Brother and sister arrive in Gib after failed trans-Atlantic rowing attempt
A brother and sister who were rescued after they ran into trouble during a trans-Atlantic rowing attempt were reunited with their family in Gibraltar today.
There were emotional scenes on the quayside in Gibraltar as Martin Cruickshank and Fenella McAlister were ferried ashore by a port launch that collected them from the cargo ship Glyfada.
The siblings were heading for Martinique in the Caribbean when the Fifty-Fifty lost its rudder on January 31 and was later overturned by a wave.
Under the command of captain Clifford Enderez and directed by the French coastguard, the crew of the merchant ship spent two hours rescuing the rowers from their capsized boat in rough seas over 1000 miles from shore.
“We set out to achieve something and we failed,” Mr Cruickshank told the Chronicle.
“The real heroes of the story are the people on the Glyfada.”
“The French coastguard picked up our signal got in touch with Glyfada as that was the nearest vessel to us.”
“They were 42 miles away and were requested to turn around and look for us, which they did.” “They found us about midday on [January] 9th, six hours after we pressed the button [alerting the coastguard], and we boarded at 14.06, so almost two hours they spent trying to get us on board in
“So its hats off and full credit to the Captain and crew of Glyfada.”
Mr Cruickshank said he and his sister had been treated with “overwhelming generosity” by the ship’s Filipino crew on the voyage to Gibraltar.
This morning he and Mrs McAlister were met on the port launch by husband Ian McAlister, who embraced her on the deck as his brother-in-law joked and asked him what was new in his life.
Mr Cruickshank's jovial mood changed to disbelief and surprise when he arrived in the port to find his wife Vesna waiting for him.
But the unexpected, emotional and tear-filled reunion with his wife was on the start of the surprise for the rower, who minute’s later was being embraced by his two children, Martin, 12, and seven-year old Petra.
“It was a wonderful surprise, I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said.
“I thought I would be getting in here and finding an email with a cheap ticket [home] to Zagreb.”
Also on the quayside was 21-year old Katriona McAlister, who greeted mum Fenella with relief and delight as the port launch pulled alongside.
“It's very emotional to be back on land,” Mrs Cruickshank said. “It's fantastic.”
Martin Cruickshank, father of the two rowers, was also in Gibraltar with his partner Irene Hall to welcome the adventurous pack back ashore.
This was the second time that Mr Cruickshank and Mrs McAlister had attempted to be become the first brother and sister to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
They had previously attempted the feat in December 2015 but were thwarted by bad weather as they rowed from Portugal towards the Canary Islands.
As they were reunited with their father this morning, he turned to them and, much to the amusement of all, handed them a leaflet entitled: “Safety at sea”.