Eric bringing Joy to his world at 5kmh

Eric Johnson is a familiar sight in Sumner where he launches his boat.
Eric Johnson is a familiar sight in Sumner where he launches his boat.

Old age and health problems are not enough to stop Eric Johnson launching his "retirement joy" at Sumner's boat ramp.

The 87-year-old has lived in Christchurch's seaside suburb all his life and "lives for the ocean".

He received his first canoe about 80 years ago and since then has been launching boats at the same ramp near the Sumner esplanade.

His boat, Joy, usually lives on the water but last year it missed its annual re-paint and the rust set in.

Not wanting to pass up his annual Christmas outing on the water, Johnson attached Joy to the back of his mobility scooter to take her home to get fixed, the 1500m journey taking about 20 minutes each way.

"I got a lot of comments and waves, and people take photos of me. Everyone seems to have a camera at the ready these days," he said.

"I'm very glad the earthquakes didn't take the ramp away because it would be a lot further to go if that wasn't there. I don't know if I could take the scooter that far."

Johnson was confined to bed for the past two years with a heart condition.

He thought a trip on the water three years ago would be his last, but he has since recovered.

So, taking Joy out again last weekend made his Christmas, he said.

"A friend of mine fixed it up for me because it had been a bit neglected and had a bit of rust and needed a new coat of paint. She looks wonderful now and I loved taking her on a ride [on Saturday]."

Johnson said he would take his boat out "every day if I could", but he had to rely on the help of others.

Sunday Star Times