Vessels of all sorts race down Savannah River

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As modern-day Huckleberry Finns raced their rafts down the Savannah River on Saturday, Betty Mercer was watching.

"I've always wanted to see something like this," she said of the second annual Paddlefest. "So this year I made up my mind to get up early, get a good view and watch."

The Hephzibah resident also brought along her great-grandchildren, Alexia Hatton, 8, and Nashaun Daguerre, 4.

They were among about 50 people who had gathered at Boeckh Park in North Augusta on Saturday morning to watch the start of the homemade rafts race.

This year's Paddlefest also included a canoe and kayak race that began at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

Mrs. Mercer and other spectators were on hand at the Boat House on Riverfront Drive to cheer the participants as they crossed the finish line.

The main goal of the event was to show people how valuable the river is to the area, said Tonya Bonitatibus, the development director for Savannah Riverkeepers, which sponsored the event.

"We want people to use the river and have fun doing it," she said. "The best way for them to understand how valuable it is to the area is to get them out on the water with fun activities like this one."

More than 100 people participated, with nearly half competing in the homemade raft race, Ms. Bonitatibus said.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (7) Add comment
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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 08/31/08 - 06:42 am
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There used to be thousands

There used to be thousands that would show up for the great savannah river raft race, but since it wasn't a government controlled event, it got "out of hand" and had to be killed. I'm glad to see this (mostly secret) effort to revive use of the river and I hope the parameters of participation aren't so narrow as to discourage much participation.

Does_it_really_matter
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Does_it_really_matter 08/31/08 - 07:07 am
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Patricia, this wasn't a

Patricia, this wasn't a mostly secret event. The Chronicle, News 12, Cable and 95 Rock and its partner stations all advertised the event. There were also posters up all over town. We participated for the second year in a row and had a blast! Will definitely be doing it again next year with more improvements to the raft. There are some pretty good feats of engineering for some of the rafts that were on the river yesterday!

Ole School
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Ole School 08/31/08 - 08:32 am
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can someone tell me if there

can someone tell me if there is a set of rules you have to go by in what your raft can be built out of ?

Dorien
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Dorien 08/31/08 - 08:43 am
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The boats can be made out of

The boats can be made out of anything. We used wood and inner tubes, but other boats were made from, plastic buckets, pvc, metal drums, bamboo, etc.

tbonitatibus
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tbonitatibus 08/31/08 - 09:34 am
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To answer your questions

To answer your questions about what the rafts can be made of. We have no restrictions on the materials, the only restriction is the raft must be man powered. Patricia, I would like to invite you out next year to see the race, I don't believe there are too many "restrictions" othen than making sure you leave nothing behind in the river when your done.

LibertarianexGOP
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LibertarianexGOP 08/31/08 - 10:27 am
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I would've liked to have seen

I would've liked to have seen it. Heck I was even downtown at the market on the River Saturday - I had no idea. Whatever advertising you had didn't reach me.

North Richmond County
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North Richmond County 08/31/08 - 11:48 am
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I went to the saturday market

I went to the saturday market also downtown. I didn't know about the event either.

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