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Just one Wave, rolling across the Pacific

Kayaking researcher Wave Vidmar shows his customized, 22-foot boat being used on his upcoming 2012 Seaward Pacific Expedition paddle from San Francisco to Hawaii. - Peter W. Rusland
Kayaking researcher Wave Vidmar shows his customized, 22-foot boat being used on his upcoming 2012 Seaward Pacific Expedition paddle from San Francisco to Hawaii.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Dear shark: If you can read this, you're too close.

That's the warning veteran paddler, researcher and adventurer Wave Vidmar scrawled in Magic Marker on the bottom of his white, double kayak set for history's longest solo-kayak crossing starting next week.

"I've been preparing for this for a 1 1/2 years," he said recently at Chemainus' Seaward Kayaks that fine tuned at double, 22-foot Passat G-3 for Vidmar's 3,100-mile paddle from San Francisco to Hawaii.

The bottom of his 22 inch-wide Passat — blessed June 6 by Stz'uminus elder Willie Seymour at Ladysmith's Transfer Beach — also boasts a stripe pattern to ward off curious great whites during his 2012 Seaward Pacific Expedition.

But sharks are the least of Vidmar's troubles.

Rogue waves up to 50 feet, debris for Japan's tsunami, and passing ships could damage or sink his research odyssey.

"But the biggest dangers are simple cuts, and the sun," he told the News Leader Pictorial of his trip lasting up to 65 days.

"There's no retreat from the sun."

He'll wear SPF-100 sunscreen and ray-reflecting white clothing while collecting data spanning water samples and weather patterns to measuring 20 bodily functions under extreme nautical stress.


"My most important piece of gear is my brain," said native Californian Vidmar, 47, who's sharing his experiences with Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and others.

"I'm the marshal of my own mind, thoughts and emotions.

"When things go crazy, and your life's on the line 24/7, you can't afford to freak out."

He'll calmly focus on tasks at hand while drawing mettle from his abusive childhood.

"It's come to be my strength."

His Kevlar-reinforced kayak's strong too.

"I'm like a cork in a bottle," he said of the crossing that sees him head south from Frisco, then to Baja, Mexico where currents begin carrying him toward Hawaii.

"I have complete faith in this kayak — it's exceeded my expectations: it's my home, transportation, and research platform with a recording studio," Vidmar said of his Geoff Workman-designed Passat, with outriggers.

He'll shoot footage on, above and below his boat between sleeps in his seven-foot bed made under the cockpit.

Research will widen when Vidmar reaches the Texas-size Great Pacific Garbage Patch of floating plastic in the mid-Pacific.

"It's been breaking down to a soupy mix of plastic that krill ingest."

Those tiny critters are eaten by bigger ones as the toxic plastic enters the oceanic food chain, he explained of trip tracing strokes made by Ed Gillett some 25 years ago.

The Hawaii trip follows Vidmar's 720-mile ski and swim from Siberia to the geographic north pole in 2004.

He's also planning a return, solo, row-boat trip from Cape Cod to Britain after his epic, sponsored Hawaii expedition.

It could see him swim with whales and dolphins while dining well on 12-pounds of dark chocolate, hand-picked freeze-dried meals augmented by fish, sipping single-malt Scotch, using a solar shower, drinking filtered salt-water, consulting Stanford doctors if necessary, and communicating via waterproof computer.

A book is also planned about his expedition using a carbon-fibre Braca paddle — and a personal locator-beacon if the worst comes.

But it's all an optimistic challenge to Vidmar.

"It's a social responsibility to promote positive messages, and make my expeditions as beneficial as possible," he said, saluting even two-hour paddles as valuable to our lives.

The hardest part of his tropical trip? "The finish, because it's over."

Vidmar can be charted at pacifickayaker.com, seawardkayaks.com, and in the News Leader Pictorial.

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