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Grand nephew of Desert Fox rescued from overturned rowboat in mid-Atlantic

Thursday, September 02, 2004

HALIFAX (CP) - A German adventurer who was hurled into the ocean when his rowboat capsized during a transatlantic crossing was plucked Thursday from stormy seas 600 kilometres east of St. John's, Nfld.
Andreas Rommel - grand nephew of the Desert Fox, Second World War Gen. Erwin Rommel - was reported safe aboard the bulk carrier Federal Elbe.
He left the United States from Chatham, Cape Cod, last week in an attempt to row solo to England. But he ran into rough seas that badly damaged his boat.
Rommel had been keeping a journal of his voyage, posted via satellite on the Ocean Rowing Society website.
"It felt like something was smashing the boat with a sledgehammer," he wrote on Aug. 22 after battling three hurricanes rushing north from the Gulf of Mexico.
"It was pitch black and I was inside. All of a sudden, my boat capsized . . . I felt like a hamster in a cage-wheel. I was totally in shock. This was it, I thought. Then the boat self-righted again."
Crewmen from the Federal Elbe, which was nearby when Rommel's craft capsized, were able to pull him from the water as he bobbed around in five-metre seas.
"I was in the middle of a heavy storm and I was getting battered," Rommel wrote in his final journal entry. "My survival suit and my beacon were ready. I felt my boat wasn't going to take it this time. "
Officials at the Rescue Co-ordinator Centre in Halifax said Rommel was well despite his ordeal, for which he was well-prepared.
A Canadian Forces Aurora patrol aircraft remained overhead during the rescue operation while a Cormorant helicopter was dispatched to pick him up.
The chopper returned to Gander, Nfld., on Thursday evening while Rommel remained aboard the Federal Elbe. The ship was expected to arrive in the port of Becancour, Que., on Monday evening.

  1983-2001 Ocean Rowing Society

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