Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Boat!

I feel like that when most people think of "rowing" the image that comes to mind is either of an old fashioned aluminum "row boat" or that of a sleek toothpick-shaped carbon fiber racing shell gracefully skimming across flat water. Because of this, a lot of people are more than a little skeptical when I tell them that I plan to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a "row boat." As you might imagine, the type of boat that I'll be rowing across the Atlantic will have very little in common with the distant row boat ancestors that I describe above.

Instead, I'll be rowing a custom designed solo ocean row boat that will measure just under twenty feet in length and just over four feet in width at its widest point. This boat, made of epoxy biaxial and unidirectional fiberglass sandwiching a 10-12mm foam core, will represent the second generation of ocean row boats and is the first step in the early evolution of ocean row boat design in general (the first generation was made of plywood!). My boat will be similar to a boat that was built in 2003 for the Russian ocean rower (and former solo record-holder) Fedor Konyukhov which is pictured above.

A couple notes: I'll be sleeping in the stern cabin which is accessible through a hatch immediately in front of the rowing seat (if you're facing the stern). The hull of the boat is divided into as more than a dozen different compartments which are accessible through various hatches in both the bow and stern cabins and along the center-line of the boat.

Construction will take place in the U.K. and begins in April 2007, so look forward to seeing the boat in real life by September!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Question No One Asks

It’s surprising, but true. Over the last 8 months I’ve taken every possible opportunity to talk to family, friends, and anyone who will listen about my plan to row an ocean and have tackled dozens of questions that I haven’t expected and didn’t known the answer to. Interestingly, there’s one question that I always expect to be asked and haven’t, except for in one instance, It is:

“Why do you want to do this?”

I’m not sure why I always expect people to ask this seemingly simple question. Maybe to some extent I’m hoping that answering this over and over will help me to organize my thoughts and formulate a more organized understanding the reasons why a challenge like this has so quickly and completely captured my interest and become the focal point for seemingly all of my spare time and energy.

While my personal motivations for rowing the Atlantic have complex origins, there is one aspect of this project that is extremely important to me and is much easier to understand. As I’ve mentioned in previous posting, a central goal of this initiative is to raise a six-figure amount of money for charity. When I was 17 my mother lost an alarmingly short four-month battle with late stage malignant melanoma. She was 49. Later that year my father was also diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to recent advances in cancer treatment, he’s been cancer free for five years. While this could seem at first glance like an unfortunate coincidence, the fact is that one in four Americans will be effected by some form of cancer in their lifetime. With this in mind, I’ll be rowing with urgency in support of a prominent U.S. cancer research foundation or hospital.

If you're interested in staying up to date on my trans-Atlantic row for charity I’d encourage you to check this site on a regular basis (a “real” website dedicated to this project is in the works). For now, I can also be reached by e-mail at

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
-Anais Nin

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The first stroke is always the hardest...

As I sit down to write for the first time I've realized that the idea of starting a blog seems about as daunting as rowing an ocean. Fortunately, rowing an ocean is exactly what I'm going to do, so here goes...

It's October 8th, 2006, my voyage will begin in the Canary Islands in 789 days, and there's nothing that I would enjoy more than to be able to turn the calendar forward about two and a half years and read this log from start to finish. So many questions would be answered- Did I make it to the finish? Did I make it to the start? Did I "make it" at all? Did I get discouraged, scared, behind schedule, and did I give up? How much debt am I in? How sunburned did I get? Who built my boat? When was it finished? How much did this trip cost? Did I meet my goal of raising $100,000 for charity? Did I have fun? How many amazing people did I meet along the way? If I knew then what I know now would I still want to row an ocean? I could go on and on...but I won't.

Clearly there's no way to turn the clock ahead by a few years, but in my mind I already know the answers to these questions (in case you were wondering: Yes, Yes, Yes, No, Lots, More so than I would like, It doesn't matter, In time, Lots, Yes, Yes, More than you can count, and Absolutely).

Though the day that I'll paddle out of the harbor of San Sebastian de la Gomera heading South before gradually putting extra pressure on my port oar to swing the bow of my little boat West towards home 3,000 miles over the horizon is still a long way off, I'm getting goosebumps and a knot in my stomach just trying to put those words to paper.

There's no doubt that answers to many of my questions will be found in the weeks and months to come and I hope to share my victories and failures both on this log and in person with anyone who wants to listen. In the next several days I plan to introduce myself and answer several of the most common questions that people have when they hear that I'm planning on rowing across the ocean (the most popular so far, "What do you do at night and how do you sleep?").

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of shore for a very long time"
-Andre Gide (1869-1951)