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First-ever human-powered Canada-to-Hawaii crossing postponed for a year


July 2, 2010

Greg Kolodziejzyk and WiTHiN

Greg Kolodziejzyk and WiTHiN

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Canadian adventurer Greg Kolodziejzyk's planned attempt on the world’s first human-powered Canada-to-Hawaii crossing has been delayed. Kolodziejzyk, who has set previous records for human-powered land and water travel was to embark on the two-month trip this week in his custom-built fully-enclosed pedal-powered kayak named WiTHiN. Unfortunately, however, he encountered some difficulties with the boat that couldn’t be fixed in time to make this year’s departure window.

WiTHiN’s problems became apparent during two four-day shakedown trips on British Columbia’s protected coastal waterways, and on its large Lake Okanagan.

According to his blog, Kolodziejzyk’s first concern was the possibility of broaching (capsizing sideways) when drifting while he slept. Although a larger rudder and added weight in the stern were supposed to encourage the boat to turn downwind while drifting, he found that WiTHiN still had a tendency to turn sideways to the wind - and into the oncoming waves. “On ocean swells of 6 to 10 feet or more and the odd breaking wave, with winds from 15 to 20 knots, I think that I would capsize and roll - over and over” he stated. He has since added a horizontal wing to the rudder, in hopes of alleviating the problem.

His next concern involved the deployment of the drogue - a device that is towed underwater behind the boat, making it easier to control in rough weather. Kolodziejzyk realized that standing up and opening the pilot hatch to manage the apparatus, especially in storm conditions, would be “suicidal”. He now has a system for deploying the drogue from inside the boat (pictured below).

Excessive rolling was also an issue, as was the bow’s tendency to pierce into and submerge under waves. As these were mostly noted on the lake, Greg hopes that they won’t be as pronounced on the larger, smoother swells of the ocean. That said, he also readily admits that he needs more experience pedaling WiTHiN on overnight, open-ocean trips. To that end, he is currently in the midst of ten days of sea trials, following the beginning of the route he would take from British Columbia to Hawaii.

Hopefully, everything will be worked out in time for his planned attempt at the crossing next year. In the meantime, he will continue working on WiTHiN, rebuilding funds, and perhaps brainstorming over two of his proposed upcoming adventures - a human-powered snowmobile crossing of Greenland, and a human-powered caterpillar crossing of the Sahara Desert.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

He\'s nuts!

bio-power jeff

I have had words with this man in some rather terse email exchanges, most notably the idiot design of his keel that is just made to snag and drag on any and everything, along with the prop coupled to it.

Then toss in how easily it can be broken off or torn off the boat from hitting a solid bobbing object, or become entangled in drifting net etc....

And then tie in the fact that he cannot get in or out of his boat and unfoul the prop - and it won\'t take much to take Mr Genius\'s boat to a bobbing halt.

He said \"What would you know, what are your qualifications, this boat was designed by a genius\".

I shot back - \"Yeah and I am not an idiot who does the marine equivalent of riding his pushbike through a forest trail with a long handled shovel tied to the handlebars.\"

He ignored my advice and my snagless drive design....

So if and when he comes to grief - I\'ll say, \"I told you so\".

You heard it first here.

Mr Stiffy

No naval engineer, I, but an able sailor.

Pedaling a ballasted monohull across a big chunk o\' water sounds like one of the dumber stunts I can recall.

A nice catamaran would be many times lighter, more stable and less prone to snagging on anything.

When a drogue or anchor rode is laid out from one hull (for sleeping or resting), the boat very politely sits at a slight angle, not \'hunting\' back and forth as a monohull will when the wind or waves hit alternate sides.

This just does not look like a good idea, and the value of pedaling to Hawaii escapes me completely. (SEE:Sails)


A outrigger similar to those used by Hawaiian natives on their boats will solve your stability problem.


ive been following greg for a while. i have always been interested in human powered vehicles, not because i think it\'s great to break physical or expeditional records, but because it\'s interesting to see how effective an engineer could be at yoking efficiency out of a machine that doesnt\' use conventional fuel.

greg always just struck me as an exercise freak. more power to him, but i think his schtick is getting old. he doesn\'t seem to exploring ad pushing the limits of engineering so much anymore, as trying to get notoriety by breaking or establishing more novel records. records, which frankly aren\'t that interesting to me or most people.

good luck greg, but for your next project try and be a bit more creative.

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