The 15th boat finished the Race to Alaska on Thursday, just shy of the July 4th deadline.
Team Barefoot Wooden Boats was the last to complete the first-ever 750 mile, engineless trek from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska.
On the 29th day of their journey, Quill Goldman, Rich Burns and Dylan Davenport of British Columbia rang the large, gold finishing bell in Ketchikan’s harbor. They were tired, but happy, and looking forward to some much-needed rest.
Tad Roberts of Canada designed the uniquely environmentally-friendly boat, while the full crew helped to build it, using low-petroleum materials, such as plant-based epoxy and water-based enamel.
Goldman says it wasn’t the materials or the design that slowed them down.
“I thought we were going to win at the start,” he said. “Maybe I had some doubts when we got to Port Townsend (and) saw the other boats but, we got stuck on Gabriola there for two days …Too windy. It was 30 knots and really 25 is our maximum comfort. “
Once the crew knew they likely wouldn’t be the $10k winners, they opted instead to take their time and enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately, that meant 28 nights spent on rocks, docks and driftwood. Dylan says that was one of the hardest parts…literally.
“We’d build like a nest out of driftwood and things like that,” he said. “Every morning, I woke up with grass sticking out of my hair. We slept on docks, we slept in city parks, we slept on a front lawn in Shearwater. Yeah, we slept all over the place.”
Goldman says if there’s a next time, sleeping arrangements would probably change. The three packed very little camping gear aboard the 5.8 by 19ft vessel and had little room on deck for anything but supplies.
Originally, Dylan says they planned for a one or two-week trip up the coast; three at most. But as the trip grew into week four, there were plenty of little things to keep it interesting. Like losing a rudder, for which they did have a spare. And losing a satellite phone, for which they had to find and buy a spare.
All three say they would likely do it again, though maybe not for a little while. No word yet on if there will be a second race to Alaska next year. But now that the adventure is over, Team Barefoot Wooden Boats says their priorities lie with food and cleaning off.
“Showers! Showers…and those meals we talked about. Some delicious nachos, you know? Where’s the best pub? Biggest nachos?”