As the June 27 launch date grew near, Guerin's new friends around the Boat Yard grew increasingly worried about his lack of training. In one two-week period last spring he rowed around the pond only three or four times. "It's like lying down before the Super Bowl," said George Douglass, the owner of the Boat Yard.
For his part, Guerin seemed distinctly untroubled by the prospect of 60 or more days alone at sea. He recalled a solo Atlantic sailing race from La Trinit� sur Mer to Guadeloupe in 1989, during which his radio quit on the first day. He had also forgotten to pack extra batteries for his navigational computer. Out of touch with the world and navigating by the stars, he nevertheless placed second among 64 boats.
In fact, just days before the launch, the only thing that seemed to ruffle Guerin was a blonde at a local bar who refused to believe he was planning to row the Atlantic. Guerin left the bar muttering. After he had gone, the blonde said, "That's the worst line I've ever heard."
Launch day was clear and sunny, with a westerly breeze of eight knots. Shortly after noon, Douglass, in the same wooden skiff he had used to tow D'Aboville 11 years earlier, tossed a line to Guerin in Ramereve. The boat was pulled through the surf to the Chatham Harbor buoy. At 1:40 p.m. Guerin was cast off. Perhaps 50 people on seven boats had come to bid him bon voyage. Looking, in his billowing white shirt and cap, more like an old-time aviator than an oarsman, he stood up and waved heartily to his audience. Then he sat down and began to row.
For entertainment, Guerin had with him a tape player and cassettes (one by, appropriately, Dire Straits); several books, including D'Aboville's account of the 1980 voyage; and, of course, the fishovision. For food, he had 60 days worth of cereal and foil packets containing freeze-dried meals. He also carried a CB radio, a marine band radio, a radar detector to warn him of approaching ships, and a distress beacon that could bounce an SOS off a satellite. He had a shark-identification manual, flares and a bottle of Scotch, which couldn't be spoiled by sloshing.
An hour after he started, Guerin was located by a tuna-spotter pilot some five nautical miles out to sea. Already he had rowed a mile farther than he had ever done before.
By the Fourth of July, Guerin had traveled 450 miles from Chatham. He spent the day watching his fishovision, waiting for a headwind to ease.
More ill winds blew. Ramereve capsized once, twice and then a third time. In August the boat was overturned by Hurricane Bob.
Another capsizing—the fifth in all.