A former Royal Marine who fears the water has become the first person to row across the Atlantic unsupported via the treacherous northern route.
Dave “Dinger” Bell, 49, set sail from New York on May 31 on his solar-powered boat before dealing with tropical storms, 10-foot waves and his self-proclaimed fear of open water.
Mr Bell, who described feeling ‘physically trembling and ill’ as he embarked on his mission across the ocean, finally arrived yesterday in Newyln, Cornwall, after rowing alone at sea for 119 days.
He is the first person to ever row solo and unsupported from North America to Europe – a 3,000-mile journey that is exceptionally dangerous due to the frigid weather and powerful currents.
Dave ‘Dinger’ Bell, 49, departed New York on May 31 and arrived in Newyln, Cornwall yesterday
The former Royal Marine (pictured approaching Newlyn) battled tropical storms, 10-foot waves and his self-proclaimed fear of open water
Mr Bell is the first person to ever row solo and unsupported from North America to Europe
Mr Bell, from Bere Regis, Dorset, said: ‘It was an epic mix of emotions – I felt the full range. The things you feel at sea are always greatly exaggerated.
“When the ocean was calm, the silence was the deepest I’ve ever experienced – I felt insanely satisfied.
“Then there were other times when the weather worked against me, like on the Isle of Scilly, when a combination of currents and high winds almost pushed into the rocks.
“The scariest part was the uncertainty – when I left New York, I was physically shaking and feeling sick.
“And as I waited for the first storm to hit, I had no idea how my boat would make it—you just have to anchor, sit tight, and wait to come out on the other side.”
Barry Hayes, who posted updates on Bell’s journey on social media, said: “Dave needed an incredible challenge and the route across the North Atlantic is the most dangerous you can do.
“Based on the statistics, the most fatalities in ocean rowing history are due to a combination of the Gulf Stream, strong tidal currents and cold weather.
“Dave has a real phobia of open water and that was one of the things that made it such a huge challenge for him. It was a very personal journey for him.’
Mr. Bell departed New York at 2 a.m. on May 31 and spent the next four months alone.
His 24ft boat, named Billy No Mates, was equipped with solar panels that powered radio and satellite equipment used to send regular updates to his team, weather monitors and a water purifier.
The former Royal Marine (pictured on his boat named Billy No Mates) rowed an average of 12 hours a day
He was met by a cheering crowd and a warm hug from his father, Jeff, upon his arrival in Newyln, Cornwall.
When the former Marine arrived in England, he had only one day of food supplies left (left and right)
Mr Bell was forced to divert from Falmouth to Newlyn where the Coast Guard and RNLI accompanied him to shore
Mr Bell rowed 40 hours non-stop on the last leg of his journey from the Isles of Scilly
Pictured: The cramped sleeping conditions Mr. Bell was left with during his journey
He would row an average of 12 hours a day and spend the nights huddled against the elements in his tiny cabin.
Along the way, he encountered dolphins, whales, swordfish and was even stung by a jellyfish.
On his final stretch, Mr Bell rowed non-stop for 40 hours as he battled the difficult conditions off the Isles of Scilly.
The tumultuous conditions forced him to divert from Falmouth to Newlyn, where the local RNLI and Coast Guard helicopter accompanied him to shore.
Bell was met by a cheering crowd, a warm hug from his father, Jeff, and a kiss from his dog, Yogi, after his four-month adventure.
Mr Bell (pictured battling the waves) described how he experienced “an epic mix of emotions” during his journey
He arrived with just one day left for food supplies and narrowly missed the worst of an Atlantic depression that brought strong winds and rain to the UK.
The route from North America to continental Europe has been attempted less than 60 times before.
Earlier this year, 70-year-old Frank Rothwell became the oldest man to cross the Atlantic unaided, but he went from the Canary Islands to Antigua.
Mr Bell’s expedition was self-funded and the money raised went to two charities, The SBS Association and Rock 2 Recovery UK.