Thieves steal 9-metre rowing dock in Fredericton

The Fredericton Rowing Club had its nine-metre-long dock stolen last weekend and now must raise money to replace the structure.

Missing dock will hurt training for high-performance athletes and young rowers

The rowers of the Fredericton Rowing Club are down a dock after a nine-metre-long dock has gone missing 1:54

The rowers of the Fredericton Rowing Club are down a dock after a nine-metre-long dock has gone missing.

The dock disappeared between Saturday evening and Sunday morning and rowers say they believe that someone drifted away with their nine-metre-long dock.

"We suspected that maybe it just floated away, but upon inspection we found a turned over shopping cart and some beer cans," said Alan Oldham, the club’s high-performance coach.

"In light of the fact that one of our boats stored outside was taken for a joyride a few weeks ago and found by police downriver, we suspect it may be the same people."

Taylor Perry, a 2013 Canada Summer Games participant in rowing, said the missing dock will be an inconvenience to his training. (CBC)

The dock is made up of more than 70 modular cubes, each costing nearly $100 a piece. Oldham admits the dock was probably an easy steal.

"It is actually quite easy to move along," said Oldham referring to the dock in an unmoored state.

"So anyone that could have wanted it and taken it, could have had it. And it's just a shame. It's been here for years."

The missing dock is going to have a serious impact on the rowing club’s ability to train.

Taylor Perry is preparing for the Canada Games this fall and while the dock’s disappearance won't impede him from training daily, it's a big inconvenience.

"Having to walk your boat down into the water isn't a very big deal," said Perry.

"But it's a shame because you've got to get wet at the beginning of practice and if it's a little cold, wet or windy, it's difficult to be in that kind of mood the rest of the practice."

Perry said it's also limiting the types of craft that can be used at the clubs location.

"It's a tight space to fit even a small boat in there," Perry said.

"We can't even bring big boats into the water there with the dock missing."

Missing dock presents a safety hazard

The missing dock presents a safety hazard. The club is located behind the Victoria Health Centre and the shoreline has been notorious in the past for broken glass, even needles.

While much of the shore has been cleaned up over the past several years, the murky waters of the St. John River hide anything that may have been missed.

Sharp rocks are also an issue for bare-feet and boat bottoms.

In the run of a week the dock serviced dozens of boaters and rowers.

"Right now we probably have about 35 to 40 athletes," said Dion Durnford, the president of the capital city's rowing club.

"Part of that is our junior learn-to-row group, which is about 20 people.  That's the program we're most worried about because we can't get them on the water without a dock."

The club was engaged in fundraising to expand the dock, allowing for more traffic. Those funds will now have to go to replacing the missing dock.

That money will only be able to replace a third of what's gone missing.

Jacqueline Morehouse, a fundraising organizer for the club and a parent of one of the younger rowers, said she's upset with the senselessness of the act.

"Fundraising equates to hundreds of hours of volunteer work," Morehouse said.

"For someone to just dismiss that, just to completely negate that in the matter of just one evening, it's very frustrating and disheartening for sure."