I strolled down the dock with disbelieving eyes. It was the start of the inaugural R2AK and a mere 12 hours before the race the participants were adjusting, fixing, repairing or building things. Big substantive things.
These weren’t just tweaks. Rudders, drives, and other key parts of the boat were being installed or re-worked at the last minute. Not all the competitors fit that image, but many, perhaps most, did. Glazed over sleepless eyes tinted with a mixture of enthusiasm and panic. One person put their craft in the water, seemingly for the first time. The rudder failed and they never made it to the starting line.
I’ve been to Alaska on small boats. I’ve been around boats all my life. I’d never be one of THOSE type of people.
Until now.

The pedal drive is a work in progress.

Here we are, Just 2 weeks prior to the starting gun and the R2AK horizon is fully on us. We haven’t sailed the boat. We don’t have our primary downwind sail yet, nor the sprit to mount it on. The pedal drive is mounted only in a mockup stage. Winches are on, but most of the finer sail adjustments are not. The sheaves need replacing on the boom (gee, that would have made a great winter project).
Wild Card in full project mode.

On the plus side the main and two jibs are complete. The AIS is up and running, as are the instruments. The sea berths have been redone. The winch equation has been figured out and they’ve been installed. With the help of a coat hanger and some McGyver-esque inspiration, a pocket rocket camp stove has been hung from an old swing galley. We’ve got a real one pot gimbaled galley (the Jet Boil will come in handy too).
Leigh has been dehydrating food and we’ve got a bunch of provisions gathered, so between that and the kind sponsorship from Good To-Go, we’re, well, almost good to go.
A very small portion of our eventual provisions.

How did we get in this position when we started so early? A portion of the project was at the mercy of the yard and other special order equipment items. We weren’t in control of all the elements, but we should have known better. I should have known better.
Life also has a way of getting in the way. All of us work full time. Each of us has a social life and significant others that we are accountable to and accountable for. Young kids, aging parents, maintaining our own abodes and, well, pursuits other than the damn boat. As all of you know, life is a balancing act and one cannot pursue one goal at the total exclusion of other things – unless those other things aren’t important and for each of us those “other things” are very important. This project is not our primary purpose in life (though our significant others may take exception to that statement).
It’s not because we’re twiddling our thumbs either. I asked my three teammates, “How many hours a week do you watch TV?.” I did this against the backdrop that according to the NY Times, the average American watches 5 hours of TV per day. Myself and one other teammate estimated about 1-2 hours of news per week. The third teammate chimed in he watches perhaps that, but every other week. The fourth teammate said “TV? We don’t have a TV.”
All four of us have different pursuits, but sitting on the couch watching TV isn’t one of them. In the choice of ‘Reality TV’ or ‘Reality’, the latter has been unanimously chosen. Which is why, perhaps, we are doing the R2AK. In many ways it’s an extension of what we already do. Hiking, sailing, climbing, skiing, diving, kayaking, biking, and a few other things I’m probably not mentioning.
So, is this last minute headlong rush to the R2AK anyway to prepare and run a race. Probably not. Is it anyway to run a life? Maybe, because we’re on the right track after all.
Our first test of the pedal drive off Shilshole.

Update to the update: Last night we tried out the pedal drive. It worked, but we want to tweak it. We rejoiced that it worked. Right up until we noticed that growing crack in the port cockpit seat. More rotten core and our repeated steps on the seat uncovered the weakness. I see mixing resins and more fiberglass work in our near future…

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