Solo circumnavigator Erden Eruç of Wauna, 60, made landfall at Legazpi City in the Philippines March 24, becoming the first person to row from North America to Asia after launching from Crescent City, Calif., June 22, with brief stops in Hawaii and Guam, on the first leg of his second human-powered trip alone around the world.
Eruç was headed to Hong Kong and points west across Asia and Europe, but adverse weather significantly slowed his progress across the Pacific. After stopping to make repairs in Hawaii he was forced south to Guam and planned to head from there to Singapore, before having to divert to the Philippines.
He rowed approximately 7,800 miles over 239 days, or about 33 miles a day.
“I am feeling well,” he said in an April 1 webcast from Legazpi hosted by Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants Productions and Ocean Recovery Alliance, one of his expedition sponsors. “My goal was not to get to Hong Kong; it is to get to the base of Everest by human power … I’ve reached the Philippines, I am safe, I will wait out the typhoon season.”
After reaching mainland Asia, Eruç plans to bicycle to and summit Mount Everest in the fall of 2023, then bike west across central Asia around the top of the Caspian Sea to Georgia to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. From there he will pedal south to Turkey, his homeland, and west across Europe to rejoin his rowboat in Portugal. He will then row to Brazil and bike southwest across the continent to Argentina and summit Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in South America, then bike and kayak north back to Crescent City, completing his second human-powered circumnavigation after climbing the last of the highest mountains on six continents, a goal he set with his first circumnavigation in 2012.
Eruç finished that journey after five years and 41,153 miles. He became the first person to row across three oceans; the first to row from Australia to Africa; the first to cross any ocean from the southern to northern hemisphere; and he has rowed further across the Atlantic than anyone else.
“After I launched from Crescent City, I added two Guinness world records to my registered 15 records,” he said. “The overall days at sea that I rowed, including two-person rows, is now a Guinness world record. It’s 1,168. I think they will probably assign me the first crossing from North America to Asia as well. I may end up with 18 world records.”
“It’s just been wonderful how people respond and react,” said Nancy Board, Eruç’s wife. After Guam, where he was welcomed by the governor, “he was heading to Indonesia — he couldn’t get to China — so he started heading south and he had to divert to the Philippines. Now he’s got a whole new group of people in this town that he showed up in. There’s always somebody no matter how remote of a country or city we need help in; somebody shows up.
“In this world where there is so much pain and suffering, so much going on, these are the kind of stories nobody knows about and really should be told,” she said.
Eruç rows alone and without any support vessels, though he gets detailed weather and current models from his land crew. His ocean rowboat is 24 feet long and weighs about 2,000 pounds empty. Underway he eats freeze-dried food, nuts and chocolate protein bars. He recommends “the big Costco unsalted dry roasted nuts. They didn’t last long. I need to bring more of those with me for the South China Sea.”
The solar-powered water maker makes two gallons a day, which is about what he needs to drink, to rehydrate food, and to rinse salt off his body and clothing. “Salt water desiccates and dries the skin,” he said. “You need to constantly rinse it to reduce the itching. It’s quite a battle against the elements out there.”
Eruç webcasts during his journey about the amount of plastic litter at sea as an ambassador for Ocean Recovery Alliance, a nonprofit based in Hong Kong devoted to improving the health of the oceans.
“After I left California, I could see plastic pollution on the water, a Styrofoam cup here, a plastic bit there, a fender that got loose, maybe once a week,” he said. “And then as I got further across, closer to the Philippines, past Guam, I started seeing it every day, then every hour as the concentration of the plastic pollution started increasing. All of these windward facing islands (in the Philippines) have their beaches covered with debris that comes across the ocean from afar.”
Eruç plans to bicycle from Legazpi to Subic Bay or San Fernando on the west side of Luzon Island in January, where he will relaunch his rowboat and head to mainland Asia.
“If I cannot make Vietnam, it will be the Malay Peninsula,” he said. “If I cannot make that, it will be the archipelago south of Singapore. If I am carried that far south, I may have to drop anchor and wait until May or so until the monsoons start reversing, the currents start reversing. So, the ocean is in charge. I do my best and destiny will reveal itself.”
Follow Eruç’s progress at www.erdeneruc.com/erdens-blog.
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