Unfortunately, the late-December transatlantic fundraiser was not a success. The crew of ORCA II, who were attempting to row the Atlantic, raise money for OMS, and break a world record while they were at it, were airlifted to safety two days after the boat’s departure due to the rapidly worsening condition of one crew member’s health.
With so much at stake, making the decision to abort the crossing must have been almost as brave a move as embarking on the mission in the first place, but with the boat fast approaching the absolute extremity of the area in which an air rescue could still be made, the decision had to be made quickly, with confidence, and with the full support of the whole crew. It fulfilled all criteria, and the helicopter rescue was made successfully on December 17.
All the men aboard were taken to land safely, where an ambulance awaited the unwell crew member whose symptoms by this point included unresponsiveness, urinating blood and kidney pain. He has since recovered and returned home.
For the rest of the crew, the next chapter of the adventure was just beginning as they set out to make their way home from a foreign country, having been airlifted to the Canary Islands without their passports or any personal effects due to the helicopter being on its absolute weight limit for the journey it had ahead – arriving, we’re told, not only on fumes but amidst a ban imposed on all other aircraft to allow for its emergency passage and landing.
Happily, here too, we report a complete success with the silver lining that they all made it home to help with the washing up at Christmas! Ted Jackson, his son Oscar, and the rest of the crew received enormous support for what they set out to achieve, and we in turn, extend the same from the entire OMS community.
We can only imagine the disappointment of having to abandon ship following such initial excitement and enthusiasm, but we are in awe of the attempt they made. One of the comments on the expedition’s Facebook page appropriately quoted Kipling when the news was announced: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same…” All it leaves us to ask now then is, what’s next Ted?