Crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat has been a lifelong dream -- and in a few weeks, Wave Vidmar hopes it will come true.
"The coolest thing, after all this time, is that I'm finally getting to do this," the 45-year-old boat builder and explorer said. "I've been working on this for years."
The Martinez man, who moved to Georgia from California last year, is midway through assembling a unique, manually powered boat he helped design for the purpose of a solo trans-Atlantic voyage.
"We're about three weeks from launch -- I hope," he said while working in his boat studio at Hammond's Ferry subdivision in North Augusta, whose developers loaned him a vacant storefront for his project.
For the past three months, the 24-foot vessel has slowly taken shape -- rib by rib -- much to the delight of visitors who are welcome to drop in, watch the work, ask questions, sign a guestbook and gaze at the charts and photos that illustrate the unusual feat Mr. Vidmar plans to accomplish.
The rowboat will have two living compartments and plenty of communications gear, electronics and fresh water -- in addition to desalination equipment to make sea water drinkable, too.
He will have a satellite phone, too -- in case he needs to call someone during the three-month trip.
The boat is fashioned from a composite foam material skinned in layers of carbon fiber covered in fiberglass and Kevlar. It is lightweight but exceptionally strong.
Although the vessel is partially assembled, it still doesn't have a name.
"We were thinking of something like American Spirit but we haven't decided for sure," he said. "We're still playing around with names."
The adventure will involve rowing from a point near Cape Cod, Mass., to Europe.
"It's about 3,300 miles total," he said. "We're aiming for the Scilly Islands, but anywhere in that area that doesn't have a rocky coastline is fine."
Typically, the departure window for such a voyage runs from June 1 to the end of July, because of weather, ocean currents and prevailing winds.
"I'll be leaving later than anyone has before," he said, noting that only four others have successfully made such a trip.
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OCCUPATION: Professional explorer
OBJECTIVE: Row 3,300 miles from the U.S. to Europe in a homemade boat
WHEN IT HAPPENS: "We're about three weeks from launch -- I hope."
QUOTE: "Only one guy has called me a nut."