Back home—media frenzies; blogging (UPDATED March 21): Katie Spotz’ solo Atlantic voyage

“I don’t like to make many firm predictions but yes, it is likely to be Sunday morning,” was the word, via Twitter, when Sam, who’s been helping Katie from landside, made an unofficial guess to espressoshot regarding her arrival time. Scroll to the bottom to get Katie’s most recent tweets as she closes in on Georgetown, Guyana.

[Updates are below, via Twitter] Warren Wilson grad Katie Spotz set out from Senegal on Sunday, Jan. 3, rowing solo across the Atlantic.

The New York Times put it this way: “This winter, Katie Spotz plans to cross the Atlantic Ocean without a sail or a motor. Through 50-foot waves and hurricane-force winds, the only thing propelling her tiny yellow boat will be Spotz’s arms pulling against two black oars.

“The journey from Dakar, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast, to South America is expected to take between 70 and 100 days. If Spotz succeeds, she will become the youngest person to cross an ocean in a rowboat, and the first American to row solo from mainland to mainland.”

The voyage will cost overall about $100,000 and Spotz hopes to raise an additional $30,000 for Blue Planet Run.

Katie Spotz is tweeting under the name @katiespotz; some of the tweets are by her support member Sam.

From start to finish — Katie’s tweets …

Saturday, Jan. 2:
• The boat is HERE!!!! Everything is just about ready to go, and departure is planned for Sunday 3 January. It’s very exciting!
• just testing tweets from the satphone. i hope it works!
• Still set for a departure tomorrow. Just heading back to the port for final preparations.

Sunday, Jan. 3:

Katie Spotz and Sam Williams moments before Katie sets out on her epic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. takes her first few strokes as she leaves Pier 2 at the port in Dakar, Senegal. — photos by Sam Williams

• 7 a.m.: There she rows!!! Katie left safely about an hour ago – photos and stuff will be on the website soon.
• Katie will start tweeting herself soon, but I’ll keep you guys up-to-date for now – her tracking beacon is working, but not yet on the site.
• I’ve just checked and, about 5 minutes ago, she was safely clearing the peninsula, which is fantastic. See here: 14°38’01”N 17°26’11”W – Google Maps
• 8 a.m.: Another hour gone, and Katie’s progress is still looking better than we could have possibly hoped for.
• 1 p.m.: Nearly 8 hours in, and Katie’s still doing great. Comfortably off the Senegalese coast now. Current position: 14°30’01”N 17°32’26”W – Google
• 4 p.m.: Rowed past freighters, small fishing boats, & islands. Can no longer see land!
• – First, and hopefully not last, visitor on my boat

• Katie’s using her satphone, digital camera and a toughbook for her mid-ocean tweets. It’s not easy, but it does the job! [Sam]
7:30pm Tracking will be on the website soon but, in the meantime, have a look at this for Katie’s progress so far: [Sam]

Monday, Jan. 4:
6 a.m.: Over 24 hours in and Katie’s still going strong. I’ll update you with her position in about 20 minutes when I next receive it. [Sam]
6:29 a.m.: Having spent a day on the Atlantic Ocean in her rowboat, Katie has covered 44 miles, with just 2,435 to go! [Sam]
6:32 a.m.: However, she is only 5,000 feet from land … directly beneath her. [Sam]
8:44 a.m.: New blog post: There she rows!

An excerpt from Sam’s post: “Katie is doing better than anyone could have hoped, having safely rowed herself away from the coast and now making good progress into the heart of the Atlantic Ocean. Unsurprisingly, the first few days aboard “Liv” will be a bit of a traumatic learning curve, as Katie gets used to life on the ocean waves and, probably, vomiting over the edge of the boat!”

8:47p.m.(Eastern Time): 2am wake up from my AIS alarm. Too close for comfort with two passing freighters at the moment!

Tuesday, Jan. 5:
5:32 a.m.: Katie just keeps on getting better – she’s now covered 53 miles in the last 24 hours and is currently heading straight for Cayenne. [Sam]
12:24 p.m.: Katie is making fantastic progress west and is now here: The map WILL be on the site soon; I promise! [Sam]
3:36 p.m.: Was peering over the side of the boat to take some pics of some turquoise fish when I spotted 20ft away – shark fin!

Wednesday, Jan. 6:
11:13 a.m.: First time using the watermaker this afternoon and thankfully worked perfectly. Need lots of water rowing in +90 temps
4:52 pm.: – Who are you and what are you doing with my oar?

Thursday, Jan. 7:
about 6 a.m.: Katie has no support boat at all – she is completely alone in the Atlantic Ocean [Sam tweeted in response to a query from a member of the public].
In response to another questioner who asked, “Okay, super serious question. how do you use the bathroom out there?”, Sam replied, “Buckets are very versatile these days!”

11:32 a.m.: Heard some splashing and looked over to see about 20 flying fish emerge from the water. Very cool!
7:46 p.m.: After a slightly slow day yesterday, Katie is right back on form today: 2,004 nautical miles to go! [Sam]

Friday, Jan. 8:
4:30 a.m.: – Couldn’t have asked for a better way to wake up. Look what I found under my boat!

3:28 p.m.: Time to bring out the sprouting kit. Munched my way through all my fresh fruit today
4:28 p.m.: You know you are tired when you wake up with food all over yourself to realize you fell asleep halfway through your meal. Oops

Saturday, Jan. 9:
5:41 a.m.: Have been at sea for a week now. A good face scrub and deep conditioner for the hair to celebrate! Yay
8:01 p.m: In her first week, Katie has averaged just under 1.8mph – ocean rowing is not high speed! for her route so far. [Sam]

Sunday, Jan. 10:
11:40 a.m.: New blog post: Just drifting across the ocean? Not exactly! [Sam]
12:05 p.m.: You can now check Katie’s progress whenever you want by clicking “Where’s Katie” on the website. [Sam]

Here’s an excerpt from the blog post:

“But the current isn’t the only factor to worry about. There’s also the not inconsiderable obstacle of a wave or two, sometimes towering over 30-feet high. If going the right direction, these can be pretty helpful as “Liv” surfs down them; that is if they’re not breaking on top of her, soaking Katie to the bone and capsizing the boat over and over again (don’t worry – it’s designed to cope with that). However, while there’s very little that you can rely on when it comes to oceans, one thing is for certain: it won’t do what you want! And so far the Atlantic has been living up to expectations, delivering waves from the north-west ever since Katie set off, attempting to push her back down the African coastline.”

Mon, Jan. 11:
7:46 a.m.: It turns out there was a slight problem with Katie’s blogs; that’s why you get three from her today! [Sam]
7:45 a.m.: New blog post: Day 9 — Moving Along
7:43 a.m.: New blog post: Day 5 — Life on Liv
7:41 a.m.: New blog post: Day 2 — Into The Blue

3:57 a.m.: – One of my favorite parts about being on the ocean

Tuesday, Jan. 12:
4:50 a.m.: Have no self control when it comes to turkey jerky. Must have more turkey jerky!
7:51 a.m.: Turns out that rowing on 4 hours of sleep is fairly challenging after all

Wednesday, Jan. 13:
6:29 p.m.: Katie hasn’t been feeling on top form the last day or so, but isn’t slowing up at all. At this rate, she has just(!) 50 days to go! [Sam]

Thursday, Jan. 14:
5:58 a.m.: – Mr Turtle is waving at me!
6:48 a.m.: – You asked for it, but it’s not pretty! Two weeks without brushing my hair – yikes.
approx 11 a.m.: Filling up the engine. Special treat today – edamame covered in dark chocolate.

Friday, Jan. 15:
6:09 a.m.: It’s my boat so I make all the rules. There will be singing, dancing, & lots of chocolate everyday. And rowing, of cours

Saturday, Jan. 16:

5:09 p.m.: New blog post: Day 14 — Making friends with the neighbors

Two weeks at sea with sun-tan, blisters, a few bruises, and I’m finally beginning to feel like an ocean rowing gal! I’ve quickly learned how to cook a meal while being hit by waves, how to wash my hair with 10 oz of fresh water and, more importantly, how to fit 5,000 calories into my body on a daily basis (and it turns out the latter has proved to be the most difficult).

Sunday, Jan. 17:
11:44 a.m.: Fun fact – 9 of every 10 living thing lives in the ocean. Makes you wonder what’s happening below the surface
11:48 a.m.: Distracted yet again by my fishy followers. Just took a dip with 30 fish under the boat
2:53 p.m.: Hi Connor – I named a fish Steve for you. :-) I heard you made a boat from a box to pretend you are me – good work!
5:51 p.m.: New blog post: Day 16 – Entertainment at sea

Aside from lots of rowing, I’m also spending my time listening to music, audiobooks, lectures, and more. Want to know what good stuff is loaded on my iPods? I’m afraid I’m going to tell you anyway.
For music, I’m listening to Zero 7, Bitter:Sweet, Kate Havnevik, Sia, Miguel Migs, Imogen Heap,….
I have quite a few audiobooks but the only ones I have listened to yet are by a Zen teacher, Cheri Huber, who gave me over 30 of her audiobooks for my trip. Her teachings have definitely helped me to accept and embrace my endurance challenges, perhaps something I can touch on in another blog. I’ve also started “Eat, Pray, Love,” “Three Cups of Tea,” and…
And for some special milestones or days with bad weather, I have these movies loaded on an iPod Touch…

Monday, Jan. 18:
3:29 p.m.: – Cotton candy skies for the last few days or low level stratus type clouds as my weatherguy would say
3:29 p.m.: – Mini-Wilson 1 says hello to Mini-Wilson 2 back in Ohio!

Wednesday, Jan. 20:
12:30 p.m.: Sorry for the lack of tweets from Katie. There’s been a little problem with posting them from the satphone, but it’s sorted now. [Sam]
6:25 p.m.: Katie’s flying today. Over 40 miles nearer to Cayenne in the last 24 hours! [Sam]

Thursday, Jan. 21:
7:36 a.m.: New blog post: Day 19 – Zen rowing
Some excerpts:

…a few years ago I didn’t know how to row, but even more, I didn’t understand the mental challenges which far outweigh the physical. …
Fear of failure was one of the most difficult “mental walls” I faced. …
Know all things will pass. No matter how tired, hot, seasick, bored, lonely, etc. I get, it will pass.

Friday, Jan. 22:
8:52 a.m.: New blog post: Day 20 – Dolphin encounter

…I dropped my oars, peered around the boat and was almost in disbelief to see so many dolphins surrounding my boat. For twenty minutes they swam around my boat, under my boat, and even jumped out of the water a few times doing flips and tricks …

Saturday, Jan. 23:
9:33 p.m.: It turns out the problems with Katie posting tweets is not quite solved yet, so just hold on for her next blog. Should be tomorrow! [Sam]

Sunday, Jan. 24:
7:31 a.m.: New blog post: Day 22 — A day in the life of an ocean rower
Some excerpts:

I’m not even sure what time zone I am in now or what day of the week it is and my day unfolds mainly by how I feel more than a strict schedule…
… for the most part, life is ridiculously boring. …
• Wake up around sunrise and first check the GPS. Big smiles when I get “free miles” or pushed westward overnight by the winds and current
• Breakfast time which is usually oatmeal, cereal with dried milk, rice or cous cous topped with dried fruit and nuts …
• Row until sunset. On a typical day, I see a few fish and birds especially around sunset and, aside from the odd voice on my VHF radio, there is no sign of other human beings ,,,
• Row for one more hour in the dark. I save some of my comedy audio stuff for night rowing
• Once I am done rowing, I set the rudder and secure the oars for the night. …
All I need to do now is repeat about fifty more times and I’m in Cayenne, right?

Monday, Jan. 25;
4:52 a.m.: Note to self – check rowing shoes before slipping my feet in. Surprised by a dead fish!
2:39 p.m.: No swimming for me today. Saw a shark fin four times. Must have liked my music.
8:11 p.m: Can anyone explain what these glowing specks in the water are? Every night I see them and have no clue what they are!

Tuesday, Jan. 26:

6:37 a.m.: New blog post: Day 24 — The observant one

Some days ten minutes will feel like ten hours and other days ten hours will feel like ten minutes.

11:10 a.m.: You know you are getting a bit spoiled when anything below 80 degrees starts to feel cold. Today is one of the few cool and overcast days.

Wednesday, Jan. 27:
9:20 a.m.: Just learned I am losing my ability to stand, the hard way! Too much rowing and not enough walking for my leg muscles these days

Thursday, Jan. 28:
6:23 a.m.: Today my patience is making up for my lack of having “big guns”. Steady as we go…
2:36 p.m.: Awkward, but it works. First time using the solar shower and enjoying one of the few moments of being squeky clean.
8:49 p.m.: Just had a chat with Katie. She’s having her ups and downs. Donations and followers cheer her up though ;) [Sam]

Friday, Jan. 29:
4:31 a.m.: An albatross! Fun fact – they can sleep while they fly!
7:56 a.m.: Oh my! I was trying to get some photos of the dorados and my hand got tangled in some kind of jellyfish. I know what to do!
8:49 a.m.: New blog post: Day 27 — The good, the bad, and the ugly
A few excerpts from a long and heartfelt blog about the rough parts of the adventure:

I should mention that it’s not all sweetness and light.
  * If pushing a thousand pound boat once sounds daunting, perhaps the 10,000 daily strokes may not be for you …
  * Feeling well rested will be but a distant memory. And you may wake up several times during the night, feeling as if you are suffocating and need to open the hatches for fresh air …
  * If bull riding does not sound fun to you, neither will using the toilet (aka “the bucket”). Hold on tight!
  * No matter how clean you are, it won’t last. You can expect to be a lightly-salted and greasy sun chip
  * That last meal may disagree with being in your stomach and decide that over the edge of the boat is a better place to be …
  *You may get a rash from the constant movement in rowing that is so painful, it may feel like you are reopening the wound with even the slightest touch
  *Just when you are all nice and dry, expect Mr Big Cold Wave to drop on by. Being dry is a rare luxury …

8:05 p.m.: New blog post: WideWorld Magazine — Breaking Atlantic Records

Saturday, Jan. 30:
7:52 p.m.: 1,000 miles done — 1,500 to go! [Sam]

Sunday, Jan. 31:
4:42 a.m.: – Just spent the most terrifying two hours of my life watching 8 of these circle and bump up against my boat. But, whew, they are now gone and back to rowing I go.

4:57 p.m.: – Who are you and what are you doing with my oar?
7:43 p.m.: New blog post: Day 29 — Taking the plunge

every week or so it is important for me to check the bottom of the boat for slime and barnacles. If I see any growth, I simply scrub it off, making for a slightly faster ride.

It was a smoldering hot day, so I thought around midday would be the perfect time to jump in and inspect the hull. In the morning, I heard and felt some bumping against the boat but thought it was just some fish. I also hit something with my oar, thinking again, must be a fish. A really big fish, perhaps.

I grabbed my snorkel, mask, and scrubber and took a quick look into the water. I started to dangle my toes in the water but something did not feel quite right. Another glimpse and … there it was. It was deep in the water but looked too big to be a fish yet too small to be a shark. Either way, it certainly did not look friendly with green spikes. So, I crawled my way back into the boat and decided to keep my mantra: “just keep rowing”.

As I was rowing along into the early evening, I felt it again; a loud thud and the whole boat shook. Peering over the side, there it was. Times eight. It looked like they were on a mission, the way they were swimming so quickly and closely to the boat. To me. Two hours of circling around and bumping into the boat.

…but it was only a tuna!

Monday, Feb. 1:
8:17 p.m.: Wow – bright orange full moon. Definitely doing some night rowing tonight!

Tuesday, Feb 2:
10:32 a.m.: Had a word with the big fat tunas to explain that my boat is not a pinata. They don’t seem to understand.
6:20 p.m.: New blog post: Day 31 — Sea surprises

Here are a few surprises for the day:
I found a swarm of about twenty birds flying about, rather aimlessly.  …
Front row seat to a fish fight.  …
A bottle! It was a few hundred feet away, and I was tempted to see if there was a message inside but could not bear to see my compass point east. …
An airplane and first sight of human life in over a month. It took three or four glances to confirm it was not just my imagination! I have never been quite so amazed to see an airplane …

Wednesday, Feb 3:
8:18 a.m.: Lots of screaming today – had a fish half my size shoot out of the water right next to my boat.
1:40 p.m.: Sam Williams is god.
1:51 p.m.: Based on the last tweet, it’s clear that Katie’s getting delusional after a month at sea! [Sam]

Thursday, Feb. 4:
8:45 p.m.: Katie’s rapidly closing down on the half-way mark. She’s now rowed over 1,000 nautical miles. [Sam]

Friday, Feb. 5:
8:45 p.m.: New blog post: Day 34 — Too much or never enough

This post is fully dedicated to all the calories that make this rowing machine run. So, chew on this …

Now that I am nearly halfway across, today I will be going through all this fuel, chucking some overboard (brought 110 days worth), and ensuring the boat is properly balanced. And trying to find my hidden bag of cookies!

Sunday, Feb. 7:
8:32 p.m.: There are about 4 different halfway points for this crossing, but Katie has just passed the first one… [Sam]
8:33 p.m.: …By my reckoning, she has rowed a 1,287 miles, and she is just 1,270 miles from Cayenne! [Sam]

Monday, Feb. 8:
8:41 p.m.: New blog post: WKSU News: Ocean rower Katie Spotz reaches halfway point, on pace to make history
8:45 p.m.: New blog post: LA Times: Outposts

Tuesday, Feb 9:
10:40 a.m.: No mid-way break for Katie; after crossing the halfway line, she is going faster than ever before: 47 miles in 24 hours! [Sam]

Wednesday, Feb 10:
8:32 a.m.: New blog post: Popular Mechanics: How to Cross the Atlantic in a Rowboat, Alone

(interview by Popular Mechanics, with audio, and diagram of workings of the boat) After 37 days at sea, Spotz is now halfway through her trip and ahead of schedule, about 1,250 miles away from land. We caught up with her via satellite phone.

8:33 a.m.: The last link posted has a satellite phone interview with Katie, if you want to hear how she’s getting on in her own words. [Sam]
9:27 a.m.: New blog post: Day 39 — Why water matters
10:22 a.m.: How did the dolphins know? Back again near the half-way mark!
7:54 p.m.: Rowing at night is fun. Hitting mysterious objects while doing so, is not.
8:36 p.m.: Katie’s GPS measures in nautical miles and, from now on, the distance left is in three digits. Under 1,000nm to go!! [Sam]

Thursday, Feb 11:
5:54 a.m.: Katie versus the stove. The stove won this time and nearly had my shoes on fire! Did I mention it is an extremely wobbly boat?!
9:46 a.m.: I must say, I am becoming quite a fan of having a months worth of food within arms reach
1:51 p.m.: New blog post: Day 40 — Oh Bulgur
4:48 p.m.: @LiveEarth Hey! Thanks for the mention. Just tried clicking on your link but it didn’t work. [Sam]
4:50p.m.: I wonder if I stuff dirty laundry under my pillow, the laundry fairy will stop by with yummy smelling clothes. A girl can certainly hope!

Friday, Feb. 12:
2:06 p.m.: What a treat! Watching thirty birds fly around right in front of the sunset.
5:20 p.m.: Sure, rowing halfway across an ocean is great. But, I must say, I am rather proud I have not … Read more at
7:09 p.m.: I know it can be considered taboo to scream for help when you do not need it, but today I did to see what would happen. Nothing did.

Saturday, Feb. 13:
8:12 a.m.:New blog post: Day 42 — Taking the plunge: Part two

With the newfound motivation from reaching the halfway mark, my competitive nature had me finally overcome my fear of taking the plunge and jumping back in the water to check for growth. …

With no sharks in sight, I jumped in and quickly realized how much I am missing out on being above water.  …

Packed items rarely or never used
    Para-anchor (I use this if I am being blown eastward to minimize backward progress. Trade winds and currents have not pushed me east yet)
    Handheld watermaker (Main one works perfectly but, if it fails, it will take two hours to pump water with the handheld one)
    Most of the tool kit …

My food cravings have been a bit odd and the one thing I keep thinking about is wheat grass. A shot of freshly juiced wheat grass! A detox may be in order. But, really, any fresh fruit or veggie sounds very nice right now.

11:4 a.m.: Is it more awkward for me or them? Just passed a boat….while rowing in the nude! Oops.
3:26 p.m.: Feeling a smidgen of jealousy towards the tuna. Apparently, they can travel 100 miles in a day. As for me? Averaging 30-40 miles a day.

Sunday, Feb. 14:
9:38 a.m.: So hot. Want to swim but still a bit intimidated by the hungry tunas that like to visit my boat
9:54 a.m.: – Look at that, a Valentine’s Day present. Footpiece corroded away from the saltwater and right shoe is now detach

Monday, Feb. 15
9:11 a.m.: New blog post: Day 44 — Surrender to the sea

This may be a bit shocking, but the physical surrender to row 8–10 hours everyday has not been the most difficult part of the journey. The first week was demanding but I have certainly plateaued quickly after that initial adjusting stage. Rowing another hour or two isn’t daunting in the slightest. At the end of the day, I feel ready for another and, if anything, I am growing anxious to push harder … It may seem like a stretch, but I believe as humans we are all very capable of enduring, perhaps something that can easily be forgotten if not required to expend much energy physically. It really is all mental.

4:17 p.m.: The list of food I can stomach is shrinking and the food I cannot is growing. Thankfully, my … Read more at
5:53 p.m.: Katie has less than 1,000 miles to go now; 975 miles in fact. And they’re not even nautical miles this time! [Sam]

Tuesday, Feb. 16
7:57 a.m.: Katie’s looking pretty good after six weeks at sea, don’t you think? [Sam]

3:53 p.m.: It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane. No, another flying fish!

Wednesday, Feb. 17:
6:31 a.m.: Rowing today feels somewhat like one of the wet rides at an amusement park. Lots of waves, lots of splashing.
8:33 a.m.: Look at this link for an interview Katie did via satellite phone on Monday for KOLO-TV [Sam]
1:12 p.m.: New blog post: Guest blog — A Mother’s Point of View by Mary Spotz
4:42 p.m.: Very colorful fish visitors. Unfortunately, my knowledge of marine life is limited by what I’ve picked up from Finding Nemo or Spongebob. Have no clue what fish it is!

Thursday, Feb. 18:
1:40 p.m.: Eek. Tinkering with the rudder in the back hatch and was hit by a wave. Looks like I am sleeping in one wet bed tonight!
5:14 p.m.: The 40s look a lot like the 30s which also look at lot like the 20s. Nonetheless, good to reach 40W. Now all I need to do is row one mile 850 more times!
10:09 p.m.: Took a few extra minutes to gaze into the night sky and saw three shooting stars!

Friday, Feb 19:
8:28 a.m.: Most peculiar creature of the sea just floated by. It’s purple, it’s lumpy, it’s a man-o-war.
4:06 p.m.: The milestones are falling day by day. Katie is now in the final third of the crossing. [Sam]

Saturday, Feb. 20:
7:43 a.m.: If it is possible to have an endorphin high like the “runners high”, I may be having a “rowers high” right now.
6:39 p.m.: Cool! Can see more glowing under the water from night rowing. Brief flashes of light right below the surface but nothing like that glowing plankton.

Sunday, Feb. 21:
9:17 a.m.: I’m convinced someone wrote “hit me” in permanent marker on my back. Just got hit by two flying fish at once!
8:01 p.m.: Wow. Wasn’t sure it was possible to see more than a thousand stars at once until now.

Mnday, Feb. 22:
3:00 a.m.: New blog post: Day 51 — All the answers you’ve been waiting for
5:11 p.m.: New blog post: Never underestimate the Atlantic
Excerpt of post, which is by Sam, her on-the-ground team member]:

…Five days ago, while sailing about 300 miles off the coast of Brazil, the SV Concordia sunk. The most important thing is that everyone on board got off safely and, after around 40 hours of bobbing around in liferafts, are now safely on dry-land.

By all accounts, a microburst, or a sudden burst of wind, knocked down the ship and, within 30 seconds, it wasn’t coming back up. Just half an hour later, the yacht had sunk. Just like that, despite a well-trained and experienced crew (as demonstrated by the fact everyone got off safely), a huge ship had just been completely taken out by an unexpected change in the ocean. What would have happened to Katie and “Liv”?

But this isn’t a reason to be concerned for Katie’s safety. She is well prepared and, above all, sensible. That means that she can avoid most of the risks that will come her way. But you can’t protect against all of them.

If the Atlantic Ocean wants to cause you a problem, there’s not a lot you can do about it, whether in a 19-foot rowboat or a 190-foot yacht!

[Just to allay your fears a little further, the technology that allowed the people from SV Concordia to get rescued safely was their EPIRB, an emergency beacon that, when activated, sends out a signal alerting the authorities that you’re in trouble and letting them know where you are. That is exactly the same as Katie has, and it’s never more than a few feet away from her. Should the worst happen, she’ll simply activate that and, after a day or two of sitting around, should be picked up by a passing ship. …

Tuesday, Feb. 23:
8:42 a.m: New blog post: Day 52 — So close … yet so far

… For the past week, I wake up to see these birds, watch them while rowing, and then, right after the sun sets, they all fly away. They certainly are not interested in me or my yellow banana rowboat, but the flying fish instead. … I’m a day or two from the 3/4th mark …

11:18 a.m.: Rain and shine, at the same time. The first good rain since I have been at sea and oh-so-refreshing!
8:01 p.m.: Just had a chat with Katie on the sat-phone. She’s great, but we were rudely interrupted by a fish hitting her face! [Sam]

Wednesday, Feb. 24:
9:04 a.m.: @jacobs2008 We’re trying to work that out right now. Depends on where and when Katie actually lands! [Sam — in reply to @jacobs2008, who tweeted: “Sam, who will be there when Katie hits land?”]
4:17 p.m.: New blog post: Guest blog by Lisa Nash, CEO of Blue Planet Run

Thursday, Feb. 25:
8:38 p.m.: Katie’s going to be on Rosie O’Donnell’s radio show tomorrow! Look at to find a way to listen. [Sam]

Friday, Feb. 26:
6:22 p.m.: Katie’s been trying to send through an update today, but the sat-phone has been temperamental. Good enough for a text, but hasn’t …been good enough to send or receive emails. Hopefully things will get through tomorrow. [Sam]
9:41 p.m.: Usually only spot one or two at a time but today saw 6 albatross floating one by one.

Saturday, Feb. 27:
1:15 p.m.: New blog post: Day 56 — Entertaining guests


Another late night entertaining guests. Noisy and messy ones. They flew by a bit after sunset, fought over a perching spot, and turned my boat into their nest for the night. … With less than two weeks until landfall, I have been kicking it up a notch and had my best week yet, one day rowing over 60 miles. Not sure if I am “zoning in” or “zoning out” …

5:06 p.m.: No more cookies or edamame or gum. And the nearest store? Over 500 miles.
5:16 p.m.: Katie has reached her goal of $50,000 for Blue Planet Run!!!! But let’s not stop there… [Sam]

Sunday, Feb. 28:
7:08 a.m.: Maybe Borat was not the best movie choice for my limited entertainment at sea. Very, very strange dreams indeed!
3:39 p.m.: – I eat freighters for breakfast.

Here’s how far Katie has come, as of Feb. 28

Monday, March 1:
4:49 a.m.: Woke up at 6am to see the bird visitors. Stayed four nights in a row now! If they come again, I’m charging for clean-up services. [ed. note: Tweet time stamp is apparently different from Katie’s watch]
3:42 pm.: Cool fact — it takes a drop of ocean water more than 1,000 years to circulate around the world
6:41p.m.: I’m having trouble figuring out where the water ends and sky begins with tonight’s rowing. It’s like rowing into a black hole!!

Tuesday, March 2:
7:38 a.m.: Breakfast on land: organic fruit with greek yogurt sprinkled with wheat germ. Breakfast at sea: Dirt and worms chocolate pudding. Slightly different, but no worries, lots of oatmeal on board too.

11:36 p.m.: New blog post: Day 59 — In a hurry, eh?

This afternoon, I saw my first sailboat on the journey. Unfortunately, after several failed attempts to contact the boat on my VHF radio, I watched it disappear like a passing cloud.

Wednesday, March 3:
4:56 a.m.:Noticing more and more boats showing on my gps. A sign I am getting closer to South America!
6:09 a.m.: – Sending get well wishes to a special friend you gave me this Tilley (…and further proof I have not grown a bea ed. note: cut off; perhaps word intended was “beard.”
12:25 p.m.: Listen to Katie’s latest sat-phone interview at

Thursday, March 4:
7:07 a.m.: Nothing, nothing, nothing. Hey, that’s not nothing. A tanker!

12:24 p.m.: ew blog post: Day 61 — Who ate Edd?!
An excerpt:

I may or may not have named a few of the dorados that have been following under my boat — Ed, Edd, and Eddie. Today was not a good day for Edd. As I started to dig around in the hatches for my next meal, I noticed a hungry visitor or two: dolphins. Not as playful as some of the other dolphins I have seen at sea, these were certainly interested in Ed, Edd, and Eddie. So the dolphins circled around my boat and one dolphin emerged minutes later with a dorado in its mouth. I certainly wasn’t going to interject their mission. They were quite possibly the largest dolphins I have seen, longer than my boat and I wouldn’t be surprised if they weighed as much too, especially the way one seemed to inhale a twenty pound fish. …

Friday, March 5:

Here’s how far Katie has come, as of March 5

11:06 a.m.: Hmm. Option one is to row in the heat of the day. Option two is to rest in a cabin hotter than a sauna. No swimming for the waves are too big. Looks like more rowing…
1:52 p.m.: New blog post: Day 62 — Behind door number one…

Saturday, March 6:
7:00 a.m.: New blog post: BIG NEWS — Did I say Cayenne? Well, I meant Georgetown…


I set off from Dakar on January 3 to complete a solo, unsupported, mainland-to-mainland row across the Atlantic Ocean. That’s still what I intend to do and I’m going to do whatever I can to achieve it. Even if that means rowing an extra 400 miles!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve started to row a little further north over the last few days. The reason behind this is that I am longer aiming for Cayenne, French Guiana; I’m going to Georgetown in Guyana.

Rowing into Cayenne is very difficult unless the weather is very calm. Because of the current coming up the South American coast, the waves coming from the north and the wind coming from the east, the sea becomes very messy unless there is almost no wind. At the moment, the wind is about 20kt …

8:02 a.m.: For those that haven’t read the blog, Katie is now aiming for Georgetown, Guyana – an extra 400 miles! [Sam]
6:18 p.m.: The subject of my email tonight: “Is this normal?” with a picture of the latest and greatest rash development. It keeps getting worse!

Sunday, March 7:
10:26 a.m.: I think I’m close enough I can almost smell land. Or wait, is it the other way around?!

Monday, March 8:
9:28 a.m.: New blog post: Guest blog by Jack Lesyk, Sports Psychologist
6:21 p.m.: Count them off – I’ve passed 7 large ships today!
7:11 p.m.: @jacobs2008 Yes – we’re making sure that Katie has people to welcome her in to land and provide the celebration she has earned. [Sam]

Tuesday, March 9:
7:34 a.m.: Weeeeeeee. Just hit 7.7kt surfing down a wave!
7:53 a.m.: All I can say is “oh my!” Just had a boat with 10 Venezulan men stop by. First sight of earthlings in 2 months!
12 noon: It feels like rowing through glue when I’m going into a headwind. At least I have some help from the current.
12:07 p.m.: Katie’s tracking is not working at the moment. I’ll try to keep you updated until it’s back again. [Sam]
12:08 p.m.: Latest position I have is 7°N 54°30’W at 1230GMT [Sam]

2:51 p.m.: New blog post: Day 66 — Ahoy matey!

Today was one of the few days where I relished in my decision to wear clothes. Let me take a step back…

First: no, I’m not an exhibitionist, but salt has a way of making any fabric rough. With rowing and moving my entire body all day, chafing can be prevented by not wearing anything. So, I was rowing along and over my shoulder … a boat.

Not a sail-boat or a freighter; I’m not really sure what kind of boat it was, but as long as it’s not a big ship I’m generally safe. As it came nearer, I was struggling to decide whether to grab a gift or a weapon, so I stuck with the camera instead. The initial excitement was replaced slightly by fear when I spotted 10 tanned men on the boat.

After a greeting, I realised there was a language barrier between us, but I could understand “Venezuela” and they “Guyana”. One man asked “Problem?” and I shook my head. A few minutes of awkward stares followed as we realised that was all we could do, so I kept rowing.

Wednesday, March 10:
5:58 a.m.: Still struggling with the tracker – at 2211GMT last night, Katie was at 6d57N 54d52W [Sam]
6:35 a.m.: Katie’s latest position – 6d52.473N 55d13.500W at 1125GMT [Sam]
6:56 a.m.: @RobTiongson Katie has just entered the final 200 miles of the journey. [Sam]
8:04 a.m.: I take my safety seriously, but there’s still time for fun. Started talking on the VHF with an accent. Everyone else is!
5:56 p.m.: Eek, 1 mile from a freighter. A little bit too close for comfort.
6:22 p.m.: Map should be working tomorrow. In the meantime, Katie is at 6d46N 55d37W. Only 175 miles to go! [Sam]
8:22 p.m.:New blog post: Now it’s your turn! (and please forward this to everyone)

By sam: Katie is now within the final 150nm of her epic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Normally, that would still be a massive distance to row but, when you’ve already covered the best part of 3,000 miles (if you include all the wiggly bits!), it becomes the final straight. As many of you will know, one of Katie’s main goals with this expedition was to raise money in order to provide clean drinking water to thousands of people worldwide. This is a cause that Katie believes in passionately, …

Katie has currently set a target of raising $60,000, which would enable 2,000 people to get access to clean water for life. At the moment, the total stands at $54,100. I now have a challenge for you…

In just a few days’ time (probably Saturday or Sunday), Katie will set foot on land for the first time in over 10 weeks. Let’s hit the target before then so one of the first things she can hear is: “You’ve raised $60,000″. …

You can donate now by clicking here and going through a few simple steps.

8:27 p.m.: Katie’s nearly completed her challenge. Now it’s time for ours. Take a look at the latest blog! [Sam]

Thursday, March 11:
7:46 a.m.: Over 2 months at sea and I’m still seeing the same white birds and strange looking fish.
8:55 a.m.: We really are NEARLY there with the tracking map(!), but Katie is now at 6d41N 56d02W and into the final 150 miles. [Sam]
9:20 a.m.: Can we raise another $4,500 in the time it takes Katie to row 150 miles? Visit to try! [Sam]
12:14 p.m.: @tbeauchamp Exact details are being finalised at the moment, but Katie’s dad and brother will be there. [Sam]
12:33 p.m.: Another sign I’m closer to land … trash.
5:25 p.m.: Katie is currently perfectly placed to approach Georgetown, at 6d40.068N 56d26.612W. Map link: [Sam]
6:02 p.m.: New blog post: Day 68 — I’m a real pirate now!

After meeting two Venezuelan fishing boats in the same day, I played it safe and did my evening shift with the nav-light on (I usually only leave it on while sleeping, as it can be difficult to watch for waves with it on). The light seemed to attract a different kind of visitor: a bird. It was flying rather awkwardly, almost like a bat, and found itself a spot in the cockpit.

Midnight … 2AM … 6AM … 8AM … it was still there. Most other birds leave by sunrise so I knew something must be up. And then it did it. It hobbled around, unable to fly with perhaps a broken wing. With a cockpit about 4-feet long, I debated whether or not this was the right place for an injured bird. I couldn’t bear to put “Hobs” overboard, …

7:49 p.m.: Perfect day for rowing. Waves not too big, not too small. Wind not too strong, not too light. A nice mix of sun and clouds and so bright moonlight.

Friday, March 12:
12:39 p.m.: The map is back working again (sort of!) [Sam]
12:57p.m.: New blog post: Day 69 — Let the rowing continue

I am the first to admit that the conditions so far have been nothing like a scene from “The Perfect Storm”, but certainly nothing like river rowing either. With no storms on the horizon, I thought I may not get the opportunity to test out the capabilities of my boat. On nearing the coast of South America, things changed very quickly.

Although it wasn’t a storm, there were several forces in opposition: strong winds and a strong current making for some powerful waves as I reached the continental shelf.

The understanding between me and the ocean changed too. Waves seemed to spike up unexpectedly with great force. Every moment outside was spent harnessed to the boat and I frequently questioned whether it would capsize. Everything inside the boat was tied down nicely, including myself by strapping myself in when sleeping. All “capsize ready”. …

5:13 p.m.: They’ve gone too far this time. Flying ninja fish invading my jam out session to Best of MJ. Shame shame!

Saturday, March 13:
11:33 a.m.: New blog post: Day 70 — Final fears

This morning I smelled something burning; either a passing boat was having a mean barbecue or my boat was catching fire. Not surprisingly, it was the latter.

My tracker unit has been acting up and took its final farewell up in smoke. I quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher and, being so close to land, I didn’t plan on taking any other course of action. Thankfully, all the glitches and malfunctions seem to be happening in the final days.

And they certainly are the final few, with less than 50nm to go. These final days have been similar to the first ones, with generally calm seas. Today was an especially nice day. It looked as though the water was sparkling the way the sun hit the waves. Hopefully these conditions will allow for a safe and successful landing, unlike the conditions in Cayenne. I’m so glad I extended the journey 400 miles, as a part of me is holding on dearly to the simplicity of the sea. During an interview, when asked what I think about while rowing, although my mind wanders here and there, for a large part of the journey I felt present; there’s no need to think beyond the moment.

I’ve also learned a thing or two about being patient, open, accepting… the list goes on. But with land just beyond the horizon, I’m most looking forward to food and good company.

I’m expecting to arrive tomorrow, with my dad and brother in Georgetown now, and soon a very special friend, Sam, who has been a constant source of support and inspiration all along the way. I’m not sure I would have made it this far without him.

12:41 p.m.: In case you have forgotten, it’s to donate [Sam]
4:21 p.m.: There may be a lack of tweets from Katie over the next 12 hours as she lines up for entry to Georgetown… [Sam]
4:21 p.m.: But rest assured I’ll keep you updated as things happen and the map will be updated on the website. [Sam]
4:26 p.m.: @espressoshot I don’t like to make many firm predictions but yes, it is likely to be Sunday morning. [Sam]
9:30 p.m. (approx): Katie is currently heading slowly towards Georgetown, hoping to avoid a night-time arrival. Less than 30 miles to go. [Sam]
11:24 p.m.: Katie is spending her last night onboard Liv less than 20 miles from her destination. [Sam]

Sunday, March 14:
1:39 a.m.: Hello land. Haven’t seen you in awhile. It started as a glow in the night but now I see shining lights.
4:20 a.m: Almost into the final 10 miles now. Katie is trying to wait for the sun to rise and the tide to turn. [Sam]
7:01 a.m.: The sun is up and Katie is heading directly for land. I’ll try to get updates and pictures as soon as we can over the coming hours. [Sam]

8:35 a.m.: I’m still waiting to hear the latest from the people in Georgetown, but the coastguard should be heading out to escort Katie in now. [Sam]
8:47 a.m.: Just heard – Coast Guard is currently on their way to escort Katie into land. [Sam]
8:53 a.m.: The Coast Guard boat leaves Georgetown to find Katie:
9:45 a.m.: The Coast Guard have spotted Katie – she has 4 miles to row. [Sam]

Next few are from Demerara Waves Radio (Twitter handle @demwaves):
10:40 am: Trans atlantic rower 22 year old american katie spotz arrives in demerara river (cont)
10:41 am: Katie spotz being escorted by guyana defence force coast guard
11:27 am: Katie spotz passes penultimate navigational beacon into port georgetown guyana south america
11:43 am: Katie spotz moving slowly into port georgetown due to tidal conditions. Still under guyana coast guard escort with media crew aboard
11:47 am: Demerara river visibly calm but current appears to slowing her down to dock.
12:05 pm: Katie spotz brother father on guyana coast guard escort vessel. slight foot pain but her brother says “she’s fine”
12:11 pm: Guyana flag buntings to welcome katie spotz at end of trans atlantic row from (cont)
12:19 pm: About to dock and indeed she did.
12:23 pm: Docked and chatting. Says biggest challenge was sleep deprivation [photo of Katie at the dock]

12:44 pm: Katie spotz about to dock at port georgetown guyana after more than 70 days rowing solo from senegal africa.

12:50 pm: Katie spotz enjoying guyanas watermelon as she mingled with guyanese at small simple reception.
— Two photos above by Demerara Waves, Georgetown, Guyana


And at 12:23 pm, Sam tweets: “SHE’S FINISHED!!!!!”
1:11 p.m.: I just had a quick chat with Katie — she’s quite happy! [Sam]
1:16 p.m.: It’ll probably take a good few days before that ability comes back. [Sam, in reply to this question: “Can she walk straight?? ;) She didn’t have much room to move her legs on that boat!”]
3:11 p.m.: If anyone has any photos or video footage from Katie’s arrival, it’d be great if you could email it to Thanks!
4:08 p.m.: Oh my! I nearly fell over walking down a set of stairs and everything still feels like it’s moving.

Good series of photos of Katie and her boat and arriving at Georgetown can be viewed at her flickr photo feed:

Katie back on land tweets:

Monday, March 15:
5:57 a.m.: Katie’s in the New York Times today — [Sam]
1:16 p.m.: So amazed when I woke up today! I forgot what it felt like to be rested and well fed. I really am starting to feel human again.
8:50 p.m.: Please don’t fall, please don’t fall. Climbing my way back to dry land.

March 16:
12:14 pm.: It’s been a busy few days since finishing. Just off to see a huge waterfall, then I’ll be back to tell you all how the arrival went!

Wednesday, March 17:

8:09 a.m.: New blog post: “Welcome to Guyana!”

It appeared as darkness fell, starting as a soft glow on the horizon. As the night progressed, it turned into dotted lights and, by the morning, had turned into trees and buildings. …

When I got to within four miles of the end, I immediately realized it was a different day to the rest of them when a helicopter appeared overhead and, the best thing of all, a boat full of friendly faces, including my dad and brother. But that wasn’t the end of the challenge, as the final approach into the Demerara River proved as difficult as any other. It started to rain, at times I was rowing as hard as I could just to stay in the same spot and, worst of all, I was having to make sure I looked like I knew what I was doing for all the interested onlookers!

Eventually, I found myself rowing up to the landing spot. However, the relief of hitting land was quickly replaced by fear, as I spotted my final obstacle: a ladder.

I questioned whether this was really the best place to land, as I was expecting to not be able to walk, at least straight, once on land. As I crawled my way out, I was faced with one final battle, finding my way to a desperately wanted, long-awaited watermelon amidst a mob of media.  …

10:33 a.m.: Katie’s just packing up her stuff as we’re leaving Guyana. Next stop, New York and the CBS Early Show! [Sam]

March 18:
Just been told off by Katie for taking a photo of her bad side. She’s settling into this media stuff too easily!! [Sam]
In hair and make-up now. Katie should be on air around 8.40. [Sam]
One down, and Katie briefly disappeared before heading outside to record something for the evening news. No stopping today! [Sam]
CBS and Diane Sawyer done, now on my way to Rosie O’Donnell. Can’t wait!!
The fun doesn’t stop today. I’ve escaped Manhattan and am waiting to have a chat with Rosie O’Donnell. Really excited about it!
The day is starting to catch up with Katie. She had an amazing time with Rosie, but is now fast asleep in the car to Manhattan! [Sam]
Interview for Discovery Canada, a bit of a sleep in Battery Park and now looking out over Central Park at CNN.
Katie will be on CBS news tonight at 6.50 and Anderson Cooper on CNN later on. That’s being recorded as we speak!

March 19:
Feeling so much better this morning after a really good sleep. Only a few interviews today and I’m free from 1 o’clock!!!
It’s a good job the weather is great. Filming by the lake in Central Park for Inside Edition.
And it’s all over!!! (for now at least) Looking forward to getting back home to Ohio tomorrow afternoon.
Dinner was great. Thanks Rosie!!! (I think that’ll be the only time I ever get to say that!)

March 20:
Had my most unusual interview this morning, being translated into Spanish and Portuguese on the spot. Think it went well though.
Home! 4 months after leaving Ohio, I’m back.
Asked my family what had happened over the last 4 months. Sister: “I got a new toothbrush”. Cousin: “I haven’t”.

Here’s the video of Katie’s CBS interview:

And here’s the link to her lengthy and detailed interview on the Discovery Channel:—-march-18-2010/#clip278427

March 21:
New blog post: Finding my head in the clouds

Finding my head in the clouds
Sunday March 14, 2010, was my first night in a proper bed for over two months. And it was a good one. It needed to be, because I had a busy week ahead. The whole of Monday was spent with my dad and brother cleaning out the boat, preparing it for the return journey home. As I’m sure you can imagine, that’s a whole lot of cleaning. …

…just 48 hours after getting off my boat, I stepped into another slightly terrifying mode of transport; a six-seat plane to take us to see the Kaieteur Falls, an amazing waterfall about 120 miles inland from Georgetown. …

…chaos came in the form of New York City and more interviews than I could have possibly imagined. The day was spent jumping into cars from studio to studio as I tried to answer every question that came my way without looking like I was about to fall asleep through exhaustion. …

I’m now back home in Ohio, gradually sorting through all the video and photos I took as I crossed the Atlantic Ocean. I’ll share them with you as soon as I can …

You can also follow Katie’s progress via a feed, at

Katie’s website is at




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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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6 thoughts on “Back home—media frenzies; blogging (UPDATED March 21): Katie Spotz’ solo Atlantic voyage

  1. Robert Britts

    January 4

    I hope to keep up with Katie Spotz’ progress. We are a technical assistance provider agency for clean and safe water. We also interface with Water Missions International of Charleton SC. i hope to learn more about Blue Planet Run.

    Bob Britts

  2. Robert Britts

    Go Katie: I follow you every few days. Kepp on going. You are getting close to the half way mark.

    Bob Britts

  3. rich ellis

    You are one gusty girl. May the Lord bless you in your endeavor for this good caurs.

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