Friday, June 12, 2009

Rowing the Atlantic?

When I set out on this trip, the purpose was definitely not athletic. I wanted to take an extremely long, dirt-cheap vacation on which I met lots of cool new people and saw a lot of the country. Becoming a strong cyclist was an added bonus.

I encountered something cool but completely different when Galen told his friend Katie about me and she wanted to meet me. An extreme athlete, Katie plans to row across the South Atlantic, from Dakar, Senegal, to I think somewhere in French Guiana.

Unlike me, who didn't correlate the athletics with the geography at all—I'm traveling westward at a latitude where the winds always blow eastward—she's going through a section of ocean where the currents will carry her in the right direction, so she would theoretically arrive even if she didn't row.

Her trip is shorter (70-100 days), expensive ($80,000), and she's spending it entirely alone. We went to her house to check out the boat that will be her home for that period of time.

The compartment visible on the end is where she will sleep and hide from storms.

Katie kept wanting to know about my trip, and I kept trying to change the subject to hers (I already knew all about mine). Of course, her main issues were financial. While I'm able to keep a pretty low profile, she needs to constantly take her boat around and get media attention to attract sponsors and donors. (The sponsors, who will place their logos on the boats, will also be keenly interested in continued media attention later; they'll also want the proceeds from the resale of the boat afterward.)

I don't know how anyone would deal with that. Katie thought I was crazy to go without saving up any money, and to be using an old bike. I thought she was crazy to bring all her food with her and take no precautions against sharks. (My idea of crossing the Atlantic involves a kayak and a fishing pole; Katie was one of the first people I ever told that to, and she was definitely the first to say it was an awesome idea.)

Katie gave me a cape to remember her by. Cool as it would initially look, I'm not going to ride with it. It would first create drag, then get torn off. However, it's very compact and may serve me well on cold nights when I leave my luggage behind and am wearing only a T-shirt.

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