MEEKER I Rory Wilson, a Meeker native and 1957 graduate of Meeker High School, is somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sailing alone in his 27-foot sailboat from Bainbridge Island, Washington, on his way to Hawaii first and then on to the center of the North Pacific Gyre — for the second time.
Wilson is the son of Sally Wilson and the late Chuck Wilson of Meeker.
He has seen a lot of travel during the years, having moved to Denver when he was 4-years-old, then to Alaska and then back to Meeker, where he was graduated from Meeker High School in 1975.
After high school, Wilson joined the United State Marines. He spent four years in Korea and was married there. He has one son.
After the service, Wilson was graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, then he moved to Phoenix, where he worked for TRW. He then returned to Korea, where he was vice president of manufacturing and engineering in Keon, Korea.
After Korea, Wilson returned to Meeker and substitute taught at Barone Middle School, received his state teacher certification and stayed from 2002 to 2008.
When he left, he started teaching at the high school in Bainbridge, Wash.
He loved sailing and built his first boat, the KROS, which was actually a kayak he also designed, and rowed to Hawaii and back in 44 days each way. Now he has renovated a 1970s sailboat called KROSS and is sailing to Hawaii and then on to the South Pacific. KROS was dismantled, according to Sally Wilson, because Rory didn’t want anyone else to have the boat.
On April 4, Sally Wilson received an email from Rory that stated, “I fly to Seattle tomorrow morning (from Boston) and will buy fresh fruit and vegetables to complete the stores (including an assortment of nuts, which serve as a staple of his diet) on board KROSS for this next solo Pacific voyage. The weather forecast has been stable for the past several days with moderate winds and rain showers in the North Pacific. It’s a great time to head offshore!
“Once KROSS departs from Neah Bay, I will head west and south for the next several days. The center of the North Pacific Gyre is only a few hundred miles north of Kauai during April and May, about 2,700 miles from Seattle as the crow flies.
“Depending on winds, KROSS will travel about 100 miles per day for the first part of the passage so I have ample time to explore the variable winds and currents closer to the heart of the ‘Pacific High,’ where the pace will slow as I voyage inward.”
“The goal of this solo passage is to quietly observe this unique area of the Pacific: winds, ocean currents, weather, sea life and any floating objects during the next two months … I will also sample the water for particulates for an hour every day. All of this detailed information will be kept in electronic logbooks.”
He added later in the email, “KROSS will arrive by northern mid-summer (June 21) and I will stay (in Hawaii) for about two weeks, resupplying and catching up with communications before heading south, toward the equator.”
In addition to this and the first solo trip to Hawaii, Wilson’s adventures on the open ocean include: 2010 extended offshore North Pacific KROS sea trials; 2008: Seattle to San Francisco on a 44-foot cutter; 2006: a teacher at sea in the Southern Ocean for two months on the research ship “Scripps;” 2002: Baltic Sea to Stockholm, Sweden and on to the United Kingdom in a 32-foot sloop (wintered); 2001: RCC Baltic: Denmark, Germany and Poland as a cruising guide author; and 2000: England, France and the North Sea while distance cruising.
He has owned seven boats, done commercial fishing in Juneau, Alaska, sailed extensively inter-islands in Hawaii, in South Korea, California, Washington state and in Europe.
For the current excursion, Wilson has taken an extended leave of absence from classroom teaching in Bainbridge but is continuing student projects from the high school, where he is a math teacher and district math coach.
KROSS is 27 feet in length, its beam is 9 feet, it is made of fiberglas and kevlar and its propulsion is primarily by sails and kite sales as well as outboard motor.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Monday, Sally Wilson said she received an email update from Rory on Saturday night stating he was pulling into a slip on Sunday in Hawaii and that he will remain in Hawaii for about a week. He reported no problems along his journey from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii, and, she said, he will be picking up more provisions (like a fire extinguisher) and food and leave again in a week, weather permitting.