Monthly Archives: January 2010

The WRN Ship “Victoria” – first of the fleet

Back to our “regular programming” as they say. But first, thanks to all of you who have been praying for the people in Port au Prince, and who have donated to the Haitian Pilgrims or the other organizations doing such vital work right now in Haiti. I don’t know who you are, but I’m told there were quite a few checks received from people who said they were In the Navy! St. Philip, our old church, raised over $27,000 for the Haitin Pilgrims work. Our current church, with it’s own financial problems, pulled in almost $8,000. I know this is happening all over the world and it confirms my faith in people.

This idea of entering the MR340 is a leap of faith, and your prayers, encouragement, and contributions really confirm mine. Two other great things have happened. First our friend Victoria offered to let me use her ‘yak for training until I can manage to get something better suited for 340 miles of the Missouri River. So, it’s official. The WRN ship Victoria will set sail – as soon as the weather warms up a little!

The second amazing thing was a phone call from Wally, another member of the Navy and one of Los Humongos Paddleos. It seems he has a one man racing canoe down in Austin that he’s offered to let me use for the race, if I need it. So, in the event that I can’t get the kayak I want, I’ll have one to train in and a good fast canoe for the race. This thing is really starting to happen. Again, thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement.

While it was cold out I did a little research. And what I uncovered is a real incentive for me to get out there and in better shape….

* The MR340 is the world’s longest river race. 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles. That’s 30 miles longer than the length of Lake Michigan.
* 1/3 of the people who start the race will not finish.
* At a normal rate of paddling, it takes about 200,000 strokes to finish. With a 16 ounce paddle, that amounts to lifting 108 tons. A semi truck carries a load of about 25 tons.
* The barges that “share” the river with the racers are made up of sections that are each 30′ wide and 200′ long. Each section (I think they’re called tows) carry up to 800 tons. They draw 9′ of water and rise 4′ above the water loaded. Unloaded they’re about 10′ above the water. And 4 or 5 of these are strapped together. A monster that’s 60 times the length and 3,200 times the weight of a fully loaded kayak is, well, best avoided. Especially at night. They don’t stop or turn easily.
* The Missouri River carries 1/6 of all the watershed in North America. With the current snowpack upriver it should be fast and deep at the end of July. A lot bigger than some of the creeks I paddled in the Ozarks!

OH BOY. Ok, enough blogging, I gotta hit the floor for some pushups.

Cap’n Ned

PS: Do you like the WRN t-shirt? If you’re on the list for updates to this blog you’re entered for a chance to win one of these limited edition collector’s items. I know many of you are getting this from friends who’ve forwarded it – you’re not entered! So, send me an email for your chance to win!


Reflections on the quake…

Like all of you I’ve been watching the TV news and reading the reports in the paper about the earthquake in Port au Prince. The magnitude of this is almost too much to understand. But, beyond the immediate tragedy I’ve been thinking about the reasons.

About fifteen years ago San Francisco had a magnitude 7+ earthquake. There was a huge amount of property damage but fewer than 100 people lost their lives. Now Port au Prince gets hit with a 7.0 magnitude quake and 100,000 and 140,000 people are dead immediately. It’s not the earthquake that killed these people, it’s poverty they’re forced to endure that did it. Years of rule by Haitian dictators, well meaning but flawed U.S. foreign policy, and neglect by the international community have left (kept?) the country in ruins. So this earthquake hit a city filled with buildings that were poorly built, roads that can’t handle the logistics required to get aid to the people, and a largely non-functioning government. Many lost their lives in the quake. Many more will die from lack of treatment for their injuries. And, during the next few years thousands more will die because what little economy existed has been crushed by this disaster.

Several members of the navy have asked about Boileau, where the Haitian Pilgrims have been working (and the reason for this blog and my race in July). Boileau has made great progress in the last few years. Fortunately it was spared the effects of the earthquake but it still lives on the edge of disaster – waiting for another hurricane, landslide, or bad crop year. So, while we all see the need in Port au Prince, it’s the entire country that needs our thoughts and prayers – for the long haul. The Haitian Pilgrims are doing great work to help Boileau prepare itself for the unexpected.

But, back to the earthquake and Port au Prince….. The Haitian Pilgrims have been working with another organization in Haiti called Food For the Poor. FFP is rated as more effective by non-profit rating agencies than most of the other organizations you’ve heard of. Their buildings and operations in Port au Prince escaped most of the damage. They are on the ground and open for business with an effective and dedicated staff. And, because of the relationship the Haitian Pilgrims have with FFP 100% of the funds received by the Pilgrims and sent to FFP will be spent in the Port au Prince relief effort.

Take a look at Matthew 25:35 and Matthew 5:14-16. If you feel moved to help, you can send a tax deductible check, made out to Haitian Pilgrims, to:

Haitian Pilgrims
844 Lochmoor Lane
Highland Village, TX 75077-3106

And, if you write that check, let them know you’re a member of the White Rock Navy.

If you’ve already donated to another cause or can’t help this time I understand. You can also help by forwarding this to anyone you think might be interested. And, if you get this as a forward and would like to be alerted to future updates on my blog, send me an emal at


Free advice

There are some interesting people in my neighborhood, like the guy at White Rock Lake offering free advice. A few weeks ago, while riding my bike around that lake, I ran into him for the first time.

He’s been doing this for years now, on weekends, out there with his sign, dispensing free advice to anyone who’ll stop. So, I took a few minutes to tell him about my plans. I explained what the MR340 was all about and told him that Sharon’s only requirement is that I get a full time job, with insurance, before buying the boat and setting the plans in concrete. Of course I asked for his advice.

He thought about it for a good long time. He stared off into space. He pursed his lips and furrowed his brow. And he gave me some of his sage wisdom:

Free Advice!

“Get a job with insurance and do it.”

Well, I guess you get what you pay for, but at least he agrees with me! So, I continue looking for full-time employment, and I keep up the situps, pushups, and weight training. The bicycle has been in the garage for a while now – too cold – but the weather will warm up again soon and I’ll be back on the trail. A friend as offered to let me use her kayak for training and when the temps get higher still I’ll trade the bicycle for the boat. Things are moving along. 198 days to go.