Before launching his fourth attempt to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat, a quixotic Queens man chose a Brooklyn port to bless his very small boat for the very long journey.
At Marine Park’s Gateway Marina on Sunday, Victor Mooney bid bon voyage to the Spirit of Malabo — a 24-foot, ocean-ready rowboat which he hopes to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
After the boat was blessed, it was shipped off to the Canary Islands, where Mooney will join it in three weeks to set off on a 5,000-mile journey home, taking advantage of the east-to-west currents of the Mid-Atlantic.
If he succeeds, he would be the first African American to row solo from Africa to the Americas, but he’s not doing it for his own glory.
Mooney, who lost one brother to AIDS and has another living with HIV, has dedicated life to the challenge of crossing the Atlantic by the strength of his own two arms as a way of raising money and awareness to combat the deadly illness.
“This battle is not mine,” Mooney told this paper in 2007, ahead of his second attempt. “This battle is God’s.”
And what a battle it has been.
Mooney’s first try, in 2006, ended a mere three-hours after it began, when his first craft, John Paul the Great, sprung a leak off the coast of Senegal.
His next shot the following year did not fare much better, despite shoving off in a “virtually unsinkable” boat. Mooney became stranded 15 days into his journey after his water desalination system malfunctioned, and he had to call for rescue.
By 2011, Mooney had been saddled with the moniker “Looney Mooney” by bemused bloggers following his (lack of) progress, but the maligned mariner tried yet again — this time with a new desalination system, and a new, somewhat less “unsinkable” boat.
After just a day at sea on his third attempt, Mooney was forced to abandon ship for an inflatable raft when the vessel sprung a leak, and the resilient rower endured for 14 days eating ginseng root powder and ginger candies while awaiting rescue.
But true to the name of his third boat — which he christened the Never Give Up — Mooney has resolved to set out to seas again in his quest for his own personal white whale — in this case, the coast of Brooklyn.
Hopefully, between the Gateway Marina blessing and an inspection by the Brazilian Navy — which certified the Spirit of Malabo for the trans-Atlantic voyage — Mooney will be able to beat his record of 15 days at sea and, perhaps, make it home under his own strength.
During the blessing, Mooney sprinkled iron ore on his faithful craft, and ended the program with a prayer for those suffering AIDS and the fight against the illness.