It was just a brief stop for the twin brothers travelling from Alaska to the U.S.-Mexico border on their paddleboards — but it was a crucial one.
The blonde-haired, quick-to-smile, California state lifeguards had a rough start to their journey that began in Ketchikan.
“It was gnarly, really rough being in a lot of crazy open water from the Portland Inlet. We lost two GoPros and our VHF radio went down. It was an adventure for sure,” Casey Higginbotham said, the more talkative of the two.
They only have one GoPro left and a DSLR camera to document their adventure that Casey said has two purposes: to go on a giant expedition, and to raise awareness for how awesome and beautiful the North American coastline is.
“Really just trying to push the limits. No one’s done it.” Not that anyone has heard of anyway.
Paddleboarders are often seen standing with a paddle on a long thin board that could be confused with a surfboard.
The paddleboards the brothers were on looked a little different and they were lying belly down and paddling with their arms instead.
In preparation for their expedition the twins trained for six months, created a website, rallied some sponsors and had custom paddleboards made to be 18 feet and 20 inches wide. The boards are equipped with racks and are wider than normal in order to carry their food bags and equipment.
Each brother has his own tent, sleeping bag, flare gun, a GPS, solar panel to charge their electronics and fishing gear in case their food stock gets low, but not much more than that.
It took them 10 days to reach Prince Rupert, where they picked up their first of 13 food bags they shipped to strategic points along their coastal route.
They have another five months of paddling if all goes to plan. Every 32 kilometres they look for a decent spot to set up camp. Before coming to Prince Rupert, due to bad weather conditions they stayed on Wolf Island without food or water.
“It was rad,” Casey said.
His brother, Ryan, was also having trouble. In the chaos of the storm on Saturday, March 26, his board hit a rock and was taking in water. Luckily, while the boys were in Ketchikan and looking for advice from an expert in Prince Rupert on the Inside Passage leg of their trip, they were put in touch with Kris Pucci who works in the marine industry.
“We met up for coffee and I thought maybe they had a couple of questions about tides and currents and the route south through the Inside Passage, which they did, but Ryan’s board had suffered some damage,” Pucci said, who also happens to run the ski shop, Divide Rides.
Pucci patched up the board and sent them on their way with a patch kit just in case they need more maintenance from any other unanticipated challenges.
After a couple days to recoup in Prince Rupert, the Higginbotham twins could be seen on March 30 from the Cow Bay marina dressed in their wetsuits from shoulders to toes. They had waited that morning for the fog to dissipate but once the sun blazed in a clear blue sky, they tied their replenished food bags to the front of their boards, tucked their sun bleached hair under a trucker hat, put on their sunglasses and paddled out toward De Horsey Island.
Follow the Higginbotham brothers’ journey to the U.S.-Mexican border at northamericanpaddle.com