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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

R2AK!!! The Race to Alaska

Right now teams from all over North America are rolling into town, packing gear into dry bags, carbo loading, and praying to whatever god will listen.

-- From

R2AK!!! The Race to Alaska

Now, I'm not a fella who ordinarily gets excited over a race.

Puddle Duckin', here and there, maybe, for the fun of it. I keep tabs the Everglades Challenge and Texas 200 for the innovative ideas that course through them. But mere competition? Leaves me cold.

But 4 June 2015 (tomorrow, as I write) marks the commencement of the first R2AK - The Race to Alaska, the longest engine-free race in North America.

I find myself excited!

Organized by the folks at Small Craft Advisor, it's a wind-muscle-brain push up 750 very nautical miles of the Inside Passage. Starting in Port Townsend, Washington (USA) they'll head up the coast of British Columbia (Canada) to finish in Ketchikan, Alaska (USAgain).

Clearly, this covers a lot of challenging waters!

Some long, high-current narrows are unavoidable. Queen Charlotte Sound might as well be open ocean. Hecate Strait is a shoaling and narrowing approach, funneling the North Pacific. By the time they re-enter Alaskan waters, it's almost anti-climactic... archipeligan intimacy is re-established. Harbors re-abound. Summery, inshore weather is likely to be clement. And the fleshpots of Ketchikan to salve their aching muscles.

Any boat without an engine may enter.

One might think that a long hull with ample spread of sail would nail the $10K first prize. But this country has a way of leveling the field.

Small, muscle driven boats can drive through calms and skirt currents that will slow the larger vessel. A boat that can be hauled above the tideline can save hours of detour, entry and exit to and fro safe anchorages.

Skill, cunning and persistence will get a crew further and faster than their vessel's dimensions might dictate.

Too much reliance on wind, and one is at it's mercy; too much reliance on muscle, and one is on a strict budget. Sprinters won't stay the course; laggards will lag.  Time, distance and geophysics moderate the impact of fortune, be it for good or ill.

Pace, balance and good decisions are everything.

It's got my attention!

PS. Good luck, good times and safe travels to all ye who enter!


  1. Everglades Challenge on steroids.... what a great reality show this would make.

  2. I'd hoped to do the EC this year, but my boat wasn't ready. I built a little 12 foot scow, but didn't have time to finish the sailing rig. Ended up taking it camping with me all winter -rowed it and used an electric trolling motor, recharged by a small solar panel. Since the EC was cancelled by the Coast Guard it's just as well. I didn't have any hope of winning in a 12 foot boat, but just wanted to finish in the allotted time.

    R2AK is another thing entirely. It's a bit out of reach for me, and it would take a boat I don't have. However, I love the concept. I'll be following it.

    The TX 200 is at the wrong time of the year for me. I don't want to melt.

    I'm hoping to do the ICW from VA to FL -maybe even in the little 12 footer -not to prove anything, just for the fun of it.

    1. Hi Sixbears,

      The EC sounds like a blast... might even tempt Anke and I out of our shell, someday. Will you try again next year, rig complete?

      R2AK is a race for an earlier era in MY life... I find myself thinking more of a Barcalounger (BARCA means boat in many romance languages). Its extant more or less rules out lollygagging along for the fun of it. Would miss the party at the far end, for one.

      Speaking of which, I wonder how they'll manage the after-the-race-get-together? Entrants may straggle in over a month or so, I'd think. May be covered somewhere in the fine print.

      Meanwhile, the ICW trip sounds great. Lots of fun water for a small scow!

      Bon voyage!!

      Dave Z

  3. Posted on behalf of JOHN... answered in this msg post:

    In reading through Ray Jason's THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE START-UP MANUAL I was struck by the incongruity of this opening statement:

    “I believe that if there is a near extinction catastrophe, a sea gypsy tribe has the best chance of both surviving and replenishing the human population in the wisest manner.”

    and the food list he recommends, presumably for those who are about to become ultimate survivors.

    "Almonds/beef stew/black beans/Bragg’s liquid aminos/brown rice/canned beef/canned chicken/canned clams/canned fruits/canned salmon/canned shrimp/canned soups/canned veggies/cashews/cereal/crackers/dried fruits/egg noodles/fruit cocktail/garbanzo beans/gouda cheese/honey/jelly/lentils/long-life bread/long-life milk /mac and cheese/mayo/nutritional yeast/oatmeal/paella mix/pancake mix/pasta/peanut butter/powdered/eggs/powdered milk/protein powder/red beans/salami/sardines/spaghetti/sugar/tea/tofu/TSP/whole wheat flour/etc"

    Somehow, I don't think the left hand has the foggiest idea what the right hand is doing! How many days did he say he was prepared to stay at sea before making a quick resupply trip to Wal-Mart?


    ***** Dave Z's reply follows: *****

    Hi John,

    I hear ya! That was a jarring list for me, too. As you know, I'm a big fan of learning to subsist in a select environment as a foundational survival strategy.

    Still, Anke and I are as fond as any of luxuries available today that will not be in any Collapse scenario. Given our finances, not likely even in deep recession or depression. Even our current 'staples' - grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and cheese - are completely out of our reach should the economy fail to any significant degree.

    Ray writes regularly for one of the gloss magazines... Cruising World? So his target readers might well be scared off by any strong mention of forage, or even limited cuisine, as a present way of life. By providing a consumer based list of goodies, he may be trying to lower the apparent bar for embarking on the sea-gypsy life?

    Meanwhile, he writes of a return to shore-based life once dust and violence settle. He mentions properties abandoned after collapse, for instance, as available for habitation and gardening. In that sense, though he doesn't make the specific connection, it may be that his present stores are intended to see him through a temporary time of adjustment. In this, his strategy is very similar to our own.

    But that's just a guess!

    Dave Z