Voyagers from down under drop anchor

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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 or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.