Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – The Unbelievable Voyage UPDATE

By August 15, 2016Company News
Norwegian man attempting transatlantic solo row rescued at sea after major storm leaves him stranded 1,000 miles from shore

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 16, 2016) – A Norwegian man’s quest to row solo from New York City to England ended Saturday, August 6th when a fierce storm badly damaged his boat, stranding him 850 miles out to sea.


Stein Hoff and the Fox II leaving NYC on May 15. Photo credit: Elisabeth Hoff

Stein Hoff left New York City on May 15th for what was to be a 90 day odyssey – rowing solo to England. Hoff – 70 years old – was sponsored by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The effort, dubbed The Unbelievable Voyage, became even more unbelievable when Hoff was hit by bad weather the night of Friday, August 5th. He tried to ride out the storm, but his 24-foot rowboat was no match for 30-40 foot waves and winds gusting to 60 mph.

Hoff managed a Facebook post the next morning:

“Sorry. This is the end of my trip. Lots of damage to rudder, sea anchor gone … I deeply regret this, no choice, hope the boat stands it till a ship comes. But I have a story to tell.”

Hoff activated his boat’s EPIRB. The emergency signal prompted an international rescue effort. Norwegian officials picked up his distress signal, and Her Majesty’s Coastguard in England began searching for airplanes and ships in Hoff’s vicinity.

Fortunately, the Ludolf Oldendorff, a cargo ship, was only a few hours away from Hoff’s drifting rowboat, the Fox II. The ship diverted to rescue the battered and bruised Hoff. He was reunited with his family when the ship docked in Sept-Îles, Quebec after a nine-day journey.

From the safety of the Ludolf Oldendorff he emailed his family with some of the details from his harrowing experience:

“…seeing and hearing my boat equipment being broken and destroyed around me and wondering how long the hull and I could take it was a near-death experience. I rolled right around about 10 times, several knock-downs in addition. Twice I spent more than a minute practically upside down with howling wind wondering if the boat was ever going to get upright and if I was going to survive.”


Robert Ripley’s original story on Harbo & Samuelsen

Hoff was recreating the 1896 journey of two Norwegian Americans, George Harbo and Gabriel Samuelsen, who were the first people to row across an ocean. Robert Ripley wrote about their feat in his first Ripley’s Believe It or Not! book. Ripley’s has been documenting Hoff’s journey and will continue to update his incredible saga.

“What Stein Hoff went through is one of the greatest feats of human endurance that I have ever heard of,” said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives. “A successful transatlantic solo row would have been incredible, but what he overcame out in the middle of the ocean is truly unbelievable.”

For more on Stein Hoff’s Unbelievable Voyage, visit or

For downloadable images of Stein Hoff’s rescue, visit this Dropbox:


Photo credit: Elisabeth Hoff

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