Imagine rowing 2,700 miles over 71 days alone in the deepest and largest ocean. Tez Steinberg, Founder of United World Challenge, solo-rowed from California to Hawaii to raise money for UWC scholarships and environmental conservation.
303 interviewed Tez on our recent podcast which you can hear here: https://303endurance.libsyn.com/tez-steinberg-solo-row
His descriptions of what the ocean is like up close and personal, of being alone, of the wildlife, of how he felt isolated are incredible.
We followed up with a few more questions.
303: Tell us about your boat, where its made, by who and did you do a lot of customization.
Tez: I row a 23-foot carbon rowing boat. It’s handmade by SpinDrift Rowing Company, based in Port Townsend, Washington. SpinDrift is the only US-based ocean rowing boat company in the world, and the only such company that’s founded and run by women.
303: How many hours a day do you think you rowed on average.
Tez: Varied a lot! Typical day was 9-10 hours. Other days I would do up to 15, when weather was working against me. My first day I rowed midnight until 8pm (20 hours) straight to get safely offshore. And my final push to reach Hawaii, I rowed 36 hours straight to arrive before sunset – and I just made it! 🙂
303: How much drift did you experience when you would sleep and did that delay you much?
Tez: My worst night I went several miles in the wrong direction (east/southeast). My best night, I would go up to 15 or so miles in the right direction. I would wake up throughout the night and check the GPS, and in the event things look dire, I’d sometimes drag myself out of bed to fight.
303: Were you nervous about a whale (or something else) accidentally capsizing the boat?
Tez: Not at all! Saw dozens of humpbacks on day 1 leaving Monterrey. They were curious and came and checked me out, and seemed very gentle and appeared to have no interest in messing with me, just visiting.
303: You mentioned catching fish, what kind? Describe the meal would you prepare with it—dehydrated type of food—potatoes, veggies, pasta etc?
Tez: I caught and ate one jack raw, sashimi! Freshest and tastiest ever. I also caught and released a mahi mahi. Didn’t feel right to kill such a big and beautiful fish, when I could only eat a small piece of it.
303: Any idea on how many calories a day you typically burned? Was food a treat or sort of pain to cook? Did you make any elaborate meals. What was your favorite meal? Snack? Any guilty pleasures? Candy? Whiskey? Ding dongs?
Tez: Food… what a complicated topic. My favorite food turned out to be Jelly Bellies. Over 40 flavors and every one felt real, I ate them one by one. Unfortunately I didn’t bring very many, so those were a special treat. I brought a lot of dehydrated meals, but grew tired of them quickly. One moment in Week 2, I thought I might starve before crossing the ocean, because I was going to be so tired of my dehydrated meals, I would have to stop eating them. Here’s a quick vid about the foods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq-tKBHM1nI&t=14s
303: Describe the feeling when you first saw Hawaii?
Tez: Shock! Honestly after seeing only water for 10 weeks, land looked awkward, imposing, and in the way. I really empathized with waves. They travel thousands of miles unimpeded, then suddenly there’s a pile of rocks in their way. I’d rise up too! Land also has a strange smell after being away so long. It smelled distinctly like cheese and trash. But as I got closer, it became clear Hawaii is paradise. These huge mountains and sharp valleys, draped in cloud and rainbow. It felt like rowing into a paradise dream.
303: Is there any other land between the channel islands and Hawaii and did you see it?
Tez: None. For safety, ocean rowing routes typically aim to travel waterways without any land. I didn’t see land from day 3 until day 70.
303: What was harder and why: not having someone to share the journey when you felt moments of awe (or disgust), or being along and scared?
Tez: Being alone and doubting myself was the hardest. I loved being alone at the good times. It was tough being alone and needing to figure out how to fix stuff. That said, I never felt lonely. Here’s why: “invest quality time with yourself”. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvFoqzsg-QM
303: What advice would you give someone who wanted to do the same thing.
Tez: Start now! It’s completely worth it. For a longer reflection on how to achieve big dreams, I share some tips in this podcast: https://www.radicallydifferentpodcast.com/episodes/rowing-across-an-ocean-tez-steinberg
303: Any surprises or things you would totally do different?
Tez: My gosh, so many things. I fell in love with taking photos of the ocean’s surface, especially from beneath. The colors and fractals dazzled me. I’m opening a web store this year to sell canvases of my photography from the ocean. If I could go back, I’d get in the water more often to see the fish and waves from beneath.
303: See any big sharks?
Tez: Two! A thresher shark and a bull shark. Both delighted me – my spirit animal is a baby shark.