Behind the Scenes on our Pacific Row Documentary - 20 April 2012


Later in the year, Verve Productions’ film
Rowing the Pacific will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel. The documentary will follow Mick Dawson and Chris Martin on their epic voyage as they attempt to cross one of the most dangerous seas on the planet – the Pacific Ocean.

In this interview, Mick Dawson gives an insight into what they went through to achieve their dream.

What was your biggest challenge while rowing the Pacific?

The Pacific is such a dangerous ocean, you can’t just row the shortest course between two points, you have to plot a circuitous  route to try to avoid some of the worst conditions that this sea can throw at you. Nobody had ever plotted such a route before and we didn’t even know if it was possible.  

Were there any moments where you thought you might simply have to give up?

I never felt I might give up, although we did recognise there might come a point where we simply couldn't reach San Francisco.  Absolute belief in our ability to pull it off was the key to what we did and how we achieved it.


What was the high point?

We were just some 30 miles north of San Francisco in formidable sea and wind conditions with an ocean lit up with bio phosphorescence. The wind was pushing us away from San Francisco and it looked as if we weren’t going to make it. But then suddenly at the last minute the wind changed taking us in the right direction and I realised we were probably going to pull it off.  


Low point?

When we set off on our trip I knew my father was ill with cancer, but somehow I always thought he’d be there when I returned. So when I discovered in a satellite phone call home two months into the trip that my father had died, I was utterly devastated. It is difficult to imagine a worse place to receive such news and I really didn’t know at the time if I was capable of carrying on. But then I realised that in the middle of the Pacific Ocean I didn’t have much choice.

Were there any moments of light relief during the adventure?

Many, in fact I would say a sense of humour  was a key factor of our relationship. Chris's draughts skills were of particular comedic value for me. 57 games to 9 I believe at the last count. I think one of the things that makes our trip so unusual is that the fact that despite the huge pressures we were under Chris and I remained friends throughout and didn’t fall out.


What did you learn from the experience? And how has it changed you?

For ten years I had dreamed and planned of rowing the Pacific. Before this trip I had already tried and failed to cross the ocean twice. There's no escaping the fact that delivering on such an undertaking gives you an enormous amount of self confidence and belief in your own abilities, tempered I have to say with a huge amount of humility after spending that much time at sea on an incredibly formidable ocean. 


How did you feel at the end of it all, when you reached San Francisco or on reflection?

Sorry my dad wasn’t there to see it, a slight sense of loss (more on reflection than at the time) that it was over. But over all.... proud and thinking what next?

Do you think everyone could benefit from such a challenge? And what advice what you give them?

I think everyone benefits from challenging themselves but the key is finding the challenge that suits you. You have to have a passion to fulfil your challenge or it will be worthless if you do succeed and far less likely that you'll achieve it in the first place. If thinking about a project gets you excited and desperate to get on with it, you're probably on to a good thing. For me that was rowing boats across oceans, but for someone else it might mean learning to play the guitar. It doesn't have to be an extreme challenge to have an extreme value.




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