Dateline   |  April 14, 2014

Capsized, part 2

Two oars break early in the journey and captain Jordan Hanssen begins to worry the crew will run out of food before reaching Miami.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in the winter of 2013 , two americans and two canadians were attempting to be the first adventurers ever to row from africa to north america . but the weather was worse. much worse. than they expected. crew member adam kreek , an olympic gold medalist , filed this report early on.

>> the last few days have been really awful. we've had really snotty water, gnarly water, getting really seasick.

>> reporter: and the storms continued. some nights lightning turned the pitch black into broad daylight. the progress was slow. the living conditions beyond uncomfortable. adam gave a tour below decks on the 29-foot craft.

>> you can see right now i'm in our main sleeping cabin that's 8 feet by 5 feet. normally two of us will sleep here at any given time. also within the cabin we've got our electrical panel, and below the deck we've got a bunch of scientific instrumentation where we measure a lot of different parameters of the ocean.

>> reporter: and then only four days out, they were shaken by their first real crisis.

>> we got hit by a pretty big wave today and it snapped an oar in two. it knocked the [ bleep ] out of us.

>> reporter: a broken oar. they could only carry one set of spares so if any more broke this would be a big problem. on top of the weather, the power supply was malfunctioning, so their ability to communicate back to land was also threatened.

>> my primary concern is safety. it's really important that we stay grounded and we recognize that we are in a very serious situation.

>> reporter: but if there was a life-threatening emergency, the crew had a backup plan. they were each equipped with emergency locator beacons. patrick had showed them off back on land.

>> it's basically just an emergency device. turn it on and it can track where we are.

>> reporter: family and friends were monitoring their progress on maps and websites and you could see it was slow going. did you have opportunities to talk to greg about this and a way of expressing our worries?

>> yes. yes. greg and i would talk most days. i'd see his number pop up on my phone and i would panic.

>> reporter: how okay were the families about what was or wasn't happening? did you get a lot of stress and disstress from them?

>> i did.

>> reporter: at sea, by day 25, patrick fleming , the novice on the crew, was having second thoughts about the whole expedition.

>> this is a lot more difficult for me than i thought it was going to be, a lot different than any other adventures that i've choosen to partake in. and it's very draining and, you know, more often than not i find myself wishing i was back on dry land .

>> reporter: but the spotty e-mail and satellite phone service communication was difficult. but back on land, patrick's mother diana was having a textbook episode of mother's intuition.

>> and i think that he was having second thoughts about it in a very big way.

>> reporter: and then on day 29, another oar broke.

>> we just got nailed by another big wave and broke another oar.

>> reporter: they now had no backups. if any more oars broke they'd have to give up on making miami and aim for the nearest land and that would be very difficult with just three oars.

>> three days in any direction to land.

>> reporter: the constant anxiety might have been getting to the crew.

>> i also had a dream -- this is a tough one -- that a big wave came and completely flipped the boat over.

>> reporter: a groggy markus woke up after a bad dream about being on some other rowboat, and it might have foretold disaster. but against all odds as the days went by, the crew continued to plug away one stroke at a time. and each day if the communications were working, they'd file a lesson for the students following their voyage at schools across the united states and canada .

>> the best part of this road trip so far is that all the wildlife we've been able to see, it's been actually incredible.

>> reporter: they'd see marlin, dolphin, sea turtles . what school kids weren't hearing about was the tension on board, though the videos shows the disagreements about the food supply , the day-to-day annoyances of life in cramped quarters.

>> we're going to be eating a little bit less.

>> no, we aren't.

>> don't you think?

>> that's what i've been telling you for the past 40 days , jordan. you won't get it in your head. we have full rations for 40 days .

>> reporter: on the whole, though, it appeared the four rowers were getting through it. sometimes in the black of night they'd even break into song. row, row, row your boat and as the rowers crossed the halfway point, 1,800 miles on day 47, their skipper, jordan, was able to take some pride in how it was all working out.

>> i don't know if anybody's going to be anybody's best friend but we'll all be the people we krosed the ocean with and we're a very good team. everybody's compassionate and very much cares about everybody else and it makes me very, very happy.

>> reporter: yet the danger ahead was never far from their minds. thunderstorms that came out of nowhere, the eerie feeling they'd be rammed by a big ship in the middle of the night . there was always reason to be wary. but