Essex

Essex Police officer Dawn Wood completes solo Atlantic row

Dawn Wood in Barbados Image copyright RCOB
Image caption Dawn Wood is congratulated by a member of the Rotary Club of Barbados after completing her solo challange

A police officer has become the second fastest woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Dawn Wood completed the 3,000-mile (4800km) journey from the Canary Islands to Barbados in 53 days.

The 42-year-old, who is a skipper with the Essex Police Marine Unit, wanted to raise awareness of plastic pollution.

She said it was "heartbreaking" to be in the middle of the ocean and "see the evidence of what the human race are doing to our planet".

PC Wood, from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, set off from Gran Canaria on 5 January and posted regular updates on Facebook from her solar-powered ocean rowing boat.

An emotional Facebook Live video shows the moment she was reunited with her husband Jamie and her parents as supporters cheered and waved flags.

She celebrated with a beer before the High Commissioner officially welcomed her to Port St Charles.

Speaking in Barbados, Ms Wood told the BBC she had not felt lonely: "I'm quite good with my own company.

"I think I made about three phone calls on my satellite phone... I think that's one of the things that really got me through it - if you're not comfortable with yourself, then you're not going to be able to do something like that."

Image copyright RCOB
Image caption Dawn Wood with her parents and husband moments after arriving in Barbados

Her challenge has so far raised more than £10,000 for the Marine Conservation Society.

She said she would continue to raise awareness by going into schools to talk about plastic pollution when she returned home.

She had hoped to set a new world record, but a spokeswoman confirmed she was the second fastest woman to take on the challenge, and only the seventh woman ever to have completed it.

The world record for a woman to row the Atlantic solo is currently held by London rower Kiko Matthews.

Image caption Dawn Wood spoke to the BBC after arriving in Barbados

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