Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

4 Americans Plan to Cross Arctic Ocean in Rowboat

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

4 Americans Plan to Cross Arctic Ocean in Rowboat

Article excerpt

They're calling it the Arctic Row. Four men with a profound love of adventure are setting out to do something dangerous and unprecedented -- something they could not have done before the ice covering the top of the world began to melt in earnest.

They are going to row across the Arctic Ocean, nonstop and without support.

It's just four U.S. men in a narrow rowboat, but they have a gigantic issue before them: what the melting of the Arctic means for the world. Obviously, they won't come away with all the answers. What they say they're looking for, at the very least, is to raise a little more awareness about the changes under way in the Arctic.

Promoters of the voyage have billed it as "one of the world's last great firsts."

The rowers -- Paul Ridley, Collin West, Neal Mueller and Scott Mortensen -- plan to board their 29-foot-long, 6-foot-wide rowboat next Sunday and spend the next 30 days aboard the craft, taking turns rowing, two at a time, for two-hour shifts, 24 hours a day.

The boat is equipped with a desalinator to convert 400 pounds of saltwater each day into 24 liters of drinking water. Solar panels on the cabin will provide power for a VHF radio and a navigation system, as well as a laptop computer.

Mr. Mueller said of the planned day-to-day routine: "Basically, you're sleeping and rowing."

But the team will also have to make time for eating, navigating and "tweeting like crazy" -- as well as collecting data in conjunction with scientists from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Not to worry. The four men behind the oars are nothing if not overachievers.

Mr. Ridley is a long-distance rower who in 2009 became, at age 25, the youngest American ever to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. It took him 87 days to make the 2,950-mile trip, which was to honor his deceased mother and raise money for cancer research.

Mr. …

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