The Outrageous Voyage Across the Atlantic


05 Aug
05Aug

Robert Brown

Ralph Brown

Robert and Ralph Brown's purpose for this outrageous 8,312 mile voyage was to honor Robert's former Marine comrades who died in 1980 in a botched mission called Operation Eagle Claw, in which several branches of the military attempted to liberate the American Embassy in Iran after terrorists took the ambassador and his staff hostage. The brother's raised money for military charities and began to publicize their boat’s seaworthiness so that the brothers could get their boat company, Dream Boats Global recognized to help business. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2009 – Cartwright, Labrador, Canada

When we woke up this morning [They were anchored just offshore.—Ed] we were surrounded by whales, which is kind of neat. We saw a few seals and several whales blowing and eating fish not too far from us. Then we also got surrounded by mosquitoes...So we were glad to fire the engine up and get moving. This is our last night in North America. We will be ending up in a Nuuk Greenland, about 600 miles away.

Wednesday, July 29 – In the Atlantic

Once we were about 30 minutes off shore we started putting on our ‘cold-weather’ gear, which is long underwear and boots. Also we are rearranging our sleeping area. It may not be much but it is an improvement. We are sitting much deeper in the water because we are carrying a lot more fuel.

Video of what it's like in the Atlantic in a flats boat....

Thursday, July 30 – In the Atlantic

11:36 AM: Last night was the most miserable night we have had yet. It was wet all night and very, very cold. But we are moving along, moving steadily. Always when we load the boat with gasoline, the first 100 miles we get terrible fuel (economy) and terrible performance. It has been about 6 foot seas out of the east most of the way. Not good. It is cold and windy. Hopefully the sun will come out today. We counted 21 icebergs yesterday and named 5 of them.

We are about 150 to 200 miles off the coast of Canada. Not making very good time thanks to glaciers and fog, and occasionally 8 to 10 foot waves.

3:20 PM: The waves are steadily been getting bigger and bigger, coming closer and closer, and that means they are building, and are not going in our direction...we are going very, very slow, we are not going to make Nuuk Greenland at our predicted time.

Saturday, August 1 – 152 miles from Nuuk, Greenland

At 3 AM this morning we picked up our sea anchor and started moving forward about 90 miles before the wind/seas picked back up again. It is still against us, but not really bad, we could easily go on but we are very concerned about our fuel consumption and because of that we are dropping the sea anchor and are going to wait for calmer seas, or the wind at our back, otherwise we can sit for a couple of days if we have to.

When we left Cartwright Labrador we had 310 gallons of fuel on board which is more than enough to go 900 miles under normal conditions. However we are only going 600 miles and the wind and waves were supposed to be out of SE at 3-4 feet. Unfortunately, instead we had waves about 5-9 feet, a little bigger than that in some cases and strong winds out of due E, right in our faces the whole time which ate our fuel, so now we are very conscious of the fuel left and are waiting for the right weather to burn it. We have our sea anchor out to minimize our drift and we are going from there.

Sunday, August 2 – Moving Again

We are now using our 9.9 horsepower kicker which is running well and giving us good gas mileage. It burns about three quarters of a gallon per hour and we are moving at 4 knots. When we started this process we had 60 gallons on board. That was enough to go for 100 hours at 4 knots or 400 miles. We don’t want to go that far at 4 knots per hour, we have around 100 miles to go.

Tuesday, August 4 – Arrived at the Greenland Coast!

5:00 AM in Greenland which is part of Europe! Every which way you can look are icebergs and rock islands. Unfortunately gas is almost 20 miles inland, reachable by water.

Thursday, August 6 – With the Greenlanders

Icebergs sink boats. They won't sink this Intruder 21, but they might damage the prop. That is why we are dodging these icebergs, and growlers, small chucks of Ice.

You have to realize how few Greenlanders there actually are. But they all seem so friendly. We met them today on our way from Qaqortoq to Nanortalik. (Population 300.)

Everyone seems to have a hard time believing that we came from Florida in this flats boat, it is only 4,400 miles. What is the problem?

Saturday, August 8 – It Is Getting Cold!

Last night Bob and I were on our way to Aappilattoq, an Island on the Way to our last stop in Greenland, Tasiilaq. It was dark and the wind was blowing hard. Driving at night is very dangerous because of the small icebergs. If you don't see them they could break your motor or sink some boats, not an Intruder.

After a while we took shelter behind an Island. We put out two anchors. We went to sleep. Bob on top of the bean bag wedged behind the helm. Me, on the back of the boat in the surf board bag. It is semi waterproof and semi warm. I was sleeping with two pairs of socks, a survival suit, the Interstate Battery Jacket, a separate jacket liner, three pairs of pants, gloves, my Interstate Battery Hat, a hood, and a shirt on. I completely zip it up around me except for a tiny air hole. I am sawing logs, sound asleep.

Wednesday, August 12 – Last Day in Greenland

Tasiilaq, Greenland is a town of about 1000 people located on the east side of Greenland. The whole east side of Greenland is uninhabited with a few exceptions. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Giant mountains come to the sea, with glaciers becoming Icebergs.

Seals, birds and whales roam while the thousands of icebergs float by. It is a 400 mile run between the town of Prince Christianson (Population 5) to Tasiilaq. On the 400 mile run from Prince Christianson we got rained on several times. It is a fine mist of rain that covers everything, our hands and feet were frozen. At that point it is very hard to sleep on the boat.

Thursday, August 13 – Only 147 Miles to Iceland!

12:49 PM: As we left Tasiilaq Greenland yesterday afternoon a whole bunch of kids gave us a standing ovation and some of them jumped into the 35 degree water with icebergs floating everywhere and the kids were swimming in the icy waters to say good bye to us.

We had some hot Quaker oatmeal for breakfast/lunch and we are approx. 147 miles northwest of Reykjavik Iceland.

Thursday August 20 -- Off to the Faroe Islands, 250 Miles Away

2:30 PM: We just left Westmen Island full of gas, going very smoothly, weather is beautiful, rolling breeze, four footers, calm seas, absolutely gorgeous. We also know we are just ahead of the big storm. It’ll take us a couple of hours burning off enough gas before we can go faster, we will be putting along at 8-9 mph heading toward Faroe Islands. We’ll get there tomorrow around noon give or take; it depends on how we beat the storm. We should be seeing some big seas.

10:36 PM: We are 250 miles from the Faroe Islands, black as all get out, trying to outrun the storm. We cannot see where we are going.

Many people think answered prayer is about how holy we are.  I think that is wrong. I think answered prayer is about who God is.  That is why we see people like David, Samson, and Elijah getting prayers answered. David and Samson did terrible things, yet, they prayed.  God heard their prayers.   All three took massive risks.  The scriptures teach us that Elijah was a man of like passions as us…. Yet he prayed.   

Bob and I are regular people, nothing special about us.  We will tell you, we prayed, not because of how good we are, but because we needed God’s help. 

There are dozens and dozens of episodes that cannot be explained other than God chose to smile on the I Am Second Wounded Hero Voyage.  I Am Second means God is first.  Here are four quick stories. 

Friday, August 21 – 104 Miles from the Faroe Islands

We are 104 miles northwest of the Faroe Islands. We are still trying to beat the storm. The waves have kicked up to about 10 to 12 feet! They are still coming out of the southwest while we are going southeast. They are not helping us any at all. As a matter of fact they are hurting a little bit. We have to go slow. Bob and I are both soaking wet from head to toes from both rain and waves. It is raining off and on. Waves are splashing over the front of the boat.

Saturday, August 22 – “It Can’t Sink, It Can’t Sink, It Can’t Sink.”

[Written at a computer after the fact.—Ed.] It can't sink, it can't sink, it can't sink were the words going through my mind along with help us Lord Jesus, and trust your equipment. Bob is saying don't panic. He did not remember saying those words to me, but it actually helped me to remember not to panic.

Huge waves are breaking into the boat, we are being pushed up on a shoal among the Faroe Islands. The boat is full of water and if it is not tied down it is gone. The antenna has fallen, the T top dry box just bounced open and all my important papers are falling, the waves are pushing us up to the rocks that we can't see, it is pitch black out with a cloud cover, our spotlight is only good for a few feet because of the fog. We are scared, I am scared both for my life and for the mission, especially the mission.

The waves are over 10 foot and it is black out. We see a couple of light houses in the distance, and Bob wants to tuck in behind an Island.

I want to get out to the open sea. I will take my chances with the bigger waves, but not the rocks. Bob, let me take the helm, gladly. It won't sink, it won't sink, it won't sink. Don't panic. Don't panic, Help me Lord, help us Lord, please, Trust your equipment. Trust your equipment. I set a course back out. The boat is full of water, more waves are breaking.

Aluminum pipes holding the T-top broken in numerous places

We are talking to search and rescue, we only want directions, they want information, and I don't want to change screens to give them the coordinates.

Can't get the boat straight, Bob climbs out to fix the antenna, waves are still breaking into the boat. It is pitch black out and it is hard to drive by GPS only. It is slow to respond, hard to starboard, why won't this heading change, too far, hard to port hard to port. Waves are still breaking into the boat. Suddenly there is a bright star or a planet. We lock in on our bearing. We get the boat straight, trust your equipment. Bob wants me to do something, can't take my eyes off the screen, suddenly we are spinning around again, don't know where the rocks are. There is the star, keep it on the right, starboard.

We are back out to open sea. The waves stop breaking. We get in the shelter of some islands. Wow, we are still going. The mission is still on!!!!

Tuesday, August 25 – Making Repairs

After 6000 miles and over 50,000 times slamming a 350 pound fuel tank on the deck we had some damage. We spent most of the day scrounging up some resin and glass. The repairs are basically completed.

Shetland Islands

Wednesday, August 26 – Casting off for the Shetland Islands

5:46 PM: We will be heading out momentarily and driving all night. We want to be in the Shetlands early in the morning and off to Orkney Islands later. There is a low pressure over Ireland now that will be moving over across Scotland then out to sea. We want to get to the coast of Scotland before the storm.

Bob and I decided not to wait for perfect weather and jump from Island to Island down to London and get there hopefully on or before September 2.

Friday, August 28 – Caught By the Storm, 15’ Seas!

After we left Scalloway, Shetland Islands, the weather started getting rough right away. Soon after we left the Islands it became apparent that the weather report we saw was not going to give us the eight hours we expected to make the crossing to the Orkney Islands. The winds picked up to about 40 mph and the waves picked up to about 10 -12 ft with an occasional 15 ft wave. They were coming out of the North West and we were heading South West. They were on our beam, coming at our side. (The most dangerous direction they could come from to our tiny little boat.) But the Intruder did well. A flats boat in breaking 15 foot seas! I have always said 12 foot was my max, before I threw out the sea anchor.

Out there the boat seemed to handle it well. Yes, there were about three close calls, Bob says about six. I only remember three where we could have flipped extremely easily if I did not turn the boat just right. One time we launched way up in the air and the wind caught the boat it came down on its tail and twisted sideways, well that was an eye opener. I wasn't going that fast; we just hit that wave just right. God was smiling on us. Let’s face it he has been smiling on us this whole trip.

Our T-top has just about had it and all the pipes are cracking. I don't understand it, the T-top is a super expensive one made with extra and larger aluminum pipes. The guy that built it and installed it says it is the best one made by anyone and he charges a lot for it. I am not sure what the problem is. It may have something to do with the 50,000 times we have slammed the boat down. By the way that number 50,000 times is not an exaggeration, it is probably low.

Trying to get the boat air shipped back on U.S. military transport

[In the next couple of weeks Bob and Ralph Brown made it down the east coast of Scotland, England, stopping in at London, the across the English Channel to Holland and Germany, arriving at their final destination on September 10th.

Dream Boats Global Website (Let Them Build Your Dream Boat)  

Ralph & Robert Brown's Book: "I Am Second Voyage; Smallest Powerboat Crossing the Atlantic"

Story is also available in an eleven episode series that you can purchase on (prime video)

   



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