Monday, December 27, 2010

Best of ExplorersWeb 2010 Awards: Indian Ocean row

Around-n-Over : "A dream is a goal glimmering in the distance; it is an inner calling which, when accomplished, serves as the rite of passage into wisdom." Erden Eruç

From ExplorersWeb

The original
Six Summits Project was to be realized by bringing a rowing boat to shore on different continents, climb the tallest peak there, and row to the next.
All would be self-propelled meaning that
Erden Eruc would be the one propelling any means of transportation.

Halfway out, Erden realized that his quest would not live up to his rules.
What would you do? For Erden, it was back to square one.

This time, he would instead bicycle across the continents and row the oceans in between.
He could stop on each leg and go home for a while, but would have to return to the exact spot where he had left off - down to the very yard of it.

Erden's second life

Erden's second quest for a human powered circumnavigation kicked off north of San Francisco in July 2007, and this is what led to his beaching on Madagascar last month, after 137 solo rowing days.

While on the Mascarene Basin he had crossed the meridian circle of his start at Bodega Bay -- a symbolic halfway point.

ExplorersWeb's awards don't usually go to explorers in the midst of their challenge.
Erden's case has called for an exception twice, due to specific parts that broke a number of records all in themselves.

Except for castaways, few people have it in them to leave Australia in a small rowing boat and head out in to the vast Indian Ocean.
For Erden, it was just another day at the office.

After all, he had already spent 312 days to row 9500 nautical miles non-stop across the Pacific. Only
Jim Shekhdar had rowed longer there (10600 NM) and together with Peter Bird's 8700 NM, no one has been close to such distances on the Pacific before or since.

The Pacific row rendered Erden a
2008 ExWeb Award.
In the middle of nowhere, Erden's small boat was slowly transforming into a Noah's Ark.
Birds hung out in the crammed spaces, a faithful flock of fish trailed the boat.
In Erden's live pictures for the first time; not only his, but also Bird's and Shekhdar's Pacific fates, came alive.

After the Pacific, Erden Eruc crossed Papua New Guinea on foot and in a kayak.
A sea kayak carried him to Cooktown, in Australia, from where Erden bicycled 7,780km to Perth. En route he summited Mt Kosciusko on April 10.
Now Erden was ready for his next stage on the Indian Ocean.
This time, another crux lay ahead: Pirates.

Low profile to Africa

"A few articles suggested that I had turned off my tracking beacon during my crossing, which is untrue," Erden told ExplorersWeb, and continued:

"During the crossing near Nazareth Bank short of 060E longitude, when I received the word that a fishing vessel had been hijacked near Ile Tromelin east of Madagascar on the Mascarene Basin, I asked the
Ocean Rowing Society to freeze my public tracking page, and also I stopped posting my dispatch locations."

"The beacon was never turned off. The tracking was instead resumed on a private page by the ORS which was made available to my team, to my sponsors and to
Tom Sjogren (HumanEdgeTech). This was a precaution against the threat of piracy to maintain a low profile."

Promises to the wife

Somali pirates were not responsible for Erden's final beaching; the cyclone season was.
The Indian Ocean is infamous for its relentless storms and it was one such that made Erden abort his final and nail-biting fight to achieve the
first solo row from mainland Australia to mainland Africa.

Following an astonishing 137 days out at sea non-stop, on November 26 Erden hauled his rowing boat up on the island of Madagascar.
Erden is now second only to Peter Bird to have spent the longest time out at sea in a rowing boat (Bird spent 937 days and died on the voyage).
He is the first to row three oceans solo, and his latest row is by far the longest row yet over the Indian Ocean.

Erden plans to continue his row as soon as the storm season is over.
Through his rowing, mountain climbing and biking, Erden Eruc intends to eventually make his way back to San Francisco.

In his last dispatch on November 21, Erden renewed the three promises he had made to Nancy when his circumnavigation began:

"I will not die,
We will not go bankrupt, and
I will not lose you."

Erden's voyage stays with us for the courage, determination, self reliance, and idealism it brought to the Spirit of Adventure in 2010.

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