In June 2006, Jordan Hanssen and three other University of Puget Sound graduates shoved off from New York in a rowing race across the North Atlantic.
In October, he stood in a Ravenna bookstore and told a standing-room-only crowd that the adventure was finally complete.
The team finished the crossing in 72 days, winning the race and a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. But for Hanssen, it didn’t feel as if the project was truly done until his book was published.
“Rowing into the Son” (The Mountaineers Books, $18.95), is his account of the adventure and how he hoped it would honor both his stepfather and biological dad, who died when he was child.
Hanssen said it took him nearly three times as long to complete the book as it did for him to plan and row across the North Atlantic. Of course, the writing process was slowed a bit by occasional breaks to do things such as bike across Australia and circumnavigate the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island.
He’s currently promoting the book and preparing to row across the Atlantic again next month, but we got him to stow his oars long enough to answer five questions:
It’s not often the success of an adventure hinges on a bowel movement, but you guys found yourself in that situation. Was it hard to convince your teammates to agree to share such details publicly?
They trusted me to make that editorial decision and I did talk to other storytellers and took good counsel on what was and wasn’t important to the story. That was important. A lot did hinge on that BM. It can take weeks to die from constipation, but we still had weeks to go.
You mentioned the film crew documenting your journey. Will we see a documentary anytime soon?
I’d love to see it made. I don’t own the tapes and it’s not in my court. I get asked all the time where the documentary is. I still think it is a financially viable project. I got most of my information for the book from the tapes (90 hours of footage). You can see some of the footage online at oarnorthwest.com.
Felix Baumgartner recently skydived to Earth from the stratosphere and ranked just No. 5 on ESPN’s plays of the night. Do you think high adventure gets the credit it deserves?
What is the credit we deserve? If you are doing this because you are looking for kudos from somebody else, then you are doing the wrong thing. I do this because it’s cool. ... I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of telling the story too. If I get a little notoriety, it’s incidental.
Whatever happened to Rex, the toy dinosaur mascot from your trip?
He’s in my kitchen looking out at a picture of all five of us. ... For awhile, we thought we’d lost him, but he was just shoved in the front of the boat.
You have the Canadian Wildlife Federation Africa to the Americas rowing expedition coming up later this year. Will that be your next book?
I have not made that decision. I don’t know what’s going to happen out there. It might, or it might be a chapter in another book.Craig Hill: 253-597-8497