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Man raises $17K rowing from New York

Al Freihofer was at the oars up to 12 hours per day, sleeping on public docks, beaches and on the boat

Al Freihofer was at the oars up to 12 hours per day, sleeping on public docks, beaches and on the boat

Sunburned and exhausted, Al Freihofer eased his 15-foot Adirondack Guide Boat into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor after a 13-day row this summer from New York. Greeted at the dock by a crowd of friends and family, Freihofer later learned that his voyage helped raise more than $17,000 for a scholarship at the school where he teaches English.

“Last spring my students, their parents, my colleagues and many friends climbed aboard with the idea of this becoming a fundraiser for my school to assist students whose families might struggle to raise tuition money,” Freihofer, who is 55, says in an e-mail to Soundings. Freihofer teaches at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, located in Baltimore.

“We were able to raise [$17,650] on pledges ranging from a penny per mile to other more hefty lump-sum ‘all-or-nothing’ promises,” he says.

Freihofer pushed off from the city dock in Troy, N.Y., the morning of Aug. 5. The amateur rower guided his boat down the Hudson River, under the Verrazano Bridge to New Jersey, down the Intracoastal Waterway to Cape May, N.J., up the Delaware River, through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and south through Chesapeake Bay into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Freihofer was at the oars 10 to 12 hours per day, he says, and slept on public docks, beaches and on the boat. He spent only two nights in hotels.

“I started in Troy because I was born and grew up there,” explains Freihofer. “The idea of a trip ‘from home to home’ held appeal. In addition, the waters along the way are largely protected, even though later, particularly on the Delaware, I would discover that they were not as protected as I might have wished.”

Freihofer’s boat swamped twice while on the Delaware but his biggest obstacle, he says, was his own physical endurance. “It’s rather a kind of limiting factor,” says Freihofer. “While weather was not a factor, wind, tides and current presented challenges. My shortest day was only seven miles near Mantoloking, N.J., because of high, sustained winds on the bow. I simply could not make ground.”

Freihofer says he rowed 452 miles at an average speed of 3.39 knots. He estimates he pulled his oars 128,000 times.

Since returning to Baltimore Aug. 17, Freihofer has returned to teaching and is enjoying “life as usual.” He’s considering a more ambitious row with a friend from Duluth, Minn., to Troy — but says that journey could be years away.

“Truth be told, this trip has given me a lifetime of fond memories,” he says. “And it’s gratifying that the fundraising element was able to do some good.”