Quirky World ... Courageous quartet complete epic ocean voyage

Some of the quirkiest stories from around the globe

ENGLAND: After nine months of battling enormous waves, sea sickness and the odd attack of flying fish, a group of female adventurers have completed one of the toughest expeditions on the planet — rowing more than 9,200 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Early yesterday, Irish time, 257 days after they sailed under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and pointed Doris, their pink 29ft boat, towards Australia, the Coxless Crew pulled into the harbour at Cairns where an honour-guard of small boats led them to their tearful families.

There was jubilation as Britons Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen, Emma Mitchell, and Meg Dyos hugged each other before joining hands and taking their first unsteady steps on solid ground for more than three months.

Sitting down for a well-earned beer, the women were all grins as they described their expedition and arrival as an “overwhelming experience”.

Speaking from their hotel, Ms Penhaul, 32, from London, said: “It’s very surreal right now. We’re overwhelmed with the response we’ve had here in Cairns and it’s been a bit of a whirlwind since we arrived.

Their final days were spent negotiating the Great Barrier Reef, and with conditions conspiring against them and supplies dwindling, they had to dig deep to finish the last few miles.

Ms Cohen, 40, said: “We’ve been rowing with all our hearts and there was just relief at actually finally getting somewhere without having to fight, and now just being able to stop. There’s no respite out there.”

ENGLAND: The chairman of the main group campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union fluffed his lines as he failed four times to get the organisation’s name right.

Stuart Rose failed to correctly say he was leading the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign, eventually settling on the “Better Stay in Britain Campaign”.

The former Marks & Spencer boss first said he was chairman of online grocer Ocado before realising he was being grilled about the EU campaign rather than his business experience.

Traffic Travails

ENGLAND: Britain could afford to lose around 80% of traffic lights that cause unnecessary delays which cause a loss of up to £16 billion (€21 billion) a year, according to a report.

Research by the Institute of Economic Affairs found the cumulative effect of traffic regulation measures “imposes an enormous burden on the UK economy”.

The think tank found that just a two-minute delay to every car journey equates to a loss of approximately £16bn a year.

Cowabunga

USA: A cow that was captured by police after fleeing from a New York City slaughterhouse has been taken in by an animal sanctuary and renamed after rock star Freddie Mercury.

Mike Stura, founder of the Skylands Animal Sanctuary in Wantage, New Jersey, picked up the cow in New York and said he has named the creature after the late lead singer of the band Queen.

The cow was scheduled to be killed but instead, Freddie rode through rush-hour traffic in a trailer, then visited a vet, before arriving at a farm. Mr Stura said Freddie will enjoy “a life of leisure”, being cared for alongside “cow friends”.

Phones and drones

USA: An environmental group in California is recruiting drone hobbyists and smartphone users to map flooding and coastal damage after El Nino storms, with the idea that the images will help predict what the future coastline will look like as sea levels rise from global warming.

The Nature Conservancy launched the Phones & Drones El Nino Mapping Initiative, and is working with a private company to stitch the geotagged images into 3D maps that can be studied and also shared with authorities concerned about the impact of sea level rise.

This winter’s El Nino weather pattern is bringing California the strongest storms it has seen in years. The group said flooding from those storms will be a “crystal ball” that can aid preparations for a very different coastline.

Sick Susanna

ENGLAND: Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid battled through a sore throat yesterday, saying she has not taken a sick day since 2005.

The ITV presenter apologised to viewers for her gravelly voice on air after revealing her co-host, Piers Morgan, was “furious” that she was ill.

Reid said although she was ill with a cold, she was “struggling on”, adding: “Do you know what? I’m so stubborn. I won’t take a sick day.” She told viewers she was breathing like Darth Vader and had a “very sore throat, like razors”.

Morgan put on a face mask to protect himself from her germs, telling her: “Professionally, I’m right behind you, personally, I don’t want to get it. I’m going to have to wear one of these for the show.”

She told Morgan her last sick day was back in 2005 and joked that perhaps he could wear the mask more often if it stopped him talking.


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