Poker paddle brings high stakes to Marion harbor

Aug 11, 2022

MARION — With money on the line, five women set off from Island Wharf in Marion to try their luck. 

They were competing in the Sippican Lands Trust’s first Poker Paddle fundraiser on Wednesday, Aug. 10. 

The rules were simple. Competitors paddled their kayaks to five locations around the harbor, where they would collect a playing card from each spot. By the end, whoever had the best poker hand would win a cash prize. 

“It’s for a good cause, and it sounded fun,” said Lisa Ellis, who signed up for the poker paddle with her friend Sherry Vigeant.  

Along with being a fun activity on the water, the poker paddle gave the Sippican Lands Trust a chance to show off their lesser-seen properties, said Alan Harris, past president of the Sippican Lands Trust and coordinator of the event. 

“A lot of our land, we try to get people out walking on, but we also have an awful lot of marshes and land going into the water that you can’t go walking on,” said Harris.

The poker paddle took competitors to the Moore-Tabor Conservation Restriction, Gravel Island, Upper Hammet’s Cove, the Marion Golf Course Conservation Restriction, and the mouth of Blankinship Cove. 

At each location, volunteers with the Sippican Lands Trust were tasked with handing out playing cards. Some, like long-time volunteers Bruce and Pam Aberle, took their boat out into the harbor to distribute playing cards to paddlers.

At the third stop on the poker paddle was volunteer Katie Haight, who sat at the end of a long wooden dock handing out cards using a makeshift pole. 

“For volunteer work, it doesn’t get better than this,” said Haight, who enjoyed the views of the surrounding marshland and the nearby fish splashing in the water while waiting for paddlers to arrive. 

Haight, a new member of the Sippican Lands Trust, was volunteering with the trust for the first time. 

“All land trusts are wonderful things,” said Haight, who added that she is also a member of the Mattapoisett Land Trust. 

Around two hours after competitors initially set off, they returned to Island Wharf. 

The winner of the poker paddle, was Lisa Ellis, who won $150 for her pair of eights. 

The runner-up with a pair of fives was Christina Devilliers, who won $100. 

Kathy Marx was voted “most spirited” by poker paddle volunteers and also won a cash prize. 

The Sippican Lands Trust raised around $500 from the poker paddle, said Harris. 

The trust is unsure if it will host another poker paddle next year, said Harris, but the trust is exploring possible weekend dates to draw a bigger crowd.