‘As long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail’

12 09 2017

EUGENE, Ore. – A heat wave in the Willamette Valley means excellent weather for sailing at Fern Ridge Reservoir in Eugene.

About a dozen students completed their week-long youth training course Friday afternoon.


The classes are offered by the City of Eugene’s River House Center every summer.

“They can steer a boat, they can trim a sail, they can dock and undock. They know how to beach a boat,” said instructor Connor Shirk.

The classes are not just offered for middle and high school students. Adults are also encouraged to participate with weeknight and weekend classes.

“The main difference is that the adult classes all take place on the big boats,” said Shirk.


Youth courses start on smaller boats, referred to as dinghies. The skills are easily transferable to larger boats.

“The worst thing that can happen in the small boats is that they flip. But, then you flip them right back up. Adults don’t like that quite as much,” added Shirk.

They leave daily from the River house at 9 a.m. and return at 4:30 p.m.

Participants say the best part is that anyone can join.

“In things like gymnastics, it’s hard to do if you’re not flexible or if you don’t know certain things. With boats, as long as you have two hands and you can see, you’re pretty much ready to sail,” said Nina Persins.

The youth camp continues for one more week, with a cost of $265.

There are scholarships available to help bring the cost down.

The adult classes continue until October.

For more information, click here.

Original article and video can be found at: http://nbc16.com/news/local/as-long-as-you-have-two-hands-and-you-can-see-youre-pretty-much-ready-to-sail

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Dog Water Sport Gear List

6 04 2017

written by: @lifewithmutts

Original Article Here

Spring is here! It’s really starting to warm up in the South and for our pack that means we’re heading back out on the water. Time to dust off the cobwebs on the kayaks and stand up paddle board that have been sitting idly in the garage all winter.

For those of you who have never tried a water sport with your pup, you may have questions about what kind of gear you need. After years of kayaking and SUPing with my dogs, I have a pretty solid list in my head of what I need when we pack up and head to the lake or the river.

Here are our must-have items:


 **Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that if you buy one of the suggested products using the links provided,  we will make a few cents to help keep our blog up and running, at no cost to you.

1. Watercraft (Kayak, SUP, Canoe)

Obviously in order to spent time ON the water, you need some sort of watercraft. Our favorites are kayaks and stand up paddle boards. You don’t have to go out and purchase an expensive kayak or board to try the sport though. Canoe and kayak rentals have always been pretty abundant, but as the sport of SUP continues to grow, there are now a good amount of options to rent them too, many of which are dog friendly. Just make sure you call ahead and let them know that you’re bringing your furry friend!

(Also, don’t forget your paddle. Sounds like a no-brainer, but believe me it happens!)

2. Life Jackets

If you’ve ever rented a kayak or even canoed at scout camp as a kid, bringing a life jacket for yourself when you’re on the water is probably a no-brainer. In fact, many towns and parks mandate that you wear a life jacket on the water, or at least have one with you on your boat/board. But what about your dog? Even if your dog is a great swimmer, if they are new to water sports, they may fall in accidentally and be caught off guard. Better safe than sorry! My dogs can swim and are paddle pros, but I always make sure they’re wearing a life jacket when we kayak and SUP, just in case.

For the last year, we have been using Alcott Mariner Life Jackets,which are a super affordable option at only $26.99. You can read our review here. We are now testing out the new Hurtta Life Savior, which is a more premium jacket. We will post a full review for that shortly as well. (So far we absolutely love them too!)

3. Floating Lead

Another safety precaution that you may want to consider is a floating lead. We always bring one on trips down the river or for open-water paddles, anywhere that has a current or that may be choppy. Even good swimmers can get in over their head in choppy conditions or fast-moving water, making a safety line a really great idea. This will allow you to grab your dog if they fall in the water or swim too far away and get stuck in the current.

Look for a floating lead with a carabiner hook on the end, so you can hook and unhook your dog easily. Never tie a rope to your dog’s collar! If they get tangled on a fallen limb or if the rope gets wrapped around theirs legs, this could be a dangerous situation. You need something that you can detach easily. Also, never use a regular leash or long line that. If you use something that doesn’t float, it adds extra weight as well as increases the chance of your dog stuck on something as the leash drags behind them underwater. We use this 20-foot floating lead from Sport Lines.

4. Water

This is one of those things that may sound like common sense, but it’s easy to forget to bring water when your’e going TO the water. Bring enough for yourself AND your dog(s).  Dogs get hot and dehydrate quickly when you’re out in the middle of a lake, river, or ocean with no shade and sun reflecting off the water.

5. Collapsible Dog Bowl

Don’t forget a dog bowl too! Bringing water for your pup is pretty useless if you end up wasting half of it trying to use your hand as a bowl! We use this small collapsible silicone bowl from Dexas. It ‘s small and lightweight and can be clipped onto your board or kayak with the attached carabiner.

6. Dry Bag or Dry Box

It’s always smart to keep a phone on you in case of emergencies… if you get lost or stranded, injured, etc, it’s important to have a way to tell people where you are. BUT phones are expensive and most of them do not do well when wet, so it’s important to bring a dry bag or a dry box to keep your phone, keys, and any other personal items dry and secure. I picked up this inexpensive dry box a few years ago for under 10 dollars and it’s still going strong. For longer paddles or when I want to bring more than just a phone and keys (snacks, money, dog treats, camera, etc) I use this dry bag from H2Zero.

7. Waterproof Camera or Phone Case

Spending time with your dog on the water is fun. It’s an activity that is sure to make some great memories. Be sure to bring either a waterproof camera like a GoPro or for a cheaper option, pick up a universal waterproof phone case to keep your phone dry so you can capture the highlights!

8. Snacks & Treats

Paddling is a great workout for you and your pup. Bring high-protein snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep your energy up. Don’t forget treats for your pup too! They need energy just like we do, and they’re also great for training if your dog is new to water sports!

9. Cheap Sunglasses & Flip-flops

You will lose them. Maybe not today, but someday, and you will thank me. Leave the Ray-Bans and Rainbow sandals at home and grab no-name brand shades and shoes, just in case. You’ll care a LITTLE less if they float away (or sink).

Fun extras:

In addition to our must-haves, here are some other ideas to make your day on the water even more fun. A fetch toy that floats is great way to keep your dog entertained while burning off some of their energy! The Ruffwear Lunker is a floating toy that is sure to be a big hit with your water-loving pup. You can also bring a small cooler and find a cute little beach or riverbank to pull off and have a picnic. Also, don’t forget sunscreen! Remember that you aren’t only getting the rays from the sun directly, but also reflecting back at you off the water.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to stay safe and have fun with your pup!

Want to SUP or Kayak with your pup but don’t know where to start? Check out our “SUP with your PUP” post.

Do you have other gear that you bring on the water with your dog or questions about the gear we use?

Thanks for reading!

Debbie & Roxie

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Bike Theft- A Eugene Tradition

14 01 2016

As you may already know, Eugene is known for bike theft.  We have all either had or know someone that has had an entire bike or pieces of a bike stolen.  It’s learned quickly a cable lock is as effective as a zip tie, and even a u-lock can be broken if given enough time alone to work.  Below is a listing of the top 10 highest reported bike theft spots for 2015.  Info from webikeeugene.org via the Eugene Police Commission.

Never take your bike’s safety for granted.  Use a U-lock.  Park in well-lit areas.  Don’t leave accessories on the bike.  Lock your wheels. Know your serial # and register your bike. (register your bike).

  • South Eugene High School (34 reported thefts)
  • Eugene Public Library (24)
  • Capstone Apartments (17)
  • Stadium Park Apartments, 90 Commons Drive (16)
  • 5th Street Public Market, 296 E. Fifth Ave. (15)
  • Ducks Village, 3224 Kinsrow Ave. (14)
  • YMCA, 2055 Patterson St. (14)
  • Wal-mart, 4550 W. 11th Ave. (10)
  • Parkside Apartments, 4075 Aerial Way (10)
  • Spencer View Apartments, 2250 Patterson St. (10)

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Nature Rx (Part 1)

1 12 2015

This is the first video in a  series which is meant to bring awareness that spending more time in nature improves your health, well-being and leads to making better environmental decisions.

From Nature Rx’s facebook page:

“Tired, irritable, stressed out? Try Nature! This non-harmful prescription is shown to relieve the crippling symptoms of modern life. Side effects may include confidence, authenticity, and being in a good mood for no apparent reason.”

Discover award-winning comedy, Nature Rx. Set in the world of a spoofed prescription drug commercial, Nature Rx is all about inspiring folks to explore and rediscover their love of the outdoors. Learn more at nature-rx.org – watch more funny videos, find out more about the many benefits of getting outside for you and the planet, and meet some of the community and folks behind Nature Rx.


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30 12 2014

My name is Melinda and I am the office manager here at the River House Outdoor Program.  Today I woke up to find the temperature outside to be 23 degrees.  It didn’t dawn on me to even get into my car to commute to work.  In fact, today and everyday it brings me happiness knowing that there is such an ease and delight to get onto my bike and pedal to work.  I enjoy all the curves, hills, straight roads, the familiar faces, the smiles I try to put on people’s faces, and being able to use all five of my senses to jump start my day.  In Eugene you should always prepared to get wet.  But today, I was prepared to be cold.  I bike to work 80% of the year (4 out of 5 days) and very seldom have I had any challenges dealing with the weather. At the River House most of us are bike commuters.  So, I asked each one of the staff that biked to work today on how they prepared for today’s morning ride.  And here is what they had to say…

Zane, Melinda and Roger


This morning I was psyched that is was clear cold (24 degrees) and sunny.

I tucked my rain pants in my bike bag because well you know Oregon=winter=rain.

My ride is 25 minutes now and my hands often get cold so I layered a pair of goretex mittens over my gloves – toasty hands and no problem with the controls. I also wore my favorite hat that covers my ears and a lovingly made wool sweater under my bike jacket. I was plenty warm, too warm in fact by the time I got to work and stripped down to short sleeves until I cooled off. I thought about wearing sunglasses, have you ever had cold eyeballs, and wish I had but spaced them out at the last minute as I assembled my lunch.

And since I’ve been commuting in the rain a lot lately my chain is in need of a serious cleaning and lube-weekend project.

Hey – don’t forget your bike lights. Even though we are gaining a few minutes of daylight each day it’s plenty dark out there and drivers are still in the holiday mode and not exactly paying attention to cyclists.


Number 1 tip for cold weather riding.  Start off a little cold.  If you start hot, you will only get hotter.  Sweat builds up and you feel gross for the rest of the day.  Start cold and become comfortable after the first 5 minutes and stay comfortable.

On really cold days, glasses help keep your eyes from watering and a scarf is an easy piece to shed if you get too hot.  Just don’t let your scarf get caught in the spokes!


Morning Sunrise

Since I have such a cold downhill ride, I like to keep the part above my shoulders warm.  The wind can be brutal on my ears and eyes. I wear a balaclava under my helmet that covers everything but my eyes. I also wear a fleece neck gaiter over for that for added warmth.  I use the four layer (silk tank, sweater, primaloft vest, and rain jacket) approach when it comes to my torso area.  And for my legs I wear tights and a fleece skirt (http://fleeceskirts.com/).  The fleece skirts are custom made here in Eugene and are super comfy. And I recommend them not for just biking in but for skiing, reading by the fire or taking your dogs for an evening walk. My hands stay warm in my fleece lined mittens. Today’s early morning ride was exceptionally bright.  And I was happy to ride into the sunrise with my sunglasses.  Since there is the challenge of different light conditions during this time of year, I like to have interchangeable lenses that change with what time of day I arrive and leave to work.  Lately, my lighter-colored lenses have remained on my sunglasses; they help to enhance contrast when it is cloudy and on my dusk bike ride home.

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Twelve Knots

24 10 2014

10389432_10202672861484656_7750732251834450159_nPassage AKA The Boot and Rally

Written by Halle Shirk/ Published on September 30, 2014

What a crazy time. I have to admit, I’m writing this from the safe harbor of Borneo. I had hoped to be able to write to you all every day of passage, but as I’m sure you’ll read, nothing is as you expect on Passage.

This is the story of a girl who got in way over her head (in too many ways), sailed through a storm, became a shellback, saw the deepest darks, fell into a new world, and was humbled by the ocean.

But I suppose I should start at the beginning.

We left Singapore’s fuel dock at about 10:30am and Captain Chris deftly navigated the impossibly busy port where we were cleared by customs. In every direction I looked there were at least 20 barges and dozens of little scows drifting through the mist. The customs guys came by and we all stood at attention at the rail of Argo as they called out our names. Passports were passed ship to ship with a fishing net on a pole, and before long we were cleared to leave port.

We immediately fell into our watch teams and the rhythm of passage life had begun. And with the rhythm of passage came the rhythm of the boat… I’ll leave it to you to check out the video I’ll post of the waves crashing over our bow for a description of the milder rocking and rolling we encountered. At first it was all exhilarating. I was up on the bow staring out at the open ocean before me and a flying fish shot out of the water, skipped a few paces in front of Argo, and disappeared again under the blue. We were finally, finally off the dock! Before dinner, we had our first showers at sea. Everyone got into swimsuits and brought towels and shampoo on deck. Amidst the rocking and rollicking of the ship, we danced under a hose that pumped salt water over our heads, suds up, rinsed in the salty sea, and washed away the salt with a bit of fresh water from our precious store. Old sailors used to call fresh water sweet water. I finally understand why.

At dinner everyone gathered around the cockpit for squeeze (have I mentioned this yet? Squeeze is where you all hold hands, the skipper asks a question like “What is your favorite dinosaur, and what sound do you think it made?” Then the question gets passed around the circle by a squeeze of the hand). We held our cups and bowls carefully and got to know each other more. Everyone was excited to be going somewhere and even though a few people were apprehensive of sea-sickness, everyone was in good spirits. I had on my first scopolamine patch to try to ease myself into passage life as per the suggestion of our Captain. I was particularly excited because as a member of Watch Team 1, I would be standing the midnight to four o’clock watch. The first night watch at sea! I was looking forward to seeing the stars of the southern hemisphere (and was surprised when I noticed a few familiar faces – Orion, Cassiopeia, Cygnus) and sitting on bow watch.

I had no idea how exciting that first bow watch would be! I was perched on starboard side when I first saw it… a bioluminescent glow floating near the boat. And then another, and another! They looked like ghosts. Now, I had been warned about bioluminescence and was looking forward to seeing it; I was excited to have spotted some so soon until I realized that these glowing areas were coming at regular intervals of about ten feet. I scampered back to the cockpit (clipped in to Jack lines*, don’t worry! *cables that run the length of the boat, extra security for night watches) and shouted to Nick, my watch leader, “floats off starboard bow!” At first, we looked around and couldn’t see a thing. I told him that all I could make out was bioluminescence, but that I was sure it was man-made – nothing comes that regularly in the ocean.

Captain Chris popped up to have a look about, but after none of us could spot them again, I went back to bow watch wondering if my Mefloquin (malaria pills) were finally coming through on the hallucinations they warned about. But not fifteen minutes later, there it was again! And this time, my Port side bow watch saw it too. “Floats dead ahead!” we called, and Nick threw Argo into neutral. We got out spot lights and scanned the water. White water bottles shimmered in long lines twisting around Argo’s bow. We had stumbled upon a (most likely illegal) fishing net that was unlit and stretched on for hundreds of feet. With Argo in full reverse, we skirted the long line of white bottles and let out our breaths. Not only could we make some fishermen supremely angry by hitting their nets with our propeller, we were not eager to begin cutting the nets off on our first night of passage.

Unfortunately, during my four hour watch, we encountered at least six or seven more nets. Each time they were only a mere glimmer in the water, spotted once we were already on top of them. Thankfully Argo made her way gliding across them in neutral without any trouble. When I asked Chris why they didn’t just put lights on them he said, “Welcome to East Asia.” Which reminded me of another saying I was told when encountering some of my first major culture shock, “TIA: This is Africa.” Like TIA, I needed to remember that I was somewhere different where my sensibilities about fishing floats and lighting had no bearing.

When four o’clock rolled around, we passed the next watch off to Watch Team 2 and went to bed. Argo was carried safely through the night, managing to avoid any further encounters with fishing gear. The next day I was awakened at 8am by a friendly jostle, “we’re crossing the equator, come up on deck!” I hadn’t realized it would be so soon out of port that we would cross! I grabbed the poem that I posted for you all at the beginning of this blog and rolled it up. When I got up on deck, everyone was gathered around the cockpit nav station counting down the minutes as we edged closer to the great belt of the Earth. In an instant, beneath a shining sun and stunning seas, we were shellbacks (*sailor’s term for someone who has crossed the equator on a boat). I tossed the poem to the sea and then got in line to make my contribution to Neptune.

A note, a cheer, and a pair of clippers to my ear.

Yes Mom, sorry, I cut my hair. It’s quite short. I don’t suppose I meant for it to get as short as it did, but when the razor first struck there was no going back. Ah well, I like it, and I’ll like it even better when it grows out a bit more. Four girls and four guys cut our hair and threw it into the sea behind Argo. I have no idea where or when this tradition started, but I do know that whomever thought of it knew a thing or two about sea showers. I had thought that long hair would be nicer for ocean passages because I’d be able to put it back and keep it out of the way, whereas shorter hair only looked good if I could blow it dry (hint: no hair dryers on Argo). But I had forgotten to consider a degree of hair the razor reminded me of. No hair – no care! I’m not bald, haha, just very short of hair. I have to remember to put sunscreen on for a little while so I don’t burn too badly beneath the hot equator sun, but so far, so great.

The rest of our Shellback Day was spent taking classes, Marine Biology and Oceanography. I spent the time sitting on the floor as the waves had finally woken up the landlubber in me and despite my scopolamine patch I was a little green in the gills. Later that day I learned the hard way not to sleep on my back in the Foc’sle. But other than that mild case, and a diminished appetite for the Bolognese dinner, I felt fine. Watch was far less exciting on the second night of passage, which I was grateful for. Instead I learned to steer Argo and take the rounds of boat-check (my least favorite of the watch duties as I have to climb into the hot and stuffy engine room). The waves were crashing over Argo’s bow with serious ferocity, but she cut through them like she was born to do it.

However, with boats, something unexpected always happens. In the morning Captain Chris was called up on deck when it was discovered that not only had one of our two freshwater tanks been completely drained without the newly installed alarms going off, but the anchor locker (a compartment that shares a wall with the forward most wall of my bedroom, the foc’sle) had completely filled with the missing water. We had no choice but to drain it through the bilges. Argo went on water conservation mode while we turned our water-makers on. The water makers which use a process of reverse osmosis could provide us with plenty of water for our five day passage, but we hadn’t anticipated using them so soon. Further disturbing was that the anchor locker seemed to have a mixture of fresh water and salt water filling it to the brim. It would take us another day or two to realize that the locker was repeatedly filling with sea water due to a faulty design in the windlass drain passages (*windlass – a winch used specifically to raise and lower the 300lb anchor) a fault we hope to address while we are in Borneo. For the time being, it meant draining the locker chamber every 2 hours.

Now for those of you who are wondering what in the world I’m doing on a boat that breaks so much, let me tell you that this is nothing to be worried about. Argo is a steadfast boat that is built to last. She just underwent a $600,000.00 refit in her home Marina in Singapore and we were simply working out a few bugs that had yet to be addressed. Bryant, one of our staff, said that he wished that she had encountered more foul weather on her way to pick us up so that they could have had more of these minor repairs out of the way, but he and the other staff know this boat inside and out. They can repair her land or sea.

Day three of passage was beginning to blend into the other hours. All I knew was where I was supposed to be at the time. On watch. In class. In bed. Eating. On watch. Wash, rinse, repeat. I was still feeling queasy, and was beginning to wonder if I would have been better off staying on land where my stomach clearly belonged. But day four of Passage, my first day without Scopolamine (a 3 day patch) found me in high spirits. I felt great! The weather was blowing well over 20 knots (*knots – nautical measurement of speed), and we had three sails up to help the motor power upwind. I had learned to wedge myself into my bunk at night so I wouldn’t go rolling around the foc’sle, and I felt ready for anything the Ocean could throw at me.

I worked as a dryer for the dish crew, took notes during our professional sailing course for the 200 ton Captain’s license ::side note:: Due to the expense of taking the 5 day practical exam within the first year of taking the Theory Exam for this license (which I have the potential to take aboard Argo), and the further expenses that accumulate if I cannot schedule the exam within a year, I have decided to audit the class (it’s not one that gives me school credit anyway) and take as many notes as possible. That way, if I do decide to take the Exam later, the Theory test will only be review. :: ::

A class on navigation, showers, dinner, and watches rounded out day 4. I spent my evening with my new friend Camilla who is from Germany. Camilla was having a bad day. She felt sea sick, home sick, and was worried that Argo wouldn’t make a successful crossing – that we would die out on the ocean. I have to admit, there is always that chance, but there is such a chance in anything we do in life. I sat with Camilla and hugged her as she cried. We talked long into the night about her boyfriend Felix which helped her keep her mind off her stomach and her fears. Camilla wasn’t the only one to be worried about life at passage. My mind had doubts that were creeping in too. On day five they found me.

Day five of passage was the day we were supposed to arrive in Borneo. I woke up excited to cry, “land ho!” as the first grey sliver of land slid into view, but instead I got the news that we were at least a day behind schedule. The wind, the fishing gear, the squalls, had all set us back, and with each hour we lost in forward momentum, more time was added to passage. That morning we were also told a fact that none of us were aware of when we signed up for this voyage.

60 out of our 90 days of SeaMester will be at sea.

This is the part where I want to tell you I kept a stiff upper lip and embraced the sailor within me. But I want this blog to be a real record of my time out here, and that’s not what happened.

Those doubts about my place aboard Argo that Camilla had had the night before took hold of me. I was sick to my stomach, the boat was pitching back and forth with a ferocity new to her, it was raining, and I felt like crap. I felt stupid because I thought I was supposed to like passage. Some parts I liked, but some parts (especially the being sick part) I hated. My Mother had warned me that there would be parts I liked and parts I didn’t like – I knew that coming into this and was prepared to just deal with the things I didn’t like as an adult. But ocean passage, this time that was going to be not just over half, but the reasonable majority of my trip, was something I was supposed to like! I have been sailing since I was 6 years old, sailing is a part of my blood, so what was wrong with me?

Slowly I began to wonder if I would have been better off at home. I thought about my family and my friends and how much I missed them. I thought about the next 55 days of passage I would have to endure and felt even worse. I missed my roommates and my wonderful home with them. I missed not feeling sick. I felt gypped that my one good day at sea had not been a sign of overcoming sea sickness. But most of all, I felt stupid for thinking that crossing an ocean would be something that I would like. Instead it all felt like one of those “character building experiences” from your Dad. I didn’t want a character building experience. I wanted an adventure! I wanted to love the ocean and all its fury. Instead, I just felt small and ill and homesick. And to top everything off? My job that day was Headmaster. At some point during my misery I had to go down below and scrub clean all four properly disgusting bathrooms.

Everyone I talked to on the staff told me that it would get better, that being sea sick was mostly mental, and that I didn’t have to love ocean passage to love sailing. I was in my bunk before dinner wishing I could call home, or text my friends, or even just open my bible (which I had forgotten at home) when I decided that I felt an awful lot like Moses must have felt as he was walking through the Red Sea. I had to laugh when I remembered that the nine months since I had signed up for this voyage, our Pastor back in Eugene had been teaching his way through the book of Exodus. I was going through an Exodus of my own.

This trip finds me at a crazy place in my life. I am leaving behind traditional school, trying to get into graduate school, trying to find a full time job, moving out of my wonderful home with my friends and into my parent’s home until I can stand on my own two feet. In short, I’m taking the leap into being an Adult. I think I wanted this trip to test myself and see if I could handle something wild and difficult.

I was kneeling with my bead over the side of the boat when I realized how stupid I had been. I was homesick for a place I couldn’t go back to (my place with my lovely roommates), I’d be able to talk to my family soon and I knew that they loved me, and there was no big rule book in the sky saying I had to like anything about Ocean Passage at all. I am a firm believer that when the chips are down you have two choices in life: Laugh or Cry.

Well, I’d already done some crying, so I decided it was time to switch teams.

I think I probably looked a little crazy, but in that moment something in me flipped a switch. I was mad at the Ocean for making me sick and I was going to take that anger and harness it for productive energy. I threw up over the side and marched down below to clean the heads. I threw on my headphones, a bandanna over my face *bathrooms used by 30 people really reek* and got to work. There’s a song by Mercy Me that was blasting through my headphones and my heart while I worked:

“Last One Standing”

“Don’t you count me out cause I’ve fallen, out cause I’ve fallen down

I have landed down on my knees, oh down on my knees again

This is where I find the strength to carry on, this is where I find the strength to stand”

I went back up half way through cleaning the heads to throw up again, the “boot and rally” as it’s called here. When the last head was done, I knelt back down at the side of the boat, now officially Queen of the Boot and Rally. I was on watch for the next four hours, but instead of feeling miserable I smiled. I had fallen down to my knees before the mighty ocean, but I had found the strength to stand. I looked down at the waves and the bioluminescence glowing like the stars that littered the sky above me and laughed. I might be tiny and miserable and insignificant, but I had finally realized what Moses must have had to have realized as he walked through the walls of water towering above him:

My God is Bigger than the ocean. Whatever it throws at me, even death can’t beat the Crazy Universe Creating Wonder I have in my corner. A sense of peace came over me and after throwing up one more time, I sat back for watch and ate an apple or two. (The first real food I’d kept down all day).

I didn’t intend to make this blog into a preaching platform. I think there are more mysteries to this Universe than we’ll ever discover. I believe that whatever you believe or don’t believe doesn’t really matter. In the end we all find our own ways to Peace. I have found my Peace on my knees, throwing up after cleaning bathrooms in the middle of the South China Sea. Life’s funny that way sometimes.

I don’t expect to love passage as much as I thought I would at first, but I do expect that it will grow on me. I’m sure I’ll be sick again, and I’m even more sure that I’ll circle back around to doubts and fear. But I’m absolutely certain that I am not going to be afraid of the ocean anymore.

The rest of watch I spent cozied up close with my watch mates in the cockpit. We told scary ghost stories as Argo strode into a lightning storm and a squall. Watch Team 3 had to take down her sails in the early morning to keep her on course and the lightning knocked out our radar for a bit. But this morning, with all hands on deck for Boat Appreciation *cleaning* Borneo slid into view. It’s a fascinating city nestled up the river. Today we anchored, let customs/immigration on board, and ate dinner. During dinner on deck we were absolutely MOBBED by flying ants. There were hundreds of thousands of them crawling all over the boat wherever our lights shone on the deck. They were in our food, our hair, and everywhere underfoot. Everyone got a serious case of the heebie jeebies so we moved dishes downstairs and spent the better part of the evening swatting the buggers and cleaning them up with dustpans.

Tonight a tour guide from the Orangutan reserve we’ll visit tomorrow (overnight) came to talk to us about the trip. We’ll get to see Orangutans at 3 different stations, plant a tree, see giant crocodiles, even bigger tarantulas (not really bigger than a croc I guess, but they are called Bird eating Spiders), Proboscis monkeys, and fireflies that light up trees like its Christmas. I can’t wait for tomorrow, but my favorite part of today was sitting on top of the charthouse looking at Borneo. The town we’re next to, Kumai, has two Mosques that chanted out the call to prayer tonight. It was stunningly beautiful. I got a video of it that I hope to upload for you soon. There is something ancient and foreign and wonderful about this place. It’s the first time I’ve felt that I was truly away from anything Western, and I love it.

Anyway, I’m up super late writing this and I have the 4am to 5am anchor watch, so I should get back to sleep. More about the Orangutans soon. I plan to keep this blog as honest as I can. The good, the bad, and the Boot and Rally. As always, so much love to everyone back home. I miss you all, and can’t wait to skype or chat with you. No wifi in Borneo, but I’ll think of something soon. Love love love!

Original source of the post: http://www.twelve-knots.com/#!Passage-AKA-The-Boot-and-Rally/c55p/0C744507-2A1A-45C1-A340-425C4B7FFBBC

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Ultimate senior project: the custom kayak

17 10 2014

Engineer and whitewater paddler Quinn Connell’s quest to build his own freestyle kayak

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