British pair rows across Pacific, with detours

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:26pm EST

1 of 3. British rowers Chris Martin (R)and Mick Dawson, arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge aboard their boat, 'Bojangles,' after rowing the vessel unsupported across the northern Pacific Ocean, in San Francisco, California November 13, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) - Two Britons ended a record-setting row across the Pacific Ocean on Friday, passing underneath San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge more than six months after leaving Japan in a 23-foot (seven-meter) boat.

The two said they were the first to row the roughly 4,600-mile passage across the North Pacific ocean, on a course that extended to nearly 7,000 miles thanks to unintended detours courtesy of the elements and ocean currents.

Mick Dawson and Chris Martin said they had hoped to make the trek completely unassisted, although they ran out of food about 100 miles from California and accepted a helicopter drop of aid.

The two passed under the Golden Gate bridge at about 8:30 a.m. on the 190th day of their journey that started in Choshi, Japan, near Tokyo. Each popped open a beer when reaching San Francisco Bay and emerged from their boat, thin and happy for calorie-laden meals at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

Over the months, the pair took two-hour shifts of rowing and sleeping in a tiny cabin at one end of their kayak-shaped boat, named Bojangles. The other end served as storage for mostly-freeze dried food, technology equipment for their blogs at www.goldengateendeavour.com and desalination equipment.

The two could row together or singly on a setup like a crew rowing shell -- fuzzy seats on rollers let them use their legs as well as their arms to propel the craft.

The men rowed naked after their start in balmy May, but the weather turned cold and difficult in the final weeks, Dawson said.

"The number of miles didn't seem to be going down at all," added Martin, 28. A chart of their journey shows a huge circle in the Pacific near the end.

"I was 44 when I started. I'm about 62 now, Dawson said.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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