A couple weeks ago our Survival Trainer, Dr. Kevin Flick, issued the Flickian Challenge #1: get hypothermic in Puget Sound and then try to make a fire on the beach using only wet wood and a flint & steel. An unplanned bonus of the experience was meeting Emily Riedel, a real (tough) Alaskan who joined us in taking part in the Challenge.
Liam has been working diligently on editing down all the footage he and Cora got and expects to publish a detailed documentary (about how we failed to meet the challenge) next week. In the mean time, enjoy this trailer and some more back-story!
We all read and learned a good bit about hypothermia and fire-starting techniques before taking the Challenge. Kevin took things a step further the night before by taking an ice bath — both to inspire us to HTFU and to help him be better prepared as a safety manager during the Challenge.
Here’s the video he made of the experience. At the very least, it shows that (a) he’s a zoologist who likes to experiment on himself, and (b) he’s tough.
We held Tiki Tuesday on Thursday night this week as Kiko came to town from Hawaii yesterday. He brought us a couple of gems; a big bright yellow sail made by Warren Seaman himself and an intriguing option for the human propulsion side of things.
Shop time was mainly used to catch-up and work on a project for Kiko so he can get his Pahi 26 in the water tomorrow. Thanks to Tim for sharing awesome beer and cat food can alcohol stove designs, and to Ty for lending a hand again.
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!
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.
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.
Today 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!
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!
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).
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.
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 67-10 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!”