Continent to Continent For Conservation

The Expedition

The CWF Africa to the Americas Expedition left Dakar, Senegal on January 23rd 2013 to row unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean on a 3,569 nautical mile journey to Miami, USA. Using human power to propel the boat, and solar and wind power to charge its instruments, the crew conducted research on the ocean and themselves, sharing it in real-time to viewers worldwide. The crew of four men rowed the open ocean self-supported, 24 hours per day in 1-, 2- and 4-hour shifts. Photo: Erinn J. Hale

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The Capsize

On the morning of April 6, 2013, the rowboat was hit by two irregular box-shaped waves traveling out of the usual swell pattern. While the crew was in shift change, exchanging rowers between the cabin and on-deck, water inundated the open hatch and capsized the boat, its self-righting capabilities compromised by the rapidly filling main cabin. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

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The Facts

How this Expedition Created Awareness

  • Together CWF and OAR Northwest reached over 20,000 students & viewers with this initiative
  • Over 70 confirmed classrooms on four continents signed up for this free program, resulting in 10,296 unique education page views
  • Participating classrooms in North America, Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, New Zealand
  • 8 weeks of daily weekday classroom content on a wide variety of subjects related to the row were made available worldwide to teachers with an internet connection
  • With over 700 page views, CWF’s marine biologist Dr. Sean Brillant created 6 educational webinars for students, offered live to schools and currently available on our CWF YouTube Channel
  • Webinars offered students the opportunity to learn about:
    • Ocean habitats and wildlife
    • How we use the ocean
    • Marine conservation
    • What the rowers are seeing out there
    • Live Q & A with OAR Northwest
    • Wind, waves & wildlife

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Photo: Markus Pukonen

Dakar to Miami by ocean rowboat. On the water January - April, 2013!


Catch all the action as it came to us live from the water during the 2013 CWF Africa to America’s Expedition!


April 26

Adam reflects on his journey

April 17

The boat is retreived

April 12

CWF Education hosts a webinar with the rowers

April 8, Week 11

Crew reunites with family

April 6

Rescue at sea!

Day 54 / Mar. 18

Adam posts an entry from his diary after 3 weeks of storms, two broken oars, and a shorted wind generator. Cold, wet and slow, the crew morale was at an all-time low. Weather changed two days later, bringing a much needed infusion of hope.

“Adventure is a powerful medicine and it can break you,” Adam writes. “However, if you can tolerate its taste and accept the suffering, fear, and misery, you will gain pearls of wisdom and a strength of spirit that will last the ages. I need to remind myself that we learn the most from our challenges. Misery can be a valuable teacher….”

Day 52 /Mar. 16

“For the last few days in a row, we have been visited by two or three large whales,” Jordan writes. “They have large, coal-colored bodies and a small fin on the back well behind their blowhole. They appear, give a deep intake of air, almost industrial in sound, and expose at least thirty feet of their body and it’s obvious that there is far more beneath the surface. It’s overwhelming, gentle power….

P.S.: Saw two 1.5 liter water bottles floating yesterday. I did manage to get some shots of these. It was calm but they are still visible. If it floats, and its not properly disposed of, it ends up out here. They just don’t give me the same feeling as seeing whales.”

Day 51 / Mar. 15:

“Nighttime shifts have become everyone’s unanimous favorite. In the same breath, they can also be the most terrifying,” Jordan writes.

“Either way, they seem to be the most consistently awe-inspiring. In calm weather, any fear of night abates with the stillness. The first stars arrive as pinpoints in the sky, and yet long after the sun has set, the haze of daylight seems to hang on….”

Highlights from Week Six

Day 47: Mar. 11

“I love this,” Marcus writes after describing his day.

Day 46 / Mar. 10

40 more days?!?

We’re officially across the ½-way point, but have very difficult weather on the horizon for the next several days,” Adam writes. “ Recently, I have been coming to terms with how unbelievably crazy it is to row across the ocean…”

Day 40: March 4

“We have turned into lean, mean, rowing machines,” Marcus explains. “We now feel most awake, alert and alive when we are pulling this beast of a boat through the salty seas. It is everything else that we do that has become the most challenging and exhausting to execute…”

Day 39: March 3

“I would hope that when you’re learning about our trip – whether it be about history, science, the boat or the body – that this will not be the end of your own educational and exploratory journey, “Jordan writes. “I hope what this does most is spark your curiosity to go out and experience it for yourself and to take it with you for the rest of your life. Your perspective is different, and because of that it is valuable. We hope you learn a lot from this trip but we also don’t want you to just take our word on it. Go to YourWildAdventure.ca and join the ’100 day challenge’ to get outside and log it for yourself, and share it with us. You’d be surprised what you’ll find in your own back yards.”

Highlights from Week Five

Day 38/Mar. 2

What do we eat? The majority of our food sundries were generously provided by Lifestyle Markets in Victoria, BC. This company specializes in local, organic and healthy foods. Learn more »

Day 37/ Mar. 1

"Going out on long journeys with monotonous physical activity is a wonderful meditation and very peace-giving. Sure, there is the odd scary bit where your adrenal glands fire, oars break and you experience extreme stress. The reward of pushing through the extreme, though, is a meditative, physical presence – A connective existence that is simple, repetitive and empowering…."Adam writes

Day 36/Feb. 28

"I am not a rower," Markus writes. "Yes, it’s true. I’m on a boat with 3 men whose combined years of rowing experience is more than the years of my life. I’ve never followed rowing, and if you had asked me a year ago about the Canadian Men’s 8+ in Beijing (i.e.- the race Adam won a Gold Medal in), you would have received a blank stare or a 'what about them?' …Is it so bizarre and abnormal that an inexperienced rower attempt to row across an ocean?"

Day 35/Feb. 27

"So we have been billing our little vessel as 'the world’s most technologically advanced rowboat' Although our hull is no longer made of the latest materials and designs, we have a glut of fancy/awesome electronics that – a la our power situation (hopefully resolved now) – we have been struggling to keep working… Prognosis: optimistic," Jordan writes… When that first oar-breaking wave hit, we also lost one of our electronic scheduling devices. That was OK because we have three (always bring backups of the important stuff!). We also lost our fishing rod. That’s OK because we have some hand line and plenty of hooks. Losing the second oar was a bit more troubling – now we were down to four oars. Any more breakage and we are either rowing one person at a time, or turning the boat into a sailboat using our broken oars and some sheets. More on this later when I outline our contingency plans. Until then, the ocean continues to decide what we need and what we want."

Highlights from Week Four

Day 34 (Feb. 26)

Some scientific models state that the ocean pH will be down to 7.9 by the year 2050. What do you think the effects on the ocean will be if this comes to pass?

Day 33 (Feb. 25)

Adam cracks a molar 1,000 nautical miles from land and a dentist, but luckily he gets some advice via email.

Day 32 (Feb. 24)

We are so tired that we seem indifferent… You haven’t really ‘seen’ the ocean unless you have rowed it, Jordan jokes…

Day 31 (Feb. 21)

It was the middle of a four-hour row shift and I felt on the verge of collapse in my seat while waiting to cry, fall off my seat, or slam my shin with the oar. It’s hard to tell when one day starts or another ends, Pat writes…

Day 30 (Feb. 22)

"Sometimes a day feels like a week and a week feels like a day," Markus writes…

  • 02:00 am Since the GPS navigation display in the cockpit is broken due to water damage, I will spend the next four hours following a starpath to keep a somewhat consistent heading.
  • 03:00am I’m tempted to look at what time it is but know that there is still a long way to go until I can rest again. I resist and attempt to find a happy place. I’ve taken to listing the names of all the people I know and thanking them in my head. It feels great and sometimes brings tears.
  • 03:30am I ask Pat if he’s up for making tea and some food. This means I will have to pull the 1360 kg (3000 lb) boat through the water by myself while he cooks.
  • 05:30am After listening to a book on tape or podcast while meditating on breathing and almost losing consciousness as I row, the sun finally begins to light up the sky. This last half hour makes the whole shift worth it, although it sometimes seems to last for an eternity too long.
  • 06:00am Finally time to sleep for the next 2 hours.
  • Day 29 (Feb. 21)

    Cleaned 11 kg (25 lbs) of gooseneck mussels off the hull. Boat speed is up. Woot Woot.

    Highlights from Week Three

    Day 19: Feb.11

    36-hours on sea anchor. What is your sea anchor? What do you use to weather the storms of your life? Email us.

    Day 18: Feb. 10

    Did you know we have our very own Leatherback in the CWF Great Canadian Turtle Race? How amazing that we’re crossing paths!

    Floaters! Portuguese Man-o-war, Salp and Goose-neck mussels have joined our #wildadventure.

    Day 16: Feb. 7

    I believe a better future is possible and will come… Markus Pukonen

    Highlights from Week Two

    Day 14: Feb. 5
    The desalination unit aboard the ocean rowboat uses about 102 watts to purify 6 gallons of water in one hour. In comparison an average laptop uses about 30 watts for one hour.

    Day 13: Feb. 4
    We have seen flying fish, a sea turtle, a Portuguese man o war, a petrel who has been following us for the past 6 days that we have named Ralphie, and some other small terns. Transiting the Cape Verde Islands… last night in the dark we saw our first ship in 5 days, passing us in the opposite direction. Waves were just on the edge of breaking across the beam again with some significant 2.5-3m waves. Today is much better. The wind and wave combo from the north are making holding course more difficult but the waves not significant enough to make rowing dangerous.

    Day 12: Feb. 3
    We must care for the Ocean like we care for ourselves, because without the Ocean, we are nothing. That is why I believe: We are the Ocean. Adam Kreek, Olympic Gold Medalist

    Day 9: Jan. 31
    Saw a leather back turtle today. Swam circles around us and hit the rudder twice!
    The dolphins were fairly small, all brown or speckled. I think they had a short nose.
    Making good progress north at COG of 310 to split the main channel of isla do Maio and boavista, paying special attention to avoid the rock in middle of channel.

    Day 7/8: Jan. 29/30
    We are seeing birds every day. Love it.
    Dolphin Superpod! They came in the morning, playful bodies, light brown and some speckled in sets of twos and threes and fives, breaking the surface with a hiss and an intake of air. Then another set. To starboard. More to bow...Much more to bow. Much much more to bow. Now they jump. flips. 360s. A rodeo flip! Dolphins just appear to live as if they are having the most fun thy possibly can with each breath. They speak, and we can hear from above the water. I wonder if they hear us? Are they just as curious about us? Left and right they zip under us and around and for almost ten minutes they roll past like some aquatic Mardi Gras parade on a Fat Tuesday that never seems to end.
    Flying Fish! A six inch white and silver sliver rockets out of the water. A bird? No, not with those incandescent wings...insect like. It glides over the rollicking waves, unperturbed at the irregularity of the watery medium it has escaped. The flying fish is my new favorite creature. I have known about them for as long as I can remember but have never seen them in life, not even on the North Atlantic. They come in several sizes. None of the big ones have ended up on deck but we get two to four small ones on the deck every day. Up close they look like an elongated tear dropped shape with oversized wings that look like they were borrowed from a dragon fly. No matter the size the amount of time they spend in the air boggles my mind. Sometimes up to four four hundred yards and we have seen them climb to at least twenty feet.
    Swells, some are abeam and some are 45 degrees to our destination. This is good, means we can surf Out of the corner of our eyes we see a steep black face off port. We lean into it. A crash. We roll hard and the gunnels touch the water. White bubbles under moonlight. An oar, carbon and with a wood core snapped. Small sundries on deck float away.
    We rested on sea anchor for about 10 hours…
    Jordan Hanssen, Team Captain

    Highlights from Week One

    Day 5: Jan. 27
    Based on rough calculations, they're now 234.3 km away from start, 6389.4 km to go.

    Day 4: Jan. 26
    The wildlife continues to inspire and motivate the guys through difficult seas.
    Greg Spooner, OAR Northwest Co-ordinator
    Discomfort is reducing. Enjoyment is increasing. We are able to do more tasks now. Primarily: Eating and Science.
    Weather: 69F, 10knot wind, Sparce clouds, hazy horizon.

    Day 2: Jan. 24
    The crew is “hammering forward” against 2-3meter choppy beam seas and winds off the beam to starboard quarter.
    This is making for seasickness all around, and no opportunity to access email.
    Greg Spooner, OAR Northwest Co-ordinator

    Day 1: Jan. 23
    The swells were about as big as the guys’ spirit and smiles. Nothing was going to stop them from starting this epic journey! Christopher Yapp, CWF Videographer

    These are a few highlights from the OAR Northwest team. To read the full blogs, visit OARNorthwest.com or sign up for their daily emails.


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