Peter Harley, 61, hopes to set sail next week, weather permitting, from Virginia Beach and make his way to La Trinité-sur-Mer, France.
“I’m not nervous,” Harley said. “I’ve been in boats at sea in South Africa for many years so I kind of know what’s coming and I’m not afraid of it.”
Harley said he was inspired to take on such a trek while in his home country of South Africa a few years ago, but after he moved to the United States in 2019, the goal became more attainable.
“If the boat were to capsize, it’s designed to re-right itself,” Harley said. “Bad conditions pass by eventually, so I’ll have to ride things out.”
The vessel is equipped with a sleeping cabin, plenty of storage, and solar panels for communication and navigation purposes. But: “The bathroom, I’m afraid, is just a bucket,” Harley said.
Also onboard the boat is a desalinator, which converts ocean water into clean, drinking water.
The solar panels will give Harley the ability to stay in constant communication with his daughter, Bonnie Evans, back home, who has helped him prepare along the way.
Evans told CNN she is more excited than nervous for her father. “If there’s anybody I know that can do this, it’s certainly my dad.” Evans said. She described him as a meticulous person, who has every detail of this journey calculated out.
“It’s been a very intense process and requires a tremendous amount of discipline, dedication and focus,” Harley said.
Thinking about the trek so far in advance has helped Harley mentally prepare. He says he isn’t worried about the loneliness aspect of the journey either, as he’s experienced lots of time alone before.
“We wanted to touch on three components: the planet, people, and animals,” Evans said of their choices.
If Harley lands successfully in France, he will go down in history as the first to do so. Two prior attempts have failed.
“I’ve prepared as much as I can,” Harley said, “I’m as strong as I can be, I’m as fit as I can be, I’ve done as much as I can I just have to get it done.”