Jack, floating offshore from Skaha Lake beach, is a long way from his usual home along Eastside Road. Photo courtesy Dorian Poloway

Jack, floating offshore from Skaha Lake beach, is a long way from his usual home along Eastside Road. Photo courtesy Dorian Poloway

Just a buoy looking to find his way home

Where to now Jack?

The Penticton Racing Canoe Club doesn’t own Jack, but they are big fans of his.

There are lots of orange buoys out on Skaha Lake but none have Jack’s personality or his face — or any face — which is painted to look like a Jack o’Lantern.

Don Mulhall, a coach for the club, isn’t sure who owns Jack but said the very identifiable buoy is usually moored off a set of houses down on Eastside Road, not just off Skaha Lake beach, where he’s currently found to be floating through his days.

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According to Mulhall, a round trip to Jack and back is 5.33 kilometres, making a great time trial distance for the paddlers. And since he can’t be mistaken for any other buoy, Jack makes a perfect reference point.

“Our local outrigger club has a time trial that goes from the marina to where Jack should be and back. The dragon boaters do that as well. Everybody knows where Jack is,” said Mulhall, adding that they’ve been using Jack as a reference point for about eight years. And since Jack is also used as a marker for some of the longer outrigger canoe races, competitors from around the province know where Jack is as well.

“Everybody in our club just goes, ‘we’re racing to Jack, we’re going to turn at Jack,’” said Mulhall. Sometimes, they have to explain to their competitors.

“It’s easy to say, ‘It’s a big buoy that has a jack o’ lantern face painted on it and then they know. There are a lot of orange buoys, but only one of them has a face on it.”

Mulhall suspects Jack probably got caught up in the winter ice on Skaha Lake this year, perhaps carried along when the ice started to break up and drift.

Mulhall said they are hoping to help Jack’s owner get him back home, but the anchor chain seems to be pretty firmly anchored.

“We’re trying to figure out how to get it back because it is part of our race course, our time trial course,” said Mulhall. “If anyone wants to help, they could contact me.”

There is one bonus to have Jack so much closer to the clubhouse at the northern end of the lake.

“Our team time trials to Jack and back are much faster,” said Mulhall, adding that he’s been bragging about his new fast times.

“Usually, it takes about 30 minutes (to Jack and back) and I told them that I did it in under three minutes.”