Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ocean Freight and Passenger Interests Support Disabled Veteran Charities

Bomb Disposal Expert Fails in Brave Attempt to Cross the Globe in Rowing Boat
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – US – UK - WORLDWIDE - Three years ago, Charlie Martell started planning an arduous journey from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco. That voyage meant a 4,500 mile trip around the unpredictable and dangerous territory of The Pacific Ring of Fire and he aimed to complete it unsupported in his rowing boat which was fitted with the most up to date equipment available, including a SatLink Inmarsat FB150 system, provided by maritime communications specialist Globecomm Maritime which usually supplies ocean freight and passenger vessel of a much greater magnitude, and with airtime provided by Inmarsat. During the voyage, Charlie wanted to set new world records for the fastest crossing of the North Pacific Ocean, the first unsupported row across the Pacific Ocean and be the first solo Briton to make the crossing.

Charlie had no illusions about rowing single-handed across the Northern Pacific but as a Royal Engineer Commando, he is clearly a man who relishes a challenge. Specialising in bomb disposal and following his deployment to the First Gulf War he was part of a team of Commando Bomb Disposal Engineers which supported Operation Safe Haven, one of the UK’s first military humanitarian aid efforts. Charlie selected three charities which all support his comrades in both the US and UK.

Five weeks into the journey, Charlie had to issue a distress call after his boat sustained some damage whilst passing through a tropical storm raging over the Philippine Sea. The worsening conditions led to repetitive capsizing and pitch poling. After 700 miles Charlie’s challenge was over, and with near fatal results. He said:

“Five weeks into the row I was hit by Tropical Storm Mawar. I knew the storm was tracking towards me but there was little I could do, apart from remove all the loose items from the deck and secure the forward and aft cabins. I had been secure in my cabin for about two days even though I had capsized four times. I was using the FB150 handset to make a phone call when I capsized a fifth time. What was amazing was that the call barely cut out during the capsize. My shore support commented on how clear the voice communications were and with no time lapse!”

The battering continued but what he calls ‘pretty standard’ lateral capsizes were overshadowed by number seven, which saw Blossom, with Martell strapped into his bunk, pitch-pole forwards with disastrous results.

“As Blossom hit the water, the aft cabin bulkhead took the full force of the impact with water and she sustained some damage,” he continues. “During the capsize, the rudder, VHF and AIS antennae were ripped off as were two of my spare oars. When Blossom had self-righted, I checked the damage, activated my EPIRB and our emergency response plan was put into practice.”

Throughout this voyage, it would be easy to forget that Charlie Martell was doing all this for charity. There are many things that people take for granted and these charities help to make a difference in someone’s life. The first charity Charlie has chosen is UK based, Toe in the Water (TITW). Their work is dedicated to helping to inspire injured service men and women through their traumatic injuries by challenging them mentally and physically with competitive sailing. Toe in the Water Director Lloyd Hamilton MBE, commented:

“The selfless commitment and dedication that Charlie gives to Toe in the Water is outstanding and he will continue to re-inspire the injured servicemen that he aids through rehabilitation. Charlie is an individual who has chosen goals which are never easy to accomplish but he has always achieved the impossible. His love of the sea and passion for going that extra mile is what makes Charlie an extraordinary person.”

The second charity is also the UK based Give Them a Sporting Chance (GTaSC). GTaSC helps both carers and those with disabilities by giving the participants the opportunity to make their sporting and recreational dreams come true.

The third charity Charlie has chosen is US based Operation Second Chance. They are a group of patriotic citizens who are committed to serving Veterans whilst recovering in military hospitals.

If you, like Charlie, would like to support these eminently worthy causes simply click on these links:  For Toe in the Water for GTaSC and For Operation Second Chance.