Rower Sexually Assaulted While Attempting Lake Michigan Circumnavigation

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The vast majority of the stories I post on this blog are ones that I find inspiring and fascinating. They tend to be stories that make me want to get out and explore the world and experience as much of it as I can. Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories, but it is an important one that needs to be heard.

Jenn Gibbons is a 27-year old woman who founded a rowing group called Recovery On Water which is dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors to regain their strength and fight back against that terrible disease. As a fund raiser for her group, Jenn recently set out on an attempt to become the first person to make a solo circumnavigation of Lake Michigan, a distance of 1500 miles (2414 km), all the while blogging about her adventure on This past Sunday, a month into her expedition, she was sexually assaulted aboard her boat while docked in a small Michigan lakeside community. The man who raped her followed her progress on her blog and waited for her arrival.

You can read the details of the incident in this story from the Daily Mail. It is a chilling tale in which the attacker broke into the cabin of Jenn’s rowboat, identified her by her full name and proceeded to assault her. He told her that he knew who she was and police believe that he traveled a “significant distance” to find her. Fortunately she was able to escape the boat and lock herself into an outhouse until the man left the premises.

Remarkably, Gibbons has resumed her journey although in a slightly altered fashion. Understandably she has given up the “solo” status of the expedition and now travels with a companion. She will also temporarily be traveling along the shores of Lake Michigan by bike while her boat is carried by trailer to a secure position where she can safely resume the row. It is a testament to her courage and strength that she is able to continue on considering the circumstances.

Hopefully they catch this guy and he gets what he deserves. This is some cold, calculating stuff and it a bit unnerving to think that someone would plot a sexual assault to this degree. I also hope the rest of Jenn’s journey is a swift and safe one. Her cause is a good one and it is a shame that it should be sullied by this horrible act.

Thanks to Sgt. Curt for sharing this story. We both agree that it is an important one to be shared in the adventure community.

Kraig Becker

4 thoughts on “Rower Sexually Assaulted While Attempting Lake Michigan Circumnavigation”

  1. we are hearing too many stories like this lately, unreal. kudos to her for getting back to it though.

  2. Unbelievably sickening. What a courageous woman; a devastating way to discover strength of character. Best of luck to Jenn and the police. And may karma deal with the sicko appropriately.

  3. What kind of a fried brain does that assailant have?

    As for her — she was strong already and this will make her even stronger, with an awareness of what rises above all that is grim in human nature.

    Hope the authorities find him FAST and lock him away.

  4. This is sick! This is the kind of stuff that I think would discourage soloist adventurers from conquering their dreams. As much as I would love to embark an a solo journey myself, I know I couldn't really do things solo because of dangers like this. It's a cruel reality with which all explores must deal with when venturing into the unknown. I hope they catch that SOB.

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