Everything is slowly returning to normal for Adam Kreek, Olympic champion and erstwhile ocean rower.
He has seen a dentist about the molar he cracked early into his 73-day adventure as a member of the OAR Northwest Africa to the Americas expedition. He has visited his chiropractor and a masseuse to get his back realigned after more than two months of man-powering an 8.8-metre long rowboat.
And on Wednesday, while relaxing at his home in Victoria, B.C., Kreek got the news two of his crewmates had gone back out to sea, relocated their capsized boat, righted it in the water then had it lifted and transported it back to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Safely aboard was all the equipment and instrumentation that was used to conduct scientific experiments, as well as the video and record-keeping materials that will be used to make a documentary of the epic effort.
“Boat is safe on deck,” its skipper Jordan Hanssen wrote in an e-mail. “We have all the hard-wired science gear safe. Two hard drives. Two Toughbooks. We have most of the black box science equipment, the most important logbooks. All major hatches are open and venting.”
Kreek called that an encouraging end to the sudden and near deadly capsizing of the ocean-fitted row boat roughly 400 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico. The boat was in the home stretch bound for Miami on April 6 when two waves rocked and flooded the aft compartment where Kreek and crewmate Pat Fleming were resting.
The cabin began filling with water forcing the two men to swim their way out of the overturned boat and up to the surface. The four crew members eventually huddled in a life raft where their emergency location device made them an easy target for rescuers.
After being taken ashore and securing the proper paperwork to come home – his passport was aboard the boat when it rolled – Kreek quietly returned to Victoria five days ago for a reunion with his pregnant wife and young son. Since then, he has been readjusting to life on land.
“We didn’t wear shoes for months (on the boat). Putting on running shoes and something with an arch support, I find that really uncomfortable,” said Kreek. “I’ve also been sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night. I’m completely knocked out. I find that fresh food tastes so good now.”
Kreek insisted there wasn’t much the crew could have done to prevent its boat from being capsized. He also took offence with those who criticized the crew for its risky voyage adding that the four rowers should have to pay for the costs of the rescue. (“The Coast Guard said, ‘This is what we do,’” said Kreek. “Sometimes they do two, three rescues a day. They said we were extremely well-prepared.”)
Although the trans-Atlantic mission wasn’t completed, Kreek considered it an overwhelming success pointing to the scientific information that was gathered from the ocean along with the educational aspects and online chats that occurred with students from around the world.
“What we were doing was scientific exploration. If people don’t like that they should understand the technology they’re using has come from science and pushing the limits,” said Kreek. “There are lots of benefits to society if you’re exploring and understanding our world. As humans, that’s what we’re here for.”
So would he do it again?
“Oh yeah, 100 per cent. I’d recommend anyone to do an adventure like that. It’s a thrill. There are challenges you’ll face but there are ways to do it safely,” he said. “Rowing across the Atlantic was the conclusion to 3 ½ years of planning.”
Kreek was a member of the Canadian men’s eight rowing crew that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His next adventure, at this point, is unknown.