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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 18:16 GMT
Hungry rowers fed by Dutch seamen
Stuart Turnbull
The pair resorted to catching fish but they soon lost their spear
Two novice rowers who ran out of food during a 3,000 mile fundraising trip found themselves looking at eating toothpaste or seaweed to survive.

Stuart Turnbull of Swindon, Wilts and Edward Baylis of Wimborne, were hoping to break the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing without support.

But the weather caused waves "the size of houses" to scupper their plans.

The pair, both 26, arranged a meet on Valentine's Day with some nearby Dutch rowers who had plenty of food on board.

Mr Baylis, who runs his own health food business, said: "It was one of the most bizarre Valentine's Day we have ever had, or will ever spend."

'Ate like kings'

The pair set off on 20 December last year from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in their 24ft (7.3m) plywood boat with two oars to row unsupported across the Atlantic .

The team packed their boat lightly expecting to reach Antigua within 50 days but the weather foiled their plans and they found themselves surviving on rations eating just 1,100 calories a day but burning up around 7,000.

The pair contacted the Ocean Rowing Society who arranged a rendezvous with the nearby Dutch rowers who fed them a feast of chicken satay, rice, mashed potatoes and cookies.

They were 350 miles away from Antigua, their final destination.

Atlantic rowing map
We tried to spear fish but then lost our spear - things were getting pretty desperate
Edward Baylis

Speaking from the mid-Atlantic, Mr Baylis said: "We ate like kings and we are just feeling human again now.

"We were in the death zone. What we ate was just unsustainable to keep going.

"We tried to spear fish but then lost our spear. Things were getting pretty desperate but we were determined to keep going.

"We were looking at toothpaste to see if there were any calories in it and seaweed. We were racking our brains to see what we could eat.

"But in our heads we were so determined and with too much pride and British stiff upper lip we would have continued until we starved."

The rowers have now restocked their supplies and the pair have enough food to continue on to Antigua which they hope to reach on 23 February.

"The whole point is we are two novices. We are not rowers or seafarers. We just felt compelled to do something," said Mr Baylis.

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