MIKE PRESCA, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Mike Pesca.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And I'm Madeleine Brand.
(Soundbite of video)
Mr. COLIN ANGUS (Adventurer of the Year): Just a few minutes ago, we left from the Lisbon Marina. And now we're heading 8,300 kilometers across to Miami.
BRAND: That's Colin Angus in a video he and fellow adventurer Julie Wafaei made of their recent trek around the world, completely by human powered means. And I mean completely. Even using sails was considered cheating. So at this point in their trip they were rowing across the Atlantic.
PRESCA: It took them two years, but they're the first people to circumnavigate the globe completely by self-propulsion. And for that accomplishment, Colin and Julie have been named Adventurers of the Year in the new issue of National Geographic Adventurer magazine.
BRAND: My colleague, Alex Chadwick, spoke with the couple for a Radio Expeditions interview.
ALEX CHADWICK: What is your inspiration for doing this?
Mr. ANGUS: People have gone all around the world in all different forms of human-powered transportation. However, they're always broken-up journeys, like bicycling, for example, or jogging. It's on the land masses, but always there's that aquatic barrier, and nobody had ever gone around the world entirely by human power, which includes rowing or going in some kind of paddle craft across the oceans.
CHADWICK: Did it seem to you realistic to row all that way across the Atlantic, because you do encounter these terrific storms?
Ms. JULIE WAFAEI (Adventurer of the Year): We ended up rowing across the Atlantic during the worst hurricane season in all of recorded history. It was the year of Hurricane Katrina. And unfortunately, we were hit by four storms, including two hurricanes.
(Soundbite of video)
Mr. ANGUS: Well, we've got another hurricane coming towards us. And we've done everything we possibly can to prepare the boat. We've battened down the hatches. We've secured down loose gear, tied everything, screwed down the hatches inside the cabin...
Ms. WAFAEI: And it's a pretty small cabin. Unfortunately, it's sized a little bit like a double coffin. So we spent three and a half days riding out the hurricane, the first one in that cabin.
CHADWICK: Colin, I was very impressed that you managed to retrieve the fishing lure that turned out to be so important for you, because the trip takes a little bit longer than you had expected. So you're kind of running out of food, and the only thing you can do is fish. But then there's a problem.
Mr. ANGUS: That's right. Fishing was the main - major source of sustenance out in the ocean, and one of the fish actually broke the line, and it was the last hook and lure we had. And so we were devastated. We watched the fish, and he swam away, and he kept jumping out of the water shaking his head until finally he shook that lure free. And I jumped off the side of the boat and swam after it, and got it back. So it was pretty exciting.
(Sound bite of video)
Mr. ANGUS: We got it! Oh, yeah! I got it. We're not going to starve. The fish took the lure...
CHADWICK: You bicycle across all of Russia and Europe to Portugal. You get back in a boat and you row across the Atlantic. Aiming for Miami, you hit Central America. And then you get out of the boat and get onto bicycles and ride all the way north again. What is it that you crossed in that time that was most surprising to you?
Ms. WAFAEI: One of the most pleasant surprises was the friendliness and the hospitality of the people all around the world. And really, if it wasn't for that, this journey would not have been possible. In all 17 countries we went through, people helped us out in various ways. So that was a beautiful surprise.
CHADWICK: I wonder if you think you have some kind of special qualities that enabled you to do this?
Mr. ANGUS: I think an expedition like this, it's - 90 percent of it is in the head, like unless they're unlucky and have physical problems with their knees or back, or whatever it may be. But it's just having to push on, push on day after day after day. And it is really grueling. And it takes a lot of mental focus just to continue on with a journey that's basically the work of a marathon every day, day after day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And whenever we do take a break from the actual pushing forward, it's - we're working on the logistical side of the expedition, so it's pretty tough.
CHADWICK: So you've completed this journey now. What did you get out of it?
Mr. ANGUS: I mean, there's two things really that we got out of it. Of course, there's the sense of accomplishment when you finally get to the end. You start from a certain spot on the planet, and two years later you arrive there again. But also, it's just having been out there and having had this wonderful response of people who have followed our expedition and have made changes in their own lifestyles to reduce their emissions - their greenhouse emissions and have taken to riding their bicycles or walking to work. Because that's one of the objectives of our journey, was to promote zero or low-emissions transportation.
BRAND: Colin Angus and Julie Wafaei, they are Adventurers of the Year in the latest National Geographic Adventure magazine. You can trace their journey around the globe at our Web site, npr.org.
And thanks to my colleague, Alex Chadwick, for that Radio Expeditions interview.