Rowers Convert Old Sailboat For Row From Cleveland to Key West


all images from Habitat Crew website

Tom Kotula and John Hauserman are nuts, plain and simple. But a lot of rowers are nuts; you have to be to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get out on often freezing water just to be screamed at by some 100 pound snotty kid with an attitude and a megaphone. A boat that carries eight strong rowers and the objectionable coxie might weigh 212 pounds dry and empty.

Those of us who don't like taking orders might scull in a single or double, with lighter oars in a boat that tops out at 50 pounds. a long row might be 10K. But Tom and John have converted what was a tub of a sailboat in 1972 into a monster double weighing a ton, and are rowing 2000 miles from Cleveland to Key West, to raise awareness, money and a few roofs for Habitat for Humanity. Among the rowing community, no doubt it will raise a few eyebrows.

In sculling, the two oars are fairly light; in rowing, it is a big thing that you grab with both hands and swing across your body. But because of the height off the water and the size of the boat, Tom and John have rigged the boat to scull with rowing oars. I am a master rower (that is a description of age, not skill) and I can tell you that I could not take ten strokes in that thing.

They are travelling from Cleveland via Lake Erie to Buffalo, then the Erie Canal to New York City, then the Intracoastal Waterway, stopping at Habitat for Humanity projects along the way. They will be a big help on the job; (most) rowers are strong and tall, good on construction sites.

Right now they are in the Erie Canal, fighting headwinds. They cook and camp in the boat, which they have outfitted with a 65 watt solar panel that they manually align for maximum exposure (they are not moving that fast) and use to power their navigational boat lights, run interior lights and fans, or charge their cell phones, marine radio, GPS and laptop. (although I can't imagine them doing a lot of night rowing)

Will they make it? Probably. I once met the head of one of Canada's largest plastics engineering and moulding companies and noticed that they supported the Canadian rowing team. I asked the President why, and he told me that he always hired rowers, they had a terrific work ethic, were full of energy, and took orders really well. So if anyone is going to pull this off, a pair of engineers from the Cleveland State University rowing team has a good chance. It sounds like a dubious enterprise to me, but they look good. In the picture above they are at the catch, the start of a stroke, nice and even;

And at the finish, not exactly together but to see sculling with rowing oars and a two thousand pound boat, and look that good, is just amazing.

They are looking for donations, food (a couple of rowers can clean out a grocery store), docking and even inviting people to help out with the rowing. Habitat for Humanity is a great cause, and Tom and whoever is in the other seat are working really hard to help them. This is a trip to watch. More at Habitat Crew

More on Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity Modular House wins AIA Award
Refab Prefab For Sale on eBay with Proceeds to Habitat for Humanity

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