A first-ever human-powered Canada-to-Hawaii crossing?
By Ben Coxworth
January 27, 2010
Back in January 2007, we brought you the story of Greg Kolodziejzyk, a Canadian adventurer who was planning to break the human-powered transatlantic record. What made Greg’s record attempt so interesting was that he was going to do it in a fully-enclosed pedal-powered sea kayak. The boat was still under construction at the time. Flash forward to January 2010, and Greg has had to call off the transatlantic attempt due to logistic problems. His new boat, however, is a marvel of marine engineering, and he’s planning on pedaling it from Canada to Hawaii.
Kolodziejzyk is no stranger to breaking human-power records. In 2006 he broke the record for the longest distance traveled in one day under human power, riding a custom-built fully-enclosed recumbent bicycle. In 2007, on a pedal-powered trimaran, he broke the aquatic version of that same record. He has also competed in various triathlons, ultramarathons, and is a public promoter of physical fitness.
This July, Kolodziejzyk plans to pedal his boat, named WiTHiN, from British Columbia to Hawaii. The Pedal the Ocean project will be a world-first, as the 4,300 kilometer (2672 mile) route has never been travelled under human power before. Greg has been subjecting his boat to sea trials, and this Thursday (Jan. 28) he will spend 24 hours inside of it in dry-dock, to see just how possible it is to live within. He’d better like it, because his trip is estimated to take two months.
"Sure, she's a little cramped compared to the spacious ocean row boats," said Kolodziejzyk, "but I enjoy other benefits they don't. Aside from my greater overall speed, I am better protected from the harsh ocean environment by being inside my enclosed cockpit. The ocean rower is outside when rowing, and risks being knocked out of the boat by a rogue wave or strong winds, as well as getting sun burns and skin sores from being constantly exposed to the sun and salt water. I think the biggest advantage I have over the ocean rowers is that when the wind and waves start to really rock and roll, I am still able to power my boat forward in the relative safety of my enclosed cockpit."
WiTHiN has a portable water desalination plant, sleeping berth, emergency equipment, solar power generator, satellite phone, computer, GPS, and space for over 90 kilograms (200 pounds) of food (There’s no mention of bathroom facilities, but then you can’t expect him to stay sealed inside of there for two months without ever coming out). The boat was designed by award-winning Australian naval architect Stuart Bloomfield. “As is typical, it took us way longer than we thought and spent about ten times what we budgeted, but what we ended up with is probably the most energy efficient human powered boat capable of crossing an ocean on the planet,” Kolodziejzyk told Gizmag. WiTHiN reportedly cruises at 4 knots, as compared to the 1.5 that an ocean row boat averages.
Greg’s purpose in Pedal the Ocean isn’t just to set a record, but also to promote the potential of human power, and to raise money for Kimberlee’s Bikes for Kids, a charity that supplies children with bicycles. We wish him the best of luck, and will keep you posted on his progress.