MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A couple from South Africa received an escort from the Miami police marine patrol as they completed a massive voyage which put them into the record books.
Just after noon Riann Manser and Vasti Geldenhuys arrived at the Miamarina at Bayside Market Place, making them the first to row from mainland Africa to mainland North America.
“The City of Miami is honored to welcome these two courageous adventurers as they touch U.S. soil for the first time in our City,” Mayor Tomas Regalado said in a statement.
The duo left Morocco on December 30th with no support boat. The made the grueling 8,500 kilometer crossing of the Atlantic in a seven meter ocean rowing boat named the “Spirit of Madiba” after Nelson Mandela.
Manser said the idea started a year ago when his girlfriend expressed interest in going to New York.
“I jumped at the opportunity and I said yes, we will go to New York but we’ll do it my way and here is the way,” said Manser.
The journey had its ups, and surely had its downs for the couple.
“I call it angry because the seas are so huge,” said Geldenhuys. “The boat capsized. We fell out of the boat. Riaan got separated from the boat, he caught the fishing line. If he hadn’t, he would have been lost at sea.”
But the good times on the journey couldn’t be ignored.
“But there were highlights too, wildlife, whales joining us for hours, dolphins by the hundreds, catching awesome fish,” said Manser. “Bonding with Vasti and knowing her better than I have in 14 years.”
Other boaters who happened to come across the couple couldn’t believe what they were doing.
When the pair finally pulled up to a pier at Bayside after 105 days at sea, the euphoria set in.
“It’s like you’re doing something amazing in your life and that’s what people should do.”
But when asked if they would do it again. The response?