“Life is easy for us here in the Faroes, we simply don’t know how fortunate we are to be able to care about small matters,” 51-year old Edmund Berg told Faroese public broadcaster KvF.
On May 28th, he, along with 58-year old Jákup Jacobsen and 60-year old Neil Blackeby, had set out from Fort Lauderdale, Florida in rowing boat Guðrun, committed to crossing the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Faroe Islands — a distance of approximately 4,100 nautical miles, following the route of the Gulf Stream from beginning to end.
The voyage was estimated to take about 70 days, but the crew ended up spending 83 days at sea as they wound up in dire straits west of Ireland, some 800 nautical miles short of reaching their final destination. Thus on the morning of August 18th, they had to make a distress call as their vessel was being severely battered and taking damage from large waves, forcing the crew to abandon the rowing boat, which subsequently capsized and sank.
After spending eight grueling hours in the life raft, the two Faroese rowers were finally saved by a Russian cargo vessel that had taken three hours out of its sailing schedule to complete a rescue operation in collaboration with the Coastguard of the UK.
The Coastguard had launched its effort after receiving the distress signal from the rowers, the BBC noted, adding that the closest merchant vessel was contacted and asked to change course to the life raft.
“We are very grateful to the merchant vessel that stopped its busy schedule to rescue these survivors in very challenging weather conditions, and thankful to our friends at the RAF who provided such good support for this incident,” Rob Priestley of HM Coastguard told BBC News.
In an interview published by KvF earlier this week, Mr. Berg noted that despite the less desirable end to the ‘Riding the Gulf Stream’ adventure, it was worth it.
“If you set out for the journey and you’re as prepared as you can be with the right tools and if you believe in it, I think it’ll be alright,” Mr. Berg said, adding that “when you are fond of adventure, it’s worth it.”
He described the start of the journey as exciting, difficult and very hot. “I was very excited to row and experience this boat because we hadn’t tried it before,” he said.
The Guðrun was built for four men, yet only three men set out on the adventure, as their fourth teammate had canceled a few months earlier. Only days after their journey had begun, however, Mr. Blackeby left the boat leaving the crew down to only two, at which point work became even harder.
Mr. Berg told KvF that the incident has given him a different perspective on life. “I think you start to think differently,” he said. “When we sat there in the life raft, many thoughts went through my head.”
When asked whether or not he would ever set out on a similar adventure, the answer was an unequivocal “no.”
“No ocean rowing again. I’d already decided before the journey that this would be the last one.”