In April 2009, Chris Martin and Mick Dawson will set off from Choshi in Japan and row the 5,100 statute miles to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge without assistance, becoming the first ocean rowing boat ever to complete this feat.
The ocean rowing boat will only be moved by human power. In order to be unassisted, the boat will leave Japan with everything needed for the trip; this includes all food and supplies. Power for the water desalinator, communication and video systems is provided by batteries charged by solar panels. The vessel will also be fully kitted out with the most modern safety and emergency equipment.
Dominated by massive weather systems traversing east from the Asian Continent and low pressure systems travelling up north east from the Philippines, Typhoons and Tropical storms are a constant threat, particularly at the beginning of the voyage.
Even without the extremes of the storms that are frequent in this part of the world, there are many other challenging obstacles the weather brings. Days and days at a time of steady Easterly winds, as these systems pass, halting or pushing back an ocean rowing boat heading east. Extremes of hot and cold temperatures and at times torrential downpours and hailstones. Counter currents and ‘eddies’ that you suddenly find yourself trapped in that sweep the boat in the wrong direction.
Thick fog that reduces visibility to a few yards and which can last for over a week at a time. This fog often remains even in quite strong winds which build up formidable seas to contend with despite the complete lack of visibility.
As well as the challenges the weather brings the route has man made problems too as the North Pacific has a massive flow of commercial shipping passing through it and as ever an ocean rowing boat is very difficult for them to spot or identify.
However there are ways to combat and overcome all of these problems:
The difficulties of exiting Japan and gaining space between us and other vessels can be solved using the second most powerful ocean current in the world - the Kuroshio Current that runs off the East Coast of Japan before snaking out into the North Pacific Ocean several hundred miles.
The correct use of sea anchors and drogues can help overcome the adverse winds and counter currents especially combined with an aerodynamically designed ocean rowing boat like ‘Bo’. Plus of course an awful lot of rowing.
Fog and the threat of shipping can be dealt with by equipping ‘Bo’ with the correct electronic aids; equipment which will alert the shipping to us and just as importantly, alert us to the shipping.
A state of the art ocean rowing boat designed specifically to cope with the conditions on the North Pacific and fitted out accordingly will provide the best possible tool for the job.
Most important of all we both have a wealth of experience to call upon after multiple ocean rows and a lifetime at sea on ships and yachts to help us not only during the crossing but crucially in the fitting out and preparation of the boat.
All of these factors and others combine to give us the perfect opportunity to become the first people to successfully complete this route, unsupported in an ocean rowing vessel.