North Carolina Grandpa Embarking on Solo Row from Virginia to France

Peter Harley will tackle the 4,000-mile journey alone.

Peter Harley Rowing
Photo: North Atlantic Challenge

There are many ways to cross the North Atlantic Ocean. But one North Carolina grandfather has chosen one of the hardest.

Peter Harley, 61, plans to row the 4,000 miles from Virginia to France all by himself—and hopefully set a few world records along the way.

"There are a few records that will come but that's not the motivation at all," he told WTKR. "The motivation is the physical and mental challenge."

Harley moved from South Africa to Cary to be closer to his daughter, Bonnie Evans, and her family. Evans plans to meet her father in France when he arrives. She will communicate with her dad through satellite technology during his voyage.

Bonnie Evans Peter Harley
North Atlantic Challenge

His high-tech boat features a water-tight sleeping cabin and is designed to right itself after capsizing. It can also convert salt water to drinking water. Harley has spent the past nine months eating "expedition food" to acclimate his body to a diet of protein shake mixes, energy bars, and vacuum-packed oats.

Harley told WTKR that he anticipates up to 16 hours of rowing each day. The trek should take a maximum of 120 days. Ideally, it will be shorter.

"I would row for probably two hours at a time, then have an hour break," he explained. "One hour of sleep, then back on another two hours."

North Atlantic Challenge
North Atlantic Challenge

The odyssey is also a fundraiser. Harley and Evans hope to raise $750,000 for three charities: 5 Gyres, which helps educate about plastic pollution; Best Friends Animal Society; and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

Harley arrived in Hampton Roads earlier this month. His launch date will depend on weather conditions, yet but he hopes to depart from the Lynnhaven Marina someday next week.

WATCH: Florida Veterans Rowing Across Atlantic Ocean to Fight Veteran Suicide, PTSD

"I would encourage anyone who has a dream or an idea to do it! It may take time, there will be some level of risk and it most certainly will be challenging but through perseverance, commitment, focus and always having a clear understanding of where you are," Harley told Southern Living. "You can accomplish what you set out to do and go beyond what you imagined you might be capable of."

You can donate to the cause and follow Harley's progress at

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