Taking on the ‘Everest of ocean rowing’
"Well, to see what it makes of us, and … to see if we can do it."
Posted on 15.05.2019
How taking on the ‘Everest of ocean rowing’ helped these mates confront their demons
You could argue that Pete Fletcher and Tom Hudson had no place on the North Atlantic Ocean.
The two friends in their 30s were inexperienced sailors; white collar workers more accustomed to the office than the ocean.
Their vessel — the one they hoped would carry them 3,000 nautical miles from America to England — was a rickety old wooden boat.
Pete was married with three small kids; Tom was engaged — and this was a dangerous ocean that fewer than 50 other people had ever crossed, despite triple that number giving it a go.
They were risking a lot.
Pete’s five-year-old daughter asked him the night before he left: “Why are you doing the row?”
“Well, to see what it makes of us, and … to see if we can do it.” was his response.
The adventure wasn’t just an exercise of endurance and adventure for Pete and Tom, both from the UK.
It was a chance to soothe the raging in their heads.
‘You can go, but I’m coming with you’
For Pete, the decision to embark on the 2015 sailing adventure related to a shocking near-death experience a decade earlier.
In 2004 he was involved in a head-on collision, when a car doing 120 kilometres per hour rushed towards him on the wrong side of the road.
“I was very lucky to survive,” he says.
The experience encouraged him to shirk off societal expectations about what he should be doing in life, and be guided by the knowledge that “sometimes it’s short”.
He decided to join Tom on his plan to conquer the Everest of ocean rowing.
“I was like, well, you can go, but I’m coming with you, because I really wanted to see what it would make of us,” Pete says.
Tom had another reason for going: to both sit with and work through the challenges of his depression.
“I don’t think that you can run away from your problems, obviously, by immersing yourself in big challenges, but they can certainly play a big part in helping to build character and mental strength,” he says.
“It unravels everything and strips you away, so I think you lose your excuses.
Footage taken during the epic journey formed the basis of the doco, Fish Out of Water.
“Going out on the ocean, there’s no place to hide”
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