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Derek Watts on Riaan & Vasti

13 July 2014
Riaan Manser is one of the country’s true explorers… Whether cycling around Africa, paddling around Madagascar or Iceland, there are no back-up crews and no plans for immediate rescue.
Derek Watts on Riaan & Vasti Image : 2033

As Riaan says, with every real adventure you have to accept the fact that you may die on that journey. Which wasn’t a comforting factor when Riaan asked his partner of 15 years, Vasti Geldenhuys, if she’d like to go to New York.

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The small challenge was that she’d have to row with him from Morocco to North America in a small boat that he bought second-hand.  It broke on the maiden voyage! So, I was concerned about the pair taking on the might and terror of the Atlantic over many months and nearly 6 500 miles... A journey that saw them capsize, with Vasti trapped under the boat - and in another traumatic incident Riaan floating helplessly out to sea!

But apart from the mortal dangers, I was even more fascinated about what happens to a relationship during 133 days at sea… at the oars all day and imprisoned in a rocking, sea-sprayed 1.5m cabin all night! How do you handle domestic disputes and days when you’re not speaking to each other? And, of course, intimacy and privacy. So many questions.

We interviewed Riaan and Vasti the morning they touched down on their return flight from the United States. And the answers were surprising…