The Bathtub Race: Do you Have a Spare Tub?


3, 2, 1. Let's go!

Although we had been staying in Nanaimo for the past three days, we weren't really visiting the town. We were simply using it as a hub to visit all of the different beautiful things to see on rainy Vancouver Island. In fact, the only Nanaimo activity we had on our agenda was the famous Nanaimo "Bathtub Race" that was to take place on Sunday. Although that was the day we planned to pack up and leave for Victoria, the idea of people bringing their rustic, ancient bathtubs down to the docks, launching them into the north end of the harbor, and paddling like crazy to see which one would arrive at the south end first, intrigued us. Yes, we would definitely stick around long enough to take in this event!

When we originally checked into our hotel, we were given a magazine full of upcoming Nanaimo events. We didn't bother to consult it, however. After all, we had our own agenda. Our first clue that something interesting might be happening in town didn't come until Saturday night. We had left Nanaimo at 6:00 that morning to go to Tofino, and now, at 10:00 p.m., we were returning. As we drove up to our hotel, which was situated right at the harbor, we were greeted by a display of fireworks!

Someone in the car voiced the question that was on all of our minds: "What's the occasion?" Had we taken the time to read the magazine, we would have found in the section marked "Activities for Saturday", the following description: "The Vancouver Islands premier fireworks, displaying the spectacular 'Quality Foods' Festival of Lights & Music fireworks." But we hadn't taken the time, and only coincidence brought us back in time to catch the fabulous display. My younger son and I were able to get our cameras out in time to snap a few pictures from the hotel parking lot, but had we known in advance, we would have all been down on the docks!

The next day we walked to the harbor expecting to see tons of bathtubs. We were destined for disappointment. We searched the entire wharf, but no bathtubs were to be found. There were some small motor boats zipping back and forth on the harbor, but other than that, there was nothing of interest.

Fifteen minutes before the famous race was to take place, city officials began releasing flares and sound shells in five minute intervals, calling everyone's attention to the beginning of the race.

Only one problem: There were still no bathtubs in sight!

At eleven o'clock on the dot, the 5th Field Battery Howitzer fired the beginning of the race.

Still no bathtubs! What was this all about???

As I squinted through the zoom lens of my camera, I realized that those small boats we had noticed earlier were now all heading in the same direction, towards the mouth of the harbor! Could it be that this was what everyone called a "Bathtub Race"? Why, they didn't even look like bathtubs!

Later on I finally took the time to read the magazine. It featured close-up pictures of the "bathtubs", and I realized that they were actually a type of racing boat. They were built around a real old-fashioned bathtub or its replica, hence the name, "Bathtub". The bathtub racers apparently began their trek in the Nanaimo harbor, traveled 36 miles up the coast of Vancouver Island, and ended up at Departure Bay Beach. Free bus tickets to the departure and the arrival points were available to anyone who stopped by any grocery store in the area.

I was also shocked to learn that the past four days had been packed with events leading up to the Bathtub Race, such as Kiddies Karnival, Beer Gardens, Sail Past Parade, Street Fairs, etc. The whole town had been taken up in festivities, and people from all around the world had all congregated at this beautiful place to celebrate this event.

And we missed everything except the actual bathtub race! If only we had taken the time to read the magazine!

I tried to obtain information about the prizes the boaters were racing for, but no printed information could be found either in town or on the Internet. It seemed totally unimportant! One local merchant told me there were three prizes: a golden bath plug, a silver bath plug and a copper one. Imagine having the honor of utilizing one of those plugs! The first racer to sink also supposedly received some kind of a prize that was described as some kind of a plunger. Original is the least we could say!

A bigger event than the annual International World Championship Bathtub Race is forth coming. This one will involve all people from all over the world, and its impact will affect not only the living, but also the dead: "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matt 24:30-31 NIV)

Many will be completely unaware of this outstanding event and will be filled with terror, but those who have taken the time to read the "magazine", the Bible, will welcome it with open arms.

Everyone can be prepared for this event. All you have to do is read the Bible to discover all of the festivities associated with this greatest of events to ever occur, and believe me, it's worth the read! God has given us His Word for a reason. How can we ignore His gift?

"Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God's living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That's why the prophet said, The old life is a grass life, its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers; Grass dries up, flowers droop, God's Word goes on and on forever. This is the Word that conceived the new life in you" (1 Peter 1:23-25 The Message)

Welcome to the biggest event since this world was created! Will you be ready?

P. S. Where's my bathtub? I must have misplaced it somewhere! Do you have one I could borrow?

Rob Chaffart

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