What Are We Doing Out Here?
December 7, 2016
Greetings From La Gomera, Part II
December 13, 2016

Photo courtesy Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

Flying from New York to the Canary Islands of the northwest coast of Africa was supposed to be the easier of the two transatlantic legs of Kurt and John Schwartz’s round trip. Considering the return voyage will be made by a rowboat, it’s difficult to imagine that the outbound commute could have been the more challenging of the two. Here’s the brothers’ account of their trip to La Gomera.

LA GOMERA, Canary Islands, Spain — So . . . do we have a lot to update everyone on.

We’ve left New York for Spain! (via Norway of course) After 40+ hours in transit, we arrived in Tenerife on Friday, December 2nd, hoping to enjoy a late, good night’s rest before taking the ferry the next morning to La Gomera. Upon landing and collecting our luggage, however, we realized that we were missing one of our four checked bags. Turns out our primary water maker (read: important piece of equipment) was lost somewhere on our way from NYC to Oslo to Tenerife.

After pressing the luggage keeper for details (of which there weren’t any), we hailed a cab to our hotel. We arrived at 11:00pm to Hotel 10 Big Sur, a quaint albeit Cabo San Lucas-looking hotel on the coast of Tenerife. Stepping out of the cab, we paid the fare, turned to the luggage and proceeded to pick up . . . but wait – what was missing?

John: “Kurt, did the driver grab the maps?”

Kurt: “Sh*t”.

14724623_701271483362105_5116824238210353567_nOff Kurt runs, chasing down the cab, hoping to grab what is arguably the most unnecessary and yet difficult to replace (and race required) item: three laminated navigation maps of the Canary Islands, the Mid-Atlantic Ocean and Antigua. Up he goes, over the hill. Seven minutes later, down he comes, empty-handed. “No go,” he said. “So close. But the cab turned at the last minute.”

Luckily, all was well with the maps (we managed to track down the cab driver after a hot pursuit to the airport, 50 EUR and a debate between red and blue shirts). The next morning, we were off, with hundreds of pounds of gear rolling to the Fred Olsen Ferry to take us to La Gomera.

La Gomera, engulfed by volcanic rock, centered with lush rainforest, is the last outpost of the Canary Islands. We pull up on the Fred Olsen, feel the Canary breeze and immediately look out and see the sign: a full-building spread with Atlantic Campaign and Talisker Whisky banners.

Kurt: “F**kin’ A. It’s about time.”

We grab our gear, waddle down the stairwell with the gear and over to the boat launch. As the race would have it, we walk right by all of the race boats, currently situated next to the boat docks, up on the pier. We walk by, on the way to the hotel, looking at our companions for the first time. There were 12 boats in all, lined up beside us, with ours — the Bonny Rey — the Stars & Stripes blue amongst a sea of white.

We are here.

— Kurt Schwartz


32º North rows for The Samfund, a unique foundation that provides much-needed financial support for young adult cancer survivors. Please visit their Flipgive fundraising page below to donate directly or to Shop & Support The Samfund.

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