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Sunday, February 27, 2011


Many great developments this week:

Monday 02/21/11

NBC’s Doug Shimell is covering the story and is coordinating with NBC affiliates in the other cities as well. 
Tuesday 02/22/11

  A meeting with the gang at the Autism Speaks - Greater Delaware Valley Chapter was very productive. Christina, Ann & Kelly gave me some great ideas for getting the word out and were very supportive of The Voyage for Autism Awareness. They are working on activating the local Autism Speaks groups in each of the cities that I will be stopping. They also made a valiant attempt at catapulting my Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter) skills into the 21st Century, with limited results! I look forward to our next meeting as these three are very pleasant people to work with, and are very passionate about their work.
Thursday 02/24/11

  The Philadelphia Fire Department has embraced our efforts to increase awareness for those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Fire Prevention Division is currently developing a regional Fire Prevention Campaign, to be launched in conjunction with The Voyage.
Autism can present a serious challenge to First Responders and requires a different approach when developing a Fire Prevention program.
 Fires and Medical Emergencies are, by nature, chaotic. A family calls 911 for an emergency; Firefighters and Paramedics arrive on scene with lights and sirens, wearing full body Personal Protective Equipment, wielding axes and defibrillators. For many affected by autism, those arriving to help can be perceived as a threat, adding to the chaos. The Campaign will address issues concerning Autism and how families affected can effectively prepare Fire Escape Plans, and prepare for the arrival of First Responders in emergency situations.
  Fundraising to support the regional Fire Prevention Campaign and The Voyage for Autism Awareness will be set up through The Philadelphia Fire Department Historical Corporation, a 501(c)  nonprofit corporation also known as The Fireman's Hall Museum , with details to follow. Donations to Autism Speaks will continue through the DONATIONS link to my web page, and go directly to the organization.
 Saturday 02/26/11

  Thanks to Assistant Chief Donald Heinbuch, BCFD for allowing me to meet with the crew at Baltimore City's Fire Boat 1.
   I met with FF. Mike Hineline (BCFD's Special Events Coordinator), Fire Boat 1 and other interested members who have enthusiastically embraced The Voyage for Autism Awareness. They're coming up with a lot of great ideas to help make the event a success in Baltimore. 
  Capt. Jake was kind enough to hang over after be relieved by Lt. Danny Thompson and his 'A' Shift. 

Lt. D. Thompson & Fire Boat 1 . . .

 Fire/Rescue 1 returns from investigating a van in the river; turned out to be unoccupied:
  Looks like they've done this before!

  Next stop was Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, MD. 
  Besides designing kewl, great looking boats, John C. Harris and the gang at CLC are known for their customer service. They're always really busy, but always take the time to answer your questions. When I stopped by, they were busy preparing for David Fawley's  Annapolis Wherry Tandem boatbuilding class, which starts 02/28/11.
  To help make The Voyage a safer trip, John gave me some really good advice for adding flotation and a kick-up rudder to my Northeaster Dory . David snapped a shot of (L-R) me, John and Mark Stevens. Mark did an awesome job instructing the Dory class I took last year.

  From Annapolis I visited D.C. Fire & EMS Dept's Fire Boat Station on the Potomac River. Right in the heart of our Nation's Capitol, Fire Boats 1, 2 & 3 are housed with the Metropolitan Police Dept's Harbor Patrol and protect some of the country's most valued treasures. 
  Lt. Ricky Johnson was a great help, offering some great logistical information and awesome Firehouse Hospitality for kicking off The Voyage for Autism Awareness on Saturday, April 16, 2011.
  DCFEMS Public Information Officer, Pete Piringer is also on the project, with MPD's Lt. Paul Niepling assisting with regional contact information through Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
  Here's a nice shot of the "John H. Glenn, Jr.", aka Fire Boat 1 with Lt. Ricky Johnson's Platoon 2 and The Washington Monument in the background:

Coming soon:
A trip to FDNY's Marine 1 in Manhattan . . .

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

  The Voyage is from Washington, D.C. to New York, NY to raise awareness for children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  A new Autism Prevalence report was issued from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that 1 in every 110 American children (one in 70 boys) is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. Yet, for the vast majority of cases of autism, the cause is unknown. Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, provides more information about this devastating disease and how it affects children and their families on their website:

  The boat is a 17’ Chesapeake Light Craft Northeaster Dory  built from kit, with a Balance Lug sail rig.

The projected float plan includes:
  • launching from Washington, D.C.’s Fire Boat Station; 
  • row/sail the Potomac River to the Chesapeake Bay; 
  • up the Patapsco River to Baltimore's Fire Boat Station at Fort McHenry; 
  • up the Chesapeake Bay through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal;
  • up the Delaware Bay and River to the Fire Boat Station in Philadelphia; 
  • from there it's further up the Delaware river where I pull out at Trenton, NJ. 
  • I then trailer the boat 6 miles to the Delaware & Raritan Canal. 
  • I will pass 5 decommissioned locks (now basically dams) before reaching the Raritan River 32 miles later. I have plenty of support to help me portage the boat around the "locks", and to portage from the Canal to the Raritan. 
  • The Arthur Kill will link me from the Raritan Bay to the Newark Bay, 
  • then the Kill Van Kull to Upper New York Bay.
  •  I finish on the Hudson River at the New York City Fire Boat Station in Manhattan. 

With an overall distance of more than 425 miles, an average of 30 miles per 10 hour day will take me an estimated two weeks. I have 2 down days built in, but sailing and working the tides whenever possible will hopefully increase that buffer.  I'll be beach camping, sleeping on the boat and taking advantage of offers from Yacht Clubs between Fire Boat Stations. As every good boater knows, Mother Nature will ultimately dictate my progress!
  The Philadelphia Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division is currently developing a City wide campaign targeting families affected by ASD's, which should be ready for release in conjunction with the trip. I am still finalizing the details with the other Fire Departments, but expect full cooperation and hopefully a coordinated Fire Prevention campaign.
 At the time of this writing, the US Army Corps of Engineers is working on approving my transit of the 14 mile C&D Canal, which is normally restricted to human powered vessels. Authorization is expected, with getting towed as my Plan B.
  A SPOT Satellite Tracker will interface with Google Maps to report my position, with Facebook, Twitter, and the News Media also following my progress.
  John Guider ( ) has been a great adviser and inspiration with his monumental 5,000+ mile "Great Loop" circumnavigation of Eastern North America in a CLC Skerry, which is still in progress.
 With John & Gina Monaghan of Wayne, PA as my rowing/fitness coaches, I just might make it! They've graciously donated their time, expertise and Concept 2 Rower to help me prepare for the long haul. 
  Many thanks to Tom Murphy of the Barnegat Bay Rowing Club for taking on the mantel of Jersey Shore Fund Raising Captain. 
  My biggest inspiration comes from the heartbreaking challenges that these families endure and those who selflessly help where they can - specifically Jim & Gerry Bonner of Philadelphia; Brie Van Reed of Bridge Valley Elementary School, Furlong, PA and Michelle Stecchini, Special Ed. Coordinator, Avon Elementary School, Avon, NJ. Their patience is certainly a virtue!
 My goal is to raise $25,000 in an effort to help Autism Speaks change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders.  Here is a quick plug for my donation link:

The Voyage for Autism Awareness
DC - Baltimore - Philadelphia - NYC
April 16 - 30, 2011