Victor Mooney, transatlantic rower, left Nanny Cay this morning on the next stage of his epic self-propelled journey. He is heading for Puerto Rico, then up to the Bahamas and his final destination of New York – 1,800 miles later. The BVI’s new Governor, John Duncan, was here to see him safely on his way.
Victor, 48, of Queens, New York, set off February 19 from Maspolamas, Gran Canaria, off the coast of Africa, in a 24-foot Brazilian built ocean rowboat, christened Spirit of Malabo. His journey is in honor of a brother who died of AIDS in 1983 and to encourage voluntary HIV testing. He has a second brother living with HIV.
Victor has tried the same feat three other times, without success, over a 10 year period. One boat sank. Another lost its freshwater system. A third sprang a leak and left him drifting on a life raft for two weeks.
Victor arrived in the BVI on August 20th. Sixteen nautical miles from the BVI, Mooney sought towing assistance into his host destination of Scrub Island Resort due to a rapidly developing tropical storm that was expected to strike in the next day or so.
He was welcomed by government officials and the BVI Tourist Board upon his arrival at Scrub Island where he enjoyed a restful few days.
Victor then came to Nanny Cay to make his final preparations for departure – provisioning and some minor repairs, including one of his oars. He also spent his time meeting with several officials to advocate for AIDS awareness and voluntary HIV testing and talking to school children about his trip.
Victor came to the BVI via St Martin where he spent just under two months recuperating after 128 days at sea where he lost 80 pounds. Near St Martin, violent opposing currents overpowered his 24-foot boat alarming St Martin rescue vessels. After battling the elements and suffering from exhaustion, the Spirit of Malabo was towed roughly twenty miles from sea, while Mr. Mooney was aboard a Saint-Martin Search and Rescue vessel. He was transported to Centre Hospitalier De Saint-Martin for evaluation and is being discharged.
While in St Martin, Victor was able to rest, exercise and gain his strength back by gaining 45 pounds. He also undertook boat repairs after his plywood boat was punctured in a shark attack!
Victor also was able to upgrade the safety and security features on his boat including rain catchers, extra radar detectors and a second satellite phone, which will be crucial in communicating with maritime professionals and the U.S. Coast Guard, who will monitor the expedition to his final destination.
“I am eternally grateful to everyone who has supported me and propelled me to complete this journey on behalf of my brother and AIDS victims everywhere,” said Mooney. “I feel blessed to have received the most phenomenal treatment in St. Martin, where my body and my boat were nurtured back to life, allowing me to follow my dream. I hope my efforts raise awareness for voluntary HIV testing.”