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2077 miles. Two men. One boat.
Mark de Rond and Anton Wright will row the entire length of the Amazon River in September and October 2013.

How not to row the Amazon

  • 3 OCT 2013
  • By Mark de Rond

Here a few simple observations from our 'big brother' house of madness:

  1. Don't 'row' the Amazon. You can't win. As the river with the largest water flow in the world (a cool 1,000 of its tributaries alone are longer than the river Thames) it won't be manipulated. Trick instead is to let the river carry you where you want to go by nudging it into the fastest bits of water on the river. These are murderously hard to find but, once located, are worth their speed in gold.
  2. Don't pay attention to scaremongers. No matter how noble the intention, tales of robbery and murder will forever put you off visiting one of the wonders of the world. People love stories of anguish and horror, particularly when based in fact. However, they do a poor job at contextualisation and fail to link factual data to statistical probabilities.
  3. Don't be a dick. The Amazon doesn't belong to you. You are here as a guest. Respect local customs and power relationships and you'll be well taken care of. The Brazilian Navy in particular has been impressive.
  4. Don't expect a honeymoon. Conflict in teams is inevitable and however well you might have gotten along prior to the trip, the heat, physical exhaustion and sleep depravation will curb your enthusiasm pretty quickly.
  5. Don't do it for the sake of making friends. These mad ideas are often hammered out in a pub. You hit it off and kind of like the person(s) you'll be doing this with. Problem is, of course, that friendship is a poor performance indicator. It is far too feeble to be reliable. Friendship may become a corollary of performance but is rarely if ever its cause. Use objective measures (like distance covered per day, etc.) instead.
  6. Don't worry if the keel comes off. So long as the boat doesn't sink you can do without one. You can do without many things actually. We've got two holes in the boat and take on water 24/7. Pumping it out seems to work reasonably well.
  7. Don't plan for everything. Planning means training and training means acquiring every bit of kit, and medical equipment, recommended. Problem is you will rarely ever dip into it. Keep it simple.
  8. Don't overthink. Rowing isn't rocket science.
  • Aneurin on 6 OCT 2013

    Hi, I just stumbled upon this blog, I cycled for 8 months across Asia in 2012 in very close quarters with 2 friends - I completely understand how close quarters with others can bring out unhelpful ways of interacting - in particular I learned this about myself. I think its an amazing journey you guys are completing - my wisdom for both of you, for what its worth is to remember that you cant change your team mates perspective, worse than that - you usually end up making the situation worse. So focus on what is the long term best you can get out of the situation, even if the situation isn't perfect, and then you will be able to enjoy the moment as well. I'm glad I had my adventure, but there are lessons I learned about myself after which I wish I had learned sooner.

  • Bryan on 4 OCT 2013

    Hang in there fellas, and best of luck with the next leg of your journey. This expedition, this challenge you set yourselves, was bound to test all things, and it will only be something you can truly put into perspective once it is over and you are recovered from inevitable exhaustion. As Mark knows all too well, friendship must often be put on hold, and respect for each other's commitment and passion for the common goal must take over. Head down, dig deep, and remain faithful to caring for each other and you'll be fine. Wishing you strength, focus, and a quick current.

  • Peter on 4 OCT 2013

    "I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter." ~ Walt Disney
    On the surface a rather random quote - but sums up life very well. Also to misqoute the film Finding Nemo "Just keep rowing" !!

  • Sophie on 3 OCT 2013

    I hope you have both gained from this or found what your looking for.

  • Alan Miller on 3 OCT 2013

    Good points and well said! I am very happy that you are OK, Mark!!