COAST CITIES — If keeping North County’s criminals in check was not enough of a challenge, two veteran San Diego Superior Court bailiffs have turned their sights to one of the world’s deadliest diseases — cancer.
Earlier this week, Bob Wilson, 63, and Bill Sims, 58, set out on a 1,000-mile, five-week kayaking odyssey dubbed “Paddle for the Battle” that will take them from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in the name of cancer research.
Wilson said he lost his mother, Alice Wilson, to pancreatic cancer.
As he made plans for this expedition, his mother-in-law, Jean Alexander, was diagnosed with lung cancer. She ultimately succumbed to the disease this past May.
“It’s an insidious, it’s a nasty thing, and hopefully we can help make some headway,” Wilson said. “It’s just a small baby step what we’re doing.”
The duo has raised more than $12,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Then there were two
From the start, Wilson, of Vista, said it was no-brainer to make the trip a tandem expedition.
He said at his age it pays to have someone to have his back — enter Sims, a longtime friend, co-worker and adventure enthusiast.
Currently, both men work as deputies for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at the Superior Courthouse in Vista; however, Sims only works part time since his retirement from the department six years ago.
Their expedition was delayed six months after Sims broke his hand in a Sheriff’s Department training exercise just prior to their May departure.
“It’s his dream and when he approached me I was pretty honored,” Sims said.
It was Wilson who introduced Sims to kayaking six years ago.
Since then, the two have been on numerous expeditions, including journeys to Catalina as well as trips from Oceanside to San Diego to prepare for the grueling 25- to 30-mile-a-day paddle they will have to endure to keep their early November completion date.
Wilson said Sims, of Carlsbad, was the natural choice for this momentous journey.
“I trust him, he’s not a whiner, because this is going to be tough, and he’s a good partner, so it just made sense,” Wilson said. “I was really honored that he accepted the invitation to do this thing.”
One for record books
If completed, Wilson and Sims will be the oldest expeditioners to complete a kayak trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in one shot. They would be just the third group to accomplish this feat.
The last set of kayakers to complete the expedition was in 1991, and included then-57-year-old John Reseck.
They have to watch their weather closely, Reseck said, because it’s one thing you can’t control.
Additionally, he said it’s imperative their kayak can handle the punishing, large surf that the duo will likely encounter when heading into and off shore.
A lot of people have attempted the trip; however, except for he and his partner, who completed the expedition in two separate kayaks, Reseck said only one other group, a husband and wife, completed the journey in the ‘70s using small sailboats.
It took Reseck 33.5 days at 30 miles a day to complete the trip. “Thirty miles in one day isn’t a big deal, but 30 miles day after day after day after day is a big deal,” he said.
Reseck, who authored “We Survived Yesterday: Kayaking from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas” based on his expedition, said they got caught several times along long cliffs where there was no good place to come ashore, which caused them to get beat up among the rocks and surf.
“It’s not a wimpy trip, it’s a pretty healthy trip that’s why no one else has done it.” Reseck said.
Wilson said he heeded Reseck’s advice and ordered the 22-foot two-man kayak, christened “Battle Bucket,” with a double glassed hull. In addition, he said a keel strip that runs the length of the hull adds another layer of fiberglass.
The duo will take 10 to 15 gallons of water as well as ingredients for meals and prepared breakfast packets.
Additionally, they will carry light tackle fishing rods as well as electronic equipment, which includes a GPS, a camcorder for video and photo stills, a two-way radio, a satellite phone, and a spot messenger, which will allow their family and friends to follow their journey on the Internet.
“We know what we have to have for survival, and then we said well what else can we take to supplement the survival,” Wilson said.
Despite their extensive preparation and experience, both men acknowledge the trip is a “potential crap shoot.”
“Every day is different, every minute is different, there are no two days that are the same,” Wilson said.
For more information about donating to the Paddle for the Battle, contact Fitness Together at (858) 451-6051 or call (760) 741-6100.