Historic 'Take Me 2 New York' expedition lands in The Bahamas
May 2, 2014 - 1:01:19 PM


South African explorer Riaan Manser and his fiancé Vasti Geldenhuys reached the shores of The Bahamas after setting out to row 6,689 miles from Africa to the USA in a 23-foot rowboat, alone and unaided with no support vessel. The couple left Morocco for New York on December 31, 2013.

Taking a similar route as Christopher Columbus, and after months at sea, on April 16, 2014, Manser and Geldenhuys landed in Long Bay, Cockburn Town, only 3 miles from the exact Columbus’ landing of 1492.

The following are the words of Riaan Manser:

It still hasn't sunk in. We have hit land, had beer, ice cream and chocolate, and rowed across the entire North Atlantic Ocean, but it still doesn't feel real.

8000km later and we find ourselves on the other side of the world, 7 time zones away from home in Cape Town South Africa. We landed in The Bahamas, amazingly enough, on the very Island Christopher Columbus is believed to have landed on when he discovered the Americas. Isn’t that extra ordinary in its own right? San Salvador Island is small, rural and exactly what we dreamed of as a landing spot for this epic "Take me 2 New York" journey. It has a population of 800 people and the most dramatic coast any island could wish for.  Nowhere on the planet does the ocean come up at such a dramatic level. From 3500m depth to 20m in the space of a rugby field. The contrast in sea colour is mind boggling alone, Imagine what we experienced rowing in towards the island? We certainly have had a privilege doing what we have done thus far. Just a lot of suffering to get here though.

Jay, the local Bahamas tourism chief had the entire island out to welcome us. Emotional at the best of times is how it can be described. We couldn't believe people, who don't know us from a bar of soap, would make such an effort. Vasti was in tears as the kids sang the beautiful "welcome to Bahamas, welcome to our island" song. Sjoe, it had me gulping with nerves as I saw her emotion, catching myself in time to properly thank them. The bottom line again here is if you make an effort and show other people this, anyone is willing to back you. Stop expecting backing, support and people going out of their way for you if you have done nothing to EARN it.

Pastor prays for them

Vasti and I had Club Med on the island stock us up on things we never would or could have imagined we will have onboard. From sodas, milk, chocolate bread to roasted walnuts. Come on! Who would have thought? We were now in The Bahamas and people wanted us to travel in luxury.

Luxury is probably a word we didn't even understand before we arrived here. Once we headed west from San Salvador we made land fall on Cat Island, 110km away. The best fishing spot in the world I have ever been blessed to be in. Hawks Nest Marina allowed our boat safe parking while we tried to rest up. This though didn’t work out exactly as planned. Vasti and I were full time in demand to answer questions and socialize with the clientele. An absolute pleasure considering how kind they were to us. The people coming here to fish are wealthy and super successful. They fly in with their personal planes while their giant sport fishing cruisers await them in the harbour. They fish to their hearts content for two weeks and then fly back home to Miami or Dallas, or wherever they have another home. It’s amazing to actually witness the American dream in practice. We only speak about this spirit of hard work and its legendary results. Its rate you see and feel it.

One day I want; even with my semi capitalist/socialist mindset; to own a boat like they have. To catch marlin, host good friends and see some of the most beautiful parts of the planet’s oceans. One day.

Vasti and I are physically tired and need some rest. We just don’t know where we should take the time off. We have been away from home for 6 months and are terribly home sick. We have heard legend things about a place called Staniel Cay. It’s an island in the Exuma chain of The Bahamas. Where the rich and the famous hang out and own homes; Johnny Depp, Faith Hill, Justin Bieber and co. We wonder what they will think when they see the two South Africans rowing up to the multimillion dollar marinas in a 6 meter rowing boat.

I think some people are going to enjoy our story thus far.
Following Columbus...


About Riaan Manser: Over the past ten years, South African, Riaan Manser, has re-written the definition of tenacity and become the epitome of courage and determination. Riaan rose to prominence on becoming the first person to cycle around the perimeter of Africa. For over two years, alone and unaided, he pedalled a staggering 37,000 km through 34 countries, some of which rank as the most dangerous countries on Earth. Riaan's achievement earned him the title “OutThere Adventurer of the Year 2006” and his book, “Around Africa on my Bicycle”, became a bestseller.

And as if cycling the perimeter of the African continent wasn't enough, he also climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and descended to Lake Assal, the highest and lowest points on the continent.

On seeing Riaan's story on television, Nelson Mandela personally requested a meeting with Riaan, saying it was “a performance that will inspire the youth of the continent”.

The Explorer's Club in New York - whose members include the first man to reach the North Pole, the first to reach the South Pole, the top of Everest, the deepest point in the ocean and the first man on the moon – extended a special invitation to Riaan to speak before its illustrious organisation.

In July 2009, Riaan set another world first when he became the first person to circumnavigate Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, by kayak - also alone and unaided. This colossal journey saw him paddle 5000km in eleven months.

In April 2010, Riaan's efforts were rewarded with his second accolade, "Out There Adventurer of the Year 2009" and "Around Madagascar on my Kayak", his book recounting his amazing feat, has also received acclaim.

March 2011 saw Riaan begin his next challenge. This time he took on mystical Iceland and her arctic waters with a partner, Dan Skinstad, who has mild cerebral palsy. "Around Iceland on Inspiration" saw the two paddle 2300km to circumnavigate Iceland in a double sea-kayak over a five month period.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg! More about Riaan’s amazing feats may be found here:

Riaan swimming with pigs in Bahamas

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