“A passenger jet can go from New York to where Damian Browne was headed in six hours and five minutes. It took him 112 days.
Browne rowed his way to Ireland in a 23-foot-long boat that flipped over more than once. (“Like being in a washing machine,” he wrote on Instagram.) A former professional rugby player, Browne was said by Irish media to be the first person to make the 2,686-nautical-mile trip from New York to Galway, Ireland, by himself and under his own power. The average speed was just under one knot, or about 1.4 miles per hour.
And one more thing: The Irish Times reported that he cannot swim.
The trip wasn’t like “Ben Hur,” with oarsmen chained to the boat and someone pounding a drum to set the rhythm — there was no one to bang the drum on his vessel, the Cushlamachree.
Nor was the trip like sailing on the Queen Mary 2, with its calorific restaurants. He said his weight loss was “significant” over the first 40 days: “I had no appetite to replenish the thousands of calories burned each day.”
He battled squalls that were “like hitting concrete with the oars” and endured the isolation of the open Atlantic. He went 98 days without seeing anyone but whales or fish.
“I’m fine. I’m safe. It could have been a lot worse,” he said in an Instagram video after “a very tense and stressful night” as he approached Galway on Tuesday. He said the boat had flipped over in 30-to-35-knot winds and slammed against rocks at Na Forbacha, about seven miles from his destination. Worse, one of his oars had snapped in two.”