We are John and Linda Dyer. We’re passionate about paddling—especially dragon boat. We also love to travel. Over the next few years we’re looking for folks that want to join us on some truly unique paddling adventures.
If you are reading this, it is very likely we know each other already, either through our home club, Dragonheart Vermont, the Heart & Soul Dragon Boat Teams, Team USA (Senior C) the Bow Wave/Space Coast Training Camp or several of the clubs we’ve helped get off the ground over the years. If we haven’t met, we hope to get to know you real soon.
Over the past fifteen years we have spent most of our time coaching the wonderful sport of dragon boat. Now we want to expand our horizons and hit some of the travel destinations on our bucket list. Maybe you are getting the travel itch as well. If so, read on.
What is Joy Boat?
Do you love to race in a dragon boat?
Do you love to travel?
Do you love to share good times with happy people?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then Joy Boat is definitely for you.
Joy Boat is designed for people that have two passions: travel and dragon boating. We have picked out a series of quality dragon boat festivals—mostly the festivals that Linda and I would look at and say to each other, “wouldn’t it be AMAZING to paddle THERE?” Well, why not? We think we know lots of people that would answer yes to our three questions. Let’s get together and have some serious FUN and adventure!
Where will Joy Boat race?
Initially, we have picked out four prime European destinations, four North American destinations and one Australian destination. The tentative line-up looks like this:
May 2021 Venice, Italy (The famous Vongalonga)
September 2021 Dublin, Ireland
The other North American festivals tentatively on the agenda are: Arizona (followed by a Grand Canyon adventure), Las Vegas (followed by some great hiking), and Vancouver, B.C. We will get a trip or two under our belts to test the waters and then schedule the remaining North American trips. The travel dreams don’t stop with this agenda. Depending on interest, we have Auckland, New Zealand and Singapore on the list as well.
Can I join Joy Boat and still remain a member of my present club?
Absolutely! Everyone is welcome. We have planned the Joy Boat trips outside the normal summer schedule for most dragon boat clubs. The September trips could present a possible conflict in some locations in the East, but, for the most part, the proposed schedule shouldn’t interfere with your home crew’s plans. The U. S. National Championships are in Colorado Springs in late August, 2019. The Canadian National Championships will be in Regina, Saskatchewan in mid-summer 2019. The CCWC is in France in 2020—likely in August. We plan on having the club crews we are affiliated with at these events, so we’ve tried to schedule accordingly.
How many crews do you plan on taking on each trip?
We will have to see how many people are actually interested in each destination. However, our hope is to bring two full crews: a mixed boat and a women’s crew. A good many people on our mailing list are breast cancer survivors. If we can fill a BCS boat on any trip, we will make that happen. Our travel agents are used to catering to large groups, so we feel we can manage as many as three or four crews on each trip. When we travel with our home club, Dragonheart Vermont, we are accustomed to managing as many as seven crews at a destination. Three crews sounds easy.
Will these travel crews be highly competitive crews?
Well . . . “highly competitive” is a relative term, right? When we line up at the start line and the gun goes off, we will all paddle our hearts out, right? That’s just what we do. If we win the race–FANTASTIC. If we lose, it will still be FANTASTIC. We’re all there for a great time. My guess is that sometime before and after each race we’ll all say “Joy Boat” five times fast, in unison. Try it. You’re smiling, right? You get the idea.
Will the travel crews get a chance to practice together before the event?
Yes. We can actually be pretty creative with the practice options. We will ally with a local dragon boat club at each destination to arrange two or three pre-event practices of about an hour each so that we can get used to each other. We’ll schedule a slate of travel events before or after each practice. Another alternative will be to offer a short mini-camp in Melbourne, FL on the Banana River before we head out on the trip. If enough people want to exercise this option, we’ll offer a group flight out of Orlando. With each group, we’ll see what works for the greatest number of people and proceed accordingly.
Will there be extension trips available?
Yes. We will develop some interesting travel options after each Festival. Linda and I plan on inviting all that want to join in on a multiple-day guided bicycle tour. Those that aren’t inclined towards traveling by bicycle can join in on a more traditional post Festival travel tour that will be arranged by our travel agents. A staple of each tour will likely be a half day “fat tire” bike tour of the host city, a welcome dinner and a farewell dinner. All of the extension packages will be optional.
Who are the travel agents?
When our Dragonheart crews earned five bids to the Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy in 2015, we knew that we needed help. Luckily, the best folks for the job operated a well respected niche travel business right in our hometown of Burlington, Vermont. Music Contact International (MCI) had been in the business of arranging travel for large orchestras and choral groups since 1987. MCI took us on. Thank heavens! We were astounded by the level of service that was provided to us. Manfred Hilker and Jody Breckenridge (the Owners of MCI) are the consummate travel professionals. They know the turf. The hotels, restaurants and travel options they select are first class. Over the past five years, they have become an extension of our Dragonheart family. Since serving Dragonheart that very first time, many other dragon boat teams have signed on with MCI. In fact, MCI has created a whole new division called “American Expeditions” that is devoted to serving dragon boat teams. We’ll be in great hands.
How will the cost for each trip be determined?
MCI will start by arranging a base “land package” for each trip. The land package will include our hotel, transport to the event and practices, a welcome dinner, a farewell dinner, our race entry fee, the cost of practice boat rentals, and any group travel options while we are in the city where the venue is located. MCI will also put together some “extension” opportunities on each trip so that you will have the opportunity to further explore the city and the surrounding countryside. One of the options will likely be a multi-day bicycle tour. If bicycling isn’t a real option, we’ll look to do some hiking. Finally, if enough people express interest in a pre-trip paddling camp in Florida, MCI will arrange group flights out of Orlando International. You will have the option of arranging your own flight or working with MCI to make your flight arrangements.
How do I sign up for a Joy Boat trip?
We will start the trip planning approximately ten or eleven months prior to each trip. The first step will be to contact everyone on the mailing list to determine who wants to join in. At this point, we’ll likely know the base costs of the land package. Interested travelers will be asked to go to the website joyboat.americanexpeditions.net, complete the application form and sign up for the trip by making a deposit. Those that sign up can then make monthly payments over the next six months to cover the trip cost. Payments can be made via credit card right on the website. Once we know how many paddlers are on board, we’ll organize the crews and make choices about our pre-festival practice options.
What if we sign up for a trip and there aren’t enough paddlers to fill a boat?
We will cancel the trip and refund all deposits. However, the chances of this happening are probably remote. Many of the events have small boat options. If we can find ten people to join in, we’ll go. We’re thinking that over-subscription might be the more likely problem than under-subscription.
Will there be a maximum number of paddlers for any trip?
This may change from event to event. For example, we may have to limit the number of boats we can register into the 46th annual Vongalonga in Venice, simply because all the local dragon boats may be in demand. The Vongalonga is a unique race through the canals of Venice by paddlecraft of every description. On the other hand, in the festivals that have OPEN crews as part of the field, we might be able to bring a men’s crew, a women’s crew and a mixed crew. We’ll configure the crews so that everyone has a maximum opportunity to race.
Will some people be given priority on the sign ups?
We thought long and hard about this. One way to assure your place in line will be to become a Joy Boat member. All you have to do is complete the team application here, enter your information and pay $25 here. You will then be on our priority list for each trip. Your deposit will be credited to the first trip you take or to your uniform. Basically, your deposit tells us that you are serious about joining in, so we will focus on bringing you aboard each time out. Your name will be included on the priority mailing list and you will receive the trip notice 15 days before the mailing goes out to the entire group. Once a Joy Boat member, you’ll get priority for all subsequent Joy Boat trips. This is one way to be a “ground floor” Joy Boat member.
Is there a cost to join Joy Boat?
Just the cost of your Joy Boat uniform, $25. Our goal is to keep the cost of all trips reasonable and to operate this program with really, really low overhead.
Do you have to be a particular age?
No. Everyone is welcome. If it turns out we can race as a Sr. C or Sr. B crew, we’ll enter a crew that way—just to enhance the fun. The actual event may have a minimum age—they usually do—and that is customarily sixteen or eighteen.
Can beginners join in?
Why not? Of course, our mailing list is comprised of known paddlers, so the likelihood of lots of beginners signing on is pretty remote. If your spouse or significant other wants to join in—and they are a newbie– the more the merrier. Give us a couple of practices and we’ll have the newbies paddling right along with us.
Who will coach the Joy Boat travel crews?
John and Linda Dyer will be the coaches. If needed, they can also jump in and paddle. The Dyers are ardent outrigger paddlers and have been coaching the sport of dragon boat for more than fifteen years. Their Dragonheart Vermont crews have won fifteen National Championships. Both have taken a turn on the Team USA coaching staff. If more coaches are needed on any given trip . . . never fear. John and Linda will solicit one of the excellent coaches from the Bow Wave/Space Coast Camp to jump aboard.
What if I’m looking for a more competitive experience?
Joy Boat can offer you that as well—at the Sr. C level. We’ll poll our members to see which paddlers want to be part of a highly competitive crew—one that will compete at the U.S. and Canadian National Championships. If you are already part of a crew that is gearing up for the 2020 CCWC, then we encourage you to stay with your home crew and join us on the Joy Boat trips. If your home crew can’t field a Sr. C crew, you are welcome to try out for a spot on the Joy Boat Sr. C Crew. Our hope is to have a Joy Boat Crew earn a bid to the CCNC in France, 2020. We’ll take it one cycle at a time. The competitive program will require attendance at two mini camps and per year, (February in Florida and June in Vermont), one week long camp (Bow Wave/Space Coast Camp) and one North American event.
What if I have questions?
Drop us a message at email@example.com and we will get right back to you.