"In the end," writes Tori McClure, "I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn't aware that it was missing."
During June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. Within days she lost all communication with shore, but nevertheless she decided to keep going. Not only did she lose the sound of a friendly voice, she lost updates on the location of the Gulf Stream and on the weather. Unfortunately for Tori, 1998 is still on record as the worst hurricane season in the North Atlantic. In deep solitude and perilous conditions, she was nonetheless determined to prove what one person with a mission can do. When she was finally brought to her knees by a series of violent storms that nearly killed her, she had to signal for help and go home in what felt like complete disgrace.
Back in Kentucky, however, Tori's life began to change in unexpected ways. She fell in love. At the age of thirty-five, she embarked on a serious relationship for the first time, making her feel even more vulnerable than sitting alone in a tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic. She went to work for Muhammad Ali, who told her that she did not want to be known as the woman who "almost" rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. And she knew that he was right.
In this thrilling story of high adventure and romantic quest, Tori McClure discovers through her favorite waythe hard waythat the most important thing in life is not to prove you are superhuman but to fully to embrace your own humanity. With a wry sense of humor and a strong voice, she gives us a true memoir of an explorer who maps her world with rare emotional honesty.
The Quest Begins
June 14, 1998
latitude north 35:52, longitude west 75:34
the Outer Banks of North Carolina
In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic
to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasnt aware that it was
missing. In January 1998, I asked my uncle, "If I write a book about
my explorations, should I write it as a comedy, a history, a tragedy, or
a romance?" With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "A romanceit must
be a romance." He explained that I was too young to write my life as
a history: "Who wants to read the history of half a life?" Tragedy, he
explained, was "boring." Anyone over the age of thirty can write his
or her life as a tear-soaked muddle. "There is no challenge in that,"
my uncle counseled. "Comedies are fine, but the greatest stories in
life are about romance."
I didnt doubt that my uncle spoke the truth, but there was a problem. I had no experience with romance. None. I was thirty five. Tragedy, I could...
While McClure-the-writer claims that her first failure and ultimately successful trans-Atlantic row brought her peace, understanding and true love, it is McClure-the-adventurer driven to row 14 hour days on violent seas day after day after day in a vast solitude, fighting storm after storm -- strong, resourceful, alone, competent and utterly complete within herself -- who exhilarates and inspires.
(Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Full Review (952 words).
You Don't Have To Go It Alone
Not all adventurers seek solitude. In December 2009, seven women from the Commonwealth countries of Cyprus, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, skied together over 800 kilometres across Antarctica to the South Pole "to demonstrate the potential of greater intercultural understanding and exchange, while at the same time highlighting the achievements of women across the world." You can meet the team members and view clips from their heartwarming, but face-freezing journey on the project's website. Team leader Felicity Aston has also led a number of other amazing, creative, and challenging expeditions.
If you liked A Pearl in the Storm, try these:
An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Tim Butchers forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.
In 1998 Rosemary Mahoney took a solo trip down the Nile in a seven-foot rowboat. This is the unforgettable story of her trip down the world's most historic river, overcoming both cultural and natural challenges.
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