It is the burning question asked of each of the crew at every turn along our journey. George Mallory, the pioneering mountaineer, upon being asked why climb Mt. Everest famously answered “Because it’s there”. These words echo too among Pacific Terrific.
In fact today, significantly fewer people have rowed the Pacific than climbed the to the highest point on earth. But beyond abounding inclination to adventure, we each have our own unique and very personal answer as to “Why?”.
This is Andrea’s.
Why row an ocean?
The most asked question when I talk to people about my upcoming ocean row from California to Hawaii as part of the crew of the Pacific Terrific trio in the Great Pacific Race, is ‘Why? Why are you doing this? Why row an ocean?’ Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit cheeky, I respond, “Why not row an ocean?” I mean for me, that’s actually how it lives in me ~ ‘Why not?’
There’s of course the charity, Mind, and the cause of the devastating issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans I always speak about. Both are near and dear to me for different reasons, but really “the why” is quite personal. I have a love affair of the ocean, and am a total adventurer at heart, but there’s more to the story, and it’s taken me nearly 6 years to come to peace with certain aspects of it. However, I’ll preface the story and say that I have total gratitude for every bit of what has transpired, that has gotten me to this incredible opportunity to row the Pacific Ocean with 2 other absolutely amazing women whom I admire, trust, and so look forward to having this extraordinary adventure with in just a few months’ time!
It started in late 2010. I discovered ocean rowing in Boulder, Colorado when a fellow Master’s rowing colleague announced she was rowing the Atlantic in early 2011. Whilst she was at sea rowing, I became a “dot watcher”, as well as personally obsessed with finding my way onto an ocean rowing boat, and I did. At the time, even though by most standards, I had a pretty good life, I was personally unfulfilled and knew I wasn’t living or contributing fully, and this bothered me A LOT. I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do, but somehow I got it into my mind that if I could successfully row across an ocean, I could do anything.
Well… all was going well, until it wasn’t. And as a good friend of mine recently said to me, “In life… sometimes you have to take detours.” Without going into the particulars, after a disastrous blow up with the crew and race organizer 2 days prior to the Atlantic row that was precipitated by some serious concerns I had regarding the safety of the boat and crew, I was kicked off the boat. Let’s just say I was devastated to the core ~ completely shattered! A year’s worth of preparation in every way for an opportunity I was sure was going to be my salvation and provide me with some divine direction, was ripped from me in a 5-minute conversation. And then it happened ~ 2 important events occurred that ended up changing the course of my life forever.
Within the first 24 hours of the devastating news, I declared that my way back to the US would be via sailboat. Through a series of serendipitous events, I sailed across the Atlantic 3 ½ weeks later, and did it in style on a 78 ft racing yacht. That first ocean sailing voyage propelled me into a life of sailing. In the last 6 years, I’ve sailed approximately 30,000 nautical miles to more than 20 countries and know that all of this experience brings immense value for rowing the Pacific.
The other life changing event was extremely important, and probably the most difficult at the time for my family and loved ones. I don’t know who said it, but there’s a saying, “Angels exist, but sometimes they don’t have wings and are called friends.” In La Gomera, my angels were Roz Savage and Ludwig Delorme. They were the only 2 human beings at the time who were privy to what really happened, and what I went through afterwards. Truth was, I was not in a good state, and I knew that it was important for me to sort things out within and see clearly what there was to learn from the whole experience before sharing it with others. I ended up doing for me what was the most selfish thing at the time and headed off to the island of Lanzarote for several weeks; put myself in my own retreat; and refused to speak to anyone about what happened; and went to work on myself!
My time in Lanzarote and then sailing across the Atlantic yielded some insights that were and continue to be incredibly helpful for me. I realized that it wasn’t necessary to row across an ocean to prove that I can do anything and everything. That there are limitless opportunities ~ we just have to recognize them. That failing didn’t mean I was a failure, and that the courage to continue was paramount and what mattered most. I committed to never give up on my dreams and aspirations. I realized that what is true remains, what’s not falls away, and I am driven by knowing that all I am seeking is also seeking me.
Fast forward 6 years, and here I am, about to row the Pacific Ocean in 3 months and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! Let’s face it folks, how many places are left on our planet to really “go wild”, to be “unplugged”, to experience the beauty and fierceness of mother nature and the big blue sea with minimal technology and connectivity? My reasons for rowing the Pacific now are more for having the experience of it, enjoying the journey, and of course a few World Records wouldn’t be too shabby! I vowed that if it was meant to be, that the right crew, the right boat, and the right opportunity would manifest, and it has. So now when people ask me ‘Why?’, probably the best answer really is ‘Why not?’.
To donate and be part of our world record attempt see our Sponsorship page – we really appreciate your support, without which, we couldn’t make this happen.
Donate £25 to sponsor a Pacific Terrific Ocean Mile – get a shout out as we row your mile(s)! £50 sponsors 2 miles and feeds a crew member for a day, and any donation of £100 or above will see your name on our boat – you will be with us as we cross the Pacific Ocean!