By Hillary Fleming and the crew of the James Robert Hanssen
When Patrick first called to tell me he’d been asked by his good friend Jordan to join the Africa-Americas rowing voyage I knew there was no way he would turn it down. Though he spent a few weeks mulling it over, he wasn’t fooling me. His biggest concern was missing out on his 5th season of Ski Patrol and the guarantee of fresh powder and the chance to throw dynamite across mountain tops.
Patrick is not a waterman. Even though he spent years’ worth of mornings on the Long Island and Puget sounds as a competitive rower he always remained more tied to the mountains. During prep for the trip he would call me and talk about his crash courses in ocean weather, marine charts and nautical tools. I don’t think he ever spent a night at sea before this trip! I knew he’d be a pro in no time, he guided whitewater rafting trips with no previous experience, guided backpacking trips, was on ski patrol at Crystal Mountain for four seasons.
I don’t know whether this trip will turn him into a salty dog looking for a live-aboard sailboat or make him run back to the mountains as fast as he can, but I know either way he’ll be glad he had the chance to be on the Oar Northwest team. And, as his protective older sister, I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys for him to be out there with. Sometimes I look at their location on the map, think, “they are literally a tiny dot in the middle of the ocean,” and then remember the great crew. Then, I’m just stoked to live vicariously through their adventure.