|Tori Answers Kids' Questions
Photos by Tony Beard, Brown-Forman Corporation
Tori is unable to answer any more questions. She must fully
concentrate on her landing.
from Mrs. Westerfield's Fourth and Fifth Graders:
We have been following your quest across the Atlantic and
comparing/contrasting your voyage with that of Columbus. His journal
mentions many of the same things you mentioned having seen, especially
the whale and the flying fish. We know that he was inspired by
We are wondering what/who inspired you?
Other questions we have are as follows:
(1) What is you greatest fear or risk?
(2) What do you miss the most?
We are cheering for you each day as we follow your journey "via
Answer: Hi - you asked some good questions! There are two
explorers that have
inspired me the most. The first is Ernest Shackleton, whose
motto was "By
endurance we conquer." He was an explorer who tried to go
to the South
Pole, and he ended up having one of the most difficult adventures of
time. But he kept all of his men safe through amazing hardships
difficulties. A second source of inspiration to me is Edmund
first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, because he always has a
sense of humility and always finds the
time to laugh.
On your other questions, the greatest fear
I have is being
in a big storm, and the thing I miss most is my friends. Tori
Question from Aaron at
Parkview Middle school and resident of
How does your sea anchor keep you in place if it doesn't have a
long enough to reach the bottom?
Answer: Aaron, you've
been thinking about this, haven't you. A sea anchor works
differently from a regular anchor, since a sea anchor looks like an
underwater parachute. While it slows the boat down, it doesn't
keep it in
one spot. Tori
Question from Lexington
Elementary in Southern Indiana:
Justin B.(3rd grade) - Do you ever feel so peaceful that you want
Answer: Yes I do, Justin. But then I stop feeling peacful
and start feeling hungry,
so I decide to keep going! Tori
Question from Johnson
Elementary in Southern Indiana:
Daniel (3rd grade) - What will you do when you get back?
Daniel, first I want to see all my friends, then take a bath, then
my friends again, then eat ice cream, then see all my friends again!
Question from Mrs. Kenner's 4th grade class at Taylor Co. Elementary, Campbellsville, KY:
When you arrive in Guadeloupe, what is the first thing you want to do, and, how soon will you return to KY?
I want to immediately see my friends and then take a nice long shower. I will return to Louisville as soon as possible. Tori
Question from Katy, Mr. Shoup's 7th grade, Chattanooga:
What was the training like and how does it feel to be at sea with nothing surrounding you except water?
As Mr. Shoup could tell you, Katy, I had to work on the boat a lot this summer. As a result, I didn't get much time to train. I did row on the Ohio River and lifted weights whenever possible. Sometimes it is very exciting to be in the middle of the ocean and be able to see things in a new way. But, when the water is big, I feel very small and would like to see land. Tori
Question from Mrs. Farmer's 5th grade class at Jane Glass Hite Elementary, Louisville, KY:
What convinced you that you wanted to do this one more time? Why do you think you will be a success this time?
I have spent a lot of time with groups of young people telling them to chase their dreams. It wouldn't be quite right if I didn't do the same. I leaned quite a bit from my last attempt to cross the ocean and, as a result, have made many improvements. Also, I am in a calmer part of the ocean and hurricane season is almost over. Tori
Question from Mrs.
Sidebottom's second and third grade class at Kennedy Montessori Elementary School:
What do you do with your garbage? Can you recycle?
Answer: I save all my garbage that is not biodegradable and the rest goes overboard. I
will see what I can do about recycling the garbage I have left when I get to Guadeloupe.
Question from T.J., fourth grade:
According to the map, you left from the Canary Islands and dropped southwest. Why
didn't you go directly west to North America and be at your home country?
Answer: If I go south toward Cape Verde, T.J., I can pick up the tradewinds which help
move me in the right direction. This is the same route Christopher Columbus took when he
first crossed the ocean. Tori
Question from Mrs. Howe's sixth grade math
class at Parkview Middle School:
Are you afraid of large animals that might tip over your boat, and if so, what would
you do? What would you do if your boat tipped over and you lost all your stuff and you
couldn't get a hold of anybody, and how do you get the boat back over? What do you most
want to do when you get to Barbados?
Answer: No, I am not afraid of large animals because all the whale encounters I have
had have been friendly. The American Pearl is designed to turn upright by itself because
it is heavier on the bottom. All of my supplies are in compartments that are closed with
hatches. I am very careful to close all the hatches and tie down my oars at night so that
if the boat does tip, I won't lose everything. In the worst case scenario, I would use my
emergency beacon to signal for help. This would only happen if the boat couldn't right
itself due to some disaster with another boat or perhaps a whale. The first thing I want
to do when I land will be to see my friends. Tori
Question from Danielle Bell, 17, of Central
High School and resident of Louisville:
Do you feel your effort is beneficial to the strides of fellow females? Are you doing this
Answer: Do I feel my efforts are beneficial to the strides of fellow females? Not
particularly. This isn't about the characteristics of my anatomy so much as it is about
character. I believe that each of us is capable of achieving great things. Is rowing
across an ocean one of these "great things?" No, it isn't. For me this is a
classroom where I can learn about what it means to follow a dream, I can plumb the depths
of my courage and my beliefs. Then, hopefully, I will return home with a renewed sense of
conviction and a more profound understanding of what is important in life. I hope that in
50 years when I look back on my life that my greatest achievements will be in
civilization. That is where the greatest challenges lie.
Answer: Am I doing this for publicity? No, Danielle. If I wanted to get my name in
the newspaper, there are far easier ways to do it. Tori
Question from Kimberly Huston, 16, of
Jeffersonville High School and resident of Clarksville, Indiana:
What has been the most exciting thing you've seen on your trip?
Answer: I saw the breaching of a whale. It was a majestic creature, very large,
very grand and astoundingly beautiful. I could hear whales a few hundred yards off my port
side. From their spouts or blows I could tell that they are a baleen species. Baleen
whales have two blowholes, where toothed whales usually just have one. With a few spouts
it was easy to tell that there were two blowholes. I'd given up hope of seeing more than
an occasional dorsal fin of their dive sequence when one of the whales breached. I've
never seen this before (outside of Sea World). It took my breath away. The whale came ¾
way out of the water, nearly vertical and then did a small turn and landed on its side. It
looked like a Minke whale, but it could have been any of the same family. I was too
shocked by the display to notice more than a great white belly and could guess the whale's
size to be about 30 feet. Definitely bigger than the American Pearl. I hopped out of my
seat to get the camera. I waited hoping another whale might breech, but it seems they were
camera shy. Tori
Question from Jonathan Ballard, 17, of
Nelson County High School and resident of Loretto, Kentucky:
What aspirations did you have when you were growing up? Have you always had the work ethic
you possess now? What advice do you have for youth to remain dedicated to their dreams?
Answer: I wanted to be John Quincy Adams when I was growing up. Okay, so I was a
really weird teenager. I usually report this laughingly, but it is no joke. I admired
Adams (and still do) because he dedicated his life to public service and to achieving the
public good (whether the public wanted it or not). I have tried to consider the
"public good" when making private decisions about what I would do with my life.
I've run homeless shelters, worked in hospitals, and did some work in local government. In
graduate school, I studied religion and then went on to study law. What I have learned is
that there are many ways to serve. I hope that I live long enough to be of service. John
Quincy Adams served our country from the age of 13 to the day he had a stroke on the floor
of the House of Representatives. He died a few days later in the Speaker's chambers. I
will not be him. This is tolerable, in my old age (by the standards of a young person such
as you) I find that being myself is quite challenging enough.
Answer: My work ethic has changed a little through the years. There was a time when
I was called "driven." I had a restless mind that was very hungry and tended to
bounce from one idea or passion to another. These days I am less driven and more willful.
I mean willful in a good way, as in possessing a strength of will. If I decide a thing
should be done woe to the person or people who stand in the way. To be driven is to be
subject to outside forces. A person who exercises strength of will chooses his or her path
and moves along it. The destination may be the same whether one is driven or doing the
driving. The difference lies in assuming responsibility for your actions. In my driven
days, I'd bulldoze over people and say, "oops it was not my fault." I bulldoze
fewer people these days, because it isn't necessary.
I suspect you have a very good work ethic. It is important to remember that not everyone
you come across will share your desire to make things happen. Some are quite content to go
along for the ride. There are all kinds of people, and each person has value in his or her
own way. Occasionally, you must look long and hard to find these redeeming qualities. The
people to avoid are the ones who try to put you down or stop you from doing a thing you
would like to do. They are not all malicious, but they will rob you of strength.
Answer: What advice? I think, young Jonathan, if you are astute enough to ask such
questions you do not genuinely require my advice. The key to dedication is first to HAVE a
dream or an aspiration. I believe you have dreams and aspirations of your own, or you
would not have the mature presence of mind to ask me about mine. Second, you ask about
work ethic. This is the heart of dedication to a dream and I must say the most trying part
of achieving one's aspirations. Nothing worth having comes for free. You must work at it
and sometimes work very hard. So, what advice? Seek your own counsel young sir. You are
unquestionably on the correct path. Tori
Question from Ameerah Cetawayo, 16, of
Doss High School and resident of Louisville:
How do you prepare to attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean? What were your workouts
like if you did work out?
Answer: It takes a long time to plan a trip like this. First, I had to learn how to
build a boat and find individuals who could help me in that task. Then I had to educate
myself about the ocean, the winds, current and weather. I had to learn about electrical
systems and 1000 other things. Workouts. I lifted weights and did a great deal of rowing.
When I grew tired of rowing I would ride my bicycle or go out in Cherokee Park on my
roller skis. It would be foolhardy in the extreme to undertake a trip like this if you
were not in decent physical shape. Mental preparation and physical training are essential
for success in many aspects of life. Tori
Question from Christine James, 15, of
Kentucky Country Day and resident of Louisville:
What made you want to take on this challenge?
Answer: Three years ago a friend and I signed up to compete in the Atlantic Rowing
Race. We barely made if off the starting line. I came home, and honestly I was a little
embarrassed. So when Sector Sports Watches offered to sponsor me to row the ocean solo, I
accepted their offer. The plan was for me to row the North Atlantic by the treacherous
West to East route. I fared better the second time, but a violent storm did me in. I came
home again. Though I was no longer embarrassed, I wished I could have finished the row. I
wanted to close this chapter in my life. It was not long before I found myself dreaming up
ways to return to finish what I had begun. I sincerely hope that this time will be my
last. This is a difficult thing to do and I would like to be free of it. I would like to
move on to other things. Tori
Question from Mrs. Vibbert's Sixth
Grade at Conway Middle School:
Why do you need the gasoline you brought on the Pearl? What fears have you had to overcome
to attempt such a daring feat?
Answer: Actually, I have butane on board for my stove so I can boil water for my
dinners. Getting over my experience with Hurricane Danielle has been the largest hurdle
for me in preparing for this trip. Up until that point, I had been very confident. That
storm was terrifying, however, and I have very vivid memories of it. Even now, the big
waves and wind can freak me out. Tori
Question from Mrs. Voor's Fourth Grade
at St. Edward School:
When you were a kid did you dream of rowing across the ocean? How are you and the American
Pearl going to celebrate Halloween?
Answer: No, I never even thought about rowing across the ocean. When I was a kid I
dreamed of going on camping trips. My brothers were Boy Scouts and I watched them go
camping wishing I could go, too. There were no Girl Scout Troops where we were at the time
so I didn't have the opportunity to experience the fun of camping. It was only in 1996
that I first thought of rowing across the ocean when I heard about The Atlantic Challenge
Race. The Pearl and I will celebrate Halloween by eating the package of Pop Tarts that I
brought along. Tori
Question from Nick:
Do you ever want to jump in and swim with the dolphins?
Answer: Yes, but I haven't worked up the nerve to jump in the water. The waves have
been so big that I'm afraid I would need someone else on board in case I needed help
getting back into the boat. I would rather not swim along side the American Pearl all the
way to the Caribbean! Tori
Question from Suzanne:
Where do you go to the bathroom?
Answer: Suzanne, I use the bucket and dump it method. I have two horse-size two
gallon buckets. One is green that I use for water for my bath and for washing dishes. The
other is red (so I never get confused) that I use for my personal needs. Tori
Question from Sarah, Age 10:
Did you have any kind of special medical training before you left?
Answer: As a matter of fact, Sarah, I was an Emergency Medical Technician in
college. I was concerned, however, that I might cut myself during the crossing. I knew
that it would be very difficult to keep an injury dry so I learned how to suture.
Hopefully, I won't have to use my new skill. Tori
Question from Stephanie:
Do you ever get bored just sitting there rowing?
Answer: Yes, I do get bored. My body has accepted rowing 12 hours a day but my mind
is still catching up. The best part of the day for me is the first hour as I am just
getting started. The most difficult time for me is the end of the afternoon. Tori
Question from the 6B class, St. Martha
Why did you take track cleats with you?
Answer: Congratulations on being so astute! The shoes are screwed down to
stretchers on the deck of the boat. I put my feet in them as I row. I get my power from my
legs and the shoes enable me to slide back and forth without moving my feet. Tori
from Mrs. Gutman's 8th grade science class:
During the night, do you drift off course? If you don't then what keeps you in
from Meg , Age 8:
When you are sleeping, how do you know that you are not going anywhere?
good questions! I certainly could drift off course since I generally do move during
the night. When I'm ready to go to bed, I check my course and set my rudder so that
the boat will - hopefully - stay on course during the night. I want to go southwest
until I pass 20 degrees latitude, so if the wind is blowing to the west, I set my rudder
to go south. If the wind is blowing to the south, I set my rudder to go west.
During the night, I wake up to check my course on my compass with the flashlight that
always hangs on my cabin wall. I can adjust my rudder if I need to. If the
wind stops, the boat doesn't go very far since the currents here aren't terribly strong,
and generally go with the wind. Sometimes the wind changes so that I have a head
wind, which means it is coming from in front of me. This can blow me backwards so
that I'll have to row that part over again next day. And that is NOT what I like to
from Miranda, age 5 1/2:
Are you having fun?
Yes Miranda, I'm DEFINITELY having fun! Tori
Question from Anthony, age 5:
Have you seen any sharks and if so what type are they?
Answer: I haven't seen
any sharks yet, Anthony. I have heard whales, but haven't seen them. I hear
them spout regularly. I'm sure sharks are around, but I'm just not seeing them - the water
has been too rough to see very far. But I do see dolphins every day. Tori
Question from Emile, age 12:
How did you cut your toe?
Answer: I cut my toe on my
bilge pump, which is just outside my cabin hatch. I was in a hurry one morning to
get out of the cabin, and tripped over it. My toe is much better - matter of fact,
it's almost healed. I'm more careful now, Emile!
Question from Sarah, age 8:
Do you have enough food or do you eat fish?
Answer: I have enough food because catching fish would
slow me down. Also, Sarah, if I caught a fish
that was too big to handle, I might have to jump out of the way and possibly fall down and
hurt myself or even fall into the water. I
have to be careful because the waves can also be a problem.
I was opening a package of jelly bellies the other day when a wave struck and took
me by surprise - there were jelly bellies all over the cabin! Tori
Question from Elizabeth, age 9:
How do you sleep at night?
Elizabeth, I have something called a lee
cloth which acts like a hammock. It keeps me
in place and lets me relax. I don't have to
worry about falling onto the floor of my cabin when the waves are rocking the American
Pearl. I sleep very well and wake up ready to
row the next morning. Tori