Some serious Father’s Day bonding
Post Independent intern
Amidst the heavy rain and fallen logs of the North Pacific, Glenwood Springs locals Bo and Kelsey Bohanon are in the middle of participating in a 750-mile boat race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska.
The race, dubbed Race 2 Alaska, began June 14. It has few rules, but most importantly all boats in the race must be powered by something other than a motor. Anything from sails to oars to stand-up paddle boards are allowed.
“There are going to be bigger boats than ours, and smaller boats, but in terms of winning, I’d say there’s probably six to eight boats that are going to be competitive, and we will be one of them,” said father Bo.
Bo and his daughter Kelsey make up a team of four along with two close friends, Molly McPartland and Jack Gallagher. Their boat is a trimaran sailboat powered by human pedaling and rowing. With the help of Carbondale bike wizard Aaron Taylor, Bo and Kelsey crafted a propeller out of a bicycle chain, a bike frame, pedals and a small propeller blade.
“I just went in there with nothing, basically just a very simple drawing of an idea that was just to connect a bicycle crank to a propeller, and that’s all I really knew, with a chain,” said Kelsey.
Using tips they learned from sailors who have previously participated in the race, Bo and Kelsey started with the propeller and then began to connect different bicycle parts to see what worked.
“The two of us were in there once a week for three or four hours a day,” Bo said.
The finished product came about three months after the initial attempt. Once it was done, they had to duplicate the unit so they would have backup power, and then figure out how to attach it to the boat. They also made a seat for the pedalers to lounge in as they pedal, and added new sails, solar panels for electricity and a lighting system so they will hopefully be able to avoid logs when sailing at night.
“That’s not a regular method by people in this race,” Kelsey said. “I don’t think anybody has tried that before.”
The winner of the race will receive a $10,000 prize, and the second place winner will get a set of steak knives. The Bohanons are looking forward to making an attempt to win, but more so than that, they are excited about the adventure aspect of the trip.
“My goals are to get up there safely, to not break the boat and to have a great time with some of my best friends and with Kelsey,” Bo said. “It will be a stressful thing, and I think the people you choose to be with are the most important part of it.”
The team is a mix of all ages and genders, and Bo said he thinks the four of them will do well together personality-wise and because of their shared sailing experience.
“I guess my main goal is to just explore that part of the world,” Kelsey said. “It’s a really cool opportunity to do that, and a boat is a really cool way to do it from, because a lot of the area that we’ll be covering is really, really remote.”
Most of the towns along the west coast of British Columbia and Alaska are only accessible by boat or plane, leaving much of the land untouched by many humans.
“I’m definitely nervous. I think if you weren’t nervous, you wouldn’t really know what you were doing,” Kelsey said. “Not that we know what we’re doing, but at least we know that we don’t know what we’re doing.”