Islander who rowed across the Pacific wonders where to put oars next

Rory Wilson holds a kite signed by many of his students.  - Photo courtesy of Rory Wilson
Rory Wilson holds a kite signed by many of his students.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Rory Wilson

Bainbridge Island teacher Rory Wilson made headlines after he completed his journey across the Pacific Ocean under just the power of his oars, and with a little help from the wind.

But now what?

That’s a question Wilson has been fielding from quite a few people while he has been taking some much-needed rest, he said.

“I have had the chance to even get used to walking on the beach, running, eating fresh bananas, pineapple and best of all, ice cream,” Wilson said. “This past week, several people have asked, ‘What next?’”

Wilson doesn’t know exactly what the future holds for him, but he does know one thing; he won’t be endeavoring to take KROS — his self-designed and built vessel — across the Pacific on a return trip.

His decision has a lot to do with what he learned about KROS on his 44-day trek across the ocean the first time.

“One of the best things about KROS is that it speeds downwind while rowing or with kites; that was great,” he said in an email. “However, moving any other direction is extremely limited.”

And moving in other directions is exactly what Wilson would have to do in order to row and find any winds that his kites could use to take him back to the West Coast of the United States.

“The passage to the Hawaiian Islands went very well and we really were strategic all along the way with wind/currents,” he said. “But I feel that to continue across to other atolls, or to Asia may be higher risk than prudent.”

Wilson, however, is not finished traveling for the time being. While out at sea he was gathering data. KROS was also used in his math classes prior to departing on his epic journey.

Once he made it to Hawaii, he was right back to answering students’ questions; his own students, and some new ones.

“In a Skype video conference, I met an awesome group of eighth-grade students near Munich, Germany,” he said. “They had great questions and I told them that it was really students that had inspired me to do this project and to continue even when things were difficult.”

The German students were studying latitude and longitude and had followed Wilson’s trip while he was at sea.

Wilson also recently filmed short videos covering the solar charging system on KROS, his nutrition for the journey and the power of the kites.

“(These videos) will be part of a set of ‘perspectives’ that are a project for teachers led by Florida State University,” Wilson said. “And, during the next few weeks, I will also conduct a detailed engineering analysis on the fiberglass and Kevlar hull laminations.”

Wilson will then fly to Tampa, Fla. on Dec. 6 to present information about his trans-Pacific journey at a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) event at the Florida Center for Research.

“I am really looking forward to meeting with this large group of teachers and scientists,” he said.

While still in Hawaii, he will get a chance to practice his presentation skills at the Waikiki Yacht Club dinner that will cover his trip in KROS.

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