Dec 20, 2018

Pitoraq Graham Heath and Team Pitoraq look for a new challenge as they prepare for the 2019 Race to Alaska (R2ak) This is the last year of the original R2ak Race

Many of our OnBoard readers have already heard about Graham Heath and his boat Pitoraq, a Windward 30 that Graham and his father after having bought the deck and the haul in 1979, went on to finish the boat and finally launched it in 1981.

Pitoraq, as you may remember, was the winner of the 2017 Vancouver Island Racing Series. Graham retired in June of this year and felt the need for new challenges. Graham has always been very good at solving problems and building things. The five years he spent rebuilding a classic Volvo P1800 which was destined for the scrap yard is a testament to that.

These are the main points components of the Race the to Alaska. The first leg of the race is 40 miles from Port Townsend to Victoria BC, This gives participants a taste of what lies ahead. The next leg of the race is from Victoria to Ketchikan Alaska some 710 miles. There can be no engine on the boat and there can be no support staff during the race.
https://r2ak.com/

Graham, having made the commitment to take on the R2ak Race had this to say: “After deciding to jump into the R2AK with Pitoraq, we saw three major hurdles to overcome. 1) Propulsion without wind, 2) Electricity without a generator, and 3) Food without refrigeration.”

Building The Oar Locks Building of the Oar Locks


“For propulsion we looked at pedal drives but went to oars to minimize cost and avoid major changes to the boat. Oars should be simple BUT - how long, where to position the rower, oarlocks, seat, footrest? It all has to work together, and we still need to be able to sail the boat.”

Testing The Oar Lock Prototype Testing the Oar Lock Prototype

“We started with 2x2s lashed to the pushpit and the rower sitting on a plank across the cockpit.  The oarlocks have evolved from lashings, to plywood crutches, to pivoting oarlocks on aluminum mounts. The oars themselves have become carbon fiber sweeps.” 

Oar Lock The Oar Lock


“Oarlocks are done and installed. Started with a plywood crutch then a plywood bracket for the pivoting oarlock, then the final in aluminum It looks like it is going to work but still more to sort out with the seat and footrest. Electricity and Food remain to be solved but 1 out of 3 is a start!”

In the following week at the Canadian Forces Sailing Association facilities in Esquimalt I bumped into Graham with the wheelbarrow and some engine parts so I asked Graham what’s up?

“It is funny how circumstances can take you down a path that seems to make no sense. 1) Entering R2Ak means the diesel engine has to come out of Pitoraq - plan - pull the engine in May. 2) We will want a motor to get back from Ketchikan - plan - crate the engine and ship it to Ketchikan from Seattle early June, reinstall when we get there (confidence!). 3) The old Yanmar is a bit rough and smokey - plan - pull injectors and send to Gartside for clean and test. 4) Injectors out, I feel a bump at TDC when rolling the engine over (merde!), better pull the head. Head off, bores look good, carbon buildup in cyl 2 - plan - send head to Gartside for rebuild, clean carbon and reinstall. 5) Go to Hawaii for a week, come back, head is ready to go. Carefully clean gasket surfaces, bores, and piston tops WTF! Now I see a crack in piston #2 - plan - abort reassembly, pull engine and send to Gartside for assessment. 6) Engine is repairable, need two new piston and ring sets and bores honed. Plan - get repaired short block back from Gartside, add a high u-type mixing elbow, reassemble at home and reinstall before Christmas. 7) Return to step 1 in May after having some good practice removing and replacing a motor. Unless the Plan changes!?”

The OnBoard newsletter plans to follow Graham and the exploits of team Pitoraq right through to the finish line in Ketchikan Alaska.

-BN

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