Rower rescued by cruise ship after record bid dashed

Laine Clark |

The Pacific Explorer cruise ship detoured to rescue a rower whose vessel capsized south of Vanuatu.
The Pacific Explorer cruise ship detoured to rescue a rower whose vessel capsized south of Vanuatu.

A cruise ship has rescued a Queenslander attempting to become the youngest person to row solo across the Pacific Ocean.

Tom Robinson, 24, spent 13 hours clinging to his 7m boat Maiwar after it capsized 100 nautical miles south of Vanuatu.

The Brisbane man was on the final leg of his record bid after setting off from Peru in July last year.

However, he activated his distress beacon when his boat was damaged in rough seas about 6pm AEDT on Thursday, which alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

His family was contacted by AMSA, which notified local authorities and a search aircraft from Noumea eventually spotted Mr Robinson standing on the overturned boat in the dark.

Cruise ship Pacific Explorer made a detour and picked up Mr Robinson who was found naked on the boat.

“Soon after, and some 13 hours since his EPIRB was activated, he rang his family at home,” his support team said on Mr Robinson’s website.

“He was being checked in the sick bay (on cruise ship) and sounded well after a precarious night.”

The cruise ship is set to arrive in Auckland in the coming days.

“Our sincere thanks go to the Australian, New Caledonian and Vanuatuan authorities who all had important roles to play in his rescue and to the captain and crew of Pacific Explorer who literally went out of their way to pick up Tom,” his support crew said.

Mr Robinson had prepared for months for the planned 8500 nautical mile journey from Peru to Queensland, designing and building the boat by hand.

He had stopped at islands along the epic route to re-supply and explore the cultures of the South Pacific before his boat capsized on the final leg.

“We didn’t know whether they were going to find him at all,” his father Tim Robinson told Ten News.

“(But) it sounds like he was in pretty good shape. 

“He was sorry of course that he hadn’t completed his voyage to the Queensland coast.

“He’ll have another crack at something – he’s an adventurer. 

“I don’t know if he’ll have another crack at this.”