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Mini Book Review: "Row to Alaska by Wind & Oar" by Pete & Nancy Ashenfelter

In the summer of 1983, after much preperation and the building of a custom tandem 17' rowing dory, 50 plus year olds Peter and Nancy Ashenfelter pushed off from Lopez Island WA to row to Ketchikan AK--up the Northwest Inland Passage. For 750 miles and sixty seven days the Ashenfelter's endured high winds (50+ gusts in the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbor), 10' to 12' waves (Dixon Entrance), tide rips, whirlpools--and way too much rain--traveling by small boat through some of the most beautiful 'big mountian water land' on the planet.

Nancy and Pete trade chapters, and points of view, as they row 20 to 40+ strokes a minute, 6 to 16+ miles per day rowing their way north along Canada's British Columbia Coast. Though others have done the same, none 'suffered' such inclement weather. The Pacific High--bringing gentle breezes and day after day of sun and warmth--never materialized. This small boat adventure is tough to put down as Pete and Nancy battle for each mile, in some cases every inch, in their determined effort to reach their goal--Ketchikan!

The book has rough maps and a route guide to give the reader a good sense of the journey. Pictures are lacking though, camera and negitives were lost in a capsize towards the end of the trip...!

SBF received a letter from Nancy recently and she explains that Pete wrote an article "Rowing to Alaska: The Boat" (published in "Nor'Westing" and "Messing about in Boats") in which the vessel is better discribed. The Dion Dory, a Swampscott type was chosen, 17'4" LOA and designed and built by Geremy Snapp of Upright Boat Works on Lopez Is. WA. Geremy used Sitka spruce for the planking, as light and strong, plus it resists wrenching as the boat is beached in surf. San Jaun fir was chosen for the ribs due to its "thick late wood growth", again light and strong. The stern, Malaysian kapur, was chosen for its ability to hold the nails and screws of the side planking, bottom and rudder assembly. The stem and keel are of oak for its ultimate toughness. The bottom was given special attention with the addition of a bronse half-round along the keel and the addition of two sponsons that improved beaching and gave a bit of lateral stability while underway. The oars were spruce, narrow bladed. The 90 sq.ft. lug cut sail was raised on a 12 foot (take down) mast and used for downwind rowing relief.

If your contemplating a smal boat adventure a nifty "Equipment and Supplies" guide is found in the chapter 'Appendix A'. All in all this book rates very high on the SBF Boating Read List!

Thom V


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Topic - Mini Book Review: "Row to Alaska by Wind & Oar" by Pete & Nancy Ashenfelter - Thom V 14:15:43 07/22/01 (5)


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