It’s one thing – hardly a small thing – to complete a 300-mile rowing/sailing expedition-style race in a 17-foot Northeaster Dory, and our hats were already off to Philadelphia firefighter Neil Calore, who has completed the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge from Tampa Bay to Key Largo twice, winning in 2012 and coming second in class this year.

But when we learned that the third-placer in the same class (single men, small sailboat monohull) in this year’s grueling contest was EC newcomer Marian Buszko from Gainesville, FL, we had to stand and salute him. Marian completed this year’s EC in an 8-foot Eastport Pram, sailing most of the way, in 6 days, 22 hours, 12 minutes.

“It was fine sailing,” he said. “The weather was beautiful for me. It was blowing from my back most of the time, and when it was too strong, I could reef the sail.”

In fact, the weather wasn’t, by most people’s standards, “beautiful” every day. Temperatures were unseasonably cooler than normal and there were periods when it was downright foul and blew near a gale.

A native of Poland, Marian is a cancer research scientist with a Ph.D. in physics. He built his Eastport Pram in early 2012, and launched her in July of that year. Though he had been a sailor – “of much bigger boats,” he says – he and his family had gravitated to kayaking until Marian decided he wanted a boat to row and ordered the Pram kit. When he heard about the WaterTribe event a year or so ago, he began to think of doing it himself, and added the sail rig to his Pram, Rocking Baby.

“At first I wanted to do it in a faster boat,” he said, “but my wife didn’t think it would be safe enough, that this one would be safer. So I have to credit my wife for this.”

The beautifully finished Pram, which some fellow WaterTribers described as furniture-grade and “too pretty to expose to sand and salt” at the start, took a bit of a beating – as did her skipper – over the course of the race, but both came through happily in one piece.

Congratulations, Marian. We are beyond impressed with your achievement, and proud to have been even a small part of it.

 

Thanks to Dominik Buszko and Hugh Horton for the photos.

 




 



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