Locals Safely Home After 51 days at Sea

March 2, 2023

Calling themselves Team Guardian, three men from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge to fund their non-profit organization, called Guardian Initiatives, dedicated to raising awareness and support for mental health for first responders in the Four Corners. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Boon’s Family Thai BBQ and Ace Hardware in Farmington

Learn More...

Team Guardian - https://guardianinitiatives.org/

Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge - https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlaticchallenge.com

San Juan County Sheriff’s Office - https://www.sjcounty.net/government/sheriff-s-office

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51 days, 17 hours and 18 minutes. That's the amount of time it took Team Guardian drove 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from a starting point in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. The exhausting, life-changing challenge was carried out to bring awareness and support to the mental health of first responders in the Four Corners area. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Boone's Family Thai Barbecue and Ace Hardware in Farmington. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. Competing in an event dubbed The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. A captain, a lieutenant, and a retired sergeant from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office used their own personal vacation time to row 24 hours a day for nearly two months. Their boss, sheriff Shane Ferrari when first informed about the team's idea for fundraising initially thought the idea was a little over the top, as he shared at a welcome home party on February 16th.

I did, you know, when they first came to me it was Mark that came to me and he was really discussing that this adventure that they wanted to go on and rowing across the ocean and to even comprehend somebody rowing across the ocean. Initially, as I was shocked, and I never knew about this type of race and never knew that people still do that. I mean, when you think about rowing across the ocean I think you think of the Vikings. So when they first came to me, I thought it was going to definitely be a challenge especially from three guys from the desert. So, you know, as they started talking on , they started on this journey, I started getting excited for them. But obviously I knew the physical and mental challenges that were going to come with it.

Lurching against the waves and the 28 foot craft. Each man worked two hour shifts at the oars punctuated by one hour rest periods and work duties. For Captain Mark Pfezter the most fearsome part of their journey was the initial launch into the vast depths of the unknown, while coping with 30 foot swells. Instead of wondering what could go wrong he focused on the immediate tasks at hand.

We've got very specific things to do. Of course, rowing being number one to get home, but in you know, to be able to survive rowing, you know, it's taking care of yourself and then also taking care of our team, you know, the team each other. There's things to do on the boat keeping the boat clean, you know, making water. We had to, you know, filter sea water every day.

The boat had two small cabins for sleeping and storage of electronic equipment with access to a satellite phone and the internet. The trio were able to have regular phone calls, texts and emails with their loved ones. But with the around the clock routine and the sameness of their surroundings, the trip became monotonous.

First on the physical side of things, you know your body's far more capable than what your mind's going to let you believe. And so knowing that, knowing that and going into anything that you do in life you can get through, your body can get through a lot.

At first, retired Sergeant Mike Hogue didn't want to go on the trip, but circumstances changed his mind.

When Mark approached me with the idea, I told him, yeah, no, I'm, there's, yeah, that's not something I could even begin to, I can't swim. But I went home and a month later I was doing the funeral for my son-in-law's dad and sister within two weeks of each other from committing suicide. And I recontacted Mark and said, "Hey, look I really believe this is something I need to get involved in, need to get behind." And that was my motivation to get involved. But the more I looked at the cause, the first responder in knowing I've lost friends to because of the struggle with mental health and it is real.

The primary emotion shared by the team is humility after being inspired by the row itself the energy of it all, the size of the ocean and the support of sponsors, friends and family. Find more information at farmingtonlocal.news Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network, I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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