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Noble voyage ends abruptly

10 A New York City man’s bid to row across the Atlantic from Africa’s west coast to raise awareness about AIDS was cut short after his boat began taking on water and sank shortly after getting under way.

Victor Mooney, who is 41 and from Queens, was rescued Sunday by the Senegal Navy after he set off two radio beacons and placed a mayday call over his VHF, according to information on his Web site . Mooney had been rowing a 24-foot homemade plywood boat, John Paul the Great, planning to make it from Gorée Island off Senegal to New York.

Mooney reportedly considers abstinence the best approach to preventing the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus. One of Mooney’s brothers died of AIDS in 1983, and another lives with the disease. He had hoped to raise $1 million for AIDS research and prevention.

Mooney’s red-and-white rowing boat was damaged a number of weeks ago when a fisherman tried to move it, according to news reports. Only a few hours into his journey the boat began to sink. The crew of the nearby freighter Pacific Warrior reportedly pulled Mooney from his boat minutes before it sank.

Mooney planned to fly back to New York City this week, according to his Web site.

Jason Fell