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Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:51 am

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Fascinating race! I'm tracking it fairly closely and posting to my blog: www.scotdomergueblog.wordpress.com for those interested.



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Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:28 pm

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The race is solidly in the rear view now, diminishing perspective lines converging on a vanishing point..

It was a kaleidoscopic matrix of hulls, sails, and rigs, pedals, paddles, and oars!
An exhibition and display of all manner of small craft, and strategies. All against a background of green and gray water, northwest forest, rocky shores, and the press of wind and stillness of calm.

Many takes on perfection, and many ways to reach it. The 15 finishers were all solidly in the winner's circle this year!

And not to forget, before they recede in the wake of memory, a curtain call ovation for those skippers and crews who put on such a great show, there would be no such thing as a "Perfect" boat or race without them !!



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Sun Dec 27, 2015 9:01 pm

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Looking now at the upcoming 2016 edition of r2ak, the parameters have not changed significantly, except in the one most important single factor of all...the seasonal timing of the event... The start date!

A fast upwind tri ran away with it last year in 5 days dominated by a late spring unseasonable, but not unheard of, series of gale winds. It became the perfect boat for 2015 ...nobody can argue that. Now there are several entries of this class of boat for this year.... Understandable...

But before the winds came last year a powerful human-propelled, 5 man, 45 foot canoe showed the fleet their stern for the first hours of the race.

You've gotta give the organizers credit for throwing that heavy-counting start date wild card right down on the table from the get-go. It's a guarantee that the race is still a crap shoot for all concerned, and fully in keeping with the event's founding principles of diversity and unpredictability.

Actually it might make a nice tradition, a new and different r2ak starting date every year...keeping teams and followers guessing, talking and innovating!

An organizing strategy with that key variable would make sure all the entries are chasing last year's, or next year's fish, as we used to say...


Last edited by Dirk Visser 166 on Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:37 am, edited 2 times in total.


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Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:39 am

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Dirk:
I believe the perfect boat is the one you have and know intimately. I'd personally be just as comfortable in a modified Laser (dinghy) as I would in a larger Etchells (keelboat). In my prior days, a pea pod dory would have been a good choice for me but rowing is no longer an option - I still have a pea pod but cannot go for more than about 1 km without significant bone pain. The key is know yourself and your boat!
I have a 1978 Laser all ready to go for the R2AK: below deck storage, new rigging, and alternate propulsion system; however, my friends (and race boss / organizers) weren't as comfortable with my selection as I was and magically an Etchells showed up... with eight months to get me and the boat ready for the adventure. Dan, the race boss, in a phone interview said, "That would be some kind of World's record for you to make it to Ketchikan in a Laser." I disagreed and they let me in anyway...
Pros for Laser:
1. I've sailed them since the 70's including adventure cruising to BC with nothing more than a dry bag of gear lashed to the base of the mast. I'm intimate with the boat and don't have to think about how she'll respond in winds up to 40 knots with 35 knots being my seek shelter quick threshold...
2. She's light. At 65 kgs with beach wheels affixed to her stern she can be easily portaged by one person. Wheels also allow for transport via AMHS, an affordable solution that makes R2AK a one way trip only.
3. Self bailing cockpit, until you separate the deck from the hull in high winds and the bailer shears, filling the hull with water. The good news is this happened here and not on way to Alaska. Problem resolved.
4. Parts are inexpensive. The boat is affordable on a fixed income.
Cons for the Laser:
1. Wet. A drysuit is mandatory. Granted I sail her here (Admiralty Inlet & Hood Canal) year round with offshore foul weather gear but thats because it's what I have and I can get to help (warmth) relatively quickly.
2. Poor construction. Lasers' hulls and decks are bonded with a Bondo-like material that deteriorates when immersed in water. Their hulls hold water so older Lasers are bound to have problems if loaded heavily. Solution, cut large forward and aft hatches into decks and reinforce with fiberglass and epoxy resin... fixed with additional 200 kgs floatation added.
3. Limited storage capacity. Dressed for cold weather sailing, I weigh 95 kgs. Added modifications to 65 kg hull (wheels, self-propulsion device, internal modifications and reinforcements) 15 kg. At 3.8 m, the boat's performance really suffers with more than 135 kgs on board. That leaves approximately 25 kgs for food, water, and all the other equipment necessary to self-support oneself between Victoria, BC and Ketchikan, AK. Translation, frequent stops to pick up food and supplies...
The Etchells is a fantastic boat! She beats upwind extremely well and is powerful even in light air. Team Grin finished the 2015 R2AK tenth in an Etchells in 12d 13h 7m. Grin had three aboard. That gives me a target to shoot for if I'm in it to race, but, as you already know, for me it's about the adventure - the competition is with myself... I have a little less than six months to get the boat and myself ready... but that's a different story.
Regarding other great boats, there are many new and different ones this year:
1. Roger Mann will be attempting R2AK in a Folbot. http://folbot.com
2. Team Kraken Up will be using a longdory.
3. Team Liteboat will be coming from France with a an expedition rowboat of some form... http://www.liteboat.fr/en/expedition-tico/
4. Collin Angus will be making the trip in a modified row-cruiser. http://www.angusrowboats.com
5. Team Archimedes will be going in a gaff-rigged penguin.
6. Heather and Dan will be going in a 16′ Mirror Dinghy.
7. Team Turn Point design will be going in an engineering marvel built right here in Port Townsend...
Bottom line... grab a boat that you know intimately (or get to know), go to sea and learn your and your boat's strengths and weaknesses and, if you think you can do it, enter the R2AK. You'll be glad you did...
Cheers!
Michael



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Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:32 am

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Michael, looking at that partial list of entries there I am no doubt impressed with the diversity. Do you think it could indicate a stronger field of oar and paddle powered entries this year?

A response to the set forward start date?

This year's contest could have a significantly different character and outcome.
Of course the weather will be the #1 factor.
But that includes lack of weather too, doesn't it?



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Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:41 pm

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Dirk:
There are a variety of boats this year. Roger Mann is racing a Folbot, Team Liteboat is racing a custom rowboat (traveling from France) as is Colin Angus. Team Kraken Up is rowing a longdory with nine (think Soggy Beavers only better). TakemetotheVolcano is building a custom tri and there are a number of other trimarans (predominantly F-27s). TrunPoint Design will be entering their carbon cat (Felix) with foils this year. And then there are the monohulls ranging from an Olsen 30, to Mirror 16 with everything in between including my Etchells 22.
With regard to weather it's anyone's guess. Last year was unusual; however, I'm personally planning for everything between becalmed and 45 knots plus. If I could choose, I'd prefer 20 knots on the nose but that's where my boat excels.
As you know, I'm in it to finish, therefore, redundancy is the name of the game - making slow but deliberate progress. I have the pain issue to deal with too so may need to sail a day, sleep a day to make my goal of arriving Ketchikan ahead of the sweep boat. I can sail 1/3 of the days available and still make it.
I'm now committed to the Etchells as the boat of choice and have made, or am in the process of making, spares for everything (painfully slow without working hands but getting done). Small donations (used parts) have been coming in including sails thanks to Jeremy of Team Grin (2015 R2AK finisher). I'm working on the boat on the hook in the middle of winter, so I should be prepared to take care of anything that presents itself while at sea. I'll even be able to lower/raise the mast if needed.
The treadle-powered propulsion system has been started and should allow me to easily make 3 knots if needed. I'll post details to my http://www.facebook.com/teamhangingon/ page soon.
All the best,
Michael



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Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:16 am

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Here are a few literary accounts of adventures along the Inland Passage in small imperfect boats. For these folks, the R2AK has been going on for a long time.
No, I have not read them all.

- Row to Alaska By Wind & Oar, by Pete Ashenfelter 1994
- The Curve of Time, by M. Wylie Blanchet 1961
- Bijaboji: North to Alaska by Oar, by Betty Lowman Carey 2004
- Puffin Cove: A Queen Charlotte Islands Odyssey, by Neil G. Carey 1982
- Sailing Back in Time: A Nostalgic Voyage on Canada's West Coast, by Maria Coffey and Allen Farrell 1996
- A voyage in a dory: From Sitka to Tacoma by oars, sail, and tow rope, by R. N DeArmond 1999
- Oar & Sail : An Odyssey of the West Coast, by Kenneth Macrae Leighton 1999
- Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings, by Jonathan Raban 1999



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Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:44 pm

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Hey Phil!
That Penguin looks like a real "Super Scamp"! Big sister indeed, queen bunk forward, dedicated head, built in galley, all in 21 ft. ?

You gotta love that Welsford!

Plus look at all he does for the cause of "the perfect small boat", all the time, everywhere: Brilliant, focused design work, local N.Z. proving explorations, Texas 200, SCA consultant, and now the Cape Horn/ Howard Rice/ Scamp expedition...there seem to be no limits!!

I want to read the book that is in him, I'll put it at the top of your enticing list of r2ak titles...

I love armchair sailing but have a universal suggestion for improvement of the cruising narrative genre : Better Charts !

Anyhow, your entry of "Archimedes" will be on our #1 watch list..

Remember irascible designer and backyard boatbuilder George Bueller from Whidbey? He drew a nice little 45 footer with that name...



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Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:20 pm

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Another cool thing about Welsford is his positive internet presence .

I have gotten used to enjoying his commonsense, and non-threatening, yet authoritative posts popping up here , and on the forums of woodenboat.com and sailinganarchy.com websites.

To me this ongoing involvement in live, here and now discussions says a lot, good and genuine, about the man's dedication to helping maintain the health of the world's sailing culture, on multiple levels...mental and physical..!



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Tue Feb 16, 2016 3:12 pm

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The "perfect boat" is such a personal matter! I created Sealark last winter and realized during sea-trials that she really isn't the boat I want, so . . .

This winter I've designed another unique vessel, a sort of cross between open water rowing shell and very narrow tri, with a minimal cabin like that on my Marsh Duck. This is a SOLO row-sail-cruising boat, and ultra light (under 150 lbs. including all sailing and rowing gear and 10 watt solar power for electronics).

I'll probably start building soon, but doubt she'll be ready for this year's R2AK.

Any interested can see drawings and more info on my blog: www.scotdomergueblog.wordpress.com



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