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Redwood raft to sail from California to Japan

Jan 1, 2003
From Ocean Navigator #126 November/December 2002

From Ocean Navigator #126 November/December 2002

What is it with Northern Europeans and their raft expeditions? Andrew Urbanczyk, a Polish-American with some 100,000 miles of sailing to his credit, most of which is single-handed, has departed on a proposed 12,000-nm, round-Pacific cruise aboard a redwood raft. Urbanczyk's raft is built of seven 40-foot logs and has three sails that total 500 square feet in area.

"Everything is in order, and we are excited about the adventure," Urbanczyk proclaimed a few days before departure from Santa Cruz, Calif., in September. He had recently completed his shakedown voyage from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz and was confident that the trip, with three comrades, would proceed smoothly. He plans to sail to Japan, some 6,000 nm from the California coast, with help from the North Equatorial Current and the northeast trades, and then proceed back to the United States via the prevailing northwesterlies and the Japanese current.

The raft is powered only by wind and electrical power, supplied by solar panels. Rain water will be gathered in buckets for drinking and washing. Waste will reportedly be burned in a "garbage crematory," a source of heat that will be used to cook meals.

The 66-year-old Urbanczyk has sailed alone around the world in a 30-foot Ericson, achieved a record-breaking crossing of the Pacific in an Ericson 27, and sailed at the age of 21 across the Baltic Sea in a raft. He has a Ph.D. in world single-handed sailing, 1876-1993. He is in no hurry to complete his latest voyage, he said. "It may take a year; it may take eternity!"

The Raft Transpacific Expedition, based in Montara, Calif., has received sponsorship assistance from Davis Instruments, North Sails and Big Creek Lumber.