Adventurer sailing to Antarctica says it was ‘the best experience of his life’

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Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
Jamie Douglas-Hamilton

An adventurer who sailed to Antarctica said it was “the best experience of his life.”

On 11 January Jamie Douglas Hamilton and an international crew of six embarked in line to pay tribute to Harry McNish, the Scottish carpenter of Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance voyage.

Douglas-Hamilton, who founded ACTIPH Water in 2017, is no stranger to adventure and has broken seven Guinness World Records.

In 2014 he was part of the team that crossed the Indian Ocean 5,000 miles from Australia to Africa.

On his final expedition of 2019, he and his team rowed 750 miles from Cape Horn in South America across the Drake Passage to mainland Antarctica.

Jamie Douglas Hamilton and Vincenzo Giordano, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after heart surgery
Jamie Douglas Hamilton and After Heart Surgery (handout/PA)

The third row was originally scheduled for December 2021, but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, during which time Douglas Hamilton discovered a heart condition.

He told PA News Agency: Had he done this last year, he would 100% be dead before he knew he had the disease.

“They don’t know anything. Even when a leak is happening, they don’t know until it’s very serious. They have up to two years left to feel symptoms. If symptoms are more serious is likely to be much less.

“[After the diagnosis]it took me a few days to get my head around it and figure out what they were saying. I couldn’t believe it at first.

“From the moment I woke up after my surgery, I was focused on[the row]. I hope I can inspire others to recover from surgery and be more proactive than before.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
Jamie completes third row after health scare (Ewan Harvey/PA)

Douglas-Hamilton has so far raised £10,000 for the British Heart Foundation and wants to raise another £100,000 to raise awareness of the disease.

He described the experience as “tough” due to the temperature and wind, and even though one of the team members had to evacuate due to seasickness, the experience was nonetheless “magical”. He says it was something.

He added: The penguin followed our boat. It was magical and killer whales followed us. There was a last bit of whales coming around our boat so close that we must have known they were there, as they were within meters.

“They are moments I will cherish forever.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t reach South Georgia as originally planned, but I’m happy that we made it to South Orkney with eight world records. We built a small wooden lifeboat. A new homage to Harry McNish: limited tools, nails and lumber, seaworthy in the world’s roughest seas.

“He was the true hero of the Shackleton expedition and the reason they all survived.

“This will be my last rowing competition. It’s about raising the bar.”

The explorer gave Harry McNish’s nephew my Mrs. Chippy expedition badge as part of a campaign to have Harry McNish posthumously awarded the Polar Medal.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
Jamie handing the Mrs. Chippy expedition badge to Harry’s great nephew (handout/PA)

John McNish, great nephew of Harry McNish said:

“They have done more to this expedition and PR to tell the true story than Harry wrote letters for 60 years to award the Polar Medal. Thank you Jamie and crew.”

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