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Rowing across the Atlantic at the mercy of wind and currents

“I am curious to see how I will react in the situations of fear, loneliness, fatigue and rest,” says Carl Plasschaert. “Daring to look for the unknown is something I have never dared to do until now.”

Over the next 60 days, Carl Plasschaert is rowing 3,000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Carl is one of a few solo rowers among the 35 teams that have joined the race.    

JMP is proud to sponsor Carl's Atlantic JourneyJMP is proud to sponsor Carl's Atlantic Journey

JMP is a proud sponsor of Carl’s "Team Maktub." We are monitoring his journey live on JMP Public with a set of automated reports. Carl sends us daily messages with his thoughts, and we are analyzing them with Text Explorer in JMP, summarizing the most frequently used words in a word cloud. As you can see, wind is a big concern.

Solo rowers have a special set of challenges to consider. When Carl takes breaks or sleeps, he needs to look out for himself. He says: "If I do not row, I am at the mercy of the current and the wind. The current is always in the right direction, towards the Caribbean. The wind can come from all sides. The only thing you can do as a solo in case of strong headwind during the break is to cast a para-anchor. This is a kind of parachute under water that, as it were, clings to the water and tries to prevent gluing." Carl’s biggest fears are loneliness and falling overboard. “Solitude is something that I will have to go through mentally. And I see the fear of falling overboard as a healthy thing, which hopefully makes me alert enough so that I will always attach myself to my lifeline, without any exception,” he explains.

Carl plans to divide his days on the ocean into several blocks: rowing for two hours, recovering for one hour, eating and navigation. Repeat six times. Then he takes six hours for sleeping.

But it all depends on the weather: “In the event of a storm, you can only lie down in the watertight cabin and wait until the storm is over,” Carl notes.

Over the holidays, strong winds are expected. The weather forecast is automatically updated on JMP Public based on Carl’s current location.

Will Carl have a festive holiday meal on his boat? Probably not. Carl explains what he will eat and drink during the journey:  "The water is extracted from the sea and filtered by a water maker. The food will mainly consist of freeze-dried food where you only have to add hot water and then start to feast. Fishing seems less appropriate to me since this would take a lot of time, but I am not sure yet whether I will bring a fishing rod or a very simple harpoon. The cleaning of fish and throwing the remains of the fish on board also appears to attract sharks."

Carl is using this race to raise awareness about the environment. He is supporting and raising money for Plastic Soup, a Beligium-based nonprofit organisation that focuses attention on plastic pollution in the oceans. All participants of this race must make sure not to leave any traces of waste. 

"All waste must be taken back and will also be checked by the organization. Even the food consumed is checked on arrival to be sure that not too much food has gone overboard," says Carl

Follow this set of reports by my colleague Mahmoud Hammoud to track Carl's journey. If you want to try posting to JMP Public, you can get the free trial of JMP and try publishing to JMP Public. Here are some instructions on posting to JMP Public, which is the place to share interesting JMP analyses and visualizations.