The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the most challenging, unpredictable and dangerous bodies of water in the world. I am going to attempt to row solo from New York to Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, a total distance of 3400 miles (approx!).
Only 10 people have successfully rowed solo from West to East across the North Atlantic (more people have walked on the moon!) and no one has ever completed the route that I am undertaking.
I will leave New York at the end of May 2014. Initially, my route will take me east, roughly following a course of 40 degrees north latitude before I begin to head north east towards the U.K., taking advantage of the Gulf Stream, and subsequently the North Atlantic Drift, to help me on my journey home. I aim to arrive in Stornoway, at the beginning of September...2014!
Most previous crossings have made landfall in the Scilly Isles, off the southwest coast of the U.K., but I have decided to try and get all the way back to Stornoway as I feel that the fact I am rowing home will keep me going and get me through even the most difficult times.
The NY2SY: Solo Atlantic Row will involve rowing for 12 hours, each day, for 3 months as well as coping with the various hazards the North Atlantic Ocean can present:
Hurricane season lasts from June until November. These tropical storms originate in Equatorial regions (off the coast of Africa, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico) and make their way north along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.A. before heading out into the North Atlantic. During a hurricane winds can reach speeds in excess of 70 mph and waves can exceed 15 metres in height.
The North Atlantic is the one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes with huge tankers, bulk carriers and cruisers sailing back and forth between Europe and North America.
Although the North Atlantic Ocean is vast, the chances of striking an unknown object are very real. Ocean row boats have been badly damaged, and even sunk, due to such collisions and there is very little that can be done to prevent them. These objects are often hard to spot due to them being submerged and threats to vessels include timber, shipping containers and fuel drums.
Thousands of icebergs are calved every year from glaciers located along the west coast of Greenland and a small percentage are carried far south by the Labrador Current into the North Atlantic. The chances of encountering an iceberg are small, but it could happen, and it would be potentially very dangerous if I were to be in close proximity to one during rough weather.
I will also have to deal with the isolation that I will encounter during my 90+ days at sea, as I push myself, both physically and mentally, to the very limits of my endurance.
The North Atlantic route was first rowed in 1896 by two Norwegian immigrants, George Harbo and Frank Samuelson, who took 55 days to row from New York to the Scilly Isles, in their 18 ft long wooden dory 'Fox'. Given the limited technology and equipment of the day, their achievement is truly remarkable. Those brave men are an inspiration to me.