Mark Fuhrmann has now been paddling, alone (and usually cold and hungry), for over six months, averaging around 1000km a month in an effort to raise much needed funds for Doctors Without Borders and Captains Without Borders.
This means the intrepid 65-year-old is over halfway through the first ever attempt to complete the 10,500km ‘Greater Loop’ circuit, currently zeroing in on Tampa, Florida… and a much-needed shower.
Fuhrmann, a Norway-based Canadian, set off from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 2 June. He has since paddled across the Great Lakes, down the Illinois, the Mississippi, the Tennessee and Tombigbee Rivers and is now in the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is his next stop.
The bright lights of the big city signal a chance for the retired adventurer to put his paddle up and take a rest, before crossing Florida and heading back into the Atlantic. If everything goes according to plan, he aims to be back in Halifax one year after his departure date.
“Man, I’m looking forward to a hot shower, a good meal and maybe sleeping in a bed for once,” Fuhrmann comments, after months of sleeping in his trusty one-man tent. “I’ve been lucky in that I’ve met people who’ve really bought into my mission – the need to focus on the positive, on a brighter future – and given me whatever hospitality they can offer. But for the huge majority of the time I’ve been in my tent, which has been soaking wet recently, and making do with whatever food and supplies are available.
“The uncertainty of each day, of where I’m going to stay and what I’m going to eat, is, if I’m being honest, taking a bit of a toll. However, the sense of achievement, my belief in this mission, and the reception I’m receiving along the way, is definitely making the challenges and discomfort worthwhile.”
He laughs: “I feel like I’m kind of halfway between heaven and hell… but definitely heading in the right direction!”
Fuhrmann has taken on the challenge in an effort to raise EURO 100,000 for his chosen charities, while spreading a message of positivity enroute. It’s something, he says, people seem to appreciate:
“There’s so much focus on the negative at present; on conflict, polarized opinions and the increasing isolation felt by individuals. This is my way, my little contribution, to reversing that. To reminding people that we can act, individually and together, to change the narrative and encourage charity, community and caring.
“Some may say I’m being naïve. I say I believe in hope, humanity and helping one another… and I’m prepared to go a long way to prove that point!”
You can donate to the cause, follow Mark’s progress, and see if he got that shower, at his website http://www.mark-ervin.com.
Fuhrmann chose the Reverse the Bad charities as his late wife was a doctor, while the company he ran before retirement – Blue-C – is a specialist maritime PR and communications firm. Captains Without Borders focuses on providing education scholarships and assistance to females from disadvantaged backgrounds looking to forge careers at sea.