Two Seattle rowers will fly to Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday, in advance of a cross-Atlantic journey to gain valuable oceanic information for science, and a valuable adventure along with it.
“We’re in this fiberglass sliver of civilization, slowly eeking its way across the ocean,” said rower Jordan Hanssen, “The ocean’s this incredibly complex place. It’s all the same ingredients, but every hour it changes.”
Hanssen and Patrick Fleming will meet up with two other rowers in Africa later this week. The four expect to depart for Miami, Florida in early January, embarking on a 3,500-nautical mile row across the Atlantic Ocean.
“When you tell somebody that, it’s the double take,” Fleming joked. “Oh wait? What?”
The trip is through OAR Northwest, and sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Called the “Africa to the Americas Expedition,” the boat will take roughly 60 days to cross the ocean.
On board the five-by-30 foot boat is a large supply of food, other supplies, cameras and a litany of scientific equipment that people on land will be able to monitor in real-time. The boat will be alone in the water, but guided by navigational experts in Seattle.
“It’s this huge, wide open space,” Fleming said. “Then there’s this claustrophobia that you can’t go anywhere but this boat.”
The men will work in shifts of sleeping, rowing and data collection. They will encounter strong storms and currents, dolphins and whales in addition to “the unknown.”
“Absolutely,” Hanssen said about feeling fear. “The day I go to sea and don’t have a little bit of fear is the day I need to not step in the boat.”