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Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
19 Apr 2014
11:30 am

Boating holiday with a difference

Wesley Botton

When Vasti Geldenhuys told her long-time boyfriend she wanted to visit New York, he agreed on one condition – to get there they would use no ordinary means of transport.

DREAM JOURNEY. Vasti Geldenhuys and boyfriend Riaan Manser, together for 14 years, left Morocco in December on an 11 000km journey to the Big Apple on a 6.9m kayak named 'Spirit of Madiba'. Picture: Supplied.

And after more than three months of solitary company on the lonely seas, relying on each other to overcome a number of life-threatening moments, Geldenhuys and Riaan Manser are closing in on their destination.

The duo, romantically involved for the last 14 years, left Morocco in December on an 11 000km journey to the Big Apple on a 6.9 metre kayak named “Spirit of Madiba”.

“There have been some really difficult times, particularly in rough storms, when we thought we were going to die,” Manser said this week after they reached land at the island of San Salvador.

“It’s helped us grow closer together and we have no doubt we will get to New York City.

“We haven’t even thought about not making it.”

Manser is an accomplished adventurer, having previously circumnavigated the African continent on a bicycle, as well as completing a 5 000km journey around Madagascar in a kayak and paddling 2 300km in Iceland with Dan Skinstad.

Geldenhuys, on the other hand, has no previous experience with such extreme feats of endurance, but she has broken a world record as the first woman to cross any ocean in a kayak.

Before they left San Salvador on Thursday, Manser said they remained upbeat after completing 7 500km of their journey, having managed to chop around 1 000km off the distance by not travelling as far south as initially planned.

“Our next big stop is Miami, and then we’ll hit the seas again.

“It’s been a long journey but we expect to be standing at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty within the next month.”

When they get there, with a record achievement behind them, Geldenhuys will finally get the holiday she wanted, and both of them will be able to take a well-deserved break.