SEVENTY48 2023: Day One

The Plan:

Get ourselves launched, across the start line, past the first waypoint at Owen Beach, and about halfway up Colvos before camping for the night. This is one of the years that Colvos Passage (that “always” runs north) doesn’t help the racers through the night.

Sure, it’s not much current to fight against, and there are certainly ways to avoid it… but look at that morning ebb – isn’t that a beautiful thing?

We planned to rest for a few hours and then get going in the morning to capitalize on the ebb cycle.

How it Went:

We headed for registration as soon as it opened at Noon – things went smoothly there.

Then we headed back to our homes to do our final prep and grab a snack (first PB&J of the race).

We headed back down to Thea Foss and got our boats in the water and loaded relatively quickly. Our work to minimize our food & gear made this easier than it had been in years past.

With the kayaks fully loaded, we grabbed a bench to snack and rest until it was time to don our dry suits. We got ourselves ready and were in our boats, waiting for the 7:00pm starting flag. We waited with anticipation alongside more than one hundred other teams. Well… maybe slightly behind most of those teams. The official starting lineup is: “if you don’t think you’re going to win the race, maybe hang back. Those first few minutes aren’t going to make a difference.” We heed that advice and generally start near the back of the pack.

We headed out with the other racers and paddled towards the Olympics. The conditions were pretty good and the sunset was gorgeous. It was then that I realized that those mountains we could see… those mountains that seemed so far away… were actually closer than the finish line. It put this race into perspective.

The conditions improved as we headed into Colvos Passage and approached our planned stop for the night. The winds died down and the waves gave way to glass-flat water. I kept thinking that I was seeing bioluminescence as we have nearly every year. But it was actually the reflection of the nearly-full moon. It was too bright for us to see the bioluminescence in the light of the moon.

As we landed, each of us had our own thoughts of pushing forward instead of camping. Conditions were nearly perfect, and the forecast predicted pretty unfavorable winds. But our trip up Colvos in the dark in 2021 is still a little too fresh. And one of us had participated in unplanned rescues less than a week ago. And we were all on the tired side. So we decided to stick to our plan.

We set up camp in record time. The moon was bright enough that we kept thinking we’d left a light on inside the tent. We rested and slept with an alarm set for just before civil twilight so we could take advantage of the good conditions forecast for the morning.


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