Friday, October 30, 2009

How it really happens: Part 3 - 541

"I will update my site with pictures and more details of our adventures but I want to start with first things first. We by ourselves didn't get through the passage. A whole bunch of people got through the passage with us. We received an unbelievable amount of help pulling this off and I am going to start by recognizing these folks."

5. Dan and Carrie Elzinga: Dan and Carrie showed up at our doorstep one day to invite us to attend their house Church. I had on an angry tear stained face, my hands were covered in work grease, my eyes were red, and Deb and I were in the middle of an argument Deb and I had also just got done with a horrible house Church experience the month before. I told them that we would come, but that I wasn't really sure we were interested in a house Church right now (and thinking to myself that I wasn't interested in Church of any form period.) They still invited us over. These two people just plain took care of us, and showed us love. They put up with our kids, our dog, my whacked sense of humor and became good friends. Dan is humble and gentle (in the Matthew 11:29 sense, not a weak baby sense), and Carrie goes between wanting to kill me or hug me but always loves. When it came time for us to leave, they let us borrow their car and worked hard along side of us as we did the hardest part of this whole thing: Leaving. They also took under their care our very loved and very needy dog, Sheba. We felt very good about that. They discipled us, loved us, took care of us, fed us, and taught us. We needed them. The only thing we had to give back was friendship and prayer. We are thankful for that friendship.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How it really happens: Part 2

Giving thanks part 2:

4. Graham Dillabough: I really should thank the entire group of Ham Radio operators who make up S.O.N.R.A. I will. But Graham really stands out. When I started the project of installing a high frequency amateur/marine radio system with global email capability on my boat I had no idea the learning curve I would face. Graham stuck with me through the entire curve. We first started off by building a bookshelf, but the next project was building a dual VHF/HF SWR meter. Probably most of you don't know know what this is, and neither did I. I had worked 20 years in electronics, but had little experience in RF (Radio) energy. Enter Graham. I am completely used to being the person with the technical experience and it was nice for once in my life to have someone who thoroughly understood something technical that I didn't and was willing to share it. I became the "grasshopper" and he became master Po. We blew through a spring worth of Saturdays, weekday late night sessions, three radios, and a half dozen ground solutions before we had a rock solid email and emergency radio system with redundant power and antenna's. This system worked flawlessly allowing me to communicate with the NW Passage net and update my blog through HF email throughout the entire passage. In the meantime, Graham was a patient friend who really made my winter in Newfoundland worth it. Graham also owns a Lotus 7, bonus. When I come back to Newfoundland, it will be to see Graham. Thanks Graham.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How it really happens: Part 1

We just completed the Northwest Passage. Unlike my parents predicted, their grandchildren are not dead or maimed. Unlike we feared, Precipice is still floating and can sail. We are still married, and are sleeping in the same bed which is nice after a summer of sleeping separately. The enormity of tackling the NW Passage is not something easily transferable to landlubbers, and most sailors don't get it either. I am getting emails from people asking for advice on going through the passage and I now know why so few of the emails I sent asking the same questions were not answered. People didn't want to be responsible. I will update my site with pictures and more details of our adventures but I want to start with first things first. We by ourselves didn't get through the passage. A whole bunch of people got through the passage with us. We received an unbelievable amount of help pulling this off and I am going to start by recognizing these folks. As soon as I do this, as anything with words does, I am sure to forget or offend someone. I still must start. As for those who actively worked against us, well, you can eat my wake.

1. Rachael Scholten: Rachael is my wife's sister. I first met Rachael when she was eight and in pigtails. We have always had fun together and our friendship took off from the beginning. It probably would have faded away when Rachael "grew up" except for her buying a battle scarred farm truck that should have been towed away rather than be a commuter to college. Rachael brought it to me because she couldn't stop, and later because it had no heat, and later because it wouldn't stay running and and and . . . The end result was we ended up talking to each other quite a bit in her first year of college. She was having a crisis because although she enjoyed her business classes, she didn't want to work "in business". I told her she would make a great nurse. She had had the same thought earlier that morning. Two days later she had changed her major. We have come a long way since those days and Rachael is my closest friend. Without Rachael's friendship the dream of the trip would not have started, and without Rachael's support we would have aways been a day late and a dollar short for almost all of the steps it took to get through the passage. Thank you God for that truck. And for Rachael.

2. Brian Brunsting: Brian Brunsting was my second Calvin College roommate. My first semester I was paired up with a person who was permanently attached to his girlfriend. I opted out of the midnight pre-cellphone dorm room calls and went potluck and got Brian in exchange. If only he knew now what he didn't know then he probably would have gone screaming. Mr. Brunsting and I have been friends since then. I am one of the few in Grand Rapids that knew him before he met his wife Julie and got all respectable. Before then we were a crazy pair, brazenly calling Dominoes pizza every night one minute before closing (12:30) and then finding the money for it somehow after the call. We dropped gourds at whim. The art paparazzi feared us. Since those days he has become a mild mannered graphic artist who can't come to the phone right now. But make no mistake, he is my secret weapon. With his help I can take over companies, build websites, make invincible resumes and make the government and my clients believe that I still reside in Michigan. I am greatly indebted to Brian for handling my mail, which would kill a lesser man. The stress of opening past due bill after past due bill would have most crying like a baby begging for mercy. Not Brian. Thank you my friend.

3. Patrick O'Neill: I was bumping my head into something but I couldn't figure out what. I had successfully gotten rid of everything material in our lives that didn't have to do with our goal of embarking on a major sailing trip. I had eliminated our debt, and in the process of getting ready I had slipped out of a 20 year career trajectory that had me training technicians and professors nationwide about how to diagnose automotive electronics. I was waking up in the mornings and going like gangbusters, but I was internally tired and doubting myself. I initially met Pat ten years earlier when I lost to him in court over a misdiagnosed starter. Instead of leaving the courtroom as enemies we both left the courtroom thinking better of the other. I entered thinking he was a greedy old man, and left admiring the thoroughness and care that he took in defending his client. He entered the courtroom thinking me a foolish young buck that couldn't see past my own pride. We both were wrong, and we left as friends. I really think this friendship saved the trip, and me. Pat believed in me. I don't really know how he sees what he does, but he systematically showed me that I was going somewhere and he didn't for a minute show any doubt about the trip. It was his belief in me that allowed me to take the jump and go for it when the passage opened up in 2008. Before I met Pat, something inside of me was dying - the dead at 35 buried at 75 thing. Pat is almost 80. He still has much to give. Thank you Pat, for the gifts you gave to me. Oh, and Pat, I will finish that book.

Many more thanks to come . . . .

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Nome Part Deux

Our dingy is persistently missing. We are outside of our trip parameters, so we are going to pull Precipice here - a plan "C" that was something we had prepared for. Right now we are looking for jobs, trying to find housing, enrolling the kids in school, and getting Precipice ready for winter. Real winter. At least that was the plan as of 8AM this morning. Thank you to everyone who have left comments, and sent us email. I just cleaned out my email account of spam and I have over 400 emails that I have to respond to. I haven't had real Internet access since August 27. Sorry for the delay.

Rolland's 7 Handy Trip Parameter Guides:
1. Are you still having fun? - Yes
2. Is all safety equipment intact? - No, Halocline the dingy/liferaft is missing.
3. Are you getting stronger or weaker? - Stronger.
4. Is your equipment getting hardened or is it breaking down? - Engine out of commission.
5. Do you have adequate spares? - Not enough valve springs.
6. Have you kept to your trip schedule/weather benchmarks that you made when you weren't tired and cold? - We made the Arctic Circle before the end of Sept. but we haven't made Dutch Harbor by Oct. 5.
7. Is everyone healthy? - Yes.

If any one of these seven are negative, I abort the trip and go to the nearest point of safety. We have three negatives. Time to pull.