As time ticks by I feel like I am sliding down the sleek sides of a plastic funnel soon to be carried into a tailspin and exiting the bottom end where it all culminates into launch day. Preparations have been many but more importantly time has been spent finishing dialing in the last details on the boat. Making sure hatches are still seating well, gaskets are not torn, bungee’s are intact and everything has a home and is purposeful in its need and use.
Food has been the latest focus. A trip to Costco allowed some research to take place in terms of finding the highest calorie to weight foods. Surprisingly, dried ginger of all things topped the list at 363 calories/100g. As I feared, many of the items I liked best also weigh the most. Fortunately, the added weight on a boat is more negligible than say carrying my rations in a backpack. It allows for more weight to be carried with a slight increase in required effort to propel that said weight. That being said, I still plan to send cache’s to Port Hardy and Tofino in an effort to stay as light as possible and more importantly allow myself fresher ingredients.
This past Friday I decided to take my plan, all my research and all my training and put it to the test. I planned to row from the shores of Pt. Roberts, WA to English Bay in Vancouver, BC. This would cover a distance just shy of 50km and involve traversing a busy ferry terminal, a shipping coal port, the confluence of the Fraser River with the Georgia Strait and the infamous Wreck Beach – for which there was no ‘wrecking’ going on. Trust me…I pulled in close enough to look ;).
Resting for 10min every hour, it took 7 hours to complete with rest totaling a full hour. My rule for this expedition is to be on the water by 6am and off by 2pm everyday – unless I am waiting on favorable currents in which case their schedule takes precedence. Currents play a huge part in the amount of distance covered as they can hinder your progress when they oppose you or help carry you when in your favor. When timed correctly, they offer what I term as ‘free miles’. Equally they have to be assessed for safe passage through areas where they are at times ‘squeezed’ in places such as Seymour Narrows, Nahwitti Bar and areas of Johnstone Strait. To add even more consideration, you may know they are running west in your favor but back eddies near shore create a counter current that works against you. Understanding this and knowing where to take most advantage of them truly can make a good days progress great.
The test run albeit a formal training day, also allowed electronics, their use and mounting to be put through the paces. Suffice to say everything worked as advertised. Oddly however, the two most life saving related pieces of kit do not have test features. Both the 406 distress beacon and the hydrostatic life vest can only be activated or deployed, they do not offer any form of self check, creating a part ‘huh’ moment and an oddly uncertain level of confidence. I guess one can only hope if and when they are needed they will perform as advertised.
The trip was completed with a sore back and blistered hands but equally one massive ‘hurt my face’ kind of smile. I felt elation but equally knew I had just proved my theory. The preparation and plan came together. It also put to rest the concern of facing backwards to the direction of travel. In someways, I prefer it. I relate it to falling asleep in the car and waking up to notice how far you’ve traveled. In the same way a glance over my shoulder every so often allows for distant landmarks to appear that much closer on the next glance. That being said, facing forward in rock laden waters has its obvious safety benefits too.
The smile only grew when I glanced at my phone and read an email from my concerned mother. She has always worried about my well being but her resolve this time around was comedic when she wrote ‘I want so bad to be there when you get to English Bay but I don’t know where in English Bay so I am drinking a beer since I cannot do anything.’ – priceless.
The following day involved partaking in the Canucks Autism Network’s (CAN) festivities at Jack Poole Plaza. This years Family Fest was a fantastic time for families and all those involved in the autism community to come together and embrace the good times. From top to bottom CAN is truly a polished organization and the event really brought an extra level of purpose and encouragement to my efforts in helping support them.
Two things about the festival resonated with me. The first, were the words of BC’s Education Minister, Mr. Peter Fassbender who addressed the gathered crowd and stated how he does not believe autism to be about a said disability but rather a unique and different number of abilities. Beyond just providing an optimistic word or painting his thoughts with hope, he genuinely achieved all that and laced in what is very much a true statement. His words were only made more clear to me when I observed my own son. Knowing where he was socially and how far he has come, it took a lot to hold back tears as I witnessed him observe two younger girls. My first thought, was good on him, and curiously wondered how he would engage. They stood before the Microsoft Tent and were watching one of those dance along video games. No sooner did Psy’s ‘Gentlemen’ song come on that the magic happened. He approached, glanced and participated! It was no Dancing with the Stars, but it was epic. That’s what these events afford. They bring moments, they bring opportunity and they bring understanding.
All told, the pending adventure and actual act of rowing aside, it’s moments as I describe above that are the purpose, that are the drive and motivation. The initiative this expedition will fund will enable more individuals effected by autism (ASD) to be engaged and appropriately trained and directed in various areas of sport. The success of this project is not about me getting myself around an island, but rather, about you, society, feeling moved to see the purpose and understand the gravity of the science and statistics. In turn your monetary contributions will build the asset resource that those with ASD will benefit from.
To make a contribution, please use the ‘donate’ tab on the main website https://proceansports.wordpress.com/. Also, there are still tickets available for the Row4Autism Dinner Gala on April 27th; please visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/row4autism-kick-off-dinner-tickets-10760227129 for tickets.