2012 Pacific Ocean

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In May 2012 double Guinness World Record holder Charlie Martell started to row solo and unsupported for 6,000 miles across the North Pacific from Japan to the USA to raise funds for two charities, and to set a new Guinness World Record for the first and fastest solo Briton.

Leaving Japan

Charlie first launched the idea for Pacific 2012 after an inspiring meeting with a charity he has been involved with for many years. Give Them A Sporting Chance enables those with disabilities – of all ages – to complete their sporting ambitions. Martell is also a core crew member of another charity, Toe in the Water, which offers competitive sailing for servicemen and women who have often suffered traumatic injuries. Bringing these two charities together was Charlie’s mission and he was the powerhouse behind the Pacific 2012 challenge – aiming to raise much needed funds for both organisations.

“My goal was to set a new world record for the fastest solo ocean-row crossing the Pacific Ocean in May 2012. I knew the journey across this “Everest of The Oceans” could take me more than six months to complete, but to take the world record I would have to do it in just four months whilst battling through the typhoon season, the Pacific Ring of Fire and dodging migrating whales!

“Two (French) ocean rowers have completed a solo row on this treacherous west-to-east crossing, but neither has made the crossing unsupported, land-to-land. I intended to become the first person to make that crossing alone and unsupported – I took all my food and provisions with me, and would take nothing else on board after I departed Japan.”

You can see the original website for the Pacific 2012 campaign here.

The outcome

I had about five days notice that Typhoon Mawar was tracking towards me, from the South West heading North East. I carried on rowing for a few days noticing the conditions getting gradually worse. I’m a normal guy who has fears like anyone else, but ignorance is bliss. I had no idea what a typhoon would be like on the ocean, but I did know it would not be an easy ride. I thought Blossom and I would survive the typhoon unscathed, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

We survived for a while, the first few capsizes were ‘ok’. The first capsize was over so quickly it was almost a disappointment. As the conditions worsened, and night time came, it became difficult to sleep. It seemed that every time I closed my eyes, we (Blossom and I) got smashed by the huge waves, whipped up by the howling wind.

The pitch-pole capsize caused some damage to both Blossom and myself and it was after this that life onboard became rather more unpleasant. Every capsize, water was coming in to my cabin, my safe haven, my home on the high seas had been breached. The water was cold and as you would expect, it got everywhere. From activating my emergency beacon (EPIRB), the Japan coastguard estimated it would be 41 hours until I would be picked up (I was in fact picked up by a passing ship (MV Last Tycoon) 37 hours after emergency beacon activation).

Aboard MV Last Tycoon

Those 37 hours were, without a doubt, the longest hours of my life.

One of the first thoughts I had was wishing I had an identical boat on standby in Japan, so I could start my challenge again. But I didn’t have that spare boat.

However, Blossom has now been repaired and we will venture out together in due course.

What if we experience bad weather again? I’m certain it will happen, but I hope it’s not of typhoon strength. If Blossom and I were to find ourselves in a typhoon again, I’m confident we would not only survive again, but would come out of it relatively unscathed and able to continue on our journey.

When I row Blossom away from Japan in 2016, it’s my intention that she returns home under human power. Firstly. I shall row her to the North American western seaboard. The next phase of the journey will be to take her to New York, overland (under human power), before rowing home…