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Saturday, 26 January, 2002, 18:08 GMT
Rower completes Atlantic crossing
Debra Veal arrives in Barbados
Debra Veal has been at sea since 7 October
A rower has completed a journey across the Atlantic alone after her husband was forced to abandon the trip.

Debra Veal, 27, from Teddington, south west London, landed in Barbados and said: "It's an amazing sensation."

She was supposed to make the 3,000-mile trip with her 35-year-old husband Andrew - until he developed a crippling fear of the ocean after two weeks.

Mrs Veal, a former physical education instructor who now runs her own internet company, was left to carry on powering the 750kg craft Troika Transatlantic across the ocean, avoiding passing ships and sharks and existing on a diet of beef stew and dumplings.

The couple, who have been married for three years, were the only husband-and-wife entry out of 36 pairs of amateur rowers when they set off from the Canary Islands on 7 October last year in the 23ft boat.

Mrs Veal is greeted by husband Andrew
Mrs Veal is greeted by husband Andrew
They had decided to make the trip so they could spend "quality time" together.

She enjoyed a rousing reception from locals who came to see here arrive on the island.

Mrs Veal said: "It's an amazing sensation," adding she had had "an incredible welcome from the Barbadian people"

She was asked how her first steps on dry land in more than three months felt and she replied: "A bit wobbly, actually.

"It has been a really mixed journey with ups and downs along the way.

"When the trade winds kicked in the wind got up to force six or seven and force eight which can be pretty hairy.

"I had a very bad moment when I nearly got run down by a supertanker which passed me by a few hundred metres.

"I used to think the sharks would be a danger but they are more interested in the fish under my boat than what is in it.

"Although there were low times, I never really thought I wouldn't make it.

"The loneliness was the hardest part of the challenge."

'Fantasy world'

Mrs Veal rose every day at 0530 to row, resting when she needed to as she made the trip from Tenerife to Barbados.

One her website she reported: "I suppose in many ways the ocean has been a bit of a fantasy world for me.

"I have heard no world news so have no knowledge of the war, death, misery and destruction that has no doubt been going on.

"In my world, there has only been utter peace, beauty and endless amounts of grace."

One of the things she is looking forward to on dry land is "being able to enjoy a cold drink other than purified sea water".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Hall
"Barbados has adopted a new heroine"
Debra Veal
"It's been a really mixed journey with masses of ups and downs"

Click here to go to London
See also:

02 Oct 01 | England
Atlantic rower search called off
11 Feb 01 | Vendee Globe
MacArthur re-writes sailing history
03 Dec 99 | Americas
First woman rows the Atlantic
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