band.

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The beautiful sounds of Steamboat Calypso:

All in all, it was a grand success – we got the word out about our collective, we had a wonderful day on and near the water, and we even raised a bit of money!