Surfing videos from Halifax Harbour have city hall a bit worried

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Halifax's transit authority has been getting a free ride on YouTube lately, thanks to a couple of seagoing canoeists who love surfing the wake behind the ferries that criss-cross Halifax Harbour.
But city hall isn't relishing the publicity.
The YouTube clip, posted last month, shows a man in an outrigger canoe nimbly floating on the wake of a ferry heading to the terminal in suburban Dartmouth.
An outrigger is a long stabilizing device that runs parallel to the canoe. Outrigger canoes are a staple of Polynesian culture as a mode of transportation and popular on the Hawaiian Islands.
In Nova Scotia, enthusiasts Wes Hammer and Max Tracy have been riding the ferry boat wake for the sheer thrill, though Tracy said Wednesday they're aware a spill would likely dump them in untreated sewage.
He said they stay far enough from the ferry to avoid collisions.
Tracy, 41, said the experience is exhilarating, and can last several minutes depending on the speed of the ferry and water conditions.
"It's possible to ride (the wake) entirely across the harbour - on a good day," he said.
A typical ferry crossing lasts about 10 minutes.
The wake riders' images are accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack that includes Joel Plaskett's song Nowhere with You.
Plaskett is originally from the Halifax area.
The song's lyrics include a reference to taking "the Dartmouth ferry into the town."
A spokeswoman for Halifax Regional Municipality, which operates Metro Transit, said ferry operators are aware of the adventure-seeking paddlers.
Deborah Story said the canoeists don't appear to be on the water frequently.
"The ferry operators are keeping a close watch on it," Story said.
"We certainly do not condone this because, the way the ferry operates, there's sort of a pull-and-suck type of (action) with the engines so if they did get close to the ferry they run the risk of being sucked in ... At this point, they're fairly far away from the ferry."
Tracy said he doesn't think others will want to share the experience, and said he's put his canoe away for the winter.
"There's only about three of those boats in all of Atlantic Canada," said Tracy, a former world-class paddler who's competed for Canada in the Summer Olympics.

Organizations: Halifax Regional Municipality, Metro Transit

Geographic location: Dartmouth, Hawaiian Islands, Nova Scotia Atlantic Canada

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  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    And as soon as they fall into the sewage-laden water, all the emergency services will be out to perform the big rescue, at taxpayers expense. Why do we prop up these idiotic risk-takers anyway? Let 'em float out to the Atlantic in their seagoing canoes ...