It feels like not long ago I was blogging about all that is row4autism and how we were 3 months away from launch day. As it stands, today is May 4th, and it feels oddly surreal to type that date. We are now 3 weeks away from launching the expedition and things are cruising along nicely.
I am pleased to announce that through committed friends, family and even anonymous donors, we have raised over $18,000 to date! Our dinner gala was a success which grossed over $10,000 alone! A huge thank you to everyone who participated, attended or supported the expedition thus far. Whether through monetary means, product offerings, sponsorship or simply volunteering your time at our gala, no effort is too small and to all of you I say a sincere thank YOU!
On a more somber note, my heart goes out to the Beaudoin family who lost a son last week in the waters just east of Texada Island. Jordan, 38 and his partner Shannon, were out fishing when conditions took a turn for the worse. Although they reportedly sought shelter, at some point they opted to attempt a crossing back to the Sunshine Coast upon which their 16′ boat took on water and eventually sank. Jordan did not survive and was later found on the shores of Texada. Shannon, however, swam for several hours and managed to make land on Texada and climb up its steep banks to a cabin where she was attended to by an elderly couple. Her survival is owed in part to her obvious tenacious will but even more so to the fact she was wearing a life jacket. They will be in my thoughts as I cross those very same waters and shores in a couple of weeks time.
The past few weeks involved continued training but also final preparations with food. Bulk items have been portioned and broken down into ‘week’ sized portions. A cache will be shipped to Tofino and another to Port Hardy in an effort to keep it fresh but equally allow me to travel on the lighter side.
Electronics have been reviewed, studied and tested. I have added a 12V battery to the boat and a solar charger to ensure it is kept topped up – which means I will be counting on sunshine to achieve this, fingures crossed. The last of the items, the sat phone, will arrive in two weeks time. This vital piece of kit will enable me to send thoughts to my site administrator for the online blog and equally receive weather updates from my dedicated meteorologist. Most important, it will be a vital communication link should I require it in a dire situation.
The two tubes in the photo below were built of 2″ ABS pipe and some orange test caps. These will serve as pedestals to shoot both bow and stern footage also enabling me to use them as extensions of my own arm for underwater shots – avoiding the need to reach too far over and/or get overly wet. The best feature, is the ability to remove one cap and fill the bottom of the tube with sand or small rocks. This will allow it to float upright and enable me to take footage on the water creating the effect that I am being shot by a third-party. More stability is achieved by inserting the tubes into and through some simple block foam pieces. There will also be a short tether line from each camera mount to the tube itself in the event the camera releases itself from its mount.
The SPOT tracker is now linked to the website. We have added an additional page titled ‘TRACK LIVE’; simply click on the map and it will route you to a page that will detail the most recent 7 days of data on my travels and whereabouts. Any pre-programmed ‘OK’ messages that are sent will be posted here as well. The intent of the OK message is to indicate that all is well. The scripted message is one that I preset online prior to my trip and cannot be changed en route – so expect the same message to repeat itself 😉 An OK message will be sent each time I make land for the day and then once again when I break camp the following day and am safely back on the water.
Clothing is something I have not put a lot of energy into, given most of my hiking and climbing gear will serve double duty on the water – but it is a subject I want to touch on here based on my own experience and opinions.
Jackets, or shells, are where performance is a must especially in the cold and rain. I was very discouraged this past weekend when my main shell, a Helly Hansen Odin Light Guide Jacket, took only 15 minutes of steady rain before saturating in spots. Although I paid just north of $200 for it, it normally retails around $400; I must have missed the fine print that stated ‘light’ meant prone to leaking?! Upon removal I noted several areas where the inside of the jacket was wet. Marmot has graciously sponsored me with their Precip line and I recently purchased their Minimalist Shell, my first true gortex jacket ever. The Precip line has held up well and has exceeded expectations. The Minimalist jacket has yet to be tested but will undoubtedly be put through the paces.
It always amazes me how some of the most high-end jackets come with the notion that they are ‘waterproof AND breathable’. Upon reading the labels, they are always a blend or combination of nylon and polyester. Here’s a news flash – if it’s breathable, there is no way its waterproof. There exists a science to textiles and fabric weaving and how to best deal with outside water intrusion and also internal body generated water vapour. I naturally run a warm body temperature and when engaged in any intense activity, sweat readily. The need to have a breathable garment is paramount to my comfort and when in the mountains, arguable my survival. If you sweat in extreme cold you are more likely to become hypothermic and without a means to dry or warm yourself, an almost certain death. This is not to sound dramatic or stretch truths…this is fact.
So when I look at the marketing that goes into all the technical wear that exists, I always laugh when I read, usually right after the waterproof and breathability statement, that the garment is treated with a DWR (durable water repellant) finish. Sorry, come again? How does water repellant equate to waterproof? Oh wait, let me guess, it’s a function of systems right? So the combination of the DWR and the fabric creates the waterproof effect? So I can conclude then that one without the other negates the function of keeping water out? It’s at this point the lowly sales associate usually says one of two things:
1. I need to call my manager
2. I need to google it
Its moments like these that take me back to my early childhood years and a rainy sports day; how great was the garbage bag with the arms and head cutout as a full proof jacket? By today’s standards it even satisfies the fashionista’s by being available in five colour options: black, green, orange, yellow and clear.
All joking aside, it’s this level of advertising that creates a false sense of security. Inexperienced people buy into the marketing, they buy into the catch lines and they are hooked. Several hundred dollars later and they walk away feeling tooled with the equipment and gear that will not only protect them, but somehow sustain their lives in inclement weather conditions. Buying a guitar doesn’t make you Richie Sambora. You need to understand the sport or activity, be brutally honest with yourself and assess your experience or have somebody else assess it for you. It takes time and patience to learn your risk tolerance and equally your limitations both mentally and physically. Applying this with the appropriate gear for you and you alone is what will create the foundation for a satisfying experience; one which you enthusiastically set out on and also safely return from.
Lastly, this past week I met with a local sailor who has extensive experience around our local waters. We looked over charts, exchanged thoughts, plans and stories. As I left the marina, I walked back up to my vehicle and stopped to glance at my boat sitting atop my truck. The backdrop really put into perspective the relative scale of me and ‘them’. Truly a small fish in a big sea 😉