About the project

"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death". - Betty Bender

This is insane, but I feel really, really inspired. Ever since following Mick Bird's around the world rowing expedition, I have felt that this was something that I wanted to do someday. 3000 solo miles across the Atlantic ocean by pedal boat should take from 40 to 100 days. It will be by far, the most difficult challenge I have ever considered.

Why? When I designed, built and powered my Critical Power human powered vehicle 650 miles in 24 hours setting a new world record, my message to the world was to raise awareness of the serious health issues afflicting modern society caused by our sedentary lifestyle. Simply put - To stem the obesity epidemic, we need to become more active!

When was the last time you drove your car 650 miles in one day? On July 19th, 2006, I covered that unfathomable distance on a bicycle! - my way of showing the world that a human powered vehicle is a valid, efficient and fun way to travel.

Now, I plan to do the same thing by crossing the Atlantic ocean in a human powered boat. A small, solo sail boat can take between 30 to 60 days to cross the Atlantic, and my goal is to accomplish the crossing in 40 to 50 days proving again that human power can compete head to head with conventional forms of transportation.

To read more about why I am so passionate about human power, click here.

To read more about why human power is so important to the world, click here.

This is the promotional video for the expedition.


Within - the human powered boat

I am building a test boat which will be based on an existing sea kayak donated by Nimbus Kayaks. The pedal boat will be called "Within" and will look like the computer rendering below.

Construction of Within has begun in earnest. Pool testing is scheduled for sometime this winter (Winter 2007), and sea trials will commence in the Spring.

I will use Within to gain some badly needed ocean experience by touring around the nearest ocean (10 hour drive to the west coast), starting with the Glenmore reservoir here in Calgary and branching out from there. (baby steps).

Click here for current status on construction of Within, and Within-24 - the HPB 24 hour record boat.

Assessing the risk:

According to The Ocean Rowing Society, a total of 275 attempts to cross an ocean by rowing resulted in 6 deaths due to lost at sea and 99 failed attempts.

For comparison purposes, I converted the ocean rowing fatality data to fatalities per million hours of exposure and was able to find a list of other activities and the risks of death from Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. more details on that analysis here.

Fatalities per Million Exposure Hours:

General Flying 15.58
Ocean rowing10.02
Scuba Diving 1.98
Water skiing.28
Airline Flying.15

Ocean rowing is slightly more dangerous than motorcycling and safer than general flying or skydiving.

Only 2 other expeditions in history have pedaled across the Atlantic ocean with a human powered boat. Stevie Smith and Jason Lewis with expedition360 on their circumnavigation of the earth expedition, and Dwight Collins who solo pedaled his human powered boat West to East across the northern Atlantic.

If I were to succeed, it would be the first solo East-West Atlantic ocean pedal boat crossing. The fastest human powered East-West Atlantic ocean crossing is 42 days, 17 hours by Emmanuel Coindre from France who rowed from Spain to Barbados . If we consider 'pure' human powered crossings, we would have to include rowing because it is purely human powered. So, I would have to beat 42 days, 17 hours to set a new 'human powered' trans Atlantic record.



Click here for current status on construction of Within, and Within-24 - the HPB 24 hour record boat.

The design of the human powered ocean boat "Within" is a collaboration between myself, Rick Willoughby, Stevie Smith and Leven Brown

Rick Willoughby had been designing and building human powered boats in Australia for over 10 years. He is an enthusiastic contributor and known authority with the online human powered boats community.

Stevie Smith has pedaled Moksha - a two-person pedal boat across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. As part of Expedition360, Stevie brings a valued and very specific expertise to this project!

Leven Brown recently completely a trans Atlantic rowing expedition on his boat Columbus Run.

"Within" is a very narrow, self-righting single passenger human powered ocean boat. The hull is based on a sea kayak hull with slightly higher side walls, and a rounded top. To accomplish stability in rough sea conditions, weight is distributed very low in the vessel, and additional ballast in a keel will be suspended below the prop on the drive leg.

Water tight forward and rear compartments will ensure that the boat cannot sink, and the low center of gravity will ensure that it up-rights immediately upon a capsize.

A transparent dome is fitted on the retractable canopy top. The canopy top should be closed and sealed if the ocean conditions are rough which will allow the pedaling compartment to be mostly water tight and dry with adequate ventilation This should further increase safety in the event of a capsize, and will allow continued operation in rough seas. If ocean conditions are calm, then Within can be operated with the canopy in the retracted position. Scuppers with plugs or bilge pumps can be used to keep the pedaling compartment dry if it is being used with the canopy top retracted.

Steering is accomplished by standard kayak rudders and cables (not shown). Control of the rudder via access to the rudder cables is available from both the pedal station and from inside the sleeping compartment.

The drive leg will consist of standard cranks and pedals with two right-angle gear boxes connected by a shaft which will drive a two-bladed prop. The drive leg will be shrouded with a water-tight fairing.

This image shows one option for compartments. The rear compartment is water-tight when the door between the rear compartment and the pedaling station is closed. This could be used for some equipment and supplies storage as well as sleeping. A disadvantage of using this configuration to sleep, is the inconvenience of having to
open the hatch to look out for ships through the bubble.

The pedaling station would be water tight with the canopy top closed, and could have drain holes for allowing water to run out when operating with the canopy top open. If the boat is being operated with the canopy top open, it would be important to make sure that both hatches to the forward and rear compartments are closed and sealed, in the event of a capsize.

The forward compartment is water-tight and accessible through a hatch door. This would be where most of the food and equipment would be stored.

3 or 4 solar panels are fastened along the rounded top at the bow and stern which will provide electricity to charge batteries which will power the electronics and desalinator

Estimated weight of Within is between 1000 to 1500 pounds including supplies and ballast. I based this on some other ocean rowing expeditions:

Leven Browns supplies weighed 595 pounds (150 days).
Tinys boat + supplies weighed 2000 pounds (100 days)
Around-n-overs boat weighed 550 pounds with 770 pounds supplies and 330 pounds of ballast
Fedor Konyukhovs boat weighed 771 pounds and 1100 pounds for supplies (this may include water ballast?) (4 months)
Zeeman Challenger boat weighs 880 pounds and 1325 pounds of supplies (9 months)

Speed estimate based on 150W of power and an overall efficiency of 80% is about 5 knots (9 kph).

Construction photos and computer renderings:

Equipment list:

ElectronicsOtherSafetyEmergency grab bag
lap top (Panasonic Tough book)freeze dried food for 75 dayslifejacketEPIRB
backup computer
(hand held device like pocket PC)
tookkit + small spare partssafety harness & linestrobe flashing light
Satellite Telephone (voice and data)spare drive unitEPIRBsignalling mirror
VHF radiowater makermedical kitwhistle
backup VHF radioback-up watermakerliferaftfoil blanket
batteriessea anchoremergency water2 flares
solar panelscompassflares6 light sticks
solar panel controllerspongesoarsknife
Sea Me Radar Transponderclothingfire extinguishersmall compass
fixed GPSnavigation lightsfire blanketflashlight
backup GPS (hand held)water containersthrowing line2 bottles water
backup GPS (2nd hand held)eating containers and utensilssignalling mirrorchocolate
battery monitorcooking gas (propane)
mini first aid kit
video cameranavigation charts
emergency fishing kit
still cameramask and flippers

iPodextra foam padding

spare iPodseat and sleeping harness

satellite radiocamelback/water bags

amp and speakersepoxy and fiberglass repair

spare headphones, earbuds


Argos beacon

small hand axe

Radar reflector (activ-echo)flashlight

fishing kit




cooking stove

back-up cooking stove

sleeping bag - blankets

matches, lighter



2700 miles from Canary Islands to Barbados

I will start at the Canary Islands off of the West African coast. The Canary current is a southwestward flow that will take me onto the North Equatorial current which is a broad westward flow. It is fed by the Canary current and its waters eventually end up in the Gulf Stream system, via the Antilles current which should deliver me to one of the islands near Barbados.

The average distance that various ocean rowers covered over this route is 2700 to 3000 miles. Rowing times from the Canary islands to Barbados range from a record of 43 days by Emmanuel Coindre to over 100 days.


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