Stage 2, Day 17: Whaling in the Rain

The Grim Sweeper will pass near Port Hardy around noon today. We hear it’s been blasting Norwegian Black Metal on its unholy sound system.

Day 17 of R2AK 2024, and the race continues. Yesterday, Team Victory Oar Duff rowed their way into Ketchikan, grabbing the 22nd finishing spot with a time of 16 days, 10 hours, and 8 minutes. These six active-duty Royal Canadian Navy servicemen weren’t just racing; they were on the job. Their journey was an officially sanctioned training exercise, making their effort as official as it gets—perhaps medals await them, though it’s unclear if the Navy gives awards for extreme dampness.

06.28 Victoryoarduff Finish Weintrob 13

Rowing their 28-foot Montague Whaler fast past the finish line breakwater, they were serenaded by the Canadian National Anthem. It was a fitting soundtrack for a team that took the challenge by the horns and rowed it into submission.

When they finally hit the dock, it was clear that “wet” was the word of the day. They were wet. Their boat was wet. Their gear was wet. In fact, the word “wet” might have just taken on new, undiscovered dimensions. Asked about their trip, they summed it up succinctly: “wet.”

But wet or not, they didn’t waste time celebrating. After the traditional finish line beers and a dense chocolate cake provided by the fine folks of Ketchikan, they hopped back in the whaler and headed up Tongass Narrows to the US Coast Guard base. There, they flashed their Navy credentials and secured some cots for the night—because even the toughest need a good night’s sleep.

Next on their agenda is getting the boat back south, and they’ve made it no secret that they’d happily accept a tow to Prince Rupert. So if you’ve got a spare tugboat and a sense of adventure, give these guys a lift. They’ve earned it.

Only three left out there in the wilds.

R2AK out.

Photos by Garret Weintrob