BACK in August 1977 an intrepid couple dropped anchor in Hartlepool after an epic sea journey, taking 13 months, from Australia. ANDREW LEVETT looks back at the incident-packed voyage of Mike and Pam Fowler
IT was an “uneventful” 22,000 miles from Darwin, Australia, to Hartlepool, Mike Fowler told the Mail.
But when pressed the 37-year-old did admit to rescuing a shipwrecked mariner, nudging a reef, sailing uncharted seas and encountering islands and cultures unknown to the outside world.
“To many the thought of leaving behind kith and kin even for a short motoring holiday is enough to cause considerable worry,” wrote the Mail.
“But to Mike and Pam a circumnavigation of the globe holds less dread than going to the pictures.”
Mike, originally from Middlesbrough, explained: “I can’t imagine a life with a house and car and a steady nine to five job.
“I have loved the sea and boats since I was a kid and it is the only life for me.”
Fortunately wife Pam felt the same way and in their first five years of marriage the couple never lived in a house.
Australian Pam said: “I grew up in the surf and could swim and dive before I could walk.”
It was in the Torres Straits that the couple rescued an American sailor.
“He had been single handing but had fallen asleep at the wrong time and hit a reef,” Mike told the Mail.
“He drifted for a few days in a dinghy until he came across a game reserve with a ranger who radioed for assistance.
“We picked him up and took him back home to the Virgin Islands – it wasn’t much out of our way.”
The couple were planning to spend some time with Mike’s parents in Linthorpe before setting sail for Australia in their 38ft sloop, which boat-builder Mike constructed himself.
He added: “When we get back to Australia I’ll probably start building a bigger and better boat and do the crossing again.”
Did Mike and Pam carry on cruising?
Do you remember the couple?
Contact Andrew Levett by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.