Does anyone have any better answer than "to set a record", or "just because"?
I do give the guy props for taking it seriously. Given the constraints he has imposed on himself he seems very well prepared. But, together with the parent poster, I just can't see the point.
I feel bad for putting it that way, especially if someone younger reads it, because this can lead to developing a cynical world view that isn't necessarily valid. I'm not trying to give you an existential crisis or something, but go down the (thought) avenue completely if you're taking a trip to that destination, don't just stop in the middle of the road. People do things because they enjoy them or simply want to; life is hopefully enjoyable for most, and then sadly but inevitably we all die one day.
"Perhaps 'because it is there' is not sufficient reason for climbing a mountain?"
This guy set himself a clear goal and is trying to achieve it. It probably brings him some fulfillment regardless of the result.
Meaning is a really hard thing for me to pin down. Most people go to work, not because work is fun, but because they want money. to them, it's real, meaningful security. It's a place to live and food to eat. The 'meaning' is pretty clear. Some of those people work to provide for their families. These are pretty clear, easy examples.
I screw around reading hacker news, and getting into discussions, because sometimes they're really fun. The meaning, for me, is exposure to other viewpoints and ways of thinking about the world. I do have to admit, i'm probably getting my life sucked out of me doing this, five minutes at a time, with silly comments like these. But i rationalize and such, and invest these conversations with meaning.
As far as i can tell, there's really only two possible ways to have meaning. Stuff that i think is important (poor word choice. Stuff i'm perhaps emotionally invested in, or enjoy, or am attracted to). The other way is theological. I'm not a theological person, so i'll set that aside as meaningless. But i'm happy to follow that sort of argument if you want to make it. Again, i'm here for the viewpoint, because that's the part that has meaning to me.
Perhaps this is all rambling nonsense. I'll try to make some sort of point. Do you do anything meaningful for a reason other than it's important to you or (maybe) your god? For any reason you pick, i can find you a person that made a different choice. For example, you chose to spend some time on HN tonight. I can guarantee my mom didn't spend any time on this site.
You (or maybe your god) invests the world with meaning. You get to pick how to spend your day. I get to pick how to spend my day. We probably don't make the same choices. The boat guy, he makes very different choices than both of us. But that's ok. The choices we make probably look just as pointless to him as his choices do to us.
We'll all be dead soon enough. I'd encourage you to let people doing weird stuff just be weird - as long as you feel they're not endangering the rest of us somehow. That guy is going to try a crazy thing. I also think it's meaningless. But it's not meaningless to him. I'd suggest that criticizing someone for trying a meaningless thing is even more meaningless.
you're going to die someday buddy. Do stuff that means something to you.