NY man's third cross-Atlantic row ends in rescue

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2011 6:06 PM
NY man's third cross-Atlantic row ends in rescue

An intrepid, but ill-starred New Yorker who tried three times to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat has been rescued after spending nearly two weeks adrift in a life raft following a disaster at the very start of his planned 5,000-mile trip.

Victor Mooney, of Queens, was plucked from the sea about 250 miles west of the Cape Verdean islands late Thursday night by the crew of a cargo ship bound for Brazil.

He said in a message sent from the ship Friday that not long after departing the Cape Verdean islands on Feb. 26, he discovered that his oceangoing rowboat, which he had planned to scull all the way to Brooklyn, was taking on water.

"I used a bilge pump, but the water did not stop coming in," he wrote. Mooney, 45, said he activated emergency beacons, opened a life raft, filled it with supplies and took video of his boat as it sank.

Then, he waited for help as the current pulled him westward, farther out to sea.

"On my second day, a shipping vessel approached me _ nearly 10 feet. The person looked at me and turned away," he wrote.

Mooney said he was ultimately spotted and rescued by the captain and crew of the merchant vessel Norfolk, operated under a Cypriot flag by Diana Shipping Inc., of Athens, Greece.

"This ship saved my life. The rescue took five hours. It was dangerous, but successful," he said. Mooney said he expected to land in Brazil in about a week.

The episode marks the third time Mooney has needed to be rescued after putting to sea in an unlikely quest to row solo across the Atlantic.

His first attempt at a crossing in 2006 ended when his hand-made boat sank hours after he left a beach in Senegal, in West Africa. He abandoned another 2009 attempt from Senegal after two weeks when his drinking water systems broke down.

Mooney believed he had entered this latest trip better prepared, with better equipment. But he said his boat _ donated by another big-dreaming mariner who had also failed in multiple attempts to row across the sea _ was apparently damaged as it was being shipped to Cape Verde. He said he hadn't thought the damage was that bad, and that repairs had been made before his departure.

In an interview with The Associated Press prior to his latest departure, Mooney said he had promised his wife that this expedition would be his last, even if he failed.