• 25th March 2010 - By greg
    What are the risks?
    9.I could be run over by a tanker
    8. A storm could blow me back to the coast after departure and smash me into a zillion pieces on the rocky Washington coast
    7. I could capsize in big weather with the top hatch and cabin hatch open which would flood WiTHiN.
    6. My main and my redundant and my 3rd desalinator could fail and I would dehydrate
    5. I could get hit by a rogue wave when standing up, get tossed out and separated from WiTHiN during a very windy day (the wind would blow the boat away from me)
    4. I could slam into a large floating object, hole the hull and sink
    3. I could get hit by a rogue wave, capsize and get hit in the head with an object flying around the cabin or cockpit
    2. I could encounter a hurricane further south and, well… who really knows what would happen to WiTHiN and me if that were to happen…

    I think I can mitigate all of these risks except for the biggest risk of all:

    1. me.

    Why am “I” a risk? Because I just don’t know how I will cope – psychologically – in this strange and wild open ocean environment. I know I won’t be able to sleep – that’s the first problem. And, I know I will probably get sea sick because I have in the past. If I can’t control the sea sickness, and can’t get over the fear of lying helplessly in my cabin during the pitch black of night while WiTHiN is being tossed around like a soccer ball by 40 foot breaking waves and 50 knots winds… well then – we have a problem mission control.

    I know a number of ocean rowers who purposely taped over the emergency locator activate switches, or moved their EPIRBS to an inconvenient, far away location of on their boat. Anything they could do to make it more difficult to get at, and less convenient to ‘pull the trigger’ and escape. “The me factor” is succinctly explained in a recent conversation I had with Paul Ridley who rowed across the Atlantic ocean last year:

    On the topic of “the me factor,” it’s a serious issue. I was never entirely sure that I wouldn’t get to the point where flipping the EPIRB switch would be too enticing to resist. In fact, I spent an entire night (roughly night 4) trying to come up with ways to get the hell out of what I had started. Because I had “planned” to hit mental lows like that, I knew my strategy for overcoming it — I called my sister (one of my two regular land-based contacts) and told her than I’d been up all night thinking of ways to gracefully retire, but no matter what I wasn’t going to do it. No matter what, she shouldn’t listen to me. So, that pretty much put an end to my feeling sorry for myself, because I had just come clean with someone who would know what I was up to if I later came up with a creative and/or supposedly “graceful” way to bail. As someone who at a moment in time thought a lot about bailing, let me assure you that there’s no graceful way to do it. Simply not possible, unless your life is in serious danger, in which case you’ll do what you need to do to survive. As scared as I was, I knew that I only had to be in long-term survival mode, and that my life wasn’t immediate at risk. I also put a bunch of tape over the EPIRB switch just in case! 🙂

    I will actually be in a more ‘convenient’ position than Paul because I will have my safety boat nearby. Clive would be just a radio call away from a comfy bed, security, a margarita and an end to the pain.

    I can’t stick a giant piece of tape over Clive’s sail boat!

    However, that said, just knowing that Clive is there for me should help boost my courage to ‘suck it up’ and endure. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be totally alone out there in a huge storm at night. I can imagine that EPIRB trigger being front and center in my mind, not unlike the image of a porterhouse steak if I was starving.

    I have been following Charlie Girard’s 3 failed attempts to row across the Atlantic ocean over 3 years. He was nick-named by the Cape Cod press as “half-way Charlie”. Rather than laugh, instead, I am treating his failures very seriously. His first attempt to row from Cap Cod to France in 2007 ended just 1 day after he set out when he set off his emergency beacon was rescued by a coastguard helicopter. He lasted 1.5 days on his second attempt, and 10 days on his third attempt in 2009. After his last coast guard rescue, Charlie admited that the real problem was sitting on top of his shoulders as he pointed to his head in a TV interview.

    “Half-way Charlie” has been slammed by the press and widely critized, but my thoughts about it are summed up in this wise quote my Mom taught me: “There, but for the grace of God go I”. It means you can’t just write-off someone elses unfortunate experience by thinking that they suck and you don’t, and stupidly thinking that it could never happen to you. I think to some extent, it’s a bit of human nature to feel happy about someone else’s misfortune because it isn’t happening to you. I am letting Charlies story serve as a lesson In my mind, that this could very well happen to me – I just don’t know.

    This isn’t something I can train for. I need to be in WiTHiN, out in the Pacific by myself. The offshore sea trials next week should serve as really great training, but in reality, I should be doing more of this. 3 days just isn’t enough – but like any one of the hundreds and hundreds of ocean rowers who have rowed an ocean – who has the time, money and resources for that kind of an education? In fact, most ocean rower’s first night on the ocean is the first day of their crossing!!!

    On my side, is the fact that of the 100’s of rowers who have crossed an ocean, there are only a hand full who have bailed for fear related reasons. At some point, I have to assume that I am at least a bit like others, and it that is the case – they got over it and dealt with it, so, I should be able to as well.

    The photos shown are frames taken from the video that was shot of sea trials near Tofino with the prototype test boat. 15 to 20 foot swells and I was throwing up for 9 hours!

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  • 6 Comments to “My Biggest Fear”

    • david "tobago" milne on March 25, 2010

      Rouge may refer to: Rouge (cosmetics), a cosmetic used to color the cheeks and emphasize the cheekbones; Rouge (film), a 1987 Hong Kong film; Rouge

      If I was hit by one of these bad girls I’d be a bit blushed

      Spellcheck is a hell of a deal dude!

    • Bruce Bolster on March 25, 2010

      I think and hope that the ballasted keel on the current boat will make for a more comfortable motion in a seaway than the prototype model, especially in roll, and that this will help with seasickness, sleeping, and overall comfort. Certainly a ballasted keelboat has a much more comfortable motion than a non-ballasted motor cruiser.

    • Russell Moore on March 25, 2010

      I think you will have a more realistic view of many of these ‘problems’ after the three day shake down trial, good luck.

    • Xabier Sanjuan on March 27, 2010


      You are more than prepared to make this Challenge. Hope and Faith will be always your Best Friends!

      You and Us should worry when you decide to circumnavigate the Globe!

      Best Regards,

    • Scott Bowman on March 30, 2010

      Just from all the things I have read about you on your websites, I’m sure you can do this, and you will succeed at it.
      Keep your head up high, and we will be praying for your success.


    • dinesh on March 31, 2010

      greg ,

      water carry some camelback water bags , and continue to drink from the while refilling , that way you have a back up and never worry about dehydrating .

      from personal experience chewing ginger root regularly during the voyage will do away with the seasickness ,

      all the very best !

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