Row Sentinel – Man on a Mission

He’s a man on a mission that has been on the bucket list for the last 30 years.

This May, Ian Rivers will embark on a solo, unsupported row across the North Atlantic Ocean using only a sextant for navigation. He’ll be raising money for charities close to his heart, St Michael’s Hospice and the Special Air Service Regimental Association (SASRA).

Serbus is backing him every stroke of the way, and have provided him with locational equipment to aid every row of his journey: we are delighted to support him and the causes he is raising money for.

Ian has found time to put the oars down for a minute and step aside from his busy organising to talk to us about the row, his motivations behind it, and how he’s feeling with such an extraordinary journey ahead of him.

Row Sentinel - Man on a Mission - Proudly Sponsored by Serbus
Row Sentinel – Man on a Mission – Proudly Sponsored by Serbus

Hi Ian, it’s absolutely fantastic to speak to you in person, thanks for taking some time to sit down with us! This is such an incredible feat to embark upon, we’d love to understand where your inspiration to do it came from?

Hi there, thanks it’s a pleasure to chat with you. Wow, if I really had to dial it back to my earliest days, it would be school. I always held an avid interest in geography and maps; I loved pulling out an Ordnance Survey and using it to help find my way around.

I feel as though, in the modern day, the art of the navigator has been killed by modern day technology, like the Sat Nav, which is a shame but also makes it one of the reasons I’m keen to go back to the basics, using traditional basic navigation techniques that people throughout history used to navigate the seas. It’s an amazing art to be able to pinpoint your location and set your course by looking at the stars.

Slightly aside from the geographical aspect, I’ve always been fascinated by the human psyche, and the strengths it can show in the face of enormous challenge. I’ve actually partnered with the guys in the human sciences department at Leeds Beckett University to monitor how the effects of being at sea under these conditions for so long, alone, will affect the mind, plus the physical aspects of refuelling the body and keeping muscle on. They’ve been great in helping me prepare for the row.

That’s super Ian! It’s going to be an enlightening challenge to employ the use of basic navigation principles. What other areas do you think will pose the biggest challenges to you from a mental/physical standpoint and how will you overcome them?

Yes, so the mental side of things I anticipate will be a really challenging factor. Combatting that is actually what LBU have been helping me out with. Together we’ve come up with a variety of different things that I can will be able to use to tamper the monotony and side effects of isolation for circa 90 days. For instance, we packed up Sentinel with all the food the other day – one of the things we’ve organised is to have a 10-day menu, replicated 9 times; on the 5th and 10th days there will be a “surprise” meal that I will have no clue what it is, just to break up that time a bit more. My family and friends have also given me letters to open on certain days, and I’ve put my son in charge of creating a playlist of audiobooks and podcasts for me!

I’ll be sending video and audio updates back to you guys and my team to update you all on my progress, so keep an eye on that.

We certainly will. Ian, as we’ve been speaking you are just exuding confidence and seem so relaxed! In anticipation for the row, is there anything you’re worried about?

Haha. Well naturally there is worry and that slight fear there, but for the most part I’m excited. I will say though, the scariest part of the whole row will definitely be at night; screwing up that hatch and settling down to sleep, knowing I’m drifting but not knowing how far out or where I’ll be when I wake up in the morning.

The other thing will be in those first 5 days of the row, when I depart from New York and before I get a true fix on my location. I’ve known people that have set off and not actually gotten a fix for 14 days after heading off the shore, so there is that uncertainty surrounding how long I’ll be (possibly) rowing in the wrong direction for!

Thrilling stuff! We’re so excited for you and to follow your epic journey. What are your next steps from here?

Well Sentinel’s all packed with 120 days of food and ready to be shipped out today. This will be the last time I’ll see the boat until we meet each other in New York. Hopefully, weather permitting, we will be able to set out on May 7th.

Great news. Well Ian, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. We’re so excited to see how you get on and are rooting for you – good luck!

To show Ian some support on his mission by donating, you can follow this link here: