Adventure Sailing: What Became of Harley Harlson

From Three Sheets Northwest, with additional notes below:

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“Meet Kristopher J. “Harley” Harlson, a middle-aged man living in Lynnwood, Washington, who wanted nothing more than to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted in his 8-foot boat, Sea Biscuit. So what explains this madness? Is such a voyage even possible, or is it a one-way ticket to Davey Jones’ locker?”


Sea Biscuit was built using plywood reinforced with galvanized steel mesh on the inside of the hull. When skeptics laughed at his technique, he would bash the hull with a hammer to demonstrate her robustness. To have sufficient nutrition for the voyage, be loaded the boat primarily with the type of survival foods that come in lifeboats, along with a profusion of peanut butter, sprouts and a net to catch plankton. For water he installed two hand pump declinators, which he thought would also help avoid muscle atrophy. As far as Harley Harlson was concerned, he was ready to brave the dangers of the deep.”


“Sea trials would have been a good idea because when he put her in the water at Tofino, B.C., problems arose immediately. She leaked, she was unbalanced, there wasn’t enough weight on the bottom of the keel and she wouldn’t sail into the wind. The old timers laughed and returned to the bars. It was obvious that the voyage in Sea Biscuit was not to be.”   Please continue to read more here.

It appears, in a final sad note on Harley, that things continued to go wrong in his life.  I am not certain this is the same man, but all the details fit.

Man Sets Fire to Mary House

Updated: Thursday, 24 Sep 2009, 9:56 AM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 23 Sep 2009, 3:20 PM CDT FOX AUSTIN

Austin, TX ( – Austin Fire and Arson Investigators have arrested Kristopher Harlson, 56, for setting fire to a house that houses homeless adults with terminal and/or critical illnesses called, “Mary House Catholic Worker of Austin”.

According to investigators, two fires were started inside the house on Monday morning and Harlson was no where to be found. Harlson, who was staying at the house, was upset over the fact that his hospice nurse was late giving his medication.

The director of the facility told FOX 7 that the smoke alarms helped so much. The flames were almost ten feet high when the alarms sounded. No one was hurt, and the walls were not burned.

Harlson was later found at St. David’s hospital, where he told a police officer that he tried to set a building on fire. He is being charged with arson – a first degree felony.”

Harley died a few months later.

His boat rots away beneath a dock in Tofino, Canada.


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