Former marine who rowed across the Atlantic tells how Boston childhood helped inspire him

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography
Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

A former Royal Marine who completed a gruelling 2,400 mile row across the Pacific over a gruelling 82 days has spoken of his ‘great’ childhood in Boston.

Mick Dawson told the Boston Standard that he hoped the achievement of his companion on the row – another former Royal Marine Steve Sparkes who is the first blind person to do it – will be an inspiration to others.

Mick Dawson

Mick Dawson

Steve and Mick started in Monterey, California, on June 7 and completed the row in Hawaii last week.

During this time they faced extreme weather which has delayed their progress, and they came face to face with the wrath of Category 5 Hurricane Lane just miles from the finish line.

After a weekend of reflection and rest, Mick spoke to the Standard this week of the close links he retained with Boston, where he grew up.

“I spent my formative years there until joining the Marines at 16 in 1980,” he said. His family still live in the town - his mum and brother run the Cowbridge House Inn near the golf club.

Steve Sparkes Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Steve Sparkes Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

"I still have many close friends in Boston which despite my life and work taking me away will always be home and a place I return to visit if not live.

"My book 'Rowing The Pacific' outlines what a great childhood I had growing up in Boston and how it influenced me in later life pursuing a maritime career."

Looking back on what he and Steve did, Mick is incredibly proud and hopes Steve will be an inspiration to anyone with disabilities.

“I knew there was a very real possibility we could achieve something valuable by successfully completing this row, both in terms of the wider message to people looking in who might be dealing with their own disabilities and of course for Sparky himself,” he said.

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

"Seeing the response to our efforts and people’s reaction once we hit dry land has only confirmed this in fact the response if way greater than I could have ever imagined.

“Sparky has sent a hugely powerful message to people that they are not limited by their disabilities they just have to find different ways to achieve their goals.

“I'm enormously proud to be a part of a project that has such a powerful message which hopefully will be a positive in many people’s lives in the future."

When asked about his next challenge, Mick laughs, and says he was already planning it during the row.

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

"Principally I'd like to keep creating projects and expeditions to help recovering veterans. I'm not sure if I need to be actually taking part in them all the time but in terms of helping veterans readjust it works so I'd like to build on what we've already achieved.

"There is one expedition I'd very much like to undertake, not specifically a rowing one, but obviously maritime based, but until I can fully research it's viability I'll keep that under my hat."

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Mick on the oars. Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Mick on the oars. Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography

Rowing the Pacific Picture: Ellen Hoke Photography