Rowing the North Sea

In the autumn of 2011 Erik Schouw-Hansen and I were discussing our next adventure. In 2010 we had sailed together to the Shetlands—Erik crewed aboard my 31′ sloop on the first leg of a voyage from Norway to the Caribbean and back. We were both born and raised on the west coast of Norway, so for our next trip it was natural to look westward across the North Sea to the Shetland Islands. We wanted to try something new and settled upon rowing a small, open boat across the North Sea the following summer. We set mid-June as our deadline to be ready for departure, and from that point we would wait for favorable weather conditions.

Four Oars and a Sail

It was a quiet Sunday morning, August 15, 2016, and a thin fog, lit only by the dim glow of dawn, was lingering over the glassy water of Wisconsin’s St. Croix River. The sun had not yet risen and the only sounds were birds singing in the wooded valley and the whisper of the river. The sun began to lighten the sky as…

Lake Tanganyika

My life totally changed in my mid-20s when a casual invitation to a wedding in India unexpectedly became six months of travel through South Asia. Upon my return to the USA, I realized I was addicted and decided to travel the world full-time. The next target of my travels became Africa, where I planned to cross the…

A Faering on the Inside Passage, Part 2

Five weeks into our voyage from Puget Sound to Juneau, Cindy and I were well into the daily rhythm of life aboard ROWENA, the 21′ Gokstad faering I’d built for the trip. After traveling the Inside Passage through British Columbia we were leaner and stronger, our hands and our butts had toughened up, and we could row long…

A Faering on the Inside Passage, Part 1

When my parents returned home to Edmonds, Washington, from a trip to England in 1983 they brought me two green booklets about the Gokstad faering, the smallest of three ninth-century boats unearthed along with the Gokstad ship in 1880 near Norway’s Oslo Fjord. The 21′ faering was the most beautiful boat I had

The Wedding Canoe

I moved to Vancouver from Ontario after I graduated from university in 2009. I was drawn to British Columbia by the mountains but immediately fell in love with the coast, taking a keen interest in surfing, open-water swimming, kayaking, and sailing. Among the very first people I met on the West Coast were two sisters, Karen and…

A Lakeland Row

Mats and Verneri were lucky to start their tour on calm waters and in mild weather, perfect for rowing. A light tailwind helped them out for a while but died completely while they were crossing the Hauki Waterway. The compass, meant for forward-facing kayakers, had to be installed backwards for the rower in the bow rower to see the card, and that required some mental gymnastics to set a course. Here they’re rowing on a course of 105°, ESE, and the compass reads 285°, WNW.

A couple of years ago I spotted a long, lean traditional Finnish rowing boat for sale online. It had been designed and built for bi-stroke racing with a rower on a sliding seat and a paddler using a single-bladed paddle in the stern. I had no experience in competitive rowing or even cruising under oars, but…

The Sailing Light Challenge

It took more than sixty years to build the Boyard fortress, and it was never used for the military purpose it was intended for.

The French love sailing, but the big and expensive racing and cruising yachts often get all of the attention. Two years ago I got together with a group of friends and we organized a new event, called Challenge Naviguer Léger, Sailing Light Challenge, an unsupported, 100-mile tour along France’s Bay of Biscay coast in…

A Maine Island Idyll

In a light breeze Rob row-sailed toward Pumpkin Island and the top of the Eggemogin Reach. Sail-assisted rowing made it possible to cover mileage more effectively when sail alone would have been too slow to keep the pair on schedule to make good use of the tidal currents around Penobscot Bay.

It was a very gentle bump. I’d been sleeping comfortably at anchor after a long day on the water, but I was wide-awake in an instant. A few seconds later it came again—a firm nudge from below interrupting the soft, easy motion of my boat—and this time WAXWING stopped moving. I was aground. I checked…

A Man’s Best Friend

July, 2016. With a lid covering the outboard hole and the outboard itself providing ballast forward, the skiff rows better than ever. Just outside Dartmouth we usually see ten or twelve seals whenever we go to the Mew Stone.

The mid-1990s were a mixed time for me. I had a fine house, a great job, a beautiful wife, and two lovely children—but I was boatless. My wife and I had sold our 32′ double-ender after our first child was born and we hadn’t found anything within our price range to take its place. So when yacht designer Nigel Irens was…

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