Feb 122013

Daily Update 2.1

Week 3: Module 2: Date 2/12/13

The history of the ocean. Where does one begin? It is such a vast topic that even to begin to understand it would take a lifetime. In the next two weeks we will investigate a few topics that relate to the current expedition.

We will begin this exploration in history with a look a the first people in recorded history to row across the Atlantic. Frank Samuelsson and George Harbo.


These two men were both Norwegian immigrants to the US and had crossed the Atlantic in a boat before so they understood the enormity of their undertaking. Their historic row occurred in 1896 and took just a brief 55 days! This record wasn’t bested for over 100 years! In the previous module we learned about the JRH and some of the equipment that it is carrying. All of the equipment that we learned about, Harbo and Samuelsson did without. They had no water maker, GPS, VHF, life raft, or even a self-righting boat. Instead they had a sextant, compass, seventeen bottles of wine, five hundred raw eggs, and a small gas stove for cooking up coffee. All of this along with their other provisions were placed in the FOX, a boat that they designed and built for their ocean row.


Their boat was designed with handles built on the outside of the hull in order for them to right their boat in the event of a capsize. It was also built with airtight compartments built out of tin to help keep the necessary equipment dry and serve as extra buoyancy. Rounding out the rest of their gear they used hemp rope for lifelines, wax-impregnated canvas for foul-weather gear and life-vests stuffed with reindeer hair.

Can anyone guess why they used reindeer hair?

If you think that the crew aboard the JRH is a bit crazy for undertaking such an amazing journey just imagine what it was like for George Harbo and Frank Samuelsson.

For a more detailed look at Harbo and Samuelsson’s expedition you can check out Daring the Sea by David Shaw.



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  8 Responses to “Daily Education Update 2.1 Harbo and Samuelsson”

  1. We are on vacation this week but will catch up to you next week. Thank you for all your posts. They are” wonder”full. Gail

  2. hay adem i hope that is how you spell it anyway hope your haveing fun and a safe journy so have fun

  3. Thanks to Roz Savage who has rowed solo the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, I was alerted to this feature about my grandfather, George Harbo, who made the first Atlantic Row with his rowing partner, Frank Samuelsen in 1896 – both were naturalized Americans. Those interested in the details, can find Harbo’s original log (donated by descendants) at the Navesink Twin Lights Lighthouse Museum in Highlands, NJ. Nearby, the yacht club regularly lends the Fox rowboat replica to the museum for viewings. The replica boat was built by the son of the original boatbuilder who had assisted his father with the original Fox. At the 100th Anniversary of this first-ever Atlantic crossing, all attending Harbo descendants rowed the Fox for the history books. A sculptor wants to find a home for his giant bronze statue depicting Harbo & Samuelsen in their skiff, so if somebody has a suggested appropriate location, please get in contact with me. Always glad to hear from rowers: bettehorton@yahoo

  4. Reindeer hair is hollow and buoyant. That’s why it is used for stuffing life vests. What a great use of natural products!

  5. Correct! It really is a great use and shows how much ingenuity humans have.

  6. @Bette Thanks for the input it is nice to hear from a relative.

  7. So, I just happen to read your dialogue going back to early 2013.
    I am pleased to advise any and all, that the monument sculpture of harbo and Samuelsen has been cast in bronze and is permanently placed in Samuelsen’s hometown Farsund, Norway. It was unveiled on July 11th 2015 by myself, and I am now working hard to have another cast placed in lower Manhattan where they departed from.

  8. Great to hear! We are so glad it went well. Keep us posted on the sculpture in lower Manhattan!

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