Saturday, February 28, 2009

Back Home after an Adventure on the High Seas

Jennifer Figge who crossed the Atlantic Ocean under her own terms to both great fanfare and significant criticism is now back on terra firma. She has no plans to provide any additional information to the media, but she did release the following statement to her Facebook friends:

I wanted to let you know that I've returned to the U.S. following a most amazing, unforgettable odyssey.

Leaving Brava, Cape Verde Islands with an overwhelming sense of freedom, and in the spirit of my sport, I let go of the land on January 14th. When one commits to an ocean, you must be prepared to embrace whatever it holds for you. The Atlantic was consumed by a rare and relentless wind event along the North Equatorial current. Swimming as planned in a cage lasted only one hour. In seas with waves 20- to more than 30-feet high, it became an extreme swimming expedition rather than one of endurance.

As always, the ocean dictates the way you swim it... I had to stay one to two football fields away from "Carried Away," the support catamaran. The captain required all hands on deck so that they wouldn't lose me. The rescue diver we met in Cape Verde who joined us on the adventure had to be able to get me back on the boat without injury to either one of us. Often I could not see the catamaran... only the top of the mast and the American flag, which I followed for wind direction.

There were visitors along the way - Portuguese man-of-war, whales, turtles, dolphins… and you. I could never consider this crossing a personal accomplishment, as I took everyone I know with me, and it belongs to them.

I am saddened that the sea took our boat, but thankful that no one on board or those who helped us in Tobago was harmed. At some point, I will review my diary and logs and determine if the material rescued from the wreck is salvageable. But that’s not a priority. I lived the adventure, and I’m not prepared yet to re-live it. Right now, I’m enjoying being in the arms of my family and looking forward to returning to friends back home.

The sea always beckons, and I anticipate returning to it soon.


Anonymous said...

steve - i promise i defended figge on the web, but 'one to two football fields away from "Carried Away," does she know how long a football field is? the 'work' required for hours to sight jennifer 100 yards out would be incredible.

love your website

Steven Munatones said...

Yes, I found some of her comments difficult to believe, but I have never been swimming in the middle of an ocean, so I have nothing to compare her comments to. In 20-30 foot seas, being 100-200 yards away from the only possible safety she could immediately receive is difficult to fathom. I would think she could have been immediately lost, especially during bouts of 6-8 hours on the high seas. Having a video tape of any of these instances would have been educational and riveting images of incredible bravery, involving a high element of risk on both Jennifer's part and the support crew, but her documentation was lost at the end of her trip. This is the reason why I quoted her exactly.

Anonymous said...

thanks steve - she accomplished a dream of hers and inarguably she is an accomplished endurance athlete

50 yards would seem like 200 in seas as slight as three to five feet... she would disappear from view lots of times and it would be exhausting work for her team - I imagine these conditions would be very tough to slowly motor a catamaran through

enjoyed the account of hypothermia - scary and sobering

keep up the good work