Army veteran visits Royal Armouries’ Fort Nelson museum near Portsmouth ahead of epic solo Pacific row 

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AN IRAQ war veteran, seeking to become the first man to row solo across the north Pacific, visited the Royal Armouries’ museum at Fort Nelson to speak about his epic challenge.

Adventurer Charlie Martell, who served as a Corporal with 59 Independent Commando Squadron in the Royal Engineers, will begin his 5,000-mile odyssey on April 23 from Japan.

North Pacific rowing challenger Charlie Martell with his boat, Blossom, at The Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson. Picture: Vernon Nash (090219-038)

North Pacific rowing challenger Charlie Martell with his boat, Blossom, at The Royal Armouries Museum, Fort Nelson. Picture: Vernon Nash (090219-038)

It will be the second time he has attempted the perilous route after failing seven years ago when he was caught in Typhoon Mawar and had to be rescued by a passing ship.

Now he hopes his second bid on his tiny boat Blossom to San Francisco will be a success – and clinch him a world record in the process.

The 48-year-old, who used to live in Bosham and trained in underwater explosive demolition with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, said: ‘This is like the holy grail of ocean rowing. It’s never been done before.

‘There have been 15 failed attempts so far – mine was number 12 –  so I’m hoping my next won’t be number 16.’

Mr Martell said this attempt would be even more challenging than the last as he is leaving his young family behind in the UK for up to six months.

‘Last time I didn’t have a wife or family to think about, now I have a wife, a three-year-old and a nine-month-old,’ he said. ‘I’ll certainly be missing them but I have their names on the bulkhead in front of me so hopefully on those days when I’m down they will keep me going.’

He is no stranger to daunting challenges, having rowed the Atlantic and served in Bosnia, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

After his military career, he worked in the humanitarian sector where he specialised in clearing explosives.

In 1993, while serving in the Royal Engineers, Mr Martell was accommodated on HMS Nelson in Portsmouth. Coincidentally, his grandfather, Hugh Martell, qualified as a gunnery officer in 1937 and was posted to HMS Excellent, on Whale Island.

Mr Martell is sponsored by the Royal Armouries after having been one of the museum's ambassadors for its ‘100 Days of Peace’ project supporting veterans in 2018.

This year’s row is raising money for disabilities charity Give Them a Sporting Chance and military causes Veterans and Community Gallery and Veterans in Action.