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

 

 

Theodore Rezvoy: facts regarding my interrupted row and loss of my boat

Translated from Russian by Tatiana Rezva-Crutchlow

 

First of all I would like to thank all those, who sent me letters of support - I greatly appreciate your understanding, how difficult it was for me to realise that I had lost my boat and the dream I had been living with for the last year.
Your support and encouragement is a great inspiration for me. Thank you!

But I do repeat what I have said in my first statement, that as a captain of my vessel, I take full responsibility for this loss.

Lack of communication, inaccurate information and some facts, that I myself was not able to explain, have been compensated with a big deal of guesses, Now I am ready to talk about and I feel obliged to clarify all the details for the record - step by step.

On the night of July 10th during a strong storm my boat capsized twice. I've got a history of a problem with my liver, which for several days had been already bringing me some discomfort and I was taking some medication for it. But that time, after the capsize, it was quite unusual and more painful than ever. Not knowing what really happened to me, my only concern was, that if the problem persists much longer, I would be forced to call for help - the very last thing any ocean rower wants to do: it would mean I could loose my boat and once again attract not the best attention to ocean rowing.

I was taking a rest in my cabin, when the "Sea Me" gave me a signal that there was a ship in the area. It prompted me to take this chance and to ask them ( Can I be excused to refer to the members of the crew as "they") if they can render me assistance.
After routine information about my positions, I told them that I am an ocean rower, headed for France. I was asked if any help was needed. I asked them for medical help, but only in case it would be no problem for them. It was not an emergency.

I knew, that as far as sea was high, if they take me onboard to see a doctor (and I didn't know how long it would take) the boat could be smashed against the ship. And I would not dare to ask anybody to lift and then to put the boat back on water in such a sea. So I asked them, if they could lift my boat and take us ashore. I underlined, that there was no emergency and, what was the most important thing - that I could not be separated from my boat.
At that moment I had no idea that it was a US Navy ship, when I spoke to them.

My hope was, that the health problem I had was caused by the seat-belt, which I was using when the boat capsized, and hoped that most probably it would pass soon. I knew, that I would be not the first rower to come ashore and then restart.

One more thing I was thinking about was a sort of disorder with my rudder, which I managed to fix a day before, going out into water. Now it seemed to me to be a good idea to use that opportunity as well for checking it on dry deck/land. . There were no other problems with the boat at all, it was absolutely seaworthy and, even more, as you can see from my diary, I was pretty satisfied with the way it behaved herself when under rowing, surfing and self-righting after capsizes (considered inevitable on this route).

After a while I was assured that the boat would be fine and that ship was on her way to me.

She was approaching on good speed, so I saw a missile-carrier very soon, but they
didn't seem to see me, so I set one of flares ( a white one) on to position myself.

When the USS Doyle approached, "Black Zodiac" was put on water and came closer to me. I was asked to unzip my survival suite -for the purpose of checking that I had no armour on me. Then "Zodiac" moved closer and one of the members of the crew entered my boat. The officer asked me if I had any armour or explosives. I pointed him to the knife, which was attached to the side of the boat, and to the flares. He took both. I would like to mention, that these were not confiscated, because I got them back when I left the ship in Salem.
Then my cabin was checked and the officer asked me to open the storage compartment which he checked as well.

Then one of the sailors with aqua-lung from Zodiak dived under my boat and checked the bottom.

My boat was tied to "Zodiac" ( by our mutual efforts) and it was towed to the ship. We put the ropes around the boat, hooked them on and then left my boat for Zodiac. I was warned that the boat could get some damages during the lift, though I presumed it was going about some minor damage.

When being next to the ship, the boat was beating against her side so that some bolts from the oar locks flew away. But I had extra, and though it made me shiver, I knew I would manage to repair it. The main prove I did suddenly get, was evidence of the quality of the hull - nothing happened to it. Even a part of  plywood moved slightly away ( an hour work to repair), but with such a hull I could rely on this boat on the highest sea.

Meanwhile I was taken aboard and there the next check took place. I was asked first to face the wall and was checked from head to toe. Then I turned around and they checked me that way. But it was not more humiliating than a thorough check at the nowdays international airports around the world.

From my boat I managed to take my Pelican case with Iridium ( the time of my scheduled contact with ORS was approaching and I thought of giving them a call in order they were not worried.) and photo camera ( I was documenting all the events of my row, so after the successful lift of my boat I was dreaming to take some pictures with those who helped me). My belongings were checked and taken away, I got them when we arrived at Salem. Of course I was not let to use any of these equipments, which was quite natural, when to change the point of view. I was on a US Navy ship, after all! Neither I was allowed to make a call home or to ORS on my Iridium phone.

Then I got medical assistance, medications and health check. I was told "Sorry, we could neither lift your boat nor tow her, we let it adrift." That was an unexpected scenario, and I had to face it postfactum. When I said, that I had all my things onboard, I was answered, that it was too late - the boat had gone.

I was not given chance to take anything from it. But knowing, that my Argos was on board of the boat and transmitting positions, I said nothing else and knew, that the next day I would launch the search for my boat.

I was offered shower, hot meals, and navy outfit ( I had left my boat just in a survival suite and rowing shoes). And I was settled for sleep - with blankets and all normal stuff. Though it was in a corridor, it was still better than my "bed" in my boat.

 Later on I was told that I can make a short call home, but the telephone was busy ( mother was dialling my sat without break, because it was second scheduled contact that I failed to make) but I reached a friend in New Jersey asking him to make a call to mom and to say, that I am ok. Then I didn't know that besides absence of contact ORS suddenly stopped to get Argos positions, that put mom in almost a panic. For them it looked as if the boat had sunk.

The next morning USS Doyle arrived to Salem, where I was "handed" to a police officer, who checked if I was legally in the States and took me in his car to the Police Station - to give me a shelter and possibility to make a call home, and to get calls - my sister-in-law Olga had to come from Connecticut to pick me up.

Before going ashore I was given back my belongings, which I had with me,when I had boarded the ship, and oars from the boat;  I asked the sailor for flares and knife, and he brought them...together with Argos beacon.

That was the most hard moment from the whole event - to realise, that that was the end of hopes to find my boat. That was really her death sentence - there was no Argos aboard my boat any more.

I found answers for many questions I had had, and came to terms with my loss, but that puzzle as for what reason could it be to take the tracking beacon off, still has no answer.

And nevertheless, though I was leaving USS Doyle devastated with the loss of my boat and dreams, and hopes, I am deeply grateful to the crew of the ship and her commanders. I have heard President Bush saying "we are at war with terrorism", and still they came to help me and took me on board;  me, not an American - just a distressed oceanrower. And, I believe, they really did their best. Thank you !


In closing and because of all support offered including from emails I have today received from crew members of USS Doyle, I can tell you that it is my intention to build a new boat and start again from New York on June 6 2004 - the 108th anniversary of Harboe and Samuelsen row. And a quick look at ORS statistics reminds me that fellow ocean rowers Peter Bird (UK), Tori Murden (USA) and Simon Chalk (UK) - each lost their ocean rowboats and each went back the next year and completed their row. It is these examples I chose to follow.

Theodore Rezvoy,
Ocean Rower

July 18 2004, London
 


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