08 Jul

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Team Angus Rowboats Updates 7-13 —#R2AK

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JULY 2
Just talked to Colin (Team Angus Rowboats). Says he’s anchored in a quiet protected bay after another good day of progress in conditions he said included dead calm and as much as 25 knots and quite a bit of rain.

He said today included some fairly harrowing or intimidating stretches of water with big swells rolling in from the open Pacific and crashing on rocky shores and islets.

“Thank God for Navionics” he says he’s been able to find decent anchorages. This one tonight is tranquil and he’s watching a family of otters while he prepares the boat for rest–dragging all the dry bags out to the cockpit. Amazingly, after seven days of the race he said he’s only been out of the boat for about 5 minutes total, fetching water at docks. Seven days and nights without camping ashore, sleeping in a cabin no bigger than a bivy sack.

He called the race “a slog” and noted how challenging it must have been for last year’s competitors in the endless headwinds, but he’s feeling great and on the home stretch. Bring on the southerlies! More soon…

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JULY 4

Got a sat phone call from Colin (Team Angus Rowboats) from his anchorage some 50 or so miles north of Bella Bella. The place he dropped anchor is actually a provincial park–Jackson Narrows–but he’s in some very remote country. In fact today–having traveled through narrow, more protected channels–he doesn’t recall seeing a single boat. It was just old growth trees and mountains shrouded in mist.

The day began inauspiciously, as after visiting briefly with Team Sistership, who shared some coffee with him, Colin tied his boat up at the dock to refill water, only to look back and see his Rowcruiser sailing away. Fortunately it came to a stop against a nearby moored boat, but the collision broke open the tip of Colin’s ama.

Some 15 minute-cure epoxy was used to fix, and the adhesive had barely kicked off before Colin was off again and fighting 20-knot headwinds and 4-foot waves on his way out of rainy Bella Bella.

The headwinds eventually became light tailwinds as his course snaked between islands, and the patch seems to have held.

More tomorrow…

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JULY 5

Colin just checked in to report the day has been smooth sailing in moderate tailwinds and a strong fair current. Better still, as the tide changes he’ll be moving outside where the current will continue helping him along.

It turns out Murphy wasn’t completely done with Colin last night. After he settled into his cabin for sleep he realized he was adrift. A gate on the carabiner he uses as part of his anchoring system opened and the anchor rode got loose. He crawled out and rowed to shore and tied off for the night. Fortunately he was able to find the floating anchor rode in the morning light and retrieve his anchor.

More later…

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JULY 6

Colin (Team Angus Rowboats) checked in from a nice anchorage near Klewnuggit Inlet. He says he made good progress today courtesy of strong tailwinds and a tremendous favorable current that had him doing a long stretch at 8 knots.

He’d planned to push on further tonight but came around a turn in the narrow channel route he’s chosen to find a 20-knot headwind stacking up against the current, so he decided to aim for the nearby inlet and anchorage.

Colin say the steep mountains come right down to rocky shores and there are far fewer anchorages and almost no beaches to be found. In fact he says it was a bit disconcerting at his anchorage last night when the wind clocked around onshore blowing over lots of fetch at the craggy shoreline. And I’m guessing it probably didn’t help that he’d seen his first bear on that same strip of land earlier in the evening . Fortunately the winds never really came up.

He and the boat are doing great, although his auto-pilot, which had been making funny noises and which he’s come to rely on, finally quit entirely. He installed his backup unit and says it’s performing great. Who says you can’t carry everything you need on an 18-foot rowboat?

More later…

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Just heard from Colin (Team Angus Rowboats). After a dreary day spent almost entirely at the oars, he’s set the hook in a small bay on the north side of B.C.’s Porcher Island. Looking out from his tiny cabin he can see the lights of Prince Rupert and civilization just across the water.

He’d just finished his oatmeal dinner (having exhausted his freeze-dried dinner supply) and was retreating to the cabin to avoid clouds of hungry insects.

Speaking of hungry, Colin says he wondered if he’d over-provisioned, packing enough food for 6,000 calories per day, but says with all of the rowing it’s worked out perfectly.

He says tomorrow’s forecast includes some southerlies so he’s anticipating good mileage and maybe reaching U.S. waters, but as always with small boats and Mother Nature, all plans are tentative.

More soon…

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JULY 8

Just heard from Colin (Team Angus Rowboats). After a dreary day spent almost entirely at the oars, he’s set the hook in a small bay on the north side of B.C.’s Porcher Island. Looking out from his tiny cabin he can see the lights of Prince Rupert and civilization just across the water.

He’d just finished his oatmeal dinner (having exhausted his freeze-dried dinner supply) and was retreating to the cabin to avoid clouds of hungry insects.

Speaking of hungry, Colin says he wondered if he’d over-provisioned, packing enough food for 6,000 calories per day, but says with all of the rowing it’s worked out perfectly.

He says tomorrow’s forecast includes some southerlies so he’s anticipating good mileage and maybe reaching U.S. waters, but as always with small boats and Mother Nature, all plans are tentative.

More soon…

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During last year’s inaugural R2AK we discovered something: Although the race for first place and the $10,000 was exciting—and it truly was—the stories we ultimately found most compelling came from the teams aboard the smaller boats. In addition to sailing boats we could better relate to—boats we could theoretically own someday—the fleet near the back of the pack necessarily endured more exposure and often more hardship, and had more time to reflect on it all, as they battled the elements for days or even weeks longer than the teams at the front. Race to Alaska was effectively two (or several) different contests. So this year, to help celebrate and encourage this race within the race, we offered up a so-called “side bet” of $1000 to the first team to arrive in Ketchikan on a boat 20-feet long or under.

Conditions this year have been different, but the dichotomy remains. While Team Mad Dog and their 32-foot carbon catamaran covered the 750 miles in jaw-dropping record time, they were only actually in the race for what amounts to a little more than a long weekend. Here we are some nine days later and Colin Angus (Team Angus Rowboats)—thus far the fastest of the smaller fleet—is still 100 rainy, upwind miles from the finish.

Team Vantucky, in their 17-foot rotomolded plastic Windrider trimaran, and Team Excellent Adventure in their 17-foot Montgomery sloop are the next closest, both working their way up Principe Channel, about 50 nautical miles behind Colin, and Team Liteboat has just departed Bella Bella in his sit-on-top rowing and sailing trimaran.

Congratulations to everyone still going, we look forward to hearing the stories.

02 Jul

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Team Angus Rowboats Update 6 —#R2AK

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angus

Heard from Colin yesterday afternoon after his nice run through Seymour, just as he was freeing his rudder of kelp. He said it had been a good day with all tailwinds and no rowing, but wind was backing off and he expected to be back at the oars soon. He said it took some motivation to pull up anchor yesterday morning as he’s a bit sore, but the tailwinds were a nice reward. As of this morning he’s well past Port Hardy out near tiny Staples Island and moving northwest at a couple of knots. He’s well ahead of the next nearest small boats, which is all the more impressive when you consider Colin is sailing solo. More soon…

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30 Jun

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Team Angus Rowboats Update 4—#R2AK

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DebraColvin_20160626_

DebraColvin_20160626_

Colin leaving Victoria Harbor photo by Debra Colvin

Yesterday evening Colin reported the day was spent in sloppy seas and light contrary winds or current. Conditions he says were, “Not good for sailing and not good for rowing.” These conditions combined with hot temps had him drinking through his water supply. Forced to begin rationing, he decided to stop at Campbell River to take on another 6 gallons. Nonetheless his progress has been impressive. Now through treacherous Seymour Narrows, he appears to be anchored just north in tiny Kanish Bay waiting for favorable current. He continues to maintain a lead of 25 miles or so over the nearest competitor in the small-boat fleet.

28 Jun

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Team Angus Rowboats Update 3—#R2AK

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colin3

colin3

Heard from Colin around 1330 and he’s in great spirits and was making some coffee with the wind at his back. After pulling up anchor at 5am this morning he headed off north in the Strait of Georgia and before long was using his hiking board—close-hauled in 20 knots. Then at some point the wind died completely and he back on the oars. That’s when he made the tactical decision to proceed east of Texada Island (maybe an R2AK first?) and was rewarded with a light southwesterly breeze that enabled him to rack up quite a few miles quickly.

The micro-climates continue to play a huge factor this year as the winds swirl through the region. More soon….

Filed Under: Blog, R2AK Race to Alaska