Well call it coastal sailing if you wish. I’d like to see these bad boys and girls take a shot at Seymour Narrows in these boats…..
We should all fill in one of these before we leave on the R2AK race! Or any other trip on the water. How well can your friends and family describe you and your boat from memory after all. Probably not well enough. Suspecting that the Northwest Maritime Center will have their own set of information requirements on each entry. But that is just one event for a few weeks this coming June 4th.
Plans change when you sail/row/paddle small boats. The weather changes. The spot you found to camp is just too sweet to only spend one day at. Or you may be spending the next 6 hours waiting for a tide you got just a bit wrong. You ran into other like minded small boaters and do an impromptu plan change to travel together.
Those you leave behind ashore may start to wonder where you are. Sometimes having a fixed plan is just not possible or your tracker beacon stops working (been there!) or your battery dies on your iPhone or there is no signal and the Find Friends app stops sending (that happens!).
It was almost easier before all those things existed but you did need to add a widow’s walk on top of your house. Regardless, the basic info of a float plan is a good start as is a broad description of where you will be. Sometimes getting a little bit lost is exactly what your plan is. Sometimes the rescuers might benefit by narrowing down the size of the haystack. From my professional experience as a SAR vessel commander, knowing who and how many on board, size, type and description of the vessel and a general idea of where the over due party might be usually increased the chance of a happy outcome. We don’t mind searching for you even if all was well. We chock it up as training.
I’m looking for inspiration. Well, I could actually use a little perspiration. That would mean I wasn’t so flip’in cold as I am at the moment. I poke my soggy left arm with my equally not dry right index finger. Yup! Cold! Yup! Wet! Yup! Rain!
The Skye seems to have no problem with perspiration. It’s been perspiring hard for the last 4 days. Continuously! How long can this uphill grind it’s on be? Well it’s not that bad. Four days is a bit of an exaggeration. Really it’s only been perspiring the last 3.84 days. 95.7 hours to be exact. So far! Must be one hell of a race up there! The Skye is working hard. Can you back off on the pace buddy! We could use a little blue sky down here for the R2AK. Everything is nice a wet! ALREADY.
Did I mention it’s cold?
Well at least we have a wind at our back or we did. We being; me, my teammate Scott, and The Boat. For now we just wallow onwards on an oily slick grey surface. Banks Island is out there somewhere to my right. Or I’m hoping it is. Otherwise I’m on my way to Haida Gwaii. “Stick to the team motto” the boat reminds me. Just keep going! So I’m now stripped down as to keep my clothes dry and I’m on the cranks. Time to drive! “That’s another one of your motivational sayings”, the boat smugly pipes in. Yah right! Right now I could just use to be a little warmer. Like in a warm bed – asleep. Or in front of a fire having a good read and armchair dreams instead of this s**t!
Anyone bother doing the calculation as to how much power a human body puts out in horsepower? Try zero point two horsepower if you are in shape. At best, unless you are Frankie Tour de France with mega thighs, an entourage in tow to baby you and a German doctor with a little magic pill. Then you get to gloat about your three to four hundred Watts of raw power. We mere mortals put out 60 to 120 Watts. Woohee! Them – point five thee seven horsepower! I trained for this. For months dammit! Why can’t the boat just get over it and go a little faster? “So can we put me down for say 150 Watts”, I ask the boat. “Sustained”, it asks, a little exasperated. “We can all dream right?” I say under my breath. The boat hears me and says, “Stop griping and start motivating. How else do you think you’ll get warm?” “Point two HP”, I think. I looked it up myself before getting in this situation. Hmm! I recall thinking, “that’s not much now is it!” I promptly started cutting the tags off my gear to lower the team weight. Whatever, the sponsors can suffer from the lack of cleverly hidden tags on the inside of my clothes. Publicity – pfff!
There’s a very slight tail wind so I can justify the umbrella over my head. You know – for the rain. Well, I’m rationalizing it. Oh it seemed like a good idea to bring it at the time. “We can bring less sunscreen” I said to my Scott, “we’ll save weight. No comment from The Boat. “It’ll keep the sun off our heads as we speed north towards the mirage of a prize”, I justify. “After all can’t I also consider it to double as a sail”, I ask the boat? Ok, Ok, focus on where you are headed. This is a race and not just any race; this is the inaugural year of the R2AK – Race to Alaska
Did I mention the bugs? No! What was I thinking? Bugs come in an endless variation of shape, size and nastiness. I’ve never met a bug that bit you and then you felt better. Only worse. Where did evolution go wrong? Yes officer, I’m drunk as a skunk! Got caught out in the woods without any protection and those rum-squitos sure got a piece of me! Took me hours to get off the sand bar. Low tide. I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again officer. Thanks for letting me row on. The boat reminds me “hey stop that. No daydreaming! You are here on a mission. You signed up for this! Now get to work!”
Why is the boat talking to me? I shouldn’t have looked for inspiration on THAT shelf of my nautical bookcase. The armchair sailor bookshelf. “I wonder”, I said to myself at the time, as I pulled down a slim small volume, “maybe McGrath will have some words of wisdom.” Damn Foole! What was I thinking when I started reading stories from Tom McGrath’s Voyages of the Damn Foole to the boat last winter. Now it talks back to me. And not always that nicely I might add.
“Hey Boat!” I say, “if you’re so clever, why don’t you talk Skye into backing off the perspiration and upping the breeze. I could use a little help here!” “Suit yourself” it says “Skye thought you needed a little exercise. You know to get warm.”
The wind comes up. Southwest this time. For the moment, Scott and I sail on. The others are out there somewhere. After all there’s a race on and we are bearing down on our competition as the winds change to our advantage.