Aussie expat Row2Rio boat in near miss with cargo ship

Published:  10 Mar at 6 PM
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Phuket-based expat Luke Richmond had a close call during the Row2Rio challenge when a huge cargo ship barrelled towards his team’s rowing boat.

Luke and his three team mates had undertaken the challenge of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean from a base in Portugal to Brazil in order to pay tribute to the world Olympic Games as well as raising donations for the Maacmillan Cancer Support charity. Late at night and some 1,500 kilometres into their 6,000 kilometre journey, they were rowing between the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria when the unexpected became a reality.

Even although they were aware that the Atlantic Ocean is one vast shipping lane for intercontinental cargo and other enormous ships, it came as a scary shock when the rowboat’s AIS alarm sounded and the auto-tiller switched on, warning them of another vessel in close proximity to their tiny craft. Almost immediately, the cargo ship’s spotlight came on, sweeping the waters after its own alarm had sounded. Radio contact between the two vessels was made, the rowboat’s tiller was reset and the epic journey continued, much to Luke and his crew’s relief.

However, the wild Atlantic had another trick to play on the eight-metre rowboat and its occupants. Several nights after the near miss, a fierce storm brewed up, sending howling winds, massive waves and heavy rain into the darkness. With very little visibility and pitch black waters, Luke’s late night rowing shift turned into his worst nightmare, making it almost impossible due to exhaustion to stay alert and keep rowing.

Row2Rio’s target is to raise £200,000 for the Macmillan charity, with the amount including the £75,000 cost of buying and equipping the team’s rowboat. The boat will be sold once the journey is completed, with the proceeds donated to the charity. The aim is to fund two Macmillan nurses for a period of two years. Luke chose the charity as beneficiary as it provides support to cancer patients who would otherwise be isolated whilst suffering from the disease.
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