September 8, 2020
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Man & Boat - mission accomplished!

He did it!

Our Explorer Ambassador, Jordan Wylie, became the first person in history to successfully row solo and unsupported across what is considered the most dangerous body of water on the planet – the Bab El Mandeb Strait - between Djibouti and Yemen.

Congratulations from us all at Rannoch - it's been a privilege to be part of this huge adventure.

Mission accomplished!

Rannoch Adventure has been heavily involved in Jordan’s Rowing Dangerously adventure from the outset. Charlie first met Jordan in 2018 and suggested that Rannoch’s newest rowing boat, the Explorer, would be perfect for the job in hand. Since then, we have gifted Jordan – and subsequently the Obock Rowing Club in Djibouti – A Million Dreams, the name Jordan gave to his Explorer.

After his epic row, Jordan commented:

“A huge thank you to Nicola, Charlie, Angus and Mike for helping make this dream become a reality. The Rannoch Explorer was the perfect boat for this expedition. It offered me speed, reliability and ease of logistics to a very complex part of the world and I would not have been able to achieve mission success without her. It is the ultimate boat for adventurers anywhere in the world”.

Jordan’s selflessness knows no bounds. He is a person driven by helping others. His Rowing Dangerously challenge has raised awareness and funds for children in war zones:

“To complete a world first is of course very special and an incredible achievement for me personally, it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. However, what is more important, is that the world takes notice of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the sheer number of casualties and losses that are being suffered by children daily, these are the complete innocent victims of this conflict and the world needs to do more to protect them”.
Unpacking the boat from her crate - Photographer Stephen McGrath (pictured in the black cap) said:
This was also the hottest day with maximum humidity. It was impossible to move without sweat dripping into your eyes. God knows how we managed to unpack her and get her ready for the water - even the locals were complaining about the heat and humidity. All part of the challenge, not that the boat flinched at the obstacles in her way.
Jordan fixing the riggers on
Out in the Bab El Mandeb Strait
Sunrise over A Million Dreams
Mission accomplished
Gifting the boat to the Obock Rowing Club in Djibouti
A Million Dreams in her final resting place, stripped of her sponsors logos
Stephen McGrath:
Naked! Am not adverse to a bit of nudity but it does feel weird seeing A Million Dreams without her full dress. I will miss her, fond memories of the struggles and pleasures this project has given me over the last 8 months, the friends it has introduced me to and the memories it has left me with. Thank you, young lady!

Photo credits to Stephen McGrath who has documented Jordan's Rowing Dangerously adventure since the start. Of the adventure and the Explorer, Stephen said:

I am sure Jordan has fed back to everyone at Rannoch Adventure how the Explorer was so instrumental in making this so possible. I have to say that personally, having spent the last 6 months with this boat and with you guys at Rannoch (especially Nicola), I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend when we handed the boat over to the rowing club in Djibouti. I need one of these boats, I have become very attached to it and have seen the opportunities it opens up in terms of exploring the beautiful coastline we are blessed with here in the UK. One day maybe.

In recognition of Stephen's work, Jordan comments:

Stephen does so much for charity and for different people and often works in the shadows without recognition. He's a top man with a heart of gold and has been an integral part of the Rowing Dangerously team.

We look forward to an evening celebrating Jordan's achievement at his Rowing Dangerously Ball on 7th November. Full details can be found here.

This article appeared on The Mail Online on 8 October 2019:

Former British soldier becomes the first person to row solo across the world's most dangerous stretch of water and declares - 'this was the toughest thing I’ve ever done'

A former soldier and extreme adventurer from the UK has become the first person in history to successfully row solo, unsupported and unarmed across the most dangerous body of water on the planet.

Jordan Wylie, one of the stars of Channel 4’s Hunted and Celebrity Hunted, rowed across the pirate-infested Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (aka the Gate of Tears) on October 4, from Djibouti to Yemen and back, on a gruelling voyage that took him 13 hours and 42 minutes.

Jordan is a hardened military man, having served from 2000 to 2009 in the King’s Royal Hussars, and has run marathons in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. But he said of the rowing challenge - ‘this was the toughest thing I’ve ever done’. 

The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait (aka the Gate of Tears) is notorious not just for piracy but for terrorism; people, arms and narcotics smuggling - and just happens to be one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

He rowed in 38 degree C temperatures, suffered sunburn and dehydration and spent four days stricken with diarrhoea and being physically sick as he prepped for the voyage at a remote camp in Khôr 'Angar, where they dined every day on fish caught in the strait. But he says that in hindsight 'it was all part of the adventure'.

One of Jordan's main motivations was to raise money for three charities – Frontline Children, Epilepsy Action and Seafarers UK - and help fund the building of a school for war refugees in As'Eyla in Djibouti.

But even though the challenge was for charity, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised him not to undertake it. And that’s understandable because anyone rowing unarmed across the strait faces considerable risks.

First of all, this strategic waterway is notorious not just for piracy but for terrorism; people, arms and narcotics smuggling - and just happens to be one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Jordan explained to Mail Online Travel that the trouble makers in the area have a tendency to zoom about in skiffs at up to 30 or 40 knots with no lights – and he set out from Khôr 'Angar at 4am when it was dark. So he had a lot to be concerned about. But then, Jordan is skilled in the art of avoiding trouble.

Jordan at Khôr 'Angar before setting off. Jordan had spent 10 days in-country beforehand monitoring tides and the security situation. He put a great deal of effort into planning the operation.

He said:

‘There were many logistical challenges. I spent 10 days in-country monitoring the traffic of vessels, monitoring tides and sea states and of course the ever-changing security situation.
‘I also had a VHF radio which was tuned in to Channel 16 in the High Risk Area and could regularly hear commercial shipping captains warning other vessels about suspicious small vessels in the area. This obviously made me very nervous.
‘I had regular excellent intelligence updates daily from“Gray Page”, a leading British maritime security consultancy which provided me with information on suspicious activity, current threats, the situation in Yemen and so on and I also had regular communications via sat comms with “Eton Harris”, a UAE-based firm that sponsored this project.

Of Jordan's tech support for the trip, he said:

'I had a VHF radio which was tuned in to Channel 16 in the High Risk Area and could regularly hear commercial shipping captains warning other vessels about suspicious small vessels in the area'. ‘It should also be noted that Saudi Arabia announced a partial ceasefire in the region I was rowing the day before I set off, which was a stroke of good fortune.’

While out on the water, it was just Jordan, the intense sunshine and big currents.The finish point was Ras Siyyan, just up the coast, via Perim Island in Yemen.

Jordan spent four days in the Khôr 'Angar camp at before tackling his rowing challenge. Here he ate freshly caught fish every day - but suffered diarrhoea and was physically sick

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised Jordan against rowing the strait. He continued:

‘I was completely unarmed and unsupported - at sea - but I did have photographer Stephen McGrath documenting and tracking me and also a small local crew of a fixer, a driver and local guide from Djibouti who made sure I had no issues whilst making my way towards the Eritrean border in Northern Djibouti.
 ‘On the day the sea conditions were very favourable on the way out towards Yemen but on the way back in I battled some fast currents in the blistering 38 degrees heat and suffered from excessive dehydration for the next two days - and my hands are completely blistered too.
‘There were a few hairy moments when I was approached by armed men in fast skiffs, but fortunately for me, they were coastguards protecting Djibouti and Yemen respectively. There were also many small fishing vessels out there, which of course I did my best to steer clear of, as you never know who the bad guys are. We used to say “every pirate is also a fisherman but not every fisherman is also a pirate”…
‘The boat was built by Rannoch Adventure in the UK and was designed for adventures. They kindly allowed me to gift the boat when I had finished to a local rowing club in Djibouti. And helped with my training plans too.'

Jordan trained extensively for 12 months with some of the greatest names in rowing, including double Olympic champion Alex Gregory MBE and fellow Olympic medalist James Foad.

His main motivation for the rowing voyage was to raise money for three charities –Frontline Children, Epilepsy Action and Seafarers UK - and help fund the building of a school for war refugees in As'Eyla in Djibouti

He’s now feeling ecstatic that all the hard work paid off. He said:

‘It was very emotional reaching Ras Siyyan at the end. Two years of planning and 12 months of training. To get there was magical and seeing a group of bull sharks on arrival was quite cool as Ras Siyyan is a mountain that depicts a shark fin.
‘It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. However, what is more important, is that the world takes notice of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the sheer number of casualties and losses that are being suffered by children daily. These are the completely innocent victims of this conflict and the world needs to do more to protect them.’

To see the full article, please click HERE.

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