Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bonnie Hunt Show

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm in LA today to tape the Bonnie Hunt show. Check out www.bonniehunt.com for more. Looks like it will air Thursday.

Paul

Monday, April 13, 2009

CBS - The Early Show Clip

My interview on The Early Show aired this morning!

Check it out here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4938856n

Paul

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Early Show Bumps Paul Again!

Paul's been bumped AGAIN from the CBS Early Show.

This time, though, they're taping something for later broadcast. When we have a firm time when it will be shown, we'll post it here. (Or we'll post the video itself.)

Thanks for being patient!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Paul on CBS Early Show This Thursday

The CBS Early Show will be welcoming Paul for a live interview on Thursday morning, April 9, probably during the 7-8 A.M. hour.

This appearance has been moved several times; check here for the latest information on the exact time of the interview.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where in the world am I today?

That's an easy one -- HOME!


I flew in on Sunday night and have started trying to put my life back together. Genuine "real-world" things like finding my car keys, replacing my credit cards and wallet that apparently didn't make the trip back from the Canaries, and standing in line at the DMV for a new driver's license. The culture-shock of returning to real life, especially in Fairfield County, CT, has been completely bewildering, and not as much of a relief as I expected.


I've realized that on the boat I was living literally on the bare essentials -- food, water, and shelter from the elements were all I had and all I needed. Luxuries were limited to an iPod, a sat phone, and computer - all of which helped to keep my mind occupied, but were useless bricks of metal and plastic when it came to keeping me alive.


For the last two days I've been constantly surprised and awed by the excesses of the life that I was so accustomed to only a few months ago. I'm able to provide for the bare essentials that are absolutely critical to life at sea with zero effort or real cost - it's a feeling of incredibly undeserved ease, and one that right now I'm extremely uncomfortable with.


For example, I'm writing from a Starbucks in Greenwich, CT, and out the window I can see half a million dollars worth of cars....Mercedes Benzes, Land Rovers, and countless SUVs. The guy sitting at the table across from me is wearing a suit and tie and furiously typing on his Blackberry. On the Atlantic, my only "currency" was in the form of Ramen Noodles and British Army biscuits that occasionally turned up as I ate my way through food rations and that I would stash away until "cashing them in" when I needed a pick-me-up. With this in mind, you can probably imagine how strange it feels to be back in a world with priorities very different from those that had become my own during my 87 days on the ocean.


I suppose that this feeling will go away soon, but for now I'm wondering "where in the world am I?"


I really miss Liv.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Challenge to the Rowing Community

Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!

Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.

So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.

Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.

Paul

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sad to see her go...

Well, on Friday afternoon I watched a truck carry Liv away to the container port at St. John's, Antigua on the other side of the island. After a whirlwind of a morning arranging logistics, packing materials, carpentry help, and countless trips by water taxi across English Harbour between Nelson's Dockyard and Antigua Slipway, we had her loaded, braced, and ready to go by 2PM or so.


As the truck was winding its way up the hill one of the dockyard workers caught me apparently watching her disappear into the trees. I've become incredibly attached to her over the last year and particularly over the last few months -- no surprise given that she literally kept me alive for 88 days on one of the most unforgiving environments on earth. She'll be shipped back to New York on a container ship leaving Antigua next Friday and will arrive in New York twenty-one days later. She's due for a thorough cleaning but other than the watermaker needing servicing, she's in fantastic shape thanks in large part to her builder Aquidneck Custom (Bristol, RI).


I had an incredible welcome here in Antigua but can't wait to see everyone back home too, and am looking forward to my first night's sleep in my own bed - something I dreamed about a lot while on the ocean.


I'll keep you all updated on the event schedule that is coming together now. There are events in the works in both CT and upstate NY, and I'll be accepting invitations for other appearances as well. If you're interested in having me meet with your school, club, church, or other organization, please send an email to my sister Joy, at joy@rowforhope.com. I'm based in Stamford, CT, but am willing to travel as my schedule allows.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Challenge to the Rowing Community

Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!

Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.

So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.

Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.

Paul

Friday, April 3, 2009

LAND, and everything that comes with it....

Wow! Well, it's been an eventful first week on dry land, and I think I'm finally getting used to not living in a 19-foot boat. After being alone for 88 days, one of the strangest adjustments has been getting used to the speed at which I need to be processing things mentally to keep a conversation going. It may sound strange, but on the boat I had all the time in the world to formulate my thoughts in great detail and in a very organized, but not exactly lightning-fast, way. After arriving, I couldn't believe how quickly conversations on land would switch from one topic to another, leaving me struggling to keep my brain moving fast enough to keep up. It was an really weird experience, but I'm happy to report that I'm pretty much back to normal now. Hopefully the people on the other side of my conversations agree!


The days this week have been spent, among other things, walking around English and Falmouth Harbours getting my land legs back. I've been surprised at how sore my legs have been all week -- who would have thought that getting back to land would take a bigger toll on my body than the first couple days of all-day rowing? I feel like I just ran 10 miles after not having run in a while - my legs are stiff and creaky and getting moving is a struggle. Luckily, all of the physical and mental adjustments are well worth making in exchange for the countless joys and comforts of being on LAND.


I'm spending today trying to get the boat packed up and in a shipping container ready to head back to the States. All of the pieces are coming together quickly, and I'm hopeful that this can be done today so I can try to catch a flight back home over the weekend. I feel bad that I'm so much looking forward to leaving such a tropical paradise, but I have many more friends back home that I'm looking forward to seeing again. I hope I can keep up with all of the welcoming festivities that await me in Connecticut and Binghamton!


One other thing to note -- over the next several months I'll be accepting invitations to speak to groups of all kinds about my trip and Row for Hope. If you're interested in having me meet with your school, club, church, or other organization, please send an email to my sister Joy, at joy@rowforhope.com. I'm based in Stamford, CT, but am more than willing to travel as my schedule allows.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Open Water

Another busy day, with TV interviews in the morning, then a luncheon with government officials, work on sorting out details for shipping the boat back home, and finally in the afternoon my first visit to one of Antigua's many beaches. My goal is to get Liv loaded into a container and ready to be shipped back to the States in time to get home for the weekend, but it'll take a lot of work to get everything sorted out in time. Otherwise I'll be here though early to mid next week -- not the worst thing in the world by any means, but I also haven't been home in almost four months, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.


Anyway, as promised, below are some pictures taken by my dad from the boat that carried me in for the last little bit on Sunday. Though almost everyone on the boat was turning green with seasickness (I know the feeling!), they got some pictures of what I looked like rowing on the open ocean. In case you're wondering, the sea state last Sunday was on the smaller side and I expect that I would have made slightly better than average progress that day -- my point being that it often got much worse than what you see!


Here goes:





Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Every Dream Coming True at Once

WOW. WOW. WOW!!!


Paul here, and very much on dry land as promised!


There's no way to accurately describe the feeling of stepping out of Liv on Sunday afternoon and having all of the things I'd been dreaming about for the last 88 days handed to me in an instant. It will be impossible to do justice to the experience, but I'll try my best over the next several days, and we'll have lots of pictures and video of the arrival festivities up here for you. I've been swamped with press interviews and welcome activities, and I'm just starting to feel more comfortable on land and getting my schedule sorted out. For a quick glimpse of my schedule, today started with radio interviews with stations in Detroit and Miami/West Palm beach between 8 A.M. and 8:30. Then a break before Fox News (TV) at 11:30 and CNN at 12:30. Incredible! Such great exposure for Row for Hope and the cause!


The welcome I've received here in Antigua has been completely overwhelming, beginning the moment I reached the mouth of English Harbour. After not having seen another human for 87 days, I found myself in the middle of a swarm of dingys loaded with photographers and well-wishers. I could hear the cheers of a crowd on the point marking the entrance to the harbor. The Search and Rescue boat had come out and was spraying a fire-hose rainbow to welcome me to Antigua. A restaurant on the water just inside the harbor off of my starboard side was lined with at least 50 people, all standing and applauding as I rowed by, with "We Are the Champions" blasting in the background. The occupants of the dozens of boats anchored in the harbor were on deck and congratulating me as I rowed by. Then I looked over my right shoulder and saw the crowd at the dock. It was HUGE! I had envisioned being greeted by my friends and family as I got off the boat, but it looked like the whole island had turned out to welcome me. I remember thinking "I didn't think there were this many people on earth!", and yet all were there to see me set foot on dry land.


It's getting late and I have an early interview tomorrow also, so I'll have to write about what it was like to take my first very wobbly steps and how I've spent the last couple of days -- think juicy hamburgers, pizza, steak, ice cream (even for breakfast), wonderful friends and family, constant congratulations from strangers as I walk around town, and incredible hospitality from the Antiguan people.


Thanks so much for all of your support -- sounds like we have a lot of celebrating to do together when I get back to the States, and don't forget that the fundraising push continues as we continue to promote the Row for Hope cause!


Loving LAND!


Paul


P.S. We're working on getting some video up so stay tuned. I was recording a shot of myself rowing into the harbor from the boat. Should be a really cool perspective, and I'll get it up on YouTube as soon as I can. There's also a good video from land and the mob scene when I stepped off of the boat.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1st full day on land

Hi, this is Paul's sister, Joy, filling in for Paul as he gets his "land legs" back. He had an absolutely incredible arrival in Antigua yesterday afternoon, and was welcomed by what seemed like the whole island. We'll supply video and pictures of his arrival as soon as possible, but for now, I'll give a quick description:

We didn't expect him in until early evening on Sunday, so imagine my surprise at around 12:30 to discover that he was closer than we thought, and closing in fast on English Harbor. Luckily the champagne was already on ice, and although the welcoming committee had been relaxing by the pool, we were immediately running for the harbor. We were able to find a spot on the cliffs at the mouth of the harbor, where we could catch the first glimpse of him. We alternated between cheers and tears at the sight of his tiny yellow speck coming around the corner. The local TV cameras were already on hand to capture every tear, which by that time no one minded.



He looked absolutely overwhelmed as he navigated to the dock, amid cheers from strangers and horns from surrounding yachts. In a moment I will never forget, I was able to make it to the dock in time to grab his hand and guide Liv to the wall, the way I'd done countless times before. Paul will describe the scene in more detail as soon as he's able, but I'll tell you there was an endless procession of hugs, thank-you's, and teary eyes as we were finally able to get our arms around him. He spent the first minute or two on land just surveying the crowd and saying "wow". He eventually composed himself enough to express his gratitude for everyone involved in making Row for Hope a success, and to thank our mom for giving him the fighting spirit to cross an ocean alone. I know how proud she would be of her son, and how much he and I wish she could have been there.



I've gotten endless questions about how he looks and how he's handled the physical stresses of 88 days at sea. He's definitely lost weight, and seems to be trying to make it back by growing an excess of beard and curly locks. He looks a bit like a castaway, and is still a little unsteady on his feet, but is otherwise better than expected. He went straight for Nadine's brownies, followed by an enormous burger and a much-anticipated gin and tonic. He woke up at the crack of dawn this morning out of habit, and spent most of the day enjoying the company of his friends and family, who spent quite a bit of time poking him in the arm to be sure he's really here!



Many more pictures, video, and media appearances are to follow, but for now, here's a couple of shots of Paul's first official reunion with family and friends, at a place appropriately called "Life":






Joy

Monday, March 30, 2009

CNN Coverage of Row for Hope

Paul will try to do his first blog entry from land some time today.

In the meantime, here's a link to the story on CNN.com (one of CNN's Top 10 Stories at the moment). And here's the clip of yesterday's arrival interview.

CNN was planning another live interview (this one with live video as well), but it's been preempted by an event from the White House. Maybe later this week . . . .

Thanks again for all your support for Paul and Row for Hope!

The Row for Hope Support Team

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 88: HE DID IT!!!

PAUL HAS LANDED SAFELY IN ANTIGUA!!! THE ROW HAS BEEN COMPLETED!!!

Hear Paul live on CNN at 4:45 P.M. today (Sunday).

Day 88: They've got him!

Joy again, not much time to write, as Paul is ONE HOUR from the harbor. After 3 days of constant change in his situation and the water conditions, Paul made a difficult decision last night to accept a tow into English Harbour. He's done what he set out to do, has crossed the ocean and past several points of land that theoretically could have been his destination, and is ready to come home.

This morning at 6:30 my parents, Bill and Karen Tomic (KRock and Wild Bill of blog fame), Chris McNickle of the Row for Hope board, and Kyle and Barb from our boat-builders, Aquidneck Custom, chartered a catamaran to go out and bring Paul in. As I write this, they're all feeling quite seasick, but they have Paul, who is still in his boat, and getting ready to be cut loose at the mouth of the harbour. From there he'll row the last leg into the dock, and we'll all dissolve into puddles of tears. At least that's the plan.

Will try to update again soon, and will post pictures of Paul on land!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 87: Spotted land!

Hi all! It's Joy this time, taking over the blog again so that Paul can focus on the remaining miles between himself and English Harbour; and those miles are getting fewer and fewer! As I write this he's only 49 miles away -- mind blowing, after thinking of him as so far off for so long. As he came out of his cabin this morning he got his first glimpse of land, and immediately thought "I'm gonna hit it!". He wasn't going to hit it of course, as it was 20 miles away, but it's quite a shock to see anything but waves on the horizon.

As he reported yesterday, he's crossed the longitude of Barbados, which is one official measure of a completed ocean row. Now all he has to do is bring it in, but that's harder than it sounds. Our real celebration will be when he turns into the harbor, and takes his first steps on land. In order to do that, he's got to navigate a somewhat complex system of winds and currents, avoiding the other islands, and crossing the longitude of English Harbour. We've been riding a rollercoaster over the last 48 hours, alternating between planning for a tow to bring him in before he gets blown South into another island, and thinking he'll be able to do it all under his own power. Things change every few hours, but at the moment we're expecting him to make it on his own, and to arrive as early as tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Meanwhile, the welcoming committee has all arrived safely in Antigua, and numbers a whopping 19 of Paul's friends and family, all anxiously waiting to see Paul's little yellow speck appear on the horizon. They've been whiling away the hours on the beach, which is incredibly beautiful, and testing out the rum punch at the local pubs. My father, on the other hand, is manning the controls, so to speak, monitoring Paul's position and fielding his phone calls. He and Nadine, and today me, are holed up in a hotel room trying to stay on top of to-do lists and information requests from media (we still haven't heard from Oprah, but I'm sure it's because my phone doesn't work down here).

Anyway, Paul plans to row through the night tonight, and we'll likely update the blog again before he lands. Stay tuned -- things are about to get very emotional!

Oh, and while I sit and write, here's what I'm missing out on:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 86

Quick update from the Atlantic -- my last until I hit dry land!


Lots has happened since I wrote last, but spirits are much improved. Imagine my surprise to learn two nights ago that the recognized "Atlantic Ocean Rowing Crossing Line" line was only 11 miles away at 59º37W, which I crossed early the next morning. This is the line of longitude that Bridgetown, Barbados, lies on and thus is used to make all ocean rows comparable. So, I've done it! All I have left to do now is taker 'er home safely to Antigua!


Easier said than done with these NW winds, but with my Dad and other family and friends on the ground in Antigua and working with the Antigua and Barbuda Search and Rescue people (who are being extremely helpful), I am being very well watched as I make my way to land. It's up in the air as to whether this weather will allow me to row into Antigua under my own power, but once I've officially crossed and passed by some land mass that I could have landed on, I'm not going to be picky about how I get in. Right now I'm 30 nautical miles from the eastern-most point of Guadeloupe, so that will take care of itself as I fight my way north toward Antigua.


So, all is good again out here and I'm optimistic that I'll get in to English Harbour one way or another by Sunday evening. I will write more on this subject later, but I owe lots of thanks to my expedition support team for getting me this far -- my Dad (and his support team, Nadine), sister Joy, and friend Liz Tomic have been invaluable through all phases of the expedition, and without their constant and unflinching support I surely would not have made it this far.


With that, I'll turn the updates over the the team until I'm able to write again from Antigua! I can't thank you all enough for the countless notes of encouragement and advice, as well as donations, over the last 86 days and beyond.


Next time from LAND!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 85: Guest Post (Updated)

Just posted the following "tweet" for those following Paul on Twitter:


"Day 86 has begun. Paul is up, rowing, and pointed STRAIGHT for English Harbour. Unimaginable just a day ago! Only 101.6 miles to Antigua!" Hurrah!!!


(To get brief, frequent updates via Twitter, visit the panel to the right.)


One of the commenters asked, "Can you explain why it would not be good if Paul were to land in Guadeloupe or another island?"


Several reasons:
+ The windward coasts of most of the islands of Guadeloupe provide few if any safe places to land an ocean rowboat. Paul's ocean rowing mentor, Simon Chalk, warned us that if Paul were to come within 30 miles of the eastern coast of Guadeloupe a recovery boat should already be on the way to catch him.
+ The plan is to ship Liv back to the states from Antigua. Landing elsewhere would create a host of logistical problems.
+ A dozen or so of Paul's friends and family have come to Antigua to see him land and give him a big welcome, and Paul is very anxious to "give them their money's worth." The group would either miss his landing or have to find a way to island-hop on short notice.

Thanks for asking!


_____________________________________________

It's Paul's dad again; Paul's sat phone minutes are almost depleted (and so is he), so he's asked me to pinch-hit tonight. We're working to reload the phone, so expect to hear from The Man himself tomorrow.


It's been quite a day, both here in Antigua and out in Liv. For the first half of the day, it appeared that Paul was locked in a combination of winds and currents that would take him away from Antigua and toward the French islands of Guadeloupe (straight into the tiny island of Marie-Galante, to be exact). Here on land, we met with Jonathan Cornelius, of Antigua Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR), to look at possible recovery scenarios. Jonathan was wonderful, providing the perfect mixture of calm presence, knowledge of local waters, and up-to-the-minute computerized wind/current data.


When we met with Jonathan at 10 A.M. local time (and EDT), Paul was still being pushed inexorably S by the winds, so we discussed what measures to take if he had to land in the vicinity of Guadeloupe. But Jonathan predicted that Liv would soon hit a healthy north-tending current, and that Paul would be able to use that current to overcome the winds from the NE and begin making a turn to the NW (and toward Antigua). And he was right!


Beginning at 2 PM (6 PM GMT), Paul began to turn toward the WNW, gaining N ever so slightly. Five hours later, he had made up 3 miles to the N. It doesn't sound like much, but after losing so much mileage to the S, it was wonderful!


As you can imagine, this turn (of events) has transformed the mood here in Antigua and on board Liv. Paul is now on sea anchor for the night, and the current is still taking him NW. A little free mileage (in the right direction) while he sleeps will be very welcome!


As of 8 PM local time, here are the stats: Paul has gone 47.4 statute miles in the last 24 hours; in the process, he's reduced the distance to English Harbour by 43.1 miles. Liv is now 107 statute miles from English Harbour (32.2 miles S and 102.2 miles E of his destination). We are cautiously ecstatic!!!


On behalf of Paul, thanks for all of your comments, prayers and support, especially during these last several days. It's meant the world to him (and us)!


Mark

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 84

Yet another very challenging day with little progress, and what progress was made going in the wrong direction. The "no wind" problem is gone, and now I have wind from the north blowing me south, which at this point can be considered away from Antigua. This is forecast to continue through Friday before becoming light again but more easterly on Saturday. That will make six straight days of bad weather for someone who is trying to row to Antigua (130 nautical miles away).


Other news:
- Arrival on Friday and Saturday is pretty much out of the question, and I've spent the day agonizing over whether I'll make it to land in time to see the friends who will have come so far to meet me. Absolutely torturous to think that I could miss them, having come this far and being so close.
- The fresh water situation is worse than I originally thought, as I found that three of the bottles that were in "deep storage" had cracked and were contaminated with salt water.
- I've pulled the last of my freeze-dried food from the forward compartment. I have five days worth of good stuff before I'll be forced to eat only "rice and chicken" for every meal. Will eat my last breakfast tomorrow before I have to get creative with this meal.


Given the timing of these winds from the north I'm very worried that I won't be able to make landfall in Antigua at all, and instead will have to land somewhere like Guadeloupe (if that's even possible). Today I made 20 nm to the west and gave up 11 to the south. If this pattern persists, by the time things straighten out around Saturday I'll be more than 45 miles south and 90 miles east of Antigua, with the island of Guadeloupe between me and it -- probably too much of a deficit to make up, even with the help of a current from the south I hear will kick in at some point.


Hoping for some good news to report one of these days...sorry to sound so glum, but that's been the mood out here for a while...


Paul

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 83

Last night I lost four miles of progress toward Antigua because of a counter-current I got stuck in that pushed me to the south-west. I thought that I had worked my way out of it, but am now (midnight GMT) drifting north-east despite a light breeze from the north, so there's clearly still some weird stuff going on current-wise. With this in mind, I think the chances of making much western progress tonight are slim. Maybe I should just hope to avoid going backwards too much.


Had a disastrous day on the oars today in my third straight day of rowing on a flat ocean without a breath of wind or shade from the clouds. I made only 20 nautical miles, a dismal performance, despite putting forth maximum effort to keep the boat moving. Rowing on the ocean (or anywhere) for 13+ hours a day without a breath of wind is absolutely punishing, and despite the added discomfort, progress comes at about half the rate of on a good day, which is killing me mentally. On top of that, with water in short supply it is crucial that I make good use of every day spent rowing -- and here I am with three straight days of slow-motion progress in the hot sun, and another forecast for tomorrow.


I've declared the main watermaker down for the rest of my trip. What's maddening is that it will be an easy fix on land with a replacement fifty-cent part, but for now I'm down to my reserve fresh water which is 20 liters or so. I estimate that I use about 6 liters on a normal day, so it seems likely that I'll run out, especially given the terrible progress of the last 48 hours. With that in mind I've started using the backup manual watermaker, with which I can make 1.5L in 20 minutes. I want to avoid being in a position where I'm forced to pump, which would take me off the oars, so I've been doing it for a little while during my afternoon break and before bed. All adds to the fatigue I'm feeling after 83 days at sea.


Suffice it to say that spirits aboard Liv have been higher.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 82

Slow and brutally hot day out here today (similar to yesterday), with next to no wind or waves to help me along, and my rowing taking place across a vast expanse of slowly undulating blue sea. There were clouds all around on the horizon today, but not enough wind to carry any to me, so I baked all day in the sun.


Other facts as follows:
- Today's progress was good (30 nautical miles), but very tough due to the heat/sun and a counter-current that is now pushing me back to the east, away from Antigua. Prospects for good mileage tonight are therefore slim.
- I expect this weather to continue through Wednesday, after which the wind will be back to at least 15 kt for what appears to be the duration of my row. It will be pushing me south fairly quickly at first, so I'm glad to be 5 miles north of English Harbor after all. Hopefully I can make my way back north in time.
- The main watermaker is down again, due to a problem with the same connection as before. I don't want to spend the time to fix it, given how close I am (164 nautical miles as I write this), and the wrench I need has rusted into an unusable lump of metal. It looks like my backup fresh water supply will be enough to get me to Antigua, but it will be close and water will be rationed for the duration, which will be unpleasant given the hot, sunny, windless days like today that are forecast.


All of this boils down to one thing really -- this row, and the many difficulties associated with it, is still far from over.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

CNN Report on Row for Hope



Send this link to your friends:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/03/23/whitfield.row.for.hope.cnn

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 81: Guest Post

Hi, it's Paul's dad, Mark Ridley, filling in for Paul this evening. Paul lost time today doing an interview on CNN (we'll post a link once they put it on their Web site), among other things, so he's putting in some extra time on the oars tonight. I'm happy to give him a break by posting a blog entry for him.


Earlier today Paul hopped into the water once again and scraped the barnacles off Liv's hull (for what we hope will be the last time). It's kind of a scary operation, but it always seems to have a worthwhile impact on his speed. Fortunately for his on-shore team, Paul never tells us in advance that he's going to get out and scrape; we only find out about it when he's safely back in the boat. (It saves on blood-pressure medication!)


Paul also did some housecleaning today. He began the row with the forward cabin crammed with food (freeze-dried entrees, candy, Cliff bars, etc.) and by now he's eaten his way through almost all of it. So he took time today to rearrange ballast and rebalance the boat, for better handling.


Paul's finally allowing himself to think about the reality of landing in Antigua; up to this point, he's tried to keep his focus almost entirely on the challenges of each individual day. It's been fascinating to see him manage the mental game of this row - the guidance and mentoring he received from other rowers and his training team really seem to have paid off. Thanks, everyone!


Beyond the celebrating in Antigua, Paul is planning on recuperating a bit back in Connecticut and looking forward to returning to his job at Greenwich Associates. But he's also thinking about the future for Row for Hope. The fund-raising mission won't end when the rowing ends; he's already thinking about speaking engagements and other ways to keep the cause in the public eye. He's a man on a mission!



Let me just add a word as Paul's father: Paul's family (which includes his sister, Joy, and his step-mom, Nadine) has really been sustained by the knowledge that so many people have been rooting for Paul and keeping him in their prayers. Thank you so much for your encouragement and your care for him. No matter how far from shore Paul has been, he's never been alone. Thank you!


Mark


*****************************************


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 80

Day 80...wow, I really have been out here a long time!


Oh well, the number of days I've spent out here isn't seeming as important at this point. Instead, I'm focused on the number of miles to go, which have been ticking down quickly (even by my standards) recently. Yesterday was my best day yet in terms of mileage, and today during the day I did another 39nautical miles, two better than I did yesterday. We'll see what the night brings, but this will go down as a good day either way.


A couple more signs of approaching land today - I saw four frigate birds (the huge black ones) around the boat at the same time this morning, which was pretty cool. There is one around more often than not recently, and they're entertaining to watch. Today I saw one catch a flying fish and eat it whole while in flight. Impressive!


I'm also happy to report that the forecast for the next week looks pretty good for my final approach and landing in Antigua. I had been heading a little North in preparation for some winds coming late next week that I thought would blow me south on Wed/Thurs, but these have lessened so it's time to head back south again.


I don't want to jinx myself, but so far things are still looking good for an arrival sometime next weekend. Fingers crossed!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 79

Long but very productive day on the oars today, and I made 37 nautical miles or so before turning in for the night. I did get some predawn rowing in that helped, but this doesn't explain the good boat speed I had all day. Whatever the cause, things seemed to all be working well with the wind/waves to help me along toward Antigua -- all I can guess is that the last several days of light but consistent winds have helped the seas to organize better than usual, which made for cleaner and faster rowing.


Today's sign of land was that I saw no less than seven planes today -- SEVEN! Two during the day and another five after dark, all one right after another and all seemingly headed toward the NE which I guess is toward Europe? I've decided that there are extra flights today since it's Friday and people are traveling around the weekends. The alternative explanation is that the Caribbean is going out of style and people are evacuating, which would be terrible timing for me.


Either way, I can't wait for Antigua -- 282 nautical miles to go!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 78

Another pleasant day out here today, and I got in 13+ hours on the oars, which I needed to make good mileage in a light wind of 10 kt. My reward was that I crossed 56W just before turning in for the night, and I now have less than seven degrees to go.


Another sign that I'm getting closer to land today - a bug on deck. It was small, no bigger than a dime with legs and all, and resembled a water-spider, or whatever you call those bugs that float around on top of the water. On deck this bug was not terribly mobile, but did hop around a little. Given that I haven't seen a bug since I left the Canaries, I'm pretty sure that if this bug were a stow-away I would have found it long ago, so I'm declaring it a sign of land.


A question from Fred W. about my arrival was timely. The ideal situation is that I'll be able to row into English Harbour without help. This is not at all uncommon for ocean rowboats, so I'm assuming that the wave action on the approach is usually OK. With that said, the forecast for next week calls for wind from various directions from the North-east, which may leave me battling to stay on course and far enough north when I finally make it to Antigua.


I think that the technical finish line is the line of longitude at the eastern-most point on the island, but hopefully someone will check this out before I get there. I'm hoping that a boat will come out (maybe carrying some of my family/friends?) to lead me in and offer a tow if necessary, but I don't know the details at this point. Rowing all the way to land is the goal, but given how far I've come and the number of people that will be waiting for me in English Harbour I'm not planning to go nuts and make landfall at some random place or risk getting blown past the island just so my row will technically be "land-to-land."


Finally, I'm incredibly happy to hear that so many people have booked tickets for Antigua! I wish I could write all of you back individually, but it's been great motivation to hear that I'll have more than a dozen people there to help me celebrate in English Harbour. I can't wait to see you all soon!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 77

It's been a very pleasant day out here today with lot of sun and a nice breeze of 10-15 kt from the east. I almost jumped out of the boat due to my excitement this afternoon when I both had a conversation with a passing French container ship bound for Martinique named Marfret (wild guess, but I bet this name is French) and saw a plane on the horizon at the same time. AND I had a frigate bird around that had been with me for almost two hours. Huuuuuge!


This time the captain was friendly and asked if I needed anything, which of course I replied that I didn't. What else could one want than freeze dried food and gallons of warm Gatorade for three months? I resisted the urge to ask for a tow -- he was doing 18 knots, which I figured would get me to Antigua in less than 24 hours...anyway...he also reiterated that Liv and I are very difficult to see, even after I've made contact on the VHF and described my position.


I have some experience now with the effectiveness of AIS that may be helpful to future ocean rowers. I'll write this up on in more detail from land, but in short the message is that you often won't be alerted of a ship approaching until it's already too close for comfort. So, if you hear the alarm and haven't spotted a ship, act fast! I saw today's ship a long way off but he didn't set off my AIS alarm until he was 11 minutes from his closest point of approach. According to the captain of Marfet, I didn't show up on his AIS screen until 5 minutes before his CPA, which could have been dicey had he not already adjusted his course.


My blogs may start getting shorter from here on in, but I'll be sure that you're all kept up to date in these last few days. If I miss a couple days down the stretch, don't worry -- I'll be blogging away about how great land is as soon as I get there, and will continue to send updates as I adjust to life back home and begin to reflect on this experience.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 76

Another day on the oars and I logged 31.5 nautical miles or so, but I'm still wishing for better "free" mileage at night. Recently it's been in the 5-7 nm range, which could be higher. I've picked up as much as 12+ in the past, which would be the difference between an OK day and a good day. Of course, all this seems to be taking on more importance as I get closer to the finish line!


I'm still trying to find ways to add a couple more hours of rowing to my schedule. Right now I'm doing a 5.5 hour shift in the morning and another at night, putting me at 11 hours every day. I've tried adding a 2 hour "dinner" shift after dark but have found it to be painful and not something I can make myself do on a regular basis. I also tried a middle of the night shift, but given that it's always hard to fall asleep I may have done more harm than good by waking myself fully in the middle of the night and then having to try to fall back asleep again. I think my next idea is a sunrise shift, where I wake up (for good) a couple hours early (I normally wake up 15 mins or so before sunrise...roughly 845AM GMT at this longitude), row, then take a break to eat breakfast, etc...and go out again as normal before 10AM to start my morning shift. Hope it works!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 75

Another day on the oars (I made 30nm, which is good) and I'm running out of ideas for things to write about.


I'm in a weird place mentally, as I'm at a point in the row where I'm still really far from land (440nm or so) but it's supposed to seem close given how far I've come. My philosophy out here has always called for a very short-term outlook, so despite that fact that I should have less than two weeks of rowing to go, my day to day and hour to hour outlook hasn't changed a bit, and technically it shouldn't change at all until the day that I land.


It's tough, because despite the fact that I've rowed so far already, the idea of rowing 440 miles is not much less daunting now than it was before I started -- it's still a really long way, and completing a row of that distance will come with a significant physical and mental cost. Also, while mentally I like to focus on winning lots of short-term victories, I've racked up so many of these little wins that they don't really mean much any more...for example, "survived another shift," or "survived another day," is all I've been doing for months, so what am I celebrating? It's really a tough spot. Not a huge deal, since I'm going to keep rowing, making progress, and eventually will make it to the finish, at which point my current situation will be a distant memory, but until then I feel like I'm in a really strange place when it comes to motivating myself. Oh, well...


On a much lighter note, this afternoon I wore Benny (the pet Man o' War) on my head so that his tentacles looked like dreadlocks and did my best Bob Marley impression. Brooklyn thought it was hilarious. I think she's warming up to him a little..,


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 74

A pleasant and reasonably productive day on the oars today. I dodged some ominous-looking squalls in the morning, but the afternoon was great with 10-15 kt winds and a good mix of sun and the occasional cloud to provide some shade. Mileage was better, and I made 27.5 nm to the West and also took back 4 miles to the North that I had given up overnight. Now all I need is some decent nighttime mileage and I'll have a good all-around day in the books -- we'll see. I feel like nighttime mileage has been spotty for the last couple of weeks, but hopefully this will change with the more consistent 15-20 kt winds that are in the forecast.


That's about it for today -- short update. We didn't learn our lesson after predicting arrival dates a week and a half ago, only to see them go up in smoke after last week's horrible delays. It looks like the new window is around March 27-29th. We'll know better in a few days, when we have a forecast that covers the whole period.


I saw another plane tonight, around sunset. Somehow it snuck behind me and I didn't see it until it was nearly gone, but I still got to watch for a few minutes. With a ship sighting yesterday and the plane today, it feels like Grand Central Station out here....


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 73

Challenging day on the oars today, as I had quite a big swell coming from the North (a result of the two storms that passed North of me last week), mixed with wind from the NE and ENE, which combined to create a confused and choppy sea state that made it really hard to build up and maintain any boat speed. On top of that, I was heading a little bit WNW to try to stay close to 17N, so to sum it up things were all over the place. These winds will gradually turn the swell around to come more from the E, which should help me both maintain some boat speed and stop losing mileage to the South. Until then, I'm just doing what I can to head in the right direction.


It's really impressive how mileage can change by so much with just a small change in the weather. I had lighter winds from the NE but the same swell from the north yesterday, and I went almost 10nm further. Today heavier winds from the NNE and E were slowing me down, though on paper youd' think they would have sped me up. Strange, but true.


I saw a big freighter a comfortable distance away just before dark. Other than it being headed South, red colored, and pretty empty, there' not much to the story. It never came close enough to get picked up on my AIS, and I didn't get a response on the VHF, so I was probably too far away for that, too. With that said, it was good to see something other than ocean for a change, and while rowing I stared at the ship and its stern light for quite a while as it passed behind me.


In other news, I wish I had known that those pink and purple things were dangerous Portuguese Men o' War before I lassoed one to keep Brooklyn company in the cabin while I'm rowing. I call him Benny the Booger and also use him as a pillow at night. Quite comfortable, actually. Brooklyn thinks he's "really gross." I guess they're still getting to know each other.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 72

Whhhoooooooooo Hooooooo! I'm officially on my way again, and had to spend some time this morning talking myself down from the clouds. I never thought I'd be so happy to spend a whole day rowing!


What a difference a day makes! Wind direction and morale on board Liv took at near 180 degree turn today with good progress made on the oars and the fantastic news of the Glendening's fundraising challenge to lift my spirits.


There is still a big rolling swell from the North, which is pushing me a little south, despite the fact that I'm rowing on a heading north of due west. Wind direction is from the north east and helping my rowing for the first time in a week. Best of all, the forecast is teriffic with a mix of good E and ENE winds over the weekend and 15-20 knots of east wind forecast for Monday through Friday of next week. It looks so good that I'm wondering if my dad (who's also my weather guy) doctored it just to cheer me up.


My girl Brooklyn is relieved, too. I think I was starting to get on her nerves...


In honor of another Colgate day, here's some good reading from the Maroon News -- an article by Jessica Blank about the Row for Hope fundraiser put on by Theta Chi Fraternity. I hope it hasnt been posted already...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Alum Rows Atlantic for Cancer, Theta Chi Hosts Event in Support


On January 1, 2009, Colgate alumnus Paul Ridley '05 set off from the Canary Islands, just off the coast of northwestern Africa, to begin his 3,000 mile rowing expedition. Ridley, who has been rowing without assistance or any form of aid for the past 62 consecutive days, plans to reach his destination, the Caribbean, in approximately 20 days. If Ridley completes this task successfully, he will be the third American in history to row across the Atlantic.


Ridley's goal is not fame, but rather to raise funds for cancer research. After his mother passed away from cancer in 2001, Ridley and his sister, Joy, helped create "Row for Hope," a non-profit organization that raises money for cancer research. By rowing across the Atlantic, Ridley receives donations from supporters all over the nation who believe in his cause. Ridley hopes to raise $500,000 through his excursion across the Atlantic.


After hearing about Ridley's charity organization, his Theta Chi fraternity brothers rallied behind him and held a "Row for Hope" charity event on the night of Saturday, March 1.


While it included catered food and good music, the highlight of the night was the erg races. An 'erg' is an exercise machine that simulates rowing. A complex bracket was created, and students could sponsor any of the 16 Theta Chi brothers who were racing against each other.


When asked about his nerves before the race, sophomore Matt Woodrow said, "I wasn't nervous. It was pretty low-key compared to practice."


Sophomore Janice Yu disagreed. After competing for 30 seconds in a spontaneous erg competition, she appreciated Ridley's efforts much more.


"I couldn't imagine rowing for five hours a day!" Yu said.


Winner of the Theta Chi erg competition was Colgate rowing team captain, senior Willie Fox.


"It was a lot of fun racing my roommate, Marc Cassone, in the last round and I loved how pumped up the crowd got over the competition," Fox said. "I wish they'd come to crew practice sometime."


In addition to the excitement and loud cheering taking place during the races, the brothers' distinct choice of apparel was quite astonishing.

"I really enjoyed the event, particularly the erg competition," senior Bridget Henwood said. "It's pretty hard to beat watching a bunch of guys in goofy colored spandex compete for glory while [senior] Chris Micsak delivers a completely outrageous and scathing commentary, especially when it's all for a great cause."


"The Row for Hope event was a fun, innovative philanthropy for Theta Chi and the Men's Crew Team," senior Katherine Pezzella said. "Even if Paul Ridley ends his trip, I'm sure this is something that will be a big hit for years to come at Theta Chi. If you didn't go, you missed out on a lot of laughs for a great cause!"


Woodrow echoed Pezzella's comments.


"I was really pleased with the turnout. I know he [Ridley] is really appreciative of the efforts of brothers here on campus," Woodrow said.


Ridley commented on Theta Chi's support through his blog Saturday night via satellite software.


"Quick shout-out to the brothers of Theta Chi Fraternity at Colgate University, who are throwing a fundraiser/party on behalf of Row for Hope, complete with rowing machine races by the brothers, which will be entertaining for sure," Ridley said. "For anyone betting on the outcome of these races, my advice is that, no matter the relative size of the competitors, always bet on the experienced rower."


The Theta Chi brothers considered the event to be an amazing success.


"We raised over $2,300," Theta Chi Philanthropy Chair sophomore Will Scheider said. "Based on the success of the event, we are seriously considering making 'Row for Hope' an annual event at Theta Chi. The cause isn't going to go away and we've already started talking about future plans."


When asked through e-mail about his experiences on the Atlantic, Ridley offered fond recollections of the four years he spent at Colgate.


"To pass time during my 5-hour rowing shifts I think back to Colgate all the time," he said. "I've played imaginary rounds of golf at Seven Oaks, remembered my old rooms and roommates in Center Stillman, Drake and the Theta Chi house, checked my mail at the Coop between classes (my mailbox combo was I-E-A and a half), and taken the long walk down the hill for nights out at the Jug, Nichols and Beal and of course Slices (I haven't re-lived the cold walk back up!). It's great to know that while I'm out here, almost as far away from campus as I could possibly be, people back at Colgate are following my progress, pitching in to help raise money for Row for Hope, and cheering me on."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com. Thanks!


Paul

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 71

This is the sixth day of bad rowing weather out here, and this is starting to get old. The forecast was for winds in the 10-15k range from the NW, NNW, and N, which is what I got. I tried rowing first thing in the morning with light winds from the NW, but was making next to no headway and was paying the price physically, so I went back on sea anchor a little before noon.


Interestingly enough, with the sea anchor out I was pulled to the north and slightly to the NE -- into the wind. Very strange, but I must have been in a current of some sort. I guess I'll take it though, as mileage to the North will likely be hard to come by with more winds forecast from the North tomorrow and roughly NE over the weekend and into next week. After today I hope to have seen the last of winds from the West, but as the direction slowly swings over to the North and then East I still expect several days of very challenging weather. It looks like all may return to normal by Tuesday of next week...


On a much more upbeat note, I know you all have enjoyed reading about my trans-Atlantic challenge, but now it's time for all of you rowers to have a challenge of your own! I'm ecstatic about this and hope that the rowing community will step up! Please also remember to forward this to your rowing club or team too...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Challenge to the Rowing Community


Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!


Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.


So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.


Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.


Thanks, Bob!


Paul

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 70

Brutally hot day out here today and little progress to show for it. Not even a whisper of wind in the morning and afternoon, which left the boat feeling heavier than it's ever been and me dripping with sweat after only a few minutes of rowing. The wind picked up some from the North and NW by evening, neither of which helped me, but it still allowed for some slow and sloppy rowing. In all I clocked 17.5 nautical miles to the West, and gave up about 9 (I think) to the South. I gave myself a reprieve on night rowing tonight, as I'm exhausted physically and after all this weather nonsense nearing the end of my rope mentally.


I'm back again to the latitude of English Harbor, so I'll need to be careful again about going too far south. I've gotten all sorts of advice on what latitude I want to be on for the approach to Antigua (if it ever comes). For now I think I'll try to be in the range of 5-10 miles South and slowly work my way up with the help of a weak current that kicks in from the SE at the very end. With that said, winds are still forecast to be more from the North than the East through Saturday afternoon or so.


The forecast is for a couple more days of challenging weather that will include combinations of no wind and wind from the wrong direction, though hopefully not strong or long enough to push me too far backwards from here. With that said, good progress will likely be hard to come by until Saturday or Sunday, when things will finally start to straighten out. Not sure what effect all of this is having on my arrival times, but I would hope that by early next week we'll be able to give a revised estimate.


Now as promised a little on the wild life I've seen recently. First, below is an up-close picture of a flying fish that crash-landed on deck a few nights ago. This one's "wings" look a little bit worse for wear, but you get the idea.



Secondly, below is a picture of this animal (?) that I've seen frequently throughout the trip. I don't know how to describe it really, other than that it seems to float on the surface and get pushed around by the wind that catches its pink and purple "sail." I've seen these in all sorts of sizes, but the one pictured is on the larger side. A closer look shows that it has dark-colored tentacles that trail below it, but other than that I have no idea what to make of it. Can someone tell me anything about this thing?



Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 69

A happy day on board Liv today, as it was spent almost entirely rowing! I woke up to very light winds from the north and pulled up the sea anchor after taking some video of an enormous black bird that I've now seen twice around the boat. This must be the Pterodactyl (sp?) that Cath was referring to, and I'm pretty sure that it could have eaten me if it felt like it. More on this in my wildlife update tomorrow (yes, I know I said it'd be today).


After getting an updated weather report yesterday, I wasn't expecting to get a good day of rowing in until tomorrow at the earliest, and possibly as late as Sunday. Imagine my surprise then to have made 27 nm in a day shortened by my fourth trip under the boat to scrape barnacles (there turned out not too much to scrape, but better to do it too much than too little) and wind from an odd direction and no greater than the 5-10k range. I added another 5 miles in my "overtime" shift to get me to 32 nm for the day and now further West than I had been on Friday before the winds turned against me.


Physically, I felt great early on and my muscle soreness was all but absent from my morning shift. Some has returned by now, but even so I can tell that my three days of rest helped me physically. The salt sores on my legs are starting to look better, too.


Anyway, it's just about 1 AM and I'm spent. Will talk about wildlife tomorrow. Trust me, the picture of the pink floating booger-animal is worth the wait!


Brady C at BHS -- I thought a lot about this today and decided that these two regulars from my rowing play,lists might be good - "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty and "Thanks for the Memories" by Fall out Boy. What do you think? I could come up with many other favorites but I'm not sure you'd want George Strait in the background of your video!


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Can't Get Enough?

Can't get enough of Paul and his expedition? Follow him on Twitter and get brief updates throughout the day. You can check out the latest "tweets" from the Row for Hope Support Team in the column to the right (just under the "Where in the World Is Paul?" map) and click "follow me on Twitter."

The Support Team

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 68

Day Three on sea anchor was utterly uneventful. I'm still holding up fine, so far, and am just living my life, killing time and, of course, waiting for the winds to change direction. Wind was from the West again all day today and in the 15k range. Seas were smallish and not breaking/splashing much, so I was able to keep the cabin cooler during the heat of the day than it had been on Saturday and Sunday. I spent the day on the computer, mostly - writing emails, playing Freecell (my record since Saturday is 47 wins, 22 losses...not great), and watching the occasional episode of Rob and Big, which my sister gave me on a thumb drive for Christmas. It's been a life saver these past few days!



In other news, I've been meaning to write about a moment from last Friday (Day 65) that has been one of the highlights of the row for me thus far. My contact with the ship Pasella on Day 62 was a little bit of a let-down, given that it was my first sign of other human life since 29 days prior. I had really been hoping to see an airplane some time soon, maybe because seeing two of them at once picked me up quite a bit all the way back on Day 13. I figured that since I was getting closer to the Caribbean and am probably also between some point in Brazil and the US I might be due to see one any time.


Soooo, do you know where this is headed? On Friday I had been rowing along in the middle of my evening shift around 6PM. Another beautiful day with a few clouds and otherwise clear skies. Not really much to the story, other than that I looked up and to my left and almost fell off of my rowing seat when I saw a big, beautiful exhaust trail streaking a dead-straight path of the brightest white imaginable through the evening sky. The plane was still overhead when I noticed the trail and at the time it was the most incredible sight to see. It was low enough for me to clearly make out the wings and even the engines, and I had no problem imagining all of the passengers seated in neat little rows sipping warm diet coke out of those plastic cocktail glasses.


To my complete surprise I quickly found myself getting choked up at the sight (I'm not generally a fan of sappy emotions), and I stopped rowing to stare at the trail long after the plane had disappeared over the horizon. It's amazing how 65+ days in a rowboat can change your priorities...


You might have to look closely to see it, but here's a picture of what I saw:



Tomorrow an update on the wildlife I've seen and have some pictures of -- flying fish, a purplish-pink floating booger-like thing, and giant and potentially man-eating birds!


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 67

Frustrating day spent (wasted?) sitting on sea anchor, checking the wind/seas every hour or so to see if anything has changed. After getting blown to the East (away from Antigua) overnight, the winds shifted to blow toward the South this morning, which I guess is the lesser of two evils.


I tried rowing this morning and made no headway. I had thought that I might be able to make SW progress by taking a 45 degree angle on wind from the N, but the seas were still coming from the NW which stopped me in my tracks. These conditions remained throughout the day, though I presently am picking up a sliver of SW progress that I can only assume is from a current, because the wind and seas are still pointing to the S and SE, respectively. This does not bode particularly well for making any progress on Tuesday as I had hoped, when winds were predicted to come from the North. Even so, I guess that it's a plus that I didn't get blown farther East today, as the forecast predicted, and instead went South.


If I absolutely can't make progress to the West in wind from the North, then it looks like I won't be back out and rowing West until FRIDAY -- which would be almost a whole week lost. Crushing...


OK, I'm done whining!


As promised, a little about the shark sighting on Day 64 that I know many of you have been waiting for. Normal day (back when I spent my days rowing, not sitting) and I was coming out of the cabin after lunch. Immediately upon clambering out, what do I see coming out of the water to my left but a big fin. I assume it's a Dorado, that occasionally will have a tail fin out of he water for a second, but then I realize this is no Dorado at all...it must be something else, and it's headed right for the side of the boat! No time to flip out since, before I knew it, it had passed under the boat and I got a look at it as it came out from under the starboard side. Yup, definitely a shark!


It looked brightly colored (like a dorado) when I first saw it from above but this must have been a reflection or distortion from the water. It took a couple laps around the boat, staying long enough for me to get out my camera before it wandered off. Though I didn't get a great look, it appeared to be about 5-6 feet long and a dark grayish color with no visible markings (no white tips!) that I could see. I have to say, if I haven't already, that I don't really understand everyone's fascination with sharks...


Luckily for all of you shark-lovers out there, I captured this gripping photo of the blood-thirsty razor-toothed monster of the deep!



Keep your fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong and that I'll be able to get rowing again on Tuesday, rather than Friday! For all the past ocean rowers out there, I'd love to hear your perspective on the weather I'm seeing. Did any of you run into such a period of opposing winds in the middle of the trade wind belt or am I just lucky?


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Travel Alert for Friends and Family

Hi! It's Paul's dad, with an alert for friends and family who may be planning to meet Paul in Antigua. When I talked with Paul tonight, he wanted me to make sure that everyone is aware of how the wind situation is changing his estimated arrival time in Antigua.

Right now he's about 700 miles from port, and under normal circumstances he could probably cover that distance in 14 days, give or take a day. Unfortunately, there's no way to know for sure when he'll be able to start rowing west again (remember, the only mileage that makes any real difference is mileage toward the west).

Bottom Line: The safest thing would be not to book any reservations until we see Paul making steady progress west again; even then, a lot can happen in the remaining two weeks!

See you in Antigua (eventually)!

Mark Ridley

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 66

Hi from the Atlantic, on a day that is notable for the way I didn't spend it -- rowing!


Well, that's not entirely true, since I made attempts at rowing for parts of three or four hours, but since I made no progress in the right direction it shouldn't count. Winds overnight were directly from the South, and by sunrise when I hit the oars they had shifted to coming from the SW, the direction of Antigua, actually (or, more likely, the Barbados area). As I think I wrote yesterday, they'll be swinging around tomorrow and Monday to come from the West and Northwest before coming from the North on Tuesday, and eventually the normal ENE direction by Friday morning.


The sea anchor went out at 1:30 PM GMT today and has been out ever since. The reality at the moment is that I will likely be on sea anchor and slowly drifting North and East with the wind until Tuesday, unless the forecast improves. That would mean the loss of three days I could have spent rowing and making progress toward Antigua, and arriving three days later than I otherwise would have. Not a happy situation for me, or for my friends/family who are trying to book flights to come meet me!


I could write at length about where this leaves me psychologically, but for now I think it will suffice to say that anyone who's familiar with being human can imagine how I feel about sitting in the cabin going nowhere for three days, after being at sea for as long as I have been.


Like everything else this expedition has thrown my way, I'll deal with it and move on when the time comes. In the meantime, here's hoping I don't drift too far North and East, away from Antigua. I think that Brooklyn would rather I row during the day, too - the cabin is too small for us both to spend much time in, and she hasn't showered in 66 days either. Gross!


I'll talk about the shark tomorrow, along with some other wildlife (and pictures) that I've been meaning to write about. Thanks again for the continued encouragement -- it goes a long way on days like these!


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 65

Just as the light at the end of the tunnel started to glimmer, the weather forecast has sent the message loud and clear to not get excited just yet, as it seems that I'm in for a battle against the weather for at least the next week.


As I've described in the past, the trade winds in this part of the Atlantic at this time of year are generally predictable and stable coming from the East, which would help me make progress toward Antigua in the West. That's not always the case, however, as it seems I'm about to find out. As you can see from my track and current position, I've been getting blown gradually to the North West over the last several days, and am now around 17 deg 23 mins North (my destination is at 17N exactly). Normally I'd be able to make up these 23 miles easily with the wind coming from the East, but there are a couple storms forming well North of me that will be stirring things up down here and producing winds that seemingly will blow every direction but the one I want to go! Fortunately the storms should stay far enough North to not be dangerous, but they will still be a major headache thanks to their effect on the wind.


Anyway, today I got a taste of what's to come -- wind all afternoon and evening was coming from a South South-westerly direction. Though I've been told to try not to fight the wind too much, I have zero interest in going North-east, so I fought it as best I could and, including my "extra innings" of night rowing, I managed to make 28nm West during the day.


I'm preparing for several days that will really test my resolve, which should make for some interesting updates until the weather improves. Tomorrow I'll write about my first SHARK sighting, which came this afternoon! I think that I even have a picture of a fin sticking out of the water, but we'll see -- I haven't looked at it yet.


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 64

Hi again, everyone-


First a big thanks to my good friend and roommate Melissa for yesterday's guest blog post. It gave me a short reprive in celebration of crossing 50W, which happened last night. As of this afternoon I'm 650 nautical miles from English Harbor, Antigua! You may remember that I was worried a while back about being blown too far South. Well, as has been a pattern on this expedition, now I'm a little worried about being blown too far North! I really will never be satisfied with what the weather brings. Not a big deal though, as I'm only 20nm North of English Harbor and when the winds come from the usual Easterly or ENE direction I'll be able to take it all back in a day or two.


The crossing of 50W also indicates that this row is entering its final stage -- the sprint to the finish! While in most rowing races the sprint begins 300 meters from the finish line, I started mine last night, which I think was roughly 15-16 days from the end. My goal will be to add two hours, or roughly five miles, of rowing after dark. This will get me up to about 13 hours of rowing a day, which is going to be a challenge both physically and mentally. Last night went well, but tonight was tougher. I'm trying to better organize my chores around the boat (including my writing of blog posts) in hopes of finding a few extra mintues of sleep each night. If I can pull it off, the sprint I describe above will get me into Antigua a full two days earlier than I otherwise would. What better motivation is there than that?


I realized that I never showed you what the cabin looked like from the outside, so there's a picture below. This is my bed, the office from which I send all of these posts, and my home for the last 64 days. The concept for the boat was "minimal accomodation for a single rower" - do you think we achieved it?



Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Paul

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 63: Guest Post

Greetings from Stamford, CT and more specifically Seaside (the nickname for Paul's residence when not out at sea), where Paul lives with his four, yes count them, four roommates!! I am Melissa (a roommate and frequent blog commenter under the name Melissa M). Paul has been a resident of Seaside for three years, the three years he has been training for this row! We have breathed, eaten, and slept Row for Hope for the past three years… and, quite literally, we have breathed in the air after Paul's three-hour workouts, have eaten the freeze dried food with him for taste-testing purposes, and have slept right upstairs from Paul and can tell you that he is a snorer.


Life Before the Row: Paul's training over the past 3 years has been inspiring - the 5 AM workouts, followed by his full-time job, followed by the night workouts, and the planning for the trip. It made me exhausted just watching and hearing about everything that went into the preparation for the row. My absolute favorite part of Paul's training, and probably my best memories at Seaside, are the nights on our porch and what I would call his training for the mental portion of the row. The Seaside roommates sat out on the porch quizzing Paul about celestial navigation, asking every ridiculous question we could think of about rowing across the ocean, and discussed hope, religion, life, cancer, hard-times, joyous times, and most importantly we laughed together.


Life Back at Seaside while Paul is Rowing for Hope (Current Day): Although we are not battling the high seas over here at Seaside, we are battling some crazy snow! We received about 8 inches of snow this past week. See picture below of our house. Although we are deep in snow, our support for the Row for Hope melts through. Check out that sticker!



I cannot forgot to mention our toy boat (resembling Liv) braving the high seas of Paul's bath-tub!



We, like most of you, read the blog daily, forward the link to others, and talk about Paul whenever we get the chance. We are trying to spread the news about Row for Hope, but need even more help!


Life after the Row: These roommates could not be happier to get their fifth back in a month! Stamford is a home away from home for a lot of us that moved here after college, and we have our own little family here. The Seaside family cannot wait to get their CNN celebrity, front-page-of-theStamford-Advocate hero, NPR radio guest, blog extraordinaire back….but not for those reasons. We want him back to sit on the porch and talk about life after the row, allow us to ask ridiculous questions about what it was like at sea for 80+ days, and most importantly laugh together and appreciate every day, hour, and minute that we have in life!


Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.


Melissa