Archive for May, 2014

So, how does one pee while navigating the open water?


Do you just hold it until you get to shore?  Do you just go in your pants infant style?

Well, John has Macgyver’ed this one:






He pees into an empty yoghurt container!



For all the ladies out there who are lamenting how unfair it is that boys can row a boat while peeing without a mess, I highly recommend the she wee – essentially for anyone who camps, travels, hikes, or just likes new gadgets to show to their friends.



Happy Saturday everyone!


How does John pee in the kayak?

Posted: May 30, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Find out in the next blog!

It will be a few days until John has reliable cell coverage to be able to send me info and photos, so stay tuned!

(he still has his satellite phone for emergencies, don’t worry!  🙂 )

Day 5 – Texada Island to Savary Island

Posted: May 30, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Day 5 -Texada Island to Savary Island 24km


John waited out winds again and had a later start this morning. The whole trip, he was heading straight into northwest winds and it was a bumpy ride. John has vacationed on Savary with friends and family before, but this visit was a little different. The South shore is a mine field of rocks and he arrived at low-tide.


He picked a spot just west of Duck Bay, and though he expected solitude, he found a couple from calgary who keep a summer place on Savary.  They were kind enough to help him pull the boat to high ground – thank you Jim and Trish!


He took a bath in the ocean, and set up camp to get some shade from the hot sun, and prepped a fire for dinner. An old car tank helped block the wind.



Below: making the most of the sunlight to charge up needed items.



Few places have the peacefulness and sandy beaches of Savary – it’s a gem hidden in the Salish sea.


Day 6 – Savary Island to Quadra Island

Posted: May 30, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Day 6 – Savary Island to Quadra Island 44km

John woke early to beat the wind – he wishes Environment Canada stopped with all the midnight promises. Unless somebody over there has anything to do with Cinderella, then midnight is negligible as nothing posted has held true to time. ‘Winds light in the morning’ is a general phrase that he has learned uses “morning” as a loose term.

He was on the water by 6:30am and once past the leeward protection of Savary he met a stiff northwesterly that beat him for 2 hours and almost had him turn back. He cursed Mother Nature aloud, because she can probably hear him, right?

He prayed for all those gone before him to collectively knock on the wind gods’ door and ask for a reprieve. Soon after navigating on the lee side of a small island which serves as a bird sanctuary, he noted the water flattening and it was sustained and even felt calmer once he reached the east side of Georgia Strait.

There were many fishing boats off of Cape Mudge…some shouted out words of encouragement, others glanced and carried on with the task of seeking out a tyee. Still others chose to come in for a closer look.

From John: To the guy in the small whaler, next time you get curious, try slowing down first and approach from a distance perhaps more than 20 yards. For the record that wasn’t a thumbs up John was giving you – in hindsight he was tired and cranky…and didn’t need more wake-generated waves to contend with 🙂




John got to April Point Resort for a much needed lunch and was surprised to find out his sister had called in advance and booked a massage!  Thanks Cindy!



He was greeted at reception by a lady who works/worked as a school Educational Assistant (EA).  People like her work in schools to support children like Brandon who need more focused attention for the best learning outcomes. She was so keen on supporting this that she had the company’s marketing director call John to spread the word on their social media sites and throughout the resort; tonight’s dinner was also on them!   Thank you April Point Resort!  Once again John is ending the day feeling humbled by the generosity of people, and how Row 4 Autism is being received!



Below: John says he is stretching on the water here.  We shall call this the “one eyed upward dog.”




Below: hands are on the mend:




Checkers!  If you know John, you know he loves projects.  He is already plotting how to create this giant checkers board that he knows Brandon and the kids will love!



Recycle and reduce: All outdoors people know that it’s imperative to get rid of excess weight when you can.  John is letting go of this magazine.  A true sacrifice.





Tomorrow brings John into Discovery passage, Seymour Narrows and into Johnstone Strait.  It will be critical to wake up early to get on the water before northerly winds associated with high pressure systems become a factor.  The forecast is 25 to 30 knot winds in the afternoons for the next three days – rendering any rowing virtually impossible.  John’s plan is to start early every day and get finished as soon as possible.

Below: Seymour Narrows in the distance.




Reflections from the water

Posted: May 28, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

From John:

“Thought I would send more thoughts as I wait for the wind to subside.

It amazes me how I am only on day 5 and how many moral victories and defeats there have been.

It amazes me further how resourceful one must be purely to make the most of an opportunity. Using ferry passenger terminal as a makeshift office. Charging things in order of importance. Using a small bathroom sink to wash hair. Or small towelettes to wash the body. I look at homeless people with a much more compassionate eye than I ever have before. For all the times I have avoided giving them money to instead buy them a meal or warm drink, I wish I had done more.

Routines are plenty and the setup and pack up becomes like clockwork. It’s waiting out weather that ramps up the mental weight and game. Tears come easy and the desire for family is heavy.

It is truly now a task of making it about each day vs looking too far ahead. After tomorrow my waterways narrow and wind and currents become more of a factor. When in my favour, I should make good progress, when against me I may not even be able to get out on the water.

I desire to make some progress each day no matter the distance as it’s that much less to cover in the overall picture. And it brings me that much closer to home.”

It’s funny how the world can feel so small and so big at the same time.

Within just a few days, John has felt embraced by the kindness of strangers, even ran into people who have mutual connections.

At the same time, the world can feel so big when he’s fighting chop and swell and winds that cannot be predicted or tamed



Far left is where John started today, ending on the tip on the right side (just out of view)

As John so eloquently put it, he feels like the ocean gods “owned his ass” at different moments over the last few days.  Though the distance sometimes feels impossible, he directs his thoughts to the positive – it’s not about making it around the island.  The success will be in getting the message out – let’s make the world a safer place for people affected by autism.  Let’s ensure all children have access to sports and recreation.

John took the ferry over to Powell River to grab some grub, and get some needed massage therapy for his back.


Rocky Mountain Pizza and bakery in Powell River


Big THANKS to Erin Perrault who gave John a last massage appointment, and donated her RMT services, as well as some cream for John’s aches and pains.    According to Erin’s professional opinion, John has big and tight erectors.  Those are back muscles for those of you giggling right now!






The pit stop in Powell River would not be complete without some electrolyte replacements and Vitamin C.


John decided to not take the “bad luck bananas”

The exemption on this shopping trip was that John couldn’t bring any bananas back to the boat – an old folk tale tells us why:

“There are many theories on why people believe bananas are bad luck for a boat. One superstition is that boats carrying bananas don’t catch fish. The origin of this belief dates back to the Caribbean trade of the 1700s. The wooden sailing boats of that time had to move quickly to deliver bananas before they spoiled, and fishermen had a hard time trolling for fish on such fast-moving boats, which is how the superstition came about. Another superstition that originated during that time is that bananas will cause a boat to sink. This belief developed after many boats never made it to their destinations, and all of the doomed boats were carrying bananas.”  Source – Deadliest Catch



Luckily, John didn’t have to lug his boat up and down from the beach, thanks to Dale from Blubber Bay Quarry.


Thanks for the temporary digs, Dale!


Good night, John.  Take care of those erectors!


Tomorrow John heads into more open crossings.  He’s expecting northwest winds of 5 to 15 knots for Wednesday to cross to Savary Island.

Day 3 – Sunshine Coast to Texada Island

Posted: May 28, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Day 3 brought rough and strong southeast winds in the morning.  John made the call to start the day later and had breakfast with a new friend – Erik, who is the same age as Papa Carinha (John’s dad, Carlos)



John and Erik


Thank you Erik for your hospitality and kindness!

As mentioned, much love came from this part of the coast – in the morning, before John headed out for breakfast, a kind stranger had left a home-made bagel and thermos of coffee near his tent, on a bench.  



Thank you stranger, for your random act of kindness!


When John finally set out, he hit a squall half way to Texada and had wind coming from 3 different directions!  With the GPS and mapping not working at optimal levels, it was a frustrating few hours.  

But, he finally made it over to Texada.



From Texada Island



East side of Texada Island


Though it’s early days on this trip, aches and pains are creeping in, not to mention blisters, and the exhausting tasks all completed in solitude.


John’s left hand


John’s right hand



Using logs to roll the kayak to high ground every evening.


To finish up Day 3, John cooked up dinner, and hunkered down.





John’s tent sheltered under the trees

Rowing Day 1 and 2

Posted: May 27, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Day 1 – English Bay to Roberts Creek


The first day of rowing was filled with elation as John travelled out 34km from English Bay to Roberts Creek. With a couple of friends’ cabins close-by, he was able to use a flush toilet for the first night – a luxury that won’t likely be enjoyed very frequently on this trip. For those of you who may be thinking, “wait a second…there was cabin? I thought he would be roughing it” I challenge you row 1100km and not take the opportunity to warm up a little!



The water was good – slight chop and swell, a slight irritation while he is trying to get into a rhythm for the most efficient row strokes.

His left leg is bothering him a bit below the knee – possibly some growing pains of the flexibility and endurance he is building day by day on this trek.

He overestimated the distance to this first stop, so he was hoping for some major mileage on Day 2.

Mother nature, however, had a few different ideas…



Day 2 – Roberts Creek to Sargeant Bay

The water was like glass in the morning, but that did not last long. Whitecaps and southeasterly winds of 15 to 25 knots brought frustration as much as water into the cockpit.

John tried to stay calm while he rowed and pumped water out at the same time.

With a chart misplaced, unexpected weather, and some rational decision-making, John made the call to head in sooner than expected.

He pulled into Sargeant Bay, and met a handful of locals that brought up his spirits, but also brought the sober realization of how many people are hoping, expecting, and anticipating John’s successes and challenges in Row 4 Autism.




Much like the waves of the ocean, John’s self-doubt teeters in the wind as much as his confidence. There’s times when he has a calm belief in himself, much like the flat, silent water this morning. Then there are moments where the doubt creeps in like the relentless whitecaps of the unpredictable seas. And in the quiet moments when camp is set up, “emotions are alive,” he says, “especially when thinking of home.”

Many thanks to the locals who were today’s cheerleaders – it was oddly hard for John to see you off as you left his campsite tonight.

Cliff – tHUGE thanks for bringing John home-made crab quiche and cookies. You are amazing!


A little smoke from the fire to warm up the eyeballs…

Pam and Dave – thank you for your donation, and believing in the cause! What a small world that you used to live a few blocks away from John and Yvonne.


Pam, Dave and Cliff

And to every other single person in the Sargeant Bay area that lent a hand, gave a high five, and are supporting Row 4 Autism – we salute you!



Gps working again!

Posted: May 26, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized

Just a note that the gps was not fully functioning earlier today.

John has updated me that the glitch was fixed.

Stay tuned!

Courage – English Bay on Day 1

Posted: May 25, 2014 by ivyvuu in Uncategorized


“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
 – Nelson Mandela


As the morning chill subsided at 8am, friends and families gathered to wish John well on Day 1 of Row 4 Autism.  There were four generations at English Bay – great-grand parents, grand parents, in-laws, aunties, uncles, sisters, mothers, fathers.

Once the expedition kayak arrived, the reality of the journey ahead felt more salient and raw.




There are few words in moments like this – perhaps because only the important words from our hearts are the ones that are needed –

There were wishes of “good luck”, “I love you’s”, “safe travels” – we felt both proud of John, and humbled by the task ahead.




I can’t help but think about the Full House episode (don’t judge, I also grew up in the 80’s!) where Uncle Joey helps Stephanie learn about courage – he tells her that courage is that “hangy-ball-thing” at the back of her mouth.

(If you haven’t watched it, here’s the clip –

Courage is one of those things that we all have the ability to use and the capacity to practice – it’s innately human yet we sometimes forget it’s there.   When was the last time you looked at your hangy-ball-thing, and said, “let’s do this!”?





Well, for the past year of preparation, John used his courage to get us all in the “same boat”… this courage does not come without fear. Rather, it co-exists with fear, and perhaps it’s that balance that keeps him safe, aware, and yet drives him to go beyond where he has been before.









Safe travels, John.  We love you.  And we are so proud.



…next blog – photos and reports from Day 1 – Vancouver to Roberts Creek…