Former UK Marine, Richard Allen, yesterday completed a solo 3000-mile journey from Sierra Leone in West Africa to Guyana in a small boat.
Allen docked his boat, named “Tamu’kke”, which in the Patamona language means, ‘Together’ or ‘United’, at the Harbour Master’s Boathouse in Georgetown just after 6pm. When he made his way on to the dock, his documents were checked by Immigration officers.
The journey took just about three months. According to the Guyana Foundation, the challenge, which was coined ‘The Commonwealth Row’, was to row the Atlantic Ocean without leaving the Commonwealth.
“It’s all about trying to raise awareness and change common misconceptions about the Commonwealth. Every country thinks of things differently. Commonwealth isn’t about politics or politicians. It’s all about people, all of us —2.4 billion of us— we should really be coming together to help each other,” Allen said, when was asked by members of the media what the purpose of the journey was.
Allen stated that he was hoping to spark some interest, especially among children and schools, to get them involved and learn about the other Commonwealth countries and come together and work on trying to reduce plastic in the ocean. “The project wasn’t about me rowing a boat. I was trying to do something quirky to get people interested,” he related.
According to the former Royal Marine, the toughest part of the journey was the boredom, as he has never done anything like this before. He then added that his military training helped him a lot, especially with the final half of the journey.
“Especially the last section, lots went wrong in the last section with the equipment breaking, the boat getting capsized and lots of equipment got ripped off and me being separated from the boat in the middle of the ocean, which wasn’t nice. I think the thing about military training is it doesn’t really matter anyway, there’s no point kind of getting angry or upset; you’ve got to say we’ve got a problem, let’s just fix the problem rather than kind of getting worried,” he stated.
Allen said he thought that the journey was finished after he had broken his third oar while at sea but he worked it out by trying to glue bits and pieces together to make it to Guyana.
The Guyana Foundation, together with Allen, will be having a meet and greet for him today, where students from various schools will be in attendance.