Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Rowing the Atlantic on a Catamaran?

Published on September 21, 2011 by   ·   1 Comment

In early 2011 Margaret Bowling, a 31 year old TV Production Manager from Tasmania but now living in Bristol, joined an independent Atlantic rowing expedition at the last minute after a crew member was injured just two weeks before departure. After gathering all of her gear together and flying out to Morocco she found herself walking into a boatyard in Agadir to be greeted by the 15 men and women aged 23 to 68 who had come together from all four corners of the world for what was to be the adventure of a lifetime. They would be rowing the Atlantic east to west from Morocco to Barbados on Big Blue, the world’s largest ocean rowing boat and the first ever ocean rowing catamaran.

Having witnessed the start of two Atlantic rowing races and spent the past few years making frequent visits to see ocean rowers and their boats, Margaret thought that she’d seen every kind of ocean rowing craft imaginable. It seems she was wrong as nothing could have prepared her for Big Blue.

Margaret says, “The first thing that struck me was her size. After suffering 73 days of incredibly cramped conditions onboard an ocean rowing pairs boat back in 2007 I couldn’t believe my luck! Here was a cabin that I could move about in, a proper toilet instead of the usual ‘bucket and chuck it’ and enough space that a few people could relax outside. And to top it off I would have a comfortable bunk – albeit one I would have to share with another sweaty salty rower as we alternated continuous shifts of two hours on the oars with two hours rest. I knew that the additional comfort of this boat would make all the difference in the world, and of course it did. It gave me the freedom to focus on pulling hard on the oars and enjoying the company of my team mates.”

Ocean rowing is no walk in the park. It’s comparable to climbing Everest or man hauling a sled to the South Pole. And when you put yourself into an extreme environment where you are going to subject yourself to extreme fatigue you want to know that you can trust your equipment. Big Blue didn’t disappoint and was a rock solid boat out on the water. Margaret found her much more stable and steady than most boats she’d been privileged to travel upon and ploughed through all sorts of conditions without any problems.

Margaret continues, “It was a bit like being in the ocean going equivalent of a really good all terrain vehicle. This was an absolute godsend when we were surrounded by confused cresting seas, frequent storms and conditions that I would have found life-threatening in a smaller boat.”

For some of the crew completing the 52-day expedition fulfilled their dream of doing that one big thing in their lives, for others it was clearly the first of many such adventures and for a few it was simply another notch on the adventure bed post.

In 2012 Margaret will be offering another crew the opportunity to row Big Blue from Barbados to Jamaica to Mexico and fulfil their own dreams. It will be the first Caribbean Sea rowing expedition and take place in March and April covering a total of 2,000 miles. It is being staged in two legs with a short break in between. If you want to apply to crew one or both legs and are available for a minimum of three weeks contact Margaret on

Readers Comments (1)

  1. Chris Martin says:

    This was an amazing trip and Margaret jumped onboard with no more than a couple of days notice. If anyone is interested in taking part in an ocean row with a little more planning the New Ocean Wave Pacific Rowing Race is taking entries now for June 2014 start from Monterey Bay, California to Honolulu, Hawaii.


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