Adam Nagler completed a 450-mile trek up the eastern seaboard from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia to Brant Point Lighthouse last summer by paddleboard, but he believes he has unfinished business and more to prove. This week, Nagler told the Current he will attempt to complete the original trip he set out to do from Cape Hatteras Light (Buxton, North Carolina) to Brant Point Light this summer.
"People get fired up about this stuff and I really appreciate the support but on the other side of that they want to see s*** go down," Nagler said. "My buddy was like 'look man, you know what would be cool is if/when a really big great white shark comes and bites into your board, if you could get that on video that would be awesome because we could sell a lot of advertising with that. I had to ask if he cared whether I survive this trip or not."
"But you have to understand the human nature of it. People like that stuff. I am putting myself in a hairy position and crazy things always happen. You try to prepare for as many contingencies as you can but a lot of stuff happens. I describe it as 50 percent of the trip is epic and I am just taking it in, enjoying being out there and just alone and removed from everything. The other 50 percent is just being on the edge of making it through."
Nagler said his decision to pick these two stops as his beginning and end points comes from his desire to connect with historic points on the water.
"Hatteras and Nantucket for me are iconic," he said. "They are defining spots in the history of the ocean that are monumental to me, removed, and there are shoals, ships, commercial fishing boats, fog, and wild life. There is a lot of stuff going on.
Nagler said weather will dictate when he can began his voyage, which will be done without any assistance. If tropical systems come into play, which Nagler admitted they inevitably do, he may have to do two or three open ocean legs of six to eight days each. Even in this format, at least one of the legs would be the longest and most difficult offshore passages ever done on a stock board.
Nagler is hoping to begin sometime in June. He will travel on a stock 14’ standup paddleboard. Last year, Nagler launched with roughly 36 gallons of water, which he stored on a sled being carried by his board. This year he plans to only launch with approximately 17 gallons due to lack of space on his paddleboard.
"One thing I am doing is completely changing my sleep schedule so that I am prepared to be paddling at night when it is cooler, which means I am not sweating as much and my water needs are lower," Nagler said. "If you are paddling in the middle of a sunny day, then you are sweating and need a whole lot more water than you do at nighttime when it is 20 degrees cooler. I didn't get up until noon today and won't be in bed until 2 a.m. I am trying to push it an hour or two per day so I am essentially in a schedule where I will be paddling from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Paddling 15 hours per day is the goal."
Nagler's trip is being done in support of Fairwinds – Nantucket’s Counseling Center. He said his family always approached therapy as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than be something to fear or to be embarrassed about. When the pandemic first hit, Nagler began mutual support FaceTime calls with islander friends, a majority of which were single and don’t have family nearby.
“It was during these calls and subsequent research that I became intimately aware of how essential Fairwinds’ services are to the island community, especially those suffering from anxiety, depression and addiction,” Nagler said. “As the pandemic evolved the breakdown in mental health became all too real (a number of suicides, families dissolving, careers upended, the stress of constant adaptation etc.). In a time of great need Fairwinds, their staff and volunteers were/are there for their neighbors, and I need to be there for Fairwinds. My mission is their mission.”
The focus of any donation will be to support patients who cannot afford to pay for any of Fairwinds’ services, those who aren’t insured, anyone whose insurance for mental health or addiction services has reached its maximum benefit before the course of the treatment is complete, and anyone who is only able to partially pay their copay.
Nagler’s donation goal is $125,000, which would be an increase of just over $50,000 from what was raised last summer ($74,600). Nagler said the paddle will also be in memory of John Loughlin, who passed away in 2004, and in honor of Annie Backus, who was a nurse at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital for 46 years before retiring last year.
Nagler has overcome many odds to get to where he is today. He said he once lived a life where he spent many years behind a desk without balance. He needed to have open heart surgery in his mid-forties as the result of a rare bacterial infection. He wasn’t where he wanted to be in life and in 2014, set out to reshape his life from a physical, mental, and spiritual perspective. Nagler will put that growth to the ultimate test this summer.