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‘Push me overboard if I die’ 79-year-old tells son as they row Atlantic

A 79-year-old who intends to row the Atlantic despite having never before taken up oars, has given his son permission to throw his body overboard if he dies along the way.

Dr John Eustace has written his son Robert a disclaimer giving him authority to dispose of his body and keep rowing if he dies during their 3,000 mile joint voyage.

The retired GP said he wanted “no messing about” if the worst should happen and his son should take the opportunity to “lighten the load” and continue.

“At my age I’ve got nothing to lose. I am giving my son the letter before we leave giving him permission to tip me over the side if I have a heart attack for instance,” he said.

“It’s a good way to go and I can think of worse places to end up!”
“I am giving my son the letter before we leave giving him permission to tip me over the side if I have a heart attack for instance.”
Dr John Eustace

He added: “I’m not planning on that though. I hope it doesn’t come to that, because I’ve got some nice Burgundy to drink when we get home!”
Dr Eustace said the idea for the epic voyage formed “over a long family Sunday lunch” last autumn.
Despite the prospect of more than two gruelling months at sea, one of his greatest fears is that he will annoy his son.
The father of four, from Windsor in Berkshire, said: “I’m concerned I might annoy my son but he is quite insistent I won’t and says he is looking forward to a bit quality time.
“It is quite an undertaking, but my son’s rowed the Atlantic and also some of the Pacific so he’s an experienced ocean sailor.
“I sailed in the past, but not ocean-going and not for some years. I’ve never rowed before.”
Jo
Dr Eustace and his 52-year-old son will set off from Gran Canaria, Spain, rowing 3,000 miles to Barbados in a little over two months, depending on weather conditions.

Robert, who runs an international courier service with his sister near Heathrow, rowed solo from San Francisco to Hawaii in the same specially adapted rowing boat last year.

The 24ft fibreglass vessel called 2 Hopes is “built to row across an ocean,” Dr Eustace said, with a small cabin for sleeping and an area which can be fully sealed to create a safe space if the boat tips over.

He is preparing for the voyage by rowing, running and training in the gym and said he had always kept fit.
Even so, he admitted the voyage would be a “massive step up” for him.

“I’ve always been convinced of the need for people to keep fit through their lives,” he explained.
John holds the note he has written for is son, that he is to throw him overboard and keep rowing if he dies during the voyage

John holds the note he has written for is son, that he is to throw him overboard and keep rowing if he dies during the voyage Photo: INS
“As a GP I realised more and more that if only people would keep fit they could save themselves from so many health problems.

Dr Eustace spent 37 years working in the same doctors’ practice in Hampshire, before retiring when he was aged 65 years.

The pair are rowing to raise money for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service, which supports sick children.

His nine grandchildren approve of his adventure, he said.
“They all think it’s great – I think the oldest was a bit dubious at the beginning but I think he’s now accepted it,” he said.

“I think it helps that I’m going with my son, who is experienced.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to do something out of the ordinary.”

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