SOLO ATLANTIC – crossing a ‘pilgrimage’

Egyptian will be the first Arab to cross the Atlantic solo on a rowing boat, if he succeeds.

Whale tail in the Atlantic ocean over mountains background, wild animals safari, beautiful nature of the Hermanus city, South Africa

“Three months in the loneliness of the ocean would be a unique experience to make a pilgrimage to my inner self, and to discover what I am capable of.”

For Mohamed Elewa, an Egyptian in his early 50s, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean is his next big adventure after his cycling feats in Europe, Africa and Asia.

“It will be my most difficult adventure ever, the most dangerous, the hardest, the most daring and yet the most fun and fulfilling,” the intrepid explorer told Asian Property Review.

Mohamed has successfully bikepacked across 15 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia spanning some 16,000 kms before deciding to go solo on the Atlantic crossing.

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“I will cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat, solo, unattended, from Agadir in Morocco to New York in the United States, covering a distance of 5,000 kms during a period that might extend to over 3 months.

“If I succeed, I would be the first Arab adventurer to achieve such a feat and one of the few ever to do so according to the Ocean Rowing Society International (ORS). The ORS is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for the Guinness Book of World Records.”

Mohamed expects to start the crossing sometime between November and December this year subject to weather conditions and sufficient funding.

He estimates he would need a total amount of 100K British pounds. This would include the return journey, training, a rowing boat that’s designed to cross oceans and other incidental expenses. He’s currently looking for sponsors.

Such specialised rowing boats are equipped with navigation systems, water maker, VHF radio, solar panels, satellite telephone, radio transmitter and a multitude of additional critical equipment.

Mohamed says he’s looking forward to this challenge for two main reasons:

• This would be a very personal challenge, as it’s the ultimate and most daring one so far. I always try to test my limits, to explore new horizons of human adventures and endurance. I will be 52 in a few weeks’ time. I am not young anymore. I don’t have the stamina and fitness of my twenties. Nevertheless, I am overflowing with energy and optimism. I would like to convey that very true and real message: ‘age is just a number’; ‘Each and every one of us is limitless’. All we need to do is to believe in our dreams and step in. Three months in the loneliness of the ocean would be a unique experience to make a pilgrimage to my inner self, and to discover what I am capable of.

• The second aim of this challenge is to raise awareness on plastic pollution in oceans and the seas. This is an issue that is very dear to me. I believe plastic pollution is one the worst sources of pollution in our planet. It would be a great honour to contribute to this cause.

‘Safe Endeavour’

Crossing the Atlantic on a rowing boat is not a suicide mission, he notes. Records indicated that up to 1999, five fatalities had occurred during ocean rowing crossing attempts. There has been one fatality between 1999 and 2015.

Ocean-crossing rowing boats are typically 7m long and under 2m wide, with an impossibly small cabin for protection against storms. They cannot take any repair, help, food or water during the crossing – which can take anything from 35 to 96 days, according to reports.

In 2008, Bryce Carlson became the first American to complete the crossing solo from St John’s, Newfoundland. In his notes, he wrote how challenging it was to row 3,000 miles, “rowing two hours on with two hours off, 24-hours-a-day with the risk of storms, huge waves, capsizing and having to swim under the boat to clean off the barnacles”. His strategy was to focus on the next five minutes ahead and he was able to remain ‘in the moment’ 95% of the time.

Those five-minute increments would eventually stretch into 38 days, 6 hours and 49 minutes, setting a new speed record for a west-to-east solo and unsupported crossing of the North Atlantic, according to the ORS. The cost of his entire trip was USD130K. Carlson said it was worth every minute. Editor’s Note: Asian Property Review wishes Mohamed all the best and will be keeping in touch with him on his progress.


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