FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2010 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
August 22, 1896
The arrival in European waters on August 2 of Frank Samuelson and George Harbo, the two Norwegian oarsmen, who started on June 6 from New York to row the 18-foot box, Fox, to Havre, has given the marine experts of the world something to talk about, and in maritime circles the feat is regarded as the most remarkable event in the way of ocean navigation that ever transpired.
The performance of this astounding feat is calculated to excite wonder and comment all over the world. While there is possibly no great benefit to be derived from the result, yet viewed as an athletic accomplishment it will go down in the history of aquatic sports as unequaled and unparalleled. The physical hardships attendant upon such a journey are scarcely to be comprehended. Since the 6th of June last Harbo and Samuelson have been pulling away at the oars. It was certainly a battle royal; the indomitable pluck of man against the fierce elements of nature, with the triumph of the man as a result.
The continued lunge of the boat from the crest to the trough of the waves, the occasional upsetting, with an incidental somersault, the fierce storms of wind and rain, the appearance of a shark fin here and there, all combined to make the exploit extremely trying and dangerous, not to say anything of the pangs caused by thirst and hunger, the severe muscular strain caused by incessant rowing and the care necessary in steering and maintaining the boat in an upright position.
These dangers were all met and overcome and the two venturesome mariners are safe at their journey's end receiving the congratulations of their friends.
The success of the little boat in making the journey under the navigable conditions of only two pairs of lusty arms is all the more marvelous when we pause to consider how powerful steamships of great tonnage have frequently gone amiss, and the melancholy roll of derelicts, whose erratic wanderings are reported by the Hydrographic Office, show how many sailing ships have been beaten by its storms.
That its dangers are not imaginary and that marine disasters are not yet obsolete is proved every day. But one finds that hard of comphension when reading of how two adventurers set out with the deliberate intention of bridging that stretch of water in a tiny boat, destitute of sail and propelled in so elementary a way.
When the little cockleshell was pushed out from its Battery slip on the afternoon of June 6 in the wake of Captain James Moorhead's (manager of the POLICE GAZETTE) steam yacht, "Richard K. Fox," there were many to say it had gone to the port of missing craft. It is a short boat, eighteen feet in length, and only twelve inches of planking showed above the water's edge. Several freely commented on their indisposition to even cross the river in it, owing to its size and open build.
The boat was built under the supervision of Harbo, and the voyage was undertaken for such honor and lucre as might accrue from a successful accomplishment of it.
The boat is clinker built and of cedar, a double-ender with space forward used for water tanks, and over this a canvas cover is buttoned. Sixty gallons of water were carried in the tanks, and as the men expected to be out sixty days, that gave an allowance of one gallon per day.
Provisions for the same length of time were put on board. They consisted chiefly of canned goods, for there would have been difficulty in preserving any other sort.
A cornucopia shaped bit of canvas, to be used as a sea anchor when storms arose, a compass and a sextant-completed, with two pairs of oars, the equipment of the boat. The oars not in use were secured by stout lashings, for the boat would have been in a bad way if these were lost.
When leaving port the men expected to average fifty-four miles a day. Each man was to pull eighteen hours out of the twenty-four. Five hours were to be allowed for sleep and one for meals. Rest was to be had in daytime, the men taking turn and turn about.
To lessen the danger of collision the men decided to take a route a bit to the southward of the "steamship lanes." They were spoken but twice during the voyage.
Mr. Richard K. Fox, of the POLICE GAZETTE, after whom the little craft was named, will present Harbo and Samuelson with gold medals to commemorate the accomplishment of their marvelous trip.
The following article is an accurate transcript of the original from August 22, 1896, page 6. It tells the story of Harbo and Samuelsen, the first people ever to row across the Atlantic. Their voyage was backed by Richard K. Fox of the Police Gazette, and they named their boat the "Fox" in his honor.
|Remarkable Voyage of Two
|They Had Only a Sextant and a
Compass to Guide Them.
|THE FOX ONLY EIGHTEEN FEET LONG.