Trip of a Lifetime

What would you do if you were preparing to canoe a 750-mile ocean race for a big cash prize, and someone wanted to hitch a ride as an extra passenger? What if he wasn’t even planning to pick up a paddle – essentially, he’d nothing but dead weight in the boat?

Would it make a difference if he promised not to take up much space?

A six-canoeist team from Vancouver Island will be one of the groups rushing to Alaska in a marathon boat race on June 4. And these goodhearted folks have no qualms about letting a total stranger tag along.

They don’t know his real name, but they’ve nicknamed him “Ash.” That’s because Ash is literally ash. The paddlers (their team name is the Soggy Beavers – I won’t ask if you don’t) doesn’t know where he’s from or how old he was. But they know, thanks to a message in the bottle, that his final wishes were to be cremated and thrown into the ocean so he could fulfil his desire to see the world. (You’ll note we use the word “see” quite loosely here.)

How could anyone resist helping a guy with his last wish?

When the Soggy Beavers first discovered the bottle during a training session in Victoria Harbour, they might have thrown it right back into the ocean. After all, that’s what specifically what Ash requests in his note. But the paddlers realized their new friend would have a better chance of seeing the world if they brought him along on their race, and then released him in Alaskan waters.

“We figured… he’s in the Inner Harbour. Chances are that he’ll stay here for another couple of months before he gets a current out,” team member Russell Henry told a radio host last week. If, on the other hand, they toss the bottle when they’re closer to Alaska, Ash might get lucky and catch a current to Asia.

“He’s got to see the world, so we got to get him there,” Russell said.

I wish the Soggy Beavers a great race on June 4. Your winning spirit is bound to get you to the finish line.

Bon voyage, Ash. May the ocean currents be forever in your favour. (Photo courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

Bon voyage, Ash. May the ocean currents be forever in your favour. (Photo courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

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