Our kit Manuals are temporarily out of stock and unavailable until later December or January. Our local printer suddenly closed and we are working on setting up the files with a new printer. We are also revising those files to make our manuals better!
Please stay tuned!
Our office will be closed December 2nd - December 9th. We will answer emails as often as we can during that time.
Due to UPS increased peak season rates and the fact that UPS drivers are seriously stressed out during the holiday season, we will not be shipping kits until January 2019. Our kits are already a maximum sized package for them and we feel the risk for damage is higher at this time of year.
We wish everyone a happy Holiday Season, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy New year, and any other special holidays I may have missed. Kindness and peace, good health and healthy provisions to all.
5 months after the 2018 Race to Alaska, I am finally getting a video published of Russell’s second leg to Ketchikan. I won’t deny that some of us were freaking out watching this race in the first 3 days as Russell pulled ahead of the leaders every day in spite of sleeping every night while the boats with multiple crew were underway non stop. It shows just how fast the Gougeon 32 catamaran can be in the right hands.
After that third day in Johnstone Straights, passing the lead boat, Team Sail it Like a Girl, Russell debated the sanity of what he was doing. That day had presented frustratingly light winds to sudden micro blasts that threatened serious harm, and after waking up Day 4 to total calm and contrary current, he waited for a favorable current and made the consious decision to focus on finishing without destroying the boat rather than trying to continue leap frogging to the lead.
There was a lot of pedaling done during this race; a lot of drifting, a lot of getting roasted in the sun. The multitude of drift logs, kelp rafts, and breaching humpback whales demanded that crews remain seriously alert. It was not until the 7th day of Russell’s race, that he had consistent wind all day. That was his 130 mile run from Aristazabal to Dundas Island where he kept his promise to himself not to sail in the dark. He regrets that choice only a little, mainly because he got badly bitten by black flies and in retrospect, he would have enjoyed wind had he just kept going.
His crossing of Dixon entrance was fair enough but the wind died as he entered Alaskan waters and that last stretch was grueling and wet with rain. Russell did not know who was nearby until he figured out that the high powered trimaran, Team Wright, was very close. That gave him the gumption to push harder, wanting to finish ahead of the bigger multi-hull. He succeeded but he was tuckered out from pedaling for hours by the time he stepped onto the dock. He spent his next few days nursing waterlogged feet...or, trench foot being another name.
He finished in the evening of his 8th day, counting from a noon start in Victoria to noon + 4 in Ketchikan and thus broke his own solo record from 2017 by a day. Happy to have made it, he remained humble and shy of the spotlight but I was pretty tickled he had done so well. The real joy of the R2AK for us, is the trip home and you can trust with me ever grabbing the camera, that there will be more photos and videos to sort though.
I hope to follow this video with some of those clips soon. Follow the link below to see a video of Russell's 2018 race from Victoria to Ketchikan.
For some reason I have yet to fathom, I am still catching up from the Race to Alaska, Shark Spit Regatta and our Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.
This year's Wooden Boat Festival was once again a whirlwind of new and familiar faces, interesting conversations, and wonderful boats. It ended a few hours early as one of our rather famous southerlies kicked up around mid day on Sunday. The bigger boats headed out into the bay to keep space around themselves. The smaller boats hunkered down in the marina. The "sailby" was wisely cancelled. Tents were buffeted, the dust was whirling but the classrooms and restaurants were full and folks were happy. Our festival is such a great event for inspiration, learning and making new friends and connections.
I took a few photos as I always do. This year I was focused on some of the textures around me. I am sharing some of those below. Thank you to all who visited our booth in the WEST SYSTEM tent. Thank you again to WEST SYSTEM and to the WOODEN BOAT FOUNDATION and NW MARITIME CENTER for another amazing event. AEB 😉
This September we had the opportunity to play with an EP Carry electric motor for the first time. Dinghy owners often ask about an outboard for the PT 11.
Our preference is to discourage outboards on our dinghies because good rowing and sailing boats never make great motor boats. But some people really want to be able to use an outboard. That's understandable, but the fact is that the smallest gas outboard motors currently available are really too big for our boat; too much power and too heavy.
Now there is an option we can support; the EP CARRY electric "outboard". All of the technical information about this innovative little motor can be found on the website ELECTRICPADDLE.COM. Though it is compared to a 1HP on their website, it has sufficient power to get the PT 11 up to a cruising speed of about 4 knots. The USCG however, considers all small electric outboards as "2HP". Based on that formula, the PT 11 and PT Spear are rated for "2HP" so, the EP CARRY aligns with the Coast Guard figures. The amazing thing about this motor is that it weighs only 14.4 Lbs. This makes it very easy to mount and remove. The battery pack weighs 6.3 Lbs, making the total package less than 21 Lbs. There are several design features that add to the ease of handling as well.
(At this years wooden boat festival, Russell showed up with the motor in his bicycle bag.)
Our recent experience with the EP Carry was very positive and to my surprise, I caught Russell grinning after speeding off to visit other boats in the anchorage. "Mr. anti-outboard" was actually having fun and we enjoyed it further by taking a friend on an evening "cocktail" tour of Reid Harbor, a deep bay with lots of shoreline and many boats to observe.
We spent a couple of days, driving along the shore of Sucia in the San Juans, in Shallow Bay making watery doughnuts, backing up, going forward, generally goofing off, and then venturing out to 'Danger Reef' to "brave" close proximity to a group of Stellar Sea Lions. We were pleasantly surprised by how far the battery went on one charge. You will notice in our video that we carried our oars with us but we did not need to employ them.
This motor is not silent. Neither is it loud. Our lightly built plywood boat seemed to acoustically amplify the sound a little. Even so, there was no need to raise our voices for conversation. In fact, we could almost whisper and still communicate. This was a plus to me. Loud outboards in quiet anchorages are, in my mind, a real nuisance and many of us are familiar with boaters talking in their loud dinghies barely hearing each other and assuming no one else can hear them either...but of course we hear every word. Sound is a funny thing. With the EP Carry, the birds, seals, and sea lions were undisturbed by our passage. It made it a great modus for exploring the nature around us.
Another thing that is really attractive to us about this motor, is that even with our limited house battery power, we could re-charge the EP Carry Battery. It does require a 150-200W inverter, but this lithium battery requires a third of the power than comparable models to recharge. At home, it is simple to plug it into a normal outlet. Beyond charging the battery and rinsing the unit after use in salt water, there is virtually no maintenance. Yet another plus.
(see our video exploring Sucia with the EP CARRY)
When our EP Carry arrived at the door, unpacking it was quite amazing. The care taken to pack it and the detailed contents made for a well thought out and complete package. It was a positive reflection of Joe and Linda who have spent years perfecting their product. They, like us, had a vision that they worked and reworked in every detail. In fact, the original mount did not fit the PT 11 and now it does. Further, the EP Carry, designed right here in WA State, is assembled in the USA. It is yet another example of admirable American ingenuity with style and a small business making a positive difference in the world. Of all the outboards on the market, we feel confident that the EP Carry is a good fit for the PT 11.
Inger Rankins (NW Sails & Canvas) succeeded in pulling off a jaw dropping race for an 11 ft dinghy in a crowd of much longer, sleek surf ski's, kayaks, racing SUPs and all manner of multi and single crewed craft. I hope to put together a video about her race (See update below) but for the moment, this little interview with her right after she came in, after 20 hours non stop rowing, mind you, gives an idea of the energy and spirit of Inger Rankins.
UPDATE:Video of Inger's Race taken by her husband as he caught up to her at different points in the race.
Our friend, Inger Rankins of NW Sails and Canvas, heard about the 70/48 human powered race from Tacoma to Port Townsend, and decided she had to participate. She signed up as back up crew aboard the 4 person, locally designed and built row boat, Salish Star. It looks like the first crew are all as determined to race as Inger is, so she entered the race on her own, drawing on her viking heritage to name her solo "team", Valhalla. To our surprise, she chose the PT 11 to do it in! At 11 feet, she cannot expect to be at the front of the fleet but the point of the 70/48, like the R2AK, is not to win, but to finish. (I did promise her favorite beer at the finish line) 😉
Inger is one of the finest canvas workers in the area and quite an athlete as well. Along with her regular training on the waters between Point Wilson and Port Hadlock (before and after work), we took a day to do a capsize/overboard drill. I think the practice meant a lot not only to Inger but also to her husband, Sean. It is always good to know you can get back into the boat! It was a good opportunity for me to take some video to share.
We are very excited for Inger. We admire her bravery and will be tracking her closely, guessing that the combination of her personality and the PT 11 will be interesting to follow in more ways than one. The 70/48 starts June 11th in Tacoma at 5 PM. Look for Team Valhalla while you are checking out the other boats on the tracker. We hope all of the teams have safe and fun passages amidst the "whirly burlies" and commercial traffic of Puget Sound.
June 24th, Ketchikan Alaska. Russell’s solo R2AK successfully completed for 2017 and together we began our return voyage on our G32 catamaran. I could have written a small book about the trip which got particularly interesting for us after our brand new motor totally toasted itself. A summary article can be read HERE.
18 days later, we crossed the Straights of Juan De Fuca, and arrived into Port Townsend a little after lunch. I get excited when I see Point Wilson and the waterfront of Port Townsend, but I felt ready for home only as it came into view. I could just as easily have kept going. This trip was one of being in the moment. I was where I was at that moment, soaking up the sights, sounds, smells, atmospheric pressure, and the wonder of it all. I loved it. We loved it, and we both really needed it.
Another 6 weeks have passed and I finally have a VIDEO put together just to give a sense of what cruising on the G32 looks like. I had wanted to finish the video sooner so that Meade Gougeon (who was declining only a week ago) could watch it but, sadly, he left us sooner than we expected and too soon altogether for all of us who admired and respected him.
So, here is the video.. Here is more detail about our trip...
More about Meade Gougeon’s influence on Russell personally here...
Above header photo shows best friends Jim Brown and Meade Gougeon enjoying a ride on Jzerro..
from Russell Brown;
West System epoxies and the Gougeon brother’s work has had a big effect on my life. I have admired both Meade and Jan since I was 13 years old and I would say that no one but my parents have affected or influenced me more than Meade and Jan. Through them I developed good epoxy skills that gave me a livelihood, a creative outlet, and an identity.
I think that in many ways Meade is best represented by the company that he founded. Doing one’s absolute best seems to be the way of operating at WEST SYSTEM Inc., no matter how much work is involved. In their case, this is true to the point of wondering just where that kind of ethic came from. I think that a good part of it came from Mead.
Developing and sharing a new technology must have been exciting for the Gougeon’s, but a responsibility too. The way that Meade and his family and friends went about this task made learning the technology exciting, but it also showed a better way that went well beyond boat building and epoxy.
Continually improving the products, sharing the technology, being honest about the compromises, and providing good support for people using the products is how the company has been run for almost half a century. I know of no other company that has taken this approach to such an extreme and it has influenced me greatly in both how I approach my work and how I run my business.
Wood/epoxy boats have been Mead’s passion since his beginning with epoxy and it has been a passion that he passed on to so many of us, myself included.
Mead’s own boat, Adagio, is a 35 foot trimaran that he designed and built in 1970. Adagio has been continually raced for 47 years and weighs just 2700 pounds ready to race. If that’s not a testament to the technology that they developed, I don’t know what is.
I’ll miss Mead, even if I never knew him well. Mostly I’ll miss watching what he is going to do next.
“...a bit of a blur” is the first thing Russell says about his Race to Alaska experience. It was also, interesting, fun, and educational. Educational because he started the race with one big concern; that he did not know the boat well enough. To him, that was the only really "crazy" thing about his entry. Leading up to the race, he had been changing and rebuilding many things including an entirely new rig, built from a naked carbon spar up. He made changes to some of the basic systems; steering, rigging, of course, plus new pedal drive, electrical, and, well, the list is long. WEST SYSTEM INC sponsored the boat with a new set of sails designed for the new rig. By the time the race started, Russell had only one overnight shakedown and a mere number of hours with the new rig and sails. Before the rebuild, we had sailed the boat a few times but never far.
“750” miles (as the crow flies) is one way to get to know a boat. On the first day he learned that even though the pedal drive worked well and pushed this 32ft catamaran around 3 knots, fighting current and tide rips was a rather painful misery and could be dangerous to one’s well being, especially when trying to avoid a reef. On the second day, light winds and confused seas shook the crap out of the rig and crew, exhausting to the point of realizing that pushing too hard was not worth destroying the boat or its captain. He had almost caught up to the lead boats at the end of the second day but it was then he decided to back off. The goal was to survive and make it to Ketchikan in tact. “Regrets’? Mostly that he left False Bay too late and missed 2 ‘gates’ through Seymour Narrows, the second of which was simply too dark with cruise ship traffic, heavy rain, and hazards not worth risking. Had he not missed the tide, he could have kept a smaller margin between himself and the leading boats.
During the rest of the trip, Russell was focused on keeping the boat upright, avoiding logs, making miles, maintaining things on board, and getting rest at night so that he was actually having fun.
Fun, is a keyword here. "It is the most fun race course ever". Tactically, visually, Canada’s nature, other racers, all make it awesome. What us 'armchair racers' could not deduce, and may never fully grasp from the tracker, were the conditions that the racers were dealing with, but the leap frog happening that first week, made me smile. I, for one, grumbled watching other boats pass Russell as he rested at night, only to cheer as he passed most of them the next day. When he saw those boats, he steered close to them to say hi.
He passed Team North to Alaska twice and was really impressed by their crew. Teams West Coast Wild Ones and Triceratops impressed him too. Seeing young people doing such a cool thing as the R2AK really struck him as positively significant in our digitally monopolized world.
His ‘nemesis’ of sorts was Roger Mann; the man and record to beat. Roger was in motion a lot more hours than Russell was and he let Russell know that he felt the need to push harder knowing he had competition. Roger finished only 7 hours after Russell and his personal experience was quite literally, mind boggling. Russell finished almost 4 days ahead of the standing solo record, previously set by Roger Mann in 2015.
Unlike a lot of the boats, Russell did not have connectivity to Facebook or the tracker. Being inclined to 'hermit-hood', “it was a good thing” he was not aware of how many people were actually following him on the tracker. Beyond visuals, he had no idea where other boats were or who was ahead of or behind him. VHF weather was his primary source and with updates just twice a day, gales predicted early, sometimes petered out. He sought protected anchorages, at least once, miles out of his way, only to discover the predictions had changed. Then he had miles to make up in the morning with barely any wind and contrary current.
Places to anchor with shallow enough water exist on the course but it required planning ahead and sometimes stopping early to use them. Mostly a paper chart kind of guy, Russell also made good use of the Navionics charts I downloaded onto an old iPad. It turned out to be a good tool though we question its tide information. Even when the Navionics claimed positive current, the GPS showed 1.5 - 2.5 knots contrary. This fact highlights the very real nuances of water flow along this course.
Russell is not a confident videographer but he did manage to take some good clips. He even tried once to narrate but the audio is overrun by wind noise. After a particularly fast and wet day, he set the camera up facing himself to chug his satisfied last sip of beer. He launched into Dixon Entrance the following day, sailing into Thomas Basin, Ketchikan, at the polite time of cocktail hour after an intense crossing of well over 100 miles. His reward: beer, cheer, and big hug from me. He had asked me to wait until he passed Bella Bella before buying my ticket to Ketchikan, which I stressed about but did, and barely arrived less than 2 hours before he did. Whew!
I put together a Video HERE and one of our return voyage will follow in a few weeks.
Many thanks again to WEST SYSTEM and other sponsors/contributors listed below. Also many thanks to Ole in Ketchikan, and all of the great people at the Ketchikan Yacht Club (more about their greatness later). Race Boss and all the racer greeters- thank you so much for being there.
As a final (or not) note: in Ketchikan, Russell declared that doing the R2AK once was enough. Three weeks later, as we crossed the Straights of Juan De Fuca toward home, he was musing about what he would do different next time... Parents out there, does that sound familiar? as in childbirth syndrome? I now think I know how partners must feel sometimes... both dread and excitement at the thought of a repeat performance. We will keep you posted.
Video and blog post about our trip home coming soon...
We have shadowed leg one of this race for it’s first 2 years and we have mused on what it would be like to participate. Well, now we know and are still as excited by it as ever. Russell always understood what was needed to enter such a race. Ignorant me had no idea, only enthusiasm! He has worked for months without time off to get the boat ready and to meet sponsorship expectations. We might never have entered had it not been for the encouragement of WEST SYSTEM Epoxy CEO Alan Gurski and founder Meade Gougeon. They were the first to say 'do it!' and offered to sponsor us with some new North sails.
At the time of this writing, Russell is at the north end of Johnstone Straits hunkered down while the wind screams out of the SE. Had either of us been more tech saavy, we could have been updating all along as some of the other boats do but the SPOT tracker will have to suffice. Gougeon Brothers designed and built our boat, Incognito, and we hope to make them proud.
Russell has had a few challenges along the way already. Starting with a rigging crisis that had gone un-noticed until June7th, the day before the start. It was in Victoria, after almost 10 times lowering the mast and later shimmy-ing up to check, that the issue was resolved satisfactorily. The first day out of Victoria, he lost his preferred pedal drive prop and prop nut. He had a spare and continued with that. He had a close call with the reef off East Point Saturna, battling current, pedaling "for my life!" as he put it. Being conservative with words by nature, I imagine it was pretty darn scary for him. Mixed chop made life uncomfortable up to Nanaimo and at Seymore Narrows, he chose not to go through at night and to do some precautionary repairs on the pedal drive instead. The boat clearly likes to move as portrayed by the tracker as he would catch up in the day to many of the multi crewed boats that passed him in the night.
I want to thank our talented old friends & talented new friends who have contributed custom parts, innovative equipment, rigging, problem solving, and general advice. Not all have websites but I will share as many links as I can here;
Depending on when Russell makes it to Ketchikan or any point between, I will meet him to sail the boat home, at a cruiser's pace, of course. We will be closed until our return sometime mid-ish, July. 😉 AEB