Victor Mooney Comes Out Of Retirement To Try Fourth Row Across Atlantic Ocean
Victor Mooney has tried three times to row across the Atlantic Ocean, but he never came close to making it. Already this year, he spent 14 days in a life raft praying to be rescued.
When he was saved by a passing ship in March, he promised his family that his days of ocean rowing were over.
But now, just three months after he hung up his oars, Mooney said he's going to try to paddle from the Canary Islands to the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City this December.
(Scroll down for video and more pictures)
"I have a chance to finish this," said Mooney, 45, of Queens, N.Y.. "There's nothing else to do but to focus on this mission that I've dedicated over a decade of my time to."
If Mooney succeeds on the 5,000 mile jaunt, he would become the first African-American to individually row across the Atlantic. But the married father of four says he undertakes the perilous voyages not for the record books, but to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, which infected two of his brothers.
His troubles on the high seas have always gotten more attention than his advocacy, however. His first attempt in 2006, which departed from Senegal, lasted only three hours before his craft, the John Paul the Great, sprang a leak and sank. In 2007, Mooney traveled west from Senegal again for 15 days before his desalination system went on the fritz and he required rescue.
The repeated attempts might sound reckless, but a Coast Guard spokeswoman said her branch of the armed forces doesn't discourage recreational mariners from risky outings.
"A lot of the rescues we take care of are recreation types," said Beverley Howard. "Our program is designed to assist mariners in any situation. If they're alert and they let us know what they're doing, we'll be that much more prepared to assist them."
Earlier this year, Mooney made what he said would be his final trip, regardless of the outcome. It began ominously, when his vessel the Never Give Up was cracked during transit to the Cape Verde Islands, his starting point.
Repairs were made and Mooney confidently shoved off, but he abandoned ship the first day at sea, because it began taking on water and allowed him only five to eight minutes to deploy a life raft, he said.
For the next 14 days all he consumed was water from a purifier, ginseng root powder and ginger candies.
He refused to fish after his first attempt, because an anchor on his line got hooked into the side of the lifeboat.
"I put all the hooks into the sea, because I was too afraid of puncturing the raft," Mooney said.
He had limited contact with the Coast Guard, using a satellite radio, because he wanted to conserve the batteries
A ship passed within sight of him, but did not stop to take him on board.
At night, he could feel large fish bumping against the bottom of the raft. He lost one of his oars trying to bat them away.
"The whole time, you can hear them nibbling on [the] life raft and circling my boat," Mooney told AOL Weird News. "The noise was so alarming that I had to put earplugs in so I could sleep."
His family only knew that he had a mechanical problem, not that he was desperately drifting 250 miles out to sea.
So his decision to plunge back into the water caught his loved ones off-guard.
"I don't know what to think of this," his cousin Joycette Pearse said, "and I don't know how he explained this to his wife and family."
Late one night over Memorial Day weekend, Mooney saw a Brazilian rowboat for sale called the Castaway and he immediately dreamed up plans for another trip.
"I was content with not rowing and just living a normal life," Mooney said. "But having just come from Brazil, it seemed like fate."
(When Mooney was rescued by the crew of the Norfolk, he was taken to Brazil.)
Quickly, he negotiated a deal to get the boat, which he said has been deemed ocean-ready by the Brazilian navy, for the bargain basement price of $10,000.
In August, he'll go back to Brazil to train on the rowboat. He'll embark on the fourth trip on December 1, which is World's AIDS Day.
"I'm most glad that I have another opportunity," Monney said. "When you go on these trips you prepare for the worst."
For more info about Mooney's trip, visit his website.
Holley Mangold, 21, (CENTER) hopes to be on the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team, but is still a girly-girl at heart who loves makeup and is afraid of insects.
Kevin Fast Lifts 22 Women At Once June 18, 2011
Rev. Kevin Fast, a Lutheran minister in Cobourg, Ontario, lifted 22 women at once on June 18, 2011. The key, he said, was making sure they didn't move around on the platform.
Croagh Patrick 365
A picture from Matt Loughrey in May 2010 during one of his climbs on Croagh Patrick in Ireland. Loughrey has been climbing 365 days for charity.
Victor Mooney, of Queens, N.Y., has failed on three previous attempts to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Even though he spent 14 days on a life raft on his most recent try in February 2011, he announced that he'll make a fourth expedition in December.
Guy Fessenden is running 100 marathons in 140 days to raise awareness about the treatment of mental illness in this country. Fessenden's daughter, Suzanne, was diagnosed with schizophrenia 12 years ago. Fessenden started his journey Oct. 2 in Savannah, Ga., and hopes to finish Feb. 19 in Los Angeles.
Edison Pena, center, one of the Chilean miners rescued last month after being trapped 69 days underground, crosses the finish line of the 41st ING New York City Marathon in Central Park on Nov. 7. Pena trained by jogging every day in the mine, 2,300 feet below ground in stifling heat and humidity.
Roger Federer's trick shot
Roger Federer hits a winning between his legs during his opening-day match against Brian Dabul of Argentina at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Aug. 30.
Joe Paquette, added Aug. 27, 2010
Detroit Lions football players pose Wednesday with fan Joe Paquette, 63, who walked nearly 430 miles, from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the team's training facility near Detroit. It took Paquette 17 days to complete the journey, averaging 32 miles a day.
Firefighters run cross-country for 9/11 victims, added Aug. 13, 2010
Firefighters and others pause for a moment of silence to honor those killed in the attacks of 9/11 before the start of the "Tour of Duty" run Aug. 12 at the Santa Monica Pier in California. A team of 30 runners will to run 4,600 miles in relay shifts 24 hours a day till they reach New York on Sept. 11.
Vladimir Putin, added Aug. 10, 2010
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sits in the cabin of a Be-200 firefighting aircraft some 250 km outside Moscow on Aug. 10. Russia fought a deadly battle to prevent wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites as Putin took to the air in a water-bombing plane to join the firefighting effort.
Ed Stafford walked length of Amazon, added Aug. 9, 2010
Ed Stafford of England left, shakes hands with guide Gadiel "Cho" Sanchez Rivera of Peru as they arrive at Marapanim in Brazil's Para state on Aug. 9. After 859 days and thousands of miles, Stafford became the first man known to have walked the entire length of the Amazon river.
Charley French, added Aug. 9, 2010
Charley French prepares for a triathlon during a training ride outside of Sun Valley, Idaho on Aug. 3. French once set a record at the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii and is a five-time world champ in a sport he took up 25 years ago (at age 60), just as he was helping American cyclist Greg Lemond win the Tour de France.
Guedelon Castle, added July 6, 2010
Michele Guyot began construction of Guedelon Castle in central France in 1997 using only historically accurate building materials and techniques from the Middle Ages -- no electricity, power tools or excavators. Construction of the new "medieval" castle -- shown in this July 5 photo -- by some 50 craftsmen is expected to last about 25 years.
Chris Lomen, added June 30, 2010
Chris Lomen is rollerblading the 4,200 miles of road and sidewalk from Stillwater, Minn., to Maine to Key West, Fla., to help rebuild Haiti. The St. Olaf College graduate began his three-month journey on wheels June 29 and hopes to raise $100,000 for Outreach International.
Amy Palmiero-Winters, added June 23, 2010
Amy Palmiero-Winters nears the finish line of the 2009 Mount Washington Road Race, a run to the summit of the northeast's highest mountain, in New Hampshire. In June 2010, Palmiero-Winters, who regularly runs ultra-marathons, became the first amputee to be named to the USA Track and Field team.
Reid Stowe returns after 3 years at sea, added June 18, 2010
Sailor Reid Stowe, right, landed his 70-foot schooner "Anne" and was reunited with his girlfriend Soanya Ahmad, and their son, Darshen, 23 months, whom he'd not yet seen, in New York on June 17. Stowe spent 1,152 days at sea on what he refers to as a "voyage of love."
Luke Robinson, added June 15, 2010
After his beloved dog Malcolm died of bone cancer, Luke Robinson and the Fuzzybutts (aka two Great Pyrenees named Murphy and Hudson) left Austin, Texas, in March 2008. They've been walking ever since. Robinson, 39, hopes his 2,300-mile, 16-state journey, which ends June 19 in Boston, will raise awareness about canine cancer, which affects one in three dogs.
May 20, 2010 Dong Changsheng
Chinese strongman Dong Changsheng wowed the audience at the Changchun Internationals Exhibition Center on May 20 by pulling a 1,200-pound plane with just his eyelids.
Oh Eun-Sun, added April 27, 2010
South Korean mountaineer Oh Eun-Sun stands near base camp preparing for her ascent to the summit of the Himalayan peak of Annapurna in Nepal on April 9. Oh claimed the record as the first woman to scale the world's 14 highest peaks after reaching the summit of Annapurna on April 27.
Jordan Romer to climb Mount Everest, added April 6, 2010
Jordan Romero became the youngest person to summit Carstensz Pyramid, Oceania's highest peak at 16,024 feet, in September 2009, as well as the youngest American to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. On May 22, 13-year-old Jordan reached the top of Mount Everest, part of his quest to reach the summits of the highest peaks on all seven continents.
Katie Spotz, rowed solo across Atlantic, added March 15, 2010
Katie Spotz, 22, of Mentor, Ohio, approaches the shore of Georgetown, Guyana, March 14, 2010. Spotz, who set out from Dakar, Senegal on Jan. 3, completed a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday to claim a record as the youngest person to accomplish the feat.
Sailor Abby Sunderland, added Jan. 25, 2010
Abby Sunderland, 16, departs on her sailboat, "Wild Eyes," from the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif., on Jan. 23. Abby was attempting to be the youngest person to complete a nonstop, unassisted solo-circumnavigation of the globe by sea when a wave smashed the mast of her boat, stranding her in the Indian Ocean. A French fishing vessel rescued the teenager on June 12.
Adventurers Leap at World Record, added Sept. 23, 2009
In September, British skydiver Leo Dickinson, Indian Army officer and skydiver Ramesh Tripathi broke the record for highest parachute landing by dropping into a zone, which was 16,800 feet above sea level, at Gorakshep, near Mount Everest in Nepal.
Country Singer Breaks Interview Record, added Aug. 31, 2009
In August, country singer Jack Ingram set a new world record for most consecutive interviews in 24 hours by doing 215 press sessions to promote his latest album.
Teen Takes the World by Boat, added Aug. 27, 2009
Mike Perham, 17, became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world when he finished off his 28,000-mile journey on Aug. 27 in Cornwall, England.
Swimmer conquers all 5 Great Lakes, added Aug. 26, 2009
Paula Stephanson, seen here after swimming across Lake Huron, swam 35 miles to cross Lake Michigan on Aug. 24. She became only the second person to swim across all five Great Lakes.
Woman Loses Half Her Weight to Adopt, re-added on July 24, 2009
Melanie King of Middlesborough, England, is now a mother after successfully losing almost half her previous weight in just a few months. She finally gained a son after struggling to have a child for years and being denied the right to adopt due to her past size.
Daredevil Biker Jumps Bridge, added July 13, 2009
Australian rider Robbie Maddison performs a backflip over Tower Bridge on July 13 in London.
Mother Delivers on the Road, June 10, 2009
First-time mom Rebecca Longley, 20, was forced to deliver her own baby in the passenger seat of a racing car as her boyfriend, Andrew Mildenhall, drove to the hospital in Hampshire, England on June 10. The happy couple here shows off their healthy baby girl, Aaliyah.
Harriet Shepard February 2009
In February, 94-year-old great-grandma Harriet Shepard joined her family for a skydiving jump. Here, Shepard is shown with great-grandson Trevor Muir, 23, great-granddaughter Darcy Shepard, 18, and son Dave Shepard, 74, at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, Fla.
Richard Donovan, Feb. 8
Richard Donovan, a 42-year-old from Ireland, ran seven marathons on seven continents -- all in one week. He took on the challenge to help raise money for the crisis-plagued Darfur region of Sudan. Here, Donovan runs the first race, in Antarctica, on Jan. 31.
Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal Aug 27
Marcus Eriksen, left, and fellow eco-mariner Joel Paschal are towed into a Honolulu harbor Aug. 27, 2008, after a three-month, 2,600-mile voyage from Long Beach, Ca., in a raft made of salvaged materials. The raft, called JUNK, consisted of 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna 310 fuselage. The pair took the trip to raise awareness of ocean debris.
Kent Couch July 2008
Kent Couch lifts off from his gas station in Bend, Ore., in a lawn chair rigged with more than 150 giant party balloons. Couch traveled more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert in July 2008 before landing safely near Cambridge, Idaho.
Neil Sauter May 2008
In May 2008, Neil Sauter began an eight-week trek across Michigan on stilts to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. Sauter, 24, suffers from a mild form of the disease.
Wim Hof January 2008
In January 2008, Tantric meditation master Wim Hof beat his own record for immersing his body in ice. Hof stood on a Manhattan street in a clear container filled with ice for an hour and 12 minutes -- four minutes longer than the record he set in 2004.
Zafar Gill 2007
Pakistan's Zafar Gill picked up a 135.7 pound weight with his ear in 2007.
Michael Perham in 2007
At the age of 14, Michael Perham became the youngest person ever to sail single-handedly across the Atlantic Ocean. He made the 2007 trip in seven weeks after setting off on the 3,500 mile journey from Gibraltar to Antigua aboard a 28-foot boat named Cheeky Monkey.
Steve Vaught May 2006
Steve Vaught, aka "Fat Man Walking," walks along a New Jersey road in May 2006 just a few miles from New York at the end of his 3,000-mile, yearlong walk across America. Vaught began the trek from his Oceanside, Calif., home, at 410 pounds to lose weight and find peace of mind after accidentally killing two elderly pedestrians 15 years ago.
Li Jianhua 2004
Li Jianhua, who holds the world record for pulling a car the longest distance with his ear, performs his unique feat in Shanghai, China, in 2004. Li moved this 8,300-pound car 20 yards.
Lloyd Scott 2003
In 2003, Lloyd Scott spent two weeks walking an underwater marathon in Scotland's Loch Ness. He submerged for about an hour at a time, taking rests in a boat. The former leukemia sufferer has taken part in many marathons for charity since receiving a life-saving bone marrow transplant in 1989. (Sources: AP, CNN, BBC)