On Saturday we went to the Coconut Point Pirate Raft Regatta. Teams build rafts out of trash or whatever they can find and then race them around the end of Coconut Point. There’s a $20 limit on materials. Most teams spent it on duct tape. Rafts made out of things that were designed to carry people on water aren’t technically allowed, but if you show up with three surfboards tied together no one is going to tell you to go home. Also, pirate costumes.
First, teams assembled their rafts in Julia’s front yard.
Kevin and Charlie’s entry was based on four 55-gallon drums. Their understanding of buoyancy was obvious. Their sail-rigging ability was not.
The real problem with Adam’s team’s raft was that they had scientists, but no engineers. Yes, the math says a sealed-shut garbage can will displace enough water to float three men, but would you trust this mess to get you anywhere? It actually earned the dubious distinction of being the first-ever Pirate Regatta entry to fall completely apart while it was being carried to the water, before it even got wet.
Alden earned style points with his old-fashioned desert island design.
Jeremy and Brian’s craft was simple but seaworthy: garbage bags full of empty plastic bottles, a pallet, and an old fishing net to hold it together. This raft won the ’09 Regatta and spent the year in the lagoon behind Julia’s house. It even survived the tsunami! All they had to do this year was drag it to the front yard and add some decoration.
A good-looking raft built by some solar panel engineers who wisely relied on wind power this day. Accusations that they’d gone over budget were fiercely denied. I suspect that when they said “found,” they meant “stole from work.”
This raft was dubbed the Swiss Navy. One of its crew was from Switzerland and another was his uncle, a Peruvian who had gone to cooking school there. Before the start of the race a lot of us thought they had a chance to win, but there’s a reason the Swiss never rivaled Britain and Spain on the high seas. The knots they used were undone by the first few waves. Eventually the crew had to use all their energy holding the raft together rather than paddling.
And they’re off! …sort of.
Mary and I didn’t build a raft so I borrowed a kayak and followed the racers. I knew some of the rafts were sure to disintegrate, and I was willing to lend a hand, but mostly I just wanted to see the destruction up close.
The first leg of the race was along the seaward side of Coconut Point, around the end and into Pala Lagoon. First stop- Coconut Island, an island the size of a large dining room table, about 3/4 of a mile from the start. Here we rested and made repairs. There were serious talks about hydrodynamics, ocean currents, and the effect of salt water on duct tape. Then Ashley and Lisa showed up in a kayak full of Jell-o shots.
Samoa Steve, Dr. Mike, and the back of my bandanna’d head on Coconut Island.
Since Steve is half Samoan it was appropriate that he plant the flag on the one tree on Coconut Island. Also, he was the only one able to shimmy up it.
Eventually we started the second leg of the race, to Julia’s back yard on the other side of the point. The impending darkness made everyone paddle a little harder.
Brian and Jeremy at the finish line, celebrating their second straight victory with Brian’s wife and daughter.
I towed the Swiss Navy part of the way back because instead of tying their raft back together on Coconut Island they drank their weight in Jell-O shots. Left on their own they’d still be floating in the lagoon. After I got them into the lee of the point, I ditched them and rescued this cooler.
Samoa Steve taking second place overall and first place in the solo category. The only other solo contestant was Alden, who, in true pirate fashion, was slowed down by the large bottle of rum on his raft. He didn’t seem too upset, though.
Everyone somehow made it back safely so there was cause to celebrate.
Captain Charlie is trying his hardest, but two-time champion Jeremy doesn’t seem very impressed.
Did someone give rum to the dog?