PORT TOWNSEND — Fun While Lost, isn’t merely a team name, the canoeist said. It’s an attitude.
The best part of it all was “just exploring; seeing more of the Sound. It’s such a special place,” solo team member Andy Jacobs said soon after he completed the inaugural WA360 race around Puget Sound.
The Jefferson County Courthouse bell tolled eight times as Jacobs, after 12 days at sea, stepped back onto the dock at the Port Townsend Boat Haven. The race’s final finisher, he’d already stopped by the Northwest Maritime Center’s dock to wave to the race marshal, his snow-white sail behind him.
Like the other 53 teams who started the center’s human- and wind-powered race, Jacobs set out June 7 on the counterclockwise route from Port Townsend to Olympia, then Bellingham, Point Roberts and back to Port Townsend.
He was alone out there. Nights, he slept in the center of his turquoise-blue Polynesian sailing canoe; days he played chess with the wind’s directions.
“It flipped on me like a switch,” Jacobs said, and “once it’s good, it’s good.”
But it wasn’t always in that category.
Puget Sound, with its bays, inlets and islands, is full of quirks, he said.
Daniel Evans, WA360’s race boss, posted a last-day report saluting Team Fun While Lost, noting that first thing Friday, Jacobs had departed Birch Bay to head into the San Juan Islands, “participating in a macabre route of race and destination hot spots — Sucia Island, Doe Bay Resort, Spencer Spit — to finally land ashore at the south neck of Decatur Island just before the calendar flipped yet again,” giving his final rival, Team Health Forces Sail, a run for the “penultimate award.”
Come Saturday, “Andy got caught in a windless Mad Tea Party ride off Whidbey Island. His tracker pointed in every direction for at least an hour,” Evans said.
As he made his last paddle strokes into the Boat Haven, Jacobs, 38, was in good spirits, saying his next project was “definitely dinner.”
A web developer by profession who lives in Pullman, he constructed his trimaran canoe himself, and he partook in the Seventy48 from Tacoma to Port Townsend two years ago.
On the newly invented WA360, a replacement for the Race to Alaska, whose route crosses Canadian waters and had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021, Jacobs experienced the spectrum of Pacific Northwest conditions. He was among 38 teams who finished; another 14 teams did not. One team, Felicity Farkle of Bend, Ore., disqualified itself June 11 by using its motor.
“It was great weather the first night,” Jacobs recalled, but a man has to sleep.
Without another crew member to paddle and sail, Jacobs awoke to not-great conditions. He was wet much of the time as his sojourn continued — not that he had a problem with that.
“A lot of stuff with this boat is patience,” he added.
And, no, there’s no motor attached.
One day he decided to take a nap until a passer-by, not seeing him, called his boat in to the Coast Guard as a “vessel adrift.”
“Everybody says I need a nap flag,” Jacobs quipped.
The WA360 field was spread out over the nearly two weeks of the competition — with some teams more competitive-minded than others.
First back to Port Townsend was Team High Seas Drifters, the four-man crew that sailed in at 12:59 p.m. June 10. Their prize for first in the “Go Fast” class: a giant black-and-gold belt like the ones champion boxers wear.
The Wilsall, Mont., team arrived to a cheering crowd of about 100 spectators, to be followed seven minutes later by Team Fressure of Olympia, also a four-man boat. That team won the “Go Hard” category for large vessels that tend to travel more slowly than others.
For Jacobs and Team Fun While Lost, the category might have been “Go Lightly.” The canoeist said he savors working on boats as much as he does sailing them. He plans to donate the WA360 vessel to an outdoor education program run by Matt Wickey of Friday Harbor.
“I’ve got aspirations for a new boat,” Jacobs said.
When asked whether there will be another WA360 next year, the Northwest Maritime Center’s response was quick: “It’s up for debate,” wrote spokesperson Hallie Glynn.
To finish his race-boss updates, Evans hailed Fun While Lost and Health Force Sail: “Here’s to the two teams who have spent more time in this race than anyone who has ever lived,” he wrote.
“You closed this chapter to WA360 with heart, tenacity, and sacrifice. Huzzah!”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.