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British man dies while rowing the Atlantic

A British man has died while taking part in a charity rowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

Michael Holt, aged 54, began his solo 2942-mile rowing adventure from Gran Canaria to Barbados in January.

A post on his Facebook page on February 20, said Michael who was a Type 1 diabetic, had fallen ill. This was thought to be due to a reaction to antibiotics he had taken. As a consequence, he had decided to abandon his row and head to the Cape Verde islands

Falling ill would be a problem for anyone but as a type 1 diabetic, a greater element of concern was added.

Attempts to communicate with Michael failed and following concerns for Michael’s welfare, a May Day signal was sent and a search and rescue operation launched.

A statement from Needles and Pins which was supporting Michael’s trip, explained that spotter planes were initially sent and located the vessel but Michael was not on deck.

A fishing vessel was then tasked with heading to Michael’s position and a tanker on route to Venice also responded to the mayday, to provide assistance at the scene.

Sadly Michael was found dead in his cabin.

During the voyage, Michael suffered bouts of seasickness and a shark attack on his rudder.

He also had to manage his diabetes.


Michael’s diabetes meant his pancreas does not make insulin at all, or very little, explained the Needles and Pins campaign.

“Without insulin, blood sugars cannot get into Michael’s cells, and so the sugars build up in his blood stream,” said a post on the Needles and Pins Facebook page. “This means he needs to inject insulin to ensure that doesn’t happen. Equally, injecting too much insulin can mean the opposite happens; blood sugars become too low. Either can be very dangerous, and there is an obvious risk to this happening to him whilst he is alone on a rowing boat.”

Michael used a monitor attached to his arm to measure his bloods which alerted him when he needs to adjust them.

As insulin needs to be refrigerated, Michael had a 12v fridge built into his boat to store the insulin. The voyage had been expected to take around 55 days and Michael was due to have been the first Type 1 Diabetic to row an ocean solo.


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