June 9 - 13, 2008

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Very brief summary: Andrew Linn

I would have quit every day of the race if I could have. The heat was brutal (the Texas daily lows were over 20 degrees above the Oregon daily highs.) The winds were unfathomable - people talked of 30mph gusts and 4ft seas (I think the winds were in the low 20s at worst and I don't know sea heights, but 4ft seems high to me.)

The worst problem was that we couldn't go to windward. The boats had shallow keels and the wind just over powered the lateral resistance. When we tried reefing (dropping the main or the jib or rolling up the main) the sails became so unbalanced the lee or weather helm was almost uncontrollable. The work was killer 8 and 10 hour days without rest or respite - lose attention for 1/2 second and your were rounded into the irons or running to leeward.

There were three periods of great joy.. The first was skimming down the windward edge of Corpus Christi Bay in high winds and cross seas - The pounding was terrific, that flat bow and hard corners really slams into the waves.Prior to this, it was just fighting to keep to the windward side of the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW.) The ICW is about 100 yards wide, and 50yard wide barges come down it when ever they feel like it. The ICW is monotonous and terrifying - meaning it is very stressful and no fun. Corpus Christi Bay was a hoot.

Pounding 6 miles across the unprotected San Antonio Bay as we tried to run across - the ICW dumped us out on one end and we had to pick it up again on the other. This is where the PDRs really impressed the 'big boat boys' and mostly because of my idiocy. 6 miles took a little more than 2 hours - mostly because we have to fight so hard to stay to windward we only go about 2 - 2.5kts forward motion. The winds and seas were very heavy - high teens to low 20s on the wind, the seas ran perpendicular to our path and were often confused, hitting us from the side and the back at the same time. I fought to keep close to the channel markers so I knew I wasn't sliding into the area where the barges would be (they sneak up on you.) I stayed so close, I got into the habit of battling my way to the next channel marker and passing it close enough to slap it with my hand. Try that in difficult conditions. A guy in a 35 or 37ft Catalina had snuck up on me and was going to ask me if I was OK when he watched me slap a buoy. He just waved and kept going.

And the last day was magical. John W had made what I considered an enormous sacrifice, something I still don't know if I will have the courage to emulate, should I get the chance. His boat has a leeboard and his sail stayed balanced when reefed - he could go to windward much better than either Jason or I. Jason was better at going to windward than I was, but on the 4th day, neither Jason nor I could follow the 'big boaters' when they left the ICW and ran down to the last campsite. John could follow them - he had successfully weathered the lee point while Jason and I had to turn around and seek shelter in the ICW. Jason and I were going to be cut off from the rest of the group, we were going to sail on until it got dark and then spend the night on our own

Then John came back. He wouldn't leave us, even though he could have camped in comfort with the rest of the group.John didn't abandon us. And that, my friends, is a man. I will try, but I don't know if I will have the courage to do the same should I ever have the opportunity in the future.

So that night, with our bows crammed into a crab infested sand cliff and our sterns hanging out in the ICW, Jason figured out how to attach a spare rudder to my boat and a canoe paddle to his so we could have makeshift leeboards. Rudimentary tools, few supplies, and no options. It was determination created by desperation.

And in the morning on the final day, we set off and sailed 12 miles down the ICW in formation, each boat not more than 20ft away from the others. A flotilla of 'Ducks traveling at a stately 2.8kt (wind was dead on our beam but lighter than other days.)

And when we landed at Magnolia Beach, we landed together, to the cheers and accolades of the crowds. When John came back - that instant when he rounded the corner and came back to us - made me realize we weren't individual 'Duckers out to compete. We were a team, a flotilla, and armada (or better yet, a flock) of 'Ducks, and it was OUR accomplishment, not mine or Jason's or John's.

I tried to quit every day. I finally had to quit trying to quit and just finish it. And of that, I am proud.