Race to Alaska: Queen Charlotte

We spent a couple of minutes yesterday trying to figure out how long we’ve been going. The rotating sleep schedule really messes with your sense of time. We haven’t stopped except when required by race organizers or the current through Seymour Narrows: a little more than eight days of near-constant motion.

We even did boat work while in motion yesterday: sailed into a protected bay to fix a mainsail car and climb the mast to move a pedal station halyard while Liam pedaled us in a slow horseshoe so we wouldn’t have to anchor.

In general, I’ve felt pretty good: chipper spirits, reasonably rested. We have a meal every four hours, and though I (a notorious eater even in ordinary times) am hungry between every one of them, we have lots of snacks.

My back and shoulders are sore from working the jib sheets, pulling lines, cranking winches, knees from pedaling, and I’ve got bruises all down my shins from bracing hard on a bucking boat- nothing is simple when the floor is constantly changing angles. But it has all felt fine. I do boat yoga in calmer seas, twisting and stretching against the mainmast stays while on log lookout.

Last night, though, I bumped my head pretty hard a couple of times, enough that I had Rick check my pupils for matching dilation. He said they looked okay, but I had a raging headache when I woke up for my 11pm cook shift. I was supposed to go on watch at midnight, but I felt awful through my whole body. Rick and Ert, steadily pedaling a bioluminescent wake in the light rain, encouraged me to go back to bed.

Probably a smart decision for the team, but I hate knowing that me needing rest means everybody else gets a little less.

Skipping one shift means sixteen hours of rest rather than six, and I slept nearly all of it.

When I wake, we’re sailing dead downwind around Cape Caution in rain and rough seas, making great time and nearly ready to turn into Fitz Hugh Channel for the run to Bella Bella.

I find some dried apricots, potato chips, icy cold leftover backpacker risotto; refill my water bottle. I’m starving and dehydrated, but feeling better from the rest. The headache is nearly gone. I’m on shift in an hour and I think I’ll be okay.

I know it doesn’t really sound like it, but I’m having a wonderful time. We’re spending every day and night with the fickle sea. In minutes, it goes from flat calm and blazing sun to chilly wind and crazy swells. The mountains are constant companions, lining our path. Whales breach and breathe, sometimes close and sometimes just white spume in the distant darkness.

This team, though cobbled together, really works. We’re self-selecting, the same breed of crazy that would rather have a memorable time than a pleasant one.

Everybody is giving what they can and taking care of each other: if you have extra energy, you do chores and offer food and tea. If your help is needed on deck, you go. If not, you plan or you sleep.

I’m happy to be here, and proud. I got all this time off work, and though it’s not body-easy, it’s still a rest cycle.




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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