Three men plan to row across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland

About 50 miles south of Nantucket, three men got stranded last week in their 25-foot boat. They had left New York City on June 15, rowing around the clock and cruising in the fog, when Tropical Storm Claudette struck.

With a thunderstorm surrounding them and the wind pulling them, they tried to steer and keep the boat steady.

The men hadn’t slept for two days and felt like zombies. Finally, the storm calmed down. But their solar battery had stopped working. They anchored and turned on the emergency lights so the ships could see them.

After sleeping for a few hours, they tried to figure out what to do next on what they had planned to be a transatlantic trip.

After making a few calls, the trio contacted a towing company which took them for 10 hours to Falmouth, a town neither of them had ever visited.

Réamonn Byrne, 40, Chris McCaffrey, 21, and Ryen Cosgro, 26, have now stopped in Cape Cod on an expedition they call ‘The Hard Way Home’: to row a boat over 3000 miles from New York to Ireland, where Byrne is from.

Since being brought to Falmouth on June 23 and recovering from sleep, the three have worked to get back on the water, fix their boat and find a small back-up methanol generator for their solar power. When they’re ready to leave, which Byrne hopes for Monday morning, they plan to resume their journey from Chatham, where they hope someone will tow them past the breakwater.

“We can’t wait to retire,” Byrne said. “We just need to get the fuel for the generator, and that’s it, really. So we are ready.

No safety net

Byrne, McCaffrey and Cosgro all have experience in the great outdoors, going on expeditions to mountains and deserts. Byrne, a New York resident, longed for a bigger challenge, an adventure where there was no safety net. If anything goes wrong, he said, he is solely responsible for the consequences.

He said he wanted to row a boat the 3,067 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to his home in Waterford, Ireland, all without the comforts of an engine or a waiting safety boat. . It’s a feat that only a few dozen achieved, the first being Frank Samuelson and George Harbo in 1896.

The expedition also raises money for a charity in Ireland called the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which helps families cover the costs of repatriating to Ireland the body of a loved one who died abroad in sudden or tragic circumstances. . So far, they have raised 2,580 euros.

Byrne has been working on the expedition for a few years. He bought a boat about three years ago and brought it to New York, where it was moored at Marina 59 in Queens, and he began to look for other people who could accompany him on his trip. .

24 hours on the trains: Transatlantic rower battles towards the Gulf Stream

He found two men who lived outside the United States who would be willing to join him, but when COVID-19 hit it was impossible to enter and exit different countries. He posted an ad on an online adventure forum saying he needed a guy to row the ocean. This is how he found McCaffrey and Cosgro, who are professional outdoor enthusiasts who met as mountain guides in Alaska.

The three have been training for months, working with Peter “Stokey” Woodall, a sailor who has crossed the Atlantic 30 times and taught them navigation and passage planning. He will also be available for the trio to call during their trip if they need help maneuvering in different types of weather conditions, Byrne said.

In May, they got together to begin preparation, replacing all of the boat’s systems and recruiting sponsors. Then they just waited for the right time, Byrne said.

How they do it

There is a small recommended window of time – between late May and early June – to begin a journey across the Atlantic before the hurricane season begins in September, Byrne said. The weather put them a bit late at the start, and the mechanical issue is causing them to set back a bit too, but they hope to reach Ireland in about 60 days.

“(We’re) kind of hitting hurricane season out there, but we’re going to roll the dice,” Byrne said.

They row around the clock, taking turns sleeping, Byrne said. They are stocked with military-style rations and other dried foods like trail mixes, as well as Snickers, he said. In preparation for the expedition, they all gained about 30 pounds in order to have reserves, knowing that they will lose weight.

They also have a supply of fresh water, which they will also use to wash their clothes, as washing clothes in salt water will give them salt sores, Byrne said.

“It’s extremely important to wash off as much salt from your skin as possible,” Byrne said. “We have been very diligent on this.”

Rowing from Chatham to France: Adventurer Guirec Soudée prepares to cross the Atlantic from Chatham to his home in France

As the three felt dejected after the storm, Byrne said residents of Falmouth and Cape Town helped them get back on track. Tim Farren, owner of In Mocean Boat Transport, let them keep the boat in his yard. The three stayed with a friend Tom Hardiman in Plymouth, who coincidentally gave Byrne a medal to take with him for luck on his journey.

“To say that the people here were amazing is just the biggest understatement,” Byrne said. “We will definitely come back to Cape Cod. It is such a beautiful place.

Hardiman, whose son is friends with Byrne, gave Byrne a medal belonging to Hardiman’s stepfather, George Gilmartin, who had served in the military overseas. Gilmartin has often recounted how an Irish family had helped him and shown kindness when he was stranded in Ireland by housing, feeding him and giving him money to return to Germany, where he was stranded. was parked.

Hardiman, whose sisters live in Falmouth and picked up the rowers, believes his stepfather’s medal helped Byrne get to Cape Cod.

“I think that’s his way of repaying this hospitality and kindness,” said Hardiman. “If these things were to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time or a better place. … They have the support of the people of Falmouth and Cape Town. If that had happened at 500 miles, that would have been a different story. It could have been potentially quite devastating.

To donate to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust or to learn more about The Hard Way Home: To follow their journey on Instagram: thehardwayhome.

Contact Jessica Hill at Follow her on Twitter: @jess_hillyeah.