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 13 people have successfully rowed solo from West to East across the North Atlantic and no one has ever completed the route that I am undertaking.
After nearly 4 years of preparation, training and organising, I first attempted my NY2SY ocean row back in June 2014. I was making slow, but steady, progress when I had an accident onboard which resulted in me suffering a serious back injury just 9 days into my challenge. It was clear to me as soon as I fell that I was in trouble and wouldn't be unable to continue my row. It was a very difficult decision to request to be rescued but ultimately it was the correct decision. A few days after being released from hospital I returned to the ocean to salvage my ocean rowing boat, which I had to abandon at the time.
I intended to try again in 2016, and my preparations were going well, but I decided to postpone following the sudden death of my father early that year.
I returned to New York in 2017 for another attempt but this time I was thwarted by the weather. As a solo rower, I need about a week of favourable conditions to make decent headway out into the ocean and to get away from land. I spent 6 weeks in the marina on 'standby' to begin my row but by mid-June it was clear that I wasn't going to get the weather window which I required. I took advice from my weather-router, and other experienced ocean rowers, and finally decided to postpone for another year.
This year I will return for a third attempt and I am aiming to leave New York sometime during May 2018. 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 UK. I'll aim to take 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...2018!
**Due to the lack of a favourable weather window I have relocated 300 miles south to Norfolk, VA. It is disappointing that I will not be departing from New York as I had always intended but the challenge remains the same...to row solo across the North Atlantic Ocean.**
Most previous crossings have made landfall in the Scilly Isles or the west coast of Ireland but I have decided to try and get all the way back to Stornoway. I feel that the fact I am rowing home will keep me going and get me through even the most difficult times.
My NY2SY Solo Atlantic Row will involve rowing for 12 hours, each day, for over 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 10 metres in height.
The North Atlantic is the one of the world’s busiest shipping routes with huge tankers, container ships and cruisers sailing back and forth between Europe and North America. Although it is a big ocean and I am a very small vessel I will have to be vigilant to avoid potential collisions as I will have a very small radar profile.
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 very 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.
“When you’re going through Hell....keep going.”