I arrived on Friday evening, as Linda, my designated room-mate, and others were heading up to the pub for dinner. However, I had already eaten in Newcastle, while I was trying to find the route to Port Stephens. I stopped at a service station, but no maps. So customer service tried to look up Shoal Bay on whereis.com without luck [incorrect spelling ??]. Fortunately, a local customer advised that I was on the Pacific Hwy, just heading in Sydney’s direction. So, a quick U-turn and in about 6-7 kilometres, I found the sign to Nelsons Bay.

Later in the evening, Nhu and Grahame arrived to complete the body count for the unit. Sleep was an interesting concept, for Friday night and Saturday morning was filled with song from the party animals in the next unit block, on a male-bonding escape from reality. In an interval for them, to pass around the Berocca, it was our time to rise and shine. Nhu cooked pancakes and Linda arrived back from a paddle in time to partake with Grahame and myself. Then, PD’s gathered on the lawn courtyard for Annette’s TRICK or TREAT ‘who took my laptop bag without a laptop’. Where it went nobody knows !!! The presentation went ahead without the paperwork, with the club executives talking of a year of fun. Next, they took us in the water to drown a boat. Supposedly, this was to learn to empty the boat efficiently. Try telling that to the boat, especially when you are taught to apologise when you step over the boat.

Other interesting capers during the weekend were the Pressure-Cook-Off. Our apartment cooked, as instructed, ‘intestines’ for dinner and won the mains section with for presentation the intestines spewing out the mouth of our carved pumpkin. Other delicacies were eyeballs, bugs, fingers, roadkill, RIP-pumpkin pie, witches hats and a bloody-mess with a hand protruding from the depths. And of course, blood punch served on arrival.

Nearly all were dressed distastefully in Halloween outfits. Those who didn’t dress to theme tried to hide or went to the extreme of taking an ambulance to Newcastle Hospital to escape being associated with PDs. However, this unnamed person left Cooper behind, who pretended not to notice the weird mob to such an extent, that strangers saved him and took him to their apartment. After a while at the party Adrian made a grand entrance well oiled and ready for the BBQ. Christian had been waiting, disguised as an old man (hahaha) with red leather gloves and an axe in hand. My mind was now a muddle(..what type of club is this ???) However, after a couple of drinks, some eyeballs, intestines and kooky salads, I began to feel part of the PDclan (no relation to the KKKlan).

Bright and early next morning (some were not so bright). Hence, the talk on how to save you buddy. This was followed by the arrival of the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was loved by the people and during his exile, he composed many poems to express his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign. In the year 278 BCE, at the age of 61, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River. Knowing that Qu Yuan was a righteous man, the people of Chu rushed to the river to try to save him.

As the ghost of Qu Yuan threw himself into Shoal Bay, PD’s took to the water with Christian on sweep [God only knows why ???] he fell off the boat twice the day before] and we went to Qu Yuan’s rescue. However, the commemoration was true to history and we swept passed Qu Yuan and beach the Dragon Boat on the sand. Qu Yuan’s body was lost to the ocean, as was his moustache.

Next, a couple of races in OC6s, where we were told to forget our paddles (????) and had to be rescued by a couple of ‘Tooheys New drinkers’ [not part of our club and quiet bemused by the activities].

Christian closed the weekend by saying "Now you know what we are all about"!??>?!??@???….. do I need to say more !>>!>???? There was a new member of the club at the weekend, who had recently arrived from Germany. I wondered what she’d made of the weekend. I took two panadol and put myself to bed. When I awoke the next day, all was normal again.

Thanks PDs’ .. I will never forget the weekend!!! . such fun, friendship and support to learn more about paddling and enjoy our beautiful beaches.

Proud to be a PD, Sue Huehn