World

Ecological pair row across Atlantic

Two Canadian ecologists and adventurers have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, beating a major water barrier in an effort to go around the world under human power.

Two Canadian ecologists and adventurers have rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, beating a major water barrier in an effort to travel the world under human power.

Colin Angus and fiancee Julie Wafaei reached St. Lucia in the Caribbean 121 days after leaving Lisbon, and 20 months after Angus and then expedition partner Tim Harvey left Vancouver.

Angus and Harvey travelled together by bike to Alaska, then rowed across the Bering Sea and skied, biked and hiked through Siberia to Moscow. The men split up there, but Wafaei joined Angus, and the couple biked to Lisbon.

On Sept. 22, they left the Portuguese capital in a small, overloaded rowboat dubbed Ondine.

"After 121 days at sea, sighting land was both terrifying and exhilarating," they said on their website.

Although Ondine is seaworthy on the open ocean, approaching a rocky shore in a seven-metre, plywood boat is risky.

And the conditions were awful, with waves of nearly four metres and 40-knot winds, as they neared the island.

"One intense wave hit the boat with such force that it almost capsized. Colin flew off his rowing seat, grabbing the safety line to stay in the boat," the couple said. "The carbon-fibre oar splintered like a matchstick. Contents inside the boat flew out of their holds and joined Julie as she slammed into the port side of the cabin. "

The travellers had endured two hurricanes, but "this is the closest they came to capsizing and the first time one of the almost indestructible oars was damaged."

Despite the dangers, "their yearning for fresh fruits and ice cream won out."

The team is using human-powered travel to highlight global warming and inspire others to use non-motorized transportation.

"If we can propel ourselves around the world, will you propel yourself to work or school?" the website asks.

They will next leave for Costa Rica, a 2,500-kilometre row, and bike the final 7,500 kilometres back to Vancouver.

They expect to arrive home in May.

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