On Board With…Katie Spotz

She crossed the ocean, the hard way.

To check out Katie’s adventure visit her website at

Earlier this year, at 22, Katie Spotz became the first American and youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic. It took 70 days to complete the 2,817-mile trip from Dakar, Senegal to Georgetown, Guyana, in her 19-foot boat, Liv.

Seventy days in a rowboat. Do you have your legs back?
The first few days I really struggled to get up and down the stairs, and walk. The cabin where I slept in the boat was only 7 or 8 feet. The cockpit was 4 or 5 feet. I didn’t walk out there, and even if I just stood, I had to hold onto something.


Sounds like torture.
The first week was all about getting accustomed to the boat and getting accustomed mentally and physically. I rowed about 10 hours a day.

And the other 14 hours?
I’d cook, update my blog, and hop in the water to scrub off barnacles. Mostly rest, because it was so hot and exhausting.

Didn’t you get bored?
It is boring out there, but I took a few iPods and about two or three thousand songs, audio books and lectures.


Did you see any other people out there?
After two months I ran across a Venezuelan fishing boat. Thanks to the audio books teaching Spanish, I understood when they were shouting, “Loco! Loco! Loco!” at me. They meant I was crazy for rowing a boat in the middle of the ocean.

Did you have communications?
I had a satellite phone and email, so I was up to date on weather. I didn’t have any storms for the whole 70 days, and hardly any rain.

What would you have done if there had been a storm?
My boat’s designed to withstand 50-foot waves, and it has a watertight cabin. I would have strapped myself onto the mattress, and since my body would be one of the heaviest forms of balance on the boat, it would flip right back. The only rough conditions I had were approaching South America: turbulent waves and 20-foot seas.


Did you get seasick?
No, but I had some nasty rashes and salt sores and blisters, on my hands and seat. I was constantly trying to make my seat comfortable. Some days I had to take a Tylenol to get through the day.

Did you have any Castaway moments, with hallucinating?
No. I did have a dream once where I woke up and I was confused because I wasn’t sure where I was rowing.

What kind of clothes did you wear?


Naked the whole way across?
The whole way across. No one else was out there. With ocean rowing you’re moving your entire body the whole time, so it does help prevent chafing.

Did you get lonely?
There were times when I felt at peace with the solitude. But I think the loneliest moment was as soon as I’d get off the satellite phone. It’s really expensive, so we had to keep the calls short. I’d realize how I missed my friends and family.