David Shaw recounts the story of George Harbo and Frank Samuelson, the first men to row across the Atlantic Ocean with no help from steam, sails, or even a rudder. Shaw tells of their background as Norwegian immigrants who earned a hard living on the sea for many years before setting out on their seemingly impossible quest. Although legend claims that Harbo and Samuelson were promised ten thousand dollars by a wealthy publisher if they completed their voyage, Shaw found no such documentation. He discovered that the sailors' real motivation was the hope of eventually earning good money as famous lecturers. Shaw spoke with the descendants of Harbo and Samuelson and consulted numerous contemporary newspaper accounts to flesh out Daring the Sea, but most importantly he was able to reconstruct details of the voyage from Harbo's log book. Daring the Sea is a harrowing read, as the men encounter gales, icebergs, sharks, and other calamities while rowing about eighteen hours each day toward Europe.
This true story is both exciting and inspiring. The physical, mental, and emotional strain the men felt on their voyage never defeated them. Their friendship helped them, as did their faith in their ability to complete their voyage. They prepared carefully, with full respect for the dangers they would face. They were also sustained by what would now be considered an old-fashioned work ethic. Although they were modest men, they took pride in a job well done. In his work, Shaw seeks to give Harbo and Samuelson the recognition they deserve for their accomplishment as their record time has never been bettered.
Reviewed by mh, 01/00. Other reviews by mh.