Monday, August 18, 2014

Deathmarch Australia! March 23-April 9, 2015

Well, it's actually happening this time, I bought a ticket. This could end up being just Beefa and I, like on the first Deathmarch. Join us if you dare.

My tentative plan is to spend a few days exploring Sydney, museums, restaurants, etc, then take in some of the pre-event on the weekend and bike off Monday morning along the Southern Highlands route. I was sold when I got to day 11 and read this passage:

My head game starts to falter. Days of strong headwinds wear me down, slowly taking the joy out of riding. It becomes more like a forced death march than a summer holiday.


We won't make it to day 11 though, the tentative plan calls for a support vehicle to pick us up on Thursday and complete the trip to Melbourne. Maybe Beefa will be driving if he's not riding, maybe some Sydney messengers will help us out on their way, I'm sure we'll work something out.

Then the race and party weekend, get a ride back to Sydney, and I wouldn't mind making that a two day trip, it looks like there a lot of interesting things to see along both of the major highways. The Princes Hwy meanders along the coast through a bunch of small towns. The Hume Hwy goes straight through the outback, passing lots of tantalizingly named forest preserves and national parks. Or so I've gathered from looking at Google Maps. Anyway, it would be nice to have the time to stop on a whim. And of course there's the team WRECK rule, If you see a roadside jerky shack you must stop, could be interesting in Australia.

Perhaps we will arrive back in Sydney with a day to decompress and lay on the beach before the flight home.

I feel like this has Trip of a Lifetime potential. It probably seems expensive now, and it is. My ticket was $1327 and even with sleeping in a tent or on a floor, food and beverage will be costly. Plus we'll be kicking in for gas (do they call it petrol? I don't know) and I'm sure we're all aware how difficult that can be to obtain, having seen the Mad Max movies.

Anyway, Team WRECK members, if you're thinking about going, maybe ask yourself "when we're talking about The Australia Trip in 5 or 10 or 20 years, do I want to be thinking man, I wish I had gone OR  I'm so glad I spent that money, so worth it?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break!

Cruise #8 - Crew : Chief Engineer Boston, Acting Ensign Dabby, occasional rope pullers or looseners - Jacque, Smellen and Wheelie Guy Mark.
Weather : Warm! Felt like high 60s in the marina, a little cooler in the wind, which was blowing lightly but steadily from the east or upstream, which I guess is the norm. 

We tacked back and forth for a few hours. It felt like we were going fast through the water but we barely made any progress upstream. When we turned around we were back at the marina before we knew it. That current is some serious business.

 Boston steady at the tiller. There were a few other sailboats out and we watched what they were doing and sometimes tried to match headings or point slightly off to catch up.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grace O'Malley

Cruise #7 - Spring Sailing

Crew : Chief Engineer Boston, Assistant Helmsperson Tricia, Chief Rigger Cory the Kid, Honorary Admiral Eric Spence with Shelley and Ingrid.
Weather : Balmy. Light winds from the west at first, so we motored upstream for a while then caught some moderate wind from the south.

The voyage started with a tiny bit of panic. "Why is the inside of the boat filling up with water?" Not my favorite phrase. It turned out it was because the fresh water outlet from the engine was leaking into the cockpit locker. Boston jumped right in there and fixed it, displaying exactly the qualities I look for in a chief engineer.

 Once the boat was no longer actively sinking we raised the sails and had a very pleasant cruise back and forth across the river.

 The wind freshened from the south and we got going pretty fast a few times, I'm looking forward to a good season of sailing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

MWD 14 : Crossing the Dune Sea!

We managed to produce a fairly epic little deathmarch this weekend, we hiked from Tahkenitch Creek to Three Mile Lake, spending a night in the dunes.

All photos by Cory the Kid.

The weather cooperated, in that it was raining heavily at times with high wind anywhere without tree cover. We were drenched before we made it past the kiosk in the parking lot.


Despite studying the rather simple map we still managed to get lost.

The forest trail was lovely, huge trees, rhododendrons, crazy fungus, lots of newts and occasional views of the ocean.

This angry pig was guarding the trail.

Leaving the forest cover for the first dune crossing was quite an experience, lots of sand and water going sideways at a high rate of speed. It reminded me of the 'white squall' experience we had on that ride up the Nestucca. Dabby, you know what I'm talking about.

We were aiming for Three Mile Lake but after getting lost in the gathering dark (classic team wreck) we decided to pitch camp in a little hollow protected by trees. After getting a tarp up and building a fire it was pretty cozy.
Mace went off on his own solo hike late at night and had some interesting experiences, maybe I can get him to write a guest post.

 The next morning we found the lake.

That was a beautiful place, I look forward to going back some sunny day, the dunes would make a top notch extreme bocce court.

Monday, February 10, 2014

MDW details

Tahkenitch Dunes trail might be a good choice if it's not too windy. Here's an Oregonian article.

Another choice would be the Harris Ranch trail in the Drift Creek Wilderness.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Does Team Wreck still exist? Did it ever exist? Are we all just figments of Dabby's drug addled imagination? I say yes, yes and no.


To prove our existence I propose the Mini Winter Deathmarch. February 15-17

Right now the plan is to meet up with Cory the Kid in Yachats on Saturday morning (with a possible stop at the Otis Cafe) and then head out for an overnight hiking trip, possibly to Drift Creek wilderness or somewhere in the dunes around Florence, I'll update this when we nail it down.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Cruise #6 - Winter Wonderland

Crew : Chief Engineer Boston, Chief Rigger Cory the Kid, Acting Ensign Dabby
Mace was absent due to "making ice sculptures", not sure if that's a euphemism.

Weather : Very cold. Around 23 F at departure, it warmed up somewhat by the time we hit the Columbia. Wind : Zero, glassy water

Chief Engineer Boston eventually coaxed the Yanmar to life but we didn't hear the happy splashing noise that means the diesel is recirculating water as coolant so he shut it down and let the impeller have some time with the space heater before we tried again.

Once the hoses thawed out it was running beautifully and we were soon underway.

We saw lots of wildlife along the channel, a few bald eagles and hundreds of birds I was calling cormorant and Dabby was calling loon.

Very little traffic on the rivers today. Lots of freighters anchored but we only saw a few other boats moving.

With the wood stove and diesel heater both going it was nice and cozy down below, we took turns steering.

It was cool going to through the swinging railroad bridge, we could see all the giant gears turning. Overall a very pleasant cruise, a lot of things that could have gone wrong didn't, which was a nice change.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Team Wreck Yacht Club

I've been chronicling the new adventures of the Team Wreck flagship over at S/V Grace O'Malley on facebook. Unfortunately some key crew members are stubborn luddites who refuse to accept the good book into their hearts, so for them I will take the time to repost here.

Cruise #1 : test run

Crew : Chief Engineer Boston, Acting Ensign Dabby

The first time Grace has been out under her own power in about three years. Minor panic upon starting the engine, as water didn't seem to be recirculating. We shut it down and Boston took the water pump apart and inspected the impeller. It looked good, he reseated it, put everything together and it worked fine.

Leaving the slip for the first time was a little nerve wracking. We're on an inside dock very close to shore, with no current or wind it would be relatively simple, unfortunately there is current and wind. We made it out and back in with no incident, I'm sure it will get easier with time. I've also asked Dabby to not shout "Full reverse!!!" in my ear whenever he gets nervous.

Once out in the channel we ran the Yanmar diesel
 almost to St. Helens and then back again. Everything worked fine, a little smoke at full throttle to start but she was soon purring.

Big thanks to the Boatyard at Rocky Point, super friendly service and she was done ahead of time and $80 under estimate, amazing. Special thanks to yard manager Travis, who gave us lots of great advice.

Cruise # 2 : That's not dirt...

 Crew : Cory, Boston, Tricia, Jerry, Travis

A lovely day on the river. We raised the mainsail for the first time in a few years, or tried to, the halyard broke on the first try (must replace running rigging) but chief rigger Cory tied some clever knots and we tried again. As the sail went up a rain of dirt came down on our heads. At least I thought it was dirt until I looked closely, heavy gray lumps of clay like stuff mixed with bits that looked like the leftover pupae from insects of unusual size. Moths maybe? Whatever they were, they didn't like to eat sailcloth, which I am grateful for. I would imagine that main sails, like every other part of a sailboat, are ridiculously expensive.

The wind was barely blowing but we cruised along for most of the afternoon and had a nice swim off Kelley Pt. Might have to invest in a swim ladder, climbing up the dinghy steps on the stern is tough.

Cruise #3 : All systems go

Crew : Boston, Dabby, Captain McCarthy, Cory the Kid, Smellen

 Great wind today, we raised the genoa and were flying. It was terrific to have the Captain on board. He sailed an Alberg on Boston Harbor for many years and has a lot of knowledge (and hilarious stories) to share.

It's hard to show how far we were heeled over from the deck, but the rail got wet and a lot of stuff slid around below. Exciting!

We also deployed the new swim ladder to great acclaim, $46 well spent.

 Smellen was delightful, as always.

Big thanks to Chief Rigger Cory for all the knot tying and stuff.

Mid tack.

Cruise #4 : Fishing with Cowboy

Cruise number 4 - Sunday afternoon, crew : Dabby, Mace, Junko, Cowboy, Michelle

Warm and sunny, winds light and variable with occasional gusts to 20 knots (I'm guessing here)

We motored up the channel to the Willamette, then raised the main and motor sailed past Kelley Pt. Park. Cowboy and Michelle dropped lines rigged for salmon off the back but there was only one bite, and minority opinion held that it might have been a piling or log and not a fish.

This was my fourth time at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers and the most exciting so far. Between wind, current, giant freighters, swarms of fishing boats and jet skis there is a lot to pay attention to. With the wind gusting strongly at times and two thirds of the crew asleep or drunk, acting first mate Dabby and I decided against raising a headsail. We sailed with the main for a few hours, just getting used to the river and all the traffic. Good practice, and another mostly pleasant day on the boat.

Cruise #5 : Overnighter to Sand Island

Crew : Eric Spence, Boston, Tricia, Jaqcue, Ted

A super fun overnight trip. Dead calm early in the day, even when we made it out to the Columbia, so we set off to circumnavigate Sauvie Island. When we made it up to St. Helens a few hours before dark the wind picked up and we tacked and jibed around downriver for a while, dodging salmon boats.

Eric Spence, King of Leisure

Grace at the Sand Island dock. We were stuck on the outside so it was a bouncy night (must get bigger fenders) but we felt lucky to find a spot, the other free docks we saw were all packed.

St. Helens from Sand Island

Boston and Tricia's campsite on the river side of Sand Island.

Breakfast and bocce, good times.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

That was an awesome Deathmarch, it turns out canoe camping is really fun. Mace has some great photos on his Flickr page.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Summer Death March : Canoe-tastraphe! is on for this weekend, Corvallis to Independence. We have a classic TW crew lined up - Mace, Dabby, Coach Dan and Rev. Phil. Join us if you dare!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Summer Death March : Canoe-tastraphe!

That's right, the first aquatic Death March! Officially on the calendar for August 9-11 (and possibly much longer if anyone has time off).

I was hoping to roll this into a much larger event including elements of Chvnk, Sprokettes, etc but that event seems to have mutated into a short float from Oregon City and a very long party on Ross Island. Which would be fun, but I've been dreaming of a much longer, river exploring adventure. So I plan to put in just north of the Eugene rapids on Friday morning and see how it goes. I hope to make it to Independence or Salem and possibly as far as Oregon City. It should be fairly easy to join in for a day or two, there are lots of places to launch and cell phones should work along the river.

I realize many Team Wreck members have little or no experience with canoes, kayaks or rafts but I think that's part of the Death March experience, being a little out of your element, snowshoeing, spelunking and now this.
Portland is awash with kayaks and canoes. You could borrow one, buy one cheap on craig's list, or build a raft. I would be glad to help, I think we could build a sturdy 8'x8' raft out of plastic barrels, 2x4s, plywood and steel cables for less than $60.

Willamette Water Trail

Willamette River Guide PDF

Detailed account of a trip up the Willamette with photos

You may wish to reread Huck Finn, Kon-Tiki or The Journals of Lewis and Clark for further inspiration.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Death March

The Spring Death March was a lot of fun. We finally made it to Crack in the Ground and it was even better than expected. Mace took some lovely photos.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Spring Death March : Crack in the Ground - April 12-14

Mace has Friday, April 12th off so we're bumping it up a week. Leaving Portland early Friday morning, returning Sunday afternoon. Bring warm clothes and gas money.