Blog

Hello again!

 

Joy here, passing along an entry written by Paul, who is using his jet lag to get me to handle his work for him (it used to be “I’m on a boat on the Arctic”, now it’s “I’m sleepy in London….”; next it’ll be “I’m in space….”). But again with the digressing. Here’s what Paul had to say after a few days on land:

 

 

It’s frightening how connected the world actually is. Over 41 days, Arctic Row travelled though some of the most remote places on the planet, yet only 30 hours after stepping out of our boat in an isolated lagoon outside of Point Hope, AK, I found myself in Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Similar to the re-entry shock Collin described, I’ve also spent the last several days in a semi-daze trying to sort out the confusion of readjusting to life on land.

Being separated from Scott, Neal and Collin feels really strange, in a bad way. Funny as it may sound after spending 41 days in a small boat, I miss these guys. Sure, we were confined in an impossibly small space, we annoyed each other regularly, and had our share of disagreements, but we shared so many moments of indescribable beauty, awe, fear, and elation that by the end we were operating as one unit. For one of us to roll over at night the others always needed to move too. If one guy was hungry or thirsty, we all ate or drank. At the end of a wet rowing shift (pretty much every shift included some rain), we’d shed our wet layers of clothes (Eddie Bauer First Ascent or Kokatat of course!) on deck and hand them to the guys about to take over. We were truly four men operating as one, all pulling toward a shared goal. The picture below gives you an idea of what our living situation was like:

 

 

I took this picture with my head all the way aft in the rear (bigger cabin). It’s a little dark, but that’s Collin front and center. Opposite him (left side of the photo) is Scott, who is unavoidably overlapping legs with Collin and I. At the bottom right you can see my foot, which never had a convenient place to go and usually ended up either in someone’s lap or awkwardly jammed against the roof. You can also tell that we’re surrounded by quotes that found their way onto the foam-insulated wall as the journey progressed. Some were funny, but most were inspirational…exactly what we needed to keep our spirits up after collapsing into the cabin after a long rowing shift or during seemingly endless hours waiting out a storm. Here’s one of my favorites, which rings as true now as ever:

 

 

Because our email capability went down in the early days of the trip, we have an awful lot of stories still to share with the world. Joy did a terrific job blogging for us, but its safe to say that our best stories have yet to be told. Here’s a snapshot of the first few that comes to mind. We’ll tell you more in the days to come:

 

1) “The Sea Anchor Smash”

2) “Get Out the Shotgun”

3) “High Stakes Frogger – Dodging Ice and Tree Trunks on Arctic Ocean”

4) “We Lose Faith in the Sea Anchor – Neal and Scott’s Hero Row to Barrow”

5) “In Over Our Heads – The Entrance to Marryat Inlet”

6) “Citizen Science – What’s in Our Net?”

 

Thanks for joining us on the adventure of a lifetime –

 

 

Paul

September 5, 2012

London’s newest resident

There is no feeling in the world like stepping onto terra firma after 41 days at sea… then falling over. Apparently if you rarely stand upright for a lengthy time the little stabilizing muscles in your legs and feet will start to atrophy. News to me.

 

Before we get started, thank you to everyone for all the support and motivational facebook/twitter/blog/email messages – we wouldn’t have made it without such a strong support network– that was seriously empowering.

 

So, our adventure actually continued for a while after making landfall in Point Hope, Alaska. We were welcomed graciously by the local people with a traditional Inupiat Eskimo dance which was a great cultural experience until we tried to join in on the dancing… If you can, try to imagine all four of us scruffy-bearded and rubber-legged travelers dancing to the beat of whale drums. I thought I was getting a hang of the rhythm until I looked down and saw the cutest little girl trying to hide her laugh at my mismanaged limbs.

 

After the dance, we shrugged off the dancing embarrassment as best we could and the mayor took us around town to visit traditional burial grounds and sod homes (huts built of whale bone and sod) which were spectacular. To add to the experience, Mayor Steve was nice enough to bring  the team some Maktak, or raw whale skin and blubber, and whale meat for dinner. The meal was pretty tasty with some salt which is good because it remains a heavy part of the local diet. In fact, we learned a lot about their traditions and whaling culture which remains in tact today. Point Hope is one of the oldest continually occupied sites in North America and is the most extensive one-period archeological sites in the circumpolar region so we are honored to have visited. I can not wait to go back.

 

Since leaving Point Hope, our team has taken a long series of flights to arrive back in the lower 48 states with friends and families.

 

This experience of rowing across the Arctic Ocean for over 1000 miles non-stop and unsupported has been such a fulfilling learning experience that it is hard to put into words. I have been staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to say and I’m still pretty speechless. Last night was my first night back with my wife (after being away for 2/3 of our marriage – we are newlyweds). She and I sat and talked, reconnecting, on the front porch in warm Texas summer night and I was dumbfounded by the calm winds and clear sky. It still feels uncomfortable to not worry about the weather. So, there is actually a little reentry shock mixed in with my elation with making it home safe and sound. This is normal considering our team became very comfortable with living day-to-day in high stress survival situations. We generally only had small amounts of water because of a finicky and eventually broken watermaker. We were continuously rationing our food to extend our trip to 41 days instead of the planned 30. We dodged icebergs for days on end. We dealt with the rising and falling action of an unprecedented number of major storm systems that would beat us up for a week at a time. So, all I can spit out is: It almost feels uneasy to be home but I have a feeling I’ll start to embrace it real quick! And, I’m excited to start a new professional adventure next week – moving to San Francisco to join a great team of investors at Correlation Ventures. Life is remains busy, but good :).

 

Sod Home built using whale bones

Raw Maktak and whale meat

 

Collin West

8/30/2012

Back in Dallas, moving to San Francisco on Sunday.

 

Helloooo, 

So I’ll cut to the chase, as I swore I’d start going to bed at a reasonable hour when this was all over. Here’s what I know:

 

The guys came on shore on Sunday evening and were treated to traditional native dance performances, tours of the city, and a general hero’s welcome from the mayor of Point Hope. Following their reception, they slept in actual beds. Four separate beds in four separate rooms, no less!

 

On Monday morning they flew out of Point Hope, going their separate ways over the course of the day, all anxious to see the loved ones they’ve been missing. As for Paul, he saw our dad and stepmom on a layover in Anchorage before boarding a plane to New York, with a convenient layover in Minneapolis. I say “convenient” as it was in Minneapolis, but that was about the extent of the convenience. Seeing him required getting up at 4:30 this morning and showing my face, in public and in sweatpants, before 5am. [Against my better judgment, unflattering photographic evidence is below] Despite his lingering aroma, which one might market as Eau de Expedition, it was worth it! As Scott, Collin, and Neal’s families are likely learning as I write this, hearing that they’re safe is one thing, but seeing them with your own eyes and getting a stinky hug is what really makes the stress of the last 41 days finally fall away.

 

They’ve promised to share some stories and some photos over the next few days, so stay tuned, as you’ll soon be free of my ramblings and moving on to their much more interesting first-hand accounts. For those whose morning procrastination routines won’t be complete without a dose of my literary stylings, know that I’ll miss you, too! It’s been a privilege bringing you the highs and lows of this expedition, and passing along your questions, well-wishes, and words of wisdom to the crew. I’ll write again, but likely not nightly anymore, as I’ll be very busy negotiating endorsement contracts with the CheezIt folks. And if you happen to be a magazine editor with an opening for a witty young(ish) freelance writer with extensive volunteer experience, you just let me know!  I’m joyridley@hotmail.com. (No, really, I could be witty. And I could probably even quit starting sentences with ‘and’…)

 

Joy

August 28, 2012

Minneapolis

 

 

I swear we’re both better-looking than this. On occasion, anyway.

 

 

Hi all,

 

 As you’re about to read, yesterday was a big day for Arctic Row. Many more details, photos, and accounts from the team will follow, but first I’m delighted, relieved, and honored to be able to share the following:

 

Big news from Point Hope, AK!

 

The team is happy to report that they completed their journey at 1:46pm local time yesterday (Sunday, August 26th) having rowed more than 1,000 miles from Inuvik, Canada to Point Hope, AK over a period of 41 days. This journey sets a number of ocean rowing records including the below:
-Longest non-stop and unsupported row in Arctic history, measured by duration and distance
-First Non-icerated boat past Barrow in 2012
-First non-stop and unsupported international row over 1000 miles in Arctic waters.
-First row from Inuvik to Point Hope
-Pioneered a new route for modern ocean rowing spanning the Beaufort and Chucki Sea between Inuvik, CA and Point Hope, AK
-First modern four man row in Arctic Ocean history
-First human powered crossing of both Beaufort and Chucki Sea, non-stop and unsupported
-First row covering all of Alaska’s North Slope, non-stop and unsupported
-First ocean row in the arctic to combine human power exploration and marine science.
Records are being verified.
Over the next few days we will have an opportunity to hear from the team directly.

 

We will be in touch again shortly, and meanwhile, the entire Arctic Row team, rowers and land support, as well as family and friends, are endlessly grateful to you, our biggest supporters, for your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your enthusiasm for our collective adventure!

 

Joy

August 27, 2012

The morning after a peaceful night’s sleep