Row4Seafarers: The Atlantic Challenge Fundraiser

by Gavin Allwright in Maidstone, England, United Kingdom

Row4Seafarers: The Atlantic Challenge Fundraiser
We did it
On 3rd August 2020 we successfully raised £2,132 with 28 supporters in 55 days

We are 'Rowing the Atlantic' to raise Emergency Support funds for developing world seafarers and their families severely impacted by the COV...

by Gavin Allwright in Maidstone, England, United Kingdom

We are 'Rowing the Atlantic' to raise Emergency Support funds for developing world seafarers and their families severely impacted by the COVID Pandemic  #Row4Seafarers


My three teenage kids, my wife and my 'very unfit' self have committed ourselves to 'Row the Atlantic' using a rowing machine we have got hold off and all from our back garden here in the UK. Over the next two months we aim to collectively row the 3,405km (c.2,200miles) from Penzance in Cornwall, UK to St Johns in Newfoundland, Canada

Caption: The whole voyage, Cornwall to Newfoundland: every challenging kilometre mapped out with each of the key stages clearly marked

This is not an easy challenge for us having to average about 60km (35miles) a day, and none of us have ever rowed seriously before. We are aiming to collect pledges per kilometre/mile from friends, colleagues and family and we will be posting updates, videos and plotting our course as we go and if other individuals or households wish to join the challenge, just let us know, whether rowing your local river, rowing the English channel, joining us on the cross Atlantic trip or the Pacific for this charity, then that is all fantastic! Post your experiences using #Row4Seafarers and you can either donate directly to the charity or add what you raise to this page too - please send us updates if you do decide to come aboard!

The whole challenge will be done mostly outside, come rain (within reason) or shine so we can experience the elements a little as we row, however we know that this will never quite match up to the real thing, it will nonetheless be a humbling experience for us all and give us just a taste of what seafarers the world over go through everyday.

We have set out 10 stages for the trip (+ start and end points), each giving us a chance to post something about the ocean, the environment, shipping, seafarers and so on. There will be a few videos along the way and even a smattering of fancy dress.

Our household will likely be in lockdown for the duration as we are shielding a vulnerable person, so we have the time, hopefully the will and with your help the inspiration to meet this challenge. 


Europe and many other wealthy parts of the world, when we think of Frontline and Key Workers during this pandemic, we rightly think of those close by, the medical workers, the emergency services, even the delivery people bringing goods to locked down families, but there is a large group of unseen and unheard workers keeping the cogs of our economy, our very lives moving and these are our seafarers.

Caption: Seafarers in Manila receiving emergency food packages from ISWAN

Often on extended periods at sea, delivering vital supplies for our hospitals, food for our plates and heat and power for our homes, cars etc. While much of the shipping industry take their responsibilities to their seafarers very seriously there is still a real challenge facing many seafarers from the poorer regions of the world. Many are in lock down with casual contracts and unable to work, others are facing difficulties due to lock downs when they leave ships and are unable to return to their families with costs and little income coming in and there are even some reports of seafarers being shunned on their return to their homes for fears of the virus. There is also the issue of the mental impact on seafarers and their families along with extended families often suddenly not having an income in order to get by.


As a family, we have been inspired to do something physical and further support fundraising efforts to help seafarers, especially those from the poorer regions of the world and so decided to set this personal challenge, in part to raise funds, in part to help continue to tell this story and raise awareness and in part to show our solidarity with these seafarers and their families in their time of need. Follow the Voyage with our updates here, or on twitter #Row4Seafarers

Caption: The daily record - kilometres rowed, strokes made, calories burned and sweat generated --- a really long way to go!!!


Dad (Gavin): unfit, overweight and in need of a hair cut, the fact that he works in the shipping industry doesn't make him a seafarer.

Quote: "I am glad this challenge is taking place in the garden, I have a long way to go before I look good sitting on a rowing machine, but all the backache and stiffness is worth it - a worthy cause indeed."

Mum (Chiemi): yoga goddess who thinks rowing is easy.

Quote: "I think we could try to row around the world, but as a family, maybe the Atlantic is just right, this time."

Olympic Rower - Wooden Spoon (Mathew)

Quote: "In training, it seemed to be me doing most of the rowing, I really hope that isn't the story of this voyage."  

Back from Uni and Nothing to Lose (Hannah)

Quote: "I needed something to get out of bed for, and this charity is helping thousands of seafarers, that's a thousand very good reasons." 

Team Manager and Beat Master (Leo)

Quote: "My job is to keep everyone rowing, motivated and leading by example, not an easy task with this quality of crew though."


Getting emergency help to these seafarers and their families will become even more imperative as the impact of the crisis is felt by small ship operators in those regions, with limited resources to support workers and as the pandemic expands in the developing world where financial and health resources are scarce.

All funds raised will go straight to the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), a UK registered charity, and dispersed through their Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF). Their membership includes seafarer associations throughout the developing world alongside shipping companies and shipping organisations. 

ISWAN has agreed to ring-fence the donations from this campaign ensuring that 100% of all funds raised will be made available to developing world recipients and all administration costs will be covered by the charity.

The Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) is available to provide immediate, essential aid to seafarers and families of seafarers, who are directly involved in sudden or unforeseen crises. The fund may be needed to cover expenses such as psychological counselling, medical bills, repatriation and other unexpected costs.  

Thank you for your support and come join us on our journey #Row4Seafarers

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