Around the world in five years
By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
An adventurer from Seattle who set out from Bodega Bay in a rowboat five years ago returned to the starting point of that journey Saturday evening, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe under his own power.
No motors. No sails. Erden Eruc used nothing but his broad shoulders and powerful legs to row, paddle, hike and bicycle his way literally around the world.
“Superhuman doesn’t even begin to describe it,” said Jim Hurson of Santa Rosa, one of about two dozen supporters who greeted Eruc at Spud Point Marina as he completed the final leg of his journey by bicycle.
Eruc, a native of Turkey, rode up to the marina parking lot a couple hours later than expected, delayed in part just 10 miles from the finish line by a flat tire outside Valley Ford.
“Somebody take this bicycle from me!” he said as supporters hugged and congratulated him.
But Eruc’s epic journey wasn’t quite over. He grabbed his GPS device and headed to the exact slip in the marina where in 2007 he began his journey in a yellow 21-foot ocean-worthy rowboat.
Standing on the dock beside that slip, Eruc entered the coordinates on the device and then leaned over to touch the waters of Bodega Bay where it all began.
“We got ‘er done!” Eruc shouted, adding that he was “relieved” the trip was over.
Eruc began his expedition, dubbed Around-N-Over, hoping to do something no one else had even attempted before – to circumnavigate the globe under his own power while climbing the highest peak on each continent.
It didn’t quite go according to plan. Funding challenges, bad weather and even pirates forced changes to his itinerary that that prevented him from scaling three of the six highest peaks.
Nevertheless, he recorded numerous records along the way, including setting a new Guinness World Record for a solo ocean rower for longest time at sea: 312 days.
He was forced to divert from his intended destination of Brisbane, Australia, when he got caught in a “convection zone” near Papua New Guinea. Low on food and with the monsoon season approaching, he was forced to catch a ride with some Philippine fishermen, but later returned to finish the crossing.
He crossed Australia on bicycle, scaling Mt. Kosciuszko in the process. He rowed across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, south of his intended route to avoid the pirates around the horn of African.
He made it across the channel to Mozambique and then climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. He crossed Africa on bicycle, retried his rowboat, and then crossed the Atlantic from Namibia to Venezuela, eventually making his way to Louisiana, where he began his final three-month long ride to Bodega Bay.
A software engineer by trade, Eruc was motivated to complete his journey after his friend Goran Kropp, the Swedish explorer who famously cycled from Stockholm to Mt. Everest, fell to his death as the two scaled a rock face in eastern Washington.
It’s too soon to say if Eruc will try to scale the three remaining peaks, Mt. Everest in Nepal, Mt. Elbrus in Russia and Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina, though it seems unlikely he’ll get to them under his own power as he had once planned. Eruc climbed Mt. Denali in Alaska before the row from Bodega Bay.
He wants to settle down, reflect on all that’s happened and spend some time with his wife Nancy, said Bill Hinsley, chairman of Around-N-Over.
“I know it’s not the end of him inspiring people,” Hinsley said.