ICELAND - AUGUST 31: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT)South African Riaan Manser, seen here on a previous expedition in Iceland, on Friday completed a 6,500-mile journey from Africa to New York City by rowboat. (Photo by The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images) South African Riaan Manser, seen here on a previous expedition in Iceland, on Friday completed a 6,500-mile journey from Africa to New York City by rowboat. (Photo by The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

 

A couple from South Africa has completed a staggering feat even they themselves thought might be impossible: On Friday, they finished rowing the last of 6,500 miles from Morocco to New York City.

 

 

Riaan Manser and Vasti Geldenhuys embarked on the journey six months ago in a 23-foot row boat called Spirit of Madiba, so named in honor of Nelson Mandela, who had died some three weeks previously.

 

Before leaving from Agadir, Morocco, Manser tweeted that their goal of reaching New York was "100% impossible I think." Their course took them to the Canary Islands, the Bahamas, Miami and finally to the 79th Street Boat Basin, where they were greeted by the mayor of Johannesburg.

 

The adventure wasn't all clear skies and smooth seas. Spirit of Madiba capsized about two months in, and massive cruise ships proved to be hazardous. Strong winds and barnacles presented other difficulties. On one particularly frightening day, Manser was separated from the boat and nearly drifted away.

Paddling into New York Harbor on Friday, Manser tweeted an image of himself and longtime girlfriend Geldenhuys smiling broadly with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

"We made it!" wrote the windswept South African, sporting a grizzled beard. "Thanks everyone."

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