News, Sports

FMF Cape Scott MARTECH helps 12 Wing gym keep boats afloat

MS Matt Collins works on a PSP-owned canoe at NAD Dartmouth on March 23.

FMF Cape Scott MARTECH helps 12 Wing gym keep boats afloat 

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

Staff at the 12 Wing Shearwater gym are full of praise for a member of FMF Cape Scott who worked to refurbish a number of canoes owned by PSP Halifax.

The six canoes have seen years of use through the gym’s popular equipment sign-out program, leaving them worse for wear. MS Matt Collins noticed this for himself after signing out a canoe last summer. He noted some damage on the boats, including deep scratches, and that two canoes had holes large enough to render them unusable. 

An avid canoeist with two of his own canoes that he’s learned how to maintain and repair, Collins talked with Sports Stores Manager Wally Buckoski and offered to help fix them up.

Buckoski was thrilled. The program had seen a surge of interest last year as COVID-19 restrictions had everyone looking for outdoor activities, and he expects a similar uptick in interest again this year.

“I’d been thinking I would probably have to buy new ones — and that would have cost quite a bit of money — or send them out for repair, which would also have been a huge expense. When Matt offered his expertise, I just couldn’t believe it,” Buckoski said. “He did a great job on them. I just can’t thank him enough.”

A Marine Technician by trade, MS Collins works in the FMF Cape Scott Gas Turbine Shop at the Naval Annex Dockyard in Dartmouth. Every summer he signs out a canoe so he and a friend can take their daughters on an overnight canoe trip to Kejimkujik National Park in southwest Nova Scotia. 

After buying his first canoe in 2014, MS Collins began teaching himself canoe maintenance and repair. He figured that — with some help — he could fix the Shearwater canoes. 

“YouTube is a wonderful resource,” he laughed.

After getting permission to use the Gas Turbine Shop to do the repair work, MS Collins got in touch with a marine fibreglass company and priced out the materials he’d need. Starting in February and finishing the last two canoes at the end of March, he worked over lunch hours, after work and during his downtime getting help from other workers in the shop as well.

“I’ve got a great bunch of guys that I work with here. I told them I’d be doing this work and that they could help out if they wanted…and they did,” he said.

There are six canoes, along with six paddleboards and two two-seater kayaks, available for current and retired military members to sign out — for free — at the Shearwater Gym through the sign-out program. 

Although the sign-out program usually runs from May 1st to October 1st, last year’s warm fall allowed Buckoski to continue the program until Halloween. Now with the newly refurbished canoes ready to go, he hopes to start up early this year again.

“I’m just so impressed by the work that MS Collins did and the cooperation from the military in helping out this PSP program,” Buckoski said. “It’s something that benefits us all.”