Eugeny Smurgis, 54, a physical education instructor, and his son Alexander, 21, an electrician, had arguably done the hardest part. In three months they had navigated 3,000 miles across some of the most dangerous seas in an open-topped vessel made of plywood and glass fibre. Stopping to take in food and water in Norway and the Netherlands they crossed the Arctic Ocean and reached the comparative safety of the Thames.
Short of money, and with 'sponsor' and 'storm' the only English they knew, they spent a month patching up their craft, took part in a race in London on Saturday, then headed for the open sea, bound for Cadiz, Las Palmas, Barbados, Venezuela, Acapulco, San Francisco, Vancouver and back to Russia.
But somewhere off Thanet father and son had a disagreement, the details of which are still a mystery, and the younger Smurgis demanded to be dropped off on dry land in Ramsgate. Eugeny Smurgis rowed on as far as Dover, where coastguards reported the vessel to be in harbour with his plans uncertain.
Alexander Smurgis, meanwhile, had an even more difficult time. As he searched for the railway station, he was picked up by the police as a suspected illegal immigrant.
Armed with papers which gave him the right to row in British waters, but not to reside on dry land, he took some time to convince them that he was only intending to stay in the country long enough to catch a flight home. Home Office officials were persuaded to let him go to London, where he said he had a friend.
Jim McGillick, a veteran rower at the Thames Tradesman club, near Chiswick, west London, where the Russians spent a month mending their boat, was surprised to hear about the split. 'And after they had rowed all that way as well,' he said.Reuse content