Sunday, February 17, 2008

RowofLife Arrives in Antigua

Angela and Franck crossed the finish line at 7:24 AM on 02/07/08' making Angela the first Differently Abled woman to ROW across the Atlantic Ocean. More to come, including photos.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The END is Near

*Newsflash* The END is near!
02/06/08-9PM by Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

8:44PM Antigua time-20 miles to FINISH! After a very tough day of rowing and our team felt like the 33 miles they had to the finish would take days, the end is near. Woodvale estimates that the RowofLife Boat should arrive at 7am Antigua time (11am UK, 3am California time) just shy of the 69th day on the water.

I have CCF’s card with money for beer and dinner for the team. My batteries for the camcorder and camera are charged. I have the big tripod; but am looking for the little one. The day I have been waiting for nearly 69 days is about to happen. It is 11 pm here and they are due in at 7 for now. But we are neck and neck with JW and they have been rowing just a bit quicker all day. They were at 18.6 miles to go at 8:43PM tonight. I will continue to get text messages all night as to progress for RowofLife, Jaydubyoo (JW), and Ocean Summit (who is about 5 hours behind us.)

All three of the support teams have been supportive of each other. If there was any way we could come in all together if would be fantastic. Bill and Hillary Jordan-White had dinner tonight with Papa Festor and me. It was our last supper without our rowers. We wonder what we will do without our dots to watch, but alas there will still be 8 boats on the water, after the three of us come in. The boat behind Ocean Summit is C2, with Ian and Andy; they have nearly 300 miles left to go! Angela and I will be in Antigua until the 15th of Feb. and hope to, like the boats in front of us, still be able to greet the next boats coming in. We would love to be able to see at least C2 (we had beer with them in La Gomera), Atlantic Jack (whom we battled in the middle of the race), Pygram (“Franck’s people”-the French Boat). If conditions stay good we may even get to see Silver Cloud (the Atlantic Angels), Barbara Ivy (Olympic athletes from the UK), 1 Charmed Life (A solo boat! His parents arrived today and were very nice). Even then, Dream Maker, the Nautical Nurses (who we were battling at the beginning of the race) and Spirit of Fernie (the second solo boat in the race), will still be on the water. Fernie has 516 miles to go.

I have met some incredible people both rowers, families, innocent bystanders caught up in my excitement (or whom I chased down to ask if they spoke French). Orlando from Go Commando ( ) was so kind and helped me figure out where to call and how to build a cradle to ship the boat home. He has really just been an overall amazingly kind soul, both in La Gomera and here in Antigua. He was the first to run up to the point with flares to welcome the boats and be back in time to see the teams get off the boat. He was hoping to see the RowofLife boat in, but he has been here since day 56 and his flight left at 2100 today. The families have been incredible to each other. I hope that some take up our offer to come to California and visit. Go Commando, Komale, Mission Atlantic, Ocean Summit, and JW, when the weather is raining and cold in the UK, come to the States; the exchange rate is fantastic, you know. The family from New Zealand who offered to take us out on their yacht if they were still here when our boat arrived (they also left today). And the Antiguan’s who took the RowofLife postcards from me and were gracious, even if they didn’t want them. So many good people from all over the world.
There is a whole giant group of people from our own Southern California community, whom I met after Angela’s departure, who have never even met Angela, but have done so much to make this story a success. BOY ABOUT TOWN!!!!! There is absolutely NO WAY I could have done this without you and Ruben and Sageweb! Boy you made the story known, even when no one wanted to hear it. You believed in someone you don’t even know, and worked on the team, as if she were your best friend. You are an amazing promoter and hilarious! I cannot wait for Angela to meet you all. The welcome home party will be a success because of you! Boy, you are a genuine and kind soul! Not to mention a heck of a blogger/newsletter writer extraordinaire. Everyone should read BOYABOUTTOWN Blog on a regular basis and subscribe to his newsletter, if for nothing else other than free entertainment.
Papa and Betty Madsen for being the Florida arm of the RowofLife PR department. Julie at the UPS store on Redondo and 7th in Long Beach. John Nunn and CCF for keeping the messages of encouragement coming in for all 68 days. Susannah Rosenblatt of the LA Times, Mary Ann of the Grunion, Ella at the LN, Melissa Bray (from New Zealand) of, Primes for having the welcome home party. Anita Coyoli (Ukes for Troops) for arranging the airport arrival and things military. I am sure I am missing a ton of folks, but my head will be clearer in a couple of days when I have been released from DOT rehab. OH! Did I mention BOY ABOUT TOWN! Thanks all of you and those who I will remember in the middle of the night, long after this has been posted.
PS: We will be starting a pool on how long it will take Angela’s bum to be normal again. More to follow in my next blog, after the legal team (Tiffany, this means you) has researched the legality of it all.

Debbie in rehab in Antigua (good thing no one at work reads this-they think I am on Holiday)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

DOUBLE DIGITS-Less than 100 Miles to Go!

DOUBLE DIGITS-Less than 100 Miles to Go
02/05/08-by Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

You may ask yourself, what does Antigua sound like in the morning? I have your answer, goats and chickens and roosters, OH MY! Papa Festor and I get music at the bar below us until at least 1am and animal sounds early in the morning. Good thing I bought Angela ear plugs in the Orlando Airport. How do you say earplugs in French? Hum, just easier to put them on my shopping list for my trip into St. Johns either later today or tomorrow.

As of 02/05/08 at 5AM GMT(UK time), 1AM Antigua time, Midnight Florida time, and 9PM(2/4/08) PST California time, Angela and Franck broke the Hundred mile barrier! They are 98 miles from Antigua. That is less than the trip from Bakersfield to Los Angeles; of course that would be a tough row. This week I hear that the boat might sled it quite well. Well did I mention it is about 85 degrees constantly in Antigua? I bought a fan and now on my big St John’s shopping trip I am going to buy and extension cord so I can put it where it will do some good.

Papa Festor, or Totor, as he likes to be called, and I made one trip to St John’s on Saturday. (Totor-Hum I have not translated that yet, I have no idea what it means, I hope that he is not making me say something not nice as a joke on the American-Nah, he is nicer than I.) Anyway, when I arrived at the Antigua Airport to pick up a solely French speaking man, whom I had never seen or met, I found they do not have flight arrival or departure TVs to tell what planes have come in. I waited by the exit of the customs area for a couple of hours waving my sign “Papa Franck Totor” (Hey don’t blame me, I didn’t make up the verbiage, that was all Franck and Totor), with the tiny little Row of Life postcard. The guard took mercy on me and went inside to find Totor. She asked me, what is his name? It occurred to me at that point that I really had no idea what his name was. I told her Totor and he only speaks French. After some time an airport representative came out and with an Older, shorter version of Franck, but with hair, and I knew. Totor was stuck at Immigration. They had no one that spoke French and Totor had no idea where he was staying anyway. They had me go into immigration and try to help and explain things. I told them where we were staying and they did not believe me. Wow, who knew they had a problem with immigration in Antigua. Don’t get me wrong, Antigua is lovely, the people are kind and allegedly they have some nice beaches that I have not had time to check out yet, but I will be happy to get home. Finally I produced the printout of my reservation and they let us go, I gave them a RowofLife Postcard for their troubles.

You thought this was over, not. Then we went to baggage claim. We found his bag, “miltari’’ said Totor of his camouflage duffel. (By the way, camouflage is considered offensive to the Antiguan people) The joy of finding it went to sadness when he realized that Franck’s hand crutches had been separated from the bag and now they are lost. Franck’s stump is infected and swollen to the point that he cannot put on his prosthesis and will need the hand crutches to get around. After more ANU airport drama we left and headed down the dark roads home, dodging goats, dogs, cows and people. It was a quiet ride.

Today, we are going to see Mission Atlantic come in. I was determined not to miss it as I had Pendovey Swift, so I told Totor that we had to be down at the Harbour at 4am, even though Woodvale said they wouldn’t be in until about 6am. Amanda from Woodvale was kind enough to put me on her paging list. So at 3am I got a page that said Mission Atlantic were still 10 miles out and would be in about 8-9am. I decided it was a little nuts to stand at the harbour in the pouring rain for 4 hours, so I went to Totor room to tell him we would go at 7:30am. Poor soul was showered and dressed.

Well I just got another page from Amanda; Mission Atlantic is 4.3 miles from the finish line, eta 8:30-9am and Komale is 5 miles behind them with an eta of 10:30-11am. Better go. It is 7:30 now and I am my not dressed, sweaty Antiguan weather self. Off to the shower and down to the dock to try and work my video camera.

My Estimate for Row of Life…..5PM Wednesday, just in time for dinner.


PS: His name is Berthold Festor.

Monday, February 4, 2008

LA Times! Susannah Rosenblatt, You Rock!

LA Times! Susannah Rosenblatt, You Rock!
02/04/08-By Debbie, RowofLife Land Support from Antigua

Okay, well before I give up the link…..All I got to say is……BOY ABOUT TOWN Angela spent an endless number of hours trying to get a little local and national media coverage for her RowofLife, without success. Boy About Town, who by the way has never actually even met Angela, responded to my request for help in publicizing this Epic Adventure. Who knew that getting publicity would be more of an adventure than the row itself? Two differently-abled people ROWING across the Atlantic Ocean, should be a snap, NOT! Anyway, after conversing with Boy and him checking out CARP (Angela’s rowing program), he took on our project for a small fee-NOTHING! If fact he has spent a lot of his own money to get this publicity push off the ground. (We should also thank Ruben, who has had to live through all this, and has been Boy’s unpaid foot soldier, in between his two other jobs- Need to buy or sell a house, contact Ruben At any rate, since Boy has been on the job, Angela has spoken via sat phone to several reporters. There have been articles in the Grunion Gazette and now the LA Times. The Blade Magazine has talked to her. She is going to be on the Sonny Bozeman Show Boy your are an amazing publicity getter.

Boy About Town is organizing and hosting at welcome home party for Angela at Primes in Long Beach on 02/22/08 at 5:30PM. The capacity is limited (look people I’m not rich!) for the meet and greet featuring snacks and a no host bar. Anyone can make reservations for Dinner at Primes, after the meet and greet, and still get to meet and greet because Angela and I will be staying for Dinner. You too can watch Angela eat one of her first meals back in California (just don’t look at me while I am eating). So RSVP to Boy or request dinner reservations at

OK and now what you have all been waiting for…….the link to “Pulling past limits and across the Atlantic” By Susannah Rosenblatt,1,3236527.story?page=2&cset=true&ctrack=1

PS: More from Antigua later….I gotta jump in the shower. Franck’s Dad is coming to get me for coffee at 9am and I don’t speak French, so I don’t know how to tell him to hold on! It has been a quiet few days……Parleyy pew Francine? I clearly don’t get it.


Friday, February 1, 2008



02/01/08—Debbie, RowofLife Land Support

Small little island southeast of Puerto Rico and North of a bunch of other little islands. Atlantic Ocean on the east, Caribbean Sea on the west. Mosquitoes that appear small but can bite like a small yapper dog. I have many mosquito bites on my ankles, but none really above my knees. One can of Off, $22EC

They use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar here. Finally I am traveling somewhere the exchange rate is better than the US Dollar, but things cost 3 times as much, double shot of espresso and a croissant $18. I am going to town today to look for a coffee maker and fan. It is 28C degrees here most of the time. No air in my room, so I am hoping for some circulation.

I rented a car here, thinking that it would be easier for Angela to get around in a car rather than depending on buses or taxis. Wheelchairs seem to cause those drivers a lot of stress. I had planned to get to Antigua before dark, but it was not to be. I was flying the Caribbean airline, Liat, and they were not really in a hurry. The Avis man was in a hurry, so he was gone by the time I got to the airport. I did find someone that would call Avis man who did finally came back to the Airport to present me my car. I ordered a standard size SUV, which in Antigua talk means a very small boxy little car; oh and the steering wheel is on the passenger side of the car. Apparently, they expect that you will drive your car on the wrong side of the road. Ok well, it was only 15 miles to my room, so I can handle that. I got directions and a map from the Avis man; “piece of cake,” I thought. There are not that many roads in Antigua…… well, I discovered there are not many marked roads that are on the map and there are lots of roads that turn to dirt that aren’t on the map. It is hard to turn around when the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Two hours later, I arrived at my room. I went to 3 of the 4 sides of the island; I nearly hit 3 cows, 15 goats, 5 donkeys and at least a hundred dogs. I am sure it is beautiful when it is light outside. I only turned onto the wrong side of the road once, thanks to two way roads. Tips….windshield wipers on the left side of the steering wheel, turn signal on the right side, seat belt right side, brake left side/gas on the right (thank goodness).

Well at least I won’t have to be alone here long. They were due in on the 3rd, well at least until the whole fleet of Atlantic Rowing Race boats came to a halt, due to weather. Some boats actually lost miles yesterday. So I accepted our 28 miles with a smile and revised the arrival date to 2/7. We are actually doing well. Komale was 101 miles ahead of us on 1/29 and now they are only 23 miles ahead of us. We passed Jaydubyoo (JW) and Ocean Summit yesterday. I spoke to Angela this morning and she was very upbeat. She said the weather is supposed to change to bad, but better than they are currently experiencing. Think good thoughts for some west winds.

I am picking up Franck’s father at the airport tonight. Angela and Franck have to hurry, his father only speaks French. Do you think it will help to speak to him in Spanish?

On the home front, Anita Coyoli-Cullen, is working on a welcoming at LAX when Angela returns on 02/20/08. Anita has is working to get our troops overseas Ukuleles, check out her website at This is one way to support the troops even if you don’t like the war.

The FABULOUS Boy About Town is working on a fantastic meet and greet at Primes Restaurant in Long Beach with a no host bar. If you plan to stay for dinner, you should call and make reservations; be sure to tell them that you are there with Boy About Town or Angela Madsen. I hear the food is amazing and Boy has already made Angela and I reservations. Go to Boy’s website for more details and don’t forget to subscribe to his newsletter. It is full of Fabulous goings on. It should also be noted that Boy met with the ever helpful Julie at the UPS store on 7th and Redondo, to make up invitations for the grand event. Contact Julie at

Well off to the “big” city of St John to find a fan and some power tools. I knew I should have packed my screw gun! Orlando and Ben of Go Commando were kind enough to help me with instructions on how to build a cradle for the boat to be shipped.


PS: I am not answering phone calls in Antigua, nor have I been able to get my messages. It is $2.50 a minute, according to ATT. You can email me or call me on Skype- debmole

RowofLife Journey-YouTube Video by Sageweb