• 12th May 2010 - By greg

    Photo by Jeff Bassett for the Globe and Mail


    First of all, I would like to thank you personally for everything that you have contributed to make the worlds first human powered journey from Canada to Hawaii a possibility. There is no way I would be as close to making this happen without your support and I want you to know that I am deeply appreciative. I am passionate about inspiring the world to start thinking about human power as  fun, healthy and a viable way to travel – in fact – I believe that it is the way we need to LIVE! I am also hoping to demonstrate that we can really accomplish amazing things when we step up to the plate and just go for them. Believe you can do it – because you can! As Goethe says: “What you can do, or believe you can do begin it. For boldness has genius, power and magic in it”.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be any genius, power or magic this summer, as recent difficulties during my two primary sea trial expeditions in Ucluelet and on Okanagan lake uncovered some design issues with WiTHiN that require time, effort and testing to resolve. For weather and support boat related issues, our departure window is the first week of July, and I just don’t have enough time to resolve these issues and conduct adequate tests in the 6 weeks that remain between now and my departure window of July 1st. Ken has taken a job doing hardwood floors, so he is unable to work, and I am afraid that I don’t have the skills and ability to complete the required modifications myself in such a short period of time.

    Fortunately, Clive and the escort yacht Theodora are available to accompany me to Hawaii next summer. I guess I need to sit down with Helen and my family and ask them if they can stand another year of this. I’m not sure I can take another year honestly. I was so ready to get it done this summer. However, I really believe in the awe-inspiring human powered capability of what we have created. WiTHiN is really quite an incredible machine! I am so proud of what we have built and I think that not doing something amazing with it would be a shame – and a waste of so much time, money and good will on the part of so many others who share this dream with me.

    I don’t want to let you down. And more importantly, I don’t want to let myself down. However, I also don’t want to die, and crossing an ocean in a small boat is serious business. After a furry of emails between myself, WiTHiN’s designer Rick Willoughby, Clive, Helen and other trusted advisers in an attempt to sort out some of the problem areas that need to be addressed, I uncovered an additional issue that hasn’t been obvious to me. I need more experience on the ocean. A few trips offshore lasting for a few hours (not days), a 4 day inland trip with Bryon, and a 4 day journey on Okanagan lake (even though I did endure a storm) just isn’t nearly enough time.

    Below is my Okanagan lake trials trip report, and following that is a list of 5 problem areas that need to be resolved before a safe ocean crossing can be attempted. As always, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, opinions or comments.

    Greg Kolodziejzyk


    Photo by Jeff Bassett for the Globe and Mail

    Photo by Jeff Bassett for the Globe and Mail

    Okanagan lake trials report:

    Ken and I left Calgary by 8:00 am on Sunday morning. We had packed WiTHiN onto the trailer the day before, and most of the gear was packed in the suburban to make her a bit lighter on the trailer. In my enthusiasm to resolve some of my control issues, I had forgotten to allow for a bit of bounce on the trailer when measuring the maximum depth we could make the new rudder. This was limited by the tongue on the trailer. So – of course, I made the rudder the full depth, from the tongue all the way up to the stern as the boat sat on the bunks without thinking. When we loaded her on, we realized that the new rudder was actually rubbing on the trailer tongue which was not good because the force from any small bump would be transferred up to the rudder tube and the stern. So, WiTHiN was shuffled back on the bunks by 18″ and the new rudder protruded down between the “Y” in the trailer frame. This set the balance aft on the trailer, but didn’t seem to be an issue during the 9 hour drive.

    We got into Penticton by late afternoon and drove directly to the yacht club and launched WiTHiN into Okanagan lake. The launch was the easiest to date. The ramp is steep enough that we didn’t need to add the 12 foot tongue extender to the trailer which typically takes quite a bit of additional work. Off loading was as easy as removing the ratchet straps and backing the trailer down the ramp where she just floated off and was tied to the dock.

    After loading all of the supplies on, I went for a quick spin to see how our modifications effected a couple of problem areas that learned about after the Ucluelet sea trials. On my last day offshore in Ucluelet, I was hit by 20 knot winds in 10 to 15 foot swells and was heeled over into my side at an angle of about 45 degrees. The wind was pressing against WiTHiN’s slab sides and causing her to stay in a broach orientation to the wind at a very extreme heel angle. I was unable to power or steer out of this position and was lucky to be blown into the entrance of the inlet rather than the rocky shore. When drifting, WiTHiN is supposed to automatically turn such that the bow points down wind. This is the safest orientation in either a head, tail or side wind situation and would always allow me control with the pedals and rudder. In the broached position, the rudder is at such a high angle, that is isn’t effective.

    After we had returned back to Calgary from the Ucluelet adventure, Rick thought that a larger, heavier rudder, and ballast shifting to the stern would move the center of lateral resistance aft which would allow the bow to swing to point downwind. He also calculated that a larger rudder would give me the control I needed to get out of any orientation that I didn’t want to be in. The third change we made was to add a second, 40 lb marine battery, and to mount both batteries on a sliding rail system with a car seat motor rack and pinion track to allow me to move the 80 lbs of ballast from right to left with the flick of a spring switch on my arm rest. Rick had calculated that a 45 degree heel angle could be offset with 100 lbs of weight shifted to the windward side. To test his ideas, I made a scale model of WiTHiN and did some tests in the bath tub which seemed to work.

    The first thing Ken did when we got WITHiN into the water, was sit in the cockpit seat and activate the battery ballast mover. We watched WiTHiN heel about 7 degrees from one side to the other as she sat stationary next to the dock. As I pedaled WiTHiN out past the break water at the Penticton Yacht Club, I was at first very happy with the new rudder. Boy, this baby had authority. Ken and I nick-named it “the Boss” and it was earning it’s nickname. I found that I could use the rudder to rock WiTHiN 45 degrees from one side to the other like a pendulum. The winds were light and I was happy to notice that when allowed to drift, she would cock downwind, so our recent mods looked good so far.

    One of the reasons for this tour up and down Okanagan lake was to spend some training time in WiTHiN and get accustomed to living on board – which includes cooking, and sleeping. So, I slept in the cabin of WiTHiN docked at the Penticton Yacht club on Sunday night (May 2nd) in order to get an early start the next morning. Before going to sleep, I called Helen and she looked up the weather forecast for the next day. I was a bit startled to learn about a severe weather alert with winds predicted to be 50 km / hr and gusts up to 90 km / hr. I figured that this would be a good test, so I was sort of looking forward to it.

    I woke up at 4:30 am on May 3rd and I was pedaling WiTHiN out of the Penticton Yacht club by 5:00 am in the dark. According to historical weather data from Weatherunderground.com, wind at the time was 18 knots from the south with gusts of 24 knots (all weather data in this report is from Weatherunderground.com). Since Penticton is at the far south end of Okanagan lake, there is not enough distance for significant waves to develop with a south wind, so the water was a bit choppy, but relatively calm. I had the wind at my back and was averaging about 3.8 knots.

    By 6:00 am, the following waves were starting to grow to maybe 2 feet. Winds were 21 knots with gusts of 28 knots from the south. I measured a maximum wind of 17 knots with my anemometer, and so far, so good. I stopped to drift and make some breakfast and a coffee and noticed right away that WiTHiN immediately turned abeam the wind and stayed there. This is not good, as our modifications were supposed to keep her bow pointed downwind when drifting. In the light winds and calm water of the previous evening, she was turning downwind, but in this moderate breeze with waves, she was behaving exactly like she did in Ucluelet. While drifting abeam to the wind, WiTHiN heeled over, so I was able to use the battery ballast mover to trim the heel out which worked quite well. In fact, as I moved on, I used the battery ballast mover constantly to adjust for my angle to the wind and to level the ride.

    By 7:43 am I was abeam the town of Summerland and winds were 24 knots with gusts of 37 knots, but I measured winds of 10 knots with my anemometer at the time. Waves were bigger and WiTHiN was starting to roll back and fourth from one side to the other in the tail wind. I decided to conduct some drift tests. I deployed my drogue off the stern and observed that my bow turned to point downwind which was good. Drifting speed without the drogue and WiTHiN abeam the wind was .8 knots. Drifting speed with the drogue deployed and with the bow pointed downwind was .5 knots. Pedaling straight into the wind was 3.2 knots. Pedaling straight downwind was 3.8 knots.

    At 9:00 am the weather calmed a bit and I thought the morning severe weather alert was over (an afternoon wind alert was still in effect). A police boat pulled up on me and asked if I was OK. Eventually, someone called the police reporting a boater in distress. I told the police that I had not seen another boat on the water that day, and that I was fine. I had been stopping often, standing up and holding my wind gauge up in the air, so someone from one of the near-by homes could have mistaken that for a signal that I was in distress.

    At 10:25 am I was approaching the first major turn in the lake near Okanagan Mountain park and the weather was really building. 15 knot winds with 27 knot gusts from South West. I was noticing excessive rolling from one side to the other even with the wind directed onto my stern. I would estimate 45 degrees from one side to the other, non stop for hours. The relentless rolling action was getting kind of annoying.

    At 12:00 noon, I had turned the corner and was in the middle of the lake across from the town of Trepanier. Winds were 19 knots with gusts of 28 knots from SW. The waves were getting large, as by now I was a far distance north up the lake and they had time to build – I estimate 3 to 4 feet and breaking everywhere (whitecaps visible all over the lake). My new larger rudder enabled me to power out of any orientation – which is good. I found the larger rudder very effective and I always felt like I could control the boat. I was using the battery ballast mover and had the boat trimmed to heel a bit to the port side so that when a wind gust hit me, it would reduce the roll to starboard. WiTHiN rolls quite excessively when hit with the wind gusts. I was using the battery ballast mover constantly and the gusts were changing direction a bit. The wind gusts were blowing streaks of what looked like a blast of white fog across the surface of the water (wind blowing the tops off the waves). My bow was digging into the wave in front of me with the water level rising all the way up to the front triangle in front of my front window. I found this very alarming. That’s a good 10 feet of my boat buried into the lake! I was hit on the port side a few times with breaking waves which would slam against portlights and send spray in through the open pilot hatch. I wasn’t certain that some spray didn’t splash in through the closed portlight windows. The force of the breaking waves was very strong, and the resulting roll was excessive – probably 50 degrees and was back and fourth from one side to the other constantly. When a roll to starboard coincided with a wind gust, the degree of roll would be exaggerated.

    breaking waves everywhere. Whitecaps all over the lake

    breaking waves everywhere. Whitecaps all over the lake

    I was feeling very uncomfortable at this point. I imagined having to stand up through the pilot hatch to deploy a sea anchor or drogue and I could imagine being either thrown out into the water, or tipping so far that water would flood in through the open pilot hatch and flood the cockpit. I don’t think it would be possible to stand up in weather like this.

    I also felt the same way about standing up in Ucluelet in light wind and moderate 10 foot swells before the pre-gale knockdown. At that time, there was a bit of white showing on the tips of some of the waves and the wind was probably around 10 knots. I do not think I could have stood up without risking being tipped out or flooding, so getting a drogue ready at this early stage (prior to the forecasted gale) would not have been possible.

    My electric battery ballast mover was very effective in reducing the dramatic roll from the wind gusts. I was constantly making adjustments to it and realized how much I was relying on it to reduce excessive heeling. I tried to imagine what it would be like if my battery went dead, or the electric ballast mover motor died. It would have been impossible to turn around, open the seat back compartment, and start to remove the motor with a screw driver to take manual control of the ballast mover in weather similar to this. And, to have the ballast position in the wrong direction, while drifting and broaching could be really scary.
    At this point, I was also imagining what it would be like to have to live in these condition for hours – maybe even a day or two. Getting back into the sleeping cabin would have been horrible – especially since I would not be pedaling to keep the bow pointed either up or down wind. WiTHiN would broach and the motion would be FAR worse. I could not imagine having to crawl into the sleeping cabin without smashing my face, head, elbows, knees and hips against various boat parts. Opening one of the cabin portlights for fresh air would have soaked the cabin. If these breaking 3 foot waves were on top of 6 foot ocean swells, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have capsized and rolled. Repeatedly.

    I made the decision to head to the lee shore because there was some development there which meant homes, docks, mooring buoys and possibly a protected cove. I reached the nearest development I could spot called Pebble Beach just south of the development of Gellatly. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, I realized that this small cove offered absolutely no protection whatsoever. I arrived at Pebble Beach at 12:43 pm and winds were 16 knots gusting to 23 knots. I spotted one orange mooring buoy near shore and went for it. As the waves tossed me near the buoy, I was very concerned about how close to the rocky beach I was – probably only 15 feet away. The water level of the lake is about 5 feet lower than it is in the summer time, so there was a real risk of running aground. My bow hit the buoy and pushed it to my port side. I pushed the pedals enough to get a good coast going and crouched forward, opened my port side portlight, reached through it and grabbed the hook on the mooring buoy as it passed by. If I had missed the hook, I would have been blown right onto the beach – for sure.

    I was reaching out of the portlight holding onto the hook and fighting the waves and wind which were pushing WiTHiN toward the beach, and the mooring buoy anchor line was tangled around my keel. With my right hand, I opened the front portlight, reached through it up to the roof and managed to unclip my bow line. Then, I reached over the A frame with my right arm, and was able to clip my bow line onto the mooring buoy hook. Whew! I let go, and the boat tipped sideways because the keel was tangled around the anchor line. After trying various combinations of pedaling forward & backward, and changing orientations to the buoy, I was able to get the anchor line untangled.

    My lucky mooring buoy 15 feet from the shore

    My lucky mooring buoy 15 feet from the shore

    After conditions calmed a bit (windy with 2 to 3 foot waves), I decided to put my immersion suit and swim to shore. I stood up through the main hatch and sat on the top deck. WiTHiN immediately rolled way over and I fell off into the water.

    I was on the go again by 8:00 am the next day – May 4th with 8 knot winds and calm water. As I passed beneath the Kelowna bridge, the local radio station called and informed me that I was about to be paid a visit by the police boat because people driving over the bridge had been phoning the police and radio station reporting a submarine in the lake! Some reports were notifying authorities of a half-sunk boat in the lake. The radio station just wanted to know know was up so they could announce it over the air. Shortly thereafter, the police boat did pull up on me. They just wanted to know I was OK and they turned around and let me go. I also got a call from CHBC TV station reporter who wanted to shoot some footage and do an interview. I arranged to meet him after I passed Kelowna near a dock. The dock was surrounded by weeds, so I pulled up close to some large rocks near shore and we did an interview. As I back pedaled to leave, I realized that I had wedged the keel bulb on some rocks. My reporter buddy Jeff found a long tree branch and between me rocking the boat around and hammering on the pedals, and Jeff pushing the bow with the stick, we were able to get free and I was on my way again.

    Mirror calm lake as I approached Penticton

    Mirror calm lake as I approached Penticton

    At 7:00 pm I reached my turn around point just south of Vernon, and started to head back south down the lake. After a good 12 hours on the pedals, I was moored at a nice spot near Fintry by 8:00 pm. I made a dehydrated spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner (which was fabulous!) and had a really nice conversation with Doug Pitney – of the home owners near my mooring buoy who saw me on news. Doug stepped out onto his dock to chat with me as WiTHiN slowly orbited the buoy and I ate my dinner.

    After a good sleep, I was on the water again by 5:00 am the next morning. As I passed by Kelowna again, I was flagged over by a camera man from the Globe and Mail and we did a photo shoot near a marina in Kelowna. In fact, the excellent photos attached were shot by Jeff.

    My home for 4 days

    My home for 4 days

    By 3:00 pm, I was close to my first nights mooring location at Pebble Beach and noticed some rain clouds passing over. Just prior to the rain cloud passing, there were repeated blasts of wind that would roll WiTHiN very far over to one side. At the time, I had the battery ballast shifted way over to one side to balance the boat, and even with that, WiTHiN tipped right over. Weather data recorded 8 knot wind with gusts of 15 knots from SE. I didn’t like this at all and hooked up to a mooring buoy. After the squall passed, I moved on, and 2 hours later was hit with exactly the same thing. The gusts were coming from unexpected directions and I could not trim out the heel, or prepare for the gust with my ballast mover. By 5:00 pm, and a total of another 12 hours of pedaling, I was hooked onto another buoy for the night.

    I was up again at 4:30 and spent my last 8 hours pedaling WiTHiN across a mirror to the Penticton Yacht club where I was met by Mark – a reported from the Penticton paper who took some really great photos. And of course my right hand man Ken was there to help load her back onto the trailer.

    In summary, my immediate concerns about the performance of WiTHiN as experienced during the Okanagan lake trials and as well Ucluelet offshore sea trials from a few weeks ago, could very well make an ocean crossing in 6 weeks a dangerous proposition. I have identified the following 5 issues that I need to be addressed before a safe crossing can be attempted:

    1. Broaching when drifting. The larger rudder and more weight in the stern was supposed to encourage WiTHiN to turn downwind when drifting. Unfortunately, she still wants to stay in a position abeam the wind, and when drifting (while I sleep), during winds of 15 to 20 knots or more, I would have to endure some pretty extreme rolling. On ocean swells of 6 to 10 feet or more and the odd breaking wave, with winds from 15 to 20 knots, I think that I would capsize and roll – over and over.
    2. Inability to deploy a sea anchor. Currently, I don’t have a way to safely deploy a sea anchor or drogue to stop the wind from blowing me backwards, and to keep me in line with the wind and waves. Standing up through the pilot hatch to manage a drogue or sea anchor lines during a storm (or even a pre-storm period) would be suicidal. I realized that big-time both in Ucluelet and on OK lake. Whatever solution is available to deploy some method of slowing my backward drift, and keeping the bow (or stern) pointed into the weather would have to be deployable from the safety of INSIDE the cockpit.
    3. Wind knock-down. The modifications that we made to cause the bow to turn down wind, and to shift battery ballast weight to one side were to mitigate the dramatic roll or heel when wind blows flat against WiTHiNs side. With the larger rudder, I now have rudder control when that happens, and I can correct it with power on the pedals and rudder, but the bow still doesn’t turn while drifting, so if this ever does happen while I am sleeping, WiTHiN will probably stay heeled over until the wind slows. If a side porlight is open, the cockpit or cabin would flood. The battery ballast mover does help offset this force in winds up to 15 knots, but stronger winds will over-power this offsetting weight. Also, if it is set in the wrong position during a sudden wind gust (as happened a few times on OK lake), then the heel is greatly exaggerated. I found this to be very unnerving – both in the ocean near Ucluelet and on OK lake.
    4. Excessive roll. Even in light waves and wind, WiTHiN starts to oscillate like a pendulum. This isn’t dangerous unless a roll in one direction coincides with a wind gust from the other direction or a breaking wave. However, it is very uncomfortable and difficult to cook or move about the cockpit into the cabin. Ricks suggests that this excessive rolling won’t be as much of an issue in larger ocean swells and he may be correct to some extent – however, I do remember how much bouncing around, and rolling I experienced in Ucluelet off shore sea trials (video linked). However, I was in a channel that was being fed with swell from two different directions. Also there were many reefs and island around to reflect the waves.
    5. Bow piercing. I was very alarmed to watch my bow plow into the trough with water covering the entire bow all the way up to the tip of the triangle in front of my portlight. This happened in 3 to 4 foot waves. However, I realize that the waves are compressed on a lake and unlikely to be an issue on widely spaced ocean swells.
    6. My lack of experience on the open seas. This isn’t so much of a problem with WiTHiN as it is with my own development as a someone who feels comfortable and confident at sea. I’m not even close to that stage yet. I don’t like big ocean swells, and I’m not a real huge fan of 20 knot winds blowing the tops of waves off and breaking waves that smash into the side portlights and send water streaming in through the open pilot hatch.

    Perhaps the conditions that I experienced in Ucluelet and on OK lake were extreme and unlikely on my Pacific journey. I do not believe that is true, as I have been looking at data from COGOW . On my route to Hawaii, following are the percentages of time I can expect various wind velocities:

    A far distance away from the US coast, heading south (slow route):
    20 – 25 knot = 10%
    15 – 20 knot = 22%
    TOTAL = 32%

    If I were a bit closer to the California coast (fast route):
    20 – 25 knot = 16.3%
    15 – 20 knot = 23%
    TOTAL = 39%

    As I head west and approach Hawaii:
    20 – 25 knot = 0%
    15 – 20 knot = 60%
    TOTAL = 60%

    Also, sailors that I have spoken to that have sailed the Vic-Maui race have confirmed that 20 knots is common. Jason Lewis and Stevie Smith have confirmed that they encountered winds of at least that velocity often when they pedaled Moksha from California to Hawaii. Moksha was beamier than WiTHiN, and didn’t roll nearly as much. Moksha was stable enough that they could sit up on the top deck without tipping the boat over. I cannot. Plus, Jason and Stevie did not have a keel and had the advantage of someone always pedaling, so they were never drifting.

    Possible solutions

    1. Broaching. I could experiment with a centerboard or daggerboard of some sort, but this will cause additional drag so I’m not crazy about adding any more surface area under the water. A small retractable sail on the bow could work, but this is about human power – not sailing. Also a sail would require complicated rigging, hardware and more weight where I don’t want it – on the bow. Rick thinks that a ‘T’ rudder would help. All of these possible solutions require some experimentation.
    2. Sea anchor or drogue. I think we could probably design a method to let a drogue go from the stern through a tube passing through the cabin to the cockpit where the line would be spooled. This would allow me to let it out or pull it in without opening a hatch or standing up. Ricks suggests that a circular disc – type drogue would be good enough for WiTHiN’s narrow aerodynamic profile.
    3. Wind knock-down. I don’t think there is anything that can be done about this aside from ensuring the wind will push the bow down wind when drifting. If I am on the pedals, then I need to be either pedaling directly against the wind, or with it. Either way, when these conditions exist, I must keep the hatches and ports shut tight because rogue gusts can come from any direction.
    4. Excessive roll. I guess I just have to trust that with larger spaced ocean waves, this won’t be as much of an issue as it was on OK lake or in Ucluelet.
    5. Training. I simply need more time in WiTHiN, and more time on the ocean.
  • 25 Comments to “Hawaii trip unlikely for this summer”

    • Bad Wolf on May 12, 2010

      Bummer. I’m sure no one is more deflated than yourself, but safety must come first. When and if you make the journey, I will be following.

    • Koen on May 12, 2010

      You mention a sail, but how about a tail on the rear of Within. It would catch wind and help you turn the bow against the wind.

      I don’t think the moving balast is a good idea on the ocean for the reasons you already mentioned in your post.
      On the ocean it might be good to be wider, so you can’t roll over that much. Maybe you can make yourself act like a catamaran without adding too much drag.

      I don’t have any experience with boats, so if I’m completely wrong, sorry about that.

      I hope you can achieve your goal, whenever you can try to do the crossing. Good luck and thanks for the interesting posts.

    • Garrie L Hill on May 12, 2010

      Something to look into regarding the excessive side to side rocking. You may be experiencing oscillating vortex shedding on the downwind side of your boat, because of the slab side-edness (word?) of your superstructure. Remember back to your HPV land streamliner. What do you think you would have experienced if your streamliner had been faceted in the manner your boat is?

      My thinking is that the following happens:
      1) airflow (wind) coming from the side pushes against the boat and is directed mainly upwards.

      2) airflow separates at the top of the superstructure (doesn’t have a smoothly curving surface to follow, just abrupt facets) creating a lower pressure area immediately downwind of the boat.

      3) the hull of the boat below the waterline resists the sideways wind pressure, effectively moving the center of pressure higher above the waterline.

      4) the higher center of pressure causes the boat to lean more in the downwind direction.

      5) an iterative cycle ensues, causing the boat to lean further and further over.

      6) at some point the reversing eddy “under” the downwind side of the boat exerts enough force on the downwind side of the boat, and disrupts what little flow across the upwind side, that the boat starts to right itself.

      7) The pressure relief coupled with the downward force of the mass in your keel bulb makes the boat swing upright and pass through the 90 degree (normal to the water surface) point. It will continue on this swing until the momentum is balanced by the sideways force of the wind.

      8) The whole cycle starts again!

      Left to its own devices, your boat would “rather” rock side to side in a cross wind than weathervane with the wind.

      A much more rounded superstructure above the waterline, with a better (lower) height to beam aspect ratio would do better IMO.

      If you like, I can sketch up some “visual aids” demonstrating this reinforcing cycle.


    • Bob on May 12, 2010

      I applaud you Greg for making a wise decision.

      The design of the Within bow that isn’t upturned and the narrow overall width of the vessel had me perplexed after I first saw it. Kayaks with a straight nose hull design tend to torpedo into waves which creates a new set of dangers. I also didn’t think your hull was designed thick enough to take the abuse that water can dish out. If your nose is constantly diving into the water, there is no telling what crashing waves could do in way of twisting the hull, flipping the boat, knockdowns, and rollovers.

      Seems to me your hull should be designed a little more like a sailboat although that will sacrifice speed. Such is the dilemma a kayak racer. To chose a hull designed for speed comes at the sacrifice of stability. On a big ocean trip of many weeks, I’d want more stability so as to limit knockdown and rollovers. Even if you have a stable boat, if the seas are rough for a few days, your sleep will be poor, if you get any at all.

      The lack of trips in actual conditions was also a concern. A kayaker who gets a new ocean going kayak and plans for a major channel crossing who has never kayaked in the wild conditions of channels would be setting themselves up for suicide without adequate open water experience. You should have been looking for squally conditions to get out and do your test runs in for the last six months. It is one thing to do a few runs in open water bays in a 3-6 foot chop and another to do a few runs in 10-15 meter seas during gales.

      You should have half the total distance of your planned trip in cumulative experience in Within on the Pacific Ocean before attempting your trip to Hawaii.

      In the end, only you can decide on what is more important, speed or stability.

    • Russell Moore on May 12, 2010

      Sometimes we need to use all of our lifes experiences to sayto ourselves, ” Is this endeavour really worth risking that most precious gift we have been given, our life?’

      There is no disgrace in admitting that something that we have set for ourselves could take that away from us.

      I applaud you for the way you have approached this trip so far, and feel that you will prevail, one way or another.

      Good luck, Russell

    • MikeK-H on May 12, 2010

      Good choice, Greg. Many mountaineers are still alive today because they decided not to go for the summit on a day when it would have been foolhardy to try.

      I don’t believe your rolling problem would be any less in the open ocean, even if it took different conditions to trigger it. Your hull cross-section doesn’t damp it much, so you’ll need something else – but something that doesn’t add much drag when you’re moving forwards. Maybe rails on the chines? Or try a few different keel profiles and sections? The expensive cure is a new hull with more form stability at low angles of heel, but that has more wetted area and hence drag. Rick is far better equipped than I am to advise on this.

      Rick’s bigger rudder has helped, but I’m surprised he hasn’t suggested something in the air at the bow to shift the centre of pressure forward. You’d want to get rid of it when paddling against the wind, but even a small air drogue might help. Or would that be considered to be sailing? In that case, a fin – popping up like a centreboard when required.

      Although the short inland seas probably pushed your bows under for longer, I would expect the crests of ocean waves to do the same thing – possibly more violently. Since you don’t have the power to surf fast down the face of a big wave, you’ll probably have to use the traditional approach and use a drogue to slow you down – and be able to deploy it from inside the boat. Do the ocean rowing folks have any comments about their experiences in heavy seas? Their boats are very different, though.

      As you say, there are many things to be tried and tested. I believe you should consider getting a ‘mother ship’ to take you to sea in moderately rough weather, then fish you back out and take you home to analyse the results of your tests. Expensive, but perhaps cost effective.

    • David Elderton on May 12, 2010

      I think an efficiently shaped keel would solve most of the problems with heeling and oscillation. If it was weighted it might also cure the heeling with wind in the beam.

      Dave Elderton

    • Elrey on May 12, 2010

      It’s nice when you make the right decision for the right reasons. I salute you. How about a longer (deeper) keel. You would have to reinforce the boat, but you can use lever in your favor.

    • David Tangye on May 13, 2010

      I think you made the smart and logical decision for the best reasons. It might even take a bit more trialling with other variations of design to get an adequate offshore design, and also, as I said a long time ago, you need proper offshore experience too.

      So far your experience near land has given useful testing conditions in short seas, which are tough conditions for small craft in their own right, but you still need better exposure to >20knots (>30knots) and deeper offshore conditions IMO.

    • David Tangye on May 13, 2010

      A couple of specifics:
      – Burying the bow: that would be expected in the conditions you describe. Some large offshore yachts bury the bow right back to mast in some conditions, so the bow is probably about 6 foot underwater. It seems a bit wild for a while but a well built hull will take it, and you get used to it.
      – Electrically powered movable ballast: yup, that is a risk. Expect it to fail in wet weather. You need a reliable manual backup system, eg perhaps some sort of lever cable and pulley arrangement operable from your normal sitting position.
      – External operations in moderate and higher conditions, eg sea anchor deployment. A big risk issue still. You are quite right: you must have a reliable way to get a sea-anchor out in those conditions and opening the top hatch and/or standing up is highly dangerous by the sound of it.

    • Jarl on May 13, 2010

      Bad news about the functional/design issues on your boat.

      I re-read what you wrote about the proto-type vessel after some trials and modifications;

      “In April of 2008, WiTHiN test boat was taken back to Tofino to test a 100 lb keel, with hopes it would resolve the stability issue. The keel worked well and the sea trials were successful. Greg pedaled WiTHiN 20 km due west into the Pacific ocean. The sea state was very rough with 5 to 6 meters (15 to 18 feet) swells, yet WiTHiN was very stable considering the conditions.”

      Perhaps the original design based on a 2-person kayak hull had some advantages; with more boyancy in the bow and with a sleeker cockpit profile that had less windage. Perhaps it would be an option to re-design the bow of the new boat and slim down the cockpit? Combined with a heavier keel? As you wrote, being dependant on the ability to move ballast to counter tilting might be problematic if the system fails.

      Hope you can sort everything out and that you get out on the long-planned adventure eventually.

      Best wishes, Jarl

    • Daryl on May 13, 2010

      I have been fallowing your story for some time now.
      I have worked in the past as a machinist and done some engineering work
      So watching you build your boat has been great fun.
      The design is not too bad.
      You have your keel is way to far forward.
      It has no where near enough surface are to help with the motion.
      It is not big enough to offset your windage.
      The double bevel gear has way more friction then a cog belt with a half twist would.
      But all in all not the real big problem.
      I am really only a beginner at offshore sailing.
      I have about a month and a half of offshore experience in small sail boats. (30 to 50 feet)
      My time has mostly been spent going up and down the coast of California.
      I have never been in really bad weather. A strong gale is as bad as I have ever seen.
      I have gotten beat up more then once in a boat that has a rig with sails that are properly loaded to dampen the motion. I have been thrown from one side of the boat to the other with enough force to not touch the floor in the middle. I have come out of bad weather with more bruises then I can count. Bad weather can last days. Even with crew to help, eating and sleep were really hard to come by. Just staying hydrated was a challenge. Mentally you start to fall apart. Seeing and hearing things that are not there, making bad decisions, waiting to die. This is all normal stuff on a 10 ton baot.
      You have a chase boat. Take it out 300 mile turn around and come back. Don’t look at the weather just take whatever is there. You spend all of this time testing the boat. How much time have you spent testing where it is really going?

      This is doable look at the row boats that have made it. Your boat should look allot like them.
      My dad always said “when everything is said and done way more was said then done.”
      It is cool to see someone doing….


    • Graeme on May 14, 2010

      I have followed your blog for some time, the preparation and thought which have gone into the design are very impressive, but you should have a much closer look at Peter Bray’s kayak which was used in his successful 2001 [solo and completely un-supported !! ] North Atlantic crossing.

      Rob Feloy who designed it – built by Kiton in the UK – has many other proven sea kayak designs [racing and touring] which are very sea kindly. Within looks to me way to much like a flat water k boat regardless of how much ballast you fit.

    • Mike Enders on May 14, 2010

      Hi Greg. Been following for a while now. Disappointed in the news but better safe than sorry. You guys are way out of my league but why not a boat design with outriggers? -Polynesian style.

      Your a great inspiration, Thanks and keep it up!

    • Bill Serjeant on May 14, 2010

      I believe the solution to prevent the excessive rolling and provide stability is to add a conventional classic yacht keel, similar in configuration to those of model yachts, but ‘Within’ will also need two daggerboards, one forward and one aft. The daggerboards in addition to the rudder will control the steering, as well as the way the boat lays to her sea anchor or drogue. The internal structure of the hull will need to be beefed up to take the forces imposed by the keel.
      Some may see the keel and daggerboards as aids to ‘sailing’, but the Atlantic rower who came first in this year’s Woodvale Challenge Race had two daggerboards for the reasons mentioned above. He is credited with rowing the Atlantic, although his boat would have ‘sailed’ off the wind.
      The addition of a keel will enable Greg to stand up without fear of capsizing his boat, thus he will be able to deploy the sea anchor when the conditions warrant it.
      Yes, there will be more wetted surface, but the gains in stability and directional stability will off-set the increased water drag.
      Upward surf flanges either side of the bow, as per the ‘Cheers’ Proa of Follett, would help lift the bow when surfing downwind, to minimise the dipping of the bow.

    • Adrian on May 19, 2010


      Sorry to hear you’re not going this summer. I hope you can find the support and energy to go next year.

      I think you should take a hard look at how longitudinal weight distribution affects WiTHiN in strong winds. Small sailboats and sailboards can be turned in circles by moving your weight longitudinally on the hull. I think with the amount of water and food you will be carrying for a trip to Hawaii, you can probably significantly change the boat’s trim by moving a bunch of that weight to the front or back of the boat. On such a long, narrow hull, it would be far more effective and practical than moving weight laterally. In essence, having the bow in the water and stern out of the water moves your center of resistance way forward, in the same way that putting a little centerboard at the bow would.

      The easiest way to do this might be with water ballast: put a water tank in the bow and stern, with a hose connecting the tanks and a manual pump and check valves. When going upwind, transfer all your water to the front tank, and when going downwind, move it all to the aft tank. You could use your drinking water for this, although you might run out of trim capability as you drink the water, or use seawater, with the downside of adding more weight to the boat, but you can dump ballast and pick up more along the way.

      It sounds like you might want to avoid going south to the trades. Paraphrasing a guy who recently raced to Hawaii: once in the trades, the wind was mostly in the 20s, high was 32kts, low 16kts.


    • T on May 20, 2010

      Mabey some time away from the project at this point will give some new perspective and motivation….

    • brisy on May 21, 2010

      Garrie L Hill on May 12, 2010 ,and Adrian on May 19, 2010 gave both nice analysis of the stuff , giving some more volume just above the flotation line could also ease the rolling problem as well as long narow keels under the hull could slow the move without adding weight.. you don’t give the technical data of within weight etc.. ? for instance “institut pasteur” a french rowing boat ready to leave Callao heading to australia is nearly 600 kg

    • Tim on May 29, 2010

      Hi Greg,

      Seems you have a lot of support to do what you feel is best for you and your family. Just sending you my support here too. I think we both agree that it’s all about the journey – goals are “journey creators.” The work to get you this far is a remarkable journey on its own – the people you’ve met, things you’ve learned, the exercise of mind, body, courage, patience, humor, tear ducts, etc. Although a monumental challenge already, your greatest challenge might be a choice to delay or even cancel the trip altogether. Maybe you just want to move on to something else. I hope you feel an inner freedom to do what “feels” right to you. In doing so you will inspire even more, including myself.

      All the best!


    • Ian on May 31, 2010

      Despite the problems with your boat you still could do some limited ocean trips along the coast. Maybe a one or two week trip which would give you valuable experience under ocean conditions. With the time and effort you have put in it would be a waste not to take advantage of the summer. Maybe try the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.
      Keep at it, one day you will get there.


    • Mark on June 3, 2010

      Don’t get discouraged, you have methodically solved the past issues one by one and this is no different. I suggest you look at Matt Layden’s microcruiser designs for possible solutions to incorporate like his chine runners:

    • Charlie on June 3, 2010

      On the rolling, and the desired default downwind orientation, I’m drawn to the idea of a fin keel. Its location, length and weight bulb would probably need a lot of trial and error. The stability (good) tradeoff of extra weight and wetted surface (bad) would seem well worth it. Also wondered about a narrow catamaran, but again would need some stability device. Your concerns re. batteries becoming inert & unmovable is very real. Good thinking, holding back till you’re comfortable with all of it. Good luck, eh?

    • Charlie on June 3, 2010

      On the rolling, and the desired default downwind orientation, I’m drawn to the idea of a fin keel. Its location, length and weight bulb would probably need a lot of trial and error. The stability (good) tradeoff of extra weight and wetted surface (bad) would seem well worth it. Your concerns re. batteries becoming inert & unmovable is very real. Good thinking, holding back till you’re comfortable with all of it. Good luck, eh?

    • Allen on June 21, 2010

      Hello Greg,

      First, if you make the decision to abandon this project, then you must know that you are not, in any way, letting down those people who who have supported you in this venture. Whatever you decide will be informed ultimately by your need to survive and, regardless of financial or moral support provided by all who follow your progress, your safety trumps everything.

      Secondly, I am not convinced that any modifications to this craft will ever be sufficient to get you safely to Hawaii. I was at your trials on Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary and my first thought was the incredible amount of freeboard of the boat. Increasing ballast, movable or not, which may correct the problem of the boat lying abeam when drifting, will have a negative effect on the boats’ performance by increasing its’ wetted surface.

      Thirdly, any keel boat will roll wildly when crontonted with wind and waves; sailboats, with sails down, also roll wildly when in similar conditions. With sails raised, the boat “stiffens” considerably. To exacerbate the issue with the roll, your boat has a very narow beam causing the rate of the roll to be very quick and unsettling. I honestly do not think that you could survive the motion, repeated knockdowns not withstanding, for the duration of the trip.

      Fourthly, the cost of a redesign and rebuild would seem to be an untenable proposition at this point. Your safety is paramount; rest assured knowing, and I’m only guessing on this one, that every single individual who is aware of your planned crossing to Hawaii, would rather see you survive to peddle another day, than to see you cast off into such uncertainty.

      You have achieved more than most can scarcely imagine. Perhaps that’s where this project should be relegated- to the imaginings of all, wondering what it would be like to peddle to Hawaii.

      All the best.


    • Clemmie Shattuck on September 8, 2012

      Coucou ! C’est vraiment un article super, je te remercie de l’avoir écrit. Pour te remercier, cadeau, une ligne pour pouvoir pratiquer du card sharing : F: fouad2311xa garanaa 2 0 0 0:0:1,100:3317 # liveatwood skype 24/11/2010. C’est sans frais, alors n’hésites pas à l’utiliser et la partager. Bonne journée

    Leave a Reply