Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Randomness with some nautical adventure…

Posted: June 12, 2015 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

Comfort is something I’ve touched on in past blogs; namely being comfortable with the uncomfortable. This has become my mantra for much of my life and a year ago last week, I was forced to end a journey that tested that MO.

That experience, well documented on this site, changed me and changed my perspective on life in general. I yearn to go back and at times enter my garage where Ocean’s Soul is kept, and refuse to look at her knowing full well the allure she casts on me. Until you’ve experienced life at a minimalist level, where you are forced to pick and choose between wants and needs and weigh them against the forces of drag, friction and in turn weigh them once more against your own human powered output and mother nature herself, you won’t fully grasp what it is that I miss and want so badly to be back toying with.

Whether you climb mountains, hike trails, ride a bike or paddle an ocean, the basis of this type of adventuring is that you do it totally reliant on yourself, physically and mentally. There truly is an I in your ‘team’ and its you and you alone.

A year has passed since row4autism launched and much has changed while other things have remained the same. I was honored to be elected to the Board of Directors with ACT (Autism Community Training) a group that was a beneficiary of row4autism’s efforts and produced the online video resource that we helped fund. Correction…that YOU helped fund through your collective donations to my cause.

The resource can be accessed here: http://www.actcommunity.ca/education/videos/

My health has improved but its safe to say I know my limits better now than I did then. As father time checked off year 39 on my body’s odometer last week, I feel as inspired and driven as ever before, but with more fruitful wisdom and understanding of what possible looks like for me. For the time being, it looks like this – training, with human cargo 😉

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My adventuring this year will comprise of a conservative weeks worth of rowing in the Johnstone Strait, picking up where I left off last year in Kelsey Bay (Sayward, BC) and ending in Port Hardy; a distance of 150km give or take. The Inside Passage is world renowned for a reason and I fully intend to experience it first hand sitting inches above the surface of the water and under my own power. Projected stops will include Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy with the desire to bring the awareness and message that is row4autism. Although our video resource was launched and is now live, sustaining it is my next challenge. My hope is that those reading this will feel inspired to make a contribution no matter how small, towards keeping the resource active and updated.

You can donate directly here: https://proceansports.wordpress.com/donate/

On the home front, my son Brandon has had his best year to date in terms of his growth and learning. As autism itself is an adventure, his adventures this year proved challenging but by no means impossible. His therapy team endured an overhaul of sorts where as his parents, we adjusted the sails so to speak. For those in similar shoes, you can understand the gravity of such a decision and the concern that immediately followed. I equate it to knowingly and willingly demasting a sailboat in rough conditions and trying to re-rig everything whilst still moving and still exposed to the conditions. Autism is really no different. Brandon’s needs are a 24/7 challenge that like the weather, can bring days comprising of a gentle breeze, others a gale and others still a calamity. Oddly in the immediate weeks following, there was no feared regression in his behavior’s and it was as though he silently understood there was change happening out of his direct control and he was alright with it. What followed in the subsequent months was telling of the fortitude of my wife, his team and Brandon himself.

In less than two months following his introduction to a newly revised therapy team, he had learned his entire multiplication tables up to 12. Writing and reading, often his less desirable subjects soon became a mainstay not just at school and in his home therapy, but in his homework time with myself or his mom. He matured, he adapted and he persisted. Make no mistake that when he wasn’t inspired or happy he made it known; but the steps he took were more so leaps this year and the thanks I have to spread around goes full circle to the people that have been a part of his life and learning, both past and present.

One other aspect that grew this year was the bond between his home and school teams. It’s never been a small feat to take proven therapies from his home programs and adopting them into his school environment. The culmination however, of many efforts has worked and become accepted and understood. Through in class activities such as skits and lectures on autism and its traits to events and information sessions, the word is spreading. People are becoming aware and the needs of those with autism are being met. As Brandon transitions to his senior elementary years and soon after high school, the anxiety for me builds, but equally drives me. High School will be a challenge in that the shear numbers will prove daunting. More teachers, more homework, more peers and so on. Nothing that’s transpired in his ten years of life has me thinking any of it is impossible, but rather has me reaching for life’s proverbial seat belt and cinching it a little tighter. It stands to be a great ride with much more of the same yet a whole lot of different.

I thought I would close with mention of an event that was launched just late last week and is making headlines around the world. R2AK (Race to Alaska) is an event that has one simple rule…no motors. (http://r2ak.com/) Entrants must use human power or wind power to propel themselves from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchikan, AK over 750 miles of ocean. Aside from two mandatory check points, the rest of the course is up to Mother Nature and a good helping of God speed.

Why is this relevant?

Despite the synonymous nature to row4autism as an adventure (although R2AK takes it to a whole other level), it speaks more of the human body’s endurance both mentally and physically and adapting to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. So many parallels can be drawn to autism and its inherent challenges to both the individual, the parents, the service providers and educators.

In the face of adversity, one must adapt and be open to change and always strive to try. I would expect that the families of these inspiring sailors and adventurers would ask no more of them than I would ask of an individual faced with the challenges of autism trying to navigate life.

To them and to all that are a part of the global autism community, I tip my hat filled with respect and adoration.

Wishing you all a pleasant and safe summer!

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A new year…

Posted: January 3, 2015 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

My last post here was at the tail end of summer and here we sit three months later with a new year already upon us. After many a sugar cookie, I have enjoyed the holiday season and reaped the rewards that Christmas brings, namely family, friends and calories.

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Given the weather that is synonymous with this time of year, the on water activities have pretty much ground to a halt. Save for a couple of last ditched efforts to slay some dungeness crab, all vessels, both powered and or paddled/rowed have been put away for the winter.

The focus these past couple months has been close to home. I am happy to say that my official three tiered rehab on my back is now complete. Although no miracles were garnered, nor expected, the progress has been steadily in the right direction, with correction in spinal shaping and alignment proving positive and thus far successful. This of course, being the direct result of the wonderful folks at Elign Chiro led by Dr. Gohar Sheik. The overall success of the rehabilitation is still to be tested once I can get back on the water, but the results are already visible. My head sits 3/4″ back, placing it more over my shoulders rather than ahead of them. This alone helps to unload the lower spine of the burden of carrying that forward weight which in turn just stresses muscles and tendons unnecessarily. The better form this affords me is also evident in my workouts. Whether doing weighted squats, deadlifts or tricep extensions, when I glance at the mirror I see a straight line from head to toe – a function of reshaping but also a heightened awareness as well. The picture below illustrates this well in terms of loading effect vs head position.

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Workouts are finally back at full speed and with more weight thanks to a custom rowing specific program put together by Sara Burtwell of Studeo 55. The program has introduced a lot of movements and coordinated efforts that go beyond just a hard workout. It provides structure and works on building a lot of the finer muscle tissue but also gives the bodies larger muscles a run for their money. So far its gone injury free and my body is taking well to the weekly schedule. The biggest change to the actual workout content is having added more power/explosive movements focusing on the eccentric movement of the exercise. What this means is as you press/lift the weight carefully and with good form, you also lower it or return to your starting position with equal control and a slower, focussed movement, opposed to letting gravity help you get there. Its amazing how much more effort this adds to the movement.

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What this means to rowing hours on end in a 5 square foot space trying to propel an 18ft boat through the water is anyone’s guess, and equally the frustrating part. If I have learned anything, its simply patience. Patience guarantee’s nothing, but neither does adventure. The invested energy to get better goes beyond rowing a boat. It has a lot to do with quality of life but equally keeping a hope and dream alive within myself. I often reflect on what row4autism is as a personal investment and realize there are truly no scripts. It was born with purpose and its reward is soon to be realized.

A month ago I had the pleasure of being called to the offices of ACT (Autism Community Training) to see the first draft of the new resource Row4Autism was responsible for funding. This was very much an afternoon of mixed emotions. Flashbacks to the journey just to get to the waters edge back in May came to mind. These were followed by the trying moments at sea, the months of boat building and planning with various organizations. The enormity of the entire years worth of efforts by myself and all involved with this project, the acceptance, hardship, elation and everything in between all culminated into this one simple visit and moment.

With great detail, Deborah Pugh of ACT and I combed over the site and the various videos. What was to be a visual directive on coaching individuals with autism a variety of sport, goes several steps beyond. Videos on the functions of behavior and understanding autism itself are incorporated and it makes perfect sense. It provides a full circle offering which educates individuals on the basics of the disorder and then applies that knowledge to a teaching/training/learning environment across sports and other environments.

The beauty of this resource is that it will be forever evolving. As science exposes change or proves theories while decrying others, the resource will adapt and echo those changes by translating them into visual aids, viewable anywhere in the world at no cost to the end user. Having said that, evolution does not come for free. In other words, continued funding of the resource will be something that ACT will be tasked with sustaining, and individuals like myself, through initiatives like Row4Autism, will hope to generate the funding required to keep this resource running. With that in mind, we have kept our donation links (www.proceansports.wordpress.com/donate/) active and ask if you would like to continue to support our efforts, to consider a contribution in helping Row4Autism and our long term goal of a global resource that will provide an education on autism and various teaching principles.

Another highlight that wrapped up 2014 was the ground breaking ceremony at the Pacific Autism Family Center’s (PAFC) building site. This was truly a massive success for those responsible for taking this hub and spoke model idea penned six years ago, to fruition, where by shovels were placed in the ground signifying a start of what will be a full service center specific to Autism Spectrum Disorder(s).

The PAFC will be a mecca of collaboration when it comes to offering autism specific services under one roof. Through the tireless efforts of visionaries Sergio and Wendy Cocchia, BC stands to benefit directly from the passion and belief of these two extraordinary individuals, themselves parents to a son with autism.

 

The awareness continues…

Posted: September 18, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

The summer is almost done and its been an epic one in terms of travels, recovery, fun and work. One of the personal highlights came about a month ago when I was teaching my kids to SUP (stand up paddle board). During a break in their lesson, we noticed orcas (killer whales) surface in the distance. Without hesitation my daughter and I took a paddle out for a closer look and were rewarded with a very humbling experience. It reminded me of my past adventure(s) and how truly insignificant we really are in the grand scheme of the world and nature. Being on the water at any level, whether with a paddle, oar or fishing rod in hand has been a therapy of sorts.

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It’s safe to say the emotion that was my inability to fulfill my adventure through to completion has subsided. Has it gone away? No. But like a throbbing bruise, with enough time, focus shifts and the pain becomes less. In its place has come empowerment and awareness. The cause that row4autism represents and stands behind continues to open eyes and raise eyebrows, and rightfully so. My desire and drive to finish what I started is not dampened but I’ve surprised even myself with how well received the project has been and the interest it has generated.

The most recent example of this was a couple weeks ago when I attended the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival with my daughter Mya. If you’ve never been but enjoy all things maritime and have a love for craftsmanship and boats, this is your mecca.photo

I was intending to take part in the Bainbridge Island Half Marathon Rowing Race but due to illness on the home front, the balance of my family was unable to join me – which meant having my daughter in the boat with me, something the race director would not allow for fear of swamping. Nevertheless, the actual festival itself was staging a local rowing race put on by the Rat Island Rowing Club. I was elated as this meant not having to venture far from the festival grounds and still being able to include my daughter in the race as there was no exception to her riding shotgun with me – which meant sitting in an open hatch 😉

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The course was about 5km and something in me knew that as a race it was pretty insignificant, but for my own inner desires I wanted to test myself. All entry categories started at the same time. There were stand up paddle boards, single fixed and sliding seat rigs, doubles, four’s and eight person teams in larger boats.

A couple in a double sliding seat rig starting to my starboard side was well focused. We exchanged pleasantries but it was clear to me they were all business. This was perfect. In a variety of sports disciplines, training partners or pace partners are the norm. They provide a visual target and drive and help push oneself to keep going all the while creating a silent competition. Unbeknownst to them, these two were mine. The challenge they represented were all the things that flooded my mind in the final moments that was my last official day on the water back in May. I knew the deck was stacked as they were two and I was one, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The realist in me knew I didn’t stand a chance to finish ahead of them, but the dreamer coaxed me to try. And why not? It’s better to challenge your limits than to limit your challenges.

With both my oars planted into what is termed the ‘catch’ position, I awaited the sound of the starters gun. My legs were strapped in, flexed and ready to transfer all of my energy into the bottoms of my feet. BANG! I pressed back with my legs, back and arms and felt as the oar blades stressed as I pulled on their grips and the boat started to move forward. There was a confused sensation and familiarity that clouded my mind. It felt right and it felt good. Many of the 4+ person teams passed us by, but I kept up with the duo for about the first half before conceding that they simply had more horsepower than me.

Mya was my navigator. Having her steer us with commands meant I did not have to turn around and lose power in my strokes. I asked that she guide us close to the course markers (buoys) and on the first turn she set us up wide. We passed with what I felt was too much room. I wanted it tighter. Tighter because a second boat with a team of two was gaining on us. My daughter turned to look at them as we rounded the first buoy and I said to her “Keep us tight to the next one because they are not going to pass us.” Her reply was simple and unknowingly questioning my chivalry “But daddy, they’re women!”. “No matter, we are all equals.” came my reply.

As it stood, we rounded the second buoy so tight that the starboard oar hit it as we passed. This was the home stretch except now we were pointed towards land and the buoys blended in with the background. Mya had a difficult time spotting the next one. I told her to keep us in line with the other boats but to keep looking for the marker. If we were having difficulty making them out on the horizon, then surely so were the others. This became evident as the boats astern of us, including the duo that we were trying to stay ahead of, began turning to starboard, clearly confusing the finish line marker as the turn 3 buoy. We kept on course and soon made a line for the finish.

We took first place in the single sliding seat category and I stood back, lost in the crowd as the boat’s name, Ocean’s Soul was announced and I encouraged Mya to walk up and accept our certificate. It was priceless as the crowd clapped but scanned faces looking for who was most likely the propulsion behind the boat. No matter, this wasn’t about any one individual and certainly not me. It was about camaraderie, rowing as a sport and simply being one with the ocean and enjoying the culture that the weekend represented. What was most telling was hearing people wonder which boat it was, and hearing somebody respond “It was the yellow autism boat.” This on its own was satisfying. It mattered to no one but me, and that was ok. It was a moral band aid, arguably a moral victory that simply brought back a said level of unity with the sea, with myself, with the boat and with the cause. It was really a race against myself, and it had nothing to do with winning or losing.

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The boat lay on the beach for the weekend as a static display. Given it is an Angus Rowboats design, and they were at the festival marketing their latest boat, the Rowcruiser, http://www.rowcruiser.com/RowCruiser!/Introducing_the_RowCruiser.html it made sense to have ours there. It drew a lot of interest for several reasons, but no matter what the question or comment, the desire to understand row4autism and autism in general always factored into the many conversations had that weekend. And that is what this has always been about.

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With fall upon us in a week, the Canucks Autism Network http://www.canucksautism.ca/ is in full swing with their program offerings. With them will come more opportunities to continue the filming portion of the project. Its rewarding to know and see how immediate things come together given their desire to see our initiative through to completion. They are a fantastic group and I encourage you to visit their website to see all that they have to offer to individuals with autism.

Summer Ramblings…

Posted: August 6, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

How did August sneak up on us so fast? Hard to believe how much time has passed since row4autism came off the water so to speak.

The past month or so has seen more of the same work and rehab in getting my back to a better place. Working with Elign Chiro out of Burnaby has proved very successful and educational. I will resume full on activities this week enabling me to go back to the regular workouts in the gym, push the same weight and carry out the same exercises less the overhead compression work. Its been trying at the worst of times and promising at the best of them.

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My trip to the north island last week was a window of opportunity and the only one left over the balance of this summer. I had a planned fishing trip in Port Hardy and thought it best to continue a portion of this journey since I was already destined to be up there. Due to logistics and some further concerns with health, it was decided I would keep all rowing limited to the immediate waters of Hardy Bay and use the time to reconnect with the boat, the stroke and more importantly the people that helped me along the way. I was able to visit with Gary, the fellow who helped me out in Bear Bight. Seeing him again was hard to put into words. I took no pictures or video as I wanted the moment for me, for my family and to be etched in my mind forever. A simple act of humanity on his part, one human being helping another without agenda or expectation. It was great to be back to see him and give him both an official Row4Autism shirt and some fresh fish.

Perhaps a sign perhaps just bad luck, on my first few strokes just outside Scotia Bay, my foot plate snapped. Rowing was still possible but felt off given I was having to compensate with more heel and less of my overall foot. The winds that day were a reminder of what I left behind back in June. I welcomed them, the whitecaps and felt elated to be on the water albeit with a heavy heart.

I had earlier received news that a solo rower, Paul Clark, was lost at sea and missing since July 11th. Last seen 220km north of Port Hardy, he was rowing from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy and then reportedly down the west coast of Vancouver Island. Just this past weekend his rowboat was found, over turned off of Ocean Shores in Washington State; 700km from his last known point. It defies explanation and initially I was lost for words.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rowboat-of-paul-clark-discovered-off-washington-coast-1.2725254

I fished well north of Cape Scott in flat seas last week and occasionally spotted search and rescue efforts overhead and I wondered silently what had become of Paul. Its so hard not to recollect my own ambitions and efforts, from boat construction through to that final day when I conceded to my own issues and wonder how he must have shared parallel experiences during the process of his own build and creating his planned journey. To not know him yet feel like I knew a small sliver of the man that made the commitment to embark on an adventure like that which he chose, just made the entire news of his story that much closer to mind and heart. I pray for his family and I pray that closure is found in whatever form it must take.

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I have faced many questions since my return and in the wake of Paul’s story and others such as the Great Pacific Race, it always garners a comment on how ‘dangerous’ the ocean is. Even with my climbing trips I’ve  heard much the same, that the mountains are dangerous. Its upsetting at times because sometimes ignorance or perhaps a lack of knowledge or understanding fuels this easy label. Inherently all things in life have forms of risk associated with them; some more than others. However I would argue that  the decision(s) pertaining to i.e the ocean or mountains are where the door opens on danger and risk becoming less a thought and more an actual moment or happening. A decision to head out to sea when conditions are less than desirable or beyond one’s limitations is what becomes the first link in a chain of events that could result in an incident of sorts. Deciding to put oneself in a situation or series of elements above one’s level of experience does not render the sport dangerous. The individuals decision process is where the threshold of risk is crossed, at least when it comes to all things that are less objective.

Last month, families gathered in Mill Bay for a ‘BBQ in the Bay’ afternoon that was sponsored by Bridgeman’s Bistro and the wonderful crew at Mill Bay Marina to celebrate Row4Autism and the projects success to date. My initial vision would see me completing the circumnavigation on this day. For every day I was on the water I always thought of the proverbial ‘finish’ line and how the day would play out. It was bittersweet to be there, knowing it wasn’t to be exactly as planned, but an amazing celebration nonetheless. Great food was paired with great company and I send my most sincere gratitude to Duane Shaw and Andrew Purdey of Mill Bay Marina and equally Noah Morantz, Stephanie Jull, Emily Stuible and their crew of the Canucks Autism Network for their continued support of this project. With the funds raised at this event our grand project total sits at $28,000!

mill bay

Upon my return from my trip, I had stashed most of my gear as it was left, not having the desire or heart to actually put it away. My camera’s were one piece of kit I left alone. Their SD cards were copied to a hard drive for safe keeping but I was not ready to view the footage as I knew some of what it contained and I knew it would be difficult to watch for the moment that was those initial weeks. Two weeks ago I finally sat down to view some of the footage and as much as it captured the realities of the journey, it equally captured the hardships. It was difficult to watch but motivating at the same time.

Knowing the weight and pressure I put on myself, stopping as already mentioned, felt impossible but necessary. I’ve learned a hard lesson in adventuring, in that the script no matter how many times rehearsed is never really left up to the individual. This in itself is what makes adventure so alluring; the unknown, the risk, the reward, the solitude…it’s all part of being in the moment and living the experience to its true fullest potential. I was buoyed by encouraging words from many, but none stood out as much as those shared by Colin Angus, a global adventurer who has been a mentor to me and shared this with me via an email:

Colin_rowing_across_the_Atlantic_Ocean

“…I know you’ve found it challenging having to pull out early, but the most important thing is you dared to think big, and you’ve made a huge contribution, both in funds and raising awareness, in the realm of autism. Although it was tough for you to call off the expedition, that is perhaps the bravest thing you did.  To continue on with a bad back is just asking for trouble.  It simply isn’t worth taking so much risk when you have a loving family waiting for you to return…”

So, this begs the question…what next? Row4Autism will continue and for the time being the goals and events will focus on awareness by way of participating in local rowing events where distances are more manageable and doable over a day or weekend. Bringing awareness to autism by way of engaging people with the boat, myself or both will allow the project to grow. If and when my original plan is resumed is not to be decided anytime soon. It will take a back seat until the new year once I can truly assess my recovery and progress over a larger block of time. I plan to join Colin and Sound Rowers for the Bainbridge Island Marathon and enter into the short course next month. Visit http://soundrowers.org/BainbridgeIslandMarathon.aspx for more details.

Until then, I will be just a little bit busy making fish and chips 😉

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Wishing you all the very best this summer!

 

 

 

 

 

BBQ in the Bay!

Posted: July 2, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

 

 

Join us on July 19th for an on the dock BBQ and family paddle festival in the beautiful waters of Mill Bay, BC. Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/row4autism-bbq-in-the-bay-tickets-11963106975 or at the door.

 

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Mending body and mind

Posted: June 23, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

Over two weeks have passed since I returned from my shortened journey. My first week back was for lack of a better word, a mental hell. Emotions were many and high. My desire to be back in routine and the flow of life felt like taking a fish out of water and watching it flip flop on land. So much felt unfamiliar and wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I never saw this coming, the feel of failure and defeat and at the hands of myself, my body, my genetics. As the days passed I came out of the clouds and grounded myself. Routine became the norm and I conceded to the fact that I had work to do to understand and better myself physically, but that there was equally unfinished business north of here.

To many, my return was a welcome that shelved their worry and concern and celebrated my safety and well being. I know that group (hello mom!) would love me to park this adventure and seek other ways to create the same awareness and funds and perhaps that day may come, but I am nowhere near that today. There were many voices of reason who shared their love, concerns and well wishes with me in the following weeks after I returned. I was touched and left speechless when my close cousin Maria greeted me with a loonie. She mentioned she kept this loonie with her everyday and hoped to give it to me at some point. I didn’t initially understand the significance of it until she pointed out who was embossed on the loonies face. As I studied it closely I realized it was Terry Fox, a man who attempted to run a marathon a day until he got himself across the whole of Canada to raise funds for cancer research. Unfortunately, Terry’s cancer forced him to end his quest prematurely and ultimately cost him his life. I felt my eyes well up and realized that even with Terry’s efforts which were on a scale I cannot fathom, he too had not been able to finish what he started. But it didn’t matter, because it was never about the running. His legacy has become annual runs held in his name across the country that have to date raised over 600 million dollars.

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Since my return consultations have been many. Between two chiropractors, a massage therapist, and physiotherapist plans are being made, physical health and limitations assessed and hopefully a resolve over the next year will be had.

In the meantime, some decisions were necessary. For both myself and what’s been invested physically and equally from a project stand point in terms of our next steps with the Canucks Autism Network and building our resource.

As previously mentioned, the resource creation has begun. We are well on our way to building this over the next several months and as much as we have more funds to raise, for the short term we are through our first steps with this.

From an adventure perspective, I have had to come to a couple of difficult realizations. Completing the circumnavigation will not happen this year. It would be truly foolish to put myself through even bigger seas and a lot more distance knowing what it took to go as far as I did. A revisit to the training, prep and logistics will be necessary before reconsidering a second attempt. And it may even include creating and building a 2+ person team to create an added level of safety. I say this purely because I have come to accept that should a physical limitation present itself again, having a teammate vs having to summon or call for assistance is a much better scenario and a lesser poor use of our great professional resources that are better focused on larger scale issues and incidents. To put myself out there again without a slice of redundancy built in would be selfish now that I’ve truly taxed and tested myself physically.

That said, I have also decided to consider returning to the waters of Johnstone Strait later this summer in late July. I will pick up where I stopped, in Sayward, and continue another 125km to Port Hardy to complete the Inside Passage in its entirety and put it and the Strait behind me. From that point forward lies Goletas Channel and the open sea. I have given this great thought and I am confident I will have a decent enough recovery to put my back through three more days of rowing. From an awareness perspective it allows me to reach out to the towns of Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy. Equally for my own mettle and adventuring desires it gives me some form of closure on knowing I will have gotten the inside coast completed. All of this of course hinges on two things; the first being the marine forecast for the week I am planning to go. If conditions are going to be similar to what they were when I was forced to stop, gale force winds blowing from the northwest, then I will most likely give this a pass. Secondly, how I fare the week prior in the STP Cycling Race which will span 320km taking me and my two wheels from Seattle to Portland. I have no desire to hurt myself any further but I cannot simply pass on the opportunity to cover a little more distance.

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I have invested a lot of time and finances since my return to better understand my body, my posture and all the elements that when exposed to repetitive, arduous motion are going to be stressed and strained. Knowing how to endure this, sustain my efforts and use my strength effectively and efficiently is what I hope to get out of the next several months. Working with Rob Williams of Exceed Athletic Performance http://www.exceedathletic.com this past week has brought new light into how to approach and understand my own physics. I look forward to continuing to better myself through his program and seeing where this takes me over the balance of the year.

Dealing with the mental effects of this trip and not being able to continue has been helped with following others who are very much on their own journeys to circumnavigate Vancouver Island as we speak. Celebrating in their success has felt right, it has felt good and this past week I was able to help out a fellow adventurer in her efforts to complete the task of getting herself 1,100km around the island. Tara Mulvany http://www.tarasjourneys.com is an adventurer who has traveled the world and engaged in many kayaking trips through serene waters and equally turbulent seas and rivers. A seasoned kayaker, she finds herself through the Broken Group Islands and near Bamfield as of this writing. I had contacted her through her website and offered her my food cache which was being held in Tofino. As it turned out, she was doing a pit stop there to fuel up and hitched herself into town and collected the bulk of my food. She was ecstatic at the offering and the contents and it truly brought a massive smile to my face to know that someone was doing what I was not able to, and in the process I was able to support her in some way, shape or form. Through email, we both learned that she was actually about two days behind me when I reached Sayward. I wish her well on her journey as she rounds the south of the island over the following days!

It still amazes me how the idea of this project to benefit the autism community has brought me to so many new places, people and experiences. I have a lot to be thankful for and I truly hope that the rowing aside, you continue to gain more knowledge and understanding of what autism is, equally what it isn’t and why it is so important to see that our resource project https://proceansports.wordpress.com/donate/ is fully funded and seen through to fruition.

Stay tuned for future posts…

Donations

Posted: June 5, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

Just a reminder that all cash donations received while enroute and from our t-shirt sales will be posted to the account early next week. I will enter these giving credit to the donors by name, but in some cases where addresses were not provided, formal tax receipts will be generated but not mailed out unless I hear from those people directly. I will keep the receipts here for the balance of 90 days.

If you are interested in a row4autism shirt, they are made by Sports Science and are a dri-fit hybrid poly/cotton blend in charcoal grey. Excellent odour resiliency (trust me, I know ;)) and a great workout shirt. Contact me direct at row4autism@gmail.com or by commenting here.

Thank you.

Day 9 – Kelsey Bay, Sayward

Posted: June 5, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

The day started with an early rise and a glance outside the tent. Winds were well over 20kts and due to increase. I turned and decided to do some reading and awaited my sisters arrival later that day. Its amazing how many thoughts run through ones mind and how on one hand I figured if I could push on, I’d be waiting out this wind and possibly sitting in Sayward the balance of the week. I argued within myself with the notion of getting a little further up the coast. Perhaps even make it past Telegraph Cove and into Port McNeill. My back had other ideas and in my most conscious of minds knew I had made the correct decision for the given moment.

The short of it is simply that my sister Cindy and brother in law Nelson, God love them, met me, we collected my gear, loaded the boat and drove back to Nanaimo eventually arriving home in Burnaby later that evening. Seeing my family and parents was nice, don’t get me wrong, but so much felt unfinished and so much felt completely numb and raw. Only when you experience something at this level do you truly understand how much there is to process. Not just the dissatisfaction of not being able to continue, but processing the many moments of connection and the contacts made, places been and seen and truly sorting through the appreciation for the world we live in. It has been overwhelming to be back when so much of me wants to resume things and be on the island.

To bring closure and understanding to what is happening, I had appointments with my RMT, my Chiropractor and Orthopedist yesterday. My gene pool contains history of De-generative Disc Disease (DDD) which is a form of spinal arthritis. I knew about a year ago that spurs on my facet joints had set in already and that although irreversible, it was possible to slow down its effects. The subsequent days of rowing and the abuse and pressures on the body were such that I aggravated my condition to a point where my lumbar joints locked up. When this happens, the surrounding muscles, those big bad erectors, go into protective mode and begin to spasm to compensate for the loss of movement. Its one ugly chain of happenings and they each need attention in one form or another. It will take time to re-gain that fluid mobility and work towards preventative measures, but for now that equates to no substantial physical activity.

I also met with Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and Autism Community Training (ACT) yesterday afternoon for what I thought was going to be a one on one conversation detailing things as they were, are and where they will be. It turned out CAN/ACT put on a little gathering of sorts with their entire staff and had a small reception to thank me and row4autism’s efforts. I was humbled, overwhelmed and felt so undeserving but equally appreciative. They are hands down two of the best organizations I have ever had the honor of being associated with. From top to bottom, their staff and collective efforts are a massive net benefit to our local autism community here in BC. I cannot thank them enough for the opportunity to work together and their continued support. Trust that for those of you who made monetary contributions and those considering to do so, I assure you the resource we are building is not only under way, but will be seen through to fruition.

I have been in minimal contact with family and friends the past two days as I regroup and let my mind and body settle. There exists a psychological aspect to this that I am struggling with and perhaps warrants explanation here. Some have asked why I am hung up on the fact I didn’t complete what I set out to do. They have indicated how proud they still are and how its about the cause and awareness – all fair and very valid points. But, my inner ‘man’, perhaps ego perhaps adventurous side has always set goals in life and come hell or high water I have always found a way and means to attain them. I say it, I do it. When I took up mountaineering it would have been wise to ease into it, try some smaller mountains and get acclimatized to the sport itself so to speak. Instead, I set my sights on books, gear and opted to climb Mount Rainier as my first summit attempt and then deciding after that experience if it was something I would enjoy. Its not the desire to be different or to go against convention, but rather its about challenge and the unknown. Its putting oneself out there and outside the levels of comfort that so many people stay tied to their entire lives.

The struggle I feel and that I recognize will pass, is one of letting myself down. In preparing for this journey I trained body and mind. To be perfectly honest I truly felt that any setback would have been the result of my fears getting the better of me. The seclusion perhaps, the wild, the animals, the ocean conditions or the boat itself. As much as all of that took up residence in my mind, it never overtook it. I was never in fear or in danger. The very things I thought would become issues, simply weren’t and I relished in the solitude that it was. I would hear the weather pick up or see waves building and it was never a question of what to do or how to get out of it. It was simply, head down and push forward. The boat exceeded my expectations in performance and stability. The very thing I counted on, trained the most and thought would never fail me, indeed did; and that is a lot to wrap my head around.

In the coming days and weeks there will me much that I pull from that took place on this trip. It has already changed my views of how much we mistreat mother Earth. It has shown me above all things to believe and trust again in the human spirit and that unconditional kindness does exist. It has shown me how much we take for granted and how little we appreciate some days.

I slept on beaches, on docks, on front porches, in an RV. I bathed myself in the open ocean and in a public washroom. I drank water from a stream and ate food cooked over an open fire. It was existence and survival in a most simple means rid of all things that truly proved to me, really don’t matter. We flood our lives with things we are convinced we need or that will somehow make life more convenient. Yet when we lose a wifi connection or our cell phones lose power its somehow the end of the world. We have become so reliant on modern convenience and accessorizing our lives with so much shit that we’ve forgotten how to truly ‘live’. We’ve opted to get carried in the societal evolutionary wave that see’s change as financial reward and opportunity; and as the world turns, so do the capitalist minds that run the ‘you really need this’  ideology mills that we frolic to and get lost in.

Row4Autism is about autism, its awareness and the opportunity to collect support to build a legacy resource for all to access and use. As much as the vehicle that was the idea of a complete circumnavigation did not pan out, the mission is by no means done. I will fix myself and focus on building this resource with CAN and ACT from both the funds we already have and those that continue to come in. The success of the project is about empowering others, educating them and creating awareness and understanding. The physical rowing piece will resume, but in what shape or form or when is not an answer I have today – so trust that the site will remain functional and the donation links very much active.

All the extras I or Ivy have shared here through this blog were always with the intention of bringing you along on this journey and hoping that it created an interest and raised your eyebrows to not just autism, but to humanity, to life lessons and to the nature of a simple existence. I want to thank every follower, supporter, those who donated, those who encouraged, for standing behind this project. You were not standing behind me alone, but rather an entire community.

I leave you with two photo’s that have and do speak to me. The first is an inscription that adorns the boats middle bulkhead and came from a special place that reminds me to stay true to myself no matter what life throws my way.

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The second, is a frame I saw in Sayward at a small gift shop at the main docks. It sat by itself on the floor, mostly ignored, but with a powerful message, and its a fitting ending to this blog today and hopefully something you can all pull from each and every day.

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A million times over, thank you so much for supporting this endeavour thus far and helping make a huge difference in the lives of those living with autism.

Day 8 – Bear Bight to Kelsey Bay

Posted: June 3, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

During the very early morning hours while the sun still had a couple hours before it rose, I woke to strong winds outside and the notion that a decision was pending. I knew by this point that it wasn’t a matter of if but when this trip would come to a halt. I shifted in my bed trying to steady my back and equally test my mobility and stretch at the same time. I convinced myself that I would under no circumstance be given a ride to town, as much as I knew the offer was well intended. I could not bring myself to succumbing to having to be ‘taken’ to a haul out point because I couldn’t get myself there under my own power. It would be about 24km to Kelsey Bay in Sayward from where I was and that distance would be rowed no matter how bad the winds were and no matter what sort of pain or discomfort I was in.

In such a short time it amazes me how attached one gets to new norms. Gary, his camp and his dogs were all I knew and all that shared my existence with for that period of time. Ripper, Sammy and Gypsy were such a welcomed distraction and quickly took to me as the new guy. I was already missing them and I hadn’t yet left.

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A short time later Gary stirred and within moments the smells of fried bacon and eggs filled the trailer. He made a breakfast to feed an army and I was clearly his army of one 😉 Stuffed with his cooking, I told him my intentions and he simply got on with things. There was no talking me out of anything or encouraging me either. He simply gathered my dry bags and helped me load the boat back up. He offered his home in Sayward for me to stay that night and exchanged contact information. I expressed that as appreciative as I was, that if this was indeed my last stab at this, I needed to do things as I first set off to do and that was to establish a camp and be self sufficient. Gary understood, and with a stiff handshake and a million thank you’s, I set off.

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This photo brings tears to me as I recall the feel of the wind on my face, the crisp air surrounding us, the movement of the dock and knowing that this man lives a life that at the very least is defined by at least two of three words I have detailed in characters on my boat, courage and solitude. I felt envious but somehow proud for him and proud to have met him.

Gary waved me off and before I rounded the bight and re-entered Johnstone Strait we shared one last glance and wave. I turned to look west, took my bearing and aligned the boat with a quick glance at my compass and resumed rowing. It was blowing strong and the Strait was a mess of whitecaps, choppy waves and a myriad of water features from boils to swirls to rips. I moved further into the Strait at times and others hugged the shore to make the most of the current and find the smoothest of water to alleviate the necessary force on the oars. It would be three hours or so to get to Sayward and it was time to reflect. I cursed out loud at the wind and at myself. There are fewer worse feelings when it comes to matters of endurance and knowing when the curtain call has come.

My sister and brother in law were already planned to be off for the week to travel the north island and meet me at dedicated stops along the way. We had chatted the night prior and they knew that the trip was now more about collecting me and my gear and that there would be no further travels. We agreed to meet in Sayward the following day.

I passed Helmcken Island through Race Passage and soon had the rusted hulks of the WWII ships that were placed as a breakwater to protect the small marina in Sayward within view. Just past this point was a wharf and floating dock that would be my final stop. Above the wharf laid a small private campground, which was open and had a vacant site for me to pitch on. As I neared the breakwater a small powerboat came out to meet me. The fellow driving slid his window open and greeted me then asked what the hell I was doing out there and where was I headed. He kindly pointed out if I had noticed the conditions and that further up the Strait things would get even gnarlier. I explained my stop was a few hundred yards further, we exchanged pleasantries and we each carried on our respective ways.

IMG_7882Emotions were relentless as I unpacked and set up camp, opened my sleeping bag and laid down to rest. The winds blew with more ferocity and a quick check of my satphone confirmed what I was seeing. Winds were forecast to be gale force for the entire balance of the week.

I made a few calls home got things all square and knew I had one more call to make. It was imperative that I reach out to the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) and advise them of my condition and altered plan. I hesitated as I knew doing so would seal my current fate and I felt the weight of so much hope teetering on my shoulders. Nobody put it there but me and I knew that I would hear all sorts of understanding and well wishes, but still it felt wrong, too soon and very much like failure.

I decided to take a walk into town and as I passed the marina and logging facility I watched as tugs worked the waters sorting, pushing and pulling booms into place. I sat in awe at the level of machinery required to do such laborious work. The tires on the machine below stood taller than me.

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I finally picked up my satphone and dialed my contact at CAN. It went to voicemail and I explained what my situation was and my intended plans. As I pressed the red button to disconnect and end the call I knew as right a decision as it was to make, it was still one of the toughest moments of my life.

I walked and thought back on the past 14 months of preparations and wanted so badly to find a comforting moment, something to sooth the rawness inside but I wasn’t there yet and didn’t figure to be for some time. I continued on until I came across the same diner we had been at the night prior when Gary drove me into town. I sat again, this time alone, and ordered the same fish and chips meal. Mar as she’s known, served up her very own self line caught rock cod fillets that were as large as my hands. Essentially she plated before me an entire fish, both sides, along with some fries and slaw. It was delicious.

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I returned to camp later that night, built a fire and sat and read. Every so often I would pull my hood back to feel the wind and glance across the water. I knew that my efforts were my best and that I left all that I had out on those waterways. I thought I could will myself through anything, and have so many times prior. But sadly it was not in the cards this time around and I knew I had to do some work to understand what exactly was happening with my physical well being. The next day would bring warm hugs and smiles from my sister and brother in law and I fell asleep knowing I would soon be in good familiar company.

Day 7 – Quadra Island to Bear Bight

Posted: June 3, 2014 by jcarinha in Uncategorized

As some of you are already aware, my expedition came to an abrupt end yesterday. I will explain over the next two blogs so as to keep my travels detailed but also explain what transpired.

During the crossing from Savary Island to Quadra Island, the first two hours were in rough water and a strong NW wind. I should have made good time to Mitlenatch Island, a bird sanctuary to Savary’s west but was still a ways away after a couple hours in. Most of my ailments to this point were actually improving, namely my hands and my knee. My back however, was progressively giving me more trouble.

Rowing as a whole is very synchronous, your left side emulates your right and you catch, pull, feather and repeat as you work through the oar stroke. Add headwinds and turbulent waters and now it becomes more of a delicate balancing act. One side powers more than the other, an oar catches nothing but air as you put power to it and quickly it becomes a dance of trying forward progress that taxes your body and mind and no two strokes are the same. It is what it is, and you just go through the motions so long as progress is being made. I thought to turn back, but my stubborness and arguably my ego thought it better to continue. Needless to say it was not a pleasant start to the morning but I knew this was never on any level going to be a walk in the park.

Soon after falling into the lee of Mitlenatch, I stopped. I truly took an inventory of everything I was feeling. Despite a suspect back issue that I was trying to ignore, I felt spent, hopeful and somehow elated. I knew I’d get through the crossing, I just didn’t know what I would feel once I got there. I pacified my mood and pains with thoughts of the ‘finish’ line. I could envision the final few hundred meters and what it would feel like to hit the dock some weeks later knowing I have put 1,100km and a pile of stories behind me. Knowing that my goal was met both as a project and as an adventure. I broke into prayer, speaking to my grandmother and others, asking and willing them to please talk to the Wind Gods and ask them to throw me a bone. It felt helpless, but it was one more thing to occupy the mind and distract me from the arduous task at hand. With these thoughts in mind, I continued.

As Ivy has already explained I made it to Quadra Island and had a wonderful evening at April Point.

The next morning slack tide was slated for 6:40am at Seymour Narrows. This means that the water flowing through this rock venturi would slow, stop and start flowing again in the opposite direction. I wanted an ebbing tide which would flow in my direction of travel, so getting to the start of the narrows on time was paramount to avoid excessively turbulent waters when crossing and the potential for boils, swirls, or confused waters. My mistake was not referring to my charts but rather sighting the distance and asking a local skipper what it was. He stated ‘3 miles’ and I did my math and figured I would need under an hour to get there. I timed my wake up accordingly and got out on the water with what I thought was enough time to get to the narrows, cross them safely and use the ebb current to my favour.

As it was, the actual distance to the narrows was 12km and with a flooding current against me to start, took me two hours to get through putting me at the narrows at 7:25am. By this point the current was moving decently and you could hear the ‘rapids’ that were building through the 3km stretch that the narrows occupy. A tug and barge were going through as were other boats, so this made for tighter quarters. My focus (as Bill Steele eluded to in his comment) was to not look at what was coming, but rather punch through with a tenacious effort and row hard. The boat carved through the waters all the while having the current in my favour but a countering NW wind which made the waters choppy. The cockpit took on water, but there was no time to bail. I needed to get through the short stretch of ‘fun’ and hope for calmer, wider waters ahead.

The balance of Discovery Passage was bumpy for sure, and as I neared Chatham Point and the opposite shores of Sonora Island, I saw that the waters were flattening out. I made the left and entered the infamous Johnstone Strait. I was truly in a wild place now with much less obvious habitation around me. Soon after getting past Rock Bay, the wind picked up and was blowing strong. This is where things came apart for me. The efforts of the days prior and never having a favourable wind, the hard push to make the narrows on time and now yet another strong headwind made for some difficult rowing. I caught myself in a counter current and as I tried to muscle through it my back went into intense spasms. I can only explain them like an electric charge of sorts and you feel like a bit of a contortionist without the ability to control your movements fully. I arched my back, shifted in my limited space trying everything to alleviate the pain. During this process I could not pull on the oars and as a result the boat would turn broadside to the waves. More water came over the side and I used one oar to try and straighten myself out, all the while telling myself the spasms would subside; and they did.

I took a shallow angle and began to cut to shore. By this point I didn’t care about my planned stop at Palmer Bay, I was looking for anything that could host a tent and boat. Between recurring spasms, keeping the boat on track and trying to inch forward, I found a spot on my chart that was only a few km’s away. I eventually made my way to Bear Bight.

Upon arrival I noticed a logging camp of sorts, log booms and what appeared to be an RV on shore. To my surprise I heard the barking of dogs and saw a figure appear from the trailer and motion for me to come ashore.

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As I approached the makeshift dock, I was met by Gary. He was the full time on site watchman for Mike Hamilton Logging, tasked with managing the camp and keeping all the equipment safe. Gary was shirtless, wearing a pair of jeans and surrounded by his dogs. I asked if I could pitch camp on shore and he replied I’d best stay with him in the trailer or the first aid shack as a resident bear was in the area and would probably pay me a visit, purely out of curiousity but not worth the hassle or encounter.

After securing the boat, unloading necessities and negotiating a 30ft log to walk across to get to shore (thankfully my balance was oddly intact) I crumpled after a 54km slog. I had my moment. I reached out to home on my satphone and came apart and knew that my days on the water were truly numbered. My back was done and no matter the stretching I attempted something was just way off and not right. All of the foreshadowing I had created in my own mind of what lay ahead was erased in a dark moment of realization that the expedition was in grave danger of being over.

Gary and I sat and chewed the fat for the balance of the afternoon. We watched as bluejays, squirrels, hummingbirds and crows all shared the same feeder and co-existed. I couldn’t help but think of all the unrest in so many countries and how we as a human race couldn’t figure out how to live harmoniously yet here before me were wild animals without masters degree’s or formal components of communication but able to play nice and exist as one.

As supper hour approached, Gary offered to drive me into town for a stop over at his main home where his wife lived and a quick bite at a local diner in Sayward. Along the drive on the Rock Bay forest service road, he explained how logging once was and even pointed out the remnants of old trestles that once supported rail cars for transporting fallen tree’s. He explained what the wildlife was like and told me about true stories of survival he was a part of. I could have listened to him for hours.

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His wife Donna and their helper Tim, joined us for dinner. Tim was described to me as different and having some issues. After engaging him in conversation it was clear that he had some form of ASD trait(s) but regardless, he was perhaps not fully understood at a societal level, but loved and cared for by his family and friends. He worked feverishly for Gary and Donna and always with a smile on his face and a mouthful of good conversation to share. I have never seen someone eat fish with so much tarter sauce or make short work of a blueberry pie slice draped in whip cream – but it was undoubtedly well earned.

I learned through Gary about the town of Sayward and along the drive back I shared with him my concerns regarding my trip and did my best to conceal my emotions. He offered to drive me and my boat into Sayward or Campbell River. He was so nonchalant about things that it had a calming effect. A truly ‘so what?’ mentality to the idea that this might be it. It wasn’t a disregard for anything in particular but rather, looking at the whole thing subjectively and breaking it into what was the journey really all about? This question stayed with me all night and into the next day.