The Arctic Row Team Checks in via Blog on The First Stretch of Their Row Across the Arctic


retrieved from

Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans…. And so, despite packing enough Cheez-Its to fill a 3rd grader’s lunchbox for a year, the guys are now in dangerously short supply. They find this much more distressing than I do, needless to say.

Otherwise, all is well on the Arctic today. I just got off the phone with Paul (around 11:00pm Central time). He had just finished a shift at the oars and was about to catch up with Scott, who is already napping. They’re due back on deck at 1:00 am, although the days and times tend to run together above the Arctic Circle in summer, as it never gets dark.

The last day or two has been marked by good rowing weather and their first ice sightings. They caught some pretty great footage of an iceberg they estimate was about 50 feet tall (above the water) and the size of 3 football fields. The bergs are apparently so massive that they’re visible a good 2 hours before they go past. Smaller ones can be about the size of a car and are present near the large ones, but don’t last long once they’ve broken off the main berg, so they don’t seem to present a threat.

Conditions have been good but slow recently. With some exceptions earlier in the trip, they’ve generally had swells in the 1-to-2 foot range, which is quite smooth for an ocean. This is nice in some ways, but actually makes for fairly slow going. The advantage to larger waves is in the “run” that a boat can achieve on the way down the crest of a wave. That run essentially amounts to a little bit of free mileage with each wave, and any mileage you can get without having to pull an oar is welcome! Without the swells doing much to push them along, they definitely feel like they’re earning each mile.

For those who have been tracking the boat’s location on the Spot locator, you may have noticed it behaving sporadically over the last few days. Although that gives anxious family members pause, it’s worth mentioning that everyone on board is safe, and even the complete loss of the Spot locator,  although distressing for us, would not impact the team’s ability to reach out for help if need be, and to communicate their coordinates via satellite phone or text. The reason for the odd timing of updates is now suspected to be faulty AAA batteries, which somehow did not get packed on board. Currently the plan is to wait until they go past more heavily developed coast line in Alaska, flag down a passing boat, and ask for batteries. This seems a bit like the ocean rowing equivalent to knocking at the neighbors’ door to borrow a cup of flour. Hope it works!

Meanwhile, I hate to spoil tomorrow’s surprises, but I’ll leave you with this:  I miss-reported (or did I?) which of the Arctic Row team had gone for a swim the other day. So currently the scoreboard stands here:

– one of them went in several days ago near the mouth of the river (where the water is much warmer)

– one went in today, and reportedly spent most of his swim sputtering and making strange (distinctly non-masculine) noises

– one won’t even consider going in, even if there were a new bag of Cheez-Its floating by just out of reach

– one dipped his hair in enough to be able to shampoo, but has yet to dip a toe

Can you guess who is who??

– Joy