What’s the story? Unusual sighting at the Monterey Marina.

We often encounter unusual sights while paddling, but this was a new one. Returning from a recent paddle along the Monterey waterfront, several of us ducked into the boat harbor to check out the large collection of moored pleasure craft and fishing boats. Amongst the vessels was a noticeably different craft, sporting an orange octopus design and wrapped in netting to keep out birds and sea lions.

What the heck? Wild design, wind turbine, solar panel, enclosed hatches on each end … but a rowing seat in the center, and oars stashed on each side. This was one of those crazy ‘row across the ocean deals’! No identification, but I had to know. Enter the internet, and a couple hours of poking around.

The boat arrived in San Francisco earlier this year, shipped in from Australia by Jason Harrisson, who intended to row solo from San Francisco to Cairns, Australia. He left Sausalito on June 11, fighting his way back to Monterey 10 days later, having covered 150 nautical miles. A second departure in late July also resulted in a return to port; weather and mechanical issues had thwarted both attempts. He now needs to wait out winter storms, and doesn’t plan another attempt until at least February.

Lest you think the boat unseaworthy, in 2013 a trio of rowers covered 3,136 nautical miles in it, rowing across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius. So, time to plan your next adventure. Meanwhile, during paddles, keep your eyes open for an orange octopus.

Chris Crain

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