Ontario man becomes first person to row solo across Pacific
Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, December 30, 2015 10:01AM EST
An Ontario man has become the first person to row across the Pacific Ocean non-stop in a one-person row boat.
John Beeden landed in Cairns, Australia on Sunday, completing a harrowing 209-day journey on the open sea in his six-metre boat, nicknamed “Socks.”
And despite seven months of oceanic solitude, the 53-year-old from Burlington, Ont. says he never quite felt alone.
“In a strange way you’re better connected. I’d send back a little email each day,” Beeden told CTV’s Canada AM from Sydney, Australia.
“Somebody that I hadn’t seen in 20 years would see [me] in the newspaper and connect with me through my website, so in a sense you’re better connected than you are when you’re on dry land.”
A few other solo crossings have been completed over the Pacific, but until Beeden’s arrival, no one had ever completed an uninterrupted journey.
Beeden, who is originally from Britain, says his desire to cross the Pacific came after he successfully rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary Islands to Barbados, in 2011.
“I thought it would be the challenge of a lifetime … but it turns out, although each day was really hard work, I was kind of looking for a little bit more. I know that sounds kind of strange, but it’s difficult to put into words,” he said.
In search of that bigger challenge, Beeden embarked on the Pacific crossing on June 1 from San Francisco, packing his little red vessel with food, a GPS, a satellite phone and a radio.
An avid runner, Beeden says he was used to testing his endurance. He often practiced rowing at his family cottage, but he says replicating the overwhelming feat of ocean rowing – which he did for 15 hours each day -- was difficult. He averaged three to four hours of sleep each night.
“It was way harder than I ever thought it would be. I absolutely found what I was looking for in this crossing, that’s for sure.”
As for mental preparation, he says there’s not much a person can do ahead of time.
“I think mentally you either have what it takes or you don’t. And if you don’t you shouldn’t be thinking about doing it,” he said.
Now back on land, Beeden says he plans to rest and reconnect with loved ones.
“I won’t be doing much for a while,” he said. “I’ve been away for seven months from my family, that’s probably the toughest part of the whole thing, really.”
Before Beeden, the closest a solo rower had come to completing the crossing was in 1983 when Peter Bird was rescued in waters just off the Great Barrier Reef after 294 days at sea.
With files from CTV’s Canada AM