• 22nd October 2009 - By greg


    I picked Jordan up from the airport on Friday night and we headed directly to the bar for dinner and a couple of beers. He’s a great guy and we get along very well. That is a good thing when two strangers are about to be locked into a 20 foot x 3 foot capsule for days on end.


    What first struck me about Jordan when he walked out of the International Arrivals gate was that he was bigger than I thought he would be. When I say Jordan is a big guy, I don’t mean big in the way we typically think of ‘big’ people these days (ie: overweight). I mean big like a Viking. He’s 6′ 5″, weighs 205 lbs, muscular with wide shoulders. WiTHiN was designed for my 5′ 11″, 150 lb frame. Needless to say, he doesn’t fit into the seat and the pedals are too close – even at the farthest seat position. We took the seat out completely and used foam pieces for cushions which worked better for him. We are getting closer, but we still have a bit of work to do before he is comfortable and able to pedal 3 hour shifts for 24 hours a day.DSC05217

    Jordan, Ken and I launched WiTHiN onto Glenmore Reservoir on Tuesday (yesterday) and loaded her up with ballast to simulate the weight of our food and equipment we are taking on the Vancouver Island trip. The speed with easy – all day kind of pedaling effort was between 3.4 to 3.7 knots and she turns on a dime. Kens awesome technical work on the steering system really paid off. Jordan was immediately impressed by how quick she was, and how easy WiTHiN is to maneuver.


    As for stability, I am a little bit concerned. One person can stand up through an open hatch without Within tipping over, but once you lean out and over the side, she rolls right over. However, once WiTHiN rolls to about 30 degrees, she stops and getting her to roll any further around is very difficult.

    During our capsize test it took every bit of effort 4 guys on the dock could muster just to lift the keel up to about 45 degrees. Jordan and I were sealed inside – Jordan in the sleeping cabin and me in the cockpit. We were trying to encourage the roll-over by leaning on the side walls and ceiling, but the guys just couldn’t lift her up. This is great news! Even with Jordan and I lying on the ceiling, WiTHiN just doesn’t want to be upside down. We had a great view of the lake bottom through the hatches on the ceiling (and a few old coke cans and other garbage). The other great news is that there wasn’t a single drop of water anywhere inside the cockpit or cabin. In fact, when we returned to right-side-up world, and opened the hatch, it made the kind of sound you hear when you open a can of coke – the sound of warmer, expanded air inside the air-tight cockpit escaping and fresh, cold air from outside rushing in. I am certain we would eventually suffocate in there with the hatches and ports closed (which we wouldn’t ever do much much longer than a few minutes at a time).


    Unfortunately, when Ken and the others let go of the keel during the capsize, the stern moved toward the dock and the rudder slammed against it. The rudder was totally seized. We loosened-off the tiller and allowed the rudder to drop a fraction of an inch which freed it up. We went for a test ride and the rudder works exactly as it did before. Afterwords, we took a closer look and the part that bent was the actual rudder, not the rudder tube. When the rudder bent, it pressed up into the hull which is why it seized up. The rudder took quite a hit and the carbon hull is perfectly in tact – more good news (the optimist in me speaking), and yet another testament to Ken’s building awesomeness and Stuart and Ricks design.


    We spent most of the day with Discovery Channel and that was a lot of fun. I think they captured some pretty cool shots and content for the show.

    The goal for today (Wednesday) was for Jordan and I to spend more time in WiTHiN and to conduct a few other drills like jumping overboard, cooking, deploying a drouge, etc. As well, my media guy Chris Keam organized all of the local Calgary media to show up in the afternoon. Jordan and I launched WiTHiN early this morning and after a few minutes when we reached the opposite end of the lake, the drive leg went dead. Oh no!!!


    I had forgotten to pack the paddle, so we had no way to rescue ourselves. I made a quick call to the Patrol boat office and got the answering machine. There was nobody else on the lake and we were fairly close to shore. Luckily there was no wind, and our drift to shore was very slow. Jordan stressed that we relax and do some thinking about the problem – good advice from a seasoned adventure pro.


    Luckily I had packed my immersion suit and Jordan had packed his dry suit. I pulled my bright orange gumby suit on and jumped into the 3 degree water to take a closer look at the prop. The prop was still on, but it was free spinning on the shaft. That meant either that something had broken in the gear box, or the prop pin had sheared off. While I was in the water, Jordan pulled the drive leg out (why didn’t we think of that BEFORE I jumped into the water?? DUH!). He used an alan key tool to pull the prop off the shaft and confirm that the prop connection was still good – the problem was something in the drive leg itself.

    So, Jordan suggested that we just save ourselves and do an epic swim and push WiTHiN back across the lake to the dock. So we did. Jordan crawled out onto the bow and used his arms like paddling a surf board and I stayed in the water and kicked and stroked with one arm. It took up about 30 minutes, but we made it all the way back to the dock!

    Ken came over and we disassembled the drive leg. It was a design fault that we failed to notice when we were assembling the shaft. The keyway that was cut into the shaft coupler was too deep and the key had slowly vibrated into the deep recess of the keyway and the shaft was allowed to spin freely. Ken searched the city for a new key and he had it fixed in no time. Whew!

    We decided to spend Thursday here in Calgary and fix all of these issues, so the plan at this point is to start the drive to Nanaimo on Friday. Of course, early this morning the garbage truck backed into WiTHiN sitting on the trailer. The bow crush zone is damaged and a couple of the struts are bent on the trailer.

    The adventure continues….

  • 10 Comments to “Broken rudder, broken drive shaft – breaking WITHiN in.”

    • Paul Bell on October 22, 2009

      Hey Greg,

      Sounds like she is pretty air tight. I would think you would want some sort of auto vent that would close when upside down just in case you guys fell asleep in there with it all sealed up. You never know eh!


    • Bryon Howard on October 22, 2009

      Wow. Crazy man … including the garbage truck!!!

    • Skip Walker on October 22, 2009

      Its orange for criminys sake! it sounds like that trash truck driver should be fired!

    • Dave on October 22, 2009

      I had a similar thought about “buttoning her up.” What if you’re in a sea state that makes you seal her up …? How will you get fresh air?

      Something to think about.

    • Harry on October 22, 2009

      Hi Greg,

      Next time be sure to take along a radio to call someone that knows you are out there in case you need help, especially during the testing stage.
      Take a look at http://www.yrvind.com/ site to see how he keeps an airway while still sealed up or up-side-down.



    • Russell Moore on October 22, 2009

      Will you have a saftey boat with you on the Vancouver Island attempt?
      As WithIn is as yet untested in sea conditions, this may be prudent..

    • RoninVancouver on October 22, 2009

      Hi Greg. Glad to see you back in action soonest. Just a suggestion, but it might be wise for you guys to have a rebreather, each. West coast Van Isle has very wicked seas at times; especially at entrance northside. May see you at Comox. – Ron 😉

    • Jeff Hoyt on October 22, 2009


      Sounds like Within’s stability characteristics are just right for an ocean going pedalcraft. Like a keel sailboat, you want low stability in about the first 20 degrees with increasing stability when the heeling exceeds that. Given that you don’t have a sail trying to push you over, you can exceed those parameters somewhat and still have a very safe craft. I predict that Within will roll LESS than a wider beamed craft in a beam (coming from the side) sea. This will be crucial to making Within less of a vertigo inducing machine than the wider ocean rowing boats. See what Jordan says when you guys take Within out to choppy water.

      As to the airtightness of the hatches, this sounds great for dryness purposes, but seems to create a possible ancillary problem of how to breathe when you need to stay airtight for longer than a few minutes. Maybe a submariner or rebreather diver could give advice as to how to best reduce CO2 from the air with CO2 scrubbers. If not, then maybe a small emergency air tank (like the monster wave surfers use) with an overpressure valve built in to Within’s deck to allow the tank’s exhaled air from building too much pressure inside Within’s enclosed state?

      You are to be commended for pushing oceangoing pedalcraft technology forward in ways that remain to be tested, but sure look very promising! I will be following your efforts as I did when you broke the 24 hour human power water record with CP2.

    • anth on October 23, 2009

      carbon dioxide dector strips like in small air planes or a monitor with a beeper

    • Frank on October 24, 2009

      The key issue in a sealed compartment is CO2. You may want to look into scrubbers, I.e. soda lime and a little fan may help.

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