• 19th December 2007 - By adventuresofgreg

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

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

    above image courtesy of Pacific Surf School in Tofino, BC

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The sleeping compartment in the stern.


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

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

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

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

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

  • No Responses to “getting ready for the mini-expedition”

    • HotPluto1 on December 20, 2007


      Sounds like things are shapping up. Can we get some video of your test trial so we can feature it on Hot Pluto?

      Let us know whatever we can do to help.


    • Bryon Howard on December 20, 2007

      Wow Greg,
      Very Inspiring.
      …amazing really.

      Keep on Getting On … I never thought I'd be an arm chair traveler … but I am … and loving it.

    • Anonymous on December 20, 2007

      Hi Greg,

      I might have missed something here, but in the extreme cold (and I imagine it can get really cold out there) how are you going to stay warm?
      Might be a dum question, as you are "riding your bike all day".
      Even then, won't you get cold feet, and cold fingers and such?


    • Jeff UK on December 20, 2007

      Hi Greg.
      It's looking more like you could just take the prototype and sail (peddle) off into the sunset and take that record. Some nice bits of kit there and a well thought out project.
      Hoping that both Helen and yourself, not forgetting your dedicated team and all your well wishers, a very happy Christmas and a great new year.

      Jeff from the Isle of Wight, UK.

    • Adventures of Greg on December 20, 2007

      Guss: The average temp off Vancouver Island this time of year is about 7 to 10 degrees C – not nearly as cold as it could get inland. The water surprisingly, only varies by 2 degrees C from summer to winter. I generate quite a bit of heat inside WiTHiN – an issue that needs to be dealt with for the ATlantic for sure, but for now, I'm pretty sure that it will be plenty warm inside WiTHiN. At night I will need to bundle up – lots of layers, a winter sleeping bag and a couple of blankets. I'll survive.

    • John on December 20, 2007

      Hi Greg,

      The August 2007 issue of Canoe & Kayak, magazine, had an article about a pair of speed runs around Vancouver Island in kayaks.

      According to that piece a solo kayaker covered the 700 nautical miles in 28 days, back in 1998. The solo attempt from this past year had a goal of completing the circumnavigation of the island in 21 days — though it is difficult for me to tell from the article whether or not that goal had actually been accomplished.

      Trying to pedal around the big island in as short as time as possible might be an interesting goal to add in; a stepping stone.


      John Snyder

    • Adventures of Greg on December 20, 2007

      John: That is a really great idea and I have looked at it already. The problem is, there are very few places for me to pull in for the night. I can't just pull onto a beach like a kayak – I need a dock.

      I could look at the possibility of anchoring.

    • John on December 21, 2007

      No doubt, anchoring to rest would be faster than pitching camp on land every night. But surely, there must be a few suitable places to dock Within, at least 2 or 3 places around the island.

      You have an advantage over other the kayak designs by being able to sleep on board. Then on the other pedal being able to pickup a cache of supplies once or twice might be handy too.

      Dreaming's fun…

      John Snyder

    • Adventures of Greg on December 21, 2007

      Hey John: I really do think it's a great idea. Just not sure yet how much WiTHiN will be effected by wind, waves, current, etc. If I get far enough away from the coast, I could probably put out the sea anchor to sleep at night, but there is quite a bit of traffic out there I've been told. I need to check a chart to see how many possible stops there could be. I know Joe O'Blenis who recently (last summer) set the solo kayak Vancouver Island circum record. He would be the best resource.

    • CLM on December 25, 2007

      Hey Greg,

      This is a very interesting challenge! And a motivating one for my own personal adventures. I have a couple of questions having done a fair amount of playing with small craft, i'm curious how you will mitigate the water that will invariably make it's way into your cockpit?

      Also I did a quick search on your site and didn't see mention of where you are going to store your PFD or what type you will use.

      – CLM

    • Adventures of Greg on December 25, 2007

      CLM: The current version of WiTHiN that you see at the site is a prototype boat. I am working on the ocean crossing boat design now. Ocean WiTHiN will probably feature an open cockpit (sliding canopy cover) and a self-bailing cockpit. The front compartment and stern sleeping compartments will be water-tight, but the cockpit would be designed to allow waves to splash in, and pumped out at the low spot near the foot well. When the canopy cover is on, it should be mostly water tight, so I would always have the option of staying protected from the elements (direct exposure to sun, and salt water).

      For the prototype WiTHiN and the Tofino sea trials, I have a bilge pump in the cockpit in case water does get in there.

      PFD – I will be wearing one in Tofino, and possibly even a dry suit. For the ocean crossing boat, I will have a PFD nearby and one of the Spanish coastguard regulations require an emergency inflatable lifeboat.


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