Rowing from Home to Home

“Given the myriad dangers involved, many of which I’ve witnessed myself in this part of the world, using 100% human power to connect Southeast Asia with New Zealand will be a remarkable achievement if Grant is successful. I wish him well!”

Jason Lewis – first person to circumnavigate the Earth without using motors or sails

The Vision

Rowing from home to home logoTo attempt a unique, challenging and environmentally friendly expedition through a remote and diverse area of our planet. To document and share the experience in order to educate and promote awareness in our environment. To inspire sustainable exploration and development along with healthy lifestyles.

Route map black and whiteExpedition Core Values

Total Commitment
Risk Management
Environmental Responsibility
Healthy living

The Name

All journeys have a start and and an ending point.  I am born and bred in Taranaki, NZ. Taranaki will always be my original home, and as with all homes, Taranaki has a very special place in my heart.  But for 18 years I have lived and worked in Singapore.  In Singapore I met my wife, have beautiful twin daughters, adventured, fought in the boxing ring and represented the country on the international rugby 7’s stage.  I am still very much a kiwi by heart, but someone who has adopted Singapore as a second home.  So the journey starts at my adopted home and ends at my home of origin. Literally – ‘Rowing from Home to Home!’

The Means?

Human power means just that. Human powered effort to move.  No engines, sails, parachutes etc.  If I wanted to sail a boat on this journey I would have bought a sailing boat!  Thus our rowing boat has no sails or possibility to install sails.  The only way of us physically and intentionally moving through the water will be through the three sets of oars (one main and two spares) we will bring along.

The Route

Our route will be split into three main legs:

Leg One – a 4500km row from Singapore down through the Indonesian Archipalego to Darwin, Australia

Leg Two– A  4500km cycle from Darwin across Australia to the East Coast

Leg Three – A 3000km row across the Tasman Sea from East coast Australia to Taranaki

The Why?

I am an adventurer.  Adventure is my passion.  I am not driven by records,  world-firsts or races, but have an intense curiosity to explore the world’s more remote and extreme locations using my own human power.  Human powered adventure is like super food for my soul, and a life without it has little appeal.

So the Rowing from Home to Home journey is first and foremost an adventure.  Whilst I will also be using the project as a vehicle to support various community and environmental projects,  I feel it is important to be completely honest on my reasons.

~ Adventure can and should be undertaken purely for adventure’s sake. It needs no higher justification. Adventure is a tremendously powerful and positive experience that enriches the life and communities of those who it touches. The more people who embark on environmentally friendly and sustainable adventure and exploration, the better off for our world.~

The Background

The elements that make up my perfect adventure are:

  1. It is unique
  2. It has no guarantee of success
  3. It is hugely challenging, pushing me far out of my comfort zone
  4. It involves real risk which requires complete commitment to manage
  5. It uses only my own human power with as little support as practically possible

Over 15 years of mountaineering and climbing around the world, I have become more and more interested in the ‘journey’ to the summit, rather than purely the summit itself.

in 2013, I first came up with the concept of ‘Peak to Peak’ journeys. Combining my love of mountaineering with human powered journeys by bicycle and kayak.  In 2013 I made ‘Peak to Peak New Zealand’.  Starting from the summit of Mt Ruapehu I traveled 1,300km completely by human power to the summit of of Aoraki/Mt Cook. In 2014 I repeated the concept in Europe, starting on the highest mountain in the UK and 2000km later finishing on the highest mountain in France.  And in 2015 I made another Peak to Peak from Singapore to Tioman Island in Malaysia.

I loved these journeys, they combined climbing, cycling long distances and kayaking dangerous open sea crossings.  But I still longed for something larger, something bigger. And I found that thing when I stood on the top of Mt Taranaki and gazed out into the Tasman Sea.  A human powered journey all the way from my current home (Singapore) where I had been living for 18 years, back to my original home, Taranaki in New Zealand.

A greater cause

It saddens me deeply to see our beautiful planet’s resources raped, burnt and pillaged for short-term gain.   You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand non-renewable energy sources and burning fossil fuels are not the future for our planet.  I want my children and my children’s children to grow up in a world with a positive future, not one where they breath air poisoned by carbon, devoid of coral reefs and slathered in concrete.

I hope my my passion for human-powered journeys will inspire other people to make similar journeys (indeed it already has), and allow people to appreciate and inspire the concept that we can achieve amazing things in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways

Expedition Logo

Our logo was designed by a Taranaki man (Mr Cory Bellringer).  You may wonder why a predominantly Ocean Rowing expedition has a mountain in the logo.  This is Mt Taranaki – a beautiful snow capped volcano which I grew up beside in the province or Taranaki, New Zealand. This is the first mountain I ever climbed at age 14.  It was many years later, during a climb of Mt Taranaki in 2014, that I first looked out over the Tasman Sea and came up with the plan to attempt this expedition.  From the mountain the sea looked huge, scary and beautiful, and I felt drawn to it.  Just as I feel drawn to mountains.  Mt Taranaki will be the point we will be aiming for to finish our expedition.  She will be our guide, our beacon to navigate towards as we near New Zealand.  Thus the mountain is a hugely important part of our expedition, hence our logo!

Standing on Fanthams Peak, Mt Taranaki and looking out over the Tasman Sea.

Standing on Fanthams Peak, Mt Taranaki in 2014 and looking out over the Tasman Sea.

The Boat

We will be rowing one of the latest and fastest ocean rowing boats available in the world.  The boat is designed and manufactured in the UK by Rannoch Adventures.  The hull is moulded from a blend of fibreglass and carbon, making it extremely strong but lightweight.  The boat is self-righting, so in the event of rough weather capsizing our vessel (which will most definitely happen) the boat is designed to roll back over by itself (as long as  the hatches are firmly shut!).  We will have solar panels and battery systems on-board to power a water maker which we will use to make our drinking water.  We also have a GPS system for navigation, an electrical autopilot which controls the rudder, a VHF radio, an AIS beacon which identifies our position to other ships, GPS tracking devices, emergency beacons and a satellite telephone for communication.

32 hours of rowing

The Team

It takes team work to make a dream work.

Their will be two team members in the boat rowing.  Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson (New Zealand) and a second member (who will change) for different legs of the journey.  One person will row at one time, most probably 2-hour-shifts (but the finer details we will work out during the voyage), non-stop, 24 hours per day (or as much as possible – I am 42 years old!) until we reach our destination.   Off the boat we will have a film crew (at select locations), a project manager, a nutritional consultant, a weather forecaster, team sponsors, a technical advisor, training consultants, website designers, a logo designer, a GPS tracking application consultant, and the boat building team.

What do we eat?

Weight is a concern on the boat, as we have to row every single inch with our own human power for thousands of kilometers.  We cannot afford to be carrying more weight then necessary.  For this reason we will bring mainly freeze dried food, which we simply add warm water for preparation.

How do we go to the toilet?

Using a small bucket which we empty over the side after we finish.


What do we do with our rubbish?

We bring it all back with us to land to dispose in a responsible and environmentally-friendly-manner.  One of the expeditions goals is to prove we can achieve great things with little impact on the environment.   We will aim to have as little impact as possible, taking only photographs and leaving only the wake of our small boat.

What are the risks

As with any real adventure, there is no guarantee of success. Their are considerable risks that need to be managed with the Rowing Home expedition.   These are not limited to:

  • Heat related physical issues from the intense sun in the tropics, e.g sunburn and dehydration
  • Physical exhaustion – their will be two team members in the boat and we will row individually for two hours on then two hours break, 24 hours/day for weeks on end.
  • Mental exhaustion – at times the stress will be considerable, living in such small cramped spaces for long periods with only one other person for company
  • Storms at sea – bad weather is something that we must plan for, in a small boat moving so slowly we will not be able to outrun the weather
  • Sea sickness
  • Crocodiles (as we near Darwin)Saltwater_crocodile
  • Sharks and other dangerous sea-life as we will need to enter the water regularly to clean the vessels hull
  • Shipping traffic – getting hit by a large vessel
  • Strong currents pushing us in undesirable directions
  • Piracy
  • Cold – as we cross the Tasman Sea
  • Separation from the vessel – if we have a man overboard situation where someone is swept off the vessel it can be impossible to row back to them in strong currents
  • Running aground – as we have only human power to propel our 800kg rowing vessel, we will be at risk of running into reefs or islands especially as we pass through Indonesian Islands and have to deal with the strong current flows between the islands
  • Lightning – we will be leaving in the North-East Monsoon, which is also thunder storm season.  During this period we can expect to be subject to tropical thunderstorms on a daily basis
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