Ocean rowing

Like warblers migrating through the beech forests of the Provincelands, French rowers set east across the Atlantic for their homeland from Cape Cod every May, compelled to make their way across the briny deep with nothing more than their backs, legs, and arms and a hybrid ocean-going rowboat.

When I was a kid browsing the shelves of the Cotuit Library, librarian Ida Anderson recommended I read an account of two English rowers who crossed the Atlantic in the late 1960s. The fact that they left from Cape Cod and succeeded impressed me enough to place a self-propelled crossing of the ocean on my list of life’s-to-dos.

Little did I know that it would become an even bigger deal, with lunatics trying to cross the Pacific.

Early this week the latest Frenchman, Charlie Girard, threw in the towel on his second attempt and was plucked from the water by the US Coast Guard. As he explained to the press, his head wasn’t in it and he wasn’t strong enough to make a crossing which can take at least two months to complete.

There is a web site — horribly designed but comprehensive if you can get past yellow text on black backgrounds — for the Ocean Rowing Society. Here is a picture of Girard’s boat, which I assume is adrift now some 1o0 miles east of Chatham off the Georges Banks.

update: Girard’s boat has been found and recovered.

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