Race to Alaska: Campbell River

Ert watches Ruf Duck come into view, view from my pedal station as I fight the current.

We’re pedaling into the night, calm water and a tidal current in our favor pulling us toward the entrance of Seymour Narrows. If we take this passage wrong, we can be overpowered by current, pulled off course by giant boils and whirlpools, or dragged onto the rocks.

As a team, our credo is to play it safe. Other boats are rushing through tonight, in the dark with currents high. We’ve been checking tide and current tables all day to figure out our most conservative possible plan: anchoring in Duncan Bay tonight, and passage at the slack around 4am. Our steady pedaling on deck is just to get us in position.

It’s been a peaceful, beautiful couple of days. Last night, the clouds split on a sky of infinite stars. We scudded downwind in a wing on wing configuration for more than twelve hours, through the night.

Continuous wind meant growing swells, so the growing seas became a nighttime surf along the peaks and troughs of five-foot seas, up to at one point 11 knots of speed- very fast for our kind of sailboat. I rode it out on the foredeck, ultra-bright flashlight in hand, scanning for the logs that have taken so many other race boats out of commission this year.

Come morning, the seas calmed. We made strong mileage, and winds continued to be just enough to keep us heading northwest all day.

The crew is in good spirits, sharing stories, food, jokes, songs. We’re mostly on our staggered sleep shifts, but we took the time for a family meal today, complete with cocktails with bitters supplied by another team.

Figuring out the Narrows plan was an afternoon-long research discussion, but were all on the same page now.

We’re already feeling the big tidal currents that flow through Johnstone Strait. We fought them hard with our pedal stations passing close to a campground across from Campbell River, and were joined by fellow teams Ruf Duck and Goldfinch.

Now, we’re all on our way to the dicey part, and it’s nice to have company. We’re all excited to see what happens in the next twelve hours.

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An adventurer, woodland creature, and engineer. Currently working on data ownership models, environmental accountability, and intentional community.

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Kelsey Breseman

Kelsey Breseman

An adventurer, woodland creature, and engineer. Currently working on data ownership models, environmental accountability, and intentional community.

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