I’m wearing one of these!

In all my time sailing, I’ve only fallen overboard once – unintentionally.  It was early fall and just on the cold side.  I had multiple layers on including a thick wool sweater.  Over that a light rain coat and cycling rain pants.  I was leaving Port Hadlock completing a solo sail in the San Juans.  I was departing from the beach as I often do.  I had been chatting to a guy on his boat (The new owner of Tolfea, Matt Johnson’s and then Andy Deltoff’s Wharram Tangaroa Mk I) that was at the dock 15 m away.  As I pushed off a creosote soaked piling with a bamboo pole to clear the obstructions, the pole slipped.  I followed the trajectory of the pole and then I was in the water.  When I came up the boat, my Wharram Tiki 26 – Tsunamichaser with sails up and just catching the zephyr of a wind ghosted away.  Here the story could have gone two ways but I have a workboat mentality – never on deck without a work vest PFD.  I hooked the boat with the pole but the real difference compared to the story below was that I WAS wearing my PFD.  If I hadn’t been the story may have ended differently.  The other guy on the other boat never even realized I had gone in the water until he saw me on deck dripping wet pulling off the layers.  His head was in the forward lazarette finding treasures.  His focus elsewhere.  It’s easy to wear your PFD especially in cold environments.  They provide a boost to core insulation.  Get it on!


Watching our backs.

Most of the miles that will be sailed/rowed or otherwise transited in the R2AK will be in Canadian waters.  Only 76 miles of the total 750 miles, as the Salish Sea raven flies, will be in US waters.  Hopefully NOBODY gets in trouble deep enough that they have to hit the SOS button on their SPOT.  If they do, or we do, there will be a number of safety resources to help us out of a tight spot including the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue.  These men and women are volunteers so if you see them on the water thank them for being there – just in case you meet up again later on.  Like them on their Facebook page too.

Going for the R2AK Gold

Scott and I have been doing HTFU training with the help of our buddy Kevin as I posted about a few days ago.  While we were trying to survive the cold waters of Puget Sound, it happened that Emily Riedel of The Discovery Channel’s Bering Sea Gold fame wandered down the beach to see what was up with the swimmers.   She then proceeded to join us in the water as the countdown timer hit 6 minutes to go.  She was pretty casual about it all, laughing and clearly enjoying herself.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 3.29.39 PMToday I had coffee with her to talk to her about cold water, the spirit of Alaska and going for the gold.  In her words:

It only hurts until you go numb,  I saw you out in the water and thought “kindred  spirits” and getting the gold is never easy, it can be a disaster!

When I suggested she join the race, her eyes lit up and she said “I’m fascinated by this race and will consider it in the future.”

Jake Beattie and the Northwest Maritime Center, you better start planning R2AK 2016!

Opinion about race speeds and what team will win.

Colin Angus has written a great entry on his blog at Angus Rowboats about who he thinks might win the R2AK.  Totally worth reading if you are wondering!  Better yet, buy one of his row cruisers and enter the race to win!



Lake trials begin for Manu-o-ku thanks to Sail Sand Point!

On Monday we moved the boat from backyard testing to Lake Washington trials.   After assembling the boat (in just under an hour), we ceremoniously poured some Alaskan Amber over her bows and officially named her Manu-o-ku.  She is named after the Hawaiian word for the White Tern — a beautiful bird with the habit of flying out to sea to feed during the day before returning to land for the night.  So we will travel with a navigator bird flying with us,  our minds remembering our families as we voyage north, braving the Pacific but never straying too far from land.

Thanks to Acting Director Nino Johnson and the Board of Sail Sand Point we now have a great spot to store the boat close to the water this winter/spring.  We really appreciate their sponsorship, as well as the great summer sailing educational opportunities they provide to Seattle (and especially Scott’s kids).

Manu-o-ku settles in to the spot Nino cleared for us.


Will KIALOA be our next sponsor? (Please?)


The boat ramp <50m away!


Looking forward to seeing Nino, Lisa, and Caroline frequently as they keep Sail Sand Point organized and we test and train this winter/spring!

While we’re enthusiastic about training in Puget Sound later this year, the Lake affords many opportunities that will let us learn about our boat and our selves.  The lack of tides removes a confounding variable when we gather performance data on how in Manu-o-ku move and we grow stronger.  The extra-chilly surface temperature lets us test our gear in conditions that are thermally worse than what we’ll find in Dixon Entrance.  And less wintertime traffic will let us practice traveling at night and in flat-water conditions without the risks and complications of busy Puget Sound.


Let’s do this!


R2AK Talk – Center for Wooden Boats

Jake Beattie, Director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend and mad man founder of the R2AK will be speaking about the race at the Center for Wooden Boats, South Lake Union 47 37.661 N, 122 20.105 W in Seattle this Friday, January 16th at 6 7-10 pm.  Go!  He mentioned something about beer afterwards.  As one Alaskan said to me the other day about Alaska “It only hurts until you go numb!”

My Review of NRS HydroLock Dry Bag

Originally submitted at NRS

Make double sure your stuff stays dry with NRS HydroLock Dry Bags. Our proven StormStrip roll-down closure is backed up by our waterproof HydroLock seal for 200% peace of mind. 70-denier urethane-coated nylon keeps the weight of this bag to a minimum, and the rugged material slides easily in and ou…

Tough drybag for the Race to Alaska

By Team Searunners from Seattle WA on 1/13/2015


5out of 5

Pros: Tight Closure, Waterproof, Strong Material

Best Uses: Organization, Water Protection

Was this a gift?: No

These dry bags are tough, light weight, durable and repairable. They will be used to organize and protect gear for the Race to Alaska. I have used these drybags for a variety of activities for several years without experiencing punctures or tears while sailing, kayaking overland travels and other adventure sports challenges.



On Saturday, our friend and survival trainer put us through what he calls a Flickian Challenge.  It’s all part of getting us ready – known by the acronym HTFU.  Kevin took us to Golden Gardens Park in Seattle and put us to the test.  We had incredulous onlookers huddling in parkas, a few lone beach walkers cheering us on, and one wild Alaskan who joined us in the water for a bit (more on that later).

Challenge One was: No eating for 10 hours prior to the challenge.  Then a 15 minute swim in Puget Sound wearing only swim trunks while having to solve math problems (mental acuity testing).  That was the warm up, or in our case cool down to shivering.  The real test came after we exited the water: use teamwork to find wood, make tinder and fire starter, light a fire, keep it together and rewarm yourself with only the pocket knives and flint we had on lanyards around our necks with us on the swim.  We also had a “jump bag” of other emergency supplies we plan to take on the Race.  We resisted the bag for a long time, but eventually Flick ordered us to open it up.

For 1 hour 4 minutes — from entering the water until Kevin stopped the clock — we were wet, cold, shivering, exposed, dirty, struggling and then huddling very close to our fire to rewarm.  We did rewarm and our body temperatures came back up but it was pretty ugly.  We survived and the Red Mill Burgers we scarfed down afterwards never tasted so good.

Screen Shoot from Flickian Challenge #1 video.
Screen Shot Capture from Flickian Challenge #1 video.

After the challenge we spent the next 20 plus hours living on the boat.  More on what we learned from that (also wet) experience, soon…