Folks who spend a lot of time on the water like to refer to those who make good decisions and well-considered preparations as “prudent mariners.” Team Monkey Fist are what you might call “prudent mariners,” and they indeed have gone through the crucial, years-long process of getting their asses whooped to earn the title. To understand how these naval tree-swingers came to earn this moniker while standing proudly on the finish line dock in Ketchikan yesterday afternoon, you might want to take a quick mental journey back to the R2AK Proving Ground 2017.
For those following the race for the first time this year, you may have been tricked into believing that the R2AK Proving Ground is a tame beast—a black labrador watchdog more likely to lick your eyeball than send you jumping the chain link fence. Maybe it’s losing its touch, maybe it’s getting soft. Maybe climate change. But how about last year? Or maybe back in the day?
Dead center in the grip of the 2017 flash-bang-grenade that landed in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was Rob Hodge—captain of this year’s Team Monkey Fist, and 2016 and 2017’s aptly named “Team Hodge.” 2016 was another half-effort by the Proving Ground gods, but 2017 found our hero very wet, upside down, and in trouble. After a waved-off visit from the Coast Guard, and a not-waived-off commercial tow, he eventually made it across the Strait—albeit landing in an entirely different country than he set out to.
The team then grew by a Dave, the sock monkey George, and the good vessel Lady Jane, which competed in and completed WA360, taking the fastest time ever for a 33rd place finish in that race.
Cut to: December of last year. Race High Command heard tell that the fine vessel Lady Jane had burned at her moorings in Seattle. She’d been partying a little too hard with some Christmas lights, and poof: 2023 R2AK dreams dashed.
For like 2 days.
Hodge and Dave whiplashed their way into a new boat, with an additional crewmember, with huge support from fans and a sponsorship from (R2AK Presenting Sponsor) Fisheries Supply.
It appears that nothing can stop these MFers.
Arriving on the dock at 12:34 PM Alaska time yesterday, Hodge and team finally came ashore in Ketchikan, a full seven years after this story began. Along the way, somebody had secretly stowed aboard a rubber chicken for good luck. That chicken’s name?
Header photo by Jim Meyers