Darwin Awards Contenders Foiled By Observant Cafe Customer

Darwin Awards
Four men who could have become strong candidates for this year’s Darwin Awards have been saved by a Good Samaritan who was enjoying some coffee nearby.

The BBC reports that a customer at a cafe in Oxwich Bay, Wales, spotted four men in a dinghy clutching onto a buoy and desperately trying to get the attention of those on shore.

It’s unclear if the men were consciously trying to win the Darwin Awards, given out every year for people who get killed in stupid ways and thus improve the gene pool of our species. Nevertheless, they proved their candidacy by setting out in an inflatable dinghy into worsening weather with no life jackets and no flares. Winds had reached up to force six on the Beaufort Scale by the time they were saved. Force six is just short of a gale, with waves rising up to 13 feet.

The person who spotted them alerted the coast guard, who sent out a lifeboat to save them. If it wasn’t for this observant coffee lover, these wannabe sailors may have replicated the famous “Raft of the Medusa,” being adrift at sea for weeks, slowly expiring from hunger and thirst until desperation led them to gnaw on one another to survive. It would have given a whole new meaning to the term “Welsh rarebit.”

If you must try an alternative diet, try vegetarianism instead. It’s far more benign. Also familiarize yourself with weather conditions before setting out and practice these sea safety guidelines. Now that spring is here and everyone wants to get out in the water, it’s important to know how to play safe.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Video Of The Day: Lewis Colam Rowing From Miami to NYC

I stumbled across this video on Vimeo. It’s an introduction video from Lewis Colam and the first of many to come. Lewis is a 24-year-old man from London. He’s spending approximately three months rowing from Miami to New York City. He’s doing all of this to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease research. Along the 1,400-mile journey, Colam will face many obstacles – prolonged sun exposure, bugs and the challenge of having no support boat or team following him along to ensure his safety. I enjoy following adventures like these, especially when they’re being documented on film. Check it out here.

How to Paddle Sideways on a Kayaking

British Woman Prepares To Row Across The Pacific

Sarah Outen will soon start her row across the Pacific OceanLast April we posted a story about Sarah Outen, an adventurous 26-year-old from the U.K. who had set out to circumnavigate the globe using nothing but her own power. Sarah called her journey the London2London expedition and over the past 12 months she has traveled by kayak and bike across Europe and Asia. Now she is preparing to embark on the next stage of her journey, a solo row across the Pacific Ocean.

Sarah is currently in Choshi, Japan, where she is busy making the final preparations to her 21-foot rowboat named Gulliver. That boat will be her home for the next seven months as she undertakes the physically and mentally demanding task of crossing the Pacific. If all goes as planned, and the weather is right, she’ll set out tomorrow on a 5179-mile row that will eventually end in Vancouver, Canada.

This isn’t Sarah’s first ocean crossing under her own power. Back in 2009 she rowed solo across the Indian Ocean as well. That expedition took more than four months to complete and covered approximately 3100 miles of open ocean. The Pacific will provide a similar experience, albeit on a much grander scale.

After setting out from London last year, Outen paddled down the Thames River and crossed the English Channel in a kayak. Arriving on the shores of France, she climbed aboard a bike and began peddling east, crossing through numerous countries in Europe and Asia along the way. She arrived in Japan last October, but the Pacific is unforgiving in the autumn and winter so she has waited until now to start this stage of the journey.

After she completes her row across the Pacific, Sarah will once again return to her bike and continue her round-the-world adventure. The next stage will involve riding across Canada and the U.S. Finally, she intends to cap the journey by rowing across the North Atlantic and back up the Thames River, finishing where she started under the London Bridge.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

[Photo courtesy Sarah Outen]

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

Pacific Rowing Race announced

The Pacific Rowing Race will launch in 2014!Adventurers and extreme sports athletes looking for a new challenge may well find what they’re looking for in the newly announced Pacific Rowing Race. The event, which isn’t scheduled to take place until June of 2014, will cover more than 2100 nautical miles, beginning in Monterey Bay, California and ending in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Organizers of the event expect that it will take around 30 to 35 days for the fastest two- and four-person crews to row the entire length of the course. The current record for an individual rower is 64 days, and was set back in 1997, but due to advances in technology and better boat design, a solo racer could easily break that record. On the other hand, teams who are more interested in enjoying the experience of being out on the ocean, and aren’t trying to set new speed records, could take as much as 100 days to reach the finish line.

Along the way, racers will face a host of weather conditions, ranging from clear, calm days to potentially dangerous storms. They’ll also have to contend with seas that can be both extremely turbulent or smooth as glass. And while they’re out on the water, they’ll experience breathtaking sunrises and sunsets and a peaceful solitude that is broken from time to time by a passing dolphin, whale, or other sea creature.

Some of the details on the race are still being worked out, but if you’re interested in taking part in the event, there is an online form that you can fill out by clicking here. Completing that form will ensure that you receive the latest news on the event and keep you updated on any announcements from the race organizers.

Online entry for the Pacific Rowing Race is scheduled to open on April 2nd of this year, giving participants more than two years to prepare.

[Photo credit: Roz Savage]