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Sea trials


The adventure started almost immediately on Thursday morning as Pat Lor and I headed West from Calgary with my human powered boat WiTHiN in tow. We departed bright and early at 6:00 am and after travelling 100 km, stopped to check on the boat at the Banff park gates. To my horror, I saw that WiTHiN's top hatch was gone!!! The boat had slipped forward on it's stand and the strap that holds the hatch down had slipped off. Also missing was the hatch tether which had pulled it's anchor right out of the deck wall. Oh no!


We had to drive back to look or for it - no choice. Taking WiTHiN into the ocean without the top hatch in place would be very dangerous. A wave could pour in and flood her which would result in a rescue.


We drove 100 km back to Calgary and then re-traced the drive back to Banff with all eyes aimed at the shoulders of the highway.


About half way back, Pat found it!!! The hatch was on the right hand shoulder with the bright red side up. It's an 18" x 18" slightly curved piece of fiberglass and he actually saw it.


I wish I could say the remainder of the drive was uneventful, but the winter road conditions were hellish most of the way with a fairly major snow storm near Vancouver.


The good news was that even with the two hour detour and the snow, we actually made the 9:30 ferry to Nanaimo.


We stayed in Nanaimo for the night and drove to a Home Depot the next morning to make some repairs to the trailer before heading over the pass to Tofino.


To say that WiTHiN attracts a lot of attention is an understatement. Pat and I found it difficult to make our repairs in the parking lot because so many people were coming up and asking questions about the boat and the expedition. People were going away to get cameras and returning to take pictures and we got two offers to lend us support boats while in the Vancouver island area! Wow - it was SO cool to get that kind of response from random people. We thoroughly enjoyed talking to everyone.


The 2.5 hour drive to Tofino was fairly non-eventful. Tofino is a town with a population o 1600 in the winter and 20,000 in the summer due to it's exploding tourism industry. Wild Tofino sits on the protected side of a small peninsula on the far west side of Canada's Vancouver island.

We parked the Suburban and WiTHiN on the side of the main road leading into Tofino and went into our hotel to check in and figure out where to park the boat, etc. The hour or so that WiTHiN sat off to the side of the highway was enough time for a significant percentage of the town to see her and want to know what was up. The phone in our hotel room started to ring - fist it was someone from the local paper wanting an interview, then the local radio station requesting an interview. When I got back to the boat there was a note on the door from someone else wondering what was going on.

Pat and I drove WiTHiN down to the public boat launch and managed to get WiTHiN into the water. We were met at the boat launch by our South Korean friends producer Jin-Kyu Yoo and camera man Sang-Ryun Woo from SBS TV. Jin-Kyu is producing a documentary on human power and Tofino was his second stop on a North American tour to cover interesting human powered projects. They included 4 days in Tofino to film my sea trials and interview me about the ocean crossing expedition and my Critical Power human powered vehicle 24 hour distance record. Our deal was that they would pay for a support boat for the sea trials if I brought Critical Power with me, so our relationship was definitely a win-win situation.

As I prepared to pedal WiTHiN back to the hotel marina, I noticed that I could not keep the front window clear of moisture. I couldn't see a thing. Nothing worked - it was like looking through frosted glass. It was so humid and rainy that visibility out the window was about as close to ZERO as you could get. This was a PROBLEM!


I headed out from the public dock and was very surprised by the strength of the current. I noticed on my chart that the currents during peak tides are as high as 5 knots in front of the docks lining Tofinos protected East side. A Fisherman said that the flood tide current was going to peak soon and told us that many kayakers get driven into the sand bars from the strong current. I figured that I could sit on some towels and bags to keep my head above the open top hatch top see out, and if the ebb current was too strong, I could just bail to a dock on my starboard side.

The current was strong, but nothing that I could not power through in WiTHiN. I stayed as close to the docks as I could and at one point is was like pedalling up a fast flowing river. I made it back to the Weigh West marina without issue.

I slept in WiTHiN while she was tied to the dock at Weigh West in front of our hotel. My night started by cooking dinner with my cool JetBoil stove and Mountain House macaroni beef chilly stew. That worked well - I could hold the JetBoil by hand for the 20 seconds it takes to boil 2 cups of water. I pour the water into the Mountain House packet and wait 10 minutes. It was pretty good.


Then I settled in for the night by transferring to the sleeping compartment behind my seat. The bed is very cushy and there is enough room back there to stretch out comfortably. I found that moving around between the cockpit and rear area to be far too restrictive. It took a good 20 minutes and some serious gymnastics to get something from the front, take off a piece of clothing, etc, etc. This will not work for the ocean crossing. I will definitely need more room.

The temperature was about 2 or 3 degrees outside and it was very warm and cozy in WiTHiN. I had both vents open and could feel a breeze blowing through, but I was very warm. This will be another issue out on the Atlantic - how to adequately vent heat from the sleeping area.

I couldn't sleep - the rocking of the boat was too much for me, but I was determined to stick it out. By 4:00 am, the winds and waves had picked up considerably and I was repeatedly bashed against the dock. I gave up and joined Pat in the hotel room for a few hours of sleep.


The phone woke me up at 9:00 am. It was the front desk informing me that one of the lines had broken and that WiTHiN was being tossed around on the docks from her single leash. I ran down there and sure enough, the repeated bashing against the dock during the night had cut through one of the ropes and WiTHiN was almost free! While I was securing her to the dock, the skipper for the hotels Whale Watching boat came by for a visit. I explained to him that I wanted to get our around the peninsula to open Pacific for some ocean swells testing, but that I couldn''t see out my window and relying on the video monitor was not safe enough. He seemed to think that he could lead me out and that I would be able to follow him with the video. We went through some safety procedures in case something went wrong and I was very confident that my new French buddy Pipot Dupuis knew what he was doing. He told me that he had been sailing all his life and had sailed around the world.

By 10:00 am, Pipot, his boat "Close Encounters", Pat, and my Korean TV crew were guiding me out of the Tofino marina area out into the open Pacific. My heart was pounding.


I could easily see Close Encounters in my video monitor and was in constant communications with Pitpot via UHF radio, so finding my way was easy. WiTHiN maintained 7 kph with very little effort and seemed very stable. I tried to roll her by rocking back and fourth, but it was impossible to get the water line any higher than the bottom of the floats. About 30 minutes later, we had rounded the corner and were into some chop. A bit further on we were into rolling swells with quite a bit of chop and white caps. WiTHiN was being rocked about quite a bit, but I felt like everything was under control and I could easily maneuver WiTHiN any direction that I wanted to go without issue.

Jin-Kyu and Sang-Ryun were very happy with the footage that they were getting and Pipot seemed impressed with the performance of WiTHiN. As a test, we decided to tow WiTHiN back to the marina, and we had no problems towing her back at 18 to 20 kph !


Over all, the result from that test were positive, but there are a few things that I need to consider for the expedition boat design. First, I definitely need a good ballast keel. WiTHiN was rocking around too much and you can see this in the awesome video shot by Sang. A keel would definitely soften up the relentless rocking back and fourth. I also need more room in the cockpit! It felt very tight and restrictive in there and I need to resolve the window issue for sure. I can't rely on the video monitor alone - it will help, but I need to be able to see the waves and the horizon. I also see the advantage of being able to completely open up the cockpit with a sliding canopy which is something that I want to design into the final expedition boat for sure. I think the window issue can be resolved with some flat, back-slanted windows like the kind you see on fishing trawlers and my support boat Close Encounters.

That night I sat in with the local radio DJ Clint from "The Bear" as he commentated the hockey game and we did an interview during the first intermission which went very well and was a lot of fun.


On Saturday, we all got together for another Close Encounters accompanied journey to the open Pacific. This time we had less chop but way bigger swells. Pipot thought they were 2 to 3 meters. WiTHiN maintained 7 kph into oncoming waves with easy to moderate effort. Winds were 15 to 20 mph from the side and I could not tell at all aside from WiTHiN leaning a bit to the starboard side. This lean was easily corrected by me shifting more of my weight to the left hand side of my seat - other than that, I had no idea if it was windy or calm. The return trip with following seas saw from 11 to 12 kph average speeds with easy to moderate effort. Everyone on the support boat was feeling a bit sea sick and Pitpot radioed me and asked how I was feeling. I lied when I said that I felt fine. I was actually feeling a bit queasy by then.

The next morning I did an interview with Tofino's independant news source Westcoaster.ca with Kevin Drews. Here is the article he published: http://www.westcoaster.ca/modules/AMS/article.php?storyid=3426

After that, we packed up for the drive back to the east coast and Victoria. I did a phone interview with Victoria newspaper from the car, and we're now in Beautiful Victoria, BC. Tomorrow we launch WiTHiN in the Victoria harbor for local media, TV, radio and newspapers, then spend all afternoon with Discovery Channel for a follow-up segment to the Daily Planet episode they first broadcast in September.

The adventure continues...

-------------------------------------------
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Support Greg's quest to become the
fastest human to cross the Atlantic ocean
under his own power with a $30 "Across With Greg"
sponsorship that includes YOUR NAME on his boat "WiTHiN".
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13 Responses to “Sea trials”

  1. # Blogger joao saboia

    Congratulations!!!  

  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Greg,
    It looks good on the small waves, but you it looks like big seas will be tossing you around like a tennis ball. Hope the expedition boat works well. In the meantime it would be great if you could do some inland water testing - are there speed records for any of the Great Lakes?

    Have a safe drive back.
    Nick Hein
    Morgantown, WV  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Some people get to have all the fun. Man that little red boat looks secure.

    The water looks to be quite sloppy and confused. It is surprising how far out reflected waves interfere with incoming waves. You could expect more consistent wave pattern in open water. Could be a lot rougher but always from the same direction and longer period. Need to get further offshore.

    Report is good reading.

    Rick W.  

  4. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Looks like fun! When you get back out into 1-2 meter waters again (or bigger!), pay attention to your steering... mainly, the torque required on your rudder to keep WiTHiN from going perpendicular to the seas. That could make surfing those big Atlantic swells no fun, right? As long as the rudder holds just fine, think about the mechanism to set your steering, or how comfortable it would be to hold it in one place away from center, especially when faced with winds or seas coming in from the side or the quarter.

    Spoon  

  5. # Blogger "the Dude"

    choppy water

    My thoughts:

    Both for better video effect and better test reviewing:

    "tie a yellow ribbon round the old" light pole, maybe 3 m long, (Polynesians used long leis or palm and feather strings) to always know the wind effect,

    AND attach a longer pink ribbon (with a small waterproof LED at the tail) to the rear end of Within that is pulled behind, so you can see effects of current, and better detect forward movement in rough water. These are both gonna wanna tangle somehow, but needed for visual testing IMO.

    I thought the hatch was permanently secured to Within. I couldn't believe it could just blow off. That's virtually life or death IMO in storms. Ever drive a brand new convertible through a blizzard or thunderstorm with the top down when your seasick?

    My pick-up topper once took flight, flying off into a cornfield from the highway, the bolts had vibrated loose, I was so lucky it didn't do any damage to anything or anyone. Secure that sucker!

    rockin robin tweet tweet!
    (that's what I thought when I saw the black "folded wings" floats, the red "head and breast" bow, and the black and white vent "eyes".

    good luck, good work.
    DDeden  

  6. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi Greg,

    Congratulation!

    Looking forward to meeting you and your machines tomorrow!

    Cheers,
    Andreas
    www.ecofurniture.ca
    Victoria BC  

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi Creg,
    A real waves, Real rocking! WithIn looks so tiny (and low). Yet determined to go! I can understand your wish for little more room inside.
    Did you tried to get back into the sleeping area while in those swells?

    Visibility: Reminding of Lindbergh's Spirit of St-Louis - and periscope flying across the Atlantic.

    Wind direction: We used to tape about 10cm long string of wool to the windshield in front of us of our gliders... One look and one knew.

    Best of luck. Enjoy that drenaline flow for the rest of us!

    Martin
    Montreal, QC  

  8. # Anonymous -ray-

    Greg,
    Ballast, to lessen the oscillation, might not be a solution. A heavier pendulum will move less in some situations and more in others. Also, maybe a glass treatment, of which there are many, might do the trick on the window. Even something like "Rain Away" might help. I used it on my sailboat ports and it kept the fog away and repelled water for a better view.
    Don't let the wheel of this enterprise get turning too fast so as to hinder your judgement. You sound perfectly on-tract so far.
    We're still with ya'.  

  9. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Some of the new designs on ships have a stability stabilization system on them maybe you can improvise one for your Within. It may make all the difference in bad weather

    told you it was to small  

  10. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Some of the new designs on ships have a stability stabilization system on them maybe you can improvise one for your Within It may make all the difference in bad weather  

  11. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Looks like more keel is needed for directional sability and the air vents and lights and camera need to be retractable they will get riped off in bad weather and slow you down.  

  12. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Greg, it was so amazing to read about your first expedition to the big waves...It is going to work, persevere!
    We love the Tshirts
    Your fans,
    Annie and Roy  

  13. # Anonymous Andreas, Germany

    I think if i had to decide how to bring a human powered boat across the ocean, i would construct a boat where you can row and also cycle (not simultaneously of course), so my arms and back get a little excercise too. Or as a third option even build an appliance for "cycling" with the arms, like you see on marathons when handycapped people drive their wheelchairs. Gives you a good workout for the complete body, not only the legs. So e.g. if you have problems with the legs, you only use your arms, and vice versa. Of course the boat would have to be larger and more complicated on the technical part, but it might be worth it... Anyway, I hope you´ll make it!! Greets, A.  

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