If you’re looking for another grueling rowing adventure to follow now that the Impossible Row has wrapped up down in Antarctica, be sure to check out Latvian adventure Karlis Bardelis. He’s more than a year and a half into his epic attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean in a row boat, having now covered more than 10,700 km (6648 miles) in what could become a record setting crossing of that ocean. The 34-year old is slowly but surely closing in on his finish line and if successful he would become the first person to row from South America to Asia.
Bardelis set out from Peru back in July of 2018 and has been rowing westward ever since. He spent the first 140 days of the journey without spotting land of any kind before reaching the Marquesas Islands. From there, it was another two months to Tuvalu, where he was sidetracked by a bout of Dengue fever. Once healthy again, it was on to the Solomon Islands and eventually Papua New Guinea, before proceeding on to Indonesia, where he is currently waiting to continue the journey. His next—and possibly final—stop will be in Malaysia, but he’s waiting for the proper weather to arrive before proceeding on. His ultimate goal is to continue island hopping until he reaches mainland Asia, something that hasn’t been done by a rower who has set out from South America before.
As incredible as his trans-Pacific journey has been so far, it is only one small piece in a much larger project to circumnavigate the globe under his own power. Back in 2016, Bardelis crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat along with a friend from Latvia. From there, he traveled y bike across South America, eventually reaching the starting point for his Pacific row in Peru. Once this phase of the journey is done, he’ll then decide if he wants to continue his oceangoing ways and row the Indian Ocean too, or if he’ll cycle from Asia back home to Latvia to complete the round-the-world expedition.
Right now, he is focused on reaching his end point in Malaysia and the challenges that will bring. While on the Pacific Ocean, he saw very little ship traffic, only passing another boat once every few weeks or even longer. But as he rows into the South China Sea, the amount of ships that he’ll encounter will increase dramatically, including some massive tankers and cargo vessels that may not see his tiny boat out on the water. He’ll try to hug the shores as best he can and remain out of the way, but with literally thousands of ships passing through that area each and everyday, it will be a very different experience than the one that he has had up until now. This will especially be true as he nears Singapore, one of the busiest port cities in the entire world.
You can keep up with Karlis’s journey on his website or Facebook page, where he posts regular updates. With so many miles under his belt already, there is plenty to review, but also quite a few adventures ahead too.
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