Kayaking “The Great Loop” Fundraiser for HMCS Sackville

Steve Chard stole some of Justin Trudeau’s thunder on the same day Canada’s Prime Minister was trying to take centre stage in Halifax.

While the Liberal’s leader was addressing members of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in one part of the city, Steve was quietly slipping out of Halifax harbour at the beginning of a mammoth 10,000-kilometre journey to raise funds for HMCS Sackville.

The former Royal Navy Petty Officer Artificer is kayaking the Great Loop of North America for two Canadian charities — the other is The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

It is the 60-year-old Brit’s extraordinary way of celebrating his retirement.

Down at the waterside by HMCS Sackville’s normal summer berth to wish Steve farewell at the start of his solo adventure were four stalwarts of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust.

They were Cdr Wendall Brown, RCN ret’d, and LCdrs’ RCN ret’d, Doug Thomas, Jim Reddy and Pat Jessup.

Steve, from Dorset, England, was first welcomed onboard HMCS Sackville as a guest for lunch back in 2008 while working as a volunteer at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.

The former submariner never forgot that legendary Maritimes generosity, and a decade later feels he is ready to raise funds for help keep the last surviving Second World War corvette afloat.

His journey, which begins and ends in Halifax, should take him about 15 months to complete and see the Brit pass through the St Lawrence River, Montreal, Ottawa, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

He will then paddle down mainland United States on the mighty Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, and back up the Eastern Seaboard.

The ex-ambulance service emergency care assistant, who served in the RN for 13 years, will carry all his food and equipment with him, but is already being hosted overnight by supportive families along his route.

He has been making good progress along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore during the first week of his journey after paddling out of Halifax on June 1.

Cdr Brown, chairman of the CNMT, said: “We certainly appreciate anyone fundraising for us.

“This is going to be an extraordinary trip, and Steve is helping us get the message out that people will know about Sackville, which we are very pleased about.

“It’s a big way for Steve to repay the favour of our hospitality 10 years ago. Someone coming from the UK taking an interest in Sackville is very satisfying.

“We are going to keep a close eye on Steve’s progress and relay the word of his journey on our Twitter feed and website.”

LCdr Reddy, commanding officer of HMCS Sackville, added: “Sackville is interested in marine activity of all kinds.

“This one is certainly a new, non-traditional and modern exhibition-style outing that simply widens our interest.

“It is also interesting a Brit is doing this because the corvettes were getting the supplies across from Canada to Britain during the Second World War.

“The two countries worked so close together and Sackville is the only corvette left out of 269 built.

“We had 123 in the Royal Canadian Navy and the rest were built in the UK. We shared ours with the United States, and the UK also gave a handful to Norway.

“HMCS Sackville is the only one left, so Steve has our full support and we are extremely grateful he is doing this for our charity.”

You can follow Steve’s progress on facebook.com/paddlewithsteve

To make a donation, go to

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/royal-navy-veteran-is-kayaking-the-great-loop-for-/ or

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/kayak-the-great-loop-of-n-america-and-canada/