The North Poles

North Poles

In 2006 Johny Vassilaros wrote: “Little did Fred Crocker realise way back in the 1940s, that his design of a new craft would lead to the development of a multi-million rand ski boating industry and the formation of a unique angling club that now proudly boasts of being the only one of its type in the world – the Durban Paddle Ski Club.

In 1938 Alex Bulley, a fellow surfer, brought back a book and some ideas on surf skis he had seen in Australia while attending the Empire Games. Upon returning home to civilian life after the 2nd World War, Fred wasted no time in designing and building his famous “Crocker Ski.” This craft was a peculiar, flat-bottomed, banana-shaped contraption, being supported by a meranti beam frame, covered in canvas and coated with an epoxy paint to make it watertight. It was originally designed as a surfski, but before not too long, several youngsters were seen fishing from this type of craft off the beachfront.

Although this mode paddle ski fishing is now restricted to between North Pier and the Sunkist Pier with the tip of the South Pier being the seaward boundary, many impressive catches continue to be made by the club members. King mackerel, (couta) queen mackerel, (natal snoek) snapper salmon, kingfish, queenfish and prodigal son are caught during the summer and autumn months, while shad and garrick provide the winter action. Other species such as spotted grunter, stumpnose and rockcod are caught throughout the year.

As with all the other boating clubs in the Vetch’s Pier area, the Durban Paddle Ski Club is currently fighting for survival and is being threatened by the Point Waterfront development. Where useless sand dunes once stood, these clubs have single-handedly, without any assistance from government or the municipality, created a multi-million rand boating industry that has a tremendous effect on tourism, jobs and the government’s coffers, as well as offering their facilities to the citizens and visitors of the city. One would’ve thought that the municipality would embrace their efforts and ensure their continued existence, but after many years of negotiations, the future of these clubs still remains uncertain”.

Photo taken in front of Durban Paddle Ski Club

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