John Beeden is about to row himself into the history books when he lands on the shores of Cairns, Australia after being at sea for over 200 days and having rowed over 7,400 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean, solo! When John completes his row and manages to land on the coast of mainland Australia, he will achieve the title of “The first to row the Pacific solo from North America to Australia mainland to mainland non-stop.”
19th of December (20th December in Australia) is the start of day 202 at sea for John. While he approaches the home stretch, he still has 297 nautical miles to row and probably has some of the most difficult rowing left to do, plus he has to add in the accumulation of all the various factors both physical, mental and emotional. Not only does John have the Great Barrier Reef to navigate, he is extremely fatigued. John quotes “I’m pretty close to being properly exhausted, I’m getting though about 90% of the day on full power but can feel it ebbing away towards the end of the day. I’m struggling especially with my legs in the afternoons”. When most would have jumped ship after fighting with Mother Nature for so long, John continues to dig deep and pushes himself to the limit.
Desperate to reach the shores of Cairns, John needs to average 40 nautical miles per day in order to arrive on or around Boxing Day. Things were looking good until he received the updated weather forecast last night which included details of the monsoon that is forming over the gulf. We all know that the forecast can change, so John is preparing for the possibility that he may need to stop rowing and remain on para anchor for a few days until it is safe to cross the Great Barrier Reef.
John was attempting to do this journey, solo, non stop and unassisted. Unfortunately due to several bouts with Mother Nature, John has taken longer then he initially anticipated. As he was running out of food and other necessary supplies, the only way John was able to continue his journey was to be resupplied which took place off the coast of Vanuatu. Supplies were purchased, a boat was hired and a way point was set to meet John. As the resupply was done at sea, this did not affect the non-stop journey.
John’s daily schedule consists of rowing for 13.5 – 14 hours a day. He is awake at 2am local time, he spends a 1 hour break over the day in order to prepare food and the other 2 hour break is in the evening when he spends time to clean the boat, clean himself, eat and write his daily blog. Follow that by a few hours sleep, on average 3 or 4 hours before he is up and at it all over again.
The biggest challenges John has faced was The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), from 10° north to 10° south. Known as the doldrums, which contrary to their name is anything but. Facing one squall after another and strong winds from all directions, make rowing extremely difficult and as a solo rower would consistently push John backwards and the miles gained would be lost and then need to be re-rowed. The equatorial counter current is in the centre which is a 250 nautical miles wide current running east up to 3 knots. According to John, if you don’t get across it, you will end up in Peru. On top of this, there is approximately 150 nautical miles of mixed current, spinning you in circles and being a solo rower makes it difficult to take any breaks at all. On numerous days, John would row 28 hours straight with only a couple of 20 minute naps in order to break free from the currents.
John previously rowed the Atlantic Ocean solo and according to the Ocean Rowing Society, he has the 2nd fasted time for that particular crossing. John decided to row the Pacific Ocean because he felt that the Atlantic didn’t push him to the edge. When asked how rowing the Pacific compares to the Atlantic row, John confirms that “The Pacific has been much different, I’ve looked over the edge plenty on this trip, I’ve been in situations I thought I would never get out of so I certainly found the challenge I was looking for”.
Despite battling the wind, currents and extreme temperatures, John has also had the opportunity to row along with sharks, dolphins, whales,Tuna feeding frenzies, Blue Fin Marlin and he has had Albatross’s attempt to roost on his boat and has had numerous flying fish and squid land in his boat. Most recently, John was told to watch out for the Meteor shower that would take place one night. As John was through the dark he was disappointed not to see much. He thought he saw the odd one in the periphery of his vision but wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until his second coffee break that he turned around and looked south west. It was all going on behind him. In the two minutes he had, he saw 9 or 10 meteorites of varying size burning at different intensities with a back drop of brightly lit starts. Just one of the many incredible things John has experienced while at sea. It is these days that make up for all of the tough days that have taken their tole on John.
If it isn’t enough to just row an Ocean, John finds time to write a daily blog about his adventure. Initially the blog was a diary for John that he wanted to share with close friends. As close friends have shared John’s story, news has travelled all around the world. Followers feel like they too are rowing an ocean right along side John. John’s unwavering resolve to complete this journey, regardless of what Mother Nature throws his way, sucks one in daily to read his blog, check his tracker to see where he is or to find out how far he has rowed or how far he still has to go. Followers can go on John’s website and leave him messages which he receives daily. These messages have been messages of encouragement, how John has inspired them to do something or simple chit chat about what is going on in the world. These messages have been a key component to keep John motivated and to keep on rowing. Knowing that he has inspired just one person is great but knowing he has inspired hundreds is incredible.
John is rowing the Pacific in a purpose built ocean rowing boat called Socks II. The boat is 6m long and measures 159cm across her beam and has two reinforced bulkheads, each with a large watertite hatch giving access into the fore and aft cabins. The boat is equipped as any high-tech ocean going vessel, with GPS and magnetic navigation, AIS (safety system), satellite phone, satellite email, EPIRB, VHF radio and a yellow brick GPS tracker. In addition to this, the boat has a desalinator which will provide John with fresh drinking water. The batteries on board are charged with a series of solar panels on the two cabin tops.
When the boat is fully loaded, it weighs approximately 2500 lbs.
You can track John’s journey, read his daily blog and see how many miles he logs daily and how many miles to go from his website: www.solopacificrow.com
Several people have been following John since the beginning of his journey while others have started to follow along as soon as they heard about his adventure. John has a way of bringing the armchair ocean rower along for the ride. His daily blogs have inspired so many with his grit and determination to succeed.
Anyone who is following John or reads his daily blogs can even send John a message of encouragement from his website.
For more information please contact:
Phone 905-320-9342 (Canada)
Local Australian Phone Number 0423 37 47 54
Photos – Photos can be supplied upon request