Brother and sister bound for Gib after transatlantic rowing boat capsizes

Brother and sister bound for Gib after transatlantic rowing boat capsizes

A brother and sister are bound for Gibraltar on a cargo ship that rescued them almost 1,000 miles from land after their rowing boat capsized as they tried to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Martin Cruickshank and Fenella McAlister were heading for Martinique in the Caribbean when the Fifty-Fifty lost its rudder on January 31.
Adrift and low on food, the pair tried to keep rowing, hoping winds and currents would take them towards land.
But on Wednesday, 900 nautical miles from Martinique, a wave capsized them. The boat righted itself but took on water, shorting the electrics.
Unable to continue, they activated an emergency distress signal to alert the UK Coastguard and waited for help.
On Thursday, their 72nd day at sea, they were finally rescued by a Maltese cargo ship, the Glyfada.
The pair are now on their way to Gibraltar, where they are expected to dock next week.
Mrs McAlister, who is British and in her late 40s, and Mr Cruickshank, who is reportedly Scottish but living in Croatia, set out on the 3,000-mile voyage from Puerto Morgan in Gran Canaria on November 29.
They had hoped to become the first brother and sister team to row the ocean, according to the Ocean Rowing Society International.
Tatiana Rezvaya-Crutchlow, the society’s co-ordinator, said the pair had tried to keep rowing after their rudder broke.
She told the Press Association: “On January 31 their rudder was broken and they lost it. Usually rowers give up immediately but they decided they would try to continue.
“They tried to get to Antigua, or any island, and were very short of food, though (passing) ships and vessels are usually happy to give supplies.
“But without the rudder the boat couldn’t be controlled and it caused them to capsize when a wave hit it on Wednesday.
“It self-righted but a lot of stuff was destroyed because water penetrated their cabin.”
After sleeping on the decision, they activated their emergency positioning beacon (Epirb) on Thursday morning.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it received the alert as the boat was around 900 nautical miles east-north-east from Martinique.
Unable to raise the rowers on their satellite phone, the coastguard notified counterparts on Martinique, who broadcast a mayday call that was picked up by the Glyfada, 10 miles from the rowing boat.
MCA spokesman Ross Parkinson said it was a “lengthy and demanding long-range rescue”.
He said: “The rowers were incredibly lucky that a nearby vessel was only a few hours away because by the time help arrived the rowing vessel had started taking on water.
“This incident shows you how important it is to be prepared for your voyage and have several means of contacting the coastguard or raising an alarm, even if you are not in UK waters.
“Thankfully the rowers are now on board the cargo ship and are reported to be safe and well.”
Mr Cruickshank and Mrs McAlister were attempting to row the Atlantic as independent adventurers, not as part of an organised race.
They had previously attempted the feat in December 2015 but were thwarted by bad weather as they rowed from Portugal towards the Canary Islands.

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