Olympics-Inspired Man Attempts To Swim Across Atlantic, Only Makes It 300 Yards From Shore

Swimming across the Atlantic, just 3594 miles of open water.An unnamed British man was so inspired by the Olympics on Tuesday that he decided to attempt to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. He had planned to swim from Biarritz, France, where he was vacationing with friends, to New York City, saying he wanted to bring the “Olympic spirit” to America. He didn’t make it far, however, as lifeguards picked him up about 300 yards from shore, well short of the 3594 miles he would have needed to cover to reach his destination.

According to the Daily Mail, the 34-year-old man was vacationing with friends when he suddenly announced that he was setting off for America. His travel companions, thinking he was joking, watched as he immediately dove into the water and began swimming out into the ocean, continuing well past warning buoys that mark the limit for safe and legal swimming.

Those buoys are located about 300 yards from shore, which prompted lifeguards to scramble into action. A rescue helicopter was dispatched and a diver dropped into the water to convince the man to turn back. The headstrong Brit argued that he was a good swimmer and that he was capable of making an Atlantic crossing, but eventually he came to his senses and climbed aboard a small boat to return to shore.

Thankfully, the Olympics only come around once every four years. I’m not sure if this man’s friends and family could handle him getting inspired like this on a regular basis.

[Image courtesy the Daily Mail]

Adventurer Prepares For Global Triathlon

Dan Martin prepares for his Global TriathlonBritish adventurer Dan Martin is about to embark on an epic challenge that he calls the Global Triathlon. The journey, which is set to get underway from New York City any day now, will see Dan circling the globe completely under his own power, and just like any other triathlon he’ll be swimming, cycling and running the various legs. In this case, those legs just happen to be substantially longer.

All triathlons, regardless of length, always start with a swim and Dan’s is no different. In this case, however, that swim involves crossing the Atlantic Ocean. He’ll first enter the water in the Hudson River and start heading east, continuing to do so until he makes landfall in France. Along the way, Dan will be escorted by a support boat, which is where he’ll sleep, eat and rest while en route. At the end of each day, he’ll crawl on to the boat, replace as many burned calories as he can and try to regain his strength for the next day, when he’ll return to the water and continue on.

To date, only one other person has managed to swim across the Atlantic. Back in 1998, French long distance swimmer Benoit Lecomte managed to accomplish that feat in just over 73 days. Lecomte’s efforts are contested by some, however, because he didn’t use a GPS to strictly track his progress. Dan hopes to allow others to follow his progress via his website, keeping the world updated on his position at all times.Once he does arrive in France the cycling stage of the journey will begin. Dan will climb aboard his bike and start peddling across Europe and Asia – in the dead of winter no less. If everything goes as planned he’ll eventually end the bike ride in the city of Anadyr, located in Russia’s far east. From there he’ll hop across the Bering Sea and start the finale leg of the Global Triathlon, running from Uelen, Alaska, back to New York City. When he’s done, Martin expects to have covered roughly 18,640 miles.

Dan actually thought that he would be underway by now, but a few logistical hiccups have prevented him from getting started on time. Nonetheless, he and his support crew are currently in NYC and they hope to have everything ironed out soon. You can follow his progress and updates both on his Facebook page and through his Twitter feed.

Good luck Dan!

[Photo courtesy Dan Martin]


St. Brendan: Did An Irish Monk Come To America Before Columbus?

St. BrendanToday is St. Brendan’s feast day. To the Irish, St. Brendan needs no introduction. For those less fortunate in their birth, let me tell you that he may have been Ireland’s first adventure traveler.

Saint Brendan was an Irish holy man who lived from 484 to 577 AD. Little is known about his life, and even his entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia is rather short. What we do know about him mostly comes from a strange tale called “the Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator,” written down in the ninth century and rewritten with various changes in several later manuscripts.

It’s an account of a seven-year journey he and his followers took across the Atlantic, where they met Judas sitting on a rock, landed on what they thought was an island only to discover it was a sea monster, were tempted by a mermaid, and saw many other strange and wondrous sights. They got into lots of danger, not the least from some pesky devils, but the good Saint Brendan used his holy might to see them through.

They eventually landed on the fabled Isle of the Blessed far to the west of Ireland. This is what has attracted the attention of some historians. Could the fantastic tale hide the truth that the Irish came to America a thousand years before Columbus?

Sadly, there’s no real evidence for that. While several eager researchers with more imagination than methodology have claimed they’ve found ancient Irish script or that places like Mystery Hill are Irish settlements, their claims fall down under scrutiny.

But, as believers like to say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and there are some tantalizing clues that hint the Irish really did journey across the sea in the early Middle Ages. It’s firmly established that Irish monks settled in the Faroe Islands in the sixth century. The Faroes are about halfway between Scotland and Iceland. Viking sagas record that when they first went to settle Iceland in the late ninth century, they found Irish monks there. There are also vague references in the Viking sagas and in medieval archives in Hanover hinting that Irish monks made it to Greenland too.

%Gallery-155425%From Greenland, of course, it’s not much of a jump to North America. The monks wanted to live far away from the evils of the world and were willing to cross the ocean to do so.

How did they sail all that distance? In tough little boats called currachs, made of a wickerwork frame with hides stretched over it. One would think these soft boats with no keel wouldn’t last two minutes in the open ocean, but British adventurer Tim Severin proved it could be done. In 1976, he and his crew sailed a reconstruction of a medieval currach on the very route I’ve described. The boat, christened Brendan, was 36 feet long, had two masts, and was made with tanned ox hides sealed with wool grease and tied together with more than two miles of leather thongs. While Brendan says sailing it was like “skidding across the waves like a tea tray,” the team did make it 4,500 miles across the ocean. His book on the adventure, “The Brendan Voyage,” is a cracking good read.

Although Severin proved the Irish could have made it to America, it doesn’t mean they did. Severin had the advantage of modern nautical charts and sailed confident in the knowledge that there was indeed land where he was headed. So until archaeologists dig up a medieval Irish church in North America, it looks like St. Brendan’s voyage will remain a mystery.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

How to row across the ocean


How to row across the ocean


Over the weekend, the New York Times memorialized adventurer John Fairfax in the most awe-inspiring obituary ever written. In it, we learned that Mr. Fairfax had run away to the Amazon jungle at 13, then later worked as a pirate’s apprentice out of Panama. But the main narrative of Mr. Fairfax’s life was that he had rowed across not one, but two oceans: the Atlantic in 1969 and the Pacific in 1972. In fact, he was “the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.”

While ocean rowing sounds like a near impossible feat, there are still dozens of adventurers in pursuit of this challenge. Earlier this month, Gadling profiled the Pacific Rowing Race, which is set to take place in 2014 following a course from Monterey Bay, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. No doubt, the Ocean Rowing Society, the organization charged with the adjudication of all ocean rowing records and on whose steering committee John Fairfax was a member, will be on hand as rowers set out on their quest.

The Ocean Rowing Society devised a set of guidelines for ocean rowers in a meeting in 2000. The guidelines cover acceptable crossings for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, definitions of assisted and unassisted rows, and minimum compulsory safety measures and equipment for undertaking an ocean row:

  • It is noted that Christopher Columbus’ route from Spain to the Bahamas is the traditional Atlantic crossing route (“Departures from Cape Verde will be recognized as an Atlantic Ocean crossing with the words “shortened crossing” added to official listings.”)
  • Auto-steering is optional.
  • Wind generators may be used.
  • Solar panels should be used for generating all electrical power on board the row boat.
  • Canopies are not allowed.
  • Ocean rowing is a drug-free sport.

Head over to the Ocean Rowing Society website to learn more.

Image Flickr/TrueFalseFilmFestival

American yacht pulls out of Volvo Ocean Race

American YachtThe Volvo Ocean Race is well underway with American Yacht Puma the latest casualty in a dramatic opening leg that has injured half the fleet.

While all 11 crew members are safe, the yacht was dismasted about 2000 nautical miles from the finish in 20-plus knot winds and the devastating waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the opening leg.

“We’ve just withdrawn from the leg,” skipper Ken Read told SailWorld.com. “We have [the mast] jury rigged – we have about 15 feet of mast left. We have our trysail and storm jib awkwardly set. We’re supplementing that with really low revs of the engine just to make forward progress.

Puma was in second position in the first leg of the race, sailing from Alicante, Spain, to Cape Town when the mast broke. The causes of the dismasting are not known.

Also casualties of the opening leg, Team Sanya of China and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam fell foul of brutal conditions, forced to retire with hull damage and a broken mast respectively.Putting sailing prowess and human ability to an exceptional test, the nine-month long Volvo Ocean Race is held every three years. Called the most important and extreme offshore race in the world, those who take part know this is no pleasure cruise.

“What makes the Volvo Ocean Race so special is that it’s so extreme,” New Zealander Mike Sanderson, 34, told USAToday. “You’re going through the Southern Ocean plowing through waves and around icebergs and there’s snow. Then eight days later you’re coming up the coast of Brazil, and it’s 90 degrees down below and you’re sweltering hot and you can’t cool down

Flickr photo by Blue Seahorse