Facing the daunting task of preparing to navigate the smallest powerboat ever to cross the North Atlantic and set a distance record, my brother Ralph and I were inspired by the hopes that this might be a wonderful vehicle to help raise the attention of the public and gain needed monies for Wounded Hero Foundations in the United States, Canada, and Britian in the memory of three Marines that died in 1979: Sgt.John Harvey, Cpl.George Homes, and SSgt.Dewy Johnson, in the rescue attempt of the 54 American Hostages held captive in Iran. Our boat was a 21 foot Intruder which we named “I Am Second”. The journey was to take us up the U. S. East Coast and then across the Northern Atlantic via the coasts of Canada, Greenland, and down past Scotland to England.
As we prepared to set out on our adventure, Ralph and I found out, about a week before, that there was a large enough chunk of money sponsored by the people from the I Am Second Organization and Interstate Battery to keep the departure date that they had drawn in the sand: June 27, 2009. Ralph and his boat company started to bring the 2006 Intruder 21(first of this type built) up to his new deck height. Because of information gained from their first trip two years ago, North Carolina to Bermuda and Bermuda back to New York, the floor of the Intruder was raised 3 inches. At the time, the boat was weighted down with 328 U.S. gallons of fuel, and seawater would come in through the two 3 inch scupper holes when the boat was standing still. He wanted his boats to be dryer when fully loaded.
This remodeling was very extensive and wasn’t really completely completed, but time was up and we departed from Tampa Florida ready and willing, but definitely underfunded and underequiped as to some desired items. We drove south through the Keys and up the east coast of the United States and Canada motoring often at night to be availible for media interviews, as this was the I Am Second Wounded Hero Voyage.
Even though the purpose of this voyage was to raise money for Wounded Hero Foundations in the United States, Canada, and Britian in the memory of three Marines that died in 1979; Sgt.John Harvey, Cpl.George Homes, and SSgt.Dewy Johnson, in the rescue attempt of the 54 American Hostages held captive in Iran, we also were afforded the great opportunity of witnessing many whales, dolphins, and spending hours video taping as well as the thrill of wakeboarding around our first up close iceberg.
The journey from Canada to Greenland was in jepardy from the get-go. We left in strong opposing curents, strong winds, and big seas. With the hopes that the weather preditions would come true, we left on the supposibly 2-day crossing of 625 miles with 310 US gallons of gasoline. Without a favorible change in the weather, actually the conditions worsened, and with 180 miles to go,we were down to just 60-gallons of gasoline. After considering all their options including possibly drifting back to Canada to refuel and then begin again, we agreed to trudge onward without our trusty Suzuki 115 hp engine. It was replaced with our not-so-thirsty 9.9 hp Suzuki and used for 3-days going 180-miles at the riviting speed of 4 mph, (walking speed). Greenland was a welcome site especially since we were down to just under a cup of gasoline aboard.
Greenland, although a beautiful country, with some of the most memorible landscapes, was frigid (water temp 35 degrees F.and numbing winds). It was home to many seals, whale, puffins, but most breathtaking were the thousands of icebergs, clift faces, and glaciers. Gasoline and towns were almost non-existant, but the few people that we came into contact with, left many favorible impressions. Some of the “What are the odds?” situations found on our website www.crosstheatlantic.com can hardly be believed, but are true.
The trip over to Iceland was better than we could have ever hoped for. Seas mainly flat or at least small rolling swells. we had a few days rest staying aboard the Elding Whale Watching Centre while Ralph worked on fundraising for the continuation of the trip. I had a chance to experience the Blue Lagoon Hot Springs and some of the other Iceland treasures until Ralph got to take a day off and join me on a tour to the Geothermo power station, geisers, waterfalls, and of course one of the public pools heated by the Geothermo station.
The run to the Faroes was one that had us constandly looking over our shoulders, for we were attempting to outrun a storm the whole way. Having safely made it the point of sighting land, we decided to make an unscheduled stop at a small town just as the sun had gone below the horizon. To make a long story short, —No Harbor—Back-Out-To-Sea—Storm Arrives—Shallow-Un-Seen-Shoals—Fifteen Foot Breaking Seas—Helicopter—Strong Currents—Cold and Wet on dock—we became known as “the last Vikings” and got to go to a professional soccer game, tour the island, hike down stone steps, and see what makes these islands so famous.
The Shetland Islands were where we first got our mouths on some Fish and Chips, visited with the Coast Guard station for weather checks, got video-taped by a patrol boat leaving out into a storm that beat us down with 10 to 15 foot seas for most of our crossing. For a short time, we contemplated a stop at some islands half-way to the Orkney Islands but couldn’t bring ourselves to taking the chance of getting stranded there for the duration of the three day storm that we were traveling through. Hopefully the helicopter that hoovered for fifteen minutes had their cameras rolling as it isn’t often a 21 foot open fishing boat takes on the ten to fifteen foot waves miles from shore.
The Oakney Island was where we Brown brothers drank our victory cans of fruit contail thinking from here to London would be a simple run along the coast. Success was now about to be granted, only a few hundred miles to go for our World Records. Suprise, Suprise, Suprise how wrong we could be. With the T-top now about to fall off, two inch support poles now had to be splinted with whatever materials that could be had:duck tape, wire ties, table knives, wrenches, and strips of steel.
Fifteen miles off the Scottish coast we experienced a three hour period where our big motor and kicker went out on strike. Actually it wasn’t the big guy’s fault. That 115 Suzuki ran perrfect, only it needed the help of electricity flowing through a hiden broken wire to keep it energized. Ralph was the hero then. Through his specs and on his knees he discovered the cause. The careless brothers, in their quest to keep everything of importance dry, had constantly cramed everything under the console in the hatchway that the wires ran through. Scottland was also the site of where we might be on Discovery TV because we were following a life boat from the empty big ship harbour over to the small ship harbour via the gale force winds long after the sun went down. That might have been the reason for the bright spot light in Ralph’s eyes.
England seemed just out of reach, as the North Sea kept reaching up and trying to get her hands on the battered old T-top. The Atlantic and the North Sea requrie a toll. After collecting a bunch of this and that off of the “I Am Second Wounded Hero Voyage” we still wanted the T-top. More splices were made. This time wooden splints and eventurally my hammock pole had to be cut in half to resupport the T-top. So during the 35 mph gale just before the Thames river, the wind took the engine cover. Yep the Suzuki was running naked, and the seas were lapping cold water on her exposed electronics causing her to spit and sputter. What luck we Brown brothers had lay in the fortuitous happening of Interstate Battery having given us some new signs only the night before when we met for a early celebration dinner because Interstate Battery had to get back to the States due to the London delays. Bob wrapped the signs around the Suzuki and using wireties held the signs in place.
Ralph and I were welcomed in through the locks of the Limehouse Marina and with cameras rolling made our official completion of our Atlantic crossing. The good people from Cruising Association were there to operate the cameras and offer us a place to recover before we were to continue on towards France, by crossing the English Channel. As luck would have it, God gave us our last cossing and night at sea, one that we would be able to chearish forever. With an incredible sunset, calm prestine seas, and an almost full moon France was just an hour or two journey, and since there was no one availible from Customs and Immigration, we continued up the coast to Holland.
We navigated our vessel onto the Rhine River as we headed into the last phase of our journey. Screaming down the Rhine and weaving around the massive container barges was only slowed by the availibility of gasoline, until the Rhine got into cahoots with the North Sea and decided to take a speed propeller off the Suzuki. After a few more glances off the rocky bottom of the Rhine with our only remaining propeller, Ralph decided to follow a huge container barge while waiting for the sun to show it’s face. Those non-reflective un-lit red or green channel bouys were pretty much invisible until morning.
We finally parked the boat in Wiesbaden, Germany, and drove a rental car to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for the final destination of our voyage. A visit to the Hospital and meeting a couple of the patients was all that was left except the arrangements to have the “I Am Second” and the two of us flown back to the states. Now with all the media help, we hope to continue raising money for the Wounded Hero Foundations and at least meet our goal of having 150,000 people join our team by collectively raising 3 million dollars. This will be possible by each member donating 30 dollars on our web-site www.crosstheatlantic.com , and those donating will recieve a “Do More than Just Say Thanks” shirt to wear and spead the word. And be sure to order our book to get the full story of this historic crossing: