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EmergenSea Duo leave Wick after sheltering in outer harbour during rowing challenge around Britain's coast

By John Davidson

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The emergenSea Duo pass the Caithness coast this week. Picture: Adam Baker
The emergenSea Duo pass the Caithness coast this week. Picture: Adam Baker

A married couple who are rowing their way around the coast of Britain were delighted to get a chat with the crew of the Wick lifeboat after safely negotiating the Pentland Firth.

Charlie Fleury and Adam Baker (both 32) are aiming to be the first mixed pair to complete the circumnavigation of Britain, having rowed across the Atlantic earlier this year.

Known as the EmergenSea Duo, the pair of A&E doctors from Devon are fundraising for four medical charities encompassing saving lives by air, land and sea: Devon Air Ambulance, RD&E Hospital Charity, the RNLI and Mind.

Having passed Cape Wrath on Friday, the intrepid rowers made it along the north coast and past John O'Groats ahead of schedule this week.

In a message relayed via their media manager, the pair told the Caithness Courier: “We made it! Desperate to get round John O’Groats and anchor safely at Wick in the outer harbour we pushed really hard!

"We left Scrabster at 5.45pm [on Sunday] and made it through the tidal rips to John O’Groats hitting 6.6 knots. This was so exciting for us and another milestone ticked off.

Charlie and Adam on Percy earlier in the trip.
Charlie and Adam on Percy earlier in the trip.

"We rounded John O’Groats with the sun setting and sprinted down Pentland Firth hoping not to get dragged back towards Duncansby Head by the back eddy. Greeted by a headwind and with the anxiety of knowing the winds were to build we did not stop!

"We sprinted for four hours with one 45-second break each to eat a Mars bar!

"It became a little disorientating with the night nav when all you can do is glance quickly backwards over your shoulders and make sure the transits line up."

Having "squeezed through the harbour entrance" the pair dropped anchor for a well-earned rest in the outer harbour.

On Monday they were visited by the crew of the Wick lifeboat, RNLI Roy Barker II, and Charlie and Adam were delighted to speak to some of the volunteers who they are helping to raise money for.

They raised more than £25,000 for their Atlantic row and are hoping to raise a total of £100,000 across the two challenges, which total around 5000 miles of rowing in their vessel, known as Percy.

The duo added: "We are now heading south and, although it feels like we have been hit by a bus this morning, we are so pleased!

"Thank you to Wick Harbour for letting Percy take shelter from these winds and thank you to everyone for your support, donations and messages of encouragement.”

The emergenSea Duo pass the Caithness coast this week. Picture: Adam Baker
The emergenSea Duo pass the Caithness coast this week. Picture: Adam Baker

They left Wick on Tuesday and were heading to Lybster with the plan to complete short rows in the high winds this week before pushing across the Moray Firth to Fraserburgh.

In February, Charlie and Adam became the first married couple to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, completing the 3000-mile row in 51 days.

Only two pairs teams have completed the ‘Around GB’ row but no mixed pairs have attempted it so far.

Charlie and Adam set off from Tower Bridge, London, on May 22 in their bid to journey around the British coastline, clockwise, to complete a circuit of 2000 miles.

The row is independent and unsupported – meaning they are unable to leave the boat, need to moor offshore and have to carry enough supplies on board for the whole of their journey, including a water maker to desalinate sea water for drinking.

Find out more about their challenges at www.emergenseaduo.com where you can also donate to the cause.

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