Brothers row in the name of love
Turning tragedy into triumph takes many different shapes and forms.
For British brothers Greg Bailey, 28, and Jude Massey, 19, the journey to do just that meant spending two gruelling months at sea, rowing 3 000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a 21-foot-long boat.
It was a feat their dearly loved father Peter Massey, a fisherman and windsurfer in his younger years, would have been proud of had he not lost a lengthy battle with skin cancer in August 2015.
That tragedy, as tough as it was for the siblings, set into motion a chain of events which culminating with the “Ocean Brothers” successfully setting out from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on January 18, and reaching Barbados last Tuesday to raise £100 000 (about BDS$273 000) for skin cancer research.
The brothers, along with their mother Alex Massey, spoke to the DAILY NATION at Turtle Beach Resort, Christ Church, days after arriving at Port St Charles Marina in St Peter, to recount their harrowing 53-day voyage.
“The journey was an absolutely epic journey – a journey of adventure, a journey of brotherhood and most of all, a test of adversity and character,” Greg said as he sat in the hotel’s Asiago’s restaurant.
“This was no ordinary ocean row because we pretty much had everything go wrong,” he added.
In the very first week, the pair, from Hampshire, England, lost their solar-powered automatic water-maker which would produce ten gallons a day.
As a result, they had to spend five hours a day, in between rowing, hand-pumping drinking water, drop by drop.
As if that was not enough, their boat, affectionately named Pete after their father, suffered a leak in its main cabin early in the journey.
Water from the high seas breached the ship’s barrier through this hole, dousing their GPS equipment and causing it to malfunction.
Another mishap came when Greg suffered a rotator cuff injury, which had to be treated with painkillers, and at times, shots of rum.
Add the tremendous strain placed on their buttocks by sitting for hours and hours on end as they tried to reach land.
What was even more amazing was the fact the brothers had never rowed before. Not that that would deter them from carrying out their plan to honour their father.
Not even their mother’s concerns and attempts to stop their trip could hold back the “Ocean Brothers”.
With Jude being 16 at the time, the idea to row on the high seas was first crafted, but Alex said she immediately ruled out the plan.
However, once the realisation hit home that her younger son would be 18 come the start of the voyage, she slowly began to accept its inevitability.
“I heard the idea and I thought, ‘That’s not going to happen, obviously. And then it started to pick up pace and I started to feel a bit alarmed that it actually may happen,” she added.
“As the boys explained, I just rang around everyone I knew and asked them not to give the boys any money. I didn’t tell them, but I worked out that when they left, Jude would be 18.
“So I didn’t really have any say in the matter because he was an adult, so I kind of became resigned to the fact they were going to be rowing the Atlantic.”
As she sat, smiling between her two sons in Barbados, Alex said she was in awe and could only describe their feat “incredible”.
Meanwhile, the brothers said it “a real pleasure” to be on the island.
“There were a number of Caribbean islands to come to,” Greg said. “Just from friends who visited the Caribbean, everyone in the UK said, ‘You gotta go/come to Barbados. The people there are so friendly, you got great surfing and watersports, the food is lovely and from a logistical point of view, it’s the most easterly island so it’s the easiest to get to when you row across.
“It’s just a real pleasure to be here and we’re so grateful. We would encourage anyone who would like to visit Barbados to come here for sure. It’s beautiful,” he added.
Both Greg and Jude left last Thursday afternoon.
And having raised £84 000 of their £100 000 goal, the pair said they would continue efforts to reach their target once they returned home.
And having conquered the Atlantic Ocean, Greg said he had his sights firmly set on the Indian and Pacific Oceans for the next adventures.
But he might may have to go it alone. Jude was happy to make the just-completed trip his maiden and final voyage.
Regardless of their future plans, the brothers undoubtedly have made a big impression with their charitable cause.
Their rowing trip has attracted attention from numerous media outlets, brought in sponsorship from several skin care companies, seen dozens of companies partner with them and received donations from nearly 1 000 supporters.
But most importantly, all through of their trials, Greg and Jude have made good by turning a painful loss into a tremendous success. (AD)