The Perfect Boat

A forum for discussion about the Race to Alaska ( http://www.racetoalaska.com )

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Dirk Visser 166
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Re: The Perfect Boat

Post by Dirk Visser 166 »

Browsing the forums and talking around the Blue Pelican marine salvage store cracker barrel in Alameda, and even poring over charts with customers in the back of my farmer's market soap booth in San Francisco .. the sentiments about the race, the entering vessels, and the competitors are taking on philosophical properties.
"The Perfect Boat" is much more than a boat, it turns out to be morphing into a statement of what the race itself means to a given entrant or observer... This is perhaps exactly as the organizers intended..far less a race than a showcase and exhibition.
With these psychological-cultural-economic-ecological- technical factors now emerging more strongly...the perfect boat takes on deeper meaning.... and winning maybe becomes merely a footnote and sideshow to the real endeavor of doing great things in great ways...By virtue of its diversity, and the convictions people are passionate about despite the realities of the course, the event is looking more like a grand "Rally", and less like strictly and simply a "Race"...
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Re: The Perfect Boat

Post by Editors »

Great post, Dirk.—Eds
The smaller the boat the bigger the adventure.
Dirk Visser 166
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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Thanks Eds..It is one hell of an event ..by whatever name...no matter who "wins", what route they take, and how in blazes they do it!
So back to the "perfect boat" , a pivotal concern of any attempt...
Assuming failure to achieve planing or foiling speeds in our prop driven sea trials.. We are now, with a short 10 weeks till that morning off Port Hudson, now considering displacement or semi-planing parameters...and the sail performance is sharpened up by the opportunities north of Blackfish Sound. The fifty flatwater miles of Grenville channel we were so looking forward to at a human-powered 15 knots may become a quagmire when we're bogged down making two knots over the bottom against a headwind or foul tide and get the word there are favorable westerlies blowing outside in Hecate Strait.
A multihull is the seductive solution, specifically the possibility of a celebration of the world class Haida canoe pattern, and yes the topside paint scheme is Very important! (get a guy who knows, from Gwaii Haanas!)
But the idea is to do a Wharram Cat treatment on two of them.. So when the wind blows, she goes!!
If the wind is not blowing, which will most likely be in the South and on the Inside, you have a two man leg powered feathering prop drive on each hull doing 6 to 8 knots through the water.. a 6 man crew keeps it going...
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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There's been a fair bit of yarnin' taking place around here on the potentials of The Event.
This is one you did NOT see coming:

"So, you say this watercraft must be wind or human powered to qualify for the competition? Well, I had a winnin' plan to run my Iditarod huskies in a big gerbil wheel connected to a screw out the back, but now this human part lets that out!!

Hold on a minute! I remember another fella down in Texas or somewheres,
big ol' fat boy when he started in one of those island races down there, he went from 300 pounds to less than 150 in four days of on board liposuction.. He burned his own triglycerides and fatty acids as some kind of methylester biodiesel.. I think it was a boiler, and jet drive, no motor! "

Now if that ain't the dangdest thing I ever heard!
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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Dirk Visser 166 wrote:Browsing the forums and talking around the Blue Pelican marine salvage... ...despite the realities of the course, the event is looking more like a grand "Rally", and less like strictly and simply a "Race"...
Dirk!
Can I copy what you wrote and just save it somewhere on my computer?! I don't know what to do with it, but I don't want to let it just go away...

I loved the sentiment!

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Dirk Visser 166
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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Mr. R. B.
Hey! You know, Of course! Yes, and thanks.
This thing is just so damn inspiring and fun!
(and let's not forget profound, kind sirs!)

I work with the public several times a week, in Farmer's markets, and if a customer has a certain readable spirit of adventure, I am not shy about introducing the concept of the race to them.

Many share back familiarity with some portion of the territory of the course, or powerful experience with small craft at other times and places. This R2AK run-up has produced some great conversations and curiosity...I did live aboard in PT for three years in the early '90's and you guys are doing a great job of distilling and exporting the creative culture that was always in abundance around there!

But, no kidding, the eyes brighten, and the guards are lifted when we recognize kindred spirits in incongruous settings.
There's a lot of psychology, "waters of thought", the beauty bridge between emotion and function; but when you really pare it down to an essence, it's about knowing how big and elemental it all is out there... and how your own ego really got that a time or two, and was never the same after.
Last edited by Dirk Visser 166 on Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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Well said...I won't even try to reiterate. Love your thinking and you are right on about why we are doing this. Thanks.

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Dirk Visser 166
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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Yes R. B.
And not to overlook your skippering of this "perfect boat" , the race itself, which includes all the efforts...the good, the bad, and the ugly..The innovative, the traditional....from the ridiculous to the sublime..

You organizers must be greatly enjoying what this fleet is already starting to show and promise.

So maybe the perfect boat turns out to be more of a state of mind than a vessel of any kind.... maybe any and every boat given the right builder, captain, crew, or even secret admirer is always capable of perfection for a moment, or a day.
As one lifts up a corner of the race and peeks underneath, the whole complex assemblage begins to look like nothing less than a metaphor for our relationship to ourselves, each other, and the built and natural worlds..
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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The Perfect Boat is the one that takes you on the Adventure to Alaska and Gets you there Safely!
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Re: The Perfect Boat

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You cut to the chase there S. S. !
That boat starts as a set of ideas, some new, some as ancient as time out of mind...
The ideas show up in drawings, graphs, or just an expression on the designer and builders faces..
The conception moves through time, integrating itself into a physical readout of the ideas.. A stack of lumber, aluminum plate, bolts of cloth, pails of resin..and the tools, the bandsaw, the wire feed electrode, the paintbrush, a fire in a log. No tools, no boat.
Pay some attention to the humble scrap pile, the slag heap, offcuts...key decisions are recorded here. Decisions of beauty, strength, and ethics.
Then a vessel shape that is unique and fair and new begins to exist in the world from the ideas which were goals, and from the material which gives possibility and power to the enterprise..
Now, after a helluva lot more work and thought, sea trials, rig, accomodation, propulsion, controls, instrumentation, details, a name...it floats on the water, a small universe awaiting our bidding..
This craft might have been perfect through each stage, or at least approaching perfection guided by our efforts, and rewarding us at each improvement and refinement with pride , vanity, satisfaction and inspiration.
But something is about to happen. This creation made by us with our knowledge of materials and forms..and tempered by the makers boatman's knowledge must now live and endure on another far more powerful perfection, that of the sea itself.
This is how the shortcomings come to be revealed and how the real work of an actual boat begins, and never ends..
...It must get us there, and keep us safe!
And, shaped by the sea, a good boat will always contain a fair measure of that perfection..
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