form IS function

If I seem a bit reoccupied with form over function these days, I'm not
really. Ken and I are working our butts off here trying to get the
boat ready for Vancouver island circumnavigation and choosing a paint
color, boat name and logo is all part of what needs to be done and it
is important to me. Make no mistake - The number one consideration
when selecting a color for the boat is pure function - I need to be
easily seen when out on the ocean. This is a very important safety
consideration. But a powerful visual impact has always been an
important aspect of my previous record attempts and it still very much
is with and WiTHiN (or Koa? I'm having second
thoughts on the name Koa, but more on that later).

My primary goal with all of my human powered endeavours is to attract
attention and inspire others to start thinking about using their own
human power. Skyrocketing obesity rates are resulting in health care
costs reaching upwards of 60 billion in the US (5.8 billion in
Canada). The problem is our sedentary lifestyles and the solution is
pretty simple: we need to get active again. I think what our society
really needs these days is others out there doing really cool things
using their own power. Unfortunately most kids today think a guy who
drove a jet powered bicycle 100 mph is way cooler than a guy who won
the Badwater ultramarathon. Check out YouTube for the proof.
I really doubt that the expensive professional paint job on Critical
Power human powered vehicle was necessary to break the 24 hour
distance record. But it got CP and me onto a 2 page spread in popular
Science. It also got me into the 2009 Guinness book of world records,
and Discovery channel, and other media outlets where I have an
opportunity to possibly inspire others to start thinking that maybe it
is kind of cool to do something physical. The kids seem to get it and
a solution to our health issues needs to start with our kids.

And speaking of that - I would like to ask you to donate $50 to my
charity and sponsor 1 mile of my 3000 mile Pacific crossing. Your $50
will buy a brand new bike for a kid who can't afford one. Do you
remember your first bike? I sure do. For the 8 million families who
are living below the poverty line, bikes for their kids are a luxury
they can't afford. Help me make a difference.
It takes only a couple of clicks and any credit card:

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Well - here she is all freshly painted. FINALLY. Ken and I hauled the boat to U-wrench in Calgary where we rented their paint booth for a few hours. Typical of the kind of good luck that seems to follow this project around, when Ken was in the auto body supply shop asking questions about paint, he met Chuck from Hoodlum Customs who was also buying supplies. When Chuck learned about PedalTheOcean, he offered to shoot the paint for us!

Chuck did a great job, but I can't decide if I actually like the paint color or not. It's not what Ken and I had specified and I think the paint shop we purchased the paint from didn't provide exactly what we had asked for. Inside under florescent lights it looks sort of copper - like a penny. Outside in the sun, it looks more orange. It's supposed to have pearl in it, and you can see some pearl in the paint can, but I don't see any pearl on the boat at all.

I'm hoping once we add decals and stickers and everthing else it will look better.

We have two weeks to finish - the home stretch!!!!!

WiTHiN in the U-Wrench paint booth

Chuck from Hoodlum Customs

Chuck shooting primer. WiTHiN looked like a gray battleship


Introducing KOA human powered boat

Koa: Hawaiian for "Bold"
Thanks for your suggestions regarding a new name for the boat. You had some really great ideas that were definitely responsible for sparking some deeper thought of my own.
When I sat down a couple of years ago with the intent of developing a keynote speech, I did some pondering about what it is that has allowed success in my life. It occurred to me that the personality traits that worked for me weren't the typical ones you would expect. I'm not especially smart - I almost failed the 4th grade, my marks were below average in High School and I didn't go to University. I didn't have any money - shortly after I struck out on my own and launched my first business when I was 21, the banks took all of my credit cards away from me. I remember having to buy gas for my car at the Hudson Bay parkade downtown because they had a small car rental business and I discovered I could use the Bay credit card that my mom had given me to buy clothes with, to purchase gas from their rental operation. They eventually took that card away from me too. Coincidentally, that's about the time I started to really get into riding my bike a lot! And, I wasn't especially physically gifted in any way either. When I decided it was time to lose 50 pounds and get into shape I entered my first triathlon. Of course, it just had to be the long distance Ironman triathlon and I didn't even know how to swim!

The simple fact that I signed up to complete one of the toughest sporting events in the world without even knowing how to swim said it all. And it is typical of the kind of attitude that I have had most of my adult life. That is, I just think of something that I want to do, make sure that it is just a bit beyond my comfort level and ability, and I simply do it. And I don't quit. I don't think about how to accomplish my goal or what the obstacles are or anything like that. I just start my journey by taking my first step. Jumping into the deep end so to speak. Then I learn a little - enough to plan my next step, and so forth, and so forth.

I believe that any of us can accomplish some pretty amazing things in life when we just have a little faith in ourselves and we commit to doing something a bit bolder than we think we are capable of. And that is the secret right there. When you are bold about what you have set out to do, you will have the passion, excitement and motivation that you will require on your impossible journey. Anything less, and I think many of us just don't care enough. I have lived my life by the wisdom of the great German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: "What you can do or dream you can do begin it. For BOLDNESS has genius, power and magic in it".

So therefore, I hereby name my boat "Koa" which means "Bold" in Hawaiian.

Following are some logo ideas. I would love to hear your vote and comments (the tiki dude have chain ring teeth):



Following are some additional ideas I was playing around with. I like the brush script, but the orientation doesn't really work for the boat.

Koa building progress

Ken has been working his arms off sanding, sanding, sanding. The body work is taking WAY longer than we originally estimated which is pushing our Vancouver Island shakedown cruise later into October. Jordan and I don't want to leave it so late in October because the likelihood of encountering a winter storm increases every day as we progress into winter with the north pacific high pressure zone slowly disintegrating and allowing the storms to blow directly into Vancouver Island.

Our objective with the shakedown cruise is to circumnavigate Vancouver Island - 1000 km staring at Port Hardy near the north end of the island. We will head south down the protected east coast of the island which will give us ample opportunity to get used to the boat, living conditions, pedaling conditions, switching positions without capsizing the boat, etc. It will also give Jordan and I an opportunity to slowly nose into more advanced ocean conditions as weather permits to feel out general stability in waves and wind as well as how effected we are by high winds.

We are planning on stopping off in Victoria for a couple of rest days, some media interviews, wait for a good weather window, then tackle the exposed wild west coast. The reason we have chosen a clockwise direction is that prevailing winds starting about mid October tend to veer from Southerly to Northerly and it would be better to have the wind at our stern as we make our way up the west coast.

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Paint color ideas

Please weigh-in on your choice of paint color:

Choice #1: Viper Bright Orange Pearl

Choice #2: Crayola Crayon Skin Color

We liked the skin color idea so much, that we just went ahead and painted her skin color. Yes, this is an attempt at being funny. The photo above is just the beige colored epoxy micro coating prior to sanding and finishing.

New name for WiTHiN ?

I originally called the prototype boat WiTHiN because I believe that human power is our power from within - and since a human is powering the boat from inside, the boat is also being power from within. I even designed a nice friendly logo to match the curvy prototype boat:

But now, I think maybe the new expedition boat needs a name of it's own. A name and logo that fits better with our awesome, edgy, stealthy new design. I'm just not feeling WiTHIN anymore and I'm open to exploring something new. Some people commented at the lake trials last week that she looks like a bad-ass barracuda or a shark. I played around in Illustrator today with some logo ideas using the Barracuda name and I drew a sort of cartoony Barracuda. Let me know what you think or if you have any ideas for a new name.

In other news, Ken and I are making are way through a long final list of things to finish to get 'her' ready for the second lake trials, and my Vancouver Island circumnavigation with Jordan Hanssen. One of those steps was reinforcing a loop on the bow for an anchor and sea anchor. We wanted to make sure that it was good a strong and we don't have access to the inside anymore, so we used a beefy stainless loop embedded in micro fibers and covered with fanned out uni-directional carbon in the direction most of the force is likely to come from.

There is a bit of carbon tape on the inside, electrical, body work, paint, and installation of equipment / electronics. All in 2 weeks - can Ken do it?

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Lake Trials VIDEO!

I just finished posting a new YouTube video of the very first lake trials. Enjoy:


Lake trials!

WiTHiN hits the water for the first time!

No surprises at the lake today which is good news! Loading into the water was a snap - good thing I made the 8' tongue extender. It worked perfectly and WiTHiN slid off the bunks into the water. The drive to the reservoir was a bit bouncy. The trailer might need some reinforcement, but otherwise it went well.

She was very stable. It doesn't rock much at all and forcing my weight right to left inside doesn't produce very much noticeable rolling motion. Sitting and standing also doesn't really tip it much, but, as Rick warned, once my weight is very high (sitting on the roof, or standing up), and I lean over it to a certain point, it will suddenly continue it's roll and tip right over. If the side windows (port lights) are open, then the cockpit will flood. This is without any ballast at all aside from the keel bulb which weighs 60 lbs.

With 200 or 300 lbs inside and on the floor, the amount of effort needed to roll it is significantly more. One test that needs to be done during the next lake trials at the end of September is to actually roll it onto it's side and allow the cockpit to flood (with the inside hatches to the cabin and bow storage compartment CLOSED). I will fall off the roof into the water, then make my way back inside the flooded cockpit and manually pump the water out. The other test that we will do is to capsize it with all of the hatches and ports closed and sealed.

WiTHiN feels VERY roomy with excellent visibility to the outside world. I had to make an adjustment to the seat height to get the horizon into the middle of the port lights, but after that I could see all around me no problem. With the ports open, I had a nice cooling breeze blowing through. The drive leg by MitrPak is SUPER SMOOTH and solid as a rock. 80 rpm felt like about 150 watts as per design. Resulting speed was 7.6 km / hr. (4.1 knots) Rick's prediction was 8.2 km / hr, but I am sure that was based on mirror flat water conditions. It was windy and a bit wavy, so .75'ish km / hr slower is probably about right on. Ken and I raced sailboats and beat all of them. I reached a top speed of 10.3 km / hr (5.3 knots)

WiTHiN turns on a dime like the prototype did with a nice roll into the turn followed by a slight roll to the opposite side, then leveling out. The rudder controls were easy to operate with one hand, and the rudder is nicely balanced, as I could take my hand off the lever during a turn and the rudder would stay exactly where it was set. Winds were 15 to km / hr and inside the protected cockpit, I didn't even notice the wind aside from a slight lean to the side. It will be interesting to get WiTHiN into some real wind. My speed going into the wind didn't seem much different than the speed with the wind (but I don't have a watts meter, so that is a bit subjective).

We took the all of the kids for a ride - they sat in the cabin with the hatch open. I can see how a trip could work with two people - one sitting comfortably in the cabin with the other peddling. I had 2 passengers sitting in the cabin weighing a total of 230 lbs and I couldn't notice any speed difference at all (again, no watts meter, so hard to measure). I took Helen for a ride and we switched positions easily without incident and without raising our center of gravity at all. I crouched on the floor near the drive leg and she got out of the cabin and into the recumbent seat. Then she moved to the side and I moved back into the cabin.

Loading WiTHiN back onto the trailer was relatively easy. The only trick was aligning her while pedaling backwards while being blown to the side. We eventually used a rope to walk her down the dock while I pedaled backwards. Cyrille was standing on the trailer and guided WiTHiN onto the bunks. When she was aligned and partially on the bunks, I hopped out, hooked the winch strap onto the rudder tube, and we easily cranked WiTHiN all the way up and onto the bunks. I think this is all a 2 man job - possibly even 1 man with some practice.

I had my Spidertracks satellite tracking unit running the whole time and it worked great:

When Ken and I got back to the house, we got a couple of bathroom scales out and weighed WITHiN:

Boat with hatches & port lights = 341 lbs
Keel bulb = 62 lbs
Keel post = 18 lbs
Drive leg = 24 lbs
Battery = 40 lbs
Rudder = 10 lbs
Greg = 156 lbs
Total testing weight = 651 lbs
Total boat weight without crew or any equipment = 455 lbs

Ken and I have a lot of work to do between now and the next lake trials at the end of September where we will do the capsize and flood tests: Cabin top carbon tape finished, body work and paint (anti-foul on the hull), solar panels on, electrical, light mast, antennas, cleats, keel and drive leg fairing, seat installed, gear nets, hatches and ports sealed, trailer beefed up a bit, sponsor decals, adjustable seat mount...

Then it's sea trials at the beginning of October on Vancouver Island with my new friend ocean rower Jordan Hanssen. Jordan and I are planning a sort of testing/learning/experience gaining expedition - details coming soon.

Next for me is the Lost Sole ultra marathon on Friday! YIKES!!! It's my last chance this year to actually complete a 100 mile ultramarathon. Wish me luck.


Ready for the water!

Hatches & port lights on, not painted yet, no electronics, no equipment - still TONS to do, but she is ready to see water for the first time!

This is a view from inside the cockpit facing the stern. You can see the cabin hatch which is open to the side (like a door). This position allows me to sit in a variety of positions - on the seat back storage bin hatch (white hatch cover) with my legs in the cabin and head out the cabin top hatch, or facing the other way. It also allows me to easily crawl into the cabin.

The Lewmar port lights are mounted temporarily for the lake test. I wanted to get a feel for visibility through them, fresh air, operation, etc. So far, it feel really good - very comfortable and functional. I have a really great view all around me.

The is a shot from yesterday - vacuum bagging the cabin top onto the hull

Here is Manny's amazing work. Yes the keel bulb is on backwards - a small error which we will fix next week.

Manny's propeller designed by Rick Willoughby

Keel bulb

Inside the cockpit facing forward. We have not yet finished the carbon seems as you can see by the openings at the front port light.

The pilot hatch

Drive leg & prop slides into a tapered hole in the hull.


Lake test on SUNDAY!

I cannot believe that we will actually be ready for the very first lake trials on Sunday!

By looking at these shots taken today, you might not believe it either, but we are much closer to finishing than it might appear. There won't be any paint on WiTHiN, or electronics or equipment aside from the pedals, propeller, keel, seat, rudder, portlights and hatches, but she will be water worthy!

The objective with the first initial test will be primarily to measure actual speed compared to design speed, and feel out the general stability. Rick Willoughby designed the hull of WiTHiN, and the prop for 78 rpm at the pedals which produces 150 watts of power and should create about 8 km per hour of speed on a flat calm lake on a windless day. Since I can't install my SRM power meter onto the gear box based drive leg, I measured my heart rate at 150 watts & 80 rpm today on my trainer.

On the lake on Sunday, I'll want to confirm that a cadence of 80 rpm should produce about 8 km / hour of speed and result in about 105 beats per minute in the engine.

We have tomorrow and Friday to get the cabin top on, install the propeller, fill the drive leg with oil, fit the keel bulb on, place my recumbent seat in position, and install all of the ports and hatches,

Check out the new Follow Greg page at the new site! Our new Spidertracks satellite tracking device is now running with live updates on the map! I'll be running it on Sunday during the lake trials, so if you can't make it down to Glenmore reservoir, you can watch all the action live on the web site! (well.. by "live action" I mean watching a little green dot move around a digital satellite image of Glenmore Reservoir on a Google map along with the occasional Twitter update - still exciting. Kind of).

Here are some pics of today's progress:

The hole of the left is for the keel post - hole on the right is for the drive leg tapered plug

This is the drive leg with the tapered plug. The plug is made of Chockfast epoxy chocking compound and was poured into the drive leg bay with the drive leg in position. This stuff is like rock when it cures - amazing

This is a view down the drive leg bay in the torque tube. That's me down there. The threaded end of the keel post fits through the hole on the left and it secured with a nut. Stuart designed this "torque tube" box to transfer the forces from the keel into the hull and bulkheads of the boat. You have no idea what it took to build the torque tube. I would say probably 10 to 15 man-days. The keel tube would probably bend (and it's 1.25" square solid stainless steel!) before anything broke in the hull. If that happened, the keel could be dropped out by simply removing the retaining nut.

This is a view of the upside down hull showing the drive leg without the lower gear box and prop. Note the thin line around the drive leg tube. That is how tightly Ken made the drive leg plug fit into the hull bottom. After body work and paint, you probably won't even see it. The square hole on the left is for the keel tube

The cabin top

Sanding blocks for body work on the hull

Rudder tube hole

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62% chance of success

I've been trying to figure out how to mount the VHF radio antenna, my AIS antenna, GPS antenna, Navigation light, radar reflector. that's a lot of stuff up high which is not great for windage and offsets what we are trying to accomplish with the keel bulb which is required for stability. So, I posted a question to the forum and got some helpful advice from that group.

At OARS, I noticed a sobering post by the site administrator titled "Incomplete Rows in 2009" There were short descriptions of SEVENTEEN incompleted expeditions so far in 2009. Yikes!

I checked the Ocean Rowing Society statistics page and saw that in all-time, there have been 405 attempts to cross an ocean by human power (for the most part, that has been by rowing - but we plan on changing that :-)) and 156 of those attempts were incomplete - that's a whopping 38% failure rate! Over 1 in 3 attempts end up in failure, and of those, 6 were lost at sea.

From the OARS forum, below is the list of incomplete ocean rows for 2009 and reasons for their failures (updated July 28th, 2009). This is IMPORTANT stuff and I think that anyone considering a human powered ocean crossing should take all of this to heart and plan accordingly. In the years that I have been following ocean rows, I have found the same issues responsible for prematurely ending an expedition - time and time again. I'll summarize those issues after this list, and go over some of the steps that I can take to mitigate those risks:

On 28 July 2009 John Maher sent a message to the members of Shepherd Purple Heart Ocean Row - Subject: End of the road

"It is with regret that I confirm that Molly's quest has been ended. In dense fog, in the deep of the night and rough seas, all communications were lost with no way to generate power due to technical malfunctions. This left us in a suicidal situation to think about continuing as the boat could not be seen and with no communications a decision was made between the team, the Falmouth and Canadian coastguards to start a rescue mission with the aid of an oil rig support vessel. With the use of their radars Molly was located and made safe. He is in the process of being returned to dry land complete with boat and a further update will follow in due course. To confirm both Molly and boat are now safe."

13 Jun 2009 - statement from Simon Prior on his decision to retire from the race
"Here I am onboard the race support vessel and I’m most grateful for the kindness, warmth and empathy that the crew have shown to me upon collecting me from my rowing boat, Old Mutual Endurance. The last 54 days have been, if anything, an amazing experience with highs and lows in equal measures. Very sadly I have fallen short of the target that I set myself and I’m distraught that Mauritius never came into view.
The whole project of rowing an ocean is an enormous undertaking; physically, mentally, financially and logistically. I have learnt so much about every aspect of myself and of the seas.
The oceans are vast, phenomenal places, offering the most peaceful solitude and the most humbling of extreme seas. The ongoing issues with my watermaker and rudder lines sealed my fate. The watermaker continually failed and all storage and drinking containers became contaminated with mould, impairing my already weakened body. The rudder lines also continued to cause issues and in hindsight were never strong enough for the forces upon them.
The rudder lines broke four times in total and without sufficient spare rope to replace the lines, I was unable to steer the boat adequately. With these issues ongoing, I was finding myself sadly repairing items 3-4 hours everyday and with the days already ticking by my spirit was finally broken".

On May 29th Charlie called the US coast guard for a rescue, activating his EPIRB to guide them to his position. He was 10 days into his row and in seas of 5-7ft and 15knot winds. His boat was left adrift and has subsequently been recovered. This was Charlie's second unsuccessful attempt to row the North Atlantic solo after calling in a rescue 50miles out to sea in 2007.
Watch a local news reports on the rescue:

Retired after pintles holding the rudder to their boat broke and they lost their para-anchor. Their boat has been cast adrift but will continue to be tracked by the Race Office while all possible options to salvage the boat are considered.

From the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009 news page:
Following the retirement and recovery of Boat 2 'Dream it Do it’ to the Abrolhos Islands Roger and Tom were flown to Geraldton so that Roger could seek medical examination and assistance from Geraldton Hospital. Examination confirmed the original on-board diagnosis that Roger had indeed cracked a couple of ribs.

From the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009 news page:
Throughout Monday 20th April, the progress of boat 8 had been monitored, and in consideration with the forecast wind strength and direction there was concern for the safety of Hoppipolla. The Support Vessel was directed to Hoppipolla’s position and at 09:00GMT (17:00 WA time) Mick Moran, requested assistance. Mick had been experiencing problems with his steering system and centre board and had been finding it impossible to row in the desired direction. The Support Vessel took Hoppipolla under tow and returned to the Batavia Marina.

From blog dated 26th April
“Whatever It Takes” discovered water leaking into their aft cabin through the hull bilge pump. As the dark of night was approaching, Go West worked furiously to stop the leak. Dave donned a survival suit and jumped overboard armed with a screwdriver. He spent about an hour in 4 meter seas working on the problem. After an excruciating time he had successfully screwed the housing in properly (one screw was 10mm proud of the housing). The leak had only reduced by about 50% so he attempted to stem the leak with waterproof ‘putty’. It was a valiant effort, but to no avail. The Australian Maritime College “Whatever it Takes” had a terminal leak, the stern cabin and lockers had taken on around 150 litres of water.
After calling in a resuce the team was safely towed ashore.

Communique de Bouvet Rames Guyane 29.04.09
Bertrand de Gaullier, which had capsized Monday and triggered two beacons, waited to be rescued for 36 hours. An expectation of the more painful it was quickly realized that two tags were no longer on board and it would be very difficult to find relief. But Bertrand has never lost his composure and followed the procedure of recovery in professional sea despite his injured right arm which made him suffer for many weeks. It is true that the Captain and Commander of the base of the marines and commandos Lorient, Bertrand de Gaullier des Bordes has always been accustomed to exercise extreme and dangerous situations.

REMY ALNET - SOLO (BOUVET RAMES GUYANE) - Translated from French
Testimony of Remy 18.04.09
"I was in the cockpit and I wanted to put the music louder. I was opening the panel of my car when a wave larger than the other has completely flooded the interior. The boat was unbalanced and quickly capsized. I wanted to run the pumping system, but it did not work. I have plunged more than ten times, unfortunately without success. I'm back on the hull of my boat but I was getting cold and lose strength ... I knew I had to tinker a place of retreat since the arches for that purpose had been broken at the outset, I then had the idea of crossing the oars on each side of the boat and then to pass ropes between these two extremes, I thus made a sort of ring. Then it plunges back that I had to recover my survival suit and food to consider an expectation that I knew I could be long. I imagined that we were looking for me and I kept hoping but it was very hard because the waves me destabilization and a little balance in my shell, I often fell into the water. I can say that I swallowed seawater overnight. But I clung to my oars, I do not let go. I had more strength, and I finally cling to the oars. In addition, the boat sank, he was only 50 cm above the water ... The night was interminable. When, at daybreak, I saw the freighter that was 300 yards away, I went back under the water for my rockets. I waited until the last moment to recover because I knew I had to drown the cabinet and then the boat would sink a little more. I've touvées and got back on the boat. I had three, the first one did not work, the second not only at the third that it worked. The crew of the Astro Chloe saw me and took me retrieved using a basket. They tried to save my boat but it did not work. "
Currently aboard the Super Tanker "Astro Chloe, Remy Alnet will be landed on a boat patrol in Brazil to be deposited in Cayenne. "I do not have my papers, I lost everything and it is preferable that I landed on French soil," explained the skipper.
Hear the testimony of Remy Alnet

Communicates Bouvet Rames Guyane 11.04.09
If the conditions of wind and current remain the leading men of the Bouvet Rames Guyane Cayenne should see during the weekend, thus crossing the Atlantic to train in six weeks. At the other end of the water, things get complicated for most skippers and South, although it dragged on the shores of the Black Pot, Patricia Lemoine throws in the towel and announced it abandoned.

Olly's departed Tasmania, Australia on 23rd January and began an attempt to row around Antarctica and become the first person to complete a circumnavigation of the globe without touching land. Olly decided to suspend his how at New Zealand. Olly managed to get within 12nm of the coast before being pushed back out to sea so was forced to call in a tow and was picked up at 25nm from land (in 40kn winds and a 4m swell) and he and his boat were safely bought ashore. Olly gives his reasons for suspending the row in his blog dated 10th April:
...our mileage made good is miserable and would works out if I was to carry on regardless in completion of the end goal in about 5 years..... In large this poor progress is down to problems with the boat. She does not like to go downwind of her own accord or indeed once the wind gets above 20knots not even under oars. Since the average wind speeds in the Southern Ocean are 20-30kts this is obviously something of a problem. The boat is also incredibly heavy about 2 tonnes and on a calm day I can make only about 1.4kts average which is v slow. We had anticipated making about 1000nm a month as per my Atlantic boat but evidently this has not been borne out. Another fact taken into consideration was that this is the worst year on record for drift ice coming out of the Ross sea. With Icebergs over 5km long reported in the region.

On 15th April Victor's team announced that his desalinator had stopped working and that he would be abandoning his row. He was rescued by a nearby fishing vessel. His boat was lost after the line towing it behind the fishing vessel broke. The following day he posted this blog:
Thanks to the US Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, Governments of Senegal, Spain, France and the NGO New Future Foundation of Senegal. I am very well. The line that was towing the Spirit of Zayed was broken during rough seas. The authorities are attempting to locate and retrieve the vessel.

Erden has decided to come in to land in the North of New Guinea and continue his circumnavigation (by ocean rowing boat across the oceans and by bike across the continents via the highest mountain on each of the 6 'mainland' continents) later in the year. He will be walking across New Guinea from September, then kayaking to a suitable island from which to continue rowing to mainland Australia. Then it's back on the bike via Mt Kosciusko aiming to reach Western Australia by April 2010 to set off on the indian ocean leg of his journey.

Blog updated by Eddy's support team 21st January
17/01 Watermaker stopped working
18/01 Eddy unable to repair watermaker whilst at sea. Whats more he has hurt his right thigh (torn muscle or spasms?). Added to that the batteries haven't been charging properly.
19/01 In the evening Eddy accepted help offered to him by a safety organisation, to take him back to the island of El Hiero, where he was taken to hospital, a normal procedure in cases like this.
20/01 Eddy left the hospital and unfortunately had to record the damage caused to Martha Dos while she was being towed.
21/01 Eddy has made an inventory of the contents of the boat and is keeping us informed as to how he wants to proceed.

Press release dated 15th January
Falmouth Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre are currently coordinating the search and rescue of ‘La Mondiale’ the British ocean rowboat and its 14 crew. ‘La Mondiale’ is attempting to break the current record by rowing from Gran Canaria to Barbados, with the overall intention of raising £1 million for charitable causes. The Coastguard received a call this morning at 10.21am informing them that the rowboat had lost its rudder after hitting a submerged object 280 miles North West of Cape Verde, a temporary rudder had been rigged up but had now failed them. Martin Bidmead, Watch Manager, Falmouth Maritime and Rescue Coordiantion Centre, said:“We have been able to talk to the crew which consists of several nationalities: British, Scottish, Irish, Canadian and Faroese. They are all safe and well, they are not in a situation of distress only the boat is disabled. But the weather conditions on scene for the next few days will not allow them to make the repairs to the rudder. A Bulk Carrier ‘Island Ranger’ on passage from Brazil to Italy is currently making its way to the rowboat and is expected on scene at 8:00pm to offer assistance.”

Aldo and Ken were headed for the Cape Verdes to make repairs to their electrics which had failed leaving them with limited communication and safety equipment.
From blog dated 6th January
Once again the weather had taken a turn for the worst and we were unable to row. Late Tuesday afternoon we were both in the cabin, feeling rather bored and frustrated when just by chance Ken looked out to see a huge cargo vessel heading straight for us, only hundreds of yards away. Immediately we sprang into action and set off the flares to raise the alarm. The first flare didn't work but luckily the second one did and fortunately the Turkish crew of the big vessel spotted us just in time to change it's direction and a major collision was (at first) avoided. Unfortunately the day finished catastrophically for RITA. During the events that ensued poor RITA got wrecked and we boarded the cargo vessel to be taken ashore to Cape Verde. We are devastated but thank God we are alive.

Announcement on tracking website dated 3rd January
Unfortunately following severe sea sickness, and a suspected stomach ulcer, Leo Rosette has been forced to return to La Gomera just days into his Atlantic crossing. Leo is now safely back on land and being treated at the local hospital in San Sebastian de la Gomera and hopes to restart his adventure once he has been cleared to do so by medical staff. Woodvale Challenge would like to thank everyone who played a part in recovering Leo and his boat Halcyon.

Here is a ranked list of reasons for failure:

3 x watermaker failures
3 x rudder + 1 broken by hitting submerged object
2 x capsize flood + 1 flood caused by bilge pump leak
2 x power system failures
2 x psychological issues
1 injury + 1 severe sea sickness
1 inadequate boat performance

1. Watermaker - Time and time again I have read about this problem. To me, it seems like 1 out of every 2 ocean rowing expeditions has problems with the electric desalinator. Sometimes the unit is repaired at sea, and sometimes a smaller manual backup unit is used. In the case of the Woodvale ocean rowing race, they are required to take fresh water as ballast. In an emergency, the rowers are allowed to drink this water, but doing so disqualifies the rower(s) from the race.

At the very least, I need to become very familiar with the operation and servicing of my Katadyn 40E electric desalinator before I depart. I should be able to take it apart and put it back together again. To minimize the possibility that the power supply is causing the problem, I think it would be wise to have two redundant power sources / batteries and the ability to easily switch between the two. I also need to have a good spare parts kit. My back-up matermaker is the Katadyn Surviver 06 manual desalinator. To resort to using this would be a pain - literally because it takes an average of 2 hours of pumping per day to make one day's worth of fresh drinking and cooking water. We are thinking about making a pedal powered mechanism to operate this which would make it much easier to use. I won't have any fresh water back-up onboard because I won't have the room.

2. Rudder - I think we have a pretty beefy rudder and steering system. The rudder is operated by a heavy-duty push-pull cable designed to be used on large sailing yachts and power boats. If something did break on the cable, I can disconnect the push-pull cable, and rig up an emergency steering line system with a pulley and take control over the rudder. If something were to happen to the rudder itself - like striking a submerged object and breaking, then I may have to remove it which would be a simple operation of just removing a clamp and a pin. I think it might be worth bringing a light weight, simple spare rudder along.

3. Capsize floods - This is the scary one. In recent history there have been 2 deaths and capsizing has been the primary cause of both of them. In February, 2007, Australian Andrew McCauley attempted to become the first person to cross the Tasman sea by kayak. After 30 days and nights
in a slightly modified off-the-shelf kayak only about 75 km away from his destination of New Zealand, Andrew went missing. The next day they found his upturned kayak. It is speculated that Andrew capsized in choppy seas and got separated from his boat. The winds were strong that day, and they would have blown his kayak away from him very quickly. The lesson applied here for me is to always wear a safety tether when in the cockpit with the hatches open. It would be possible to be tossed out of WiTHiN by a rouge wave and partial capsize wile standing up through the top hatch. A tether would at least keep me close to the boat where I could climb back aboard.

The second death was 62 year old Nenad Belic who was rowing his home built ocean rowing boat across the North Atlantic from Cape Cod to Ireland in May of 2001. He went missing after about 4 1/2 months. His boat was found upside down fully flooded 230 miles west of Ireland. This case is a bit puzzling. I have searched for more information and can't seem to find any. I did find a drawing of his row boat, and to me, it didn't seem to have any separate water tight compartments. I would think that if it capsized with a hatch or portlight open, it would totally flood, and possibly not right itself. Evidently, this is what happened to Nenad.

If WiTHiN were to capsize with all of the portlights and hatches in the cockpit open, but with the hatches for the cabin and bow storage compartments closed, then the cockpit would flood - but, she would right herself due to the keel, and the cockpit could be bailed out. I'll have an electric bilge pump in the cockpit to help with the bail out. The rule will be that the inside hatches for the cabin and the bow storage compartment must be kept closed if any of the portlights or hatches are open in the main cockpit. Also, I must wear a tether if there is any possibility of capsizing with the cockpit hatches and ports open.

4. Power system failures - There could be a number of reasons for this. If the system is strictly solar powered, then a few days of very cloudy or foggy weather could exhaust the batteries. There could be faulty wiring, broken fuses, or malfunctioning electronic equipment. I will have 2 separate sources of power - solar panels and a wind generator. I think it might be smart to have each of them charge a different battery, and then split the electronics between the two batteries with the option to be able to switch power sources. I should also easily be able to power something directly from either the wind generator or solar panels and bypass the batteries and charge controller.

5. Psychological issues - there is only one way to avoid this: TRAINING. I must expose myself to the ocean environment to adjust to that environment.

6. Injury and sea sickness - I have experienced sea sickness and it's NOT fun. I know that typically after 2 or 3 days your body will get used to it and I think that possibly medication could be the bridge that takes me to the third day. As for injury - I will take a very thorough medical kit.

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A bit stressed

There comes a time in every project where I am teetering between feeling like everything is totally out of control and very near complete disaster, and feeling the excitement of being so close to completing a significant benchmark. I'm there right now. And I'm also being a bit dramatic. Things are nowhere near 'crazy out of control', but there are SOOO many items going through my brain, that I'm having problems turning all the thoughts off for sleep.

The reason for the stress is because I have made a decision on a really cool intermediate challenge and I am going to make that announcement at the end of August. For now, know that a., it is VERY cool (like I already said), and b., involves partnering with an accomplished ocean rower, and c., it will be a record attempt (of course - right?) that we think we can totally kill. Because of schedule and weather issues, we have to depart close to October 1st, and that is only about 6 1/2 weeks away and I have SOOO many things to get finished before then! Add to this stress mixture the fact that I am on vacation for over 2 weeks between now and then, + the 100 mile ultramarathon in Lethbridge on September 11th which I am still training for, and trying to maintain my cycling training for this upcoming record attempt.

Here is a list of some of the stuff that needs to happen between now and then. If you thing you are able to assist in any way, please let me know.
  • Torque tube box in the hull finished and keel and drive leg installed and working. We received the completed keel post and drive leg from my buddy and Pedaltheocean sponsor Manny at and it looks pretty good. Very beefy for sure. The drive leg gear boxes were manufactured and customized for me by MitrPak.

  • Rudder controls finished and working. We are 95% there now due to Kens EXCELLENT fabrication. We are using a single marine rated push-pull cable routed through the hull and under the arm rest to a lever on top of the arm rest in the cockpit - very slick and VERY SMOOTH action. For the ocean crossing I will install an auto steer servo slaved to the GPS.

    The rudder tube is from Adam at - another Pedaltheocean sponsor. Carbon Fiber Tube Shop makes the best carbon tubes with a huge selection of sizes - definitely better than making them in the shop.

  • This is a clamp with a steering horn for the rudder that I welded up

    Some more weldments for the armrest steering lever

  • Hatches and Port lights installed. The two inside hatches have been semi attached. The others need to happen during body work to properly fair-in the leveled surfaces to fit the hatches and ports.

  • Join the cabin top to the hull. We need to finish the torque tube first. This is a box built-into the floor that will transmit forces from the keel into the bulheads then into the hull. This is also where the drive leg (pedals and prop) inserts into.

  • Install electronics. For this record attempt, we are going to go with a simplified electronics package. A navigation light, tracking device from our new sponsor SpiderTracks - check it out. Very cool! A few solar panels, and hand-held portable electronics with a manually operated water desalinator.

  • Trailer. I have purchased a boat trailer and I'm 50% of the way through making the modifications required to lift WiTHiN about 3 feet up off the bunks to clear the keel.

  • Body work - Ken has covered the bottom hull with micro and needs to sand it smooth, then apply anti-foul paint. He needs to do the same with the cabin top.

    I have been thinking about neon green for a paint color.
    The 80's neon colors are really making a come-back.
    It's sort of reminiscent of the old 1960's muscle car, and I think a thick
    black racing strip would really punch the 'muscle yacht' message home.
    WiTHiN needs to be Outside magazine / Popular Science magazine cover shot worthy!

  • Dozens of smaller items like installing some cargo nets, installing the recumbent seat, a battery holder, a mast to raise the LED nav light, install cleats, etc, etc

  • Buy, acquire, find, make, invent items on my ever-growing list of supplies that we will require for the record attempt expedition.

  • Food - Pack 20 days worth of food.

  • Sea anchor - I need to get the sea anchor lines figured out. Below is a photo of my sea anchor on loan from my buddy and hero Jason Lewis from I am honored to be using this anchor because Jason used it on pedal boat Moksha on his world-first circumnavigation of the planet by human power.

  • According to some information I found on the ocean rowing web sites,
    this seems to be the standard configuration for a small boat. The sea anchor is used
    to help keep the bow (or stern) pointed into bad weather, and to stop being blown off course by strong winds.

  • Web site - Get the new web site up and live before the end of August. The new site is being designed by Julia Lauer and Stephen Capp with snappy copy writing by Chris Keam. It's at that point when I will announce the record attempt expedition, the new charity, etc.

  • Plan two media days - one in Calgary at the end of September at Glenmore res just before we embark on our record attempt expedition, and one in the city where we will be launching from. The purpose of the media events is to promote the new charity, the record attempt and of course, PedalTheOean Pacific crossing in June.
The calendar and schedule is as follows:
  • End of August:
    1. get WiTHiN into a lake for initial testing.
    2. roll the new web site out
    3. announce the charity and initiative
    4. Announce the intermediate project record attempt expedition

  • End of September:
    1. Have WiTHiN expedition ready
    2. Media / press event in Calgary
    3. Media / press event in departure city

  • Beginning of October (10 to 20 days):

  • Winter 2010:
    1. Get WiTHiN ready for the Pacific crossing
    2. Do some training trips on the west coast

  • June 2010:
    1. Depart from Victoria, BC - destination HAWAII!!

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Be careful what you wish for

The photo above is from July 4 (almost 4 weeks ago) near Frank slide shortly after the start of a VERY long trail race - the 147 km Sinister 7 ultramarathon. My first attempt at running this distance resulted in having to drop out after about 19 hours and 120 km with severe blisters.

It has been a long time goal of mine to someday run 100 miles and I decided that I was going to go for it this summer. I started with a 50 mile race in Bellingham Washington and had an amazing race despite running off course and extending my run by about 90 minutes.

After that race, I felt I was ready to continue on, and registered for the almost-100 miler Sinister 7. Since that ended prematurely, I was possibly looking at a 100mileless summer. Once you start these races, you might as well keep going because you can use each ultra as a training stage for the next one. I immediately started looking for another ultramarathon and found the only one that fit our summer travel schedule - the Lost Soul Ultramarathon which is on September 11th and is a full 100 mile race. Of course, the race was full, so closed to new entries. So, I made the decision to give up the quest for this year and possibly go after it again after my Pacific ocean crossing next summer and started focusing on cycling training to get ready for the 2-man test-expedition in October. (South down the Pacific ocean from Vancouver Island to California).

Of course, I got the phone call this morning that my name which was on the Lost Soul ultra waiting list was accepted, so it looks like I'm running the Lost Soul!

I'd better start running again!!! 100 miles is a freaking LONG way to run. I'll hit it hard again this weekend in Whitefish on Big Mountain.

In other news, I wanted to show you some photos of the Kens awesome work on the crush zones for WiTHiN. The crush zones are the tips of the bow and stern that are solid foam and covered with carbon. The purpose is if I run into a log, dock or whatever, I will damage this section and not risk de-laminating the carbon from the sides of the hull or risk breaching the far bow and stern compartments.

The bow is completely wrapped in carbon BEFORE this additional foam tip is bonded on. The foam tip will also be covered in carbon. If the tip were to smash into something, then it would be crushed and cracked and (hopefully) leave the main hull intact. ie: any delaminating of the composite layer would be limited to the crush zone.

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Crawling through hatches

me in the bow storage compartment turned guest room

I had a great idea the other day while on a hike up Big Mountain. It occurred to me that WiTHiN is easily big enough to hold TWO people - one could sit in the cockpit and pedal while the other relaxes in the cabin spotting traffic or sleeping. The duo could switch off every 4 hours or so. If the weather ever got bad enough to have to sit it out on sea anchor, then there is plenty of room in the bow storage compartment for a sleeping bunk. Jason Lewis's pedal boat Moksha was very similar to WiTHiN, but slightly larger. He went around the world in Moksha and much of the time there were 2 people in the boat sharing the pedalling duties.

it is even possible to do a 180 in there - a bit tight, but it can be done.

I'm not suggesting that Pedaltheocean become a two-man expedition to cross the Pacific, but I am thinking that this could be a really great way for me to gain experience with the help of someone else with experience and who knows his way around ocean human powering.

This is a view from the cockpit seat into the bow storage compartment. The round hatch in the bulkhead is about 6.5 feet away.

So, what I am thinking of doing is to plan a mini-expedition from Victoria BC (or somewhere in the Pacific North West), south down the west coast of the US to San Fransisco (or somewhere sufficiently far). This mini-pedaltheocean-expedition would be a 2-man effort. We could plan 2 to 3 day legs between safe harbors to wait-out any especially bad weather and sort of play it by ear as we make our way south. There are plenty of coastguard stations along the coast, and plenty of ports.

I think a 2 to 3 week trip like this is exactly what I need to find my sea legs and learn more about exactly what it is going to take to pedal my butt all the way across to Hawaii. I'm thinking sort of October'ish time-frame for this 'wet road trip'.

This is the rear sleeping cabin. The round storage hatch in the bulkhead
at the back is about 6.5 feet away

Ken and I had WiTHiN out on the driveway today, so I thought I would hop in to experience how 'roomy' the bow storage compartment is. We put a large hatch in the forward bulkhead to accommodate a person crawling in there, and there is more than enough room to stretch out and have a nap. For the ocean crossing, I will need to use this area to store my food and equipment, but for the 'wet road trip', I think we have plenty of room to store supplies elsewhere (far bow and far stern compartments, seat storage, nicks and crannies here and there) and reserve the bow compartment for a sleeping mat.

me facing forward looking through the hatch
There is also PLENTY of room in the sleeping cabin to either stretch out and sleep, or sit up and read, work on the computer or spot traffic out the portlights. When sitting up in the sleeping cabin, I could easily see 380 degrees around me (there will be a rear portlight window as well as two on each side. When facing forward, I can see through the glass hatch in the bulkhead). When my 'guest' is enjoying the ride back there, the hatch could be open for ventilation, communication and general socializing with the other passengers. (passenger).

me facing the stern looking through the rear portlight


WiTHiN is off the stand

WiTHiN upside down on a new stand. The bleeder protective covering has now been removed from the hull bottom

As far as big jobs go for right now, all that is left is building the drive leg / keel bay, carbon taping the exterior seems, and joining the cabin top. Paint & body work, sealing in ports and hatches, and installing hardware, steering, electronics, etc all happens after paint and body work.

Since the WiTHiN designer Stuart Bloomfield has been swamped with other work lately and hasn't had time to complete the drawings for the drive leg bay (a square box that also acts as a torque tube and will hold the drive leg and the keel), we need to find other jobs to do, so we removed the hull from the jig stand and rolled it out onto the drive way to finish up the exterior carbon taping.

Ken is filling the gaps between panels on the hull with epoxy / micro

My daughter Krista shot this awesome photo at the Grand Canyon

We had a great vacation in Vegas with the kids. Helen and I aren't gamblers, but we love the shows and hotels right now are super cheap. We took the kids to see Jersey Boys, Cirq, Blue Man Group, Lion King and Phantom. We also took a day and hit the Grand Canyon. It was over 43 degrees C each day - ugh!

Me on the nocom lowracer sporting my new summer hair cut
After the Sinister 7 ultramarathon a few weeks ago where I dropped out at 120 km, I searched for another 100 miler for this fall that fit into our summer schedule, but the races that I found were either full or the dates didn't work. So, I have decided to hang up my running shoes for this season and dust off the cycling shoes and it my cycling training big. I want to do a big training / testing trip in WiTHiN in fall / winter, so I want to be physically ready for it.

Helen and I are going to cycle 100 km to Banff tomorrow for our anniversary, then back on Sunday. I'm taking the new NoCom with the old BOB trailer on the back. It's a funny image - that NoCom is probably one of the fastest bikes in the world and it will be hauling about 50 pounds of clothes and gear on an old trailer that has seen many great days of touring!

Nocom lowracer with a BOB trailer


WiTHiN progress

I've been posting fewer blogs showing progress of the human powered expedition boat WiTHiN, not because we haven't been making progress, but the progress isn't visually as impressive as it once was when we were making the big parts. Now it's small things that take a lot of time. For example, it took a couple of weeks to prepare all of the hatch and port openings. Each hole that we cut out of the panel needed to be reinforced with 12 layers of unidirectional carbon wrapped around the opening then capped with a layer of bi - this is VERY time consuming, but it's required to properly distribute forces around the opening.

It took a few days to make the rudder tube (pictured below), and a week or so to tape all of the seat panels, etc, etc, etc... But - we are definitely getting there.

We are now basically ready to build the torque tube that will hold the keel. Once that is in, and the rudder is finished (mostly done - also pictured below), it's time to fix the cabin top to the hull, tape it all up and start body work. Then ports and hatches are installed, then all of my equipment - water maker, GPS, AIS receiver, radio, solar panels, wind generator, etc, etc. My good friend Manny from Rohmec Industries is involved again by offering to machine the prop, parts of the drive leg from MitrPak, and the keel.

I am really aiming for water testing by the end of August. My goal is to have WiTHiN ready for sea trials in September / October out in Tofino again and I am trying to come up with some sort of intermediate challenge that will serve as a really good test of the boat, equipment and systems and as well as provide me that more needed experience. Maybe a multi-day - straight out into the Pacific, out and back trip? I was thinking about circumnavigating Vancouver Island, but that would be 20 days or more and I'm not sure I can take that much time. If you have any ideas, let me have them.

Below are some random progress shots:

Cabin top showing the reinforcements for the port cutouts

Inside the cockpit with view through the forward hatch

Piles and piles of hatches and port lights from Glenn at

The cabin top
The stern with the rudder shell. A stainless steel rudder tube fits through two plastic bushings pressed into this shell.

This is the bottom side of the stern top deck cover. The rudder shell fits into this cup.

Here is the rudder. It is a stainless tube with steel sections forming the rudder profile, then covered with micro / epoxy. The micro needs to be sanded smooth and to the exact shape, then covered with carbon.


The pedal drive is here

Here is a nifty little animation I whipped up showing the computer model of WiTHiN blending into the actual boat in my shop.

And the big news for the week is the drive leg is here! MitrPak built it and they did an awesome job! The 'T' gear box at the top has a Shimano crank axle which turns a stainless shaft which will run through a tube that connects to the lower 'L' gear box which will turn the prop. The entire drive shaft tube and gear boxes will be filled up with oil and the higher head pressure will keep the corrosive sea water out.

I am happy to say that Ben Eadie is back to help out with construction for a while. The above shot is Ken de-coring the portlight cutout edges. This slot is filled with an epoxy / micro-fiber mix and then covered with carbon.

The image above shows the seat panels now carbon taped into position. The round hatch below the arm rest is for dry storage.

The above illustration is a cut-away view of WiTHiN showing the cockpit, supplies, cabin and a new removable wind generator. My boat equipment guy Glenn Mulhare from Mariner Parts and I are having difficulty finding enough power with flexible solar panels to power all of the electronics, so we have decided to mount a removable wind generator for when the batteries need charging, and wind conditions are right. I can't leave this up all the time because it would cause far too much drag in head-wind conditions. However, if I am stopped for the night, and have a sea anchor out, I should be able to charge the batteries overnight as I sleep.


My back yard

If you don't live here (Calgary), I am sorry and I don't mean to rub this in your face or anything, but check out the pictures from my Saturday training run with my buddy Bryon.

Bryon Howard and me at the 9100 feet summit of Mount Allen in Kananaskis
It has been a long-time goal of mine to complete an ultramarathon, and I am very happy that I was able to accomplish my goal 2 weeks ago by finishing the Northface endurance challenge 50 miler ultramarathon which was an amazing experience.

After the race, my knees were swollen, achillies tendons very sore, my quads were trashed and my toes are black and blue and I will lose 3 toe nails. A long, restful recovery is required and I am happy and satisfied that I have achieved my goal.


Instead, I went and signed up for a 90 MILE (146 km) ultramarathon called the Sinister 7 in Crowsnest pass in 9 days from now! YA!!!! Bring it on!

me running (& lost) following an animal trail trail

The Sinister 7 solo race starts at 7:00 am on Saturday morning, July 4. The 146km course will take me through the most rugged, remote and beautiful terrain in Alberta's stunning Rocky Mountains. With over 5,050m (15,150 feet) of elevation gain across the course, this race will punish those who are not prepared.

The Sinister 7 is open to solo runners or teams of up to seven and racers have 27 hours to complete the grueling event. The course is split into seven stages, each featuring a geographic and historic highlight of the area. The race's name is inspired by the treacherous Seven Sisters Mountain that looms over much of the course.

my buddy Bryon sitting at the summit
I actually think I can leverage the Northface race and use it as a training stage for the Sinister - the two races are about 4 weeks apart. I spent the last 2 week in active recovery from Northface, and I felt like I could put in a really tough 2 day training weekend before tapering for the Sinister race. So, last weekend my buddy Bryon and I headed out to Kananaskis to fast hike / climb Mount Allan. Wow! What a hike. It was straight up for 2 hours to the 9000 foot summit. the views were breathtaking!

There was a bit of climbing, but not much, and not very technical
ON the way back down, we got off track and ended up on the other side of the wrong ridge and followed a mountain goat trail to a water fall where a heard of big horn sheep were crossing. That was a really incredible sight. We ended up making our way back over the ridge by following goat trails and eventually made it back to our hiking trail. It was a really cool day.

Then on Sunday I climbed Moose Mountain to the fire lookout station at the top. It took me 4.5 hours for the 30 km round trip and 8000 feet of elevation gain/lost. Now it's rest and recovery time and I feel ready to tackle the Sinister.

I was looking at the solo race results from last years Sinister, and the winner completed the race in a blazing 17 hours! the next finisher was almost 21 hours, then 22 hrs, 23 hrs and the remaining finishers were all over 24 hours. 50% of the starters were able to finish the race within the cut-off time of 27 hours. YIKES! I think my goal will be to just be able to finish this in less than 27 hours. This is going to be TOUGH.

Bryon Howard

In other news, we are still making progress on WiTHiN - the expedition boat. The portlight and hatch holes have been cut-out and we have started preparing the edges which is a very time-consuming job! Each of the cut-out holes have to be de-cored, filled with micro, then reinforced with 20 layers of unidirectional carbon running around the perimeter of the hole with a final layer of bidirectional carbon to cap it off.

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my x-wing starfighter cockpit

We got the seat panels inserted into the expedition boat and just as a double check, I placed my recumbent seat onto the carbon seat panel and used the cranks and drive from Critical Power 2 to check where the pedals will be. It all fit perfectly.

We also got the port light (windows) holes cut out of the cabin top, so we placed the top onto the hull while I sat in the seat. For a moment, I was ready launch a plasma bomb to destroy the death star from my X-wing fighter starfighter cockpit seat. Then I confirmed that nothing interfered with the pedal revolution (it's a human power X-wing) and checked the view out the windows (making sure that the horizon from my eye level was mid-window). All worked perfectly according to plan. Whew! Exciting!!!

I joked with Ken that I want to get the hugest bank of flashing lights and switches and gauges filling up both of those arm rests. Of course, they would do nothing, but how cool would that look!


Peace and rainbows

Peace, rainbows, a mean machine, and a shiny new logo!

Peace and rainbows. man.

We have the lower hull almost totally assembled now, so for fun, we placed the cabin on, and the other top deck panels. It's really starting to come together! Ken is doing a fantastic job and we are progressing nicely - a little slower than I had hoped for, but the quality of Kens workmanship and Stuart's design is second to none. This will be one, mean - state of the art - human powered machine when she is finished.

We started removing some of the jig stations. I can stand on the bow, and it is rock solid.

We prepared the edges of the cut-outs for inspection hatches in two bulkheads and carboned the bulkheads into the hull. 15 layers of uni-directional carbon surrounds each hatch / portlight cut-out!

I am getting tons of help purchasing supplies and equipment from new sponsor Glenn Mulhare from Mariner Parts. The shipment of hatches and portlights is due to arrive today and we're working on specifying the electronics now (solar panels, radios, GPS, etc). It is going to be pretty state of the art. The AIS will talk to the GPS, and the marine radio will broadcast the GPS coords, and I can get sat weather on the GPS, etc - it's all going to be pretty awesome. My good friend George and PTO sponsor from MitrPak is working on the drive legs right now. They should be here in a week or so and we should be able to start working on the structure to hold it in place.

New sponsors are coming online including a tracking device, a sea anchor, a machinist who is milling the prop, a web developer, a web designer, a copywriter, a new charity, a safety boat, and many others who are kindly volunteering to be a part of this in various ways. Thanks to everyone and welcome to the team! Details and names will all be announced when we roll-out the new web site. If you would like to 'join the PTO team' and feel like you have a bit of time or expertise you can offer, email me - I always appreciate the help.
I'm also making good progress on other PTO project items including securing a safety boat for the expedition, the new charity that I hope to raise $250,000 for, and a splashy new web site. I'll announce my new partners and more details soon! Here is a sneak preview of the new PTO logo:

I am speaking at a grade 9 graduation ceremony tomorrow morning and then Helen and I are off to Bellingham on Friday to run the Northface Endurance Challenge on Saturday. Helen's running the half and I'm running the 80 km. I'm ready, but with a lingering knee injury, so I'm a bit apprehensive about that. Oh well... all part of the adventure I guess. I won't be setting any records that's for sure, but since this is my first ultra, my goal is just to finish within the cut off time. Wait.. what is the cut off time anyhow? Let me check... Oh, it's 13 hours. I should be ok. (famous last words!)

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The Hull

The lower hull jig is finished and we have the first panel in!

First, my training progress for the Northface Endurance Challenge Gortex 50 mile run June 6: My last long run weekend consisted of a 6 hour run on Saturday followed by a 3 hour run on Sunday. Both went very well and my pace was faster on the 6 hour run than the previous weekend, so that is good. No serious injuries so far - my Achilles tendinitis has gone away like I knew it would and now I have a bit of a sore knee developing. The race is still a bit over 2 weeks away, so I have time to recuperate.

Second, Pedaltheocean human powered ocean crossing progress: I've been making some good progress on expedition plans.

I am close to signing on with a new charity which is very exciting. I did some research and found that previous ocean crossing expeditions raised anywhere from $20,000 to $600,000 for their charities, so I'm totally pumped about what I can do - sorry, about what 'WE' can do for this great cause!

I need to announce the new Canada to Hawaii route, so I am working with a great web design company & PTO sponsor / team member on a re-design. The roll-out of the new site will coincide with the route announcement and the partnership with the charity.

I am also pretty happy that I may have found a safety boat to follow me across the Pacific to Hawaii. Again, I don't want to say anything until it's a 100% sure thing, but if it works out, it will provide me with the responsible safety net I want, plus it will be a great platform to film from. I am looking for someone who might be interested in producing a film, ( or documentary, TV series, TV show, whatever) and who might enjoy a 40 to 60 day Pacific cruise.

Third, speaking: I'm not nearly as busy as I want to be, but this economy is really beating up on the speaking business. I have a booking to speak at a Toastmasters club annual wrap-up luncheon on June 21, a Junior high school year-end function on June 9, and I'm speaking to American Program Bureau in Boston on June 23. APB is one of the largest speaker bureaus in the US and they want to sign an exclusive representation agreement with me which I am considering.

Fourth, other cool projects: My buddy Roz Savage is due to depart Hawaii for Tuvalu, then onto Australia. According to the countdown timer on her web site, her departure window opens in 3 days from now. We all wish her well!

Fifth, boat building progress:

39. The lower hull jig section patterns are printed and cut out

40. The jog sections are traced onto 1" thick MDF

41. The jig sections are cut out with a skill saw and jig saw.

42. The jig sections for the upper cabin are removed from the square box, and the jig sections for the hull are fastened into place.

43. The jig sections are aligned using target holes and a tight string. After we aligned each station, we could peer through a 1/4 inch hole in the end station and look through ALL 15 holes in 15 stations spanning almost 30 feet!

44. A slot was cut down the middle of the floor hull panel to allow it to bend slightly to fit into a shallow 'V' shape in the jig sections. It is held in place temporarily by weights.

45. The carbon panel is secured to the jig stations with screws and blocks, and the cut is filled with a runny mixture of micro & epoxy

46. The seem is reinforced with a strip of carbon tape, then peel ply is placed over it.

47. Sand is poured into the epoxy whetted carbon tape & peel ply to keep the carbon tightly pressed against the panel and the seem.

See the ENTIRE process (all 47 steps) at this blog post.


Cabin top

Well, we have the cabin top assembled! This is pretty cool because it's the first thing we've made that actually looks like Ocean WiTHiN! We're also pretty psyched to see that Stuart Bloomfields design magic works like a charm. After building the cabin top jig and fitting the 3 cabin top carbon panels into position, they fit PERFECTLY - amazing.

All the construction steps for the cabin top are below, but first a quick training update. As you may recall, I signed up to compete at the Northface Endurance Challenge 50 mile ultramarathon on June 6 in Bellingham, Washington. This will be my first foray into 'ultra' territory which is typically defined as distances greater than 30 miles. I'm really, really enjoying the training which basically consists of 2 long runs per week, back to back. On Saturday I ran up and down Moose Mountain trail in Kananaskis for 4 hours, then I ran it for 5 hours on Sunday.

Running a hilly trail is easier in ways than a flat course. The constant muscle changes from climbing up the steep incline to running down hill seems to 'spread the load' a bit more than the relentless flat and level run. I feel better after 4 hours than a flat run for sure and feel like I can keep going.

The Northface Endurance Challenge Gortex 50 is a TOUGH race with over 13,500 feet of elevation change over 80 km of mountainous trails. The rule of thumb for predicting finishing times for a double marathon is to take your best marathon time, double it and add an hour. This would put me at 8 hours, but that isn't the case with this race. The WINNING time for my division last year was 9 hours! This is one TOUGH race.

My training run on Moose Mountain is a 7.3 km, 2000 foot climb up, then 7.3 km down. I timed myself on my 5.25 hour run on Sunday and calculated that if I could hold the same pace for the entire 80 km race, I could finish in 9 1/2 hours. That's wishful thinking though because I will surely start to slow down after my 5th or 6th or 7th hour! I will be happy if I can break 10 hours.

OK, on to the cabin top building steps:

26. Here is the completed jig station box. It's flat and square and very rigid with coasters so it can be moved in and out of the shop.

27. Ken is tracing the jig station patterns onto some 1" thick MDF wood.

28. The jig stations are cut out and assembled onto the box at pre-specified spacing

29. The jig stations are aligned to each other using alignment targets and a tight string.

30. The carbon sandwich panels are placed into position in the jig. Note that the peel ply and blanket layers are still on the panels. This is to prevent us from rubbing off the peel ply texture which is required for a proper bond and paint.

31. The edges of the peel ply are ripped off showing the carbon. The panels are screwed into the jig sections using a strip of particle board. This will force each panel to curve into it's exact position.

32. The edges of the panels are joined with a radius of micro/epoxy

33. The joins will be reinforced with a strip of carbon tape. To avoid fraying the carbon, a large sheet is whetted out with epoxy resin first, then cut between 2 layers of poly.

34. the carbon tape is placed onto the seam. The epoxy/micro filled radius in the join is semi-curred to a tacky consistency to assure a good bond between the carbon and the micro.

This shows the carbon tape fully whetted out

35. The carbon tape is covered with a strip of peel ply and a strip of absorbent blanket, then covered with plastic.

36. Normally, this carbon tape wet layup should be curred under vacuum, but in this case it would be difficult to obtain a good vacuum due to the seam between the two carbon panels. So, we used about 100 lbs of sand to press down on the wet carbon.

37. After curring, the sand is removed, and the peel and blanket layers are removed. The inside is temporarily reinforced with wood spacers.

38. The cabin top is removed from the cabin top jig.

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Cutting panels

We have completed all but two panels and we realized that we had miscalculated the amount of epoxy resin we were going through. The raw Corecell panels were soaking up way more epoxy that we had originally expected, so I placed an order for more MAS brand epoxy from Noahs in Montreal and we have to wait until Friday for delivery.

It was a chance to switch gears for a bit, so we started work on the next phase - building a jig to hold the panels in place while they are bonded together, and cutting the exact panel shapes out of the rectangular carbon boards. The following steps are a continuation of the step by step "Building WiTHiN" blog post from last week. I'll continue to revise that blog post by adding new steps as we do them.

23. The panel drawing is placed on the cured carbon fiber panel. The photo shows the bulkheads drawing on a section of panel with the peel ply and blanket layers removed. Normally, we do not remove this layer until AFTER the parts have been cut out.

24. The drawing is taped down to the carbon panel by cutting holds in the paper and taping through to the panel.

The two photos above show the paper pattern taped down to the carbon panel ready for cutting.

25. I use a jig saw and follow the cut lines on the paper pattern. Since the paper is taped down to the carbon panel, I can cut right through the paper and panel.

This shows a small panel part cut-out with the paper panel still taped on. Note the nice tight fit between the pattern and the cut carbon panel.

This is the cut-out top deck panel with the peel ply / blanket layer still attached. We won't remove this layer until we are ready to place it into the jig because it protects the surface of the carbon.

26. Ken is building a jig for the top & bottom hull halves. He is starting with a long, straight square box on wheels and the jig stations will be mounted to the top of it and aligned. We will start with the top deck (top hull half) and when it is assembled, we will remove the jig stations and install the jig stations for the bottom hull.


Building WiTHiN

Building Ocean WiTHiN - a human powered ocean crossing boat

My last blog post called "how it's done" was a step by step attempt to show you how we are building Ocean WiTHiN and it was received with a bit of confusion. I realized that I could do a much better job, so after four more days of panel making, and way more photos taken, here is a much more thorough explanation of what we are doing.


The illustration above is a computer rendering of Ocean WiTHiN - a pedal powered boat designed for me to human-power across an ocean with. The ocean in question will either be the Pacific ocean via a route that has never been 'human powered' before - from Vancouver Island Canada to Hawaii in June of 2010, or a speed record attempt across the Atlantic ocean in less than 40 days from Canary Islands to the West Indies in December of 2010.

Ocean WiTHiN was inspired by the prototype version of WiTHiN shown in the photo below taken near Tofino off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Sea trials video here.

WiTHiN prototype was designed by myself and human powered boat guru Rick Willoughby and build by myself and my friend Ben Eadie. She is made of fiberglass using a double kayak hull as a base which was kindly donated by PedalTheOcean sponsor and advisor Steve Schleicher from Nimbus Kayaks.

The new boat - Ocean WiTHiN was designed by myself, Rick Willoughby and world record winning naval architect Stuart Bloomfield. Ocean WiTHiN is made from flat carbon fiber panels that are stitched together to form the basic hull.

The above illustration shows some of the hull panels, and interior seat and bulkhead panels

This is a paper model assembled from printing and cutting out the individual panels. This method of construction is called developable panel. An advantage of developable panels is faster and less expensive fabrication process. According to Ricks calculations, the efficiency differences between a smooth contoured moulded hull (like the prototype) and the square flat panel hull is minimal.

How we're building it

The drawing above shows the layout of some of the individual panels that will form the hull. Each panel is made from 1/2" thick Corecell foam board covered with 2 layers of carbon fiber on each side - called a sandwich panel. We are making all of these rectangular sandwich panels in advance, then tracing the outlines of each panel part and cutting that part out with a saw.

Each panel was printed onto paper using a large format plotter. This photo shows two panel drawings on our giant layup table.

1. The first step is to cut and assemble 1/2" thick Corecell boards to make the first panel. The Corecell boards are joined together using an epoxy/micro balloon mix, then sanded flat and smooth.

2. We roll-out a long sheet of poly (Plastic drop sheet) and tape it down to our layup table. The poly is twice as wide as shown in the photo and the second half is folded down over the left hand side of the table. The poly will form a bag that will eventually cover the entire panel. The Corecell panel is placed on top of the poly.

3. The first layer of carbon is 6 oz unidirectional carbon fiber. Unidirectional carbon is a fabric consisting of thousands of thin carbon fiber threads all running longitudinally and held together with a fine thread. Unidirectional carbon is very strong in tension longitudinally and has zero strength width-wise. The carbon is 12" wide and comes on a roll which we roll out to the length of our panel and cut.

4. The unidirectional carbon strips for BOTH sides of the Corecell panel (2 strips on the top side of the foam board and 2 strips on the bottom side) are rolled up and stored at the back of the table.
5. The second layer of carbon to be applied to each side of the core is 6 oz bidirectional weave. This is a weave with threads running both horizontally and vertically. It is cut and applied to the foam board such that the fibers are running at 45 degrees to the length of the core (and direction of the unidirectional). These sections of fabric are cut to size, rolled up, and stored at the back of the table.

6. Absorbent blanket material is cut to fit over the length of the Corecell board. This material will soak up excess epoxy - more about that later.

7. Strips of 'peel ply' fabric are also cut to fit each side of the panel and stored along with the blanket and carbon at the back of the table. I'll explain what the peel ply is for later.

8. This is a picture of Ken weighing each roll of carbon. We will be wetting-out the carbon layers on the Corecell with epoxy resin and we use the weight of each layer of carbon to calculate the exact amount of epoxy to apply.

9. We mix a pre-calculated amount of epoxy resin required to fully cover the Corecell foam board. This epoxy is poured into the foam board and then spread evenly over the board with squeegees. I don't have a photo of this process. After the board is fully saturated with epoxy, we roll on our first layer of unidirectional carbon fabric.

10. A pre-calculated volume of epoxy resin is mixed and then poured in an even line down the middle of the carbon on the Corecell board and then spread evenly over the surface with the yellow squeegees shown above.

11. After the unidirectional layer has been fully whetted out with epoxy, we roll on our bidirectional carbon weave. (There's always a clown - hey?)

12. The epoxy resin is a two part mixture: resin and catalyst which will harden (cure) in about 8 hours.

13. The bidirectional carbon weave is whetted-out with epoxy in the same way that the unidirectional carbon was - by pouring an even line down the middle, then splitting the line with squeegees from each side pulling epoxy from the middle to the edges and then pressing the epoxy into the carbon fabric.

14. You'll be tempted to, but don't eat the epoxy.

15. The process of wetting out the foam core, rolling out the unidirectional carbon, wetting out the unidirectional carbon, rolling out the bidirectional weave, and wetting that out is repeated on BOTH sides of the Corecell panel.

Before the panel is turned over, the wet layup is covered with a layer of peel ply (not shown). This is a fabric that won't stick to the curred epoxy, but will allow wet epoxy to seep out of the layup into an absorbent blanket placed on top of the peel ply. The blanket strip is placed on top of the peel ply layer, then the whole board is carefully flipped over and the entire process is repeated on the other side.

The whole wetting out process takes about 90 minutes for each side with two people working. The preparation which includes cutting the Corecell panel, assembly of the Corecell sections, and cutting of the carbon, peel ply, blanket, poly sheet and mixing epoxy takes an additional 3 to 4 hours. So far, each panel has taken 2 man/days to make.

16. After both sides have been whetted out and the peel ply and blanket have been applied, the other side of the poly sheet is placed over the panel completely covering the layup. The three open sides of the poly are sealed using gummy tape to form an air tight bag.

17. A vacuum pump is connected to the bag and all of the air is sucked out of the bag. The vacuum process creates very high pressure (about 26" mercury) which presses the plastic bag against the wet layup forcing excess epoxy to seep out of the carbon through the peel ply and be absorbed by the blanket.

19. In order for the entire layup to fully cure in 8 hours, it is important for the temperature to stay at or above room temperature. Higher curing temperatures are advantageous because it increases the viscosity of the epoxy allowing more excess epoxy to be absorbed by the blanket. To increase the curring temperature and decrease the curring time, we cover the entire wet layup with electric blankets which keep the panel very warm.

This photo shown the vacuum tube entering the bag and the electric blankets placed on top.

20. The entire layup is left to cure under heat and vacuum for 8 hours and then we turn the vacuum pump off, and leave the heat on until morning (total of about 18 hours curing). Then the bag is cut open and the fully curred, hard carbon panel is removed. We store the panels in a curved stand which is approximates the curve that the panel will take when it is used to form the boat hull.

This is a photo of my 4 car garage which has been turned into a boat making shop.

21. Eventually, the peel ply and blanket is removed from the carbon, but this won't happen until the panel shape has been cut out of the panel. The peel ply and blanket protects the surface of the panel until we are ready to assemble the boat. The photo above shows our first two panels (with the peel ply/blanket layer removed) post curring on a warm, heated floor.

22. The panel drawing is placed on the cured carbon fiber panel. The photo shows the bulkheads drawing on a section of panel with the peel ply and blanket layers removed. Normally, we do not remove this layer until AFTER the parts have been cut out.

23. The drawing is taped down to the carbon panel by cutting holds in the paper and taping through to the panel.

The two photos above show the paper pattern taped down to the carbon panel ready for cutting.

24. I use a jig saw and follow the cut lines on the paper pattern. Since the paper is taped down to the carbon panel, I can cut right through the paper and panel.

This shows a small panel part cut-out with the paper panel still taped on. Note the nice tight fit between the pattern and the cut carbon panel.

This is the cut-out top deck panel with the peel ply / blanket layer still attached. We won't remove this layer until we are ready to place it into the jig because it protects the surface of the carbon.

25. Ken is building a jig for the top & bottom hull halves. He is starting with a long, straight square box on wheels and the jig stations will be mounted to the top of it and aligned. We will start with the top deck (top hull half) and when it is assembled, we will remove the jig stations and install the jig stations for the bottom hull.

. Here is the completed jig station box. It's flat and square and very rigid with coasters so it can be moved in and out of the shop.

27. Ken is tracing the jig station patterns onto some 1" thick MDF wood.

28. The jig stations are cut out and assembled onto the box at pre-specified spacing

29. The jig stations are aligned to each other using alignment targets and a tight string.

30. The carbon sandwich panels are placed into position in the jig. Note that the peel ply and blanket layers are still on the panels. This is to prevent us from rubbing off the peel ply texture which is required for a proper bond and paint.

31. The edges of the peel ply are ripped off showing the carbon. The panels are screwed into the jig sections using a strip of particle board. This will force each panel to curve into it's exact position.

32. The edges of the panels are joined with a radius of micro/epoxy

33. The joins will be reinforced with a strip of carbon tape. To avoid fraying the carbon, a large sheet is whetted out with epoxy resin first, then cut between 2 layers of poly.

34. the carbon tape is placed onto the seam. The epoxy/micro filled radius in the join is semi-curred to a tacky consistency to assure a good bond between the carbon and the micro.

This shows the carbon tape fully whetted out

35. The carbon tape is covered with a strip of peel ply and a strip of absorbent blanket, then covered with plastic.

36. Normally, this carbon tape wet layup should be curred under vacuum, but in this case it would be difficult to obtain a good vacuum due to the seam between the two carbon panels. So, we used about 100 lbs of sand to press down on the wet carbon.

37. After curring, the sand is removed, and the peel and blanket layers are removed. The inside is temporarily reinforced with wood spacers.

38. The cabin top is removed from the cabin top jig.

39. The lower hull jig section patterns are printed and cut out

40. The jog sections are traced onto 1" thick MDF

41. The jig sections are cut out with a skill saw and jig saw.

42. The jig sections for the upper cabin are removed from the square box, and the jig sections for the hull are fastened into place.

43. The jig sections are aligned using target holes and a tight string. After we aligned each station, we could peer through a 1/4 inch hole in the end station and look through ALL 15 holes in 15 stations spanning almost 30 feet!

44. A slot was cut down the middle of the floor hull panel to allow it to bend slightly to fit into a shallow 'V' shape in the jig sections. It is held in place temporarily by weights.

45. The carbon panel is secured to the jig stations with screws and blocks, and the cut is filled with a runny mixture of micro & epoxy

46. The seem is reinforced with a strip of carbon tape, then peel ply is placed over it.

47. Sand is poured into the epoxy whetted carbon tape & peel ply to keep the carbon tightly pressed against the panel and the seem.

I will continue this step by step post as we progress. If you have any question, please feel free to post a comment to this blog post and either I or Ken will respond with an answer.


Here's how it's done:

Ken and I are now like a well oiled machine. A carbon sandwich panel making machine. Yesterday we finished side B of our first panel containing seat parts, and BOTH sides of the next panel which consists of the bulkheads. We have a pretty good system down, and so far the panels are coming out great - very flat, hard, smooth and strong. The photo above shows the two panels sitting on my warm water heated floor in our TV room. Since winter seems to be hanging in there in Calgary, it isn't warm enough in the garage for these panels to fully cure.

Following is the step by step process for making a carbon fiber sandwich panel:

1. The above photo shows two patterns for our next panel running almost the full length of the table - something like 26 feet long. I believe these are the two main side panels of the hull.

2. The first step is to roll out poly for the vacuum bag. The plastic is folded on the left hand side and will envelope the entire panel after it is fully whetted out to form a sealed vacuum bag.

3. The next step is to place the Corecell foam core down on the table and bond the individual sheets of Corecel together.

I use a pre-mixed epoxy/micro balloons fairing compound, then place flat boards and weights over each join so that it stays flat.

More photos after Monday's work!


Blew through another iPod

I seem to blast through iPods as fast as I blow through sneakers. Last summer during training for the 24 hour human powered boat record I purchased a totally water proof enclosure for my iPod from OtterBox because my previous iPod got wet and eventually died. I was sick of buying new iPods so I decided to invest my money into a water proof and shock proof case.

Good idea in theory, but because this OtterBox case fits the iPod so tightly, inserting and removing the iPod for updating and charging wore out the headphones plug and now the sound is shorting out. So, Time for a new pair of shoes, and yet another new iPod.

I searched the house for as many old, broken iPods as I could find and shot this photo. Included in the collection is the very first iPod as well as the mini, nano, shuffle, touch, classic and probably some I don't even remember the name of.

Ken and I applied the first carbon laminate layer on one of the panels yesterday. We picked a panel that contained seat parts so if we made a mistake we could correct it before we got to the more crucial hull panels.

The layup was 1 layer of unidirectional carbon on the .5" Corecell core, then bidirectional weave at 45 degrees. The layup went smoothly and we ripped off the peel ply this morning to reveal a beautifully flat and strong panel. For the next panel we are going to try to do BOTH sides at the same time.

Above shot is the sandwich panel curring in the vacuum bag. We have about 9 panels to make and I am thinking we could build one panel per day - so in a couple of weeks we should have all of the carbon panels made. Next step is to cut out the panel shapes, build a jig for the top and bottom hull half's, then assemble the panels. Easy. Ya right...

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New space

After only 2 days into my Peru trip, I got a text from Ken with the bad news that we got kicked out of the hanger that my friend Steve so kindly offered to us as to build the new ocean crossing human powered boat - Ocean WiTHiN.

I guess the owner of the Citation jet that was hangered in there didn't like the idea of us lugging long 2x4's under the wings of his baby (understandable I guess), so Ken looked around for another space. The cheapest he could find was a full hanger for $1500 per month - no way.

I knew my garage would be the perfect size for this job, so I sold Helen and Krista on the advantages of parking the cars outside for the entire summer. There weren't many advantages and admittedly it was a tough sell.

So, I spend a couple of days and totally GUTTED the garage and my shop, washed the floor, cleaned it all out and made room for the almost 40 foot long, perfectly flat, most awesome panel layup table that Ken had already assembled at the hanger. Ken installed more lights and we are now totally set to get started on the panels! There is room beside the layup table for a jig that will hold the panels in place to form the top and bottom hulls.

I've been playing with my 3d model of Stuart's design for WiTHiN to get a better understanding of how my drive leg and keel will be incorporated into the hull. Rick Willoughby wants to use the drive leg bay as a torque tube to transfer the rolling moment from the keel into the hull. My good friend and sponsor George from MitrePak is building the drive leg.

Speaking of 'drive legs', here is a before and after shot of my strange swollen foot after we got back from Peru. My Dr. friend Chad thinks it was swelling due to extreme altitude changes and sitting on a plane for 10 hours. It was fine the next day, and I was able to get right back into my ultra marathon training program, so no worries.

The training is going good - no injuries to speak of so far. I'm handling the volume OK. This week I did a 4 hr run on Saturday, 3.5 hr run on Sunday, 1 hr yesterday and I'm off to do a 3 hr run today. I have the Police half marathon to run this Saturday, and I'll probably be running it TWICE - the first time as fast as I can, and the second time in survival mode.

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Ocean boat progress. FINALLY!

Finally some real progress on the new ocean crossing boat!

The image above is a model that Ken made using the developed panels designed by Stuart Bloomfield. This is basically how the new boat will be built. The first step is to create the flat panels which are carbon over Corecell closed cell foam core. Then we cut-out each panel shape and form the top and bottom hull halves by placing the panels into a wood jig then joining them together with carbon tape.

My good friend Steve McDonough kindly offered to donate some workshop space in his new hanger at the Springbank airport, so I jumped at the opportunity and Ken and I are going to be building WiTHiN at the new hanger.

The very first step was to test our panel making procedure by running some stress tests on a sample panel. Rick Willoughby suggested two tests - a break test and a flatwise tensile test. He also made a spreadsheet for us to record and quantify the results. Following are the photos and results for each test:

This is a 2" square section of the test sandwich panel. The lamination schedule is 1/2" thick Corecell, then 5 oz unidirectional carbon, then 6 oz bidirectional carbon. (same for both sides of the core). Both sides were fully whetted out with epoxy resin then vacuum bagged.

This shows the break test setup. I used my lat pull-down machine with wood blocks to support the test panel. Weight lifting plates placed on the sliding weight holder pressed down on a 2" wide strip of stainless steel on the test panel.

Our first sample broke at 176 lbs. The 2" x 12" long test panel weighs only 1.75 ounces and I since I weigh only 155 lbs, I could stand on it without it breaking. However, when it broke during the test, the sample sheared apart due to a poor bond between a thin coat of micro on the core and the first layer of carbon - not good.

We made a new panel without the micro and it weighed less at only 1.6 ounces and tested much better. The photo shows how it sheared under compression on the top layer as expected.

I coated another sample panel with an additional coat of epoxy which would simulate a surface finish coating (like micro and paint) and re-tested it. This .3 oz layer of epoxy made it a whopping 60 pounds stronger in the break test and it took 200 lbs to break it!

The most important test is the flatwise tensile test which measures the bond between the laminate layers and the core. What we didn't want to see, is the laminate layers separating from each other, or separating from the core.

To break the 1.25" diameter core sample took almost every weight I had - a total of 276 lbs!

This test resulted in a high 96% of theoretical optimal strength and it broke half-way through the core material which is exactly what we wanted to see.

We had the panel drawings printed out at full-scale. These will be used to trace the panel shape onto the flat carbon panels, then they will be cut out and assembled in a wood jig that will hold the panels in position until they are joined together and bulkheads are inserted.

This is a photo of Ken looking down the pattern. The exact length on the print-out was about 20 mm short of what it is supposed to be, so we are going to ask the printers to re-print them.

Helen and I are off on a hiking trip to Peru to visit Machu Pichuu on Saturday. It's an organized hiking trip from lodge to lodge as we make our way from Cusco to the legendary ancient civilization of Machu Pichuu. I am going to take the opportunity to fit in plenty of trail running at altitude in preparation for my 50 mile ultra marathon in June.

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Marathons, Motivation, Making Boats & Most Extreme

Surf City Marathon

Helen and I just got back from a GREAT trip down to Huntington Beach, California for the Surf City Marathon - a top rate event which I HIGHLY recommend if you are looking for a scenic marathon to run. We were there with our good friends Kevin and Cindy Casper.

Cindy had a great race and she qualified for the Boston marathon! Way to go Cindy! Kevin ran his first half marathon, and Helen successfully finished her 15th marathon - whew! I had a good day as well with my 2nd best time of 3:17, 11th in my division and a Boston qualification.

Ultra Marathon

As you might recall, I am planning a possible attempt at the indoor velodrome 1 hour unfaired recumbent record for some point next Spring/Summer. However, since my training for the Surf City marathon went so well, I have decided to also plan something that I've been wanting to do for many, many years now - a 50 mile (80.5 km) Ultra Marathon. Yikes! I haven't picked the race yet, but it will be in June which gives me about 4 months to train. My training started on the day after the Surf City Marathon with an attempt to run which was quite laughable. More like a very enthusiastic hobble than a run. Boy was I sore from that marathon!

Training for the ultra will consist of short runs almost every day with two back to back long runs each week consisting of 3 to 4 hours each. I am actually looking forward to the challenge.

New Web Site

My speaking career has been keeping me very busy. I was in DC a couple of weeks ago to speak to Nutricia Corporation and that was a TON OF FUN! They are a GREAT group and I got a super enthusiastic response from them. Future bookings include a potential presentation for a Winter Olympic sponsor event in Vancouver!

A lot of my business is generated by Google search, and my web site place on organic google search for keywords "motivational speaker" in very important. To improve my position, I need to start to generate links from other web sites to my web site.

You would be doing me a huge solid if you could link from your web site - possibly with the linked text "motivational speaker" Many thanks, and I would be happy to link back to yours from this blog in return.

Also, if there is anything at the speaking web site that you care to comment on, please email me your thoughts at Sometimes we are so close to our trees, that it become difficult to see our forests if you know what I mean. I have worked very hard with my mentor - motivational speaker Steve Donahue, on staying relateable in my actual presentation which I think has resulted in a very impactfull but honest presentation. Your comments - both good and bad are appreciated. progress

Ken and I have ordered and received all of the carbon and core supplies and we are ready to sart construction of the new ocean crossing boat. We are just waiting for final details on the drawings from naval architect Stuart Bloomfield.

As you may recall, last year I made a 30 mile trip out into the Pacific ocean from Tofino, BC with the prototype version of WiTHiN and encountered some 15 foot swells and I got so sick I thought I was going to die. Link to that blog post here. I really love the wild west coast of Vancouver Island and was so inspired during the two sea trials that I conducted there, that I decided to look more seriously into a new route for PedalTheOcean.

Rather than crossing the Atlantic by human power which dozens (and dozens and dozens) have already done, I could be the first person to travel from Canada to Hawaii under his own power - this has never been attempted before. The distance is about the same as my Canary Island to Barbados route, and the currents, waves and average weather conditions are also similar.

I contracted weather expert Rick Shema at to do an analysis and comparison of both routes, and Rick thinks the new route is doable. I have a PDF report if anyone is interested in reading it. A departure window of May/June is required, so I am looking at possibly June of 2010. This gives me this winter and spring to finish construction and this summer, and next winter for sea trials and experience building.


OK - check this out. Ollie Hicks has departed from Tasmania on his ultra extreme ocean rowing quest - to be the first person to circumnavigate the planet by rowing. He is circling Antarctica via the Southern ocean. Ollie is rowing 18,000 miles of the most hostile marine environment on earth. He will will encounter freezing temperatures, 50 foot waves - OMG! You can follow his progress here. I will certainly be watching.

Also Mostly EXTREME

Jennifer Figge is attempting to become the first women to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Figge is a 56-years-old mother, ultra runner, and swimmer. A few weeks ago she dove into the Atlantic ocean with the goal to swim across 2100 miles from the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast to Barbados. According to Jennifer, her epic swim should take about two months, swimming around eight hours a day, but the math doesn't add up. An average endurance swimmer can swim about 3 km / hour (on flat, calm water - not in rough, open ocean!). 8 hours per day * 3 km/hr = 24 km per day. 2100 miles converted to km is 3300 km. 3300 km / 24 km pr day is 137.5 days! that's about 4 1/2 months, not a couple of months. Still, I wish Jennifer the best of luck and I will definitely be following. Here is Jennifer's FaceBook page.

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Strutless bizarreness

I went out to a new lake today and the test results were enlightening. I think I can narrow down the speed difference between what we measure at Elbow lake and both Glenmore reservoir and today's Ghost lake to a preferential current flowing through Elbow lake.

I'll explain: At Elbow, I noticed that my average speed doing a counter clockwise loop around the lake was 11.7 and my speed doing a clockwise loop was 11.1 (km per hour). I assumed this was due to some natural left hand turn tendency of the boat that I was fighting when turning right.

We also assumed that the average speed would be slightly higher when moving in a straight line. At yesterdays Glenmore test and today's Ghost Lake test, this was NOT the case - it was slower in a straight line. We figured that must be due to less drag while turning left and started looking into issues like the strut possibly not aligned and acting like a rudder, recalculating the amount of rudder required of offset the side thrust, and looking at the hull itself.

I repeated a short, 1/2 km loop in both directions today at Ghost lake and was very surprised to measure the same average speed in both directions which was 11.5 kph. This pointed to a current at Elbow being the issue. My average speed over BOTH directions at Elbow just happens to be 11.4 kph - very close to my average today. If we add .1 kph for the smaller flexible shaft to the 11.4 Elbow speed, both speeds are exactly the same.

Elbow valley lake is fed by a small river flowing into the West end. There is a levy that runs under a bridge at the south west side of the lake. The direction of water flow would be from the river then south then south across the lake over the levy. A counter clockwise loop would be taking advantage of this flow whereas a clockwise loop would be fighting the current for at least 1/2 of the loop. There is PLENTY of water flowing right now, as the spring melt is happening. The water level in Glenmore and Ghost lake is very low in preparation for the spring melt from the mountains. Stefan tells me it is creating all kinds of strange eddies and currents. Not the most ideal testing conditions.

This Elbow current result is good news and bad news. The bad news is that my REAL average 150 watt speed is 11.5 kph, not 11.8 like I thought. This could be worth as much as 7 km over 24 hours if I could maintain an ending average of 150 watts (which would not happen). More likely, the difference is probably worth 4 to 5 km over 24 hours. The good news is we found the problem and it isn't anything I can do anything about.

This is bizarre: During today's trouble shooting session at Ghost, I wanted to eliminate the prop strut as the cause of the problems so I just took it off. That's right - there was NO strut holding the prop to the boat - just the shaft. The prop was dangling off the end of an unsupported shaft coupled to my gear box.

The two-blade pusher prop is self-stabilizing meaning that each blade corrects it's attitude when the other blade slips due to changes in the angle of attack (or something like that - I'm regurgitating what Rick told me). I may not be explaining it correctly, but I understand what is happening. This means that the prop will simply start pushing against the shaft and find a horizontal attitude on it's own.

And it works! There was no perceptible difference in feel when I removed the strut, and there was a .1 kph increase is speed due to removing the drag of the strut. Very strange. If you saw it you would laugh and think it is a joke.
This is the strutless prop. No joke! It works!

A nano-second after tripping the shutter for this photo,
a gust of wind came up and blew the boat off the stand
into the water busting my rudder in the process!

Speed data:

date lake power watts wind kph waves rudder prop loop size km loop dir hull floats other SPEED kph
06/05/08 elbow 150 5 ripples big thin .5 counter taped norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm prop strut pulled into hull with cord 11.6
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat none thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 clock painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 10 ripply small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/12/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers rods 10
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers no rods 10.2
flex shaft & freehub
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
flex shaft & freehub10.3
06/16/08elbow200calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub13.2
flex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub10.9
flex shaft & freehub11.6
flex shaft & freehub11.1
flex shaft & freehub11.6/11.2 = 11.4
06/17/08Ghost1505ripplysmallthin.52counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.5
06/17/08Ghost1505ripplysmallthin.56clockpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.6
06/17/08Ghost15010ripplysmallthick1out&backpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.7/11.2 = 11.4
06/17/08Ghost15010ripplysmallthick.7out&backpaintednormflex shaft & freehub. NO PROP STRUT
11.8/11.2 = 11.5
1. Every 5 kph of wind equates to .1 kph decrease in speed
2. Big rudder is .6 kph slower than small rudder. Small rudder is .1 kph slower than no rudder
3. Right hand turns dramatically slow the boat down.
4. Paint vs packing tape was worth a speed increase of .1 kph
5. Elliminating the prop strut is worth an additional .1 kph in speed.
6. Counter clockwise loops at Elbow Valley lake are worth an additional .2 to .3 kph average speed due to current (??? need to verify)

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New confusing speed data

It was a perfect weather day today so I got the record boat out to Elbow Valley community lake and ran some test with the new short flexible shaft and free hub:
  • #1 flex shaft, small rudder, freehub, 150 watts = 11.9 kph
  • #2 REPEAT of #1 = 11.8 kph
  • #3 REPEAT of #1 = 11.8 kph
  • #4 100 watts = 10.3 kph
  • #5 200 watts = 13.2 kph
All of these speeds are almost exactly as per Ricks predicted speeds so this is very good news.

The spring steel shaft felt good - about the same as the stainless shaft I had on before. My speeds were about .1 kph faster with the smaller shaft diameter and length.

The other good news was the freehub that I coupled to the shaft worked very well. It allowed me to coast without pedaling whereas before, when I stopped moving the pedals, the prop would stop also and cause drag. However, it did nothing to change the feel of the normal pedal action and I found that I missed not being able to pedal backward to clear weeds from the prop or to go in reverse. I don' think that the weight or complexity of the freehub is worth it for the record boat. I don't plan on coasting at all anyhow. Here is a video of the freeprop spinning:


I've been waiting for decent weather, so I took the opportunity and packed the boat up and went to Glenmore reservoir to test some longer, straighter runs with some disappointing results:
  • #1 1 km out and back = 11.1 kph
  • #2 1.3 km out and back = 11.1 kph
  • #3 1.3 km big loop = 10.9 kph
  • #4 .8 km loop, NO RUDDER = 11.6 kph (10 kph wind)
  • #5 .8 km loop, BIG RUDDER = 11.1 kph (10 kph wind)
The reservoir is VERY dirty because of the high water flow and flooding this year. At one point near the canoe club I went through a large patch of branches, logs, weeds, etc. I had to pull weeds off the prop and prop strut and there may have been some weeds on the rudder. I didn't count this run because of this. The runs that I did count were in an area that didn't have any visible weeds and there were not weeds on the prop or rudder before or after runs.

So why were my long runs at Glenmore so much slower than at Elbow?

Is it possible that at the small Elbow valley lake I am taking advantage of a counter clockwise flow in the lake? I doubt it because I don't really ever notice any kind of drift when sitting still.

My rudderless run at Glenmore was very close to the speed of the rudderless run at Elbow if I subtract .2 kph for 10 kph winds. Also so was the small loop big rudder run. The only difference was that the initial runs were either straight or a large loop. This makes me think that my slower speeds at Glenmore are due to the straight line route or very large loops that I did. Perhaps the boat is more efficient if it is making a small, constant left hand turn.

To confirm this, I need to get back out to Glenmore (or some other large lake) and repeat tests with various loop diameters and directions. Here is an updated speed table:

date lake power watts wind kph waves rudder prop loop size km loop dir hull floats other SPEED kph
06/05/08 elbow 150 5 ripples big thin .5 counter taped norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm prop strut pulled into hull with cord 11.6
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat none thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 clock painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 10 ripply small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/12/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers rods 10
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers no rods 10.2
flex shaft & freehub
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
flex shaft & freehub10.3
06/16/08elbow200calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub13.2
flex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub10.9
flex shaft & freehub11.6
flex shaft & freehub11.1
flex shaft & freehub11.6/11.2 = 11.4
06/17/08Ghost1505ripplysmallthin.52counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.5
06/17/08Ghost1505ripplysmallthin.56clockpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.6
06/17/08Ghost15010ripplysmallthick1out&backpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.7/11.2 = 11.4
06/17/08Ghost15010ripplysmallthick.7out&backpaintednormflex shaft & freehub. NO PROP STRUT
11.8/11.2 = 11.5
06/28/08U Kanan
15010waves, ripples,
some calm
smallthin7.19out&backpaintednormflex shaft11
06/28/08U Kanan1505ripples

flex shaft11.5
06/28/08U Kanan1505ripplessmallthin1.13counter

flex shaft11.5
06/28/08U Kanan15010waves, ripples
smallthin10.3giant loop of lake - counter

flex shaft11
06/28/08U Kanan12010waves, ripples,
smallthin10.1giant loop of lake - clock

flex shaft10.1
06/28/08U Kanan1205ripples


flex shaft10.5
06/28/08U Kanan1005ripplessmallthin1clock

flex shaft9.6
1. Every 5 kph of wind equates to .1 kph decrease in speed
2. Big rudder is .6 kph slower than small rudder. Small rudder is .1 kph slower than no rudder
3. Right hand turns dramatically slow the boat down.
4. Paint vs packing tape was worth a speed increase of .1 kph
5. Elliminating the prop strut is worth an additional .1 kph in speed.
6. Counter clockwise loops at Elbow Valley lake are worth an additional .2 to .3 kph average speed due to current (??? need to verify)
7. remove the seals and backing off the lock-nuts on the gear box are worth an additional .1 kph average speed.
8. The narrowed 1/4" spring steel shaft compared to the 3/8" stainless shaft is worth .1 kph speed increase

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Grizzlies and a freeprop

Our climb up the Highwood
Great training day on Friday with Dennis from Boulder CO and his friend Danfa from San Diego. We drove out to the start of highway 40, about 40 km east of Banff and cycled south about 150 km up and down the pass which is still closed to traffic until Sunday. It was a good, hard ride - they are both fairly experienced and capable cyclists and I was challenged to keep up with them climbing the pass. We saw mountain goats, big horn sheep and two Grizzlies.

Dennis and Dafna as we climb the Highwood pass

There is still plenty of snow at the top

Mama grizzly bear and her cub at the side of the road


The problem with using the 3/8 stainless rod as a flexible shaft for the pro is that it will eventually fail. Rick calculated the stresses for a number of different materials and I think in order for a fail-safe stainless shaft it would need to be something like 10 feet long. The alternative is to use 2011 T8 aluminum or spring steel. We can't get the 2011 aluminum anywhere and I found 1/4 inch spring steel from a flexible drill shaft manufacturer and purchased some from them.

It's 1/4" OD rather than 3/8", so none of the couplers that Manny machined for me will work, so I just welded a 3/8" stainless length to the end where the prop hardware slides onto. I would plan to ask Manny to machine some nice parts for me, but I wanted to make sure that the spring steel shaft would work first (the length, depth, feel, etc).

I wanted to see what riding with a free wheel would be like so I cut apart this old Shimano freehub that I had and coupled it to the shaft. Now the ride should be more like a road bike than a fixed gear and I should be able to coast a bit without having the stopped prop add so much extra drag. Again, Manny can machine some nice parts for me to mount the freehub, but I wanted to make sure that this freeprop was something that is worth even adding - not sure about that yet - I need to give it a try.


Labels: , ,

More tests

I was visited by Dennis and his friend Dafna from Boulder, CO and San Diego respectively. Dennis has been following my progress for a while and was interested in meeting me. Dafna is a member of the Dewalt cycling team. They were passing through Calgary and stopped in to meet me, so I seized the opportunity and dragged them out to the lake to help me through another round of tests.

Since the weather was not as crappy as it's been lately (rather than high wind, cold and rain we have high wind and cold), the test for today would be to see if the thicker prop doesn't start to stall when powering into a headwind. After Manny finished milling the prop, he finished it smooth and ended up removing about a mill too much of aluminum from the mid section of the airfoil on the prop. According to the prop data, if it is 1 mil too thin, then it will stall very quickly if if exposed to higher RPM's. The new prop that I wanted to test today is an extra prop with some small flaws on it that hasn't been polished smooth, and is still 3 mils thick.

It made no difference to my average speed at 150 watts around my circular course, and the wind was REALLY blowing hard.

I compiled all of my speed data including today's results into a table which I will start keeping:

date lake power watts wind kph waves rudder prop loop size km loop dir hull floats other SPEED kph
06/05/08 elbow 150 5 ripples big thin .5 counter taped norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 counter painted norm prop strut pulled into hull with cord 11.6
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat none thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 calm flat small thin .5 clock painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 10 ripply small thin .5 counter painted norm
06/12/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thin .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves big thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thick .5 counter painted norm
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers rods 10
06/09/08 elbow 150 20 waves small thin .5 counter painted skimmers no rods 10.2
flex shaft & freehub
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
06/16/08elbow150calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub11.8
flex shaft & freehub10.3
16/16/08elbow200calmflatsmallthin.5counterpaintednormflex shaft & freehub13.2
flex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub11.1
paintednormflex shaft & freehub10.9
flex shaft & freehub11.6
flex shaft & freehub11.1
1. Every 5 kph of wind equates to .1 kph decrease in speed
2. Big rudder is .6 kph slower than small rudder. Small rudder is .1 kph slower than no rudder
3. Right hand turns dramatically slow the boat down.
4. Paint vs packing tape was worth a speed increase of .1 kph

The other test we did was an idea from Warren Beauchamp who suggested that planing skimmers rather than displacement hull floats might be more efficient. He sent me instructions for building the skimmers that he made for his Necky kayak HPB. They are simply two strips of 1" thick Styrofoam. I was worried that they wouldn't provide enough buoyancy, so I added some pool noodle foam to the ends of the arms, but thin foam skimmers provided more than enough bouyancy without the pool noodles. I positioned the skimmers to just sit slightly above the water with the tails pushing down slightly to just below the water line. The tails were pushed down using two fiberglass tent poles.

At first they felt really nice - way lighter than the floats for sure. But the tips kept digging down into the water and I thought they were going to snap in half. We pulled the boat out and used duct tape to pull the skimmer tips back - it looked like what Santa would ride if he ever ditched his sled and went the human powered boat route. This worked very well, and I could get up to speed without any issues. My speed was pretty slow though - about 10 kph for the loop rather than 11.3 and I noticed that the tails were really dragging down into the water. We removed the tent poles and went for another run. This time the speed was 10.2 - not much better and probably not worth pursuing any further.

In this photo you can see the fiberglass tent poles
pushing the tails of the skimmers down into the water.

Overall, because of the high winds today my speeds were about .4 kph slower than when it was calm. Over 24 hours that would add up to about 9.6 km if I were able to maintain 150 watts for the entire 24 hours which wouldn't happen. Also, the winds typically start up in the afternoon and die down after 6:00 pm. If it was very windy for 8 hours of the 24 hour day, and I lost an average of .3 kph, I would loose a total of only 2.4 km. That's not as bad as I thought it would be.

Because I've done two wind tests, I can estimate that for every 5 kph of wind at 150 watts of power, it costs me .1 kph

Dennis going for a spin

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Rudder envy

I made a new rudder designed to keep the boat tracking straight. It is ridiculously tiny. The photo below does not do it justice. It's 1" wide, and it works like a charm. I found it very easy to make slow, gradual turns and keep the boat tracking in a straight line. Without any rudder at all, it wants to turn left, so this small little wonder works very well.

I also had the hull finished and painted. It is WAY smoother, and contrary to most of the advice I have been getting, is NOT responsible for any appreciable speed gains! I really don't think that at these speeds, surface finish is all that important.

The good news is that we are now very close to design specs for speed!

I found that the only way to get accurate speed/power data was by doing large GPS speed averaged loops around the perimeter of the lake. They are VERY accurate. I was able to repeat the same configuration more than once and get the exact same average down to .1 kph. I use an SRM power meter connected to the cranks, so I am able to output a constant power level and record my average speed over a set course with a GPS. Repeating this with small changes to the boat allow me to quantify the effect those changes have.

Here are the results of today's testing:
  • thin prop, large rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, no paint on hull, packing tape on hull (test from last week) = 11.1 kph
  • thin prop, large rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull = 11.2 kph
  • thin prop, tiny rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull = 11.7 kph
  • thicker prop, tiny rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull = 11.7 kph
  • thin prop, tiny rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull, prop strut pulled close to the hull by a cord ( I wanted to see what would happen if we moved the prop closer to the hull) = 11.6 kph
  • thin prop, NO rudder at all, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull, = 11.8 kph
  • (I had to stop and start the GPS 2 times to paddle correct course, but I don't think it mattered)
  • thin prop, tiny rudder, RIGHT hand loop (counter to the way the boat naturally wants to steer), 150 watts, painted hull, = 11.1 kph (I had to use the dip steer rudder a couple of times to stay on course, but I still think this was slower because it went against the natural turn of the hull/prop)
  • thin prop, tiny rudder, left hand loop, 150 watts, painted hull, windy (small ripples on water) = 11.5 kph
The tiny little rudder worked very well for keeping a straight line, doing a gradual turn around the lake or for correcting my heading, but was useless for doing any kind of turns. I rigged up my old large rudder up with a spring and pull cord and hung it off the stern for when I needed to do big turns and it worked, but nowhere near as good as when that large rudder is under the hull turning in the rudder tube. I don't have a photo of it - I'll take one next time.

For general touring around and training, the large rudder in the rudder tube works fine. For the record attempt, and testing where I will steer around a large, gradual, round course, the small rudder works fine and I don't even need the dipping rudder.

Pulling the prop strut in tight to the hull using a cord did not do anything to correct the direction of thrust. In fact, I took a close look at the thrust direction when spinning the prop while held back to the dock and the thrust is very straight - I don't think that is the problem. I believe it is due to the thrust being at the side rather than right down the middle, and the cost of putting the thrust in the center would probably cost more than the couple of watts it probably costs now.

To summarize, the paint and body work added some weight because I had to add one washer to lift the outriggers, but the paint made it only .1 kph faster than packing tape, and the packing tape improvement over the unpainted hull wasn't quantified in the loop test, but the straight-line tests showed no difference. The small rudder compared to my large rudder is worth .6 kph (that's huge), and a bit of wind (maybe 10 kph) was worth a reduction of .2 kph. The wind effect could also be fairly significant because average wind speeds typically reach highs of 15 to 20 kph during mid afternoon around Calgary.

This is a cord we strapped to the rudder strut to pull it toward the hull. It didn't change the left steering tendency, and slowed it down (probably due to the drag of the cord) by .1 km/hr

Greg Bradley going for a spin

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A little Aussie magic

Greg at about 150 watts of power and 11.5 kph

Success! With Aussie Rick Willoughby's help, we narrowed down the source of the speed problems, and it wasn't at all what we thought.

Before I get into that - some additional good news: I finished a 207 km training ride with Chad on Wednesday and my Achilles tendon was fine! It seems to have solved itself, thank goodness! Now I can slowly resume ramping up my mileage.

Rick is from Melbourne, Australia and is visiting Canada with his wife Rhonda. The timing of his vacation worked out perfectly because my human powered boat is basically an attempt to recreate his design - a culmination of many years worth of experimentation, trial and error resulting in what we believe to be the most efficient human powered water craft on the planet for longer distances. I've been having some problems reaching the speeds we should be seeing, and Rick was able to spend a couple of days with me in Calgary trouble shooting.

A single rowing skull is probably faster over shorter distances, and there are a some pedal powered boats that use hydrofoils that are even faster than a rowing skull. The world record for 100 meters is 34.2 km/hr set by a hydrofoil and pedal powered air propeller boat called Decavitator. The current record for the most distance in 24 hours is held by Carter Johnson who paddled his conventional kayak 245 km around a rectangular course on a flat, calm lake. The Surfski kayak that Carter used is very efficient for longer distances, but we believe that our V11 pedal and propeller powered boat has a slight edge over Carter's kayak.

Rick arrived at my house early on Thursday morning with his propeller. He was hopeful that his 'known-good' propeller would make all the difference. Rick was also concerned about the surface finish of my hull, so to test that, we covered the hull with packing tape to smoothen it out. We figured that the combination of the smooth tape covered hull and his prop would get me my 12 kph at 150 watts of power that the boat was designed to produce.

We covered the hull with packing tape

Surprisingly, the speed was a bit SLOWER due to Ricks prop and the taped hull! The CNC machined aluminum prop Manny made for me was actually slightly better than Ricks hand made prop. Rick's prop was grippier because it was designed for power at a lower rpm, but the speed it produced at various power outputs was slightly less than my high rpm prop.

After a few hours of experimenting, the last thing we tried was to remove the rudder. All of a sudden I got a significant .5 kph speed jump! Ah ha. The boat tracked fairly straight without a rudder and I used a paddle to turn. My speed was up to 11 kph compared to 10.3 before.

Rick Willoughby working on the new
flexible shaft and super-thin prop strut

When we got back to the shop, we discussed reasons why the rudder might be the cause of this drag. Rick felt there was some unexpected interaction between my prop strut and the rudder. One difference between my boat and Rick's, is that Rick uses a curved flexible shaft rather than a rigid shaft with a U-joint. Rick calculated that we could temporarily substitute my rigid shaft for a flexible curved steel shaft to test out the elimination of the u-joint. I welded a couple of the shorter stainless shaft sections that I had together and we used a spare bearings tube that Manny made to rig up this very odd prop hanger. This is where the Aussie magic comes in, because if you saw this you would insist that it couldn't possibly work.

The prop hangs from the deck by a 1/16" thick (we're talking cardboard thickness here) by 1" wide flimsy strap of aluminum that has been filed down to a sharp point on both sides. Seriously - you can blow the prop under the hull with a good puff.

The reason this works is that the pusher prop is self stabilizing. When it starts to produce thrust, it maintains a level horizontal attitude and pushes against the angled shaft which forces it to curve up to the gear box. The cardboard prop strut isn't really even required aside from stopping the prop from slicing into the hull during turns.

On Friday morning the lake was calm again and we got some good tests in. The combination of the new flexible shaft and elimination of the rudder produced the best speeds yet of 11.5 km/hr. We put the rudder back in and the speed slowed to just above 11 km / hr. I did a double loop of the circumference of the lake and averaged 11.1 km/hr on exactly 150 watts of power with the rudder in.

The first thing I noticed about the flexible shaft is how smooth the pedalling action was - way better than with the U-joint. Without the rudder, the boat tracked slightly to port, so we thought that a very small fixed rudder would help keep the boat tracking straight. For turning and course corrections, we came up with a dipping rudder idea that would normally be out of the water when not being used. This way, there would be minimal drag when travelling straight forward.

For optimal efficiency, I need to find a very large and sheltered lake where I can plan a huge circular loop consisting of many very small turns.

What next?

I am pretty sure that with some fine-tuning I can get my average speed up to 12 km / hr on 150 watts of power. The hull is now being surface finished by Dave Albreight - a local composites expert who built the University of Calgary solar car. Once I install the new small directional stability rudder, and the dipping steering rudder, and shave some weight off of the outrigger floats, I should be able to maintain 12 km / hr over straight sections.

Here are a few drawings of the dipping rudder idea that will be used to steer about the buoy markers:

The record attempt

I know from experience using the SRM power meter, that I am capable of maintaining power output of 150 watts over 24 hours. If we can achieve the design specifications, then 150 watts will equate to 12 km/hr - or a total of 288 km which would be a whopping 43 km over the current record which is 245 km. Unfortunately, because of power output reductions and slow-downs due to corners, periodic short breaks from pedalling, etc, my real over-all average watts including the 0's recorded when not pedalling, slowly works it's way down to between 100 to 120 watts. I believe that my ending overall average when I set the 24 hour human powered vehicle record was 120 watts, and my average at last summers 24 hour pedal boat distance record was around 100 watts. My 100 watt average speed is 10 km/hr which would equal 240 km (just shy of a record), and my 120 watt average speed is 11 km/hr which would equal 264 km - 19 km over the current record.

Of course, these speed estimates are based on perfectly calm lake conditions with a minimum of speed-sucking turns. This means that I definitely need to find a large, very sheltered, windless lake to make a record attempt on.

I found a database of wind speed averages at the Canadian Wind Atlas web site:

Average wind speeds for Southern Alberta and BC. Click to enlarge

According to this map, my best chances of finding a windless lake is west of the great divide, or West of Banff in the shelter of the Rockie Mountains. Banff, Lake Louise, Field or Golden look good and they are not too far away from Calgary. Here are some photos and basic information for some possible lake venues:

Length: 2 km
Width: .5 km
Facilities: dock, hotel(s) near by

Moraine Lake
Length: 1.25 km
Width: 200 meters
Facilities: canoe docks and Moraine Lake Lodge
Comments: too small

Johnson Lake
Length: 1 km
Width: .25 km
Comments: too small

Bow Lake
Length: 3.2 km
Width: 1.2 km
Facilities: Lodge on the lake
Comments: Big enough, but far from Calgary

Vermillion Lake
Length: .5 km
Width: .5 km
Facilities: town of Banff near by
Comments: Too small and shallow

Lake Minnewanka
Length: 24 km
Width: 1 km
Facilities: town of Banff near by
Comments: Very large, but possibly windy location.

Length: 5.3 km
Width: 1.2 km
Facilities: town of Banff near by
Comments: large, but far from Calgary

Length: 2.8 km
Width: .8 km
Facilities: nothing much near by
Comments: large, but far from Calgary

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Another U-joint bites the dust


I was out on Elbow Valley lake for a 2 hour training spin, and test of the new steering rig, U-joint and a crazy idea I had for the prop.

I sanded down the hull again and was able to sand off some of the weave texture. I also spread a thin coat of micro on the port side of the bow and sanded it smooth. I don't want to do any more because: A. I hate sanding - can't stand it, and B. I'm afraid of making the surface finish worse due to my total lack of ability in that area, and refer to A; my very poor attitude toward surface finishing.

If the reason for the missing 12% speed is due to the surface finish of the hull, then wouldn't you think that I might measure just a tiny bit more speed today after a some sanding and a slightly smoother bow? I didn't see any speed improvements at all. It's possible that I need a glass-like finish all over the hull and I will pursue this regardless. I'm just not going to be the one to do it, I'll probably job that out to a body shop or something. I'm just not convinced that is the reason for my speed issues.

I do not think that the hull is deforming. I reached down today while she was in the water and I was still able to press the sides of the hull in with my hand - meaning they weren't already depressed due to the water pressure. Also a more careful visual inspection resulted in no deformation that I could see.

The other purpose of today's ride was to test out my steering handle. It is a bit awkward to hold onto the steering cables, so I rigged up an aluminum stick and it worked really well. There is enough tension on the hinge for the handle to keep the rudder exactly where I leave it, so steering is MUCH easier now. I can let go and the boat tracks perfectly straight.

This might sound silly, but I had a dream the other night that I solved the speed issues by adding my second prop to the existing prop at the end of the shaft. I tried that today just for the hell of it and it surprisingly had very little effect. I had BOTH props on forming an "x". My speed with both props at 100 watts was 9.2 km / hr compared to 9.3 km / hr with one prop (about the same) , but my cadence was 71 rpm compared to 78 rpm. There was no spinner on the trailing end of the double prop configuration which could have been worth the missing 1 km / hr (but that could easily be error - it was a bit windy and the lake wasn't as calm as the first Elbow test).

The bad news is that after only 2 hours my new U-joint donated to me by Curtis Universal broke! This is strange because it is rated for maximum static torque inch-lbs of 100. Both Manny and Rick think this should be strong enough.

Strangely, I didn't measure any significant difference in speed from the new narrow profile u-joint compared to the old draggy u-joint with the fat flanges.

This boat is very fast - don't get me wrong regarding my constant bitching about the speed. To provide some perspective, the winning human powered boat at last years Hydrobowl finished the two km time trial with an average speed of 9.36 km / hr. Power output for an average person for 20 minutes might be around 200 watts or so which would equate to an average speed of about 11.5 km / hr in my boat. To average the hydrobowl winning speed of 9.36 km / hr in my boat would take only about 100 watts. At 100 watts of output power, you might be able to do the whole 2 km time trial with one leg.

BUT, let me put that into further perspective for you: On May 18th Lewis Laughlin won the Epic Kayak Molokai World Championships - a 32 mile surf-ski kayak race across the Molokai channel between the islands of Molokai and Oahu. He averaged a whopping 14 km / hr for 3 hours, 40 minutes. The stretch of water between Molokai and Oahu isn't exactly mirror flat either.

I have some work to do!

A delivery guy just backed his van into my boat which was strapped to the roof-top carrier on the Suburban! He cracked the carbon near the stern, bent my rudder and forced the kayak cradle off of the roof rack. Idiot. And he wasn't even going to tell me about it. As I was signing for the delivery I noticed the boat was sitting DIAGONAL on the suburban. I looked at him and he fessed up to backing into it.

Oh - and one more thing (almost forgot!) - exciting news: My friend Roz Savage has departed for her Pacific ocean row from SanFransisco to Hawaii. I'll be following closely:

(I designed Roz's new logo for her)


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leaky boat

I'm just not sure that hull deflection is the reason my V11 is 12% slower than Rick's version. Marc calculated that I should be able to approximate the water pressure on the skin by placing a 2.5 ' long by 4" wide board with a 13 lb weight on the hull between the bulkheads and observe the deflection.

When I took a closer look at how much the skin deflected, I realized that it doesn't move at all on the curved part of the hull which is almost the entire hull aside from a small section of flat side walls under the water line. My water line is about 4" below the deck, and the amount of flat wall on the hull below 4" is only an inch or so. Even if that area was deflecting, it would represent a very small and possibly insignificant portion of the entire hull in the water.

To test, I was going to seal up the edges of the deck with fiberglass tape and epoxy, then pressurize the hull with air to stop the sides from deflecting. Easier said than done.

I had to seal the edges anyhow because they leak water when waves splash on deck, so I figured that it was a job worth doing regardless. After I had sealed up the edges, I hooked up my compressor and there are a million tiny air leaks through the flange where the deck is taped to the hull - the glas stape and epoxy didn't seal it air-tight. They aren't leaky enough to be concerned with much water getting in (that is good), but they do prevent me from being able to keep enough air pressure in the hull to do a water test for hull deflection. To go around and fix all the leaks would be a major pain and I just don't want to do it.

Many of you suggested placing air bags into the hull. Now that the top deck is sealed on, I don't want to cut it back out to place air bags in!

The other solution to deflection that has been suggested is to run some carbon reinforcement ribs longitudinally between the perpendicular bulkheads. Again, I would have to cut open the top deck to get in there, and I don't really want to bother with the effort and additional weight if it isn't really required.

Another idea suggested was to fill the compartments between bulkheads up with expanding foam. The reason I didn't leave the Styrofoam plug in the hull was to save weight. Foam would add substantial weight to the hull and I do not think this option is worth the additional displacement that the increased weight would cause. The hollow shell with the deck on weighs less than 20 lbs and if possible, I would like to keep it that way. Adding ribs wouldn't increase the overall weight that much, but I don't want to cut the deck open to add the ribs if they end up doing nothing to increase me speed.

I do need to surface finish the hull - especially the first 6 feet or so. The surface is a bit rough and a thin application of micro with sanding would smoothen it out quite a bit. With the deflection of the side walls, I worry about being able to sand it flat.

One option that I am considering is to tip the boat on it's side, drill a small hole in the opposite side, then pour in a small amount of expanding foam. This foam would settle against the side wall and could provide enough additional structure to stop any deflection without adding too much weight. At least it would give me a more solid hull to micro and sand smooth. I could limit this foam wall to the first compartment which is about 6 feet from the tip of the bow to the first bulkhead.
My new super-strong stainless steel u-joints arrived yesterday. Manny did some research and found me a new u-joint that didn't have the draggy flange on it, and was rated to take the torque. I contacted Curtis Universal and it turns out that the President is a kayaker and really digs what I am doing, so he donated two of them to the project! That's pretty cool considering they are worth $130 bucks each! Thanks Curtis!

You can see the difference between the two joints in the photo above. I doubt that the more hydrodynamic Curtis U-joint is worth the missing 12%, but it will certainly help.

The next step is to try to somehow stiffen the side walls near the bow, then apply some micro and do some sanding to get the surface finish of the bow area smooth. Rick Willoughby is in Canada on a vacation with his wife, and is swinging by Calgary on Tuesday of next week. He brought his stainless steel prop with him, and we can substitute my prop for his and run a test to see if the culprit is my prop. I took a closer look at the prop today and it is very easy to bend by hand. Perhaps a thin aluminum prop isn't stiff enough to press back on the water as it spins at 400 rpm.

I have a sneaking hunch now that my problems could be due to the prop. Either it is too thick (Manny had to thicken it a bit to cnc machine), or it is too flexy.

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Photographic evidence!

I think we have a break in the case of the missing speed.

click to enlarge

I was thinking more about Cyrille's comments (and others) about the hull skin deforming under the pressure of the water. The hull is made from 2 layers of 5.8 oz carbon and 1 layer of 6 oz carbon/Kevlar weave plus a final layer of 4 oz fiberglass. It's pretty thin - you can cut it with scissors. To add stiffness, I added 6 bulkheads running down the length of the hull:

You can easily indent the hull between bulkheads with a bit of pressure from your fingers. I didn't think that the water pressure could depress the skin because the pressure is distributed evenly around the hull. Imagine pressing one finger into an inflated balloon and then imagine evenly distributed pressure happening from all around the balloon.

I decided to see if I could find any evidence of deformation from the photos, and low and behold - I think I found something. It is very, very slight, but everywhere I thought I could see the water line moving away from a smooth, gradual curve was exactly between where the bulkheads are. I believe that the water is indeed depressing the skin between the bulkheads.

I have an idea how to easily confirm this. I can pressurize the hull with enough air to keep the sides from depressing in (any idea how much air pressure would be required?). First, I need to add some fiberglass tape and epoxy around the edge of the deck flange to seal off the leaks. When it is choppy, water washes over the bow and water leaks into the hull from gaps at the edges of the deck. Once this edging is on, and a few very small pin holes are filled with epoxy, the hull should be air-tight.

I would think that I could pressurize the inside of the hull with a bicycle pump, then quickly hop on for a speed test.

Wait a sec.... If the air pressure isn't enough to stop the deformation, or if I can't get it air-tight enough to hold pressure permanently, how will I get back under the deck to add additional reinforcement to the skin if I have already taped up the edges? I guess if I determine that air pressure would be enough to stop the skin from indenting, then I am sort of committed to that solution once I add my edge tape. Any other ideas?

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A good test!

Human powered boat lake test from Greg Kolodziejzyk on Vimeo.

This morning presented a VERY good environment for testing, and I think I learned a lot. Unfortunately though, she is still not any faster...

I met my brother in-law Cyrille out at the Elbow Valley community lake at 7:30 this morning before the wind started to blow the lake apart. The lake was mirror flat and it ended up being the perfect place to test, as it was easy to do a quick loop, pull the boat up to the dock, make a change and do another quick loop. There was no wind and no current, so the need to repeat every test with an averaged 'out and back' trip wasn't required. I would do a 100 watt 'out' leg, turn around and do a 150 watt 'return' leg back to the dock.

click to enlarge

Rick was exactly right about the self stabilizing features of a pushing propeller. The additional strut that I added to better support the prop actually INCREASED the vibration and made the boat slower due to the drag of that strut. It was faster and vibrated less when I removed the addition. In fact, we found that we could leave the prop strut bracket just sitting on the deck without any fasteners holding it in place, and the prop would still push the boat as fast as it would when the prop bracket was screwed down to the hull.

The additional prop strut was tested and removed

We also found that slight pitch changes to the prop made very little difference to the speed. Neither did slight changes to the direction (right to left) of prop thrust. I brought some clamps with me and we clamped the prop strut bracket down to the deck flange in a variety of different positions which changed the position of the prop. None of these off-center positions made much of a difference to the speed unless it was greatly exaggerated. We also changed the depth of the prop and that also made no difference. This leads me to believe that my prop is OK - it is producing exactly the right power at exactly the right rpm that it was designed to do, and it is able to do it consistently in various configurations. It seems pretty robust and if something in the drive system were responsible for the slower than expected speeds I would expect that the changes we were making today would have a far greater result than they did.

Using my spare prop, I decreased the degree of twist a bit (sorry Manny!). We mounted the 'more grippy' prop to the shaft and it was far less efficient. I produced more power at lower RPM, but the resulting speeds were all lower. Probably due to the inaccuracy of twisting the prop in a vice with wood blocks and a clamp. At least I know now, that the prop Rick designed and Manny CNC machined, is working perfectly as it was designed to.

So, here is where I am at:

1. The speed I need to break Carters record of 245 km in 24 hours is an average of 10.2 km / hr.

2. My average power output over 24 hours (including breaks, coasting, and zeros, etc) is 110 watts.

3. According to Ricks design and his V11, 110 watts should produce 10.8 km / hr which would result in a total of 259.2 km

4. Currently, my version of Ricks V11 goes 9.4 km / hour on 110 watts of power which would equal a total distance of 225.6 km which would be about 20 km short of Carters record.

5. At 150 watts of power, I am currently getting 10.5 km / hour and I am supposed to be getting 12 km / hr. I am about 12.5% slower than Ricks V11 design.

I now know that my lack of speed is probably NOT due to the drive or prop, but probably due to hull drag. The fastest I have been able to go is a little over 11 km / hr and the power required was over 200 watts. Input power over 200 watts produces very little additional speed. Rick can get his V11 up to 16 km / hr! This alone tells me that the drag of my hull, or overall drag is probably the culprit. Here is a speed/power plot - notice that my entire curve is lower than Ricks, which to me, suggests that the reason I am slower is due to my hull speed being lower which could be due to additional drag.

One of the causes of this additional drag could be the outriggers. I am finding it very difficult to balance off of the outriggers. Rick is on vacation right now, so he is unable to offer advice. I played around with trying to balance on the center hull today and found it very hard - even with my new low seat position. We played around with raising and lowering the outriggers and I could not get the boat balanced. You can see in the video that almost always, one outrigger is dragging through the water. The extra drag from this outrigger could be slowing me down, but is it responsible for the missing 12 % ?

Balancing act

Another cause of drag is the flanges on the u-joint that I am currently using. I have ordered a new u-joint that is the same diameter as the shaft and I will replace the fat draggy one when it arrives.

The last refinement regarding drag that need to look at, is the surface finish of the hull. It is far from perfectly smooth, and I wonder if the surface texture of the carbon fabric weave as well as a few bumps and wobblies could be responsible for my missing 12 percent? Also, one of Cyrille's concerns was that the skin of the hull is very thin, and between bulkheads you can depress the hull with your hands. I wonder if the water would have enough force to push the sides in and distort the hull shape? I wonder how I can test for this deformation?

We even placed rocks on the bow and stern to see if weight distribution made any difference. It made it slower.

Click to enlarge

Cyrille enjoying a spin

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More mods, attempt at testing

I finished all my mods yesterday. What a BUSY, busy day! I can't believe I accomplished what I was able to do in just one day. My goal was to add some additional structure to the prop strut to stop it from vibrating, add a bushing half way down the shaft to stop it from vibrating, to lower my seat down to the deck, and to make a new mount for the outriggers (my old mount used the seat frame, and this is now cut off to lower the seat). I wanted to get the work finished and get out to the lake to test it all because I am out of town for the weekend and wanted to take advantage of the good weather.

I finished all my work by 4:00 pm. We were enjoying Calgary's first stellar spring day with high temperatures nearing 29 degrees C and no clouds in sight. But as luck would have it, by the time I got to the lake the wind started howling and the lake was covered with whitecaps. Everything I made seemed to work fine, but measuring speed and power was useless because of the waves. I was getting soaked and blown all over the place.

I hope to test these mods again next week, but even in the waves and wind, she didn't seem appreciably faster.

This prop strut brace is a 2" wide strip of aluminum that is fared to a taper on both sides. It wraps around the hull and is screwed to the main strut about half-way down. I also lowered the prop an additional 2" This was enough additional support to keep the prop from vibrating while spinning in the air. I know that I am adding some drag, but for now, I am looking for a large step in speed. When I find it, then I'll know what the culprit was and I can back-track and re-work things to refine it.

I added this nylon spherical rod end that I had. The 3/8" shaft fit perfectly through the ball. This did a great job in stopping the shaft from vibrating. It is located just high enough that it should be above the water line, so it shouldn't contribute to drag. However, in the wind, waves and chop from my test yesterday, it was definitely getting wet.

Note how aggressive the new seat position looks! Very low and mean. The reason for lowering the seat was to lower my center of gravity to make balancing on the center hull easier. During my brief test, the position felt really good - about the same position that I use on my M5 recumbent training bike, but I have no idea of it's effect on staying balanced as I was getting tossed around quite a bit.

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A bit faster, but not there yet

It was the perfect day - high of around 18 degrees C and dead flat calm during the morning. I finished all of my little fixes to the boat yesterday, and headed out to Glenmore Reservoir early this morning to test the boat again.

I climbed into my seat, kicked her off the dock and started to pedal when the the new U-joint that I had just welded onto the shaft snapped in two! Luckily I always ride with a paddle and was able to make it back to the dock. I drove home, picked up my old shaft with the big fat draggy U-joint on it and drove back to the lake. I installed the old shaft and headed back out.

Disappointing speeds again. Faster than Mondays test, but still not as fast as she needs to be to challenge the current 24 hour human powered distance record of 245 km.

I need to make something clear because I am getting a lot of advice (thanks - it's always appreciated) about what to do and what not to do, etc. There is almost zilch 'research' on this project. I am building a COPY of Rick Willoughby's V11 human powered boat. He has spent years doing the concepting, building, testing, and experimenting. I don't need to do any of that. All I need to do is copy exactly what he has already built and I *should* be able to match his performance numbers.

Here is a YouTube video of Rick pedalling his V11 to 16 km / hr !!!!

Rick's V11
100 watts = 10.4 km / hr

My V11G (on Monday)
100 watts = 8.8 km / hr

My V11G (Today)
100 watts = 9.2 km / hr

My cruising power for a 24 hour event is 150 watts which should equate to 12 km / hr and my current speed at 150 watts is 10 km / hr - 20% slower. If I were to maintain an overall average of 100 watts for 24 hours straight, I could cover about 250 km in Ricks V11, but that would equate to only 220 km in the current state of my V11G which would be 25 km short of Carter Johnson's record.

We need to figure out why my V11 is slower than Ricks. My V11 isn't *exactly* the same, so lets take a closer look at the differences and see if there are any clues to my missing speed:

1. My V11G is lighter than Ricks because the hull was made from Carbon. The weight of the hull with the seat and everything is 39 lbs (the 24 foot long hull alone is lighter than moat racing bikes at 19.5 pounds!). The outriggers are an additional 7 pounds for a total weight of 46 pounds. This means less displacement which should result in FASTER speeds, not slower!

2. My seat position is higher than Ricks. At 11 km / hr, the boat should balance on the center hull with the outrigger just lightly skipping on top of the water. Since I have yet to reach 11 km / hr, I can't seem to get my hull to balance on the center hull. To compensate for my higher center of gravity with the higher seat, I extended the outrigger arms to 8 feet (from 6 feet). This made it a bit easier to balance, but I found that I was still sort of rocking from one outrigger to the next. When it was super calm and flat out, I was able to get a few rides that I felt were very light on the outriggers, but it didn't make an appreciable difference to me speed. The reason my seat position is higher is that I have had foot numbness issues with a lower seat. When my heart is above my feet, I don't seem to get the numbness.

3. Rick is using spring steel for his shaft and no U-joint. We designed my version of the boat to use a U-joint and stainless steel shaft because in theory it should be slightly more efficient than the spring steel. That said, I could see and feel some pretty wicked vibration in my shaft under the water. This doesn't seem right and it seems that there would be efficiency losses through this vibration. The shaft vibrating is also shaking the prop around, and I can feel this vibration in the boat at higher speeds. It might be worth a test to place a support on the shaft at mid point to stop the vibration, and perhaps an angled fin to better support the prop.

When I spin the cranks and turn the prop when the boat is out of the water, the shaft and prop vibrate and shake wildly. Rick says this shouldn't happen under the water because a pusher prop is self stabilizing. When spinning the air, there is not enough resistance for the prop and it doesn't self stabilize. During my observation of the prop spinning in the water, this does not seem to be happening, as the prop and shaft are still vibrating - not nearly as much as in air, but still, something is definitely different with set up. Perhaps it is with the stainless shaft and U-joint.

Rick has a prop that doesn't have a strut! The prop is so stable that it pushes the boat against the spring steel shaft alone!

I ave also noticed that the prop when pushing water, seems to twist a bit to push to the starboard side. It is hard to observe this because the lake water is very cloudy, and it could be an optical illusion, but it appears that as soon as I start pedalling and spinning the prop, that it starts to twist the strut and rather than thrusting directly back, it pushing slightly to the right. When I am moving in a straight line forward, it feels like the boat is tracking slightly to the right. If I let the rudder go, the boat does a slow turn to the right. If the prop was pushing slightly to the right, then it would be pushing the back of the boat to the left which would cause the bow to make a slow right hand turn.

Perhaps providing a support for the shaft will resolve this, or maybe i need to add another triangulated strut to the prop bearing tube.

4. We had Manny at Rhomec Industries here in Calgary CNC machine a custom aluminum prop for me. In theory, this prop should be more efficient than a hand made stainless version because it is almost perfect (it is a true work of art!). Maybe the aluminum is too soft and it is warping under the water. My prop was designed for my cadence of 90 rpm at 150 watts compared to Ricks prop at 80 rpm for 150 watts. This means that my prop is spinning faster. Maybe there is something unexpected happening with that higher rpm? Like some unforeseen cavitation issue or something - I don' know. It would be worth it to exchange the prop for my old stainless hand-made prop from WiTHiN. I believe the rpms were the same - need to check that.

5. Water temperature Warren found this for me regarding the difference in drag of 30 degrees C water temperature: 0.8 KPH with a 30 degree temp spread (20.3868 KPH at 0 degree C to 21.1104 KPH at 30 degrees C). Rick's V11 was tested in the warm Australian waters near Melborne where he lives, and the ice on Glenmore reservoir just melted. That could account for maybe 1/2 kph which is fairly substantial.

To top it all off, my Achilles tendon started to get sore after only 2 hours on the water yesterday! Ugh! It used to take 5 hours at easy effort to cause pain, and now it's down to 2 hours. I have been really taking it easy on the Achilles over the past 10 days. I've been using my ultrasound and applying anti-inflam cream every day. It would seem that the reduction in activity is counter productive to recovery.

The other problem I had at the lake yesterday was repeated chain derailments! I hate those! Luckily, it's an easy fix, but I need to add a chain guide.

I also ran aground yesterday! That is a freaky feeling. The water level in the reservoir is still low and there is a large area to the west where the river feeds into the reservoir and it can get very shallow there. I hadn't realized how far to the west I was when my prop suddenly struck the dirt! Yikes! Luckily, I had my paddle on board and I was able to paddle east and back into deep water. I need to check my prop for damage.

Well, I've got some work to do. I'm planning on getting as much of these changes done today as possible and getting back out to the lake this afternoon. It's supposed to be in the mid 20's today, and I have to take advantage of this weather.

Stay tuned...

Manny from Rhomec made me these neat little brass busings for the rudder.
Plus, I filled and smoothened in the welds

This is the narrower, less draggy u-joint. Good in theory but it failed
immediately at the ball bearings joint

You can see a small pulley on my frame used to tension the steering cable.
It worked very well.

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Lake test!

New 24 hour record boat lake test

Well, the good news is that it floats and generally works well. Very smooth pedaling action, very stable and quite comfortable. The less than good news is that it performed much slower than expectations which means I have more work to do.

Stefan messaged me yesterday that the ice is now melted at the reservoir and the docks are now in, so I finished up the last details of the boat and my buddy Greg B and I headed out to the Glenmore Reservoir with the boat on the roof of the Suburban.

Compared to WiTHiN, this new boat is very easy to haul around. The hull weighs only 19.5 lbs. With all the hardware, seat and frames, etc I think it weighs in at around 40 lbs.

The outrigger floats bolt onto a 1" square aluminum arm that is U-bolted to the seat frame.

The water is VERY cold. A few days ago it was frozen, so I wasn't going to take any chances with safety. I strapped a paddle on the deck in case my drive failed, and had two-way radio communication with Greg. The emergency phone for the patrol boat is right there at the dock, and the patrol boat was out on the water, so if something did happen and I lost my drive and the paddle wasn't working, or went for an unplanned swim, the patrol boat wouldn't have been far away.

At first, I found it quite difficult to balance without falling over onto one or the other outrigger. According to the design, when I reach a cruising speed of around 10 to 11 kph, I can balance on the main hull with the two outriggers lightly skimming on the water. The outrigger level is adjustable with the U-bolts and I found that if they were two high, then I would flop from one side over to the other, so I had to lower them quite far which was creating additional drag.

Low speed expectations were for a cadence of 75, wattage output of 89 watts, and resulting speed of 10 km/hr. Actual wattage at 75 rpm was 100 watts and 8.8 km/hr (and that was WITH the wind). This is FAR slower than it should be and points to excessive drag as being the problem.

Items that need to be 'tightened-up':

1. The outrigger positions need to be adjusted. I notice in the photos that the attitude of the floats is nose-up and they really need to be level. I also need to ensure that they are both pointed directly forward and this isn't something that I measured previously, so they could be off.

2. Rick thinks that because my seat position is higher, I might require a wider stance for the floats to make it easier to balance on the main hull. I am going to add 2 feet of length to the outrigger arms to extend that moment arm.

3. My rudder is WAY too loose in it's tube. The carbon tube is 7/16" ID and the aluminum steering rod is 3/8" diameter. Manny is making me a plastic bushing to make the fit tighter. The rudder was vibrating in the tube quite a bit and also because the fit was so loose, the rudder was flapping back and fourth a lot. I found it very difficult to hold the rudder steady with my two steering lines. This flapping back and fourth was probably creating quite a bit of drag.

4. I have not faired the rudder with micro yet. The rudder is a 1/4" aluminum plate welded to a 3/8" diameter aluminum tube. I grinded down the plate to form the trailing edge of a NACA0020 airfoil (photos below), but have not yet filled the weld gaps with fairing compound.

5. The U-joint that I am using on the drive shaft is the back-up U joint and I think it is creating quite a bit of drag due to the fat flange on it. I have another u-joint that is being repaired by Manny right now that I will exchange for this one. This will make a small difference.

6. To test other components to make sure they are working properly, I have a spare prop from WiTHiN that I could mount on this boat to make sure that the prop is working as designed. I think it is because the resistance I'm getting at rpm is close to design specs and point to additional drag. I also have a second SRM that I will swap out to double check that I am getting the right measurements for power.

Here are some photos of some of the details:

This is my prop strut. I had faired it with an aerofoil leading and trailing edge, but this is not right, and something that I need to fix. The lowest drag fin is a sharp taper on both sides. When I first measured the prop depth and bent the aluminum plate, I positioned it too low. To raise it up I added a couple of spacers. This will allow me to experiment with different positions. Note the FAT U-joint

I welded a 1/4" aluminum plate to my 3/8" aluminum rudder rod, then ground it down to approximate a NACA0020 aerofoil.

I still need to fair in the join with some micro

The rudder is controlled with two lines running to a couple of eye bolts that I welded to the a collar.

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24 hour record boat progress

Big progress over the last couple of days. It is Saturday morning now, and I am pretty sure that tomorrow she will be ready for her maiden voyage if I can find some unfrozen chunk of lake somewhere.

Here are a pile of images showing progress over the last few days:

My buddy Manny from Rhomec Industries contributed this jewelry for the suped up pedal boat. Two complete drive units consisting of a CNC machined propeller from Rick Willoughby's computer file, a bearing tube that hold two glass bearings, an aluminum nose cone, tail cone, U-joint and 3/8" shaft that runs to a coupler that is connected to the MitrPak right angle gear box.

Manny made me some interchangeable gears for the gear box. These collars will hold any standard Shimano rear cassette gear.

This is the MitrPak right angle gear box with a 13 tooth gear mounted on the input shaft and the 6 foot long prop shaft mounted with a coupler onto the output shaft of the gear box.

This is my seat frame sitting on the top deck of the boat hull. I was able to fit the hull into my shop, but the bow and stern are jammed into two corners of the room.

This is the rudder tube after I added the additional carbon reinforcement layers

The rudder tube bonded to the rear bulkhead

Before the top deck went on, I filled the compartments with water to check for leaks

Water filled compartment in the hull

Some very small leaks. I am going to pressurize the hull with air (with the top deck on) and wash soapy water over the hull and look for bubbles which I will mark. Then using a bit of vacuum pressure, I will apply epoxy to the pin holes that were marked from the soap test to fill the holes. We are going to spray a final coat of paint on her, so that will definitely help seal her up.

This is the deck after it was removed from the vacuum bag. We used CoreCell core material + 1 layer of 5.8 oz carbon on the top and 1 layer of 5 oz fiberglass on the back.

The deck has been bonded to the hull using a bit of micro and some epoxy. I clamped the deck onto the flange at first, but we got more even pressure around the flange using weights and duct tape.

Ben is filling my outriggers with expanding foam

Temporary setup showing the seat and pedals

The drive unit is mounted to the seat frame and everything is temporarily clamped to the deck. It all worked!

The SRM power meter chain ring with Dura Ace chain running to a 14 tooth gear on the Mitrbox gear box.

I welded a 2" wide, 1/4" thick aluminum plate to the bearings tube, then bent it. It will be bolted to the flange.

Top view of the boat

The gear box is mounted to the seat frame with a 1/4" thick aluminum plate welded to the seat frame. The slotted holes allow me to tension the chain.

The 6 foot long, 3/8" stainless steel shaft runs from the gear box down to a U-joint which is connected to a short shaft which runs through the tail cone, bearing tube holding two glass bearings, the prop and finally the nose cone (spinner). I still need to fair the strut with a grinder. The large flanges on the U-joint is my back-up U-joint. I am able to make 2 complete sets of drives - the main drive will use a small 3/8" diameter u-joint which could be the weak point of the whole drive. For the back-up unit, I decided to use the larger U-joints.

This is what I am dealing with in the middle of May! All the lakes around Calgary are still frozen over. Stefan was telling me that this is the first time in over 20 years that the reservoir hasn't opened during the first week of May.

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Training woes, and 24 hour record boat progress

Progress updates:

You can now follow my micro updates by subscribing to the PedalTheOcean Twitter feed. I am thinking of updating this feed during the 24 hour record attempt every hour. The advantage of following a Twitter feed is that you can choose to receive updates on your cell phone, text messages, email or follow using the Twitter web site, the AdventuresOfGreg web site (upper right hand corner), or my FaceBook page (status updates).

As with everything in life there is always give and take, pros and cons, good with the bad. Very seldom is anything easy and straight forward. The new 24 hour record attempt human powered boat build is going really great - too great in fact. Something needed to offset all this great progress and that something is the Greek sea-god Achilles.

My Achilles tendon on my right leg is swollen and very, very sore and is becoming an issue for me.

My weekly long training rides alternate between an ultra-long, but moderate paced ride which progressively grows longer each 2nd week as I near the record attempt date and a 5-hour, very intense, hard ride. Today's 5 hour ride was supposed to average 200 watts and I made it to 3 hours and had to quit because my Achilles tendon was too sore.

It's been getting worse over the last few weeks and I continue to hope that it will just disappear. Last weeks 10 hour training ride outside with my buddy Greg Bradley was very painful for the last 4 hours of the ride. Today, I didn't make it past 3 hours. I need to get this problem resolved!!!

My buddy Chad who is an Ironman triathlete and also an MD, suggested I purchase this cool portable home ultra sound device called Sonic Relief:

I've been using it aggressively in combination with a topical anti-inflammatory cream and it seems to reduce swelling. I will keep at it.

What I really need to do is to give my foot a break for a couple of weeks to allow the Achilles to heal, but I am afraid that I will lose too much fitness and won't be able to stick to my scheduled 24 hour human powered boat distance record attempt for late June. We have a pretty busy summer, so it will be tough trying to schedule the record attempt for July or August.

Since postponing the Atlantic crossing until December of 2009, I now have time for other athletic pursuits, so I signed up for Ironman Arizona in November. I really have to get this 24 hour record attempt done and finished with by July at the latest so I can recover and switch training focus back to Ironman. My goal for Ironman in November is to make it back to World Championships in Kona! I have a special reason for going back to Kona, Hawaii in October of 2009 - more on that at a later date.

24 hour record boat progress

Above is a computer model of what the new boat will look like. Click to enlarge. My recumbent seat sits on a 10" wide, hollow carbon fiber hull that is 24 feet long. There are two, light weight carbon outriggers for balance that typically sit a few inches ABOVE the water line while underway. My forward momentum should be enough to keep the narrow main hull balanced without the extra drag of the outriggers.

The main hull is 2 layers of 5.8 oz carbon fiber + 1 layer of 6 oz carbon+Kevlar weave. To add stiffness and strength, I inserted six bulkheads which I cut out from a left-over section of the carbon fiber sandwich board frame for Critical Power. I think it is cool to have part of Critical Power in this boat. (Critical Power is the name of my human powered vehicle that I set a 24 hour distance record with in the summer of 2006).

I kept the cut-out sections of this sandwich board frame for Critical Power
and used them for the bulkheads for the new boat

I was very surprised when I weighed the hull with the outriggers because it was one pound LESS than when I pulled it off the mold. Even with the carbon bulkheads bonded in, it is only 13.5 pounds. It will weigh more when the top deck is on, but this is a good start!

You can see the Kevlar (gold) with the carbon weave.
Kevlar will prevent the hull from ripping apart if it is holed.

The top deck will be a 24 foot long piece of closed cell foam core called CoreCell. CoreCell is what we are building the new ocean crossing boat WiTHiN out of.

The CoreCell will be covered with 1 layer of carbon each side, then cut to fit onto the flange of the hull.

The short sections of CoreCell are joined with tabs that are epoxied over the seems. This should also provide a bit more stiffness to the top deck.

The rudder tube is an old carbon tube that I had. It wasn't quite strong enough, so I reinforced it with a wrap of carbon. After the carbon went onto the tube, I wetted it out with epoxy resin, then wound a tight layer of electrical tape around it. I poked holes in the electrical tape to allow excess epoxy to seep out.

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The new 24 hour record attempt!!!

24 hour human powered boat record:

This boat is going to be fiendishly fast!

First you have to check out this work of art that my buddy Manny from Rhomec Industries made for me:

It's the aluminum prop, spinner, bearing tube and fairing cones for the drive for the new 24 hour record attempt boat. VERY SWEET!

I want to keep the exact configuration of the drive unit proprietary for a little while, so I'm not posting any drawings of it here. I am aware of another group who has indicated to me that they plan on challenging my 174 km pedal boat record from last summer and I don't really want to give away any of our secrets just yet. I am not **repeat NOT** attempting to break my own 174 km pedal boat record - I am attempting to break Carter Johnson's 245 km kayaking record! I am aware that there is a big spread between 174 km and 245 km, and this boat that was designed by Rick Willoughby is capable of at least 245 km in 24 hours. If I am able to go farther than 245 km in 24 hours on a flat lake, then it will be the farthest any person has ever travelled in 24 hours on water under their own power.

Rick is helping with design and engineering direction, Manny from Rhomec is contributing his wicked machining skills to make the prop and drive unit parts, the right angle gear drive was donated by my buddy George and PedalTheOcean sponsor MitrPak, and my right hand man Ben is helping out in the shop. I'll have a cast of other friends helping with officiating, observing and other help like last year - it is TRULY a collaborative effort and I am VERY grateful for all of the support these friends are providing.

My original intention was to invite Carter Johnson to Calgary and stage a race and possibly a new world record by either Carter or I. I'm not sure that is going to work because lake conditions for a record need to be nearly perfect - very calm and flat water. That means I need to race on a day with little to no wind which means that I can't schedule an exact date for the record attempt. My intention is to be ready to go and watch the weather closely, then when a suitable weather window opens up, just DO IT.

Ben came over today and we made some progress on the main hull. This hull is 24 feet long and 9" wide at it's widest point. The Styrofoam plug was CNC machined by Jarrett Johnson in Saskatchewan and delivered to me in 4 parts. I had to build a 24 foot long FLAT table to place the hull onto deck side down.

I am going to use the same composite layup method that I used for one of the outriggers - that is to cover the entire foam hull with packing tape, lay down the carbon, wet it out with epoxy and vacuum bag & cure for 8 hours. Then pull the carbon hull OFF the foam hull. The thin carbon shell will then be reinforced with some bulkheads and a thin sandwich panel deck will be bonded to the top.

I did this for one of the outriggers and it worked, but there were millions of pin holes in the 2 layers of 6 oz carbon I put on. These holes leaked water like a sieve - not exactly what you want for a boat. For the main hull, we are letting a base coat of epoxy on the taped hull get semi-hard before applying the carbon and wetting out. I am also applying two additional layers of composite fabric - 2 layers of 5.8 oz carbon weave, 1 layer of 6 oz carbon/Kevlar weave and an outside layer of 5 oz fiberglass for sanding. I am also going to apply LESS vacuum pressure this time which won't suck out all the epoxy through the fabric which leaves the nasty pin holes.

Ben and I are pulling a length of string tight to make sure that the
4 foam sections are assembled in a STRAIGHT line

We covered the foam plug with packing tape. When the carbon cures,
I can pull the boat hull right off the foam plug leaving the foam plug for future use.

2 layers of 5.8 oz carbon, 1 layer of 6 oz carbon/kevlar mix the 1 layer 4 oz fiberglass on the exterior. We set the vacuum pressure high enough to press the wet fabric against the form, but not to remove too much excess epoxy.

Follow AdventuresOfGreg 24 hours a day!

Yes! Your dreams have been answered. If these casual updates are just not enough AOG for you, then I have some exciting news. With my new Twitter feed, you can follow me 24 hours per day. That's right - imagine it! All day long, every day of the week, 4 weeks per month, 12 months per year, year after year after year! Yeah!!!! You'll know when I brush my teeth, take out the garbage, and cut my finger in the shop. It will be like you are there - right in the thick of the action!

Seriously - I have a Twitter feed that I'll be updating every day - or more often depending on what I'm working on that could be semi-interesting. You can follow it at the AOG main blog page (upper right hand corner of the page):

Or at my Twitter page:

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Sneak preview of the new boat!

Click on any of the images below to enlarge.

Naval architect Stuart Bloomfield from Bloomfield designs is making good progress on the design of next version of WiTHiN - the speed demon that I will human power across the Atlantic ocean. It's still a work in progress, but I thought I would show you how it is looking.

I took a .dxf file of the basic hull shape from Rick who converted it from Stuarts drawing and imported it into my 3D software where I added hatches and windows and other details. The construction method will be based on developable surfaces. First, we create flat panels which are carbon over varying thicknesses of core material (probably something like CoreCell). Then computer cut the flat panels and join them together around the bulkheads to create the boat.

This flat panel method of construction is fast and less expensive than the traditional CNC machined foam plug/mold method. It's also very strong and according to Ricks computer simulations, just as efficient as a compound curved hull.

With the two hatches on the roof, I will be able to sit up on the top deck

or kneel on the sea-anchor locker which is behind my seat to
deploy the sea anchor or a drogue

The aft top deck hatch also makes it easy to enter the sleeping cabin

Another 'living position' is to sit on the sea anchor locker top and
look out through the aft top deck hatch

After the seat is rotated out of the way, I can stand up
through the sliding pilot hatch

There is a hatch separating the cockpit and sleeping cabin

This view shows the sleeping cabin hatch open and resting
on top of the sea anchor locker

A view into the sleeping cabin. There is a rear port light window to
see behind, and two round port lights on each side.
The monitor that you see hanging down from above is
the AIS radar monitor

This is a view out the front window. The port lights on the sides open IN and DOWN.

There will be enough room to crouch to access the
bow locker and to remove the drive leg

Earthrace has started!!!

Look at this awesome looking beast! It's Pete Bathune's Earthrace - a 100% biodiesel powered wave piercing boat that departed today from Spain on it's way to set a new round the world power boat speed record.

You can follow Earth Race progress here: The race tracking map and data is presented by none other than my buddy Pat Brothers from Racerecon (now Rushdigital).
You can support the record attempt for as little as $10 by buying a nautical mile at the Earthrace web site.

I just finished reading Pete's best selling book about their first failed attempt to set the record last year. Earthrace - Futuristic Adventures on the High Seas is a GREAT read and I can really identify with how difficult it was for Pete and his team to even make the start line! I think just getting to the start line is more than half the battle.

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Am I a Sea Biscuit?

Am I destined to end up as yet another Sea Biscuit?

After hearing the 100th story about the Sea Biscuit from the locals in Tofino, Murray and I decided to do some investigating and learn more about this ill-fated world circumnavigation in an eight foot sail boat.

Sea Biscuit is a 8-foot (yes, as in EIGHT feet long from bow to stern) sailboat that Floridian Harley Harlson built to circumnavigate the globe, nonstop. Construction details here. Previously, the smallest boat to circumnavigate the globe is 12 feet long, sailed by Serge Testa. I highly recommend his book called 500 days. A really great read! In my opinion, Serge really knew what he was doing - I'm not so sure about Harley, but then again, perhaps people are saying that about me.

Harley arrived in Tofino to start his world circumnavigation in August of 2006. He made it from the trailer to the public boat launch dock where he discovered a foot of water in the bottom of Sea Biscuit that leaked in through his rudder bolts. Failing to repair the leak, and missing his weather window, Harley returned home and docked Sea Biscuit at the marina at the end of Olsen Road in Tofino where Murray and I found her on Sunday.

The two stories we heard from the locals were: "He was lying in a wet bed pan for 2 weeks bailing water out with a sponge" and "The coast guard seized his boat and wouldn't let him go". Neither story was true. It's funny how a story sort of has a life of it's own that may only be loosely connected with the truth.

I am not sure just how much testing Harley did previous to his failed launch in Tofino. I did read in an interview that he tested Sea Biscuit in a lake, but I am really not sure about how much open ocean sailing he did with her. That might have been a good idea.


I have said this before and I think I need to repeat it - if not just to re-confirm my own objectives regarding this record attempt. About 1 year ago in my blog, I said:

I want to make this clear - this challenge is NOT about doing a solo, unsupported survival adventure across the Atlantic ocean. I have the highest respect for those who do that like current ocean crossers Roz Savage, Jason Lewis, Bhavic, Ralph Tuijn and previous ocean crossing expeditions Leven Brown, Greg Spooner, Colin and Julie, and the many others I follow and have followed.

My 'thing' is the combination of technology and human performance. A fully supported human powered Atlantic speed record attempt is exactly what this expedition is. The support / safety boat will accompany me and provide supplies, traffic lookout, water making, equipment backups, communications, repairs, food, company and even occasionally a safe place to escape to (if ocean conditions allow). This allows me to focus on designing and building the fastest, most efficient human powered ocean boat possible, and my ability to pedal the machine 3000 miles across the Atlantic ocean in less than 40 days.

Since then, I have decided that a "fully supported" speed record isn't a fair comparison to the existing unsupported Atlantic crossing record of 43 days set my Emmanuel Coindre, so my support boat will be a safety boat only, and will not be used for support of any kind unless there is an emergency in which case my unsupported crossing either becomes a supported one, or I am rescued and have to abandon the crossing.

I certainly hope that this project is viewed by others as a serious endeavour to demonstrate the potential of something long forgotten - our human power in all of it's forms. PedalTheOcean is a physical, mental and emotional challenge unlike anything I have ever set out to do.

Seeing Sea Biscuit falling apart in a pile of seaweed under the dock at the end of Olsen road, is a really good reminder of how I could potentially be viewed by the people of Tofino - those who saw me on TV, read about me in the paper, or have seen me come and go from the WeighWest marina.


Like every worthy challenge, there is always more to it than you can ever imagine or can possibly plan for. At times like this I need to remember this bit of greeting card wisdom: "Persistence prevails when all else fails". Following are a few of the "learning experiences" that I am dealing with right now:

EXPERIENCE: After Mondays 9 hour training session on the water I know first hand how important gaining the appropriate experience will be in my ability to succeed at this challenge. The best kind of experience will be time spent in WiTHiN on the ocean - there would be no substitute for that. Murray and I discussed this during the drive back from Tofino, and what I would like to do when the new boat is finished (calling it "Ocean WiTHiN" for now) is dock it in Tofino fully equipped and provisioned for multi-day trips. Then I can fly out from Calgary which is a very easy and inexpensive flight and head out to sea in WiTHiN. I could start with a day trip similar to what we did with Matahil's support boat, but do it on my own. Then I could slowly advance to an over night trip, then a 3 day trip, etc. I would experience all kinds of weather and ocean conditions and I think this kind of training would be very good for me.

Sea sickness: They say it can't be trained, but I doubt that, as I know from many others that 2 to 3 days is usually when the body gets accustomed to this alien rock and roll environment and stops getting sick. That is basically what training is. There was an episode of Myth Busters a while ago where they tested sea sickness cures. They found only 2 cures that worked: Ginger and medication. I will experiment with both, as well as some trampoline training. I used to be a gymnast in high school and was very surprised at how dizzy I got doing simple flips on a trampoline a while ago. I am certain that I can train this motion sickness away by simply doing trampoline flips every day. If that's the case, perhaps there will be some residual inner ear / spacial awareness that I develop that will carry over to the ocean environment.

OW (Ocean WiTHiN) design: One of the causes of motion sickness is a miss-match between where the eye registers the bodies location in space, and it's actual location in space. As soon as I looked away from my small front window, I got sick. I also found it very difficult to see anything outside - I rarely saw Matahil and he was always close to me. I think I would like to re-visit the sliding canopy idea for the new boat design. The Naval architect Stuart Bloomfield designed opening hatches and a small sliding pilot hatch on the roof, but I don't think this is enough to provide me with the 'livable' open environment that I want in the cockpit. I would like to 'really be there' - not watching everything from the detached view point of a closed-in cockpit. The advantage of a sliding canopy cover is that I always have the option of sliding it over for really bad weather or big seas. Of course, the sleeping cabin is closed off with a bulkhead and hatch, as is the bow storage locker, so with the bilge pump on the cockpit floor, even if WiTHiN flooded, I would still be capsize safe.

Stuart Bloomfield and Ricks closed canopy/hatch design (click to enlarge)sliding cockpit cover

I noticed how much work it took to stay on my bearing and I think I will look into installing a small autopilot. This should not only make my forward progress a bit more efficient (always on track), but will also ease the work load for me. If anyone knows of a small, very efficient autopilot, let me know. The smallest I have found is this Simrad TP10.

Support boat: Being the optimist that I am, I always thought that I would be able to find someone sailing from the Canaries to Barbados who would be willing to accompany me as my safety boat. I know now that this is a lot to ask, as staying even in the broad vicinity of me in the middle of the ocean takes a lot of work. After speaking with a few boat brokers and yacht management companies, my best bet is to arrange my own crew, and buy a yacht capable of a trans oceanic voyage, then sell it at my destination. My friend Stefan Dalberg has volunteered to skipper the support boat, and I hope I can find a few more crew interested in the experience.

Spanish coast guard: This is a problem. I have heard from others who tried to deal with the coastguard, that they do not negotiate with individuals. Letters and attempts to contact them go unanswered for months. So far, every independent ocean rower who has departed from Canary Islands has left at night incognito. One option is to join the Atlantic rowing race in December of 2009 which includes a support boat shared by all of the race participants, and Spanish coast guard clearance. I like this option because of the community and the publicity opportunity. Speedy WiTHiN is an interesting contrast in amongst all the sluggish row boats.

Shipping WiTHiN: I had budgeted about $7000 to ship WiTHiN to the Canary Islands. Because she is over 20 feet long, she has to go in a 40 foot container which is twice as expensive as a 20 foot container. Plus, it will take up to 2 months for delivery! OUCH. And another $14,000 to ship back to Miami.

Schedule: December of 2008 is definitely OUT. There is no way I can get proper training, finish building WiTHiN, test her and ship her this year. Looks like December of 2009 for Canaries to West Indies route, or I could leave as early as June of 2009 if I were to change routes and head across the Pacific instead (this is an option that I am considering, as it also eliminates my shipping problems. More on this later).

We have made some serious progress since I made that comment about the support boat a year ago, but I still have very far to go. I need to remember that it's all about the journey, not the destination. This journey will be a long one, and I need to stop every once in a while and remember to enjoy it.


Here are a few more photos from Mondays sea trails in Tofino:

Soon after we left the dock, I started to over heat. With the new keel, standing up in WiTHiN is no problem

Leaving the Weigh West marina at sun rise

Long Beach

WiTHiN leaving Tofino with the town in the background

We got home just in time - just missed a big winter storm!

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V11G carbon outrigger #1

V11G outrigger shell in the vacuum bag

V11G outrigger shell pulled off the foam plug

My first carbon outrigger popped off of the Styrofoam plug nicely. The general shape is very true, but there are small imperfections on the surface finish due to the release film creases and some imperfections in the styrofoam. These could be sanded off, but I think I would be worth adding a 5 oz layer of fine fiberglass weave for sanding. Then i think the surface would be very smooth.

This is a great way of using Styrofoam as a re-usable male mold (plug). Just cover it with packing tape.

I will probably leave about 1/4" of the flange around the edge to bond a thin top deck to it. The top deck will be carbon over a 1/4 inch sheet of Styrofoam or core material for the top deck. To stiffen the outrigger, I'll add a bulkhead to the middle. I will also fill in the inside nose and tail with some micro to give it some strength.

Getting ready for sea trials

Dates for the second set of sea trials have been finalized. I am heading out this Saturday with Murray. We arrive in Tofino on Sunday and launch WiTHiN. Monday morning we meet up with Matahil Lawson and his boat. I'll be spending at least 8 hours on the water. The objective is to head WEST as far as I can for 4 or 5 hours, then turn around and head back. Mat also knows of some great areas to get into some chop and swell and other various challenging conditions, so maybe we'll play around a bit. Tuesday will be more of the same - two 8-hour days in a row out in the Pacific.

I need to establish a speed profile for WiTHiN. I need to know how fast she goes into varying degrees of head wind as well as from abeam and from astern. Knowing the differences in efficiencies between the prototype version and the new ocean crossing boat, I will be able to predict a speed profile for the new ocean boat.

This is sort of important, as I need to get a better understanding of how WiTHiN will perform in adverse wind/sea conditions. Most of the ocean rowing boats can't make headway in moderate onshore winds. This is one of the reasons why they have had difficulties in the past getting away from California for ocean rowing expeditions to Hawaii and Australia.

One of the things I needed to fix on WiTHiN is the nose ring thing. There is a steel tube that runs through the bow and the stern. During the last trip to Tofino, we ran a rope through this tube for towing and tying up at the dock, but the rope was cut from rubbing on the sharp edge of the tube.

Since being able to accept a tow is a very important safety issue during sea trials, I decided to fabricate a bridle to tie the line to. This won't stress the rope like the old set-up did.

I made a couple of foam inserts for the Dorade vents. These will be used to stop road crap from being blown into the vents during the drive, and - more importantly, to stop water from leaking into the boat when I tip her over beside the dock to mount the keel.

Another addition to WiTHiN is the new nifty clamp fan. It really blows, and I can mount it in a variety of places using the handy clamp - to face the window to de-fog, or face me for cooling.

All I have left is to re-build our rotten wooden boat stand on the trailer. This got so wet during the first Tofino trip (snow and constant rain), that it started to fall apart. I'm going to weld a steel one to replace it.


Tomorrow I have an 8 hour INSIDE training ride - UGH!!! It's snowing and minus 17 degrees C right now, so an outside ride is NOT in the cards unfortunately.

After a rest week last week, I attempted a new 20 minute power test today and I was pleased to find a 15 watt increase over my last test. My goal is to get up to 270 watts for 20 minutes and I'm pretty sure with another set of CP 20 intervals over the next 6 weeks, I'll be able to achieve that - and more, once I get outside. My peak CP20 power was 300 watts a couple of years ago on my tri bike. It's always lower on the recumbent - I think 280 was my PR on the bent.

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Discovery Channel interview & sneak preview of the ocean boat!

When Pat and I were out in Tofino for sea trials, my PR genius Mark Dusseault arranged a media day in Victoria for local media to shoot pictures of WiTHiN and interview me. The entire afternoon was spent with a crew from Discovery Channel filming a second interview. The first Discovery Channel show is here:

The second piece turned out well, but I think they kind of focused in too much on the window issue - it wasn't really that big of a deal. Over all the goal was to see how stable WiTHiN was in waves and chop, and it did OK. I think the biggest thing I learned was I wanted to see what a keel would do to mitigate the excessive rocking. We'll find out soon.

Speaking of the second sea trials, WiTHiN is pretty well ready to go. The keel is now finished, and the other day I added this manually operated windshield wiper. I had also replaced the PETG window plastic, so it's no longer frosted slightly with paint over spray like that last one. This should make it easier to see out the window.

You can see the handle to operate the wiper under the top deck.

Another problem I was having in Tofino was my vent fan falling off the Dorade vent. It was held in place with a Velcro-like fastener. The reason is so that I can rip it off and manually shut the valve on he vent if I had to. To keep it in place, I bonded 3 latches onto it. To remove it, I just flip the latches and pull it off.

The last item repaired was where the old stops were for the outriggers. I had to kick them off to get WiTHiN through the door of the pool when we pool-tested the keel. I grounded the rough fiberglass down smooth, and filled over with micro.

Ready to go! Now I just have to find a support boat. I made a call to a friend who works for the Canadian coast guard office in Tofino to ask about boat availability for a couple of days within the next week or so to support me during my trials. He says that whale watching season has just started and many of the whale watching boats are fully booked. He's making some calls for me.

Is anyone local interested in going with me to Tofino?

The 24 hour human powered boat record

I just finished a 7.5 hour ride. Ugh! It was -10 C degrees this morning, but it was supposed to warm up later and the sun was up, so I figured I would break the day up by doing 5 hours outside, then another 3 inside. The outside ride was not fun. I froze my toes.

My hamstring started to get pretty sore. I'm not sure if it was because of Wednesday's KILLER AT intervals, or because the geometry on the M5 isn't exactly what I've been training on with the inside trainer. Anyhow - not a lot of fun.

One advantage that postponing the ocean crossing has is affording me a bit more time on other projects - including the 24 hour HPB record. I was thinking about an early June attempt, but I only get 1 month of unfrozen water here to train on. Glenmore res opens in May. That means that most of my training has to be either downstairs on the inside trainer, or outside on the M5. Outside is fine, but that really sucks when the temperature is less that 10 degrees C. I would much prefer a month or two of warm weather to alternate some long, 14 to 16 hour outside epic rides with some ultra long lake training days on the new boat. Scheduling the 24 hour record attempt and race for later in June would give me an additional month to train.

The Styrofoam hull and outrigger floats for V11G are due in from Saskatchewan today. I will order my carbon, epoxy, and other supplies on Tuesday, then schedule a composites work day here maybe the following week - depends on if I can get all of my supplies.

Manny the CNC machinist extraordinaire has finished machining the new prop for V11G !! It is a piece of ART!

Sneak preview of WiTHiN-ocean!

Postponement of the 24 hour record has it's drawbacks - I am counting on this summer to complete all of the testing required for the new ocean crossing version of WiTHiN. Even with the postponement of the ocean crossing until next December (actually, it will probably be much earlier - like next JUNE. More on that later), I need this summer to complete all of the testing. This includes basic testing, as well as a few multi-day trips with the boat FULLY provisioned and equipped.

World record winning naval architect Stuart Bloomfield has completed some preliminary designs for the new boat. Check it out:

The big advantage to using the flat panel method of construction is speed and ease of building it. The panels can be made before hand using core materials and carbon on both sides. Then the panel shapes are laser cut from computer files. The carbon panels are seamed together to form the boat.

The front windshield is raked back, but there are two 'A frame' beams running from the roof line to the bow top deck. The beams are both structural and aesthetic.

Boston marathon

Helen and I have the Boston marathon next month and this will be an interesting experiment for me. I've been running only ONCE per week because of an old calf injury from last years 24 hour record. It's not going away, so I've cut my running way back. One long run per week - that's it. This week I did a 2.5 hour run and next week it will be 2.75. So far, it seems to be working. I have plenty of energy during that long run, and my calf hasn't been hurting. I wont be setting any personal bests in Boston that's for sure!

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Keel-girl in a BIKINI this time!

As promised - another new keel-girl photo. This time I talked her into wearing her bikini for the shot. You are welcome.

To keep the keel from twisting and shearing off the two bolts holding the keel tube onto the stub tube, I welded a couple of stainless angles to make a notch for the keel fin to slide into.

After I finished all the Bondo and sanding, I tipped WiTHiN over onto her side and slide the keel onto the stub from my work bench to check the fit once again. Everything was good.

Then to see how strong (or lack of strong) my keel was, I got someone to hold onto the rudder and I rolled the work bench away while holding onto the keel and slowly letting more of it's 90 lb weight fall down.

Holding onto the hull at the keel causes some serious twisting of the hull which wouldn't be a stress that the boat would experience in water, so I didn't let it go all the way. The join to the hull was solid - no visual bending at all, and the keel tube wasn't bending, but I could hear some creaks coming from the fiberglass hull itself twisting.

A few layers of paint to seal all the micro up.

And a finishing coat of black paint to hide all my bumpies and seal-up some of the non-stainless in the keel fin.

Now all I have left before sea trials is:

1. Make a foam plug for the Dorade vent (When i tip WiTHiN onto her side to slide the keel on, a bit of water leaks through the Dorade vent).

2. Cover over the holes where the old outriggers used to fit into

3. Install my new manual windshield wiper

4. Add a latch to keep the vent fan onto the Dorade vent. I used snap-loc before and it kept falling off

5. I need to make a stainless ring to fit through my nose ring holes to tie a line to. I used to run the tow line through the stainless tube that is inserted through the nose-ring hole in the bow (and stern), but the edges of the tube cut through the tow line.

Oh - and A brand new interview with me is due to air on Discovery Channel tonight! It's the one we shot out in Victoria during the first sea trials. Daily Planet if you are in Canada.


Keel-girl back by popular demand

I said "Hey Helen, can you take a break for a sec and come help me in the shop?" She said sure, and I told her to do stand beside over the freshly bondo'ed keel as I grabbed the camera. She claimed I was shamelessly using her to get BLOG traffic!

Anyhow, this 100 lb beast is almost done. To fill in the leading and trailing ends of the keel bulb, I mixed in my lead shot with Bondo and spread it into the steel sectioned nose and tail like I was baking Frankensteins birthday cake.

Then I tapered the keel tube aerofoil with Bondo, and smoothened over the lead-bondo areas and sanded it all smooth. Well, as smooth as it's going to get. I'm not making anything I expect to last a lifetime here, nor am I expecting any quality workmanship awards. I just need to get through about 20 hours of sea trial testing. This will do the trick.

I'll be heading back out to Tofino sometime within the next 3 weeks for more trials/training. One test I really need to do is to measure my power output, resulting speed and the exact wind speed so we can develop a power profile for WiTHiN to better predict her parameters in various wind conditions. It would be great to experience 30 to 40 knot winds.

I made some calls to see if I can hire a support boat to follow me out, and it might be tougher than I expected. When I was last in Tofino for the first sea trials, it was January and way-off season for the tourism industry. March is the start of Whale watching season, and I've been told that many of the boats are booked with tours.


Training is going great. I did a 6 hour ride INSIDE on Friday and it actually went by faster than I expected. In large part, this is due to my new iPod Touch. What a GREAT invention! I bought a water proof enclosure for it from OtterBox and a Ram mount. Brilliant! I can listen to an audio book, watch YouTube videos, listen to music, read and type emails, and browse the Internet - all right from my pilots seat.

I am planning on using the Ram mount in the new WiTHiN for the ocean crossing.


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Keel pin-up girl

I figured you were probably getting sick of seeing my (just turned 47 year old) face on the blog, so I got Helen to pose with the new keel for you. You are welcome.

The keel consists of a 3.5" diameter stainless steel pipe welded to a 3 foot long stainless tube. The tube slide over a stub tube which is welded to a 1/4" stainless steel plate which is bolted to the hull through the seat rails.

I welded a 1/16" thick steel fin to the keel strut. I'll fill the gap in with bondo and shape to an airfoil. Everything was going too well. I finished welding on my fin and went to slide the keel onto the stub post and it didn't fit! Then I realized that I forgot about the weld-through on the other side of my stainless tube! ARGH! It was a bead running about 12 inches down the inside of the tube - impossible to grind off with a standard grinding bit for the dremel.

I ended up having to make my own took to reach down in the tube to grind off that excess weld. It took me as long to grind that weld-through off as it did to make the whole keel!

The keel is bolted onto the plate on the hull with two bolts to nuts welded to the other side of the tube. To get the keel on, I will tip WiTHiN onto her side and from the dock, slide the keel tube onto the stub post, then screw in the bolts.

The big cylinder was filled up with lead shot. I purchased four x 25 lb bags (EXPENSIVE! They cost $50 a bag!). Unfortunately, only 50 pounds worth of shot filled the 24" long cylinder. I think the cylinder pipe itself + the keel strut, etc is probably worth another 20 lbs, so I'll have a total of about 70 lbs. I wanted 90 lbs, but I will have additional ballast on the floor of WiTHiN, so I'm pretty sure I can match the stability we experienced during the keel test at the pool last week.
To fair out the leading and trailing ends of the ballast cylinder, I welded some plate on to form a round leading edge and tapered trailer edge. I will fill them up with bondo mixed with lead, then sand smooth

Expedition Progress:

Have you ever noticed that progress comes in bursts, and in between these bursts you slip backward? Right now I feel like I am stuck in an anti-progress eddy!

Quotes for shipping WiTHiN to the Canary Islands are coming in at around $14,000 one way! And I have to drive it to New York. This is about double what I had budgeted. Then another $14,000 to ship her back from Antigua to Miami, and again, I would need to drive to Miami to pick it up. I also found out that I need to allow 7 week delivery time.

If I am to meet Nick (my support boat) for a November departure, I need to have WiTHiN shipped out by the beginning of August. I set a deadline to have the new boat built by Early June, but that was based on getting plans finished two weeks ago.

We have to finish the drawings, contract a builder, have the entire boat built, install all the hardware, and equipment and supplies and then get it out to Tofino for sea trials - all before August first. Oh, and then I have to drive for 3 days to New York.

Postponing for 1 year is something that I am seriously considering. One advantage is more time to seek that elusive major sponsor, and another advantage is more time to develop that sea experience that I am so lacking thereof. If I did postpone departure for a year, I would definitely plan some intermediate challenges.


I had a 6 hour training ride scheduled for tomorrow, but the weather is going bad. Snow and a high of zero, so it looks like I'll be riding inside for the day. Yeah! fun fun fun.

The good news is I got an iPod Touch for my birthday, so I plan on watching some TV shows, podcasts and YouTube while sweating away downstairs in my basement for 6 hours. Maybe hour 1 I'll read my book (see what I'm reading on my FaceBook page - Greg Kolodziejzyk), hour two - play some Guitar Hero, hour 3 - a bit of email on the iTouch or Nomad, hour 4 & 5 - watch a DVD movie on TV, hour 6 - watch some YouTube videos on the iTouch. I can also listen to a couple of audio books I have started (Long Way Down and The Proving Ground), and some tunes.

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WiTHiN keel ballast pool test

The retractable outriggers on the prototype version of WiTHiN were never intended to be used on the actual ocean crossing boat, the design of which is now being drafted up by Naval Architect Stuart Bloomfield. Rick had envision using a keel with a ballast bulb at the end.

The danger of these retractable outriggers out on the Atlantic is the risk of the outriggers becoming damaged or jammed. The benefit of a keel is some damping of the constant rolling in the waves and swell, as well as lowering the center of gravity so that I can sit on the top deck or stand up without tipping over.

I am rocking from side to side as hard as I can and this is
as far as WiTHiN will roll over with 90 pounds on the keel

I want to get back out to Tofino for more sea experience, and we decided that it would be wise to install a keel on the prototype boat to see how much it helps smoothen out the rough ride in the chop.

The first step was to determine how much weight is required on the end of the keel. My calculations showed about 100 lbs is required to offset my weight while climbing in through the top hatch, and I needed to verify this with an actual test in a pool.

I met John Mackay, Ben Eadie, my dad Rudi and Pat Lor at the YWCA on Thursday afternoon. It was a job getting WiTHiN through the SINGLE DOOR to the pool! I can't believe we actually got it through that door. All of our measurements showed that it would be impossible, so we thought we would try it anyways. Unbelievably, we jammed it through that door!

Getting the bolt-on keel onto WiTHiN was super easy. Once she was in the pool, I just closed up the top hatch, and windows, rocked WiTHiN onto her side and used the pool deck to slide the keel onto the stub post already mounted on WiTHiN. I will use this same technique to mount the keel from the side of the dock when we get her out to the ocean again.

All of my weight is balanced over the side and
this is where WiTHiN stops her roll with 90 pounds on the keel.

To start with, I added 20 lbs to the keel, then sat on top and rocked back and forth. It was easy to roll WiTHiN all the way over to the point where water would run in through the open top hatch.

We added more weight and repeated the experiment until I could not dip the open top hatch - the result was 90 pounds. There was NO additional ballast on the floor of WiTHiN, as I had removed the battery and all of the equipment.

Now I will remove the temporary weight plate tube from the keel and weld on a 3" diameter x 24" long stainless steel tube filled with about 90 pounds of lead shot. Then I'll fair the keel strut and the ballast bulb, and it's back out to Tofino!


Sea trials part Deux

More sea trials:

According to the departure countdown widget in the upper right of this page, I only have 272 days, 8 hours and a few minutes before departure. YIKES!

I have a lot to do, but everything seems to be falling into place slowly, so I am still feeling relatively confident that I can make it to the start line in La Gomera, Spain in the Canary Islands in November.

One of my confidence builders is more time spent at sea in WiTHiN. I really feel like I need to experience some big seas - or at the very least, I need to spend a day pedalling for 8 hours straight up and over 2 to 3 meter swells which might be considered average Atlantic crossing conditions. High winds and some chop would be a bonus.

The keel is bolted to the seat rails which have been reinforced with kevlar and glass

For sea trials part 2, WiTHiN will feature a ballasted keel instead of relying on ballast in the bottom of the boat. In the short video clip below, you can see how WiTHiN is thrown around quite a bit in the chop.


We're hoping that 40 to 90 pounds of ballast suspended 3 feet below the hull will tend to soften the rough ride. It should also provide me with enough stability to stand up, enter and exit and I can get rid of those outriggers.

this is the keel mounting plate as viewed from below the hull. I will bed this in with epoxy and add a layer of fiberglass, then micro to fair the lip between the 1/4" stainless plate and the hull.

If this works, then I have faith that the new expedition boat which also uses a keel for stability is the right way to go.

The keel tube slide onto the stub on the mounting plate and is secured with a couple of bolts. I will slip WiTHiN into the water from a boat launch, then rotate the boat onto her side from a dock. With the hatch closed, she should be pretty water tight. This will allow us to slide the keel tube (with keel ballast bulb) along the dock and onto the stub.

In order to gauge how much weight to put in the keel, I have welded a temporary weight-lifting plate holder to the keel and I can slip on 10 to 25 lb plates onto the keel and test out stability while standing up in a pool somewhere. Once I figure out how much weight we need, I'll weld the 3" diameter stainless tube to the end of the keel tube and fill it with lead shot. Then I will round off the ends with bondo. It will be a bit draggy, but this prototype isn't build to set any speed records.

The plan is to get back to Tofino THIS MONTH for more sea trials using the new keel. I will hire an RIB for safety and head directly West out into the open Pacific for 4 hours, then turn around and head back. I should be able to make at least 50 km total.

Support Greg's quest to become the
fastest human to cross the Atlantic ocean
under his own power with a
$250 "Across With Greg"
Small Business sponsorship that includes
YOUR LOGO on the boat "WiTHiN" + this super cool plaque.
Ordering is easy - click here:


My little red Coroplast playhouse

The new design for the ocean crossing version of WiTHiN is here:

I am still working on nailing down the exact measurements, and in order to learn about what those measurements need to be, I built a wood and coroplast mock-up trainer:

The sliding canopy works exactly the same way it will on the actual boat.

I can reach my bow storage compartment by leaning forward and crouching right in front of the drive leg. I will cover the hatch opening with a pull-off kayak-type hatch instead of a hinged hatch because the swinging door would interfear with the drive leg.

I can access the stern sleeping cabin through a Lewmar hatch that I cut out of plywood by opening up the sliding canopy cover, standing up, turning around, opening the hatch door downward, and sitting with my legs through the hatch opening. If need-be, I can also enter the hatchway with the canopy closed by lying on my stomach and entering head-first.

The problem I had with entering the cabin head-first in the prototype WiTHiN was that once I was in the stern cabin there was no way to turn around again. I need to sleep with my head toward the hatch and the cockpit.

Behind the seat is an enclosed storage copartment that will hold the water maker, and sea anchor. One of the features of the sliding canopy cover is I can kneel up on the storage compartment to deploy the sea anchor to the stern. The forward wall of this compartment behind the seat is sloped with storage bins accessible while seated.

There is a smaller perimiter deck in the gunwales that will hold the steering handles and sliders. I can store things in these arm rests as well.

Since all supplies and equipment are kept in water-tight compartments, the cockpit can get wet, splashed with a wave, or completely flooded. There will be an electric bilge pump in the foot well which is the lowest part of the cockpit.

I still need to build-out the walls for the rear sleeping cabin and experiment with those dimensions to make sure that it is comfortable enough and that I can move around in there. I also need to figure out where the horizon line is when seated and looking out the front window so I can draw where the port lights (small side windows) need to go. I need to be able to see 360 degrees from my seat to spot other boat traffic. This doesn't mean that I need a contiguous window all around - I can move my head right to left and forward to back to expand my total field of vision through each window. I want to use a transparent hatch cover for the sleeping cabin so that I can see through it and hopefully see through the rear window as well - something else to experiment with.

When moving around in the cockpit and into the rear cabin, the seat is in the way. I need to figure out some way of either easily moving it out of the way, or folding it down. I would rather move it right out of the way because it makes standing up in the cockpit and reaching things stored in the bow compartment a lot easier. Any ideas?

My seat is now higher also - in fact high enough off the hull bottom that I will be able to remove the seat to squat over a toilet bowl - something else to experiment with. No, I won't invite you over to train with me on that day.

Training - foot numbness, hours and power

And finally some really good news - with the new higher seat position, some super-lose shoes, and exagerated 'circling of my legs', my feet are no longer going numb.

My training hours in my little red playhouse are now up to about 10 hours per week. I am in base-building phase right now preparing for the 24 hour 'pedal vs. paddle challenge' in June. I always start each training season out with a maximum 20 minute effort which serves as a baseline to measure any fitness improvements as my training season moves forward. A sad 250 watts was measured - but I expected this. My peak 20 minute power output has been as high as 309 watts on my triathlon bike.

Pedal vs. Paddle Challenge

I am still moving forward with the Pedal vs. Paddle 24 hour human powered boat distance record attempt and race for early June. I have a new design from Rick for his fastest boat yet - V11G:

Jarrett Johnson from Innovention Technologies in Weyburn Saskatchewan is CNC machining the styrofoam hull and outriggers. My friend and PTO sponsor George from MitrPak is providing the gear box. I'll be doing the carbon fiber composite work, and metal fabrication myself.

I plan on building a web page to announce the race and make it official, but I think I want to get the boat finished first just to make ultra-double-extra certain that it is as efficient as it should be - that is, that I didn't make any construction blunders resulting in a sluggish boat. Not only is Carter Johnson going to join me in the race, but I am also interested in inviting a couple other types of human powered boats to race with us. A rowing skull, an outrigger canoe and maybe another kayaker. It should be pretty interesting!

New T-shirt design:

Be part of a WORLD RECORD Support Greg's quest to become the fastest human to cross the Atlantic ocean under his own power with a $100 "Across With Greg" sponsorship that includes YOUR NAME on his boat "WiTHiN" and this super-cool T-shirt!

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Guitar Hero training

I have been working on the design for the ocean crossing version of WiTHiN, and I've been making pretty decent progress. It occurred to me that before I went any further with the design, I had better know for sure that I can live within the dimensions! Something I learned from the Tofino sea trials is that the current prototype is WAY too small and it would drive me crazy spending days upon end in that tiny enclosed capsule.

I decided that I would build a mock-up that would double as an indoor trainer. I'll be able to train for the ocean crossing and the 24 hour record attempt in June, and as well, learn more about the space I need to live in there for 40 days.

Above is the overview design for the expedition boat. For details on the equipment on board, you can see the entire document here.

I will enclose the wood frame with coroplast and continue to build-out the stern cabin. Already I have noticed that I needed to raise the roof of WiTHiN by 4 inches so I can lean all the way forward to access the bow storage compartment. In the image you can see the working Lewmar Ocean 30 hatch above the para-anchor storage bin. All storage compartments and hatches will be working and made of wood and hinges. I'm even going to make the sliding canopy top with port lights and a windshield. This is the best way to design a working space. After an hour peddling in the simulator, I found a few additional places that would be good for storing things that I didn't notice in the 3D computer model.

After I finish my overview document, the next step is to hire a naval architect to go over our design and spec out material thickness, and other important construction details like which areas need to be reinforced, how to mount the keel on so it won't fall off, that kind of thing. If there are any NA's reading this and might be interested in helping, please send me an email.

After input from the NA, I will get Ben to model it all up properly in SolidWorks, then we need a builder. If you are a boat builder and might be interested in building the new WiTHiN, please send me an email.

Yes, the guitar I'm playing in the photo at the top is from the XBox game Guitar Hero. One of the benefits of indoor recumbent training is that you can do all kinds of other fun things with your hands, arms and mind to pass the time. It's unbelievable how fast time flies when I'm playing this game. Fav tune is "Holiday in Cambodia" by "The Dead Kennedy's" Try to do that on the indoor rower!

Below are some drawings I made for the new 24 hour record attempt boat. The design is by Rick Willoughby, and I consider it to be the most efficient human powered boat in the world for longer distances.

On the schedule for February:

1. I replaced the window in WiTHiN with some fresh PETG. One of my visibility problems in Tofino was because there was some over spray on the window. I have also ordered a manually operated windshield wiper to see if that helps. I have also removed the outriggers, and I need to build a keel. Then a pool test to figure out how much weight to suspend off the end of the keel, then another sea trial for March.

2. Find a naval architect and finish the design.

3. Find a builder and contract them to start building the new boat

4. Start work on the main hull and outrigger for the 24 hour record attempt boat.

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Sneak preview & some speed calculations

I drove WiTHiN to the car wash today and pressure-sprayed her clean. She got pretty dirty from the long drive home from Vancouver Island. To top that off, it's been snowing here non-stop since we got back on Thursday night. I wish I had taken a photo of the boat on the trailer in my driveway with about 12" of snow piled high on the deck. Something just not right about that...

I am planning another trip out to Tofino for more fun in the ocean swells. But first, I'm going to make a few changes:

1. I am adding a ballasted keel to WiTHiN. From the sea trials last week, I realized that WiTHiN needs more rolling stability when the waves are all mixed up like they were the first day we had her out. A 3 foot narrow tube with a bulb containing anywhere from 40 to 100 lbs of weight in it will lower the center of gravity and increase the length of the moment arm. This should really help the boat stay vertical, even when sitting on a 'slanted' slab of water. This is what keeps sail boats from rocking right to left constantly. We were going to build the ocean crossing version of WiTHiN with a ballasted keel rather than outrigger anyhow, but I really need to test out how effective this keel will be in keeping WiTHiN stable enough to stand in, and not rolling around like she does now.

2. I am covering over that useless PETG window and inserting an opening port light window. This will be glass and will be inserted as close to vertical as I can get it. I will also be able to open it up for better venting, or to see in case it gets fogged up.

For the next sea trials, I would really like to get into some seriously windy conditions and I would also like to experience some larger swells. The plan is to go out with a support boat again for safety, and simply head west for a few hours. This should take me a good 20 km from shore. Then turn around and head back. I think two or three days of doing this will teach me quite a bit and will be great training.

Rick Willoughby and I have been incorporating what I learned from the sea trials last week into a design for the ocean version of WiTHiN. Here is a sneak preview:

The new ocean crossing boat will sport a sliding canopy top for fresh air. There will be a small window in the stern cabin so I can watch for traffic.

The stern sleeping cabin will be larger and taller which will allow me to sit up. The cockpit will be a 'wet area' which means that if a wave were to wash in, the bilge pump would kick in and drain it. The area behind my seat holds the water maker, para-anchor and water container. The gunwale compartments are also water tight and will hold a few days worth of food, and my various electronics.

The stern cabin is sealed off from the cockpit by a bulkhead with a hatch. I can enter the stern cabin through the hatch with the retracting canopy partially closed which should act as an awning protecting the cabin from water splashing in. The Bow compartment will hold spare parts, 50 days worth of food, tools, etc.

The new boat will be 30 feet long - check out the difference in size compared to the prototype. Because ocean WiTHiN will utilize a better hull shape, we expect the speed to be about 8 kph on 100 watts average daily power.

Here are my rough initial speed calculations:

La Gomera, Spain to Antigua = 4500 km

Ocean Surface Current = .8 kph x 24 hours/day = 19.2 km/day x 40 days = 768 km
Check out Chris Martin's most excellent analysis of the ocean currents for Dec/Jan/Feb months from the Canary Islands to the West Indies.

12 hours of pedalling per day @ 100 watts, 8 kph = 96 km/day x 40 days = 3840

Total = 40 days (new crossing record), 4608 km

NOTE: this does not take into consideration the pushing effect of the trade winds which blow from East to West. I am looking into what the averages are, and how they could effect a vessel like WiTHiN on the Atlantic ocean.

I would like to finish today's blog by saying thanks again to everyone who has supported this endeavour by becoming a sponsor. We have sold a few logos on the boat for $250 and a whole pile of individual names/T-shirts for $100. I have a long way to go still, but TOGETHER, WE will get there!!

Why don't you think about a holiday in the Canary Islands for next December, or even better - Antigua for a HUGE PARTY next February!

Be part of a WORLD RECORD.
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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Victoria media day and more sea trials photos

Man and machines - Greg Kolodziejzyk stands beside WiTHiN human powered boat with Critical Power human powered vehicle in the background on the docks at the Victoria Gorge Rowing and Paddling club.

Mark Dusseault and Greg Kolodziejzyk

Mark Dusseault is amazing. Mark volunteered to organize a media day at the Gorge Rowing club in Victoria and to say he did a fantastic job would be an understatement.

Pat Lor and I arrived at the Gorge at 9:00 am and it was pretty well non-stop interviews, talking with the public and demos until 4:00 pm. The afternoon was spent with a crew from Discovery Channel who are filming a follow-up segment for Daily Planet.

Thanks to Marty and the great guys from the Gorge Rowing and Paddling center for letting us host the event at their facility in the Victoria harbor.

The story got picked up by the CP news wire feed and the stories are just now being published. Here are a few that were published today:

Victoria Times Colonist
Canadian Press
Prince George Citizen
Yahoo News
CBC news
Calgary Sun

Here are some more photos from the sea trials in Tofino:

I'm in the cockpit closely watching my support boat "Close Encounters" through the video monitor

View from outside the cockpit of my support boat "Close Encounters" - a whale watching boat from the Weigh West Resort and Marina in Tofino, BC

Sang-Ryun Woo from SBS TV Korea shooting some footage of the sleeping area in the rear of WiTHiN

I am eating my dehydrated meal in the cockpit of WiTHiN while moored to the dock at Weigh West marina in Tofino. It was a VERY rough night! The video camera that you see was recording some of that miserable night for SBS TV.

Here is my view from the video viewing system mounted on the top deck of WiTHiN

Pat Lor finds the top hatch that blew off WiTHiN!!!

Pat Lor standing by WiTHiN as we wait to board the ferry to Vancouver Island

A seal in Victoria

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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 with Kevin Drews. Here is the article he published:

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...

Be part of a WORLD RECORD.
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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Long winter drive ahead

I can't believe how much time it has taken just to get ready for this Vancouver Island sea trials trip. I can't imagine what it will be like when I am getting WiTHiN ready to leave La Gomera, Spain on her human powered voyage across the Atlantic ocean in a year from now.

I've spent the last few days packing two giant duffel bags and going through check-lists. Today, I loaded WiTHiN onto the trailer and packed the Suburban.

Pat and I leave tomorrow morning. It's about 1000 km from Calgary to Vancouver through various levels of winter driving conditions. I have the 9:00 pm ferry form Vancouver to Nanaimo reserved, so I hope 14 hours is enough time. We'll spend the night in Nanaimo, then drive a few hours across Vancouver Island to Tofino on Friday.

The surf forecast for Monday isn't looking fantastic at this point - about 15 foot waves on Monday - our "big seas" testing day, but 26 mph winds, which might make the conditions a bit nutty - I'll play it by ear, and take advice from the support boat skipper and my local guide.

What am I concerned with? I guess anything unknown is always a concern. I don't know how cold it will get inside WiTHiN - the forecast is calling for average temperature of around 5 to 8 degrees C during the day and around 1 to 2 at night. I have a pretty warm sleeping bag and plenty of warm clothes. I have pedalled inside WiTHiN when it was about that temperature here in Calgary and it got fairly warm inside - warm enough to wear a sweater, so it should be OK. The windows will definitely fog-up though, so I made sure to bring my anti-fog solution, and plenty of rags. I have my GPS for navigation and there shouldn't be too many other boats around since this is the middle of winter.

I am also concerned about rain - it rains constantly in Tofino in the winter. I added a rubber lip around the top hatch to prevent it from leaking, so I don't think rain will leak in, but you never know. I have a hotel room booked just in case.

High winds blasting WiTHiN is also an unknown at this point - I would definitely be concerned about that. It should be OK because WiTHiN is pretty aerodynamic, but she's also a lot bigger than a sea kayak, and as such could get thrown around by the wind. Again, I need to play that by ear also and that's exactly what this sea trial is all about.

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Logos and 'lectronics

My brother AK is a rock star. Really - his passion is his band Plaid Tongued Devils and his business is signs. Props to AK signs for the rockin decals Alan did for me. WiTHiN looks like she's ready for business.

Thanks again for all of your support in the form of personal and corporate logo sponsorships. I decided to put the corporate logos on the prototype boat, and personal names from the "Across With Greg" sponsorship program will go on the actual ocean crossing boat. To see your logo on WiTHiN, click here.

Pat Lor and I leave for the west coast on my little mini-expedition next Thursday (Jan 10) and I'm really looking forward to it, especially now since my brother in law Pat agreed to accompany me and lend a hand. As I have said before, I am planning on three days touring around the protected waters of the Tofino area. This will provide me with a great opportunity to learn more about some of the space confines of WiTHiN and whether or not I can live with that for the ocean crossing.

On Monday the 14th, I am meeting Jay Bowers, a local surfing instructor and a whale watching boat with a Canadian Coast Guard skipper from Ocean Outfitters. The plan is to venture out past Vargas island into some open Pacific swells to test how WiTHiN handles the bigger ocean. I want to see how wind effects her, how she surfs down swells, and what it feels like to be confined in the capsule cockpit while riding the ocean swells. I haven't been sea sick yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of exposing myself to the right conditions. It will be a learning experience for sure. The safety boat will be nearby in case I run into trouble like a rudder or drive leg failure.

Then on Wednesday 16th we launch WiTHiN in Victoria for some local media interviews and another Discovery channel interview. On Thursday I am heading back to Calgary, but stopping in Maple Ridge, BC for a tour of the Nimbus kayak factory, as they are interested in building the ocean crossing boat.

The photo above shows most of my electronics ready for packing. From left to right, top to bottom, the water proof Rugged Tech keyboard, Sony HD camcorder, VHF marine radio, cell phone, McMurdo Fast Find Personal Locator Beacon, Garmin GPS with marine charts loaded for the Tofino area, my SRM watts meter, a water proof sports video camera which Will be mounted outside of WiTHiN, my Nomad PDA with a built in GPS and Memory Map software with marine charts of the Tofino and Victoria area, a bag of various manuals, a paper print out of the charts, tide tables, contact frequencies and phone numbers, flashlights, cables, and two boxes of AA batteries. Not shown is the camera which took the picture and my iPod.

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getting ready for the mini-expedition

I've been busy getting the prototype ocean crossing boat "WiTHiN" ready for a training and testing mini-expedition to the Pacific ocean on Canada's west coast.

I need to accomplish two tests, the first is a multi-day trip through protected waters which will be a great opportunity to experience what it will be like to sit in the capsule and pedal all day. I need to learn more about how my equipment handles the ocean environment, how to cook while at sea, where to store supplies, communications, etc, etc.

above image courtesy of Pacific Surf School in Tofino, BC

The second test will be a whole lot more fun. I have been speaking with Jay Bowers of Pacific Surf School in Tofino, BC on the Pacific coast of British Columbia about helping me experience some winter open Pacific conditions safely. He really knows the area well and has a few spots in mind where we can 'nose-out' into some really big swells with a RIB boat accompanying me for safety. This could be a second trip out west - not sure yet, as I am still trying to orchestrate it all.

Check out this animated map of the swells in the Tofino area:

On Christmas day, the forecast is for 32 foot waves! Out further (shown in PINK on the map above), the swell is 48 feet high! According to my buddy Stephan who has sailed the smallest sail boat in history around Vancouver Island, in winter this coast is known as 'the graveyard of the Pacific'.

Don't worry, I'm not going out in 32 foot swells. At least not if there is big wind.

Believe it or not, a South Korean TV production company wants to fly in to film the sea trials and interview me. Go figure.

I have been very busy getting WiTHiN ready for these sea trials. I'll take you on a bit of a tour through the following photos:

The armrest gunwales are now covered with a white vinyl to cover over the sharp fiberglass ugliness. I also have foam padding under the arm rest in front of the steering handles on the gunwales. I installed two cleat-cams to secure the outriggers in. The outriggers slide in and out through two aluminum tubes behind my seat. To pull them IN, I use two cords through pulleys. To lock the floats tight up against the hull, I just slip the cords through the cleat cams. The cleat cams can also secure the rudder steering lines if i ever wanted to lock the rudder. I have bungee cord running through hooks on the gunwale wall to secure supplies and equipment.

Show above from bottom to top: My personal EPIRB (yellow), on the wall is my LED flashlight held in place on a Velcro strip, my water proof Rugged-Tech keyboard, up higher on the wall is my diving knife, the yellow Trimble Nomad computer, and up top on the instrument bar is my GPS. A secondary GPS is built into the Nomad which is running Memory-Map Pocket Navigator. This very slick piece of software allows me to plot my position on a moving map and as well, plot the position of tankers who are transmitting a radar signal with the addition of an AIS reciever.

On the floor in front of my seat is 6 liters of drinking/cooking water.

On the far right is my air horn (red horn) and on the bottom (blue) is my JetBoil cooking system from one of my sponsors. This is a fantastic gas stove which fits onto a neoprene protected cup. I can boil enough water to cook an entire dehydrated meal in about 60 seconds while HOLDING the entire stove. JetBoil also sent me a coffee press, repair tools, spare parts, and a hanging kit which I plan on using as a gimble - I'll just hang the JetBoil from the roof when boiling water. I used this system on our Broken Island kayak trip and LOVED it!

Lower right is my VHF two-way radio and above that are the electric switches for the vent fan, sound system from another sponsor - Rock The Boat Audio. Left to right on the swinging instrument bar is my Garmin GPS, SRM meter, Satellite radio and the LCD monitor which shows video from the camera mounted on the top deck. At the very top of the photo you can see my pedals, the chain-ring and part of the drive leg.

Behind the seat is the 12 volt marine battery, to the right is a coiled line and behind that is the fire extinguisher. Hanging on the right is the headrest. the blue and white box on the left gunwale is the AC charger for the 12 volt marine battery. Under the seat is an additional 3 liters of drinking water with a drinking tube. Upper left is the vent fan.

Behind the seat is my vinyl covered mattress and I have 3 gas onto of that which will be held down by bungee cords which hold the mattress down. The sacks contain my sleeping bad, blankets, clothes and 3 days worth of food.

This photo shows my navigation light which is mounted on a pole bolted to the rudder tube.

The sleeping compartment in the stern.

I've been trying to keep my training up this winter, so our (early) Christmas presents to each other (Helen and I) was cross country skis which we have been taking full advantage of. These photos are from Lake Louise with our good friends Val and Gary Erickson last weekend.

I've been back onto the recumbent bike at the gym for an hour a day. I will be increasing time spend on the bent as I approach the mini-expedition, then increasing time and intensity even more leading up to a possible repeat of the 24 hour human powered boat distance record attempt this June in Calgary with endurance kayaking super-star Carter Johnson.

Aside from another shot at the 24 hour record, I have Boston marathon with Helen in April, so my running right now is in recovery/maintenance mode - about 30 to 45 minutes per day on the elliptical trainer.

the plan is to make many extended WiTHiN trips to the west coast this winter Spring and Summer. Hopefully by Spring, we'll have the actual ocean boat construction completed and I'll be able to switch from the prototype to training on the real thing!

Rick Willoughby and I are collaborating on the ocean boat design right now. Here is a sneak preview - it may end up VERY different than the prototype boat:

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WiTHiN is painted!

WiTHiN is finally back from the paint shop, and she looks fantastic! My friend Bob Douglas did an amazing job with the finishing and painting.

Bob started by applying a thin layer of solid filler and sanded it smooth. This filled in the rough areas where we glassed the deck down to the kayak hull. It was pretty rough before and you probably didn't notice it that much because I always tried to hide that area in previous images. But now it's very smooth and nicely sealed up.

We decided to paint the floats with truck box liner - that textured rubbery paint that you find in truck beds. The reason was to save some time for Bob in finishing those floats which were not surface finished, and also because they would constantly be rubbed and banged into by docks, etc. The box liner is pretty durable, and when the floats are retracted, they don't touch the water so the texture won't cause any drag.

Bob Douglas did an incredible job!


Wireless Nomad Blog post

My Nomad ultra-rugged PDA

Today's Blog post has been transmitted wireless via my new NOMAD rugged PDA computer. My good friend Julia from one of my sponsors Trimble Corporation just sent me their brand new Nomad rugged PDA. It features integrated wireless, Bluetooth, a GPS, 1 GB of flash storage and a high res sunlight visible VGA display.

Plus, you can throw it down the stairs into pool of hot lava and it will still work! (well, I haven't tested the lava part yet, but it is water proof to a meter of water for 30 minutes).

I have my water proof "cool series" USB keyboard plugged into it, so I can type instead of the hunt and peck method o using the stylus to pick out letters on the display keyboard.

Thanks so much for your support with my Across With Greg name on the boat sponsorship program!! At $30 per name on WiTHiN, I need to sell about about 3300 names to pay for 1/2 of the expedition costs. That's my goal, and so far I have 56 Across With Greg subscribers.

You can help by spreading the word. Send an email out to some friends today letting them know about my project.

EASY and fast: Click here to donate $30

EASY and fast: Click here to donate $100 and buy a PTO T-shirt

Sea Trails

I have been communicating with the WestCoast Paddler group about my upcoming sea trial trip. I need to accomplish two things:

1. LIVING TEST: I need to spend time in WiTHiN getting used to long pedalling days and living aboard so that I can feedback any changes that are required to the new expedition boat design. For example, one of the things I have recently discovered, is how difficult it is to enter the rear sleeping area with my feet toward the stern. I may have to make the deck over the cockpit a few inches higher.

I'll be experimenting with cooking while at sea, moving about the boat, cleaning, bathroom, navigation, communications, etc.

Ocean rower Greg Spooner thinks this is the most important experience I can gain to prepare for an ocean crossing.

2. ADVANCED SEAS TEST: I need to gain some open ocean experience for both myself and WiTHiN. I would like to test how she surfs down large swells, and the effect of heavy winds from every direction, her stability abeam the sea, etc. I would also like to test how effective a sea anchor is if lashed to the bow or the stern.

The Westcoast paddlers agree that perhaps these are two separate tests. For test number 1, a route through the protected Gulf Islands will probably work well, as I have access to marinas and services and help if I run into trouble. For test #2, they recommend leaving a protected port and nosing into some more advanced ocean conditions during an appropriate weather window. I might like to have an RIB boat accompany me during this test. We inserted two stainless steel tubes through WiTHiN's bow and stern (I call them her nose-ring holes) to securely hold a towing line.

My mini-expedition stuff table

For the living test, I am starting to make a list of supplies, equipment and safety gear a that I will require for 3 days on the water. I've set up a table outside my shop to hold everything I think I'm going to need. Some of these items are linked to more details:

  1. Marine radio
  2. Personal EPIRB
  3. Camp food for 3 days
  4. Stove fuel
  5. GPS maps of gulf islands for Garmin GPS (CA001R inside passage)
  6. Navigation light
  7. Fire extinguisher
  8. First-aid kit
  9. Compressed air horn
  10. Tool kit
  11. Bilge pump
  12. Paddles
  13. Jetboil camp Stove
  14. Water bags
  15. Sleeping bag (should be good for 0 degrees C)
  16. Blanket
  17. Sponges
  18. Extra AA batteries
  19. Nomad computer & Rugged Tech keyboard
  20. Digital Camera and video cam
  21. Cell phone
  22. Garmin Etrex Venture Cx GPS
  23. Toilet stuff (don't ask)
  24. Bathroom kit
  25. Clothes (warm!)
  26. Gulf islands chart (paper)
  27. Emergency numbers and frequencies
  28. iPod
  29. SRM
  30. Bike shoes
  31. Life jacket
  32. Throw line
  33. Compass
  34. Neoprene booties
  35. Extra line
  36. Towel
  37. Coffee
  38. Coffee cup
  39. Flash light
  40. Knife

A small fire-extinguisher is mounted behind the seat
I'll be working with the Westcoast paddlers on the exact route I will take through the Gulf islands. As far as the advanced seas test goes, I might just play that by ear. If the weather is bad, and I get a safe opportunity to venture out into the straight of Juan de Fuca, then I may go for it. Or, I may try to plan that for another trip.

I finally convinced someone to paint WiTHiN for me! She'll be trailered out to Bob Douglas's paint shop this afternoon.

Marathon training

Helen and I are competing in the Las Vegas marathon this Sunday. It was my goal to go for a PR 3:15 finishing time, but I don't think that is going to happen this time around. My Achilles tendon, calf and hamstring on my left side is still really bothering me. I've been keeping up with my training, but I am afraid that an all-out effort might injure me more, so I've decided to pace Helen instead. Helen has been very close to her Boston Marathon qualifying time, so we're going to see if she can nail it in Vegas with me pacing her. Please send her an email and wish her luck.

My brother in-law Cyrille is also going down with us and he's doing his first marathon, so you might as well go ahead and send him a good luck email also!

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YOU are invited to be part of this world record attempt

Thank you all for your input and advice regarding my sponsorship offerings. In the end, my conclusion was that it is as important to build a community of support as it is to raise the capital that I require to pull it off.

Therefore, I have decided to sell "Across With Greg" sponsorships that include your name on the expedition boat WiTHiN at an very affordable level of $30. I am also offering packages of 3 and 5 names for $75 and $100. I figure this might make a cool Christmas gift, so with each purchase you get a nice printed folding card that describes what the Pedal the Ocean Atlantic record attempt expedition is about, and features the recipient's name that will be printed on the boat.

I am also selling T-shirt + "Across With Greg" name packages for $100, and premium expedition gear packages for $150.

I have received quite a bit of interest from small businesses interested in having their logos displayed on WiTHiN for an affordable price level. I am offering a small business or group sponsorship package which include your company logo on the boat for $250 - pretty reasonable I think. These small business packages include a framed plaque signifying your companies support for the expedition.

I have also developed additional sponsorship products that range in price from $400 to a title sponsor position for $25,000.

I think you will find the online store easy to use. I accept VISA, MasterCard and PayPal. All sponsorships include a 10% donation to KidPower.

To challenge the current 43 day human powered Atlantic crossing record, I estimate it will end up costing me over $200,000. If any of you are interested, I can provide you with a breakdown of the budget. Assistance in the form of sponsorship income is GREATLY appreciated, but I also value the support you all have given me and hopefully will continue to give me in other, non-financial ways. Just being out there listening and offering your feedback helps me more than you can know! THANK YOU!

If you can't join me as an official sponsor, then perhaps you could pass the web site URL along to some friends who you think might be interested in Pedal The Ocean record attempt and/or my KidPower school education program. If we can get news of my quest spread in a viral way, then $30 per name can really add up!!!

Adding this as a signature in your email is also something that would help:

Be part of a WORLD RECORD.
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".

The sponsorship main page where you can make your purchases is here:

A list of current Across with Greg and corporate sponsors is here:

The main Pedal the Ocean web site is here:

To stay on top of my progress, the Blog web site is here:

More information on KidPower can be found here:

I thank you for your support. I'm not sure I would be doing this if it wasn't for you. (well, I probably still would, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun!).

Best regards,
Greg Kolodziejzyk

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The video monitor viewing system

This is the instrument bar with the video monitor mounted on it

One of the things I noticed during the Ghost Lake test last Saturday was how difficult it was to see clearly out the front window. In fact, I remember Bob Stuart warned me about that many months ago and I didn't pay it any attention.

The video bullet camera mounted on a pivot tube glassed to the deck.

My solutions are to coat the window with an anti-rain solution, add a wind-shield wiper, or a video camera and monitor. I discussed the options with Rick and decided to try the video camera for a couple of reasons:

1. On the ocean, salt water will eventually cake the window with salt which probably would be shed away using one of the window coatings available.

2. A wiper would only allow me to see a small area directly in front of me, and I really need some way of watching for traffic 360 degrees around me

So - the video camera sounded like the best solution, as I can pan the camera around and spot for traffic or use it to assist with navigation during sea trials.

This is a view of the instrument bar from the cockpit seat. The instrument bar rotates around to tuck all of that stuff away against the deck wall when not being used.

Also - I happened to have a pretty decent camera that I bought back when I was building Critical Power streamliner for the 24 hour human powered distance record attempt. At the time, we wanted to recline my seat such that I would not require a canopy bubble to view out of, and instead, use a video monitor and camera. That didn't work out to well, as it was almost impossible to balance using only the 2D image from the camera screen.

The is a photo of the complex looking wiring harness for the video system!

It took me a few days of messing around, but I have something that I think will work. It's my low-light CCD camera mounted in a pivoting stainless steel tube that is glassed to the top deck just behind the front windshield. I can control where the camera points from inside twisting a knob connected to the pivot tube that holds the camera. The image is displayed on an LCD screen that conveniently mounted to my instrument bar. To turn in on and off, I mounted a 'push-once-one / push-again-off' switch on my steering handle. I wanted the switch to be within easy reach because viewing out using the camera isn't something that i would waste battery power on all of the time. I would use it occasionally, and wanted an easy way of switching it on and off again quickly for a look around.

The switch is mounted on top of the steering handle
I took the monitor apart and dipped the circuit board in plasti-dip to water proof it. Then I siliconed most of the joins in the plastic case, plus a silicon seal around the LCD monitor itself. All of the wires and connections are either coated with silicon or wrapped with the super cool tape that I found called AtomicTape. It's amazing stuff - water proof and it stretches and sticks to itself.

The pivot control is a knob that I can turn from the cockpit seat

Ben spread some fairing compound onto the floats in an attempt to "un-boulder-ize" them a bit. He also spend a couple of hours sanding them smooth-ish.

Next is paint.

This image shows the wood bar that locks the outriggers in
Oh - last thing. I was thinking about how the outriggers were slipping out during the jet-boat test the other day. I have pins to lock them in place so they won't inadvertently slide out, but inserting the pins is a pain and I just didn't want to bother. So during the wave test, I ended up talking to Joey with my cell phone in one hand and pulling on both of the outrigger pull cords with the other hand trying to keep them locked in as WiTHiN was slammed by waves. I had to work the rudder controls by dropping the phone, making a steering correction, then fumbling for the phone again.

Anyhow.. I needed an easier way to lock those floats in tight to the hull when not being used. I purchased a couple of cleat cams which I can run the pull cords through. Also as a fail-safe, I made a wood dowel that slips between the two handles on the sliders that lock the floats in place.


Jet-boat vs. Pedal Boat

We just finished two successful tests out at Ghost Lake on Friday and Saturday. Everything went pretty well according to plan. Here's the video:

On Friday, Ben and I off-loaded WiTHiN into Ghost lake and tested the new trolley system for launching and the outriggers. The floats retract and extend very easily. When they are extended, I can stand on WiTHiN and walk onto her top deck without any issue at all - very stable. When retracted, I noticed that WiTHiN is a bit tippier than before but that is probably due to the additional weight of the floats and hardware above the roll center. It was so slight that it didn't need to be offset with additional ballast. For ballast, I was using 50 pounds, plus my 40 pound battery, plus about 15 pounds for the wood bed frame in the back (plus my weight).

I still could not get WiTHiN to tip over from a seated position. She rocked from side to side quite a bit, but it was impossible to tip her over. We capsized WiTHiN again, this time with the floats retracted and without me in the cockpit. It was difficult to tip WiTHiN upside down, and she righted immediately, so I know that she is still capsize-safe with the floats on and in.

With the outriggers extended, I was able to stand up, climb into the sleeping area, extract my emergency paddles from under the bed frame, sit on the deck and paddle. As I was sitting on the deck paddling with my legs in the cockpit, I could rest my feet on the steering handles and steer while I paddle- that worked out quite well.

Unloading WiTHiN is a bit of a pain, but it's a one to two man job now rather than a whole crew. Ben and I made a trolley out of two 700 bike wheels to sit below the drive leg. To deal with the leaky drive leg bay, I just sealed up the plug on the bottom of the boat. Now the drive leg is sort of in there permanently until we cut the silicon seal open. The trolley protects the prop from the ground when launching the boat. Ben made two ramps for the trailer that we can roll WiTHiN down and walk her right into the water. Then someone needs to get wet up to their knees to take the trolley off.

On Saturday I met my sister Theresa, Joey Weber, his friend Peter at Ghost lake. Peter has a jet-boat for wake boarding and was kind enough to pull his boat out of winter storage just to help me out with this wake test. It was so cold on Saturday morning that the section of water over the boat ramp was frozen solid! We had to break the ice apart before launching our boats.

The jet-boat wave test was a blast. I know that this is nothing like the Atlantic ocean, but it is one step in getting out to the ocean for more advanced testing. It would have been impossible for Peter to capsize WiTHiN - and even if she did, there would be no issues at all.

I was very surprised to find that my dorade vents were pretty well water proof! I was repeatedly hit with a wall of water from the wake boat and never got wet inside - not even a drip. I even had the vents open and the vent fan running. Ben poured water directly into the vent and it was still dry inside. My hatch is still leaky though, but only if we pour water directly over the seam. It never leaked during the jet-boat test, or during our second capsize test on Friday.

I found it very difficult to see through my front window. No problem seeing through the vertical port light windows, but my front windshield was both fogged up due to the cold, and covered with water droplets. I may have to add a small manual wiper blade to the front window. A 360 degree video camera and monitor would work very well and would allow me to spot other boat traffic 360 degrees around WiTHiN, but I'm really unsure about that wet environment and video electronics. Any ideas?

Next step with testing is to get to the ocean. I have been speaking with the WestCoastPaddler community about advice on a route to take through the gulf islands, winter kayaking off Vancouver Island and finding someplace where I can expose WiTHiN and myself to some more advanced winter sea conditions. I will keep you posted. I would like to make the trip mid December. The goal is first to gain some experience living aboard WiTHiN - cooking, bathroom, sleeping, long days and secondly to test her (and me) in some more typical ocean conditions.

I've been following Justin and James crossing of the Tasman sea in their two-man live-aboard kayak. They are doing amazingly well. It is making me think more about December of 2008 and my own ocean crossing. I need to get moving! There is SOOO much to do between now and then. The very next step is to try and finalize a design for the new boat, then find a boat builder. Rick is thinking that it might be something like 30 feet long and just as narrow!! WiTHiN is 18 feet long now.

All for now - thanks to Theresa for filming the action on Saturday and HUGE thanks to Joey and Peter for the wake board boat.


NASA interior

The suggestion from the Association of Ocean Rowers Forum was to cover the interior surfaces with aluminum insulation. I think it's a good idea, as I really do need to do everything possible to decrease solar heating in there. The sun shines through the Kevlar/fiberglass deck and any outside sunlight entering will contribute to heating. I think that this is going to be a problem - Rick's concept is that the boat stays closed up as much as possible to protect me from the elements - both the effects of the sun and salt water on my skin as well as flooding waves, etc.

This photo shows how much sunlight shines through the Kevlar/glass deck

As I was spray gluing the foil into that nano-small space, I decided to experiment a bit with how exactly I plan on getting into and out of there. From a seated position in the recumbent seat, I can roll over to my stomach, kneel on the seat and crawl into the rear area head first. I could accomplish all of this without having to open the top hatch.

However, I don't want to sleep with my head facing the stern. I need to have my head up toward the cockpit to have easy access to the dorade vent shut-off valve, the top hatch for emergencies, and any equipment / supplies I might be storing in the cockpit.

The roof on WiTHiN is slightly too low to allow me to sit or kneel and do a U-turn in there. The only way currently for me to get into the rear compartment with my head facing the bow is to stand up through the open top hatch, step back behind the half bulk head into the rear compartment, kneel down, replace the top hatch and crawl backward.

This is fine, but I wanted to avoid having to open that hatch every time I go to the back. What if the waves are huge and I can't risk opening the hatch? This is one of the reasons I built a PROTOTYPE version of WiTHiN first. So I can learn more about what the actual ocean boat needs to be like. Perhaps I need to increase the height of the deck on the ocean boat by a few inches to allow me to sit up in there. That would be really convenient and probably worth the extra windage that few inches would cost.

I got an email from Klass who has installed those Dorade vents before and he says they are NOT water tight and will definitely leak if mounted vertical. Oh well, I need vents, and these are probably as 'water-proof' as it's going to get, so I just need to make sure that I have easy access to the shut-off valve at all times. That is one of the reasons I used Velcro to mount the vent fan - so that I could rip off the fan to push the stopper on the vent opening if I needed to.

I wanted to show you some excellent design work by Richard Roarke who is part of the design team. Richard will be playing a bigger role (hopefully) in the final design of the ocean expedition version of WiTHiN. When a final design is decided on (this will largely be based on test results and feedback from the current prototype version of WiTHiN), I want to get molds CNC cut from computer files, then have an all-carbon fiber boat fabricated by a reputable boat building company.

Richards retractable outrigger concept is based on swinging parallelogram tubes rather than telescoping tubes like I have currently. Much more robust I think, and more appropriate in an open ocean environment. You can see in the illustrations that the floats tuck into pods when retracted and when extended they are smooth and round and would be capable of being used during forward progress.

I'm still not sold on using outriggers of any sort for the ocean boat. I need to repeat this because I get so many emails about the inappropriateness of my sliding outriggers for the ocean. I KNOW THAT. The current WiTHiN is a prototype only - a chance for me to experiment with various approaches and learn more about what will be required to make a record Atlantic human powered crossing.

I think a ballast keel is the best option. This will keep the hull and deck of WiTHiN very aerodynamic for windy conditions, and should give me enough stability to stand up without tipping over. Currently, without any kind of heavy bulb on a keel, WiTHiN is fully stable enough to make forward progress when i am seated in my recumbent seat. She is also very capsize proof, as we had to really work to tip her upside down with me strapped down into my seat. Even without the seat belt, WiTHiN righted immediately when capsized. The keel would be required only for when I needed to stand up, climb outside, etc, but I am certain that it will come in handy for keeping WiTHiN riding nice and steady as she rides up and down ocean swells. A ballast keel tend to keep your mono-hull vertical over the swells, whereas outriggers will want to ride the water surface.

Rick Willoughby sent this to me the other day. The illustration shows how a hull weighted by a keel behaves in ocean swells compared to a flat bottom boat or a multi-hull would behave.

I can't add a heavy keel to WiTHiN right now because I need to be able to self load and unload off a trailer down a boat ramp. I will definitely experiment again with a temporary strap-on keel.

I have another lake test scheduled for mid week if Ben and I can get the trailer mods finished tomorrow.


WiTHiN tour

WiTHiN Tour

I've made some pretty decent progress this week in getting WiTHiN offshore ready - not open ocean ready yet, but I'm getting there. Baby steps.

I think she is almost ready for a multi day calm-water cruising trip. A chance for me to learn more about what it will be like to live within WiTHiN for a slightly extended period - cooking, drinking, eating, navigating, cooling, bathroom, entertainment, sleeping, etc, etc.

Here is a quick tour of WiTHiN in her current state (almost finished):

This image shows the port and starboard dorade vents directed fore and aft. The outriggers are retracted and locked into position with lock pins.

This is a shot from the cockpit looking out the starboard port light. On the lower left of the photo is one of my rudder controls. It slides on a block of UHMW plastic through an aluminum extrusion and can be locked into place using the wing nut to tension the block against the rail.

This is my instrument bar. It's an aluminum tube with a bunch of various electronics mounted to it. Devices can be easily added or removed from the bar, and anything designed to fit on a bike handle bar will clamp onto this. The bar pivots in another tube which is screwed and microed to the top deck. There is a set screw in the pivoting swing arm that drops into two notches in the shell. One notch for a retracted position that moves all of the electronics out of the way, up against the side of the top deck. The second position allows the bar to swing out such that the instruments are facing me seated in the recumbent seat.

This image shows the instrument bar locked in the horizontal position. There is a wing nut and clamp to tension the fit between the two slip-fit tubes so the bar doesn't vibrate.

This is a closeup of the lever on the starboard outrigger. The outrigger tube slides in a notched shell tube that is bonded into the cockpit through two plastic bushings. The slip fit is very smooth and with some silicon lubrication spray, the outrigger will slide out all on it's own. To extend the outriggers, I just reach behind my shoulder, brag the lever and slide the outrigger to it's full and extended position, then insert a shear pin through both tubes to lock the outrigger in place.

To retract the outrigger, I pull on a cord which routes through a pulley and slides the outrigger back into it's retracted position where it is locked with a shear pin.

To guide the floats into their retracted positions on the deck, I have two guides mounted on the hull at the tip of the float and the stern. When the floats slide up next to the hull, these guides direct the float to 'land' onto a locked and supported position against the deck.

Also visible in the above photo is my hanging headrest. This was Ben's idea and it really works well. My head rest is attached to nylon cable and clipped to two hooks that are screwed into the deck walls. This allows me to unclip one side to gain access to the rear compartment, and to adjust the position of the headrest fore and aft by tightening or loosening the cable. It works perfectly.

This image shows the marine battery, recharger and the vent fan. The fan is mounted over the starboard dorade vent with DualLock (like Velcro) which allow it to be moved to another place in the cockpit and sleeping compartment if required. The power cable is a coil to allow it to be moved.

This shows the switch panel, the audio amp and speakers from RockTheBoatAudio. The panel holds a master switch for the amplifier, a switch for the vent fan, a volume control for the audio, and a plug for the iPod or audio input device. The cables shown strapped to the amp all have water proof connectors. The panel isn't water proof, but I can silicon the edge of the plastic panel, and the back of the switches have been covered with silicon.

This is the view through the top hatch to the stern sleeping compartment. The fan, and outrigger sliders can be operated from the rear compartment

Next on the list is to cover the rear walls with aluminum insulation, add a foam mattress to the bed, elastic cord the wood bed down, and cover the cockpit walls with something. I hate looking at the rough Kevlar. I'm thinking of spray gluing some white vinyl onto the interior decking, and something a bit softer for the arm rests (was kayak gunwale perimeter deck, now just arm rests and speaker enclosures, future could be storage). I also need to fasten some netting to the sleeping compartment walls to store stuff.
Before the offshore cruise, WiTHiN needs another lake test - this time to test out the floats. I want to find someone with a motor boat who hasn't parked it for the winter yet. The motor boat can do circles around WiTHiN and make a bunch of waves to see how she handles them with and without the outriggers extended.

I would also like to do one more capsize test - this time with the outriggers locked against the hull. WiTHiN should still be capsize proof, but I want to be certain. I would also like to do a capsize test with the outriggers in the EXTENDED position. One of the advantages of being able to retract the outriggers from the cockpit is if she were ever to capsize with the floats extended, I can pull on those two pull-cords to slide the outriggers in which would allow the boat to quickly flip back around to right-side up.

If you saw the first capsize test video:

You might have noticed that quite a bit of water was leaking into WiTHiN from the drive leg bay. This is mostly because the water line on WiTHiN is now much higher than before and we're had to extend the drive leg bay walls to stop the water inside the drive leg bay from over flowing into the boat. The plug is no longer deep enough to displace the water that fills up the bay. We were going to build a new plug, but since this is a prototype, I'm going to take the easy way out and simply seal up the drive leg by adding some silicon around the bottom of the plug on the underside of the hull. The drive leg will be locked into the DOWN position. That's fine because for this prototype, if I have problems with the drive leg, I can just call for help or paddle to shore. I will have emergency paddles on board, and I will be able to extend the outriggers, sit on the nose like a log and paddle using my kayak paddle (something else to test at the next lake test).

You might be wondering how I plan on launching WiTHiN with the drive leg locked into it's extended position. I have a new design for a trolley for the trailer which should allow me to launch her all by myself:

The trolley is made with two 700 cm bike wheels and is held in place with a strap that wraps around the bow directly under the drive leg. I should be able to pick WiTHiN up from her stern at the rudder, and roll her off my flat deck trailer down the ramp into the water. All of this probably WITH the outriggers extended. Once she is in the water, I can climb up onto the deck and un-fasten the straps which would free the trolley. The trolley will have some flotation, so it can be retrieved at the surface of the water.

And finally, a few minor items for the todo list: Mount the flashlight, mount my knife, mount for the VHF radio (maybe on the instrument bar), a 360 degree white marine light outside somewhere - probably mounted onto the rudder tube, mount a few LED interior lights (I have these LED stick on dome lights), some mounts for cameras, oh, and paint and body work. I think that's about it!


Venting some important stuff

This is very important - adequate ventilation.

One of the reasons Rick Willoughby designed WiTHiN as a water tight capsule is to protect me from the harsh ocean environment. This includes exposure to the sun and skin-corrosive salt water.

WiTHiN will be painted with a reflective color to minimize solar heating, and we kept the number and sizes of windows down to a minimum to also mitigate that heating effect. I will be producing plenty of heat while pedalling, so I really need some efficient way of circulating the hot inside air out, and replacing it with outside fresh air.

I have installed two dorade vents which automatically close when dumped with water, and are designed to allow water to run out without entering the cabin. The ducts can be oriented to point toward a headwind and the idea is to point one into the wind for fresh air intake and one of them with the wind for ventilation.

To facilitate efficient air movement, I installed a .3 amp 12 vdc computer fan over one of the vents and it blew (I mean it sucked). Way to little power. So, I got on the phone and sourced a 1 amp fan by Circuit-Test. I made a Sintra plastic shroud for this fan to fit over one of the dorade vents and ran a test to see just how much more efficient this 1 amp fan was in circulating air than just allowing the vents to do it. My battery is good for 50 amp hours, so about 50 hours running the fan on a full battery charge (not including other electronic loads like music, gps, etc).

I put my heat gun into WiTHiN, closed the hatch, left the vents open and heating the interior up to 25 degrees C. The room temperature at the time was 19 degrees C. Then I timed how long it took for the interior temperature to drop back to 22 degrees. It took 29 minutes.

Then, I repeated the test with the fan on. It took 11 minutes to cool from 25 degrees to 22 degrees compared to 29 minutes without the fan.

I noticed that the volume of air being blown by this fan was much greater when it was not placed on the shroud over the vent. This is probably due to the small air in-take area of the vent itself restricting air flow through the fan. I repeated the test with the fan blowing freely inside WiTHiN just sitting on the floor, and it took 25 minutes to cool from 25 degrees to 22 degrees. This might seem obvious to some of you, but I wanted to know for sure that my fan was going to work as I had planned.

I mounted the fan and shroud using dual-lock (like Velcro) so that the fan can be moved to the dorade vent on the other side, or somewhere else inside WiTHiN. I also used the snap-loc because there is a latch on the vent to manually close it. I need to have emergency access to this in case the automatic shut off doesn't work.


WiTHiN progress update

Sorry for the delay in keeping these updates flowing!

We've been so busy checking items off the big TODO list, that I have not really had much time to sit down and put together a blog post.

I'll have more complete images soon, as my progress right now is much farther along than the photos shown here, but I thought I had better get something up showing my progress rather than wait until I have completed work.

1. Electric

I mounted a 12 VDC marine battery on the floor behind my seat. It weighs about 40 pounds, so this comes off my stack of ballast weight plates. I also installed an electronic battery charger. When on the ocean, I may opt to replace the lead acid battery with some lithium ion batteries - probably the A123 nano battery, compliments of my buddy Bill from Killacycle as they supposedly won't explode. I will also use solar panels to charge them, and not an AC charger, as I won't have an extension cord long enough to stretch across the Atlantic ocean.

For now, my goal is to spend some time touring around the coastal area off Vancouver Island and I will be spending nights sleeping on board WiTHiN at marinas where I can recharge the battery with available AC power.

One of my sponsors is Rock The Boat Audio who kindly donated a water proof MP3 stereo system. At only 50 watts per channel, I was afraid that it wasn't going to be loud enough for the rocker in me. But WOW! I installed the speaker into the gunwales and they act like giant base cabinets. The interior is so small inside WiTHiN, that 50 watts is totally BOOMING! The quality of the sound is absolutely awesome - really, very impressed with Rock The Boat - these guys really rock. More photos showing the system soon...

2. Stern compartment

Ben constructed a wood floor which fits into the rear compartment behind my seat. The floor will be secured down using some elastic cords which will allow me to use the 2 or 3 inches under the floor for storage (probably drinking water). I will place an open cell foam mattress on that for my bed. The walls in the rear compartment will be covered in foil insulation for that fashionable 'NASA' look. The rear area is very small, but perfectly comfortable to sleep in - especially with my flat floor. I was a bit concerned about getting into that area, but it is actually quite comfortable - doesn't really need to be any bigger at all. To get into the back, I need to open up the top hatch, stand up, step behind the rear half-bulkhead behind the seat into the bedroom, then sort of slide down to the bow, feet first. Once in there, I can kneel down and re-fasten the top hatch.

3. Retractable outriggers

To get into the rear compartment, I require additional stability to stand up through the top hatch so WiTHiN doesn't tip over. On the ocean, this might be achieved with a ballast keel, but for now, I am using some retractable outriggers. The floats are foam plugs covered with fiberglass with aluminum tubes attached that slide through aluminum sleeves bonded into WiTHiN's hull. To extend or retract, the floats are activated using handles connected to the sliding tubes through slots cut in the sleeve tubes. I used a fairly loose fit on the aluminum tubes because I was concerned about oxidation, but the tubes wouldn't slide very well. So, we had my expert machinist Manny from Rohmec Industries machine some UHMW bushings to fit both the sleeve and the sliding tube. Now the outriggers slide out from the force of gravity. For now, they are very easy to activate, but I worry about what will happen to the fit between the plastic bushings and the aluminum when it oxidizes from the sea water. To be safe, I added some pull-cords to retract the outriggers if they get stuck. This is a cord tied to a handle that runs through a pulley that pulls the outriggers in very quickly. I can activate the pull handles from the rear compartment, or from my seat. If I were ever upside down with the outriggers extended (the floats are NOT intended to be used during rough conditions), then I would be able to pull the cord and retract the outrigger very quickly. The floats lock into retracted and extended positions with a shear pin. I wonder if plenty of lubrication on the tubes will insulated them from the effects of oxidation? Anyone have any suggestions for me?

4. Dorade vents

Ben installed two Dorade vents on the sides of WiTHiN right at about head level - half way between the cockpit and the rear compartment. I chose this location because the retracted floats will shield water from splashing up into the vents. These vents automatically close if splashed with water and can be quickly closed from the inside with a push of a button. I want to connect an electric fan to one of the vents to either blow air out the vent, or to suck air in. The outside vent nozzle can be directed into the wind, so I can have one nozzle directed into the wind, and the other directed the opposite way. With the fan, this should allow for air flow in from one Dorade vent and out the other.

5. Port lights

Ben bonded in two Bomar port light windows into the sides of WiTHiN. My visibility out isn't great, but hopefully it will be good enough to navigate around the Gulf Islands. My GPS will help, but I do need to keep a close watch out for other traffic. I'm not sure if the red & green navigation lights are required? Anyone have any advice on this?

6. Rudder controls

Ben invented this really slick way of activating the rudder. We used two aluminum extrusions with UHMW sliders and two handles. The sliders are connected to my rudder line and can be tensioned down with a wing-nut to lock the rudder into place. They work really well and are very comfortable and easy to use.

I know that things still look a bit 'rough' - like it was Fred Flintstone's boat made from boulders. Remember that this is all before body work which still needs to be done. I expect that it will be very smooth and sleek looking after it is sanded down and painted. Way more soon!


stability solution floats

Well, I have finally decided how I am going to gain my stability for moving about WiTHiN.

Here is a quick a review of the problem:

I decided after the roll over test, that stability in the prototype boat WiTHiN is just fine when I am seating in the cockpit. However, I do require additional stability for standing up through the top hatch, climbing in and out through the top hatch, and crawling on deck. We took a look at a number of options in the blog post. I decided to go with a ballast in a bulb on the end of a keel.

I calculated that I could take all of my internal ballast and add that to the keel as well, and calculated about 100 pounds, 4.5' below the bottom of the hull. I even went as far as drawing up plans for a stainless steel keel frame. Then when I was at the gym the other day, I picked up a 100 pound dumbbell to do my 20 single arm bicep curls with (ya, right!), and realized that there would be no way to properly secure this 100 pounds with a very long moment arm to my thin kayak hull!!!

After more thinking it just seemed dumb to have to lug around an extra 100 pound of weight just for the occasional time when I need to stand up. Especially for this prototype boat. I am trying to get WiTHiN ready for a mini-expedition in the Gulf Islands where I will spent a few days peddling and living aboard her to learn more about what it will be like to live in WiTHiN. I'll need to load and unload her by myself, and lugging this deep, heavy keel around is going to be a major pain.

So, I looked again at my retractable outrigger options and between me, Rick Willoughby and Richard Roake, we came up with the retractable slider-riggers.

These will be two outrigger arm that will slide in shell tubes that will be glassed right into the cockpit approximately behind my seat back. Each arm will be angled at about 30 degrees. When the floats are retracted, they rest against the sides of WiTHiN and will be molded to fit as if they were two short wings. When retracted, then should not cause much additional aero drag (head winds, not speed), and shouldn't effect WiTHiN's ability to right herself after a capsize. They should help stabilize her during sharp turns, as one of the buoyant 'wings' would dip into the water when she leans over during a turn.

When extended, they should provide enough buoyancy to allow me to stand up, climb in, out or walk on deck. They are not very hydrodynamic in the extended position in the water, but they are not meant for use while underway - at least not this prototype version of the outriggers.

I will be able to deploy the outriggers from inside WiTHiN by using handles through slots cut in the slider tubes behind my seat. If she were to capsize with the floats extended, I would be able to easily retract them from my upside down position inside the cockpit.

Here is how I am making them:

I modelled the outrigger shapes in my 3D application, then sliced each of up into 1" layers. I printed these flat slices out and tiled them together to create actual size patterns. I traced the patterns onto 1" thick Styrofoam and cut each slice out with an Exacto knife.

The 1" thick slices are stacked to form a stair-stepped float, glued together, then sanded smooth. The I will cover with glass and insert and glass in my aluminum outrigger arm tube.


Your stability ideas

In my post after the capsize test:

I asked for your suggestions as to how I could gain some extra temporary stability in WiTHiN for standing up through the hatch, entry, exit and just general moving about the hull.

For this prototype version of WiTHiN, I'll be hauling it in and out of water often so I do need to consider the complications inherent in transport, but it is my goal to try as hard as I can to make the prototype version of WiTHiN as much like the actual ocean boat as possible.

Thanks for your replies - I received some really great suggestions. Here are some of them:

Daniel Grow suggests a deployable dagger board. A thin, lead filled flat fin would slide down a narrow well similar to the drive leg well situated in about the middle of the boat - probably just behind my seat. When in place, it acts like a keel with ballast and can be removed for transport. Australian ocean expedition kayak Lot 41 uses something similar:

Lot41 dagger board inserts through outside top of the kayak deck

view of the dagger board from below

A problem with the removable dagger board is the amount of room the well would take up inside WiTHiN.

A suggestion from Jim Barrett is outriggers that slide out from under the seat. Something like this could work, as there may be room behind the seat back for two slots to hold the outrigger arms. I modelled up an idea that could work for the slide-riggers. I could glass two stainless steel tubes into the inside cockpit directly behind the seat (right around where the rear bulkhead is). These tubes could hold the outrigger arms as they slide out into extended position, and slide back into retracted position. I could hold the arms in place with pins inserted from the inside, but I'm not sure how I could move the outriggers out and back from inside the boat.

slide-riggers retracted

slide-riggers extended

When retracted, the floats would be up above the water level, and when extended, then would be right at the water level.

I did some calculations and found that with a moment arm of 36" to the float, the float would need to support about 36% of my weight as I stand up and climb in through the top hatch - or about 57 pounds. At a buoyancy of 60 lbs per cubic foot of foam, I would need about 1900 cubic inches. A bulb-type shape of around 8" diameter x 36" long would be close.

The danger in this approach is if I ever had the outrigger extended, and WiTHiN were to capsize, it could be fairly difficult to retract the arms from within an upside down WiTHiN. Also, even with the floats retracted, I am not sure that WiTHiN will still be capsize proof with these buoyant floats hanging off her sides - that is a major concern.

Warren Beauchamp had this great suggestion of making some flip-down water wings. I'm not sure how I could hold them down in place - possibly with some struts kept inside the boat. In the "up" position they should be fairly bullet proof. If they were in the down position, I'm not sure how well WiTHiN would right after a capsize. I'm not sure if these fairly small wings would be buoyant enough to support my weight climbing in through the top hatch


Alex came up with this novel idea for an articulating keel. The keel in the "up" position would allow for easy transport on the trailer and moving into and out of the water. It would also retract for normal 'cruising' operation when I don't require the full weight of the ballast for moving around. It is a bit complicated and could be prone to break. Click here to see the animation of Alex's articulating keel

Here is my idea called "Swing-rigger" a single (or double) outrigger that swings into position. Controls to activate the swing arm could be from inside the cockpit. I'm not crazy about all the moving parts.


Here is a new idea I had about using my spare paddles. It may have some merit. Since i must carry paddles with me, I could insert these paddles into stainless steel receptacles glassed into the roof of WiTHiN. The receptacles shown in the illustration below is shown on TOP of the roof, but they could easily be glassed in right below the roof. Paddle floats could be placed over the paddles. The paddles could be held in place with a lock pin from the inside. I think that there would not be enough floatation with standard paddle floats, as i would need about 1900 cubic inches. I also don't like the idea of having to stand up through the top hatch to assemble them and risk tipping over.


Rick Willoughby suggests that a keel with ballast is the only way to go for the ocean boat, and since I want this boat to be as much like the ocean boat as possible, I should probably heed his advice and pursue a keel-based solution. Rick says that ballast suspended 3 feet below the hull in a keel would be about 1/4 of the weight of ballast on the floor of WiTHiN. Since reduced weight would reduce the draft, weight carried in a keel below the floor would be more efficient in this case. But, the amount of weight in a keel required to balance the boat while standing or climbing in from water height would be quite a bit more.

Outriggers on an ocean boat have to be retractable for safety reasons (A capsized multi-hull is usually not correctable). Anything that big that is made to move would be complex and could (would) eventually break and I just don't think it is worth the risk. I am really tempted to take a short cut and add some removable outriggers (like the paddle-rigger concept or the slide-riggers) for this prototype boat, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of the boat. I am trying to gain confidence that the final design we come up with will take me safely across an ocean. Experience in a boat that is as close to the final ocean crossing boat as possible will give me that confidence.

All that said, I think the best option is to build a permanent keel as illustrated below onto the bottom of WiTHiN. One departure from the final ocean boat that I would allow, is some kind of hinge to allow us to off-load WiTHiN from the trailer to the water without having to bolt-on this heavy keel (under water) every time. For transport and loading, the keel could be held up with a line and a winch or something and a lock-pin to secure it vertical once in deep water. Reaching down to insert a pin from a dock would be fairly easy to do.

According to my calculations, lead shot weighs 470 lbs / cubic foot, or .271 lbs / cubic inch. A cylindrically shaped ballast bulb measuring 24" long x 4" diameter would equate to a total area of 302 cubic inches and if filled with lead shot would weigh about 81 lbs. If ballast positioned 3 feet below the boat is 4 times as effective than ballast on the boat floor (due to the moment arm), then to convert my 80 lbs of floor ballast to keel ballast, I would require only 20 lbs in the bulb. To stand and climb in, I will require much more. During our capsize test at the lake last weekend, I tested a temporary keel with 50 lbs on it, and it was probably sufficient for standing and some simple maneuvering. Therefore, I think that a total of 80 lbs, 3.5' below the hull should work.

The keel could be bolted onto my seat rails, then glassed into the hull bottom, so I think it would be pretty strong. A hinge would be placed at about the same depth as the rudder and drive leg. This is easily reachable by a stretched out arm while lying down on a dock, so the insertion of a lock pin wouldn't be that difficult.

Another retraction option for this keel is to allow it to slide up or down a tube that is glassed into the boat. This would allow me to raise or lower as required. I am not sure that there would be any advantage to having the keel up against the hull bottom while under-way, as the weight would be the same and the drag would be very close to the same as if it were fully extended 3.5 feet down into the water. The only benefit being able to lift the keel up would have is for loading the boat onto and off the trailer. I think a side hinge is easier to make and avoids putting any holes through the boat.


Capsize Test!

Who Hoo!!!! That was way too much fun!

You HAVE to check this video out. We set up a water proof lipstick camera to the bow of WiTHiN facing back, one in the cockpit of WiTHiN to catch the action from Within WiTHiN, and our HD video footage shot from the dock.

Over all - a pretty successful day.

WiTHiN handled at speed much like what I remembered from my kayak hull top deck weight simulation test. She motored right along nicely at speed and tipped quite dramatically when I threw that over sized rudder all the way to one side which was pretty fun - no concerns or surprises at all. You can see in the video how responsive she is to rudder movements. Again - she is a blast to ride! The steering has been changed from that long plastic push/pull rod to a cable loop and it is WAY easier to steer now that it used to be.

We clamped 80 pounds of ballast to the floor to offset the additional weight of the full top deck and as a result, WiTHiN sits much lower in the water now. This meant that we needed to heighten the drive leg bay walls and Ben did an awesome job of converting my old flexible rubber and neoprene bladder to a nice solid wood frame which worked very well. We still have a couple of inches of water floating on top of the drive leg plug, but as long as I was not upside down, this water wasn't an issue. During the capsize, though, that water splashed around the cockpit, so something is going to have to be done about that. Probably a deeper plug will need to be made.

The capsize test went as per predicted. WiTHiN is not stable upside down and it took quite an effort by Ben and Cyrille to flip her upside down with me strapped into my seat. Instead of cleats on the bow and stern for tow ropes, we drilled holes through the hard points in the tips of the bow and the stern and then inserted stainless steel tubes which were bonded and glassed into place. These through holes will be far stronger than cleats when we get to sea trials and require motor boats to tow WiTHiN into and out of rough areas. We constructed handles that fit into these through holes which were really handy for carrying WiTHiN from the trailer into the water, and for Cyrille and Ben to grab a good hold and flip WiTHiN around.

We bolted a 4 point racing seat harness onto the seat rails, so even upside down, I was held firmly into my seat. After the first capsize, all of the dust that had collected inside WiTHiN instantly got dispersed into the air and I could barely see through the dust cloud inside the cockpit. I started to gag on the dust and we had to open the canopy for a while to allow it to drift out. Quite a bit of water was flying around inside WiTHiN during the capsizes which was mostly from that 2" of water sitting on top of the drive leg plug. Some water was coming in through the hatch and we need to do a better job of sealing that hatch up. The front window did not leak at all.

For safety gear, I had a diving knife fastened to the inside wall of the cockpit which if necessary, I could stab through the PETG plastic window to escape. I also have an emergency oxygen supply bottle called Spare Air.

The capsizes were a blast!! Totally fun. I didn't want the ride to stop and I am really looking forward to getting WiTHiN into some rougher ocean conditions to experience and learn about that. I am concerned about how to manage the next aspect of testing - rough ocean testing. I don't know how to safely test WiTHiN in those kind of conditions. I imagine getting a zodiak to tow me out into rough water would be the way to go, but I just don't know enough yet about the dangers of doing that. If WiTHiN was solid enough (no more leaks), then I could pedal her out into open ocean, but I would be concerned about strong currents either taking me out to sea, to pushing me down the coast into shore. There is a reason it took Roz Savage and Erden Eruc a month and a half to find the perfect conditions to leave the California coast for Hawaii in their row boats. Rough seas + wind + currents + shores don't mix.

The other issue that I am still looking for an answer to is stability for standing. Periodically, I will need to stand up through the top hatch, climb out onto the top deck, and climb up from the water level. Currently, WiTHiN is not stable enough to allow me to do that without tipping her over too much and risk flooding the cockpit. I need some way to temporarily add stability for these maneuvers.

Standing up with the test strap-on keel

During this capsize test, we experimented with a ballast keel. I welded up a rig that strapped onto WiTHiN and suspended 50 pounds of ballast 3.5 feet below WiTHiN's floor. This was enough extra ballast to allow me to stand up, climb-in, etc, but I don't like it as a solution. Mostly because 90% of the time, I will be safe and snug in my seat in WiTHiN and won't require the additional ballast from the keel - In a sense, I would be hauling around this extra weight and drag for no reason most of the time.

My dad Rudi enjoys a spin in WiTHiN

A retractable outrigger is too flimsy for the ocean and I would be afraid that a giant wave would just rip it off. Moving parts like that out on the ocean aren't very safe. I've thought about folding outrigger arms that are stored inside the cockpit, but there isn't really very much room in there! Also some of you have suggested inflatable bags, but again, there isn't much room inside WiTHiN to store those, and I'm not crazy about all the fuss of getting them inflated and installed every time I need to stand up.

Please send your ideas to the comments section of this blog post, or to me directly by replying to this email.

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WiTHiN ready for capsize tests!

"Take me to your leader"

I am planning on running a full-deck capsize test this Saturday at the lake.

While I have been away eating and drinking to my hearts content in Italy, Ben has been hard at work in the SquirrelWorks shop finishing the installation of WiTHiN's full top deck window and hatch. (We named the shop SquirrelWorks after our mascot black squirrel that hangs out near the windows on the south side of the shop.)

I decided that I did not like the side-entry hatch and we moved the hatch to the top. WiTHiN is NOT stable enough to stand up in without it tipping over, so I need to think about some other way to add stability for entry/exit.

The new top entry hatch

The old side entry hatch - don't like.

One idea is a swing-arm outrigger. The single arm outrigger would be a long strut that rotates on a bearing mounted on the top of the deck. When it is stowed and not in use, the float becomes an extension of the stern of WiTHiN. To use the outrigger, a handle could be used from inside WiTHiN to rotate the arm into a 90 degree position.

The swing-rigger concept:

When I first drew this up I liked it, but now I don't. Too many things can go wrong with that outrigger arm and the mechanism required to activate it. If this outrigger is the only method of providing the stability that I require to stand up, climb out, get in and get out, and it failed, I would be in trouble.

Instead, we are going to experiment with a ballast keel. 25 pounds or so about 4 feet below the hull might provide enough counter balance to allow me to stand up through the open hatch. It may also allow me to climb in from water level. This is something that I will experiment with on Saturday.

The additional ballast added to counter the weight of the top deck is 70 pounds secured to WiTHiN's floor. I welded a threaded rod to the seat rails that secures a stack of standard weight lifting plates.

The hatch is secured with 4 window latches that pull the hatch tight against a neoprene seal. I decided not to put hinges on it yet and instead to hold it down with 4 latches and have it tethered to the boat. When not on, this option will allow me to dangle the hatch door inside the cockpit or strap it to the roof. If the top hatch works, then I can always add two hinges later.

We are trying to source a 4 point safety harness right now. This harness with me bolted to the seat rails in the front, and the rear bulkhead in the rear. When I am in, and strapped down to my seat, we should be able to flip WiTHiN upside down and I should be safe and secure in my recumbent seat. This will keep me safe during a capsize and will also keep the weight on the bottom of the hull to assist in right-siding.

Some other changes we made are new steering lines that route through the deck. I have two lines on the perimeter inside decking that I can hold onto to move the rudder. The line is a loop so i can control the rudder with one hand or both - way better than the plastic push-pull arm that I was using for the 24 hour record attempt.

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Getting within WiTHiN

Before starting on the main hatch, we figured that we should double check to make sure that I can actually get into the boat. I know I can get in from the water because we set up a test a month ago where I constructed a wood frame that simulated the hatch area and practised deep water entry with the kayak hull before the full top deck was installed.

It wasn't as hard as it looks - really. I hoist myself headfirst through the hatch way into the boat lying on my stomach with my head toward the REAR (stern) of WiTHiN.

Then I flip around so that I am sitting on the seat with my legs still dangling outside. I can fold them up and tuck them inside. Done - easy.

Getting out is the reverse. There is not a whole lot of room in there! But that's the way it has been designed. I lived for 24 hours in Critical Power streamliner which makes WiTHiN look like a palatial mansion. I should be able to live for a month in WiTHiN.

I think I will need to get out though to stretch and be able to service the boat - tasks like deploying a sea anchor, cleaning the bottom, sun tanning, etc. We're probably going to have to come up with some way of deploying a temporary outrigger of some sort to allow me to stand up and climb up onto of the boat.


WiTHiN top deck on

This is VERY COOL:

While I was away at Ironman Canada and our kayaking trip, Ben was busy working away on WiTHiN. The top deck is now on, the front window is cut out, and the seat rails have been secured to the hull.

The plan is to do some capsize tests in a lake here in Calgary soon before the snow starts falling. I would like to do some pretty dramatic testing just to see how WiTHiN and myself will handle some extreme conditions. I envision using two docks placed close together with WiTHiN in the water between them. The idea is to be able to lift, drop, and flip us around using cables running to two hoists positioned on the docks. I'll be secured inside. Kind of like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

To finish before the tests:

1. Seat restraint system in
2. Front Lexan window in
3. Steering cables working
4. Solid foam filled sections in Bow and Stern
5. Main hatch door working

I plan on adding the other hatches, port lights and vents after we get a better idea of where they should be positioned.


Deep water entry test

This sequence shows how I will get into WiTHiN from deep water. I build a wood frame that simulates the size and general shape of a door that I will cut in the side of the top deck. This door will swing open like a gull wing door. The bottom of the opening is a few inches above the water line. I can kick myself in through the door head first, put my hand down on the flat seat (the seat has to be fully reclined first), push my head and upper body up with my arm, sit on the seat and then finally pull my knees through, then feet. It's actually fairly easy. I reverse the procedure for exiting.

The other part of that strange looking wooden contraption is holding 60 pounds of weight at the exact location of the center of mass of the top deck. The top deck weighs 60 pounds, so this simulates exactly what effect the full top deck will have on the stability of WiTHiN.

My first test ride included only 25 pounds on the floor as ballast to offset some of that 60 pound weight up high. She definitely rocked much slower than before due to the center of mass now being further away from the center of roll. She also sat lower in the water due to the extra 75 pounds and sharp turns came very close to flooding the cockpit. Flooding during a turn or from waves will not be an issue with the top deck on unless the hatch is open. On the ocean, I will need to think about a bailing system for when that hatch is open and waves splash in, or I am getting in or out.

When I go into a turn, WiTHiN leans into the turn for a second or two, then she leans the opposite way. When I re-center the rudder, the opposite lean continues for a second or two, then she levels out. I call this 'recoil steer'. It is caused by the position that the rudder and drive leg take during a lean into a turn. I'm not sure I completely understand what is happening under the water, but this is normal. With the 60 pounds on top, the recoil steer seemed exaggerated, but again, this could be due to the increased displacement from the extra weight.

Next on the agenda is rigging up some lines for the rudder instead of my push/pull rod. Then I can prepare the top deck (insert the 2nd half of the bulkheads), and glass the top deck right onto the kayak hull. Then, I can cut out the door, and cut out the window. Then I crawl in and finish off glassing the bulkhead seams, and inside perimeter of the top deck. Then the window and then small hatches for the rear and front compartments. Finally, I need to add vents and a couple of windows - small hatches that open for fresh air - one on the ceiling and two for each side (left hand side window will be on the door).


new prop - 1/2 km/hr faster!

I got my new prop yesterday and hauled everything out to the lake for a quick test and training session. Rick Willoughby made it for me and it only took about 1 week to get here by mail. From Australia!!

I could tell immediately that it was different because my cadence to produce power was about 10 rpm slower than my prop. It was also faster! On average .5 kph faster at 150 watts. I did some speed intervals on 10 watt increments and here is the result as compared to Ricks estimate:
We're getting much closer. I still think the remaining gap is due to the hull shape.

On the agenda for this week is to get my HID headlight installed on WiTHiN. We're still waiting to hear back from the city of Calgary as to weather I will be allowed to use the lithium polymer batteries for the light on the reservoir. My proposal to them is to have the batteries tethered to the boat or the dock at all times.

I also need to deal with the hydration IN/OUT systems. A water bag for hydration, and a 'dirty water' bag for outgoing. This bag will be handed off to the crew about once per hour when I circle around to the home base dock where I will pick up a new water bag and what ever food i require. For comm, I have decided to just use my cell phone instead of my two way radio. It's lighter and the battery should last all day.

I am testing out my Trimble Recon PDA. It features a GPS with moving map software. I downloaded a detailed photo of the Glenmore reservoir from Google Maps and added it to the Fugawi GPS navigation software. It worked perfectly!

I also want to experiment with a video iPod, or portable DVD player. This would be a great way to take my mind off the monotony of going around and around in circles for 24 hours. The advantage to a DVD player is I can just stick any DVD in to watch it on the big screen. The disadvantage is poor visibility on the screen during the day, and poor battery life. The advantage to something like an iPod video is a bright screen and good battery life, but here in Canada, you can't buy any video content from the iTunes music store - that sucks.

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Day on the lake

What a great day! I spent 8 hours on Glenmore Reservoir today pedalling WiTHiN-24 human powered boat around the lake. It was a perfect day - very little wind, a clear sunny sky and a high of 26 degrees. I got fried, but I was loving every minute of it.

Good news though - I think I may have resolved the numb foot issue by increasing my seat back angle. I lowered the seat back and opened up my hip angle. This puts less pressure on my butt by transferring more load to my upper back. It seemed to have solved the problem which is great, but I have introduced new muscles that have not been training for this particular geometry. When ever you open up the hip angle, you introduce more hamstrings, so they were pretty sore at the end of the day. Also my knees were a bit tender do to this new position. I really hope that the 3 weeks I have remaining to train for my attempt at the 24 hour human powered boat record is enough time for my body to adjust. This is NOT ideal, as I would prefer 3 months to train rather than 3 weeks, but it's the only time that works into my summer schedule, so I'll have to just suck it up and go for it.

I have created an information page for the 24 hour record attempt on June 2, 2007 (yes, only 3 weeks away!):

And here is a map of the reservoir showing my planned route. It's an out and back dog leg that is approximately 2.5 km long. My home base and support will be staged at the Glenmore Sailing School dock at the south end of the reservoir. My route goes North and turns around at the Glenmore Trail bridge. There is a location on the bike path near the bridge for an official observer. The current HPVA record is 168 km, so that would be about 33 1/2 laps.

We require 2 observers aside from Rob Hitchcock the HPVA official that I am flying in to act as head official. If you are local to Calgary or willing to fly in from Vancouver or somewhere equally convenient, and would be interested in acting as an official observer, then please contact me.

The new propeller that Rick Willoughby made for me just arrived from Melbourne, Australia by MAIL yesterday. It took less than a week to get here!!! That's better service than UPS ground from the states. I'm anxious to install it and see if WiTHiN will be any faster. I still think that majority of the slower than expected speed is due to the Nimbus sea kayak hull shape which was designed for stability, not speed. This is perfect for the ocean version of WiTHiN, but not ideal for a record attempt. However, it is probably good enough and the experience and publicity stemming from the 24 hour event is great for me and the ocean crossing expedition.

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Paint and decals

I am all ready for my weekly long ride tomorrow - but this time, it will be on the lake! 8 hours is the goal and I'm really looking forward to it. A super nice change from the same-old, same-old.

I masked off the deck and spray painted it like i should have in the first place. I was really unhappy with all the brush strokes, so decided to sand the paint down and spray it. It cam out WAY BETTER! Check it out:

And my bro Alan kindly printed out some decals for WiTHiN - again, check it out:

I cut some holes in the rear bulkhead to fit the paddles into so they are stowed and out of the way. I also fit in water bags, my safety rope, a bilge pump, water proof cell phone case and some new shoes/pedals to see if I can resolve this foot numbness issue. The Time pedals are very large and spread out the load to the foot more than my Speedplay pedals do. They worked slightly better during a test ride on the M5 last night. We'll see how my feet handle 8 hours tomorrow.

Rick and I did some more measuring and it appears that the exact shape of the Hyak hull might be responsible for most of the discrepancy between the estimated speed and the actual speed. The hull is a few inches wider at the keel. Some of the other issues were lack of a spinner which I made (oops forgot to take a picture of it), a tapered trailing edge on the drive leg strut, and a better, more flush fit on the plug. I can fill the plug gap in with silicon, then razor cut a slit for removing. To test tomorrow, I'll just tape it over.


WiTHiN Lake Test!

The lake test was fairly successful, but our speeds were about 10% slower than predicted.

Our 150 watt predicted speed was 10.2 kph and I measured 9.2 kph. That's only a 10% decrease, but it required 50% more power to reach 10.2 kph than expected which is quite a bit. Here are the speed test results:

100 watts = 7.8 kph

150 watts = 9.1 kph

200 watts = 10 kph

250 watts = 10.3 kph

all packed up and ready to go

150 watts over 24 hours will net out to about 110 average watts (using SRM data from my two 24 hour HPV events). 110 watts is about 8 kph average speed. 8 km * 24 hours = 192 km which is 24 km over the current 168 km record. This is OK, and for what we are trying to accomplish with the 24 hour record event as an introduction to the Atlantic expedition, it is acceptable.

My friend Bryon Howard was my support boat for today

Rick is concerned and thinks we can narrow down where some of the losses are coming from. Starting with a new prop that Rick kindly made for me and is en route from Melbourne now. Some other refinements include cleaning up some underwater fairing issues and more tests. Another reason for the slower than expected speeds could be due to some incorrect hull shape information. It appears that there is more displacement than we originally calculated. I suspected this, as the Hyak kayak hull that we used for WiTHiN is a lot more stable than we expected. That stability comes at a cost - great for the ocean boat, but so quite as good for a 24 hour record attempt.

I am assembling the rudder. Note the drive leg and gear on the dock

Test ride thoughts: It was PLENTY of fun! I was pretty thrilled about it all. We spent a couple of hours tooling around the lake. It felt exactly the same as my M5. During M5 training rides, I focus on extended periods of non-stop pedaling on flat terrain, so that aspect of pedaling the boat felt pretty typical.

Bryon Howard

To not have to deal with traffic, noise, beeping cars, etc was a joy. I far preferred being on the water, but I think mostly because it is something new to me. I would much rather be there than on my road bike now, but getting WiTHiN to the lake is a bit of a pain. However, I appreciate how much easier this is than what I went through preparing Critical Power for the 24 hour record! Finding a closed track to do tests on was VERY difficult. Also, we could not test on anything other than almost windless days. Added to that, the fact that I always required help meant that we were able to test CP only a few times! This was VERY frustrating.

Loading WiTHiN on my car and driving out to Glenmore Reservoir by myself won't be difficult. I can see that weather won't be a huge concern either.

Rudi - my dad is an integral part of my team

Ben Eadie - camera man

We instantly drew a crowd. I met two families who were with kids that went to schools that I had visited for KidPower presentations. Kayakers were all generally stunned that a pedal boat could be faster than a kayak. I let Bryon Howard, my kayak instructor friend take it for a spin and he was thrilled at how comfortable and fast it was. Bryon and I compared our effort levels at various speeds. My long distance cruising intensity of 150 watts speed was equal to his 20 minute all-out effort pace.

I am in the process of getting some decals made up with the WiTHiN and the PedalTheOcean URL on it. The more often I am out and visible, the more buzz I will generate. This is my biggest reason for mounting the 24 hour HPB record event.

I am concerned about the speed, of course, but if it is due mostly to the hull shape, then there is not much we can do about it. That's OK - it is still fast enough for a new record, but I will have my work cut out for me. There are other issues that I need to balance with finding the speed – making sure WiTHiN looks great – that's hugely important. People have to instantly recognize that she is something new and unique. WiTHiN has to invite curiosity and has to look sexy in her newspaper and magazine spreads.

WiTHiN compared to a tandem and single kayak

Launching WiTHiN is a one-man job

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Loads of work completed

Wow - did I ever get a lot done over the last few days. Dare I say that I think WiTHiN is just about ready for her maiden voyage?

The first thing that I wanted to do was to fair-in the drive leg gear box. The amount of drag from that square, chunky box behind the prop is probably substantial. However, before permanently enclosing the gear box, I knew I had a bit of work to do on it. First off, I chopped off the large square steel tube that was used to mount the gear box to the drive leg struts. I cut half of it off to a much lower profile. Then to add some strength to the connection, I welded two nuts to the cog housing so that the gear box was now being held in place with 5 bolts from two angles.

Next was to re-build my little 11 tooth cog. The grub screw holding the gear onto the axle needed to be an Allen screw so that I could get access to it with a small, right angle alley key. this would allow me to pull the cog off the axle if I needed to, without having to first remove the entire gear box. So, I decided to build a brand new cog using this 1/2" collar with a Allen screw set screw built into it that i had picked up from the hardware store the other day. This fit perfectly over the axle, and I had a washer that I welded onto the collar and then welded a new 11 tooth gear onto that. Perfectly CENTERED. My old one was a wee bit wobbly because I couldn't get it to center. This one works much better.

Then, I made an access plate that is held on with one screw and siliconed around. I bolted it all together and siliconed all of the joints.

Then, to make my fairing, I made a card board box, suspended the drive leg in the middle of the box and poured two part expanding foam into the box. When the foam dried, I ripped off the cardboard and proceeded to sculpt out a nice tear drop shape.

After i was happy with my sculpture, I wrapped it in a few layers of fiberglass, then whetted it out with epoxy and wrapped in in stretch seal to cure. I sandwiched it between two flat plates and 75 pounds to make certain that the exact width was the same as the drive leg bay (or I wouldn't be able to get it in or out!).

After it curred, I coated it with Bondo and sanded smooth.

Since the gear box is water proof, and since I have sealed all of the joins, gaps, bolts, etc with silicon, AND covered the whole unit with foam, multiple layers of fiberglass, soaked in resin, then a Bondo otter coat, it 'should' be water proof.

The next thing I did was coat the rudder with micro and sand smooth.

Then I re-built parts of my steering mechanism. During the pool test I noticed that the threaded rod connected to my steering tube was flexing a bit and also rubbing against the side deck. I also noted that during a hard turn, my handle clamp would slip. So, I added a pin to the clamps on my steering handle and the clamp on the rudder steering tube in the back. I also replaced the threaded rod with a stainless steel tube.

The very last item on the list was to install my soft decking. I am using aircraft wing material called SuperFlite Light fabric - like Dacron. I bonded the fabric to the gunwales of the bow and stern compartments using contact cement. Then I used a hot air gun to shrink the material tight. It came out really sweet - like a drum!. I made a small test piece and poured water on it and it leaked like a sieve. Darn. So, I called my local composites shop, Industrial Paints and Plastics and asked what I could paint the Dacron fabric with. He said he has customers painting sail cloth and fabric wings with a water based marine polyurethane top coat, so I ordered some red and painted the decks.

Now I need to dust off my two way radios used for the 24 hour HPV record in Eureka, and my wicked powerful HID headlight that I used for the failed 24 hour record attempt in Alabama. The HID headlight will be necessary to see where I am going in the dark hours on the lake during the 24 hour HPB record attempt 4 weeks.

I think I'm in the lake on Sunday. If you are local, and want to come out, then email me for details.


Pool test success

The pool test was a success - until the chain snapped.

After the half marathon, I sat at my desk and stressed about where our predicted water line was on WiTHiN and how it was going to totally flood the boat through the drive leg. I had visions of it spaying violently up through the gaps in the foam plug and drive leg. Horror in the YWCA pool. The boat sinks and they have to drain the whole pool to get my boat out. Then they hand me a $10,000 invoice for the mess.

I even spent an hour on Skype with Rick calculating the exact location of the water level. It should be about 15 mm ABOVE the top of the wall of the drive leg bay. No doubt about it. If my plug and drive leg itself aren't water tight, water should just flow up through those openings. Why didn't I make the wall higher? I forget - There was a legitimate reason, but I forgot what it was. Rick reminds me that during the design phase, I lowered the drive leg bay walls a bit to allow the drive leg to rotate up through the hole cut in the hull. I had added a lip to the drive leg bay wall, but it was flexible rubber at the hinge to get around it - I wasn't at all confident that it would hold back the flood.

Ben and Stefan came over and we discussed the issue. Someone had the brilliant idea of simply duct taping the bottom of the hull around the drive leg and plug. This way we would be able to conduct all the tests required and be guaranteed that we won't sink. The after that, pull the tape off and test out the drive leg wall.

So that's what we did. We taped up everything using Gorilla Tape (amazing stuff - really) and the inside of WiTHiN was dry. We had three 25 meter lanes at the downtown YWCA, so I was only able to just get WiTHiN moving forward before I had to slam on the breaks by pedalling backward. It was very responsive turning and it was surprisingly stable. It never felt like it was going to tip - even on the sharpest turn.

I stood up and rocked it, still no tipping. I jumped out into the pool and climbed back in from deep water - very stable, no problem. I does not look like outriggers will be required. I think that I have kept the weight low in the hull, and I think that the Hyak sea kayak hull is a fairly stable shape.

Then we rigged up some nylon rope to the rudder then around a pulley attached to the diving board rail down to a 25 pound weight. This is to test the drive leg and prop - if everything is working properly, I should be able to lift the 25 pound weight with about 300 watts of power. As I started to crank on it, the chain broke. That was one thing that I had forgot to do - replace my work chain with a good chain. I had broken apart that old chain about two dozen times and it was only meant as a very temporary chain. No wonder it broke. Oh well.

We pulled the Gorilla Tape off the bottom and - no water. I bounced around a bunch in WiTHiN and still dry as a bone. Then we pulled the drive leg bay plug out and noted that the water line was about 1/2" BELOW the top of the bay wall. That was a pleasant surprise. Then I rotated the drive leg out and still no overflow. The water level at the drive leg slot was much closer to the top of the wall, but my rubber lip was doing it's job and keeping any water from splashing over into the boat. This was GREAT news! I think the reason the water line was slightly lower in the bow where the drive leg is located is probably because of weight distribution causing a slight bow-up geometry.

All in all, a successful day. A PR at the half marathon in the morning, then a successful pool test that night.

Next - open water to see if WiTHiN is as fast as it is supposed to be. This is a critical test. If for some unknown reason, WiTHiN isn't close to it's 10 km/hr predicted speed at 150 watts of power, then breaking the current record of 168 km is going to be difficult.

I would like to get WiTHiN into Glenmore reservoir this weekend if possible. The ice just melted and it's all open now. I need to find some support - someone in a boat to help film and to be there for safety in case I go for a swim. That water is only about 2 degrees C.

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WiTHiN ready for the pool

I designed and ordered some T-shirts from for my crew at the 24 hour event. If you would like one, you can order your own from Zazzle. Just follow the link below to order. You can change the shirt style, specify a different color, the size, or even change the design. And, it's only $19 - not bad. Unfortunately, none of your $19 contribution will go to the expedition, but you will be supporting poor Google who owns Zazzle. you can also buy this sporty yet fashionable Critical Power T.

Well, it has been a fairly hectic week, but I finally checked off the last item on my list of stuff to finish before the pool test on Sunday night.

The biggest job was making the prop. Rick Willoughby created this great step by step instruction manual on building the prop that he custom designed for my 80 rpm cadence, my 150 watt power output and the Nimus Hyak kayak hull shape. The most difficult part, after figuring out which way to twist the metal for my drive direction, was keeping the front face, back face, leading edge and trailing edges identified. Ricks instructions were great, and I was very proud of my creation. Until we discovered that I had mixed up the front face / back face of one blade. ARGH!!! I was being so careful.

Anyhow, it's not the most efficient due to this mess-up, but it will give me something to run some tests with at least. We rough;y calculated that it could be about 1/2 km per hour slower than a properly built version. I'll have to build another one. I ordered more 1/8" stainless steel plate, so I'll have to at least wait until the material arrives. I would MUCH rather just pay a qualified person to build me a prop. 2 to 10 or more percent in efficiency loss will mean distance lost during the 24 hour record attempt. An efficient prop is important, so I would much rather invest in something that I know is as good as it can get rather than spend countless days going through a learning curve as I trial and error my own prop.

The next item completed was the filling of the side walls with expanding foam and a fiberglass cap. Thanks to Stefan who came over to help.

Then I tackled the drive leg well lip. What a pain this was. The water level will probably be a bit higher than the drive leg well walls, so I needed to add a raised lip around the edge. Easier said than done. I started by building a plywood perimeter, but I could only go half way before getting all tangled up with the hinged drive leg. I stressed and stressed about how to build that area up and ended up with a solution I hate. It's a soft rubber edge that bends and folds around the drive leg hinge. It looks like crap and I don't think it's going to work. We may be LUCKY in that the water level might not go higher than the DL well walls and I can rip that ugly rubber lip off. We'll find out on the water tomorrow. Basically, the lip should only be required when the plug is removed to rotate the drive leg out of the water. Once the drive leg has been rotated out, the holes can be plugged up again. We just need to stop water from flooding the boat for the few seconds it takes between pulling the plug, rotating out the leg, and then replacing the plug. Hopefully, the water line will be low enough to not require any additional edging. We'll see.

I added my SRM meter to the steering lever and built a head rest for the seat.

The final task completed today was to flip WiTHiN over and sand all the epoxy drips off the hull. There are plenty of rough fiberglass cut-you pricks all over the place inside the boat. I need to find some kind of paint or coating that is thick, will seal up all the glass slivers and provide a nice, smooth surface. Does anyone of something that you can use on boats to sort of finish and seal the surface?

I think this is the first Pedal The Ocean newspaper article:


Major progress

I got so much done on WiTHiN this weekend.

I set myself a deadline of this next weekend to have WiTHiN ready for water testing. Stefan organized a local pool for me for Sunday night, so now I have to get everything finished. If you are local, come on out to the pool test on Sunday night 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. It's at the YWCA on 5th downtown (note - NOT the YMCA).

First, I glassed in those longitudinal bulkheads. I cut out 1/2" thick Styrofoam boards and then covered with fiberglass Roving and whetted out with epoxy resin. Then instead of vacuum bagging, I wrapped the boards tightly with shrink wrap plastic and placed them under a flat board with a couple hundred pounds on top. This worked out better than bagging, as there was no creasing of the glass fabric.

I plan on pouring expanding foam into the space between the bulkheads to finish the wide gunwale.

Ben came over to help and he worked on cutting out some foam for a plug for the drive leg well. I finished up the plug by capping it with a piece of plywood and a handle from an old sanding block. This fits the hole in the drive leg bay very tightly. I glued on the cut-out from the kayak bottom so the bottom of the plug is flush to the bottom of the hull. I still need to sand down the epoxy drips, and I can also fill in the gap between the plug and the hull with a silicon bead, then slice it with a razor. I have no idea if this is going to leak or not....

I added two triangular plywood panels to the spaces in my drive leg, then filled it up with epoxy/micro filler.

I made an adjustable seat back support with two pieces of plywood. An aluminum rod runs between the two ratchet style supports mounted on each long bulk. I placed a foam sleeve over the aluminum rod to more evenly spread out the weight of the seat back - this works very well. Now I can not only move my seat forward or back, but I can also adjust the seat back angle up or down.

The last item was the rudder. I was going to rig up some line and pulleys, but I played around with a long plastic tube I had and found that if I supported the semi-flexible tube once in the middle, it was VERY stiff, strong and light. Probably not something for ocean conditions, but I think it should do fine for a calm lake. The steering lever is some old bike parts I have that I put together. Two carbon tubes with a slip fit - the larger diameter one bonded into the gunwale, and the smaller diameter tube with a small handle bar clamped to it. The other end has a threaded rod with a swivel rod end on it which guides the long plastic push/pull rod. The push/pull rod runs though a small plastic sleeve bonded to the gunwale in the stern and up to a handle bar stem that clamps onto my rudder steering tube. It all works fairly slick.

nest on the agenda is the prop - I'll start that tomorrow after my CSS school KidPower presentation. Then I need to make up the drive leg bay lip, and I should be able to finish everything up and attend to the details by Friday-Saturday. Should be all ready for the pool test on Sunday.


Long Bulkheads

This is pretty funny: I knew that It was just a matter of time before I did this, as I've almost done it too many times in the past. No, that stuff in my hand isn't a blob of hair gel - it's a full gob of epoxy resin. My hand cleaner is a jar with a pump on it, and it sits right beside the epoxy resin can which also features a pump. Ya - you got it. I squeezed out a full squirt of epoxy resin right into the palm of my left hand. I was just about to smoosh it in with my right hand when I realized what I had done.

I was emailed some photos from the Ironman Arizona photography guys, so I'll add these to my race report:

I gave my self a deadline of April 28 to have WiTHiN-24 completely finished and ready for the water. So, I got back into the shop today. I made two longitudinal bulkheads for the rights and left hand side of the seat. The area between the bulkheads and the gunwales will be filled up with expanding foam. This will provide some perimeter decking to shed splashed water, and to give the side walls of the kayak a bit more structure. Right now I can support my weight with both arms on the side walls and they flex out a bit. With the new perimeter decking on, the side walls won't flex at all.

I measured the exact shape of each bulkhead by taping small cardboard tabs to match the curve of the hull, then cut out Styrofoam, covered with two layers of my fiberglass roving, whetting out with epoxy resin, wrapped in plastic stretch wrap and placed under a flat board with weight on it to cure. Tomorrow I'll glass them into place, then fill up with foam, and round the top. I might cover the top with a strip of fiberglass also.

It's been snowing non-stop for two days here in Calgary! I need to start recumbent training, but I also need to fully recover from Ironman, so the forced rest break is probably a good thing.


24 hour record attempt and the seat

The seat is now in and working.

I was encouraged not to give up on those spring loaded pins by some emails I got from y'all, so I gave it another go. I cut off one side of the T-handle and filed down the other side so that it would not rub on the boat bottom.

Then I drilled and counter-sunk a straight line-up of holes down both stainless rails and welded the entire seat hinge together. It works pretty well - I can pull both "L-handles" (formerly T-handles) out and slide the seat forward or back as much as I need to. When all the way forward, the seat will lie flat on the floor.

To support the seat back, and to also make it adjustable, I plan on extending an aluminum tube from the right side of the hull to the left side. This way, the seat back will rest on the tube and the tube could be moved forward (tilting the seat UP) and backward (reclining the seat).

And also, I finally weighed WiTHiN.

Drive Leg: 9 lbs
Rudder: 4 lbs
WiTHiN with seat and seat rails installed: 84 lbs

The center of gravity is 114 inches back from the bow (not including the drive leg or the rudder)

The summer is starting to shape up nicely - very exciting actually. When I get back from Ironman Arizona, it's FULL SPEED AHEAD on finishing WiTHiN-24:

1. Perimeter decking
2. Seat back support rod
3. Drive leg bay plug
4. Drive leg fairing
5. Gear box fairing
6. Prop
7. Add soft deck cover
8. Seat cushion
9. Sand smooth the rough fiberglass
10. Outriggers if required

Then it's FULL SPEED ahead on a new training plan for the 24!!!!!. It looks like we might schedule an attempt at the human powered boat 24 hour distance record for early summer, so I don't have much time to squeeze in the ultra milleage training I need to be ready for the challenge. But hey - that just makes it even more challenging, so I'm really looking forward to getting into it.

I might have only around 6 weeks - so a 150 km ride the first week, then a 170, 200, 220, 250, 300 ? I hope that's good enough... For the 24 hour HPV record I worked my way up to a 400 km ride! but that was over a period of 3 months - not 6 weeks. I think I can do it.

My official expedition coach is Cory Fagan. I'm planing on meeting with him for a full line of physiological tests. Then I get the old M5 ready for the road, and get out there! I love the M5 - such a pleasant change from the tri bike. It's different enough that it gets plenty of interest from other people and other cyclists. And, it's WAY faster than any road bike. My favorite thing is to hit the road on a weekend when all the roadies are out for some ROADIE HUNTING. I approach drafting packs, slowly pass, pull to the front, pull away a bit while watching them stand up to catch me, then when they get near, I put the gas on and watch them disappear in my mirror. So much fun. Really looking forward to the change from slogging away on my triathlon bike in my basement all winter long.

Anyhow, I leave for Phoenix tomorrow morning for Ironman on Monday. I just finished reviewing my race report from last year where I had the race of my dreams and came in 4th and qualified for world championships in Hawaii. The real value in keeping a Blog is that I can go back and refresh my aging memory so I don't make the same mistakes twice (or three or four times!). My goal this year is to win my division, but who knows what will happen. This will be my 11th Ironman race and I know well enough by now that anything at all can happen, so I'll just be happy to be there in sunny 30 degree C weather and away from all this snow Calgary has been getting!

On top of the new training, I am REALLY getting exciting about getting WiTHiN onto the water and seeing what she can do. This will bring such a cool and different angle to my riding - it's going to be a blast. The plan is to get her into Glenmore reservoir (google maps link here) around the 1st of May when the ice melts. Perhaps into a pool for some tests before hand. As usual, I'll keep you well informed.


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Seat and perimeter decking

Rick thinks I need to fill up as much of the void in the cockpit as I can to facilitate bailing. Within-24 (the 24 hour record version of Within) may get splashed a bit and any water coming up and over the gunwales will slosh around in the bottom of the boat. If I build up a deck along the perimeter between the seat and the gunwales, then splashed water should shed back into the lake. The remaining water should run to the low point where I will have a bilge pump.

For the ocean version of Within, since my main entry/exit hatch is at the side near the water level, the cockpit needs to be considered a 'wet-area', and minimizing flooding and facilitating easy bailing is a good idea. So, this built up perimeter deck will also be something that will be required for the ocean boat with the full top deck.

What I am thinking of doing, is filling this side area with expanding foam and covering it will fiberglass. Then later when I start working on the ocean version of Within with the full top deck, I can cut out storage bins and close them with hatches to make them water tight.

I put together the seat rails today - two, 3/4" square stainless tubes that run from flanges bolted to the drive leg bay to flanges bolted the the rear bulkhead. For now, I am going to leave the seat rails bolted in place until I have the function of that seat completely figured out. Then I'll epoxy the rails down the the kayak hull floor and epoxy the bolts and flanges in.

I had planed on securing the seat position on the rails with two spring loaded T-handle pins. The problem is that the T-handle is too long and it rubs against the curved walls of the kayak. Darn! Now I have to search the world again for spring loaded pins that are shorter. Until I find something, I'll just use a bolt and nut to hold the seat brackets onto the rails.

The recumbent seat from PowerOn Cycling pivots to allow for various seat angles. I have not yet figured out how to adjust the seat back yet - I was hoping that it would be obvious once I got the seat and rails installed and functioning. It could be something as simple as a tube that extends from the rear of the seat back to the bulkhead wall. If there was a pivot on the seat back and on the bulkhead wall, then I could slide the seat forward and the seat back would automatically recline - all the way down to lying flat on the floor.

I am also thinking of an easy way to link a steering arm up to the rudder in the back. The rudder tube slides into the rudder shell tube from under the boat. It is secured with a rod end swivel bearing at the top. The collar will have an arm welded to it that drops down to the deck at a slight angle. I can hook an aluminum tube up to the arm with a ball joint and run the tube to the right or left hand side of the seat where it would connect to a handle - push forward and steer right, back and steer left.



This was a gross job, but I knew it had to get done, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to it.

When we vacuum bagged the inside layers of glass to the kayak hull, the fiberglass creased around the edges of the kayak (the gun-wales). I knew that sanding/griding these off was going to be a big, long and messy job. So, I got to it. What a mess. Sanding dust everywhere. It took me a couple of hours just to clean up.

I sanded down the creases which opened up the composite layers which I knew that it would. I filled the open cracks with a mix of epoxy and this anti-sag powered i have. I find the anti-sag is stronger than micro, but it is difficult to sand. After the anti-sag curred, I spent some time cutting new fiberglass caps that would go over the gun-wales to seal it all up again. While I was at it, I glued my fiberglass roving to all of the joins in the bulkheads and some additional glass for the bulkhead surfaces. I also added more glass to the edges of the drive leg bay. It's looking really good and beefy now!

Next is to wet it all out, then I install the seat rails, seat, make the prop, finish the drive leg, and rig up some rigging for the rudder steering.

Then it's to a pool to see if this baby floats!


Buoyancy compartments and bulkheads

I covered the Styrofoam bulkhead shapes with a layer of fiberglass roving using a light coat of spray glue to hold the fabric in place while I fully whetted it out with epoxy resin. I wanted to make the bulkheads light but strong, so I vacuum bagged the wet layups.

I use Elmers spray adhesive for a temporary bond when I know that I will be using a vacuum bag to keep the whetted fabric next to the form. This glue tends to dissolve when epoxy is introduced, so it does not seem to clog up the weave and prevent epoxy from fully whetting out the fabric and bonding to the form. As you can see from the photos, Elmers glue allows me to wrap the form up nicely - kind of like wrapping a birthday present. I use 3M high strength 90 when I'm not using a vacuum bag, as it does not seem to dissolve with the epoxy resin and the whetted fabric won't lift up or peel off the surface. the problem with the 3m 90, is that since it does not dissolve, the epoxy doesn't fully soak into all of the weaves in the fabric - it seems to wet out about 75% of the fabric though, so probably more composite material is required to offset this. I'm not sure - it would be interesting to do some testing some day and find out exactly how much various spray glues impact on the strength/weight ratio of composite materials and epoxy resin.

They came out really nice - light and strong and tightly wrapped in glass. I bonded them into the kayak hull using epoxy/micro and radiused the inside corners nicely. Now I am going to place a strip of fiberglass roving along the joins to further solidify the bulkheads to the kayak.

I filled the bow and stern compartments with Polyurethane expanding foam. This foam is buoyant enough to support 60 lbs of weight per cubic foot. I estimated that 2 square feet of this foam should be good enough for Within-24, since Within-24 won't feature the top deck. I'll add more foam in the bow and stern compartments of the top deck, plus the deck has quite a bit of Styrofoam as it's core, and will probably float all on it's own.

The reason for these two solid floatation compartments is if the boat were to completely flood, it would still stay afloat due to these two sealed off, solid buoyancy areas. For Within-24, since there aren't any additional compartments filled with air, I'm thinking of strapping in some air filled water bottles under the soft deck just in case.


Bulkheads, bay glass, and mechanical efficiency

Drive leg bay

I started the fiberglassing of the drive leg bay. There are two
purposes for adding fiberglass to it, one is structural - to make the
drive leg bay a structural part of the kayak hull, and the other
reason is to water proof it. The first layer is water proofing and
runs around the kayak hull bottom, up and over the DL bay walls and
then a few inches onto the floor.

The bay is a very complex shape, and the glass fabric running along
the inside of the narrow part of the bay frame has to be very thin
because the drive leg struts fit in there pretty tight. I used 3M
super 90 spray glue to hold the fiber glass fabric down to the form,
then whetted it out with epoxy resin. The resin does not seem to
dissolve this glue, so it holds it's position VERY nicely - almost
like it was vacuum bagged. The only issue that I have, is that I'm not
positive that the epoxy is fully saturating all of the threads in the
fabric due to this spray glue. However, a tight fitting glass covering
is also a very important aspect of sealing and structure.

I plan to add a least one more layer, then some thicker roving to the
edges for structure.

Adding the glass have me an opportunity to finally insert the drive
leg, prop the seat up and get in for a quick spin. Everything feels
just great!

Mechanical efficiency test

I was also able to test the mechanical efficiency of my drive. The
last time I did it, I determined that there was a 8 watt loss due to
the chain / cog / gear box. I repeated the test, this time with the
completed drive leg and the loss was 7 watts. So, it does not appear
that the chain clanging in the stainless tubes is responsible for any
measurable losses.

I need to point out that this 7 watt loss is 7 watts from free
spinning of the crank and chain ring without any chain. 7 watts of
power is required to turn the chain, turn the small cog on the gear
box, and to turn the gear box. All of this work needs to be done
regardless of what kind of method you have to get the power down to
the prop, so it's not really a 'loss' so to speak. It's just a cost of
getting the power to the prop - watts that won't directly be producing
any forward thrust.

For comparison purposes, Rick has a drive now that takes 5 watts, and
has made a gear box that took only 3 watts. But that gear box was too
small for this design, and was filled with a high viscosity
lubrication - again, not applicable to my drive. 6 or 7 watts could be
normal, and I think with a double right angle gear drive with a shaft,
it could be as high as 10 watts.


I cut out 3 Styrofoam bulkheads and 2 wood bulkheads. The two small
1/2 plywood sections fit on the sides of the drive leg bay and run out
to the kayak walls. These will add structure to the drive leg. The 3
Styrofoam bulkheads are for the small solid buoyancy compartment in
the bow, the bow compartment (which also acts as further structure for
the drive leg), and the main cabin bulkhead behind my seat.

I measured the curves using my curve guide, then traced the shapes
onto cardboard and messed with the cardboard shapes until they fit
nicely into the kayak hull. Then I traced the shapes onto some 1/2"
thick Styrofoam and carved and sanded them.

Next, I will cover them with fiberglass and then glass them into position.


Here are some shots of the rudder in the rudder steering shell tube. I still need to sand down the rudder top more so that it fits flush to the bottom of the hull


Changes from Within

Actually, that should read "Changes TO Within"

The design of Within - my prototype human powered ocean boat has been changed a bit with an eye toward safety. When I traced the outline of my retractable canopy top onto the deck, I realized just how freaking HUGE that thing is. I tried to imagine what kind of hinge would be beefy enough to hold that top on and I just couldn't fathom anything that could withstand a rogue wave smashing into the side of it. I could just see that top ripping right off Within.

It's happened before, and I can think of two fatalities. First of all, Adrew McAuley's dome cover was missing when they found his empty kayak 75 km off the the New Zealand coast. Secondly, Nenad Blic's ocean rowing boat was found capsized and flooded off the coast of Ireland and the hatch was missing.

I also realized that getting into and out of Within while at sea would be nearly impossible with the canopy top the way I had it. We want to keep the center of gravity as low as possible in Within because low C of G requires less ballast to keep it stable, which translates to more speed.

I realized I needed a better hatch, and I needed to keep the top of Within permanently ON the boat. So what I did, was decided to go with a standard Lewmar ocean hatch on the side of Within slightly above the water line. This would allow me to climb into the boat from the water without raising my center of gravity.

I re-designed the seat to slide forward and recline down to horizontal to allow me to flip around onto my stomach, open the rear hatch and crawl into the sleeping cabin. With the seat lying flat on the floor, I can also open the side hatch and slide into the water - and back into the boat again. All of this, I can do while keeping my center of gravity low, and keeping Within stable.

Of course, I plan on testing all of this before I go and cut holes into Within for the ocean hatch. I'll make a cardboard cutout hole and practice getting in and out while in the pool.

This change is not without it's problems. Mainly, I need to consider how I will get enough ventilation in the tropical Atlantic ocean without being able to remove the top. I will add a small window at the top and that be opened partially, as well as be able to open the side hatch a bit - these windows should automatically close if the boat were to ever capsize. I will also have some directional vents through the deck. That probably won't provide enough fresh, cool air, so I may need to look at adding a fan to direct outside air in and through the cockpit. The space on the top of the deck is limited, so I can't rely on square miles of solar panels to power every convenience I can imagine. I wonder how much power air conditioning consumes.... Any such thing as a miniature, lightweight, super efficient air conditioner?

The other change to plans is the addition of 'phase 1' to the prototype boat. I'm calling it "Within-24". It's Within without the full deck, and it will be used to go after the 24 hour human powered boat distance record this summer. The topless boat will be lighter, a bit faster, and easier to haul around - much better for a record attempt.

Within-24 is a good intermediate stage for the development of Within. I can fully test out the weight, balance and stability of Within, the rudder and steering, the prop, pedals, seat, etc, etc. Once all of this has been firmly set to the way that works, I can go ahead and bond the top deck to it and finish off the prototype boat. Then I'll get out into the ocean with it and get into phase two testing.

These sexy new renderings of Within were created by the Benmeister:

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A big hole in the hull

Ben shot this picture of me and Within and automatically tiled it using this slick software utility called ArcSoft Panorama maker

The first step in getting the drive leg bay frame secured to the kayak floor, was to prepare the floor. Since it isn't completely level, I had to build up one side to meet the drive leg frame such that the drive leg is level and straight. I built up the left hand side with many layers of fiberglass, then smeared epoxy/micro all over the floor and pressed the drive leg bay frame into it. Then I worked the micro into the corners and smoothed a nice radius around the frame.

After the epoxy/micro hardened, I flipped the kayak around and cut out the hole. that was NOT easy to cut!! It's pretty thick down there and I burned out my SECOND dremel!

I made a flange for the drive leg bay with 1/16" stainless plate strips that were welded together. This flange is supposed to fit on the bottom of the kayak and screwed into the drive leg bay frame sandwiching the kayak hull between the bay frame and the steel flange.

The flange was a real pain to make - I had to weld a bunch of 1" strips of steel together, grind it smooth, then drill and countersink all the screw holes.

After I started to screw the flange onto the hull bottom, I didn't like what I was seeing. Rick Willoughby says that in water, drag is about 800% greater than in air. So - imagine a 1/8" screw bump magnified to a full inch! The flange wasn't sitting flat enough, and I was having problems with some of the screws stripping, etc. I didn't like what was happening, so I removed the flange.

After thinking about it, I don't see why I couldn't make this strong enough wrapping fiberglass around the hull bottom and up the inside of the bay wall, and a couple of bulkheads connected to the drive leg frame in both the front and rear. We'll see what Rick thinks about that.

I also mounted the rudder shell tube - the rudder steer tube slides into this. I welded a flange onto the bottom of the shell, drilled a small hole in the floor, and micro'ed the flange down to the floor. I also welded a tab about 8" above the bottom of the tube, and screwed it onto a plywood bulkhead. Then I micro'ed the bulkhead into the hull. Then, I wrapped the whole assembly with my thick fiberglass roving. I still need to screw the flange to the hull bottom.

Another training ride - only 3 weeks to go!


Seat bracket and DL frame

When the drive leg pivots into place in the frame, it is sandwiched between two narrow rails in the frame, but to firmly secure it while being used, I needed something more. I welded a stainless nut to the drive leg bay frame and with a threaded knob from an old exercise machine, I can screw the drive leg down tight the frame.

I filled the tubes on the drive leg bay frame with epoxy, then cut out plywood panels to fit between the stainless steel tubes. Then I sealed them all in place with an epoxy/micro mix. I will cover the whole frame with fiberglass once it is fixed to the kayak floor.

I messed up with the positioning of the drive leg bay. I had centered the frame in the kayak with the narrow drive leg slot in the middle of the hull instead of the middle of the bottom bracket. I realized this today thanks to a comment from Mikael - thanks! This means that I can now move the DL back to where it was originally planned, and my frame cuts still work. cool.

While waiting for the epoxy to cure on the wood panels, I started in on the recumbent seat bracket. The seat is a fiberglass recumbent seat from PowerOn Cycling
Actually, I scarfed it from my Rocket lean steer velomobile (my bad) - I'll have to order a new seat to replace it because I really do want to get the Rocket on the road for this summer.

The seat will slide back and forward on two rails that will be bolted to the drive leg bay frame. The rails will also be bonded to the kayak hull floor. I hinged the seat directly below the seat bottom so that I can lay the seat flat on the floor for entry, exit and access to the rear compartment. I'm not 100% sure about how the seat back will be supported yet. My idea was to build the rear compartment bulkhead wall sloped and put a skateboard wheel on the seat back. This would allow me to release the seat rail lock, slide the seat all the way forward and have the seat back roll down the rear bulkhead wall until it is flat on the floor. All the time, my center of gravity remains low - no need to sit up and twist around. I'll just slide forward, roll around, knee and open the rear hatch, then crawl in. Well, that's the plan anyhow - I'll set up a mock-up to see how that works before building the seat back support, bulkhead and rear hatch. I will also need some way of securing the seat back firmly to the rear bulkhead wall when in use.

Just to see how the deck and hull matched up, Ben and I placed Within's top deck onto the kayak hull. They match-up fairly close. Some bending and spreading will be required. Cool - we're getting there.


Operation a success!

Well, that was fairly painless.

I carefully measured the curve of the hull using my flexible drafting curve and traced the curve onto the steel frame. Then I cut out the long tube completely, and carved out the curve on the end tubes using my Dremel cutting wheel.

The cuts worked out perfectly!

I filled the open sections of the cut tubes with a new strip of 1/16" steel and welded them closed. Then I re-inserted the long cut-out section to match the angle of the hull. It fit perfectly. I welded it in place and now the drive leg bay fits nice and flat against the curved hull.

I only had to move the whole drive leg back about 8" - not so bad.

Now I am filling the hollow tubes with epoxy, then I will epoxy plywood panels into the frame to enclose the frame. I'll do this before I mount the frame on the hull, as it is much easier to do with the bay frame out of the hull. Here are the next steps:

1. Using the frame as a template, I am going to cut out a 1/16" stainless steel flange. This flange will screw to the bay frame from BELOW the kayak hull - sandwiching the fiberglass kayak in between the flange and the bay frame. The flange will have the exact same inside dimension of the frame, but will extend about 1 inch outside the frame on all sides. I will also pre-drill countersunk screw holes into the flange.

2. Position the bay frame down onto the hull with a thin layer of epoxy/micro to level out all the small bumps, etc on the fiberglass floor. I'll let this cure so that the drive leg is bonded to the kayak floor.

3. Flip the boat over and position the flange on the bottom of the kayak hull onto a bed of epoxy (sand the gel coat on the bottom of the kayak first). Using the flange holes as a template, drill through the flange, the kayak hull and into the drive leg bay frame.

4. Screw the flange into the hull & bay frame. (fill the holes with epoxy as you insert the screws

5. Now, cut out the drive leg hole in the kayak floor using the bay frame and flange as a template. This is the structural connection between the frame and the kayak - well most of the structure. The front and rear of the drive leg bay will also be bonded to a bulkhead that will connect the side walls of the kayak to the drive leg frame. This should be extremely strong - probably stronger than the kayak itself.

6. To water proof the bay, I will wrap a layer of fiberglass over the flange and up the insides of the drive leg bay frame walls, over the top, down the other side and across the floor of the kayak. Then I'll radius all the corners using some thick epoxy/micro mix.

I should weld the seat rails to the front of the bay frame before I do all of this, but I would rather have that drive leg bay fixed and in place before messing with the seat. So instead, I think I will weld some tabs to the ends of the seat rails and bolt them to the bay frame. I should weld some nuts to the bay frame before filling with epoxy.


Measure TWICE, weld ONCE!!

dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb....

For those of you who haven't been following this along in a super technical way, the "drive leg bay" is a water tight frame that is built into the kayak hull with a hole in the bottom so that I can insert and pull-out the propeller/pedal unit - called the "drive leg". The reason I don't simply build the drive leg into the kayak hull as a permanent part of the boat is because I need to be able to pull the drive leg out to service it (lube the chain, replace the chain, etc), and also I need to be able to raise it during testing in case I need to beach (and for transportation). Don't ask me how I plan on raising the rudder yet... It's pretty dam tough, and it's way in the back, so I will be able to remove it from the outside of the boat once close to shore.

And while we are in 'refresh mode', I want to go over some of the reasons I decided to go with a chain and gear box for the drive leg rather than one of many other approaches to a drive, like a shaft, or twisted chain.

When I started to design the drive unit, I set a few design constraints:

1. I wanted to use as many standard bike parts as I could. The reason is that I simply trust these bike parts that I have been using for years and years. I have thousands of miles on some of my chains and they are still in VERY good shape. They take water, dirt, mud and abuse on my bike they would never see enclosed in a stainless steel housing at sea. I can buy lightweight bike chains, stainless steel bike chains, carbon fiber bike cranks, a few dozen different types of pedals, various sizes of chain rings, gears, etc, etc. Replacement parts are easy to find, and fairly easy to replace with standard bike tools. I have plenty of experience working with bike parts.

2. Re-build. Although the plan is to bring a couple of spare drive legs, I also wanted to be able to completely overhaul one of these on the support boat if I absolutely needed to. I can pull every single component out of the drive leg and replace it with a brand new one in less than 30 minutes.

3. SRM watts meter. I wanted to build a drive leg that would work with my SRM power meter. In training and testing, it is VERY important to me to be able to monitor and measure the level of power I am putting into the drive, and resulting speed I am getting out of the human powered boat Within. This was a vital aspect of the human powered vehicle 24 hour record I set in Critical Power HPV. The EarthRace guys
constantly monitor how much bio fuel their record boat is consuming and are constantly calculating the on-going efficiency of the engine and props and systems. My 'engine' is me, and I need to do the same. I constantly monitor and record my heart rate, cadence, power output, hydration, speed, etc. The SRM makes all of this possible, and you can only use it on a Shimano bottom bracket.

OK - on onto my dumbness.... When I first designed the drive leg bay, it was fairly short - only long enough to slide the drive leg forward, then pull it up and out the top. I may decide to NOT cut out that huge canopy top on Within, so pulling the drive leg straight up and out is not an option. So, I redesigned the drive leg bay to allow the drive leg to be rotated out of the water.

This was really slick and worked really great. I welded on a hinge and was very happy and proud of my wonderful creation.

I failed to place the new longer bay into the hull to see if it would fit!!! Duh! Well, it doesn't fit. It's too long. The bottom of the hull curves up and the drive leg bay won't sit flat on the floor. One of the reasons I built the bay out of stainless tubing is that I didn't want to compromise the structural integrity of the hull when I cut a giant hole in the bottom of it to stick the prop strut through. I wanted it to be super strong. Once a flange is fitted to the hull bottom, all of the stresses on the boat will be routed around that steel frame.

So, I either need to move my drive leg way back (toward the stern), or cut it up to allow for the hull curve. Moving it back too far is not an option because it starts to really mess with the weight and balance estimates, my head will be too far from the front window, and I start to greatly reduce my sleeping cabin in the rear.

It looks like I'm going to need to cut the bottom tubes of that frame out and re-fabricate to allow for that hull taper. Not a huge deal, but will definitely require some delicate measuring, cutting and welding.

Well, I think I will blow off my training for today (did a real hard 5 hours yesterday and have a 6 hour day planned for tomorrow), and start the drive leg bay operation. I'll go prep the operating room now. Stand by and say a prayer.


Drive leg bay frame

Since weight down low in this human powered pedal boat is a good thing, I figured that I might be better off building the drive leg bay out of stainless steel square tubing. That way I can be assured that it will be strong enough to efficiently transfer power from my seat, to the cranks, through the drive leg, and drive leg well, then down to the prop. The seat will be bolted to two stainless steel rails which will be welded to the drive leg bay frame.

I originally had the drive leg pull straight UP and out of the bay, and in order to do so, I required the canopy top on Within to be open. We are now talking about NOT cutting out the canopy top and leaving it as a permanent part of the deck. I would add a small standard ocean sail boat hatch on the top for fresh air, and a larger standard hatch on the side to enter and exit.

Reason? Well, I'll get into this a bit more when I have a plan to show, but basically I am really nervous about building an adequately strong latch hinge for that huge canopy top. I am familiar with a few cases of the ocean ripping off large overhead custom hatches. In my imagination, I can see a monster wave ripping that over-sized canopy top right off of Within. With the smaller commercial hatches closed, Within will be more like a submarine than a boat - much like the EarthRace boat - Speaking of which - have you checked that baby out yet? That thing is fully sick man! The EarthRace crew are attempting to break the round-the-world power boat record with their wave piercing bio diesel speed boat.

So, if I decide not to cut out that canopy top, I am going to have to come up with some other way to remove the drive leg for servicing, or for beaching (during testing and training). What I came up with was pretty neat. I extended the length of the drive leg bay and added a hinge to the drive leg. The leg will now simply rotate out of the water like the gif animation below:

I designed the new bay with a computer model to get the basic dimensions and clearances right.

Then I constructed a cardboard mock-up of the bay and tested the drive leg in it. I even made a cardboard propeller based on the prop dimensions Rick W has calculated for me.

Then I cut a few dozen sections of 3/4" square stainless steel tubing, assembled it all and spent the better part of a day welding it all together.

Wow - this thing is majorly solid! I am going to weld a nut into the drive leg to bolt it firmly to the well frame when peddling, but it fits so nicely into the slot right now, that I don't think it will require any additional fasteners. Once that hinge is on, it will probably only require a lock to hold the other end down to the frame.

To bond the bay frame to the kayak hull, I will first screw through the kayak hull into the stainless frame (counter sink the screw holes and fill with micro), then wrap fiberglass around the bottom tube and around to the underside of the deck. I'll insert Styrofoam tiles into each open side of the frame, then glass around the whole thing to make it water tight. I DON'T want to weld plugs onto all of the tube ends on the frame - I wonder if filling them all with micro/epoxy, then giving the whole steel frame a few good coats of epoxy will make it all water tight?

To better secure the drive leg bay to the kayak hull, it will be bonded to a bulkhead at the bow end of the bay, and a partial (short) bulkhead at the stern end of the drive leg bay. The seat back will be mounted to the rear bulkhead.

This was the view outside my shop window this morning. I was outside on Tuesday for a 6 hour bike ride - the first outdoor ride of the season. By the time we rolled in, it started snowing. No outside rides this week. I need to get outside to get some rides in! Ironman Arizona is in 5 weeks.


Near screw up!

First, there is a new riveting episode of the Pedal The Ocean podcast. You'll be on the edge of your seat as you listen to me drone on about SRM meters, watts, aerodynamics and why I think it's important to our modern society to become more active.

or visit the podcast page at the BLOG

Prop Screw up

During the design phase, I misinterpreted the proposed diameter of the prop and only allowed enough room below Within's hull for a 12" dia prop. Ricks design calls for a 17.7" diameter prop! Oops.

I had added a couple of 'safety' inches to the length of the drive leg, but was it enough?

In my computer model, I dropped the drive leg down so that the 17.7" dia prop just cleared the hull bottom. Then I added about 1/2" for the hull skin thickness and took a measurement from the hull floor to the center of the crank. This, I figured would be the highest I could have the crank without having to rebuild the drive leg. The question now, was the 10.75 inches of clearance be enough to circle my feet without my heels rubbing.

I set up a mock drive on the floor using my fiberglass recumbent seat and the drive leg propped so that the center of the bottom bracket was the crucial 10.75" distance from the floor. Then I clipped in and peddled normally. It was good. Whew! My heels are the tiniest fraction of in inch from the floor, but it works. If I need slightly more clearance, I can move my shoe up on the cleat or go with slightly smaller cranks.

This is good because it keeps my center of gravity as low as physically possible. My seat is right on the floor of the hull and the angle of the seat back is quite reclined. Even with my feet circling around the raised cranks, I would think that my over all center of gravity would be not that much higher than standard sea kayak sitting position where your back is straight up and down.

More Rudder Madness:

more progress on that rudder - I welded a stainless rudder tube with some offshoot 'branches' to insert into the hollow rudder shell. These stainless branches will provide something for the epoxy filling to 'grab' onto and will make it pretty strong and stiff when torqued hard.

I also filled the rudder steer tube up with epoxy to further strengthen it and to seal it from the potential of water running into it and down into the rudder shell.

I inserted the rudder steer tube and poured epoxy resin into the rudder shell.

Next on the agenda is to build the drive leg bay, seat and partial bulk heads (for the kayak hull only - I'll extend them up and into the deck when I get to bonding the deck onto the hull).

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Rudder and Boat Stand


I covered my Styrofoam rudder plug with a few layers of light weight fiberglass cloth and two layers of Kevlar, whetted it out with epoxy resin, then vacuum bagged it. When I removed the rudder from the bag, a couple of outside layers of fiberglass had bunched up and made a very small crease along the leading edge of the NACA0020 airfoil. After grinding this ridge off, I noticed that the composite skin was especially thin and weak along the leading edge which is not good because that is the edge that will need to withstand debris, weeds, rocks and the occasional shore.

To reinforce the leading edge, I added another layer of Kevlar and a layer of carbon fiber. This time instead of vacuum bagging it, I wrapped it with shrink wrap which worked WAY better. It resulted in a very tight, hard and smooth surface. To further toughen that leading edge, I could insert another layer of carbon to the inside of the rudder after I dissolve out the Styrofoam.

The next step is to cut the top of the rudder off at the correct angle so that it meets up flush against the bottom of the hull. Then I dissolve the Styrofoam plug, weld some branches onto the end my 1" OD stainless rudder tube, place the tube into the hollow rudder, and fill the rudder up with an epoxy/micro/carbon strands mix.

Stand for Within

I realized that I needed a better stand for the kayak hull, so I made three wood stands to support it. It's just high enough off the ground to allow the prop to spin, so I will be able to climb in, sit in the seat and do some stationary dry-land training and testing of the drive. After i get the drive leg and seat in, I would like to re-visit my original power test:

With my SRM power meter, I had measured the following efficiencies for power transmission from the cranks to the spinning prop:

STRAIGHT CHAIN = 100% (set to 100% as baseline)



I would expect to maintain 94.1%, but I will probably lose a % due to the chain clinking along the stainless steel tube guides. Then again, the right angle gear box has not been run in yet, so I may gain some efficiency.

When we added the two layers of fiberglass roving to the Nimbus kayak hull, we hot glued a 1" wide x .5" thick strip of Styrofoam to the perimeter of the kayak just under the thin lip. Then we tapered (by sanding) the lower edge of the foam so that it met flush with the hull. After this was glassed, it provides a solid edge to matte with the 1/2" thick edge on the deck.