Campsdrift rower aims to fulfil lifelong dream

2012-12-15 00:00

RESCUE is not an option for a Pietermaritzburg man who has quit his job, sold his car and devoted all his time to work on his lifelong dream of rowing across the ocean all on his own.

Graeme de Wit (48), a cabinet maker, is in a four-year process of constructing the rowing boat that will circumnavigate the globe.

He plans to be the second person to circumnavigate the Earth solo using only his own power, in line with the Guinness rules.

The first such journey was completed this year by Turkish adventurer Erden Eruç.

Weekend Witness met with De Wit in a Campsdrift workshop where he is working on two boats.

Where did he get the inspiration for this trip?

“I had dreamt about it my whole life. Back in the 1980s I read a book by John Fairfax [an author who detailed his ocean rowing experiences] and about five years ago I decided to do it.

“It’s not a part-time thing. So I’ve given up my job and sold my bakkie to work on this project and I’m being trained by [rowing world champion] Hilary Abraham,” said De Wit.

He will live on freeze-dried food. The boat has a solar-powered device that turns salt water into fresh water by means of reverse osmosis.

Seven lives have been lost to ocean rowing and with a failure rate of 60%, the five-year epic is not for the faint-hearted. Sores can occur due to long-term exposure to moisture.

“Most of that failure rate is attributed to technical failure,” said De Wit.

“But my goal is to be 100% ready. If I, the boat or weather systems are not ready, then I can’t do it. Being in a rush is not an option I’ve got to have provisions in place. Rescue is not an option.” said De Wit.

He plans to launch his boat in November next year. His first leg starts with a rowing trip from Cape Town to Brazil.

De Wit has a blog ( which readers can access to keep updated about his epic mission.

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