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by Paul Moffitt - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - USA
This is the intrepid team of duckers at Paul's Mott. Nothing could break us!

(My brother, Sean Moffitt, has been spending his summers in the middle of no where in some God forsaken forest building trails about a weeks hike from the nearest town. He gets his food by donkey or helicopter and has no phone service. So I am forced to debase myself by writing one of these ancient things called “a letter.” It’s like email only it takes a lot longer to get anywhere. Kind of like taking a PDR instead of a sail boat on the Texas 200. What follows is my account of the events of the PDR team during the 2014 Texas 200 written for my brother. No names have been changed for the protection of people’s pride. All stories are true except where I didn’t remember the details right. If you haven’t read the past accounts of this trip you may be a little lost at first as I am writing to someone who is intimate with the course, the people, and the PDR adventure we took. And even though Joshua Slocum scuttles his boat every time he reads this letter, I still present it to you.)

Dear Sean,


I arrived and was picked up by John Wright, aka St. John of Bastrop. Wow that guy has a million and one stories. He picked up Wade Tarzia at the same time. Wade was sailing John’s original PDR that he sailed the T200 in which started these shenanigans in 2008. It seemed like every field we drove by John would say something like; “that’s cotton. I picked cotton one day. They let me do it because I wanted to make some extra money. I worked all day and made 80 cents. That was the last time I picked cotton.” His knowledge of the area is encyclopedic. It was a pleasant drive. Meanwhile, Bill had been finishing the PDR loaners at Chuck’s place. The same day I was driving down, Bill and Chuck were also. We got down to the start and went to the condo that Chuck Pierce had rented out which would act as our final outfitting and rigging grounds. It was nice to have such a place to ourselves.

That evening we had a captains’ meeting. It was fun and we all introduced each other to each other. I was the youngest by far, although I am finally starting to catch up to everyone else. John Goodman questioned what I had done at one point, I think because I looked so comparatively young. Chuck Pierce was like, “you don’t have to worry about him. Everyone here is a great a sailor.” John Goodman was an Olympic sailor and he built the Chevy Duck, which is work of art. Wow he is not only a great sailor but a great guy too. We all talked about the course and we set a time of departure of 6am sharp. Andy Linn was there and of course we both love him and we sided on most issues together. Much beer was had. Chuck Pierce produced some of his homebrew, which was magical. I gave out some paracord trilobite zipper pulls I had made to everyone for their life vest.

The loaner PDR's come down to the shore thanks to St. John, Chuck the Duck, and Bill Moffitt.

The next morning we all met back over at the docks next to the condo and the six of us in the loaner boats got to work rigging them up. This was when I got to know Rick Landreville better. He is Canadian. I think he said something mean to Andy at one point and when Andy acted hurt he said, “you know in Canada you can walk into a hospital and have your feelings checked for free.” I knew then that I like Rick. He showed us how to use a stopper to adjust the center of effort for the sails. So we had three settings. One for down wind; one for by the wind; and one for into the wind. It was really slick and easy to use. He has won the PDR worlds twice as he is fond of pointing out. (It was said more as a joke then anything really serious, although he was rightly proud of the fact.)

So, with boats prepared, we all went out for dinner and then slept.
Josh Colvin was staying in the hotel room with Bill and I. Josh is the second youngest. I would guess he is about 5 or so years older than I. He is an editor for Small Craft Advisor, the magazine that had the SCAMP designed.

This ugly guy, Andy Linn I think, made the sails for us! This is him figuring out how to rig the boat.

DAY 1, Of high winds and broken rudders

We got up bright and early and all of us were ready, except Michael Jackson (real name) and Wade. This would prove prophetic as they were never ready for the 6am sharp departure time for all Ducks. So 7am rolls around we start to leave behind the docks.  Andy pushed for, and demanded, that we sail as much as possible as a team. In the long run this really paid off and the camaraderie and friendships made were stronger for it. All 13 of us finished. Anyway we leave and right off the bat we aren’t sticking together. The wind by the docks wasn’t very strong so most of us didn’t tie in a reef. John Wright was over there drinking coffee and prophetically stated: “you should put in two reefs.” …And we all ignored him. We got out past the jetties and into Red Fish bay and the waves and wind starting rolling in very strong. Mind you this is the very first time I have sailed a PDR. The Rudder is pushing really hard. It’s taking a lot of energy to hold the boat on course. Then everyone reefs. The rudder is still taking way too much effort. Then something happens to Josh. I can’t tell what, but John Goodman and Sean Mulligan wander over to see what’s happened.

Sean is in a Matt Layden designed Paradox. Cool boat and Sean is a very special guy. He decided to stay with the Ducks for most of the trip. He runs a gathering at Havasu Lake in Arizona every winter and he has a lot of very funny stories as I would learn later. For his day job he is an engineer in the Lake Havasu City fire department.

Turns out Josh’s rudder broke out of the pintels. Too much pressure. Then he sees Andy sailing over to him and he has a rudder in his hands! Josh thinks Andy is about to save him with a backup rudder. NOPE. Andy’s rudder had just snapped off too. In fact 5 of the 6 loaner boats all had the same failure. Only Chuck the Ducks rudder didn’t break. Turns out when Bill and Chuck were installing the Pintels they didn’t through bolt them but used wood screws to “save on time.” So I am pretty bummed at this and figure I am dropping out of it at this point. I try sailing using my paddle as a tiller and it doesn’t work. Then I take down my sail and realize I am being blown right on course for the water ditch. The boat ends up turning backwards and I realize that if I lay down and let the sail, which is struck on deck, catch a little wind I am being blown right on course at 3mph. So I sit back and chillax and have a beer. (I brought 12 and had 3 a day) John Goodman asked if I needed help and but I said no thanks. Others asked and I said the same. Until this one guy in a Mayfly 14 came by and demanded that I take a tow. Like he literally demanded I take a tow or he would have boarded me for my own good. So I did. But I mean if I was going to be rescued by anyone its fitting that it was a Mayfly. I climbed into his boat and he gave me iced sweet tea and deer sausage.  Deer sausage. I mean right? Brian Graham was awesome. He still had a lot to learn about his boat, which he had just built. His dad was there too in a Mayfly 16, also just built. They ended up rescuing and helping a lot of people during the trip. I am trying to convince them to do the OBX130 next year as well. I showed him, and talked through, a lot of rigging things and sailing tips as we sailed.

Meanwhile Bill was being towed by a little itsy bitsy boat which looked like a potter 16 but wasn’t. The guy was struggling to pull Bill in the PDR. I asked Bill why he didn’t get in the cabin and he said “My plan is doing the Texas 200 in a PDR and that is what I am going to do.” To which I responded, “so I got in a Mayfly and that means I won’t have done the T200 in a PDR?”  and he answered, “all I know is that I will be doing the T200 in a PDR.”

Bill being towed! But he did the whole trip in a PDR!

Josh and Andy had both lost they’re rudders. Honestly, I was worried about Josh. Even though he is from Small Craft Advisor’s I was sure he was not used to this kind of rough treatment and losing his rudder. Would he prove to be sailor enough to deal with this? Well Yes, he was. Chuck the Duck came and lashed himself to Josh on one side and Andy on the other and then they made the first ever PDR Tri! It was a thing of ignoble beauty! They made it to the cut along with everyone else. Two other quick stories first from the Red Fish Bay.

First ever duck trimaran.

Rick also lost his rudder. Chuck Pierce comes up (CP is the current president of the T200 Board and the leader of the PDR’s cancer funding campaign,) and tries towing rick in his PDR! Wow that man has balls of steel. Anyway, Chuck P. capsizes. And His mast stuck right in the bottom of the bay and snapped off. We have gone from suck to blow! You remember the guy from the Princess 22? Travis Votaw I believe is his name. His son was with him too. Anyway, Rick goes off with another boat who can tow him and gets sea sick for 90 minutes and Travis’s son jumps in to help Chuck. With both they’re weight they right the boat. They take the broken mast and start shaving the stump down so that it will fit in the mast step. It takes a while but Chuck finally got everything ship shape and was able to head on. He lost a lot of equipment of course. But he says he looked at the names on his boat of everyone who had succumbed or beaten cancer and knew they had gone through much worse, and Chuck carried on crossing Red Fish Bay. 

So we all beach on the cut and start fixing our rudders. Slowly with parts from here and there and mainly from Sean Mulligan who seemed to be traveling with a hardware store, we bolted all the pintels on. We all finally got everything working and headed out together. I got to tell you, I was freaking flying, with a capital Freak. The water was smooth in the cut but the winds still up near 25mph. With two reefs in I was doing 7 and peaking at 10. I mean the hull speed is supposed to be 3.5 on these things! The loaner boats would prove to be very very fast boats indeed. Faster than all the other PDR’s out there. This was because: 1) John Wright built a simple awesome design, 2) Andy Linn made awesome sails, and 3) all of us on loaner boats only traveled with carry-on luggage so we weren’t packed down with a bunch of equipment. We screamed into the campsite and it was only 3pm! The shortest day of the trip was done. Gordo passed out cold beers to us all! I gave bill a birthday card from granddaughter Darcy and gave him a pack of horribly sweet cigars.

We rebuild the rudders with parts from Mulligan's Hardware Emporium.
Brian Graham saved me in his Mayfly 14 and gave me a tow!

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