Erden Eruç has been rowing across the Pacific Ocean in a 23-foot-long (7-meter) boat (about the length of three mini-vans) since he left California on July 10, 2007. He has been heading for Australia with only birds, fish, and sharks for company ever since.
As if that isn't amazing enough, crossing the Pacific is only part of his journey. Eruç has decided to circumnavigate (go all the way around) the world using only his own energy. Oh, and his plan includes climbing the tallest peak on six of the continents along the way, to honor the memory of a fellow climber.
Eruç will row, bike, walk, and climb the world without help from any motors at all.
For the first leg of his trip, he bicycled 5,546 miles (8925.44 kilometers) from Seattle, Washington to Mount McKinley in Alaska and back, walked 67 miles (107.8 kilometers) to base camp, and climbed 20,320 feet (6194 meters) to McKinley's peak. Now in the second part of his adventure, he is rowing to Australia.
Why would he try to complete a difficult and yet tremendous goal like going around the world this way? He explains that he wants to inspire kids to dream their dreams and reach their own goals. He wants to show kids that there might be tough parts along the way, and sometimes they might not even reach that final goal. But they can have great adventures and learn a lot along the way.
As a solo traveler, Eruç has already faced some disappointments and challenges. For example, because he has to row about 10 hours a day, he brought along an MP3 player to listen to music, books, and study Spanish to pass the time. Unfortunately, the nearly daily tropical rain for several months has forced him to keep his player packed away where it's safe and dry.
Not only that, but wind and waves keep pushing him westward when he wants to go south toward the Solomon Islands. Unlike big ships with powerful engines, his rowboat and arm power are no match for the winds. If his luck doesn't change, he will cheerfully change his plan, and aim to land at Papua New Guinea. One way or another, he's sure he'll reach his next goal: Australia.
Fortunately, Eruç has a snug, dry little cabin to crawl into when the daily rowing is done. He can use his little palm computer to connect to the Internet by way of a satellite phone. "For fun, I do emails and phone calls, read, and write in my journal a lot," he says.
Protein bars give him energy, and he boils water to heat freeze-dried meals on a one-burner stove. "But I'm out of mashed potatoes!" he says. A solar-powered machine removes salt from ocean water so he can drink it, but only when the sun shines. Because of the tropical rains, he's had to use a different desalination machine lately that he has to pump.
He's not bothered by the hard work or even being blown the wrong direction. Eruç sees the world as a laboratory where there is much to learn.
For example, he enjoys the many birds that visit him on his boat at sea. Frigatebirds or noddy terns are a clue that an island can't be far, because those birds always return to the shore at the end of the day. When his trip around the world takes him across land, he enjoys meeting people—especially children. He has already visited dozens of schools and shared his story.
Eruç encourages all kids to set their eyes on a goal and not give up. Like his experience in the Pacific Ocean, he says, it may be challenging, but if you don't try, you don't (or won't) go anywhere: "With goals, we will make progress, and we will be farther along than when we started, even if we don't reach some goals. That's called life!"
Read his journal entries about the booby that pooped all over his boat, the sharks he's caught, and other cool stories about his trip!
Text by Catherine Clarke Fox