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Date Note

My last blog

It’s over, I’ve done it!!

Before leaving, I used to say, it is a silly idea until you get on the other side. But once on the other side, let me tell you it is a brilliant idea. Sitting here this morning having a coffee for the first time in 75 days, it really feels like a brilliant idea.

I want to thank everyone who sent me messages of encouragement and congratulations.

I am really glad I did this. While I was on the ocean, everything seemed so unreal, even surreal. I’ve asked myself: why would someone do this? And frankly, I couldn’t find a good reason for the longest time. I found the answer the last night at sea and when I crossed the finish line. We do this for the satisfaction of having done something hard. This may be hard to understand for some. I encourage you to find your own ocean to row and live crossing your finish line. Be assured that now that it is over, I can say it was worth every drop of sweat and every penny I put into this project.

I took pictures and videos, but frankly the only memory I need is knowing I’ve done it. I will post more pictures and videos for your viewing pleasure, once I have had time to sort through them. In the meantime, here are some more arrival pictures:





Gerry has already started to party, so I got to go. Maybe we’ll meet again somewhere. Cheers!


First Pictures from Barbados





February 6th, 2014

Today Tony, his girlfriend Clare, our brother-in-law Pierre, Jean-Christophe and I will board the Majestic, a motor boat, to meet Jean-Guy at sea. We will wait for him around North Point, which is located at the northern tip of Barbados. Once he reaches North Point's longitude, he is deemed to have completed the crossing.

If weather permits and if he choses to, he will then row to Port St. Charles where he will finally land and let Maple rest. This last leg should take approximately four hours of rowing during which we will escort him. If he can't row to Port St Charles, we will tow him. If you are curious, Port St. Charles is located on Barbados' West coast, approximately a third of the way from the North.

We will not be able to send messages or photos until our return on land in Port St. Charles. We will do our best to send pictures as soon as we can. Once Jean-Guy has had some rest, I would not be surprised to see him update his blog.

Until then, thank you so much for being there and following his incredible journey,



Less than 100 miles to go - City lights

In 1988, I did the Hawaii Ironman. After, I wrote an article for the magazine Velo-Quebec. One of the paragraphs was entitled "City Lights". As you finish the marathon, you are still in the total darkness of the Hawaiian desert but you can see the lights of Kona. This sight gave me great joy. It meant I would finish.

With less than 100 nautical miles to go I should see land soon and my journey should end shortly after. It has been hard but so incredible. I can’t say now how this experience has changed my life. After doing the Ironman and starting my own business, I felt I had a "third thing" to do. I am sure now rowing the Atlantic was that third thing. Before I left, I wanted to embrace every moment. I enjoyed the good ones and felt privileged to be able to go though the hard times. I am now 60 years old. I will be very happy to see my wife, son, Tony, co-workers, family and friends.

Thank you for listening and all your good words. Thank you for your donations to the charities my adventure supported. A few days after my arrival, I will issue a final blog. OUT


Less than 200 miles to go - Going solo

There was never any question in my mind that I wanted to do this adventure solo. I am sure having someone else to share the experience is awesome but seeing someone else's family jewels first thing in the morning is not my favorite wake-up call. Another person may be useful if you are sick but you also become responsible for the other one if he becomes sick. I am clearly an introvert in the real sense as I don’t need a gallery to entertain and motivate myself.

However, it is sure nice to get all your messages. The real danger of being solo is freaking out and losing control of one’s self. A first mistake can cascade into a series of unfortunate events. I was really afraid of my first night at sea knowing that I wouldn’t get the benefit of a full moon before December 17th. All in all, it wasn’t that bad because there are so many things to do and you must focus on them. Having a routine is a good remedy to being lonely. Wouldn’t do it any other way. OVER


The Breakfast Club believes that all children should be able to pursue projects and nourish their dreams. The Club is committed to:

  • Serve our members a healthy breakfast in a friendly atmosphere every school day.
  • Treat children with respect while reinforcing their strengths and talents.
  • To warrant the confidence of partners and donors by keeping a close watch over our revenues and expenses.
  • We promise our employees and volunteers to promote the values of integrity, respect, and mutual aid.
I am happy to share my adventure with you through this site, in the hope that I can inspire and help youngsters. I chose to support the Breakfast Club of Canada and I invite you to give, within your means. You can do it on line, look for the Charity tab.

I am proud to have raised $ 10,485 since the beginning of 2013. I hope to raise at least $25,000. My thanks to all who have donated so far to such a noble cause.


Less than 300 miles to go - Everybody has an ocean to row

I am privileged to have been able to do such adventure. I know it. I tried to embrace every moment, the good and the bad. I am quite sure that with time the bad will fade and I will be left with an incredible panorama of memories.

If my story has encouraged you to challenge yourself, I say go ahead and do it. You don’t have to row an ocean. Maybe it’s just a 10k or quit smoking. For some, it could be as simple as finding a reason to get up in the morning. Or go out and look for a job. Telling your boss there is something wrong with your job or changing career path because you are not happy. Study hard for an exam. Starting a business, you know you have a good idea. Maybe it is just talking to your wife, daughter or son about a difficult issue. Your next challenge is right there in front of you and you most likely know what it is. You just need to embrace it.

Go ahead, find your own ocean to row. Change your life, live your life. OVER


Kids' Corner

Some news for kids of all ages

The kids asked if Gerry was looking forward to hug his fiancée. Of course, he thinks about her all the time. When he arrives, they will be inseparable!

They also wanted to know if I would do it again. That is a very good question. Once this crossing is over, I would not do another one, mostly because I am getting older and it requires an enormous amount of preparation; I want to move on to other things. However, if it were a first crossing and knowing what it implies, I would do it, no doubt. It is an extraordinary journey.

I don't see signs that I am getting closer to land yet ; no ships, no floating debris, not many fish although I found 8 flying fish on deck this morning, one was still swimming in the foot well. I am convinced I look awful, I have tiny red spots all over my body, my long beard is less than clean and my muscles are shrinking, especially the calves. I am glad there are only a few days left...


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Less than 400 miles to go - Arrivederci

We are getting closer, no doubt. The big guy is rowing tirelessly thinking about the pizza he will eat ashore. Me, I am dreaming of a BIG bowl of berries and a cold beer.

The weather is getting warmer and even though he still wears sleeves and shorts, I have thrown my sailor outfit away. It was too hot and really dirty, so I am blogging in my birthday suit, yep! Feels good! Philomène will bring me clean clothes, as Lucie will bring him a decent outfit that does not smell. The guy stinks!

Have I told you about Philomène? She is my fiancée. Look at her!

I can't wait to see her and tell her all about life on board Maple, how I was so indispensable. Keeping this blog has been exhausting and frankly, I need a rest. So I will generously let him take over this blog and entertain you with his thoughts until we arrive in Barbados.

It has been a pleasure. OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Less than 450 miles to go - The Annual golf trip

One of those trips that I am not invited to. He talks about it so much that it is just like I was there. It is now that time of the year where preparations for the annual golf trip heat up. It is called The Un "fore" given Tour. Each year, Dan leads a group of 16 to 20 guys to Orlando for 4 to 6 days of golf. Linda comes in with the groceries, prepares dinner and next day’s lunches.

The group is split in two teams and Lorne organizes matches in the Ryder Cup format. There are skins involved. He loves this format as it forces the player to focus and play every shot even when your game is not going well. Last year, there was a bit of a controversy around the handicap he was assigned (of course) because he played a lot better than expected (so he says). Not that he wants to brag or anything but last year he won the long drive competition and closest to the pin.

Last year, in anticipation of his row across the ocean, several guys pledged $7,500 in charitable donations. He would like to thank Bob who challenged everyone with a huge donation and all the others who gave. OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Less than 600 miles to go - The Boat

Maple was built by Jamie and Emily at Global Boat Works. It has been a wonderful companion on this odyssey. If you ask me, you have to be able to trust that your boat will take care of you and so far it has done so extraordinarily well. We have always felt safe even in high winds and big waves, even during capsizes. When we get into the cabin at the end of the day, it's like going home for the night. We know nothing can happen to us in there. Not that I am scared. This is a great design for a solo adventure (I don't row so I don't count, pff!) and Jamie builds them with great skills and meticulous attention to details.

This is the same design as John Beeden’s for his 2011 Atlantic crossing. Sarah Outen bought John’s boat to row the Pacific after she lost the previous iteration the year before. It is also the same boat as Charlie Martell’s. The big guy wants to thank John Beeden who gave him his build slot in Jamie's calendar, allowing MAPLE to come to life in 2013.

Jean-Guy will be selling the boat after the row. For that reason, it will be shipped either to Canada or back to the UK. Not sure yet. Anyone interested in buying? Contact me. Over.


Kids' Corner

Less than 700 miles to go, I look forward to being home!

I still have 700 miles to go, I should arrive in Barbados in 14 to 16 days. I look forward to seeing my family, friends and colleagues and going home, of course. But I don't feel lonely. I am so busy all day rowing that I don't have much time to think about what and who I miss, I have to be alert and aware of the conditions around me at all times. I don't trust those waves since I tipped over! And at night, I am so tired after securing all my gear and eating, I generally fall asleep easily. I talk to Lucie every night and to my son Jean-Christophe regularly.

You were wondering what I will do when I get back home? For now, all I dream of is to get some rest and do nothing! Spend an evening at home, eat pizza and watch a good movie by the fireside sounds delightful ... I have to stop thinking about this!


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 25 - 800 miles to go - The loo

What I am going to tell you now has to stay between us because it is quite a private matter. I never thought I was ever going to write about this. People who have played golf with Jean-guy know that, on a golf course, every tree is a potential toilet for him. Well on the ocean, there is plenty of open space and few watching eyes. It’s a real paradise. He is clearly the Numero Uno. The man overboard drill. Now, Numero TwoO is a different story. That’s where the bucket comes in. He has two buckets of different colors (imagine color coding). He uses one for solid human waste and then feeds the fishes. The other for domestic chores. It’s that simple.

Why is it called the loo? Well apparently, the toilet was commonly located in room 100 of buildings and "loo" and "100" looked very much the same. There are other theories but this one is good enough for me. And certainly good enough for him too. OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 24 - 900 miles to go - Tony Humphreys

I cannot blog myself across the Atlantic without talking about Tony Humphreys. Tony started Ocean Pursuits and has helped many ocean rowers pursue their dream. We met Tony in August 2012. We went to Dingle, Ireland together to see Sean Moriarty’s boat. Eventually, the boat was purchased by Angela Madsen for her Pacific adventure. Lucky for us, Tony is someone you can trust with your life and money. He is no BS kind of guy ( unlike...) and you will always get a straight answer to your question. He is our land crew. If the idiot has a problem to sort out he goes to him and he gets the answer if he doesn’t have it himself. He stored Maple at his house, helped with equip it, drove it down to the Canaries, and get ready for the launch.

We are in contact every day. He gives us weather information. He is also a contact for Jean-Guy"s lovely wife Lucie. He will be in Barbados and will find a boat to greet us as we approach the shore, and help us if need be. I highly recommend him to anyone wanting to row an ocean. Even more if you are doing it with someone like Jean-Guy. OVER


Some news

Jean-Guy was waiting for a calmer day to go in the water and clean Maple's hull ; he was able to do it this Wednesday, January 15. The hull was in excellent shape, he found just a few spots, nothing to worry about. He thinks he will not have to check it again before his arrival, which suits him fine! The water was pleasantly warm. He saw only one fish that looked like a sole ; he thought that if there are no fish, there probably are no bigger predators close by! The most challenging part was to get back on board. You have to be an acrobat in spite of the small ladder and ropes.

The three days when he could not row provided a much needed respite. He was able to rest, clean thoroughly and even ventilate his cabin. He is now ready for the last leg of his journey.

He appreciates your messages, thanks to all his followers!


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 23 - 1,000 miles to go - Planes, trains, automobiles, ferries and boats

I certainly was not ready for this. The trip from Toronto to the starting line was emotional, long, tiring but successful. Not sure whether he was John Candy or Steve Martin. We flew on Air Transat from Toronto to London and took a train to Plymouth, Devon in South West England. We spent a few nights at Tony’s while we did some final preparations, including stuffing the food in individual day packs. We trailered the boat to Gran Canaria taking a ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff in France, then drove through France and Spain. In Cadiz we took a ferry to Gran Canaria, spending two nights on the ferry boat.

The whole trip took about four days. It was nice to settle down in Puerto Mogan with Jean-Guy"s friend Jean-Louis. We found a marina in Puerto Rico where we could put the boat in the water by backing up the trailer. This is why we left from Puerto Rico and not Puerto Mogan. We had a few odd jobs to do, including touch up with anti-foul paint. Maple was ready to go on November 24 so we left. At the time the weather looked good for several days ... we now know what happened a week later. OVER.


Kids' Corner

What do you do when you cannot row?

I have not been able to row in the last couple of days due to unfavorable winds. The day before yesterday, I rested, I was really tired!. I cleaned up the cabin thoroughly yesterday and this morning, I took a deep breath and went in the water to clean Maple's hull. The great news is that there was almost nothing, just a few spots to scrape, wonderful!

I also draw ... My brother-in-law Robert drew something with our recent path, here it is:


Give me paper and paint and I produce a daub but I must admit I am not bad with water drawing! Robert saw a mouse, one can also see a turtle ... do you see anything else?

Since I am not rowing, I gave Gerry a break from blogging, he needed to file his claws.


Conditions are such that I can't row and there is nothing in sight, no whale, no boat, nothing... I have plenty of time to ramble .... Hints that you have been gone too long...

  • Rob Ford re-elected by one vote
  • Maple Leafs are celebrating the 50th anniversary of winning the Stanley Cup
  • You have more beard than hair
  • Fishes think you smell funny
  • Your broker still wants to know if you want to sell those Nortel shares
  • You are starting to believe that maybe Al Gore really invented the Internet
  • All the music you have been listening to is royalty free
  • Every day you wonder, have I been here before?
  • Your son now calls you uncle


Congratulations to Mylène Paquette, voted personality of 2013 La Presse / Radio-Canada!

Last night, there was no wind, no wave and total silence around me. It was magical yet creepy! I expect unfavorable winds in the next couple of days. I cannot row today and will soon put the anchor out.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 22 - 1,100 miles to go - A rare breed

Ten years ago, the big guy read a book written by Hannes Lindemann, Alone At Sea. He crossed the ocean twice in the 1950’s. The first time in a dugout canoe, the second time in a kayak. Ever since, he has been fascinated by the fact that such a feat was humanly achievable. When he started to explore the idea of rowing an ocean, there were only two Canadians who had done so successfully, Louis Ginglo and Paul Attala. Both considerably younger than him. He met Paul in 2005 at the Yukon River Quest. In 2013, Mylene Paquette successfully rowed the North Atlantic from Halifax to France. She became the third solo Canadian rower and the first North American to row the North Atlantic. The idiot will become the fourth Canadian overall to row an ocean solo and only the third to row the Atlantic East to West using the Trade Winds route. By far, he will be the oldest and he is hoping to be the fastest. Comparatively, more Canadian astronauts have flown into space than there have been solo ocean rowers.

Me? I believe I will be the first bear IN THE WHOLE WORLD to have been in charge of an ocean rower's blog. Yep! OVER


Did you know that the Breakfast Club, which was officially recognized by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), had such a positive impact on the students’ academic performance at the Longueuil school where it was first implemented in the 1990's that other schools soon got on board. With the support of a growing number of private and public partners, the Club des petits déjeuners du Québec would be active in nearly 290 primary and secondary schools across Quebec. When the need to establish breakfast clubs across the country was recognized, the formula was applied to schools in Western Canada and the Atlantic Provinces and is now present in all ten provinces and two territories.

I am happy to share my adventure with you through this site, in the hope that I can inspire and help youngsters. I chose to support the Breakfast Club of Canada and I invite you to give, within your means. You can do it on line, look for the Charity tab.

I am proud to have raised $ 9,995 since the beginning of 2013. I hope to raise at least $25,000. My thanks to all who have donated so far to such a noble cause.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog no. 21 - 1200 MILES to go - No stranger to endurance events

You tend to confide in someone when you are 24/7 together like JG and I. He told me that he was no stranger to endurance events having completed the Montréal Marathon, the Hawaii Ironman and the Yukon river Quest, which I knew.

However, it seems that as a teenager, never you would have guessed that he would embark into such sports and ultimately row an ocean. In the schoolyard, he would be the last one picked up out of a lineup to play a game of softball or touch football. As a youngster, he never learned to skate and play hockey because he was too poor. He did not have a father to play catch. He had his first bicycle as a teenager. He started to run marathons at age 25. At age 35, he took a sabbatical to train for the Ironman Triathlon. He had to learn to swim. He took up paddling a kayak to do the Yukon River Quest. Finally, he bought a rowing erg in the Fall of 2010 to start to train for the ocean row. He attended two rowing camps at River Breeze Rowing in Pennsylvania. Very good coaching from Charlotte and John.

It’s all in the mind, that I knew! OVER


Kids' Corner

Did you see any marine life?

At the beginning of my journey, I found tiny flying fishes on Maple's deck. They looked like little shrimps with wings. I also saw sea breams and had a glance at a whale (at least I think it was a whale). I had not seen anything else until a few days ago when I found two larger flying fishes on deck; they were probably 6-7 inches long. I also saw a bird that looked like a seagull this week. That's all I have seen so far.

Are you happy to be back to school after the Holidays?


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog no. 20 - 1,300 miles to go - Boat traffic and AIS

The last place you would think about traffic is on the ocean but... The real danger of rowing across an ocean is having a collision with a boat. Chances are, the captain of a big boat wouldn’t even know that he hit us. For that reason, one important piece of equipment installed on the boat is an AIs, an automatic identification system. Ours is from RayMarine, I certainly don't have a clue how it works. Lucky me, the idiot does. It is connected to the GPS and it sends information about the boat and its position to boats in the VHF range (15 to 25 NM). It also receives information from surrounding ships to alert us as well. At night, when we sleep, the alarm will wake us up if one is in range. In case of doubt, the big guy would communicate with the ship on the VHF radio. He would ask them to acknowledge that they can see us and veer of course if they are gunning for us.

Chances are that we will see boat traffic at the beginning and the end, but not in the middle. I saw several ships as he looped west of the islands. Since leaving the islands, we saw pleasure craft sailboats and neither had an AIS and could not be reached on the VHF. The first one passed very close, possibly 150 feet, we could hear their voice. He triggered the white flare because he was not sure they had seen us. It was the Callisto ; one of the passengers took the two pictures that were posted on yesterday's blog. The second one passed us about 200 feet away.

I don't know if you noticed but we are half-way there. I am starting to get the hang of it. Blogging is tough but someone's got to do it. He is quite busy rowing. When we arrive, I am thinking of writing my bio: The old bear and the sea. OVER


Almost half-way

Jean-Guy has almost reached the half-way point, it should happen before tomorrow morning.

Here is some information and our very first pictures.

Average distance since he left the Canaries: 29.5 nautical miles per day
Average distance since December 13, 2013, date when weather changed in his favor: 42.86 nautical miles per day

He used his Go Pro camera to explore Maple's hull without going in the water and he was pleased to see that so far there are no issues with barnicles and therefore he does not have to go in the water.

Condensation is less of a problem now, he keeps all his rowing clothes in a dry bag that he stores in the storage cabin at night, and avoids going back and forth in the cabin.

He sent us this small picture of himself:


On December 13, 2013, he crossed the path of the Callisto, a catamaran. Uwe Gehring took these two pictures of Maple. Thank you Uwe, readers can visit Uwe's website (German only) at



Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 19 - 1,400 miles to go

On a short leash

One danger of rowing solo is falling off the boat and not being able to come back in because of the wind and waves pushing it faster than he can swim. He just told me that he is not a good swimmer even though he did the Hawaii Ironman.

I understand now why the first thing he does when he leaves the safety of the cabin is to leash himself. In fact, clipping himself is the first thing He does as he opens the door and starts to fiddle his way out.

If the weather is calm, a leash is sufficient. However, if the weather is rough, he wears his life jacket and harness. It is a Spinlock Deckvest with integrated harness and spray hood. It is very light and comfy to wear as it is an inflatable. If he falls in the water it will auto-inflate as soon as the trigger mechanism is under 10 cm of water. It has a light antenna that is activated on inflation. It has a pocket where he can store his PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) should he fall in and need help. Now, where is my life jacket? OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog no. 18 - 1,500 Miles to go


I am exhausted. After training for marathons, the Ironman, the Yukon river quest, he trained to row the ocean. I prefered going for rides on his motorbike, it was way less exhausting.

You don’t train to row an ocean like you train for a marathon where you can target to do, say, 75% of the distance of the event. Some people say rowing an ocean is mostly mental. In some respect I agree as ultimately, everything we do is a matter of will. However, the rowing is hard, specially when winds, waves and current are against you. A strong body promotes an even stronger mind, pushes the limit where it becomes solely a matter of will. It helps for the first two weeks where you are trying to get your sea legs and going through phases of sea sickness. Managing the para-anchor is physically demanding as well. Eventually, your body starts to break down and you lose weight. It is not a bad idea to start with a few pounds to lose.

For 2-3 years before the crossing, the big guy rowed, did other cardio and strength training. Towards the end, he was rowing up to three times a day in sessions of 60 to 120 minutes. He tried to train at higher intensity knowing that on the ocean it would be a slower pace, making things more bearable. OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry’s blog no. 17 - 1 000 miles done, 1600 miles to go

Wow, the old guy turned 60 this week, on December 31. You should have seen his face when French CBC RDI matin’s team sang “Bonne fête” live to him!

Alone at sea. Alone on Christmas, his birthday, New Year. He handled that quite well. He opened his surprise envelopes with much joy, he had done the same for his wife and son, leaving them each with a letter to open on Christmas day.

Yesterday, he tweeted that it’s becoming more mental than physical. He is progressing really well but it’s a lot of work and after a few hours rowing, fatigue sets in and he is tempted to take more frequent breaks. That’s when his legendary “mental” kicks in.

Believe it or not, he is very happy to celebrate his 60th by rowing an ocean. It goes to show how humans have pushed the boundaries of aging. When he was young, people aged 50 and over looked really old. With better nutrition and regular physical activity, it is possible to postpone the time you look and, most importantly, feel old. Don’t think that you will all row an ocean when you turn 60, but if this crossing encourages someone to make changes in their life, so much the better. In the mean time, here is a toast (water remember, no alcohol on board) to 2014 and to being 60! OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no 16 - less than 1,700 miles to go

According to Jean-Guy, the path from the Canary Islands to the Caribbeans is like a hockey stick. Initially, we go South West towards Cape Verde. Then it is almost straight across. The weather goes from cozy to very hot. At the start, temperature was 20-24 degrees Celsius but nights got into lower teens. However, since the first few days, he has not rowed after dark. He does not like it.

Initially, he rowed mostly with a long sleeves sweater and if required a wind breaker jacket. When raining, he adds to it the same clothes as he did in the Yukon, waterproof jacket and pants. As we get closer to Cape Verde (where the butter melts as Columbus would say), it should get really warm and the shells and layers will come off. An old urban legend has it that eventually the rowers start to row naked. I’ll say one thing about that, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I certainly will not comment on that one. He was right to worry about blisters. To help his hands, he wears golf gloves. It helps but his hands are not a pretty eye sight. Another problem is the butt. It gets tired quickly into his two-hour shifts. Ironically, as the adventure progresses, the layer of natural cushion is thinning. What am I suppose to do about this? He is a real number this one! OVER


Happy Birthday Jean-Guy

Today you turn 60 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, alone, after many months of preparation. My romantic side likes to imagine you standing proudly, tanned, drinking champagne, listening to Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 under the stars. I know that your reality is different.

I know that your day started the same way as all other days, getting out of your cabin around 8:00 a.m. to start your 10 to 11 hours of rowing. That you will secure your oars and equipment before going back to your cabin , that you will make some water, that you will call me to tell me that you are fine. I will read your messages to you and you will be amazed at how your adventure touches people. You will prepare your dinner, listen to music for a little while despite the fact that your ear phones are suffering from condensation, and you will fall asleep, to repeat the same routine tomorrow.

I know that it is generally cloudy and that you do not get to see the stars every night.

I know that you will celebrate with a glass of cola because you did not bring any alcohol.

I know that your hands are in a poor state and that it will be weeks after you come back before they return to normal.

I know that if you had not been wearing your hat when you capsized the first time, you would have lost your eyeglasses. Your hat protects your glasses the same way Maple protects you.

I know that all your clothes are humid and dirty.

I know that the sheets that I had modified to fit the small mattress in your cabin are now in a garbage bag because of mould.

I know that you look forward to eating fresh fruit and pizza!

Most importanly, I know that you would not want to be anywhere else.

Happy 60th Birthday Jean-Guy,



Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no 15 - 1,800 miles to go


Jean-Guy just told me that he will eventually have to go and clean the boat underwater. As the boat travels, it may have picked up barnacles that clinged to the bottom of the boat. Eventually, too much of it will slow down the boat significantly. The slower the boat will travel, the more likely barnacles will keep on clinging to it. So what is he waiting for? FEAR! Like his fear of the first night at sea which according to me turned out to be a non-event . He talked to me about Jaws and that the fear is most likely unfounded, just like meeting a predatory bear in the wild. Does he remember who he is talking to? But still, the fear is there.

In any event, he brought a couple of scrappers for the job. To prevent , or at least reduce the appearance of barnacles, the boat builder has painted the bottom with an anti-foul paint. Apparently, the paint works very well and he may have a pleasant surprise. Fingers crossed. I will let you know when he will go. Usually, one would wait for a calm sea because it is easier to see what’s happening. I may be able to GoPro the attack! Very reassuring! OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog No. 14 - 1,900 Miles to go

Electrical power

On board MAPLE, there are many devices requiring electrical power. The main piece of kit is the watermaker, now known as the watermaker from hell. There are also the VHF radio, the satellite phone, the A.I.S., the GPS, the laptop, the tracking device, etc. I had asked for air conditioning, and the big guy could use a trimmer for his beard, hey, he is starting to look like my granpa. Nobody listens to me.

Such electricity is supplied by two batteries recharged using solar energy. The boat is equipped with three solar panels of 34 Watts each, for a total of 102 Watts. The two batteries are connected in parallel and each has a capacity of 95 amps-hour. A regulator between the solar panels and batteries ensure these are not overcharged. A battery monitor allows him to have an eye on amps, volts and amps-hour. There is also a switch panel that allows him to turn on and off the feed to the various devices. At night, as a minimum, we need enough power to feed the A.I.S (anti-collision communicator), the GPS and the navigation light. Ideally, we also want enough power to feed the VHF radio. Should we run out of power, we carry a manual watermaker. I am getting tired of all this technical stuff, I need a nap. OVER


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog no. 13 - 2,000 miles to go

Hello this is Gerry your swell's angel directly from the Atlantic.

Except for a damaged boat, running out of beer, hmmm sorry running out of drinking water is the most serious threat to the big guy and the adventure. It is ironic to be surrounded only by water. We need a minimum of five liters of water per day. For a 90-day crossing, it is not practical to bring the water needed. For that reason, the boat is equipped with a watermaker. The now infamous watermaker from hell. It has been out of commission several times already but it has now been stable for several days. It takes water from the ocean and converts it into drinkable water. The watermaker is a Schenker Smart 30. It is quite energy efficient and can make up to 27 liters per hour. We carry three 5-liter containers. Daily production is based on sun conditions. If it’s cloudy, the reserve is used to save the solar powered batteries for other equipment. On sunny days, containers are replenished. The big guy brought 13 bottles of cola. The empty botlles can be used to store additional reserves if necessary. OVER


Update from Lucie

As many of you know, Southwestern Ontario was hit with a major ice storm last weekend. This has affected my access to power/internet. I will therefore provide you a short update.

Jean-Guy is keeping a good rowing pace at the moment, about 10/11 hours of rowing per day. Conditions are still cloudy and windy, so he hasn't had a chance to ventilate the cabins and allow the accumulated condensation to escape. He is looking forward to a nice sunny day very soon. He is also benefiting from favourable currents, which allow him to make progress even when he is resting.

We would like to thank every one of you for your encouragements, your messages and your general interest in this adventure. We wish you a very happy holiday season and may 2014 be full of wonderful adventures and discoveries. I will provide a further update when I have better internet access.

P.S. Jean-Guy will be interviewed live on French RDI Matin on the 25th around 10 am.


Ten hints this is not a luxury cruise

  • No turn in service
  • The toilet is literaly outside
  • No sheets on bed
  • You cook your own meal
  • Single exercise gym
  • No complaints dept
  • Bring your own boat
  • No butler
  • You are not going where it says on a brochure
  • You know when you leave but don’t know when you arrive


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's Blog no. 12 - 2,100 MILES to go

Hello this is Gerry your swell's angel directly from the Atlantic. Apparently, some have asked what does the big guy eat. A lot but not as much as he thought. He brought 450,000 calories for 90 days, 5,000 per day. However he is (only!) eating 3,500 - 4,000 per day. He says it is because he eats a lot of sports energy bars that contain the right type of sugar and the correct combination of carbs, proteins and fat. Well phew. The 5,000 daily calories consist of:

  • Dehydrated High protein porridge breakfast
  • Dehydrated main meal
  • Dehydrated dessert
  • The total for these three is 1,800 calories
  • 10-11 energy bars for a total of 2,300 calories
  • 2 flapjacks for a total of 900 calories (equivalent of muffin, cake, brownie, very fatty)
There are other snacks not included above, like chips, chocolate, fruit cake, peaches in syrup, hot hocolate, etc.

As you can see, even if the crossing took more than 90 days, we would most likely have enough food.


Did you know that The Breakfast Club was launched in 1994 at a school in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Longueuil (MOntreal's South Shore). When he founded the first club, Daniel Germain wanted to give all children the opportunity to have a nutritious breakfast before going to their classroom.

I am proud to have raised $ 9,120 for the Breakfast Club since the beginning of this year. I hope to raise at least $25,000. My thanks to all who have donated so far to such a noble cause.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 11 - 400 MILE

This is Gerry the bear reporting live from the Atlantic.

Lets start with where we left off the last blog. So apparently, chances of capsize are minimal. Well big guy, make sure you buy a lotto ticket because you won first prize. Moments after the blog was issued it was reported we had capsized. More like a bike crash if you ask me. We were on the deck, him rowing and me doing what I do best. All of a sudden big side wave with big boil. Next thing we know we are in the drink and Maple has already self righted. Like magic. They should make motorcycles like that.

Anyway lost a few things like water bottle, electrolyte container, stash of bars for the day, one pair of very used gloves, and a bit of garbage. The inside of the cabin was a mess and I am glad it happened while on deck. We coud have been injured from falling debris.

Otherwise you know that this adventure is all about row, eat, sleep. The boat has two cabins, one in the front (forward, bow) and one in the back (stern, aft). Both cabins are watertight. Ah ah. If, no no that is when, the boat capsizes, the air in the cabins and the low center of gravity cause the boat to self-right in a matter of seconds.

The front cabin is for storage. This is where tools, ropes, para-anchor, drogues, etc. are stored. The back cabin is the living quarters and is where we sleep. It is also home to all the electronics and charging station as well as the watermaker, the now famous watermaker from hell. The cabin is slightly longer than six feet and we can only sit in it. We can’t stand. It is easier to back into the cabin to get in. If the weather gets ugly, we hide in the cabin and shut the door. There are two vents to allow fresh air to get in. If there are risks of capsizing, these vents must be kept shut. In that case, we must open the vents or the door periodically to get fresh air in. We sleep on a custom made air/foam mattress. We’ve had a major condensation problem and we are hoping for a calm warm day to tidy things up and ventilate the inside. I feel I am sleeping at the botanical garden. Anyway ok bye OVER


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

What do you eat? Do you have a small BBQ?

I don’t have a small BBQ but I have a special kettle that I can use to boil water. I have to be very careful to avoid burning myself when the ocean is rougher.

I used boiling water to rehydrate my freeze-dried meals. Oatmeal is really good and I also have rice and pasta dishes. I particularly like meals with chicken. Occasionally I make some chocolate poudding!

Provided there are no big waves, I make myself a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and a hot meal for dinner at night. The rest of the day I eat protein bars and plenty of snacks that are high in calories, to help me row. When the waves are really big, I eat bars and snacks, or I cook with cold water...

From time to time, I eat chips and I drink pop (don’t tell Gerry!).


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 10 - 300 MILE

7:00 PM - Update from Lucie

Jean-Guy had an eventful day today! He spent the first 2 hours of the day fixing his watermaker that had not been working properly. Then he started rowing. While rowing, Maple was hit by a huge wave coming from the side, totally unexpected. Thankfully, he uses an ankle leash at all times while on deck and he also had the reflex to grab the ramp. In an instant he was in then out of the water. He lost a few items such as his water bottles and the food he had brought on deck for the day. The content of his cabin was in shambles. He spent the balance of the day securing everything in his cabin more tightly. He was not hurt seriously, only a big bruise on his calf. When we spoke this afternoon, he was looking forward to a quiet and sunny day soon, to be able to row and ventilate his cabin as there is much condensation in there. After such a busy day, he went to bed wearing his helmet. Guess what? He capsized for a second time while asleep. He texted me that he is okay, no worries. Thank you all for the messages and encouragements sent on this site and on social media. They are truly appreciated, even if they are not answered personally.

MILE 300

This is Gerry the bear reporting live from the Atlantic. It’s now official, the big guy has lost it. He talks to the ocean calling out doggie, doggie, doggie. Of course he should say fishy, fishy, fishy. I’ll excuse him this being his first crossing. I saw him talk to the waves telling them that’s enough splashing. Obviously, they weren’t listening.

By the way, the path taken to cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean is called the Trade Winds route. This crossing is done during the winter months because the risk of hurricanes is virtually zero. The weather can be bad, the waves can be big but all considered to be manageable. The risks of capsizing are also minimal and many successful crossings do not suffer a capsize. Note from Lucie: Ironically, as we were posting this blog, Jean-Guy informed us that he experienced his first unscheduled capsize! He is fine, has lost a few small items. More details will come later.

Sometimes the wind runs West to East, forcing the boat back to where you started. For such eventuality, we carry a para-anchor. This is like a parachute. You throw it in the water and it catches tons of water. As the wind pushes the boat further back, the rope tightens up. The drift of the boat in the wrong direction is slowed down if not stopped.

If the wind is in the proper direction but scarily strong, then we use a drogue. This is like the para-anchor but smaller. It slows down the boat and helps it maintain a course perpendicular to the waves. We have been on the para-anchor several times already as we have experienced unusual weather patterns for this time of the year. The big guy says he is surprised he hasn't been scared so far, not even the first night out. I tell him wait for the first real storm, then we'll see.

Okay now for the big loop. I must confess this is all my fault. I dropped my beret in the drink and asked him to go back to get it, which as the complete idiot that he is he did. Well you know the rest of the story. I'm sorry I won't do it again. OVER


Blog Jean-Guy wrote while he was heading North and that he was finally able to send last night. He has not lost his sense of humour!

Ten hints I am going north

  • People wear more clothes, not less
  • I can hear Shania Twain in timmins
  • Turkey is not country but a bird
  • Ford is not a car but a mayor
  • Even as they appear bigger and larger, the Leafs still lose
  • Water starting to freeze
  • More rock less reggae
  • The ocean is as bumpy as the roads in Quebec
  • Canadian dollar is accepted at par
  • I come across Mylene as she was heading for Lorient


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 9 - MILE 200

This is Gerry, your swell's angels. There are enough electronic gadgets on this boat to develop brain cancer. But I can't touch any, you know, because I'm a bear. Here's the list:

  • Two satellite phones, to make voice calls and connect to the Internet using them as modems
  • One two-way satellite SMS messenger and tracker, to send text messages, the boat's position, tweet and Facebook.
  • One mini iPad, to read books, listen to music, Bluetooth with messenger, look at satellites, link with GoPro, look at stars, etc.
  • Two iPods to listen to music
  • One laptop computer to send and receive emails, blogs, etc.
  • One EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) in case the big guy gets in big trouble
  • One PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) in case the big guy gets in big trouble and the EPIRB is not functional or not available
  • One GoPro to take videos
  • One waterproof camera to take pictures and videos
    • If you would like to know more about ocean rowing, check out the website Many books have been written by ocean rowers. The big guy read several in preparation for his row. Everything started with a book from Hannes Lindemann, Alone at sea. After, he read books from Roz Savage(Lessons Learned On The Open Ocean), Tori Murden (A Pearl in the Storm), Maud Fontenoy (Across the Savage Sea), Kevin Biggar (The Oarsome Adventures of a Fat Boy Rower), Debra Veal (Rowing it Alone), James “Tiny” Little (, Norman Beech (The Atlantic Job, A Dad and A Lad) and many more. There are several videos, including one from James "Tiny" Little that is quite amusing. Until next time, that is Gerry, your swell's angel saying OVER


Here we go again! I rowed for 12 hours yesterday, taking advantage of better conditions. I saw a sailboat heading in my direction, I had to use a flare to signal my presence because they did not have an AIS system and their radio was turned off. They came within 50 meters of Maple, thinking that we needed help. Surreal!

I am happy to share my adventure with you through this site, in the hope that I can inspire and help youngsters. I chose to support the Breakfast Club of Canada and I invite you to give, within your means. You can do it on line, look for the Charity tab.

I am proud to have raised $ 9,000 since the beginning of this year. I hope to raise at least $25,000. My thanks to all who have donated so far to such a noble cause.

Did you know The Breakfast Club's purpose and approach?

  • helping vulnerable children ;
  • making sure they receive a nutritious breakfast at school ;
  • creating an atmosphere and projects that feed their self-esteem, ;
  • joining forces with communities and regional agencies to find the most suitable formula;
  • helping youngsters develop their full potential and training a new, committed generation.


Kids' Corner

Are your arms hurting?

When I stop rowing, my arms are tired, but they don't hurt. That is mostly because I have been training for a long time and my arms muscles are developed. Gerry disagrees on this one but I let him babble.

it is more common for a rower to feel pain in the .... butt, literally! That is because of the continuous friction on the seat. The hands are painful too.

At night, my back is stiff from the rowing. When you row, the effort required and the strokes are not always distributed equally on both sides and for that reason my knees hurt some days. Gerry looks after me and he can call Dr Louis and Dr Kevin if he needs advice.


Message from Lucie.

Jean-Guy had a bumpy night, he wore his protective helmet for the first time, just in case, but he did not capsize! He told me that his boat handles the conditions wonderfully and he feels absolutely no fear. The boat is like a little submarine and it is starting to feel like an extension of his body. He is getting used to how the boat moves with the conditions, as if it were an extra limb. It is noisy in the cabin as sounds are amplified.

Tonight he plans on removing the sea anchor and replace it with cables that will help the boat head South. With a little luck, he hopes to resume rowing tomorrow!


Note from Jean-Guy:

Two weeks, a lifetime. And I'm back to where I was just five days into the adventure. I must say that I am surprised by how quickly I got acclimatized to my new environment. I was lucky that my seasickness lasted less than 48 hours. I thought I would freak out my first night out but I didn't. I feel safe and I believe it is the boat. I feel it will take care of me. Rowing against contrary conditions is exhausting, a lot harder than surfing down waves. I write this with the boat on the para-anchor and I welcome the rest.

Lucie tells me about all your messages. Thank you so much.

I have no serious aches or pain, but my hands are ugly. I’d like to get into more of a routine, and better conditions should help me do that. When you row solo, every time you stop in contrary conditions, you go back. So you try to avoid it. I feel privileged to be out here. I experienced total absence of sound on a calm day when the ocean was flat as a pancake. Surfing down waves is exhilarating. You feel alive. But as Gerry would say, it gets to be a good idea only on the other side; until then it is silly.

P.S. If you want to find out more about the weather conditions on the ocean, please refer to Gerry's Blog no.6 dated October 31, 2013 by using the dropdown menu below.


Thank you Robert for this moving image:


Jean-Guy's adventure is making waves in the media. Here's a picture of an article on the second page of the Toronto Sun. There is a link below if the image is not clear on your computer.

Lien: Article in Toronto Sun


Jean-Guy has made good progress today and will continue to row tonight to stay on course. Health and spirits okay, a bit tired because it is hard work! Gerry gives him the pace. Thank you for your good wishes.


Jean-Guy finally gets friendly winds and currents that help him get out of the loop of the last few days. In the next 6 to 7 days, he will focus all his energy on heading South-East, based on prevailing conditions. He will row energetically to keep out of this mess and avoid getting sucked back to the North.

He has not seen any huge waves yet. He eats well although less calories per day than anticipated. His ...butt is allegedly showing signs of wear!

I gave him all your good wishes, thank you all,



Those darned, unfavourable winds and currents! As you can see, Jean-Guy has been fighting contrary winds in the last week. He bravely rows against the wind every day to limit damages but when he stops to sleep, there goes the boat! The sea anchor is put to use. We expect conditions to improve on Saturday or Sunday and until then, he will continue to row while keeping high spirits. Thank you all for the good words, they are appreciated. Tonight he plans on supplementing dinner with cola and chips!


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

Why do you appear to be backtracking?

I don't want to return to the point of departure, but the winds are pushing the wrong way! I am rowing several hours every day but I barely move forward. Also, when I pause to eat or to rest, I lose almost all the distance I had gained! Quite a story! I look forward to the winds blowing in my favour, which should happen in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I'm practicing being patient and I am using the sea anchor.

Gerry is getting bored, because he loves speed ...


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

Did the fish that got in the boat have wings?

It appeared to have small wings. Gerry was tempted to take a little bite, but he left it alone.

I have seen other creatures from the ocean. I saw a school of seabream fish, who come to the water's surface, like dolphins, and make a group sound that may be breathing. And I saw the whale too not too far away. Very cool!


December 2nd

Already one week!

Jean-Guy is feeling well and no longer seasick. He is now used to moving around on deck and in the cabin. The winds are slowing him down these days but he keeps rowing towards his destination. He has used the sea anchor a lot lately. He appreciates the messages that you send.

See Jean-Guy’s progress so far, with a few manual edits added by his brother-in-law Robert!


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

What happens to the boat while you sleep?

Of course the boat drifts a bit while I sleep. That's why you'll notice that my journey sometimes goes off course! Before going to sleep, I can position the rudder so the boat stays on course as much as possible. If I expect that the wind will carry the boat in a wrong direction, I set up a sea anchor in order to slow down the boat's drift. I also have a piece of equipment that will sound an alarm and wake me up if a ship approaches my boat. Once up, I have plenty of time to contact the other ship by radio, give them my position and ask them to modify their course if needed.

I have a question for you. A little bird has been following me in the last two days. it is a black bird, with touches of red and white. It is small and quite pretty. What kind of bird would it be?


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 8 - MILE 100

It's Gerry, your swell's angel. Whoa. That's a lot of water. I don't know what he was thinking. I wish now he would have sobered up earlier. Now it's too late. I could use a beer but sadly, there is no alcohol on this boat. Not for XMAS, New Year's or his 60th. So much water but so dry. At least it is warm. I pity you all back in Canada.

But this is no motorcycle ride. So slow! Come on, push it. I want to get on the other side for the Super Bowl or at least the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. A bit of a roller coaster! I haven't been seasick. Can't say the same of the big guy! Not sure how we call that colour. Yuk! We are now clear of all the islands and well on our way.

The big guy is asking me to remind you that we are rowing for the benefit of two charities: the Breakfast Club of Canada and the Actuarial Foundation of Canada. The big guy is hoping that you will consider that the entry price to this website is a donation to either one. We want to raise at least $25,000 for the Breakfast Club of Canada. They feed our kids in the morning before they start their school day, in excess of 20 million meals per year. We must take care of our youth if we want a future. You know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Me, I'm groggy when I don't have my big breakfast. I can't think right. Give so our kids can have a future. Every little bit helps, so it does not have to be large amounts. Give according to your means. Go to the charities page for more information. You can send a cheque by mail or give online. OVER


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

Did you bring chocolate? What else?

I brought lots of food, but I didn't bring much chocolate because it would melt if it got warm. During the first few days, I had seasickness, but I managed to eat a liquid mix of protein powder and water. Now that I feel better, I am eating energy bars and freeze-dried food (that's food from which water was removed and that I later add water to). I also brought lots of snacks that I eat while I am resting from the rowing. Those are delicious snacks, like chewy bars, dried fruits, etc.

I have a question for you. Yesterday morning, I found a dead fish in my boat when I woke up. It was about the size of a large shrimp. How did it end up in my boat? What kind of fish can it be?


November 28th

Days of firsts!

The firsts have been piling up since yesterday. I have:

  • tasted my first oatmeal.
  • tasted my first freeze-dried meal.
  • seen a boat and communicated with the captain by radio.
  • used my sea anchor for the first time.
  • rowed with the sea anchor in the water.
  • learnt my first lesson: leave something untied and you will lose it! I took out my little inflatable mattress on the deck (luckily not my bed mattress), I blew it up, I turned around for a second to pick up a rope to tie it up and ... the mattress flew away! If anyone ever finds this mattress, it's mine!
  • treated my first injury, a minor wound to the tibia, caused by an oar that hit me quite hard.
  • found a small dead fish in my boat this morning.
  • noticed a bird following me.
After all of this, I ate chips and drank a cola ... for the first time!


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

How do you wash yourself?

I wash myself with baby wipes (yes, baby wipes!) and I sponge bath too. I have a machine that removes salt from water, called a desalinator. So I can wash myself with unsalted water. Washing yourself with a wash cloth isn't as easy as taking a bath or a shower. But it's all right: it's like camping in the woods! I try to wash off my skin before going into the cabin so I don't spread salt everywhere! And then Gerry reminds me to brush my teeth every day and to put some deodorant!


Kids' Corner

Kids' Corner

We received questions from children and have decided to create the Kids' Corner where we will post one question per day. We hope that kids of all ages will find it of interest!

Did you bring your pyjamas?

No, I didn’t bring my pyjamas! It’s too warm and it would be too complicated to put on and take off when I feel like rowing at night. Also, Gerry would get jealous because he always has to wear his sailor's uniform :)


Pictures at the launch

Pictures taken by Tony at the launch. Visibly happy those two! Jean-Guy is progressing well and feels better, thank you for your good words.


Mile 0 - Launch

It's Jean-Guy. Gerry is in hibernation. I'm taking advantage of the quiet time. Four years in the making. Now it's now. Lots of emotions, excitement. I’m eager to go but full of fear and sad to leave my loved ones. I’m leaving from Puerto Mogan on the island of Gran Canaria. Next stop Barbados, 2600 nautical miles south west. The first week at sea should be the most difficult, especially if I am sea sick. I decided I would use sea sickness patches. Hopefully, they will help. I brought tinned peaches in case I am sea sick. Apparently, tinned peaches are good for sea sickness because they're not bad on the way out. Ouch! The sugar and liquid help against dehydration. I expect to freak out my first night at sea. My main goal will be to remain functional and avoid mistakes. The first one often leads to several others. I will try to make good mileage but I need to focus on getting the boat clear of the islands, so direction has priority over mileage. The last persons I will sea ashore are my friend Jean-Louis and my technical adviser and land crew Tony Humphreys. Tony has been helping me for the last two years. His help has been invaluable. Wish me luck and courage. See you on the other side. OVER


Revision to the launch date

The expected launch date is postponed to Sunday November 24th or Monday November 25th and may be revised further depending on weather forecasts. All is well in Gran Canaria! Stay tuned for future updates!


2013 Talisker

When I started to plan for my own crossing a few years ago, I thought I would be a participant in the 2013 Talisker Challenge. This event is now organized by Atlantic Campaigns owned by Ole Elmer, a Canadian. Ole has himself an impressive rowing CV having completed two crossings as pairs. When I realized I would need to build a new boat, the combined logistics of building a boat and participating in the event became too complicated and too expensive. For that reason, I decided I would do the crossing in the more purist form for a solo rower as independent. Along the way, however, I met wonderful people, and I will miss them and the camaraderie. In particular,

  • Jimmy and Frederik of team Prosecta
  • Dan and Will of North Atlantic Row 2013
  • Mark, Nick, Matt and Finn of Bolton Atlantic Challenge
I wish them and all the teams a wonderful time and I will do my very best to set a pace that won’t be too challenging.


Song of the day

I am taking with me a playlist of 100 songs that I have enjoyed over the years and have some significance because of the music, words or rhythm. Each day, I will pick one song based on my mood and general experience for that day and send a tweet to my account. About 75% of the songs are from American or English pop rock and similar. The other 25% is from Quebec francophone artists. I hope you will try to find those songs and listen to them daily. Most of the songs will show my age but I promise there is no Elvis! An updated list will be kept under the Media tab.


Serge Arcuri

Serge Arcuri is a composer born in Beauharnois, QC. We are of the same age and we went to high school together. I have followed from a distance his work and have liked particularly his electroaccoustic CD Les méandres du rève and his more classical work Migrations. On November 20th, the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Jacques Lacombe, will play his new creation for violin and orchestra. I would have loved to be there but I will be on my way to Gran Canaria and my own big launch. If one of you is in contact with Serge, wish him good luck for me.


Week-end interviews

Re-listen to interviews given by Jean-Guy over the week-end on French Radio and TV


Thank you and see you soon!

It takes a lot of work and a lot of help to get ready for such an adventure. As I get closer to my departure from Canada, it is time to say a first thank you and a first goodbye. The next few days will be hectic so now is a good time to post this blog. Thank you to:

  • All sponsors who gave me a discount for the items on my endless list of equipment, including a few not listed under sponsors: Be-Well, Expedition Foods, High on Bikes, Running Room, Club Link, Foot Joy, Victor Pharmacy. Thanks Tilley for taking care of my head and Barb at Alaska Leather for taking care of my butt. Canada Satellite for your sponsorship of a free rental phone.
  • Bob, Colin and everyone else on the “un ‘fore’ given” tour who kept their pledges and gave generously to the charities
  • Everyone out there who has given already to the charities
  • Dr. Mike at View Eye Care for taking care of my eyes and your generosity
  • Amy for your help with my on-water diet
  • Dr. Altman for your advice and care of my teeth
  • Kevin at Athlete’s Care for taking care of my aches and pains and keeping my old body in one piece
  • Dr. Louis Cossette for your invaluable advice and continued monitoring of my health to Barbados
  • Brendan and Marcel for your help raising media awareness
  • Debbie for your brilliant news report on CBC Toronto, you made it easy
  • John for your article in Quinte Country Living, you get me vote!
  • Louis Lemieux and his team at French CBC News Network, Felix Brian at French CBC Toronto and Robert Frosi and his team at French CBC Montreal
  • Jean-Louis for your generosity and friendship
  • Dick and Carol for your extraordinay generosity
  • Lori for your donation
  • Stewart for your help
  • Danielle, John and Jamie for the gloves
  • Danielle for the Maple Syrup
  • Amanda, Jean François, Jenny and Sidney for the laptop and your help with the logistics and online presence
  • Adrienne for being my sister and keeping me warm
  • …others I may have forgotten
  • Jamie and Emily for building me such a great boat, a safe harbor and piece of art
  • Tony for your invaluable help and taking care of me while on the ocean
  • Jean-Christophe and Lucie for you help, love and letting me go

Thank you and see you in Barbados


Interview novembre 8, 2013

Listen to the interview given by Jean-Guy on French CBC radio, Toronto, Friday November 8th, Y a pas deux matins pareils, with Felix-Brian Corriveau, look for 6:34 AM on the audio file.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 7 - How Can I help? you ask.

Hello there, this is Gerry, your swell’s angel.

Apparently, some of you want to know how you could help. The big guy is too busy and too shy to answer that question so I will. There are three ways you can help, as follows:

  • Donate to the charities
  • Buy the t-shirt
  • Keep the good words of encouragement coming

Donate to the charities

The adventure is linked to two different types of charities, both helping the youth. The first type is The Breakfast Club of Canada. The second type is the Actuarial Foundation of Canada which promotes youth awareness and education in math and finance matters. I selected this foundation because of my professional background. 100% of your donation goes to the charity you select.

Buy the t-shirt

You can buy the official t-shirt online. We have them in English and French, sizes ranging from Small to XXL. The proceeds help with the financing of the adventure.

Words of encouragement

Your goods words help immensely, even though we haven’t left yet. Imagine what they will do once we are on the water. Not that I need them but I am sure the big guy will. You can tweet, Facebook, email or leave a message.

If you are reading my blog and following this adventure, please help! This begging thing is tiring.

That’s it for now. Gerry


Go Jean-Guy Go

This video is based on Chuck Berry's Go Johnny Go and was created by Robert, my brother-in-law. Thanks Robert!


CBC Toronto

Catch the story of Jean-Guy and Maple Lys Solo on CBC Toronto. It will air as follows:

  • Saturday November 2 at 6am
  • Sunday November 3 at 11 am and again at 11 pm
  • Monday November 4 at 11 am
The video is available online on YouTube


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 6 - Getting closer every day!

Hi there, Gerry here, your swell’s angel. The big guy and I are just two weeks away from leaving Canada for the big adventure. He is not even nervous although he seems a bit sad to be leaving his wife and son. If you are following Mylène Paquette, you know that her arrival will coincide with our departure. Those of you who can’t get enough of this ‘dot watching’ experience will be able to switch from her adventure to ours. Lately, the website has been very busy. We’ve had traffic from all over the world, including every province in Canada, the U.S.A, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Australia, even Dubai with its endless waterless beaches, Barbados and Dr. Joe in Bermuda.

The date of the launch from the Canary Islands will depend on the weather. For weather information, visit the website On the left hand menu, click SELECTOR MAP. You will then have access to a world map separated into rectangles. First, select a large green rectangle labeled NORTH ATLANTIC and then a small red rectangle labeled Canary Islands. Gran Canaria is the roundish shape island in the middle of the screen. We are leaving from the South West tip. Ideally, wind and wave conditions will be mostly described as shades of blue, lighter blues for wave height. We will need a window of 3-5 days of favorable conditions to move us out of range of the islands and the African continent.

This technical stuff is tiring. Got to go for my beauty rest. Talk to you later.


Thank you!

Images of banners showing names of supporters and logos of sponsors. Will be displayed on the boat.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 5 - A little bit inquiet!

Shhh. This is Gerry, your swell’s angel. I am a little bit worried. As you know, the big guy has been called an idiot. He has admitted that one has to be “a little bit crazy” to do a solo ocean crossing in a rowboat. I need your help. What are the signs I should look for to know if he has gone from “a little bit crazy” to totally mad? Is there any music or book he should take with him to help him avoid going mad? Any suggestion will help. By email or message or Facebook.

Gerry, “the little bit inquiet” bear


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 4 - Now, that’s a rower!

Hello again. This is Gerry, your swell’s angel. For once, I have something exciting to blog about. Unless one has been in hibernation like me or in a coma, one most certainly read or heard about the heroic feat of Mylène Paquette, the French Canadian woman from Montréal who is crossing the North Atlantic ocean in a rowboat. If I had had a choice, I wouldn’t be writing this miserable blog. I would have picked beauty over age. Mylène left Halifax (that’s in Canada ) on July 6th. And she is going to Lorient (that’s in France). Look on a map. Can you see the big stretch of water between the two points? Now I am sure it would be fun to ride 5000 kilometers of rolling hills on my motorcycle. But in a rowboat? No thank you very much. Not for me. Oh wait, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing in a month’s time with the big guy. If Mylène’s courage and determination could be bottled, I would bring a six-pack.

When I was a cub, my father Grizzly (now that’s a name for a bear, unlike Gerry!) told me a story. In the Spring, when he woke up in the den, he would hear a voice in the distance. It was the voice of a man calling a Stanley Cup hockey game. More often than not, the man would call the name of Maurice Richard. Apparently, he was a man with great will, courage and determination. A role model and idol for his generation and several to follow.

If I get my father’s story, Mylene is the role model of courage and determination for the new generation. Now, you kids out there, don’t confuse ocean rowing with hockey. In hockey, you play hard for sixty minutes and then it’s over. No, ocean rowing is more like baseball where you know when it starts, weather permitting, but don’t know when it’s going to end. In baseball, there are nine innings. In ocean rowing, there are degrees of longitude, in this case 60 degrees.

Become addicted to watching daily the dots going East across the map until Mylène reaches France. Then, when you need to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms, watch me and the big guy suffer our way across the ocean going West to Barbados.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 3

Hi there, this is Gerry, your swell’s angel. Because some of you are a little slow, I will say it again. If you are reading this blog and haven’t done so, please give generously to the charities. We are leaving soon for the big adventure. So here’s how it’s going to pan out. The idiot is leaving Toronto with me in tow on Thursday November 14th. We are flying to Gatwick Airport in London. Me in Business Class and the idiot in one of the two pieces of luggage. Somehow, this doesn’t sound right, I should be in First Class. Maybe I didn’t get this part right. Anyway. Once we get to London, we take the train, the pride of England I hear, to Plymouth on the South West coast of England. This is where Tony, the guru to lunatics, lives and where the boat is in storage. Apparently, there’s a bit of work to do on the boat but I’m not doing any of it. Now, I will say it right away. I’d rather be riding, but we are not. We leave Sunday the 16th, in the afternoon. We are taking a ferry to “Ze France”, Plymouth to Roscoff. We drive through France, as fast as we can, I hope, as well as through Spain to Cadiz in the South of Spain. From Cadiz we take a ferry to Gran Canaria, one of the islands of the Canaries. This is a 40-hour ferry crossing. We should get to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, by Thursday morning. It’s just a short drive to the other side of the island. On Friday the 22nd, Jim of Mactra Marine will service the watermaker. The hull has to be touched-up with anti-foul. This keeps the barnacles away. We need to add 25-50 liters of bottled emergency water that will also serve as ballast in case of bad weather. As soon as we can get port clearance, confirm my sleeping arrangement, and weather permitting, we are going. Wish me good luck. And I thought this was going to be fun. Big price to pay to just write a blog. See ya.


RDI week-end

I was invited for an interview to talk about French Canadian solo rower from Montréal Mylène Paquette and my own upcoming crossing on the French CBC news Network RDI. Click for the interview.


Check out Canadian solo rower Mylène Paquette as she is resupplied in the middle of the North Atlantic by the Queen Mary 2.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 2

It’s Gerry, swell’s angel. Been quiet for a little while, you know what I mean. The idiot asked me to iron my girlie shirt and wash my hair. He says I have to look good. He wanted me to have a pedicure. Said no. You have to draw the line somewhere.

The idiot doesn’t talk to me. Too busy training. Rowing, kayaking, running, weights. What a bore. Still can’t see the big muscles, so not sure what the fuss is all about.

Did you know that in spite of appearance, this adventure is not totally silly. True story. I convinced the idot to raise money for our Canadian youth. You know, our future. So, if you read my blog, you must give generously to the charities we support. I won’t tell you twice. Just every time I write a blog. Don’t force me to come to your house to collect the money. Remember, I know where you live. Nice house by the way! So, go the the charities page right now and give.

Almost forgot, shameless plug, the idiot accepts sponsorships and gifts. Or, you can buy a t-shirt. It helps with financing the adventure. I have nothing to do with that t-shirt. His idea. Did you see that color, I’d rather not qualify it! So, go buy, quick, go. I have to go dry my hair now, don’t want to catch a cold. I used to be young once. I think I liked it. Oh well. See ya.


Gerry "The Bear"
Swell's angel

Gerry's blog no. 1

The wuss is not going solo after all. A few days ago, the idiot asked me to go with him. At my size, I’ll fit right in. I figured a long time ago that this old man would need someone to look over his shoulder. Come on, he is sixty and can hardly bend down to tie his shoes. After mulling it over a bit, I said yes. But under one condition. There has to be something in it for me. I have to be in charge of the blog. I said, you concentrate on rowing and getting us on the other side, I’ll do the writing, you know, the hard stuff. I call it as I see it. No tweaking around the bush. So here I am, Gerry “The Bear”, an experienced rider, a swell’s angel. There is one wrinkle in the ointment. As you know, the details are in the pudding. I must wear this girly white shirt and pirate outfit. Lucky no one will see me in the middle of the Atlantic. So keep an eye on this blog as I do my best to spice up this boring journey across the pond.


An absolute piece of art

Lucie and I picked up the boat on July 13. The boat is an absolute piece of art. Jamie did a fabulous job. The attention to details is amazing. We can tell he puts his heart and soul into the construction of his boats. Tony and I spent the better part of one week to get the boat ready for the crossing later this year. Except for food and a few small things, the boat is ready to roll. If you haven’t already done so, watch the video of the maiden voyage.


A real beauty week after week.


Very nice!


And another week...

Recent images:
And now for a 12-hour baking session for post curing and to get the maximum properties out of the resin.

The safety rails are now in.


Another week goes by!

Recent images:

The two green pipes belong to the bilge pumps, one manual and one automatic. They are used to empty the footwell. This is where the water flows to. The small holes on the sides will be fitted with cuppers. The bigger open compartment in the middle of the image is the compartment to store the liferaft. It is not watertight. Excess water flows to the footwell. Given the liferaft will be stored in a valise instead of a canister, the liferaft will require major service after my trip.

This is the rudder.


One more week!

Recent images:


A beauty!

Now that the cabins are installed, weekly progress won't be as obvious. However, the boat is a real beauty, emancipating week by week. In the first image, we now get a good sense of what the boat will look like. The right of the image is the bow (front). This is the storage cabin. The square hole is for the hatch (door). The two holes on both sides of the hatch will receive the two tubes standing up. These tubes are used to store the oars while not in use. I will carry three pairs of oars. In practice, the oars are also used as railing. On the left, is the aft (back) cabin. This is where I will sleep. The square hole on the back is the location of another hatch. This can be used as an alternate escape route, if need be. Also, it is used to service the rudder, which we don't see right now. However, we see very well the skeg. I am told I could navigate the boat without the rudder if need be. Relative to a previous image, the wooden gunwale has been cut to size. It finishes neatly the joint between the bottom and top halves. Recent images:


A real boat, cabins included!

Cabins are installed. Good progress again this week. Recent images:


Charities confirmed

I'm proud to announce that my adventure is now linked to two charties: The Actuarial Foundation of Canada and Breakfast Club of Canada. If you follow my adventure, please give generously to either or both.


One more week of work!

A lot of paint, and fumes, this week. Here are a few recent images:


Progressing nicely

Construction is progressing nicely. Here are a few recent images:


One week later

One week later...The boat looks beautiful. The upper part of the image shows the location of the forward cabin. It is still an empty shell. The bottom part shows the aft cabin with the compartment that will be housing the watermaker. The middle part is the deck with the foot well, the compartment for the life raft and the various watertight compartments for food and equipment.


Coming along nicely

The boat is coming along nicely, more work having been done on the many waterproof compartments.


Another sponsor!

Barb at Alaska Leather has generously accepted to supply me with sheepskins and airhawk. My butt will thank her all the way across the Atlantic. Thank you!
Alaska Leather Online - Home of the Sheepskin Buttpad Since 1979


Let's go play inside

Jamie has started work on the inside of the boat, building individual watertight compartments.



The boat has now been turned upside up.


A bit a paint

Over the last few days, the boat has been painted and sanded. It looks already quite nice.


I'm back

Came back from the UK yesterday. The courses went well. I passed them all. I have the UK Marine Radio Certificate as well as RYA First Aid, Sea Survival and Ocean Master. Last year I passed also the Canadian Marine Radio Certificate. The instructors Tim and Paul from Sea Sports (Sea Sports) did a great job. It was nice to be with other ocean rowers (Dan and Will, Fred and Jimmy, Finn, Marc, Matt and Nick). The camaraderie is amazing. I didn't train much during these two weeks abroad. Back at it today.

I visited also Jamie and Emily at Global Boat Works. I should have more images of the boat soon. The boat has been upside down up to now. It should be flipped upright this week.

From left to right: Paul, sea survival and navigation instructor, silly me, Tim, marine radio and first aid instructor and Sue


In training

I am flying to the UK tonight to take my ocean training courses covering navigation, first aid, sea survival and marine radio.

Weather permitting, I am also hoping to meet Jamie and Emily at Global Boat Works. It has been snowing and cold in the UK and I am not sure I will be able to make it to Week St. Mary from Exeter. I am supposed to rent a car but unfortunately it won't come with snow/winter tires. hence, I may end up snowed in!


We have a shape!

The build has progressed nicely this week. We can see clearly the shape of the boat, and more specifically, the hull. I am visiting Emily and Jamie next week for my first close encounter with the boat.



Another image of the boat. We now have a frame. The foam planks on the floor will be used to form the hull over the next week.


New born

This is the first image of the new born at the boat hospital. Not much on day one but it's a start! The man in the picture is Dr. Jamie. I suppose nurse Emily is taking the picture. More pictures in the weeks and months to come.


This is it!

Happy New Year! This is it! The countdown has started. Preparation is in full swing. The boat is now being built. I'm working out daily and I am going to the UK in three weeks for my sea courses (navigation, first aid, survival and radio).

Watch this space from time to time for more information on my preparation for the start in December.

(104 row(s))


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