Roofer Pete aiming to be on top of the world by rowing across the Atlantic from Europe to South America
As Pete Beatty lay in a hospital bed battling a bad bout of Covid-19, there was one thing that kept him going – his dream to row across the Atlantic.
Pete, 58, of Heath Row, Bishop's Stortford, was hit hard by the virus in April last year, suffering from pneumonia, blood clots on his lungs and kidney malfunction.
He lay in bed at home for two weeks before being admitted to the Covid ward at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, where he spent a week.
During that time, his plan to row across the North Atlantic single-handedly was always in his mind – and when he got home, the fight to regain fitness began.
"When I got out of hospital, all I could do was walk to the bottom of my garden," said Pete. "The dream of rowing the Atlantic kept me going."
Starting in Portimao in Portugal and finishing in Cayenne, French Guiana, the 3,540-mile solo trip should take him 100 days.
Pete, a roofer by trade, is no stranger to extreme ventures, having tried to swim the English Channel five times from his 20s; he finally accomplished it when he was 45, in a time of 18 hours 11 minutes. After that, he embarked on a 1,600-mile walk across Europe from Calais to Gibraltar which took him 65 days.
His latest dream will not be cheap and he is looking for sponsors. But he aims to raise at least £100,000 for two charities close to his heart.
One is men's mental health support group Tough Enough To Care. "Over the last number of years I've known a relative or friend who has lost someone to suicide," said Pete. "I know that we're all walking a tightrope and it doesn't take much for someone to fall."
The other cause he plans to help is Prostate Cancer UK. "Last year they lost £56 million in charity money," said Pete.
The Atlantic venture was sparked at the age of 25 after reading the book A Fighting Chance by round-the-world yachtsmen Chay Blyth and John Ridgway, who together rowed across the North Atlantic in 1966.
As someone who is comfortable in his own company, the solitude does not bother Pete, and at the moment he has no worries about the trip – his immediate aim is to get back in training.
"I just wanted to get to a state when I was feeling healthy again," said Pete, who has enlisted the help of a rowing coach in Stortford to help him.
With the backing of his wife Myra and daughter Ella, 22, he will set off in December 2022 and, as he marks his 60th birthday in the middle of the trip in February 2023, he hopes to become the oldest solo male rower to make the crossing.