There is no feeling in the world like stepping onto terra firma after 41 days at sea… then falling over. Apparently if you rarely stand upright for a lengthy time the little stabilizing muscles in your legs and feet will start to atrophy. News to me.
Before we get started, thank you to everyone for all the support and motivational facebook/twitter/blog/email messages – we wouldn’t have made it without such a strong support network– that was seriously empowering.
So, our adventure actually continued for a while after making landfall in Point Hope, Alaska. We were welcomed graciously by the local people with a traditional Inupiat Eskimo dance which was a great cultural experience until we tried to join in on the dancing… If you can, try to imagine all four of us scruffy-bearded and rubber-legged travelers dancing to the beat of whale drums. I thought I was getting a hang of the rhythm until I looked down and saw the cutest little girl trying to hide her laugh at my mismanaged limbs.
After the dance, we shrugged off the dancing embarrassment as best we could and the mayor took us around town to visit traditional burial grounds and sod homes (huts built of whale bone and sod) which were spectacular. To add to the experience, Mayor Steve was nice enough to bring the team some Maktak, or raw whale skin and blubber, and whale meat for dinner. The meal was pretty tasty with some salt which is good because it remains a heavy part of the local diet. In fact, we learned a lot about their traditions and whaling culture which remains in tact today. Point Hope is one of the oldest continually occupied sites in North America and is the most extensive one-period archeological sites in the circumpolar region so we are honored to have visited. I can not wait to go back.
Since leaving Point Hope, our team has taken a long series of flights to arrive back in the lower 48 states with friends and families.
This experience of rowing across the Arctic Ocean for over 1000 miles non-stop and unsupported has been such a fulfilling learning experience that it is hard to put into words. I have been staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to say and I’m still pretty speechless. Last night was my first night back with my wife (after being away for 2/3 of our marriage – we are newlyweds). She and I sat and talked, reconnecting, on the front porch in warm Texas summer night and I was dumbfounded by the calm winds and clear sky. It still feels uncomfortable to not worry about the weather. So, there is actually a little reentry shock mixed in with my elation with making it home safe and sound. This is normal considering our team became very comfortable with living day-to-day in high stress survival situations. We generally only had small amounts of water because of a finicky and eventually broken watermaker. We were continuously rationing our food to extend our trip to 41 days instead of the planned 30. We dodged icebergs for days on end. We dealt with the rising and falling action of an unprecedented number of major storm systems that would beat us up for a week at a time. So, all I can spit out is: It almost feels uneasy to be home but I have a feeling I’ll start to embrace it real quick! And, I’m excited to start a new professional adventure next week – moving to San Francisco to join a great team of investors at Correlation Ventures. Life is remains busy, but good .
By Colin West, Member of the Arctic Row Team. Retreived from http://www.arcticrow.com/blog/
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