It was a rather ignominious end to a grand adventure. After 10 months of rowing alone across the vast Pacific Ocean, eating only dried food and with nothing but emails from fans for company, Alex Bellini was rescued by a tugboat, just 65 nautical miles from his destination.
Mr Bellini, 30, set off on his solo crossing from Lima, Peru, in February, and had planned to next set foot on land in Sydney on Saturday. His plan was to row across the great ocean in his 25-foot boat. For 99 per cent of the gruelling journey, success seemed to be within his grasp.
But, suffering from exhaustion and battered by fierce storms off the eastern coast of Australia, he was forced to call his wife on Friday and ask her to send for help. The New South Wales mid-north coast was just beyond the horizon.
Salvation came hours later in the form of an Australian search and rescue aircraft and a New Zealand-registered tugboat.
When a thin and heavily-bearded Mr Bellini was finally brought ashore at the Australian port of Newcastle, he had to be carried to the customs office. He weighed 30 pounds less than when he set off and his wife Francesca said he was "looking confused".
Mr Bellini, who averaged 30 nautical miles a day, had not walked more than a few metres since he set off from South America.
Despite coming agonisingly close to his goal, the adventurer was surprisingly upbeat.
Once ashore, he insisted he was not disappointed and was proud of his achievement.
He said it would have been foolish not to call for help when he did, with predictions of poor weather for the next two days.
"I didn't put the cherry on top of the cake. But the cake is very good, very big and I will never forget about it," he said.
"I did not fail," he said, but had merely "asked for a tow" for the last few kilometres.
The Italian, who has already rowed the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and walked across Alaska, twice, pulling a sled, said he would never forget the epic 10,000 nautical mile (11,500 mile) non-stop journey.
"I received more than 30,000 emails on my satphone. It has been not really a one-man adventure. I was alone at sea, but I was not completely alone," he said.
Despite his ordeal, Francesca Bellini, who helped organise the voyage, said her husband loved the sea and would have fond recollections of the trip. Although he failed to reach dry land, his wife said they still regarded it as essentially a full crossing of the Pacific Ocean.
He is not, however, the first person to row solo across the Pacific. Had he succeeded, he would have been the fifth person to complete the crossing in a row boat.
Mr Bellini has said he was inspired to cross the Pacific Ocean, which spans almost one third of the globe, because it makes him feel "100 per cent alive."
"I do it because, for me, it's extremely easy to do what seems extremely hard for others to even imagine."
However, he has promised his wife that he will not attempt the crossing again. His priorities now, he said, were to eat, sleep and spend time with his family.Original here