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2 South African Explorers Make History In New York Harbor

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was a historic day in New York Harbor for a pair of trans-Atlantic adventurers.

As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, two South African natives have become the first crew ever to row from mainland Africa to mainland North America.

With Lady Liberty as their witness, pioneering explorers Riaan Manser and Vasti Geldenhuys crossed the finish line, completing their trans-Atlantic rowing adventure with a long hug and tears.

Docking at the 79th Street Boat Basin, the couple had reason to celebrate, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.

“We’re so happy! Yea, we finished!” Geldenhuys said.

2 South African Explorers Make History In New York Harbor

rowing 2 South African Explorers Make History In New York Harbor
Derricke Dennis reports

CBS 2 followed Manser and Geldenhuys on the final leg of their journey into New York Harbor.

“(Do you want water?) No we’ll get all those luxuries when we finish,” said Manser

There were no luxuries at sea — no toilet, no running water, no support boat. They ate freeze dried food and the freshest fish you can imagine.

“We caught it and ate it 10 minutes later,” said Manser.

The vessel was a custom made 23-foot-long row boat. Their trip was more than 6,500 miles and at times overwhelming currents forced them backward, Murdock reported.

The couple tracked their entire journey using GPS. A map showed pinpoints from their start in Morocco, and stops in the Bahamas and Miami, Fla. before reaching the finish line in New York Harbor.

At one point, Manser fell overboard while taking photos.

“I couldn’t turn the boat around and I couldn’t stop the boat. But what saved him was the fishing line. He grabbed onto the fishing line that was behind the boat and I reeled him in,” Geldenhuys recalled.

At times swells towered over them at 25-feet-high.

“The boat was thrown. I was thrown out of the boat, Vasti got stuck underneath,” Manser said.

The pair lost everything on the deck, but when the boat righted, “she was still sitting in her seat, eh,” Manser said. “That was probably the closest call we came to the sea deciding for us.”

But they survived, rowing for 153 days.

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