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  • In June of 1998,

  • Tori Murden McClure left Nags Head, North Carolina for France.

  • That's her boat, the American Pearl.

  • It's 23 feet long and just six feet across

  • at its widest point.

  • The deck was the size of a cargo bed of a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

  • Tori and her friends built it by hand,

  • and it weighed about 1,800 pounds.

  • Her plan was to row it alone

  • across the Atlantic Ocean --

  • no motor, no sail --

  • something no woman and no American had ever done before.

  • This would be her route:

  • over 3,600 miles across the open North Atlantic Ocean.

  • Professionally, Tori worked as a project administrator

  • for the city of Louisville, Kentucky,

  • her hometown,

  • but her real passion was exploring.

  • This was not her first big expedition.

  • Several years earlier, she'd become the first woman to ski to the South Pole.

  • She was an accomplished rower in college,

  • even competed for a spot on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team,

  • but this, this was different.

  • (Video) (Music) Tori Murden McClure: Hi. It's Sunday, July 5.

  • Sector time 9 a.m.

  • So that's Kentucky time now.

  • Dawn Landes: Tori made these videos as she rowed.

  • This is her 21st day at sea.

  • At this point, she'd covered over 1,000 miles,

  • had had no radio contact in more than two weeks

  • following a storm that disabled all her long-range communications systems

  • just five days in.

  • Most days looked like this.

  • At this point, she'd rowed over 200,000 strokes,

  • fighting the current and the wind.

  • Some days, she traveled as little as 15 feet.

  • Yeah.

  • And as frustrating as those days were,

  • other days were like this.

  • (Video) TMM: And I want to show you my little friends.

  • DL: She saw fish, dolphins,

  • whales, sharks,

  • and even some sea turtles.

  • After two weeks with no human contact,

  • Tori was able to contact a local cargo ship

  • via VHF radio.

  • (Video) TMM: Do you guys have a weather report, over?

  • Man: Heading up to a low

  • ahead of you but it's heading,

  • and you're obviously going northeast

  • and there's a high behind us.

  • That'd be coming

  • east-northeast also.

  • TMM: Good.

  • DL: She's pretty happy to talk to another human at this point.

  • (Video) TMM: So weather report says nothing dramatic

  • is going to happen soon.

  • DL: What the weather report didn't tell her

  • was that she was rowing right into the path of Hurricane Danielle

  • in the worst hurricane season on record in the North Atlantic.

  • (Video) TMM: Just sprained my ankle.

  • There's a very strong wind from the east now.

  • It's blowing about.

  • It's blowing!

  • After 12 days of storm

  • I get to row for four hours

  • without a flagging wind.

  • I'm not very happy right now.

  • As happy as I was this morning,

  • I am unhappy now, so ...

  • DL: After nearly three months at sea,

  • she'd covered over 3,000 miles.

  • She was two thirds of the way there,

  • but in the storm, the waves were the size of a seven-story building.

  • Her boat kept capsizing.

  • Some of them were pitchpole capsizes, flipping her end over end,

  • and rowing became impossible.

  • (Video) TMM: It's 6:30 a.m.

  • I'm in something big, bad and ugly.

  • Two capsizes.

  • Last capsize, I took the rib off the top of my ceiling with my back.

  • I've had about six capsizes now.

  • The last one was a pitchpole.

  • I have the Argus beacon with me.

  • I would set off the distress signal,

  • but quite frankly, I don't think they'd ever be able to find this little boat.

  • It's so far underwater right now,

  • the only part that's showing pretty much is the cabin.

  • It's about 10 a.m.

  • I've lost track of the number of capsizes.

  • I seem to capsize about every 15 minutes.

  • I think I may have broken my left arm.

  • The waves

  • are tearing the boat to shreds.

  • I keep praying because

  • I'm not sure I'm going to make it through this.

  • DL: Tori set off her distress beacon

  • and was rescued by a passing container ship.

  • They found her abandoned boat two months later adrift near France.

  • I read about it in the newspaper.

  • In 1998, I was a high school student living in Louisville, Kentucky.

  • Now, I live in New York City. I'm a songwriter.

  • And her bravery stuck with me, and I'm adapting her story

  • into a musical called "Row."

  • When Tori returned home,

  • she was feeling disheartened,

  • she was broke.

  • She was having a hard time making the transition

  • back into civilization.

  • In this scene, she sits at home.

  • The phone is ringing, her friends are calling,

  • but she doesn't know how to talk to them.

  • She sings this song. It's called "Dear Heart."

  • (Guitar)

  • When I was dreaming,

  • I took my body

  • to beautiful places

  • I'd never been.

  • I saw Gibraltar,

  • and stars of Kentucky

  • burned in the moonlight,

  • making me smile.

  • And when I awoke here,

  • the sky was so cloudy.

  • I walked to a party

  • where people I know

  • try hard to know me

  • and ask where I've been,

  • but I can't explain

  • what I've seen to them.

  • Ah, listen, dear heart.

  • Just pay attention,

  • go right from the start.

  • Ah, listen, dear heart.

  • You can fall off the map,

  • but don't fall apart.

  • Ooh ooh ooh,

  • ah ah ah ah ah.

  • Ah ah,

  • ah ah ah.

  • When I was out there,

  • the ocean would hold me,

  • rock me and throw me,

  • light as a child.

  • But now I'm so heavy,

  • nothing consoles me.

  • My mind floats like driftwood,

  • wayward and wild.

  • Ah, listen, dear heart.

  • Just pay attention,

  • go right from the start.

  • Ah, listen, dear heart.

  • You can fall off the map,

  • but don't fall apart.

  • Ooh.

  • Eventually, Tori starts to get her feet under her.

  • She starts hanging out with her friends again.

  • She meets a guy and falls in love for the first time.

  • She gets a new job working for another Louisville native,

  • Muhammad Ali.

  • One day, at lunch with her new boss,

  • Tori shares the news that two other women

  • are setting out to row across the mid-Atlantic,

  • to do something that she almost died trying to do.

  • His response was classic Ali:

  • "You don't want to go through life

  • as the woman who almost rowed across the ocean."

  • He was right.

  • Tori rebuilt the American Pearl,

  • and in December of 1999,

  • she did it.

  • (Applause) (Guitar)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

In June of 1998,

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【TED】Dawn Landes: A song for my hero, the woman who rowed into a hurricane (Dawn Landes: A song for my hero, the woman who rowed into a hurricane)

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