— former British commander rows 3,000 miles across the Atlantic
FORMER Royal Marines Commando of the British Army, Richard Allen, arrived safely in Guyana on Wednesday after rowing his way across the Atlantic Ocean on a 3,000-mile solo journey from Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Allen docked at the Georgetown Ferry Stelling near Stabroek Market at around 18:00hrs in the boat named “Tamu’kke” which in the Patamona language of Guyana’s Indigenous people translates to “together” or “united”.
In the mission called the ‘Commonwealth Row’, the former Royal Marines Commando sought to row the Atlantic Ocean without leaving the Commonwealth.
The aim of the feat was to raise awareness about the Commonwealth amongst its some 2.4 billion citizens.
It is also geared toward raising much-needed money for charities and foundations operating within the Commonwealth which are assisting through health, education, enterprise and generally helping people.
“It was really hard because of the heat,” he told the media after speaking with immigration and health officials.
“Basically, I was trying hard to prevent a heat stroke half of the time. The rest was a bit boring, I’ve got to admit. But the last section coming around South America was quite dangerous. [I was worried] about the boat getting smashed up [and] one point I lost three or four oars but I had some spare ones. At one point I was down to one oar and I had to anchor, I didn’t go ashore; I tried to make one new oar out of two separate bits.”
Allen also said that at one point the boat capsized and he was separated from the boat by about 1,500 meters.
Allen was expected to arrive on the shores of Guyana near the Marriott Hotel on Wednesday, but strong winds saw him diverting to the Ferry Stelling.
“The project wasn’t about me rowing a boat. It’s all about trying to raise awareness and change common misconceptions about the Commonwealth,” he said.
He added: “The Commonwealth isn’t about politics or politicians or anything like that; it’s all about people; it’s about all of us, 2.4 billion of us, we should really be coming together to help each other.”
Allen said his hope is to spark interest, especially amongst kids to get them interested in knowing more about the Commonwealth.
During his time here, he will be giving assistance to charities where possible while getting first-hand experience of their work and where the donations are going.
“As soon as he gets his ‘land-legs’ we’ll be taking him up to Mashabo, to different parts of Region Two where we have active projects going on,”
said Supriya Singh-Bodden, founder of the Guyana Foundation.
Singh-Bodden met Allen when he placed a phone call to her, stating his interest in supporting the foundation which saw them meeting up in London to further develop the partnership in November 2018.
“I was more worried about what he was going to eat and how he was going to drink and he didn’t seem concerned in the slightest. He said my days will be spent eating dried food, adding water to it and I’ll sleep at night, then I’ll wake up the next day and I’ll row again,” she said.
“The Guyana Foundation is really very grateful for the support that he has given us so far because it has brought a lot of attention to the mental health awareness work [and] the community projects we’re doing.”
Allen has served in some of the most extreme, hostile, and remote places on earth, including jungles, deserts and the Arctic, and travelled further during his own adventures.
In the past, he has tested the possibility of how far one person with a small bag could travel the world without a plane, making his way through countries such as France, Morocco, Malta, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Trinidad & Tobago and many others.
He was assisted on his journey by members of the British Sailing Team and forecaster for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Simon Rowell, who assisted as a meteorologist.
Today at 11:00hrs, Allen will be meeting with children from schools across Georgetown with his boat just outside the Marriott Hotel near the road on the Western side of the Pegasus Hotel.