The Pat Hines Journey Continues: Anchors A- Wait a Minute…

Pat is an endurance athlete who broke a world record in 2016 for the oldest woman (she’s 62) to complete the Great Pacific Race, a 2,400-mile trans-Pacific rowing competition from California to Hawaii. She and her crewmate were also the fastest pair to cross the Pacific by any two- or four-women team.

Dropping anchor is relatively easy, but hauling an anchor aboard ship is a dangerous maneuver. Pat had practiced both a thousand times. Yet, all of the training in the world couldn’t have prepared her for the perfect storm about to hit.

After securing the anchor and a few hours of sleep, Pat awoke in the dark to grim complications: 20-foot waves slapping against the side of her tiny vessel, wind, cold temps, rain, equipment failure, and a lost oar. Right now, she had to secure or “cleat” the retrieval line, hoist up the anchor, and row merrily along. But, she lost her grip of the retrieval line, forfeiting an easy lift. With no way to disengage it, the anchor was stuck, Hope was hanging on a string.

Race headquarters suggested she row to the line and grab it – impossible in the dark and by daylight, the rope would be gone. Option “B” was to cut it loose but that meant abandoning the anchor she’d need later. No go. The last and most dangerous choice was for Pat to go into the water, tie off the anchor with another line, manually free it, and haul it up to the boat. With time and options running out, Pat knew she had to dive in.

She grabbed an extra line and disappeared. She reached 30 feet but couldn’t tie off the line. Back to the surface for air and down into the abyss again. On her fifth attempt, the rope went taut and her leg was trapped between the line and the anchor. She struggled violently. Her lungs burned. A commendable swimmer, she could hold her breath for three minutes – far above the average for any adult – much less a 62 year old. But, even that was no match for the forces working against her. She cursed herself for getting into this situation. She thought she would drown. Somewhere, in that narrow space between the darkness closing in on her, Pat thought of her children and told herself: “Not today, Pat, not this way.”

In a Herculean moment led by mental clarity (one she credits to BioTE® Medical and hormone replacement pellet therapy) she struggled against the rope, exhaustion, and pain. She pried herself free from the underwater prison and took the anchor line with her. She saw the light above the water’s surface. She kept swimming. Gasping for breath, she broke the surface. She held up the rope up in victory and almost collapsed pulling herself into the boat. Physically weak but mentally strong, Pat stood up to finish the job.

The boat rocked violently and the rope burns on her hands served as reminders of the gravity of the situation. She fought with the sea for two more hours. With one final tug, she saw the glorious colors of the anchor breaking the surface. Pat and her crewmate broke down in tears and laughter.

She called race headquarters. They screamed in stunned jubilance. Through tears and gasps for breath, Pat managed two barely audible words: “Anchors aweigh.”

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