The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records


Epileptic man vows to row again

April 11, 2003


A LONE epileptic rower who was plucked from the Pacific described his "terrifying ordeal" yesterday but vowed to carry on rowing.

At the Colchester pub run by his sister, an emotional Mr Halsey described what he thought were his final hours before Chinese fishermen pulled him from his beloved boat.

Pledging the Captain Andy story had more chapters to run, he announced his determination to make more attempts at crossing oceans, with possibly the Indian his next target in about a year's time.

Mr Halsey set off in his 25ft boat the Brittany Rose named after his 18-year-old-daughter - from Callao, Peru, on November 25 last year.

His destination was Brisbane, Australia, about 8,000 miles away.

But last week, caught in a force 10 storm and his boat battered by 50ft waves, he started to think the worst as his boat capsized 18 times in 36 hours.

He said: "I thought this is where I'm destined to spend my last days. But, I couldn't afford to panic I had to get the boat right.

"The boat was hit by debris from some far-off wreckage and that set off the distress beacon. For almost four hours I was trapped upside down and water was up to my chest.

"I have been in worse storms, but with this one it was coming from different angles and was difficult to deploy a sea anchor.

"I feel relieved I got out with my life, but this is not the end of Captain Andy."

Four hours after he launched an emergency beacon, a United States plane dropped him a VHF radio, which he could not reach, and a life raft, which he used to stop the boat capsizing.

Fifteen hours later, about 800 miles from the Galapagos Islands, he saw a light on the horizon and launched flares.

The Chinese fishing boat Tarzan 16 arrived to rescue the former bricklayer, but its crew was unable to save his vessel.

He said he was grateful to the Chinese, but said he found some of the conditions on board they kept bottle-nosed dolphins in their freezer - "distressing" and was relieved when the Munro arrived. 

He said: "After the Munro picked me up, they stumbled upon one of the biggest coastguard operations in their history. I saw the most amazing things, but I'm not allowed to talk about it yet.

"The crew have now named me their lucky mascot."

The former bricklayer rowed the equivalent of about 4,000 miles but was only 2,000 miles from his starting point when he was picked up, due to tides and currents.

The journey should take nine or ten months, but instead he has entered the record books for covering the least distance in the most time at sea in a rowing boat.

Brother Nick Halsey, 48, who lives in Denmark, said: "Andrew has now spent more than 500 days rowing at sea and is probably the world's most experienced ocean rower. He is an inspiration to so many people."

The adventurer was the first disabled person to row the Atlantic in 1997, suffering two epileptic seizures during the voyage.

His initial failed attempt to become the first solo disabled rower to cross the Pacific was in 1999.

Seventy-two days into that charity journey he was at exactly the same distance from Australia as when he set off, despite rowing the equivalent of 2,300 miles.