Special Reports

Row, row, row your boat gently ’cross the pond

If you happen to visit the Thea Foss Waterway on your lunch break Friday, you just might get a glimpse of the Northwest’s only ocean rowing boat.

The four men who plan to row across the North Atlantic starting June 10, 2006, will row into the dock north of the Waterfront Maritime Museum (705 Dock St., Tacoma) at 10 a.m. and keep their boat on display until 2 p.m. Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma is expected to attend the event. The men will row in from the Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle.

The 29-foot ocean rowboat includes a storage compartment in the bow and sleeping cabin in the stern.

The four University of Puget Sound graduates who own the boat hope the appearance will continue to raise interest and funds for their adventure.

Greg Spooner, Jordan Hanssen, Brad Vickers and Dylan Le­Valley need to raise $300,000 to finance their attempt to be the first Americans to row across the North Atlantic. Each took out loans to cover the $38,000 cost of the boat.

They have raised about $19,000 in the past three months, but as much as half of those funds could go the American Lung Association. The men, who call their team Ocean Adventure Racing Northwest (OAR Northwest), are trying to raise money for the association through their row.

Those who donate $100 or more get their name printed on the side of the boat. The group accepts donations through its Web site, oarnorthwest.com.

The group is looking for a corporate sponsor, whose name, logo and colors will be painted on the boat. Spooner says they have meetings scheduled with Washington Mutual, Boeing and Starbucks.

The men are still tweaking the boat and have had to correct some manufacturer defects. They row the boat daily and hope to have it ready soon for long training rows.

The men also are training to strengthen themselves for the row.

“As you can imagine, it’s a tremendous load on your back because the boat is so big,” Spooner said of the boat, which will weigh about 4,000 pounds when fully loaded.

OAR Northwest is one of 15 teams – two from the United States – competing in the first Ocean Fours Rowing Race from the Statue of Liberty in New York to Falmouth, England. The 3,100-mile row is expected to take 40 to 70 days.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8407