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16 January 2017, 00:00

Celebrate the Great Outdoors on Saga Pearl II with adventurer Debra Searle MBE

… and discover Avilés, in Spain, during maiden port of call

Fifteen years ago Debra Searle completed the 3,000-mile Atlantic Rowing Challenge from Tenerife to Barbados to become the youngest woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Since then she has completed the world’s longest canoe race with explorer Bruce Parry, sailed around Antarctica, set a new world record in a Dragon Boat across the English Channel and completed the L’Etape du Tour cycle race in the Pyrenees.

Debra’s recent challenges have also included racing in the Monte Carlo Rally Historique in a 1957 Alfa Romeo and leading an all-female team across Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle.

Saga Pearl II’s Jewels of the Canary Islands cruise in November 2017 celebrates the Great Outdoors and Debra will be on board to deliver talks about her adventures and join passengers on shore excursions such as RIB adventures, whale-watching, star-gazing, four-wheel drives, hikes and e-bike rides.

Former PE teacher Debra, who received an MBE in 2002 and MVO in 2014 for work supporting the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award said: “The Atlantic Challenge was supposed to take six weeks but it took me three months.

“I started the race with my then husband Andrew but from early on he unexpectedly suffered from acute anxiety and after seven days we had to call a safety vessel to take Andrew off the boat.

“I was a complete novice rower – I had only learned to row in the year leading up to the race ­­– but I was enjoying the challenge and Andrew supported my decision to continue. It was a real test against 30-foot waves, Force 8 squalls and having to dodge tankers that came too close for comfort.”

Mother-of-two Debra, 41, says she is particularly looking forward to sailing into Tenerife during the cruise. She said: “I have been back to the island since the Atlantic Challenge but returning by sea will be extra special. A guard of pilot whales accompanied our boat at the start of the race; it’s a great memory and I hope I can join a whale watching tour while I am in the Canary Islands.

“While I was out on the ocean I navigated by the North Star, and an opportunity to join a star-gazing session on Mount Teide is also very appealing. The night-sky in the Canaries is clear because there is so little light pollution.”


The all-inclusive Jewels of the Canary Islands cruise calls at Funchal, Madeira; Santa Cruz, Tenerife; Las Palmas, Gran Canaria; Arrecife, Lanzarote; Cadiz, Spain; Portimão and Lisbon, Portugal and La Coruña (for Santiago de Compostela), Spain.

Saga Pearl II will also make an exiciting maiden port of call to Avilés, in Spain. In the rugged region of Asturias, the old sea-faring town of Avilés has charming streets of pastel-coloured houses and a grand city hall in the main plaza. The Church of Sabugo is dedicated to the former Archbishop of Canterbury St Thomas a Becket who was martyred in 1170.

For details visit or call 0800 50 50 30

18 nights all-inclusive from £2,469 departing from Southampton on November 20, 2017. Price includes UK travel package to and from Southampton, all meals, selected wines at lunch and dinner, house-branded spirits, cocktails, draught beer and lager, all mixers and soft drinks, entertainment, afternoon tea, 24-hour room service, welcome cocktail party, unlimited tea and coffee in selected venues, free wifi, on-board gratuities, porterage, free shuttle bus to nearest town centre (whenever possible and when the ship is berthed more than 500 yards away), optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a discount if passenger has own insurance. Excursions are optional, at an additional cost, and subject to availability and change.

'Price based on two people sharing the lowest available Inside cabin and includes any relevant booking discount. Fare was correct at the time of sending and is subject to availability and change. Further terms and conditions apply. Please call for details.'

Editors: The Ward Evans Atlantic Challenge start gun sounded at 10.30am on October 8, 2001. It took Debra Searle 111 days, five hours and 43 minutes to reach Port St Charles in Barbados on January 26, 2002.

Contact PR Manager Naomi Thornton email or call 01303 772499

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