A Fighting Chance


On that stormy Saturday in September John Ridgway and Chay Blyth landed at the little Irish village of Inishmore after rowing alone across the Atlantic in a tiny boat only 20ft long and 5ft wide.  Their 92 day voyage from Cape Cod was an incredible achievement. Both Captain Ridgway and Sergent Blyth had had a tough army training as paratroopers but neither had much previous experience of the sea. The little boat, English Rose III, was like a Nova Scotian dory – the sort of open boat traditionally used by fishermen off the coast of North East America. The dory men who made her promised the two Englishmen ‘a fighting chance’ – and they certainly needed it.

For three months they lived in a cockpit measuring eight feet by four feet. English Rose III was battered by storms, by hurricane Alma, by huge and almost overwhelming waves. Salt water got into the rations and food became short. The rowers encountered whales, sharks, porpoises, dolphins, a mysterious sea serpent and the occasional friendly ship. but the intense solitude brought a new dimension to life, and the struggle to keep going and keep alive gave them a greater awareness of true values.

Day by day John Ridgway and Chay Blyth kept individual logs, recording their experiences. These salt-stained notebooks have enabled them to write A Fighting Chance, their own personal account of an achievement which must surely rank as one of the great heroic adventures of this century. The book includes a list of equipment taken on the voyage of English Rose III and an account of the navigational methods used. It is illustrated with photographs taken by the authors and facsimile pages from their log-book.

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