Team Funky Dory 2019 Race to Alaska

Team Funky Dory

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Team members: Thor Belle, Pax Templeton
Hometown: Walpole, Maine, USA
Race vessel: Swampscott Dory
LOA: 15.9′
Human propulsion: Row
Connect: instagram, website, website 2

Here in R2AK’s word factory, we’re pretty self-impressed with how we tell a story. We imagine our self-actualized and gilded keyboard giggling praise at how we take the rote and plebiscite ‘Just the facts ma’am’ data we get from the whoevers who gave it to us and turn it into their resonant story they’re too close to to think of. Once in a while something lands in our inbox with uncut and unprocessed power/humility/sincerity that even we have to pay attention to it.

Yes, even us.

Such is the case with Team Funky Dory. We didn’t riff on their team name sounding like a 1960’s R&B dance/single, bemuse on the folly of getting a tiny boat to Alaska—we even refrained from mentioning that we know the shipwright who built their boat (well, almost). Their boat, their attitude, the fact that they worked on their boat in our Northwest Maritime Center mothership; we love everything about Team Funky Dory, including their own words, included here (truncated for length but with minimal edits):

“Our craft is a 16’ Swampscott Dory built in 1978 in Anacortes, WA by David Jackson. We found her in the bushes down by the Columbia RIver, where she had been sitting for the last ten years, half-heartedly covered and just waiting for some fools to come along and give her a second life. The owner agreed to sell her to me for a dollar after hearing a long story about wanting to raise money to help the ocean by restoring an old wooden boat and going on a crazy adventure with it.

I spent relentless weeks in the Northwest Maritime Center’s boatshop restoring and repairing the boat to the best of my abilities. There were two major cracks, one of which had been repaired with chopsticks, dental floss, and spray foam. All the steam bent oak frames had warped and pulled up from the bottom. Each had to be carefully shimmed and refastened. A ridiculous amount of varnish was used after stripping all the compromised sections back to bare wood…because the wood was so damn pretty.

She rows like a dream and sails well with a traditional sprit rig. As a team we are continuing to make modifications to improve our safety, speed, and comfort. We are adding the dodger to keep out the spray, drysuits and wool for the remaining exposure. Positive buoyancy will be achieved through the use of two inflatable beach rollers generously provided by Duckworks. Josh Colvin (*clears throat,* *cough, cough* ‘ATTENTION: SPONSOR SUCK UP,’ – R2AK.) has also provided a healthy bit of advice and expertise on small boat cruising.

We are not intimidated by the physical and mental challenges of the race itself. This is not to say that we aren’t aware of the dangers, but rather that we feel prepared for and comfortable with navigating them. The ocean will deal us whatever she feels and we will take precautions and react accordingly. We both have learned that respect for the ocean is what keeps people at sea alive. You cannot fight, you can only endure. This is particularly true in a sub 16’ open wooden boat. Luckily, planning, training, adapting, and enduring are what we do best and we are eager for the chance to put our skills and knowledge to the test.

We have decided to strive to make this something more. On a philosophical level, there comes a point when a problem becomes so far-reaching and complex that to take a small bite of it seems almost useless. The desire to throw up one’s hands and say “fuck it” clouds the mind with doubt and despair. To say the least, maintaining a glimmer of hope while watching our oceans degrade has become a daunting task.

We truly believe that the greatest threat facing our oceans is our collective apathy to its ongoing destruction. We’ve realized that when all you have to do is “something” to make a positive change, the doubt and despair become manageable. Herein lies our call for action. Start a conversation. Learn something new. Donate time, money, expertise, effort, ANYTHING that fills up the bucket, drop by drop. The more the health and wellbeing of our oceans is in our public discourse, the more effort we will make, as a whole, to preserve and protect it.

We are testing out a new approach with the R2AK and will be trying our hardest to use our adventures to inspire others to care about our oceans. We are trying to provide a model for those who would take it upon themselves to enact change.”

We couldn’t have said it better/wordier ourselves. We started this five races ago with the idea of creating something that we’d want to do: get the most out of going to Alaska by floating the least and inspiring others to become more engaged. Team Funky Dory is that idea in spades. Couldn’t be prouder.

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Funky Dory. We are proud to be the second step in your three step plan to save the world:

Step 1: Find an abandoned rowboat in the bushes.
Step 2: Fix it up and Race to Alaska.
Step 3: Save the world.