How much does it cost to row an ocean?

£12,026.87 per person

This is slightly cheaper than it should have been because the boat sank so we didn’t have to ship it home (every cloud and all that). Though we could have probably sold a lot of the gear listed below to recoup quite a bit of money back.

We were a team of 4, travelling from the UK to California to compete in the 2014 (first ever) Great Pacific Race. A race from Monterey in California to Waikiki in Hawaii. See here, and here

We kept meticulous record of all our expenses so they could be split evenly. I’ve pasted the records below so you can get an idea of where the money went.

Note: Where there are repeating items, it means that multiple people bought the same thing, either for themselves or we needed multiple of them or we all chipped in for the same item. All prices are in GBP (we did a rough conversion before adding US purchases to the spreadsheet to keep things simple)

(See the section below for thoughts on fund raising).

Item Price Notes
Race entry £16,950
Boat rental £8750 probably should have spent more here!
T-Shirts £55
Boat Storage £90
MISC STATIONERY £10
Event Application £25
White Board £20
Flights £100
Tarpaulin - to protect boat £10
MSR cooker £110
Batteries £125
Gaviscon £13
BP Monitor £16
St John £3
Oximeter £18
Quik Clot £17
Thermometer £2
NHS 3 month prescription charge £29
Misc 1st Aid + Baby wipes £19
SAM SPLINT £7.75
Eye wash pods £3
Blister plaster £3
Plasters £3
Safety pins £1.89
FOIL BLANKET £1.35
Tuf cuts £3
Scissors £2
Hand sanitizer £6
med gloves £5
Scalpels £5
Mag glass £2
Micropore tape £3
Reli pad £2
Tubi grip D £4
tUBI GRIP e £4
tUBI GROP F £4
Finger splints £5
Finger gauze £3
Triangle bandage £1.89
Burn gauze £3.2
Eye pads and bandage £4.5
Alcohol pads £1.79
Non adherent dressing pads £1.57
Poole fuel £35
Padding bandage £7
Ankle support £2.59
Soffban £4.24
Assorted wound dressing £10.5
10x Chapstick £5.6
Arron £250
Snacks £195
watermaker motor, test, fix and demo + FUEL £410
Chocolate £30
Shipping fuel £40
Cushion £14
Shipping £434
Spoons £2.9
Sam’s Food £642.29
Colin’s Food £642.29
Weather books £28
Para Anchor for Daryl and Team £125
Fishing gear for Daryl and Team 62.5
Headbands, watches etc £32
Custom broker & printing £19
drogue £60
velcro £13.5
west marine £6
tools £38
Second boat storage £80
1 x Jetboil £78.5
Tow Bar £224
Banner, business cards, stickers £94.56
Number plate for trailer x2 £31.98
Fuel - transporting boat to Falmouth £105
Fuel - driving to Cornwall for training £80
Multimeter £6.99
Crocodile clips £2.5
Survival Suits £682.74
More dry bags £65
Active Radar Reflector £330
2x headlamps £62.98
5x packs wheel bearings (for seats) £39.9
2x deck knives £29.64
4x emergency blankets £2.72
sponges scourers duck tape sealant gun unibond rags £30.72
6x Henderson hatches £139.69
radar reflector mount £25
8x wheels £21.34
batteries £90
inverter power adapter £17.99
cigarette lighter extension £5.07
hex key set £4.49
52pc tool set £21.99
small cable ties £2.79
lg cable ties £3.79
screw driver set £12.99
fuel for towing to and from weston super mare £40
Work on boat (absolute aquank) £1138.23 Genius play on words there
shipping fuel £25
shipping £434
jetboil gimbal and spare mounting bracket £157.2
food £642.29
solas tape £35
fuel £13
home depot £108.39
west marine £124.65
walgreens £20
sweat bands, watch et al £25
cup holders £6.5
nuts and books £5
multi tool £6.5
1x Jetboil £78.5
Flyers £70
Charts £85
Row grips £80
Sat phone airtime £362
Drogues £170
Paid Daryl for casters £210
Shipping £434
Shakes £142
ROHO cushions £171
Hot sauces for food £8
Water sprayer £13
Car hire 1 £239
Car hire 2 £47.4
Car hire 3 £87
CostCo 1 £10.52
CostCo 2 £186
CostCo 3 £90
Sheepskin cover £18
Berger meal £14.9
Gerry meal £9
Ace Hardware 1 £40
Ace hardware 2 £10.8
2 gas canisters £7.5
USB to serial cable £17
Ziplock bags £3.6
Duck tape £3.2
Jetboil Flash x1 £79.94
Fire Steel Flint Spark £4
Stanley FatMax Retractable Utility Knife £10.45
Plastic Padding Marine Epoxy Filler £15.3
Whistle £1.45
Stanley Blade Dispenser £3.28
Fire Blankets x2 £9.43
Strobe Light £31.34
Batteries x5 £43.83
Pair of Oars & x4 spare locks £365.73
Manual Watermaker - Jim £78
Diesel - 2 trips ttl £70
Liferaft Hire £320
Hostel - Monterey £34.4
Boat cleaning detergent £10
LED Light for Cabin £10
Shipping UK -> US £434
Adventure Food - 3 for 2 offer - 6x meals £19.5
x10 Pacific Rowers T-Shirts £69.89
Food £642.28
Quest Bars £28.72
Gas £80
Urinal £4.26
Little Snitch £22.72
Mail2Sail £90
REI - Gas for Jetboil £95
Walmart - Peanuts, Ziplock Bags etc. £95
Saline wash, lighters, sharpies £36.66
Safeway - Seasick food £22
Costco - Final stuff £23
Drugstore - Antibac Gel, self Adhering Tape, tape for blisters £11.65
Walgreens - Final stuff £20.82
Home Depot - Buckets etc £38
Boat transportation - Monterey Boat Works £169.86
Boat transportation - Truck driver fees £126.15
Wine for Bob £7
2nd round of boat modifications - Monterey Boat Works £830
Flares & cradle to Hawaii £492.14
LW Radio £31.75
Clothes Pegs £3
Epoxy/Sharpies etc £26
Flights £803
Yachmaster course £365
VHF £115
Sea Survival £135
First Aid £110
Jacket £45
Ipod £70
PLB £200
Trouser £150
Dentist £50
Flights £821.95
Flight Date change £40
Yachtmaster £292.5
plotter and divider £25
Sea Survival £150
VHF £115
VHF Licence £60
Aquapac stuff - Waterproof duffel. SLR case £100.5
First Aid course £99
plb £205
ipod £165
yha membership £15
doctors £20.02
dentist £48
Courses £625
Flight £600
PLB £205
Foul weather Jacket £200
Salopettes £60
Insurance for first aid course £25
Waterproof duffell bag 25l £30
Rain jacket £50
Polyprop top £16
Sunglasses £45
Dentist £275
Flights £747
Yachtmaster £292.5
Plotter/Divider £25
Sea Survival £150
VHF £115
VHF License £60
First Aid £99
PLB £199.95
US Visa - 6 Mths £115
Walkie Talkies £49.99
YHA Membership £15
Dentist £110
Doctor £15
Will £24.99
Gear frm Blacks £14
Yachtmaster postage £9.64
Lithium Batteries x3 for Camera £13.77
Pole for Go Pro £39.99
HH jacket £80

Fund raising

When you see all the boats in the race pictures and footage plastered with sponsor logos, it’s very easy to assume that you’ll be able to get some kind of corporate sponsorship to cover the costs of your row. Even the race literature received before we’d signed up had a stat claiming along the lines of “on average, crews get 70% of their costs covered by sponsorship”.

Sadly, this was not the case for us or the vast majority of the crews in our race of that we have encountered (ocean rowing is a small community).

In our race of 13 crews, we were only aware of 1 who had had major sponsorship - one of the crew’s employers had bought them the boat and paid the entry fee - and 2 others that had been given ~10k each from a sponsor - nothing to scoff at by any means but still a fraction of the overall costs.

If you have immediate connections then absolutely explore these but, if like 99% of ocean rowers, you are between the ages of 16-70, male or female and from a western country your time spent sending emails and making cold calls to North Face, Gillette and every booze company under the sun (you know, because Talisker Whisky sponsosrs the Atlantic race) would be much better spent at a second job behind your local bar or scanning groceries.

I can’t emphasize this enough, we contacted 315 (we kept track of all of this too) companies with witty scripts and tailored emails and recieved 0 positive responses!

It’s hugely demoralising to spend every evening and weekend for months and months writing emails and calling companies and getting zero response.

In the end I took out a large loan which I paid off over the next 3 years.

Equipment is, however, possible to come by and I would recommend going this route. We were able to get a job lot of sunscreen, waterproof luggage and various items of clothing. Most of the time they wanted nothing in return. I’m happy to share the names of the (mainly small British) companies privately for those interested.