The quest to become the youngest person to row across the Pacific Ocean in a wooden boat has ended after Brisbane-based explorer Tom Robinson was rescued by a P&O Cruiseliner 185km from Vanuatu.
As reported by Wood Central in April, Mr Robinson’s quest was to cover 8,000 nautical miles, or 14,800 km, from Peru to Australia.
Tamu Tapaitau, a spokesperson from Mr Robinson’s onshore team, said the 24-year-old’s distress beacon was activated Thursday night after the boat capsized in the final leg of the 12-month voyage.
The beacon alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, who contacted local authorities close to Mr Robinson’s position in the Pacific.
New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre coordinated the rescue while the French navy aircraft provided aerial search assistance.
“In the dark, the plane spotted Tom, who was standing on the upside-down hull of Maiwar,” Mr Tapaitau said on social media.
P&O’s Pacific Explorer then made a 200-kilometre detour on its planned course to pick Mr Robinson up. He was brought aboard just before 7am yesterday and was treated for sunburn and dehydration but was otherwise in good health.
“I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all the crew on P&O Pacific Explorer whose seamanship and professionalism ensured a safe rescue,” Mr Robinson said.
“Once aboard, I was treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness by the medical staff.”
Mr Robinson had recently departed from Vanuatu on the final leg of his journey across the Pacific – and has blogged extensively about his trip through his official website.
Leaving Peru in July 2022, Mr Robetson has confronted many experiences at sea.
Amongst close encounters include navigating through one the world’s largest squid fishing fleets, an Ecuadorian tuna vessel offering Tom potato chips, cigarettes, and Powerade (Muchas Gracias), rare contact with a Chilian cargo ship destined for China after 64 days in isolation and too many unwelcome flying fish on deck.
A blog post on Robinson’s website said he was spotted by a French plane in the dark that took off from Noumea to find him about 100 nautical miles from Luganville.
In July 2021, Wood Central’s Senior Editor Jim Bowden covered Tom’s ‘greatest adventure’, which consists of separate legs to re-supply and experience the cultures and biodiversity of some of the world’s most isolated and beautiful islands.
His boat, the Mairwar, is the 24-foot all-timber rowing boat designed and built by Mr Robinson. Maiwar, smaller than other ocean boats, gives less resistance when hit by a large wave, significantly reducing the risk of snapping an oar.
Tom, who has spoken extensively about the build, which included marine plywood supplied by Brisbane manufacturer Austal Plywood, said the boat was built using the ‘clinker’ method of construction, with epoxy glue used to fasten the planks.
More than a year ago, Tom began his journey across the Pacific in Peru, South America and after a few detours, was aiming to make landfall in Queensland by Christmas.
The cruise ship is now on its way to Auckland and will arrive in two to three days. From there, Mr Robinson will fly home to Brisbane.
“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our crew, led by Captain Alan Nixon, for their efforts to rescue a fellow mariner in distress once again, as well as our guests onboard for their understanding,” a P&O Cruises Australia spokesperson said.