When the sun rises over the Statue of Liberty tomorrow, Mike and Sarah Howe will—one way or another—head into history as they try to set a New York City to Miami record in their MTI 440X catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 500R outboards. Success, of course, is anything but guaranteed, but regardless of the outcome, the attempt alone at the 1,500-mile run will forever be part of high-performance powerboating folklore.
Social media stars Mike and Sarah Howe never shy away from an adventure, but tomorrow’s New York City to Miami record attempt will be their biggest one yet. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.
And by the way? Built through their Howe2Live YouTube channel, their fanbase of millions will be on the edge of their seats—and keeping track as best they can—of their latest and most ambitious adventure.
So it’s no wonder that Mike Howe got all of three-and-a-half hours of sleep at a roadside New Jersey hotel near Liberty Landing in New York, where their 44-footer is docked. The couple’s 375-mile run from Portland, Maine, to their current location was more than an eye-opener. The harrowing trip included debris fields, a fog bank and a least one narrowly averted, 50-foot log—a dead-head as they’re called—that blended in with the Atlantic Ocean waters.
“If the 5-hour-and-35-minute run from Maine to Liberty landing in 3- to 4-foot seas with 20- to 25-knot winds, countless debris field, floating logs and 30 miles of pea-soup fog were any indication of the difficulty ahead of us, we’re in for the challenge of our lives,” Howe said early this morning. “This time tomorrow we’ll be just beginning our super-long day of stress, fatigue and hurt, but we are tough, determined and prepared. The rest will be up to Mother Nature, luck and the decisions we make in real-time throughout the day.
“The trip from Maine was humbling,” he added. “My hands had like rigor mortis from the throttles. Sarah and I had to be on-point the entire way. We agreed that if tomorrow and the rest of the trip to Miami is like that, we probably won’t make it.”
Ah, the things that keep a man—even a brave, competent and accomplished one—up at night.
Originally equipped with Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines, the Howe’s 44-footer has been repowered with 500-hp versions of the supercharged V-8s. Photo courtesy Brad DiMaggio/Scrapyard Media.
The current record for the Miami to New York trek stands at 19 hours and 17 minutes. It was set by in 1988 Tom Gentry in the Gentry Eagle, a 116-foot high-performance yacht better suited to the open ocean than a 44-foot open-cockpit catamaran equipped with an extra 56 gallons worth of fuel in tanks that replaced the cat’s rear and side seats. (The Howes, of course, will be tackling the journey from the opposite direction.)
Rather than focusing on the open-ocean record attempt in its entirety, which would be overwhelming for even the most experienced high-performance powerboat enthusiasts, the couple is dividing it into “chunks.” The first is from New York City to Cape Hatteras, which also will be the first of their planned three refueling stops.
In 2003, a 38-foot Fountain Powerboats center console piloted by Brian Forehand covered the 410-mile distance between the Cape Hatteras lighthouse to the Statue of Liberty in 6 hours, 10 minutes and 8 eight seconds. Though the Howes are hoping to beat that time, the New York City to Miami record remains their ultimate goal.
Each of them will spend time behind the wheel of their 44-footer.
“This challenge is so difficult that it’s hard to tell if the odds are in our favor at the moment,” said Mike Howe. “But it will not be for lack of effort or preparation. We are ready and will do our best.”
Like her husband, Sarah Howe will have driving duty during the record-attempt. Photo courtesy Howe2Live.
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