MONTREAL -- The
great-nephew of German general Erwin Rommel says he can't wait to get back
in the water despite a dramatic rescue off Newfoundland recently when his
rowboat capsized on a bold transatlantic voyage.
"As mad as it sounds, I'm leaving in two months," Andreas Rommel, 34, said
in an interview yesterday.
"I'm planning to row across the South Atlantic in mid-November because I
have to do it. It's a personal challenge. I'm not going to stop on a
defeat. I came back from the valley of shadow, the valley of death."
Mr. Rommel left Cape Cod, Mass., on July 17 and was hoping to arrive in
England -- a distance of nearly 5,000 kilometres -- between 70 and 90 days
later after navigating the notoriously choppy North Atlantic.
The northern and southern routes are about the same distance, but Mr.
Rommel said the records for crossing are very different -- 42 days by the
South Atlantic and 72 days by the North Atlantic.
The headstrong Mr. Rommel, who describes himself as an extreme-sports
fanatic and the black sheep of his family, admits he began his trip a
month too late, leaving himself and his boat vulnerable to rough seas.
"I left in the middle of the hurricane season and this year is a terrible
year for hurricanes," Mr. Rommel said. "There were eight scheduled."
Mr. Rommel said his boat capsized five times in all and when he saw that
it was letting in water, he decided to use the distress beacons and ask
Crewmen from the Federal Elbe, which was relatively close, plucked Mr.
Rommel from stormy seas about 600 kilometres east of St. John's last
He remained aboard the vessel when the ship continued on its way to the
port in Becancour, about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
Mr. Rommel said that abandoning his boat is out of the question. "Rule No.
1 when you're in trouble is, 'Never leave your boat' even if it's half
He said travelling alone is a "special thing" and "pretty intense."
"You change psychologically. I think you become a bit nutty as well. You
start talking to yourself."
Mr. Rommel said he doesn't believe the family name has helped or hindered
Erwin Rommel, nicknamed the Desert Fox, was a renowned general in the
Second World War. The British eventually beat him at El Alamein in 1942.
"I've lost all contact with my German family since the age of 3," Andreas
Rommel said. "My mother was remarried when I was very young. I was brought
up by my stepdad, who's Italian-French."