Adventurous reverend leaves rest of us at sea

April 15, 1998

Tim Rowland

It looks as if that old saw of mine: "I'll give $1,000 to the Starving Children's Fund - when someone crosses the Atlantic Ocean on a Jet Ski, ha ha" may be up for a little revision.

That's because the Rev. Mike Pearson, a world religion teacher at Highland View Academy, is planning to do just that in the summer of 1999. Just had to one-up St. Peter, I suppose.

But given the choice of walking on the Mediterranean and crossing the Atlantic on a personal water craft, well, I believe I'd be ordering up some custom-made foot pontoons.


The plan calls for the 44-year-old Pearson to travel 6,000 miles in 24 days. He'll be escorted by a yacht manned by his students, who will be responsible for refueling, hauling their teacher out of the drink for an occasional nap, discouraging the sharks and such.

Instantly I am annoyed. How come my teachers never did anything like this? I want a refund. Their idea of a big adventure was hauling us to the John Brown wax museum in Harpers Ferry. Of course my teachers would argue that, weighing three weeks in the shark-infested ocean on one hand, and 45 minutes on a school bus with the Class of '78 on the other, there is no clear-cut winner in terms of risk.

But immediately you know two things about a teacher who would dare cross an ocean on a boat the size of a small cow:

1. He is courageous and confident, a strong-willed individualist who will hazard any peril in the name of a worthy cause, a man who will put his personal comfort second to the triumphs of adventure and the education of his students.

2. He is not married.

I don't know this for a fact, but isn't that part of the job description of a wife? To love and to cherish, to have and to hold and to keep him from performing any act which would be judged by reasonable people to be certifiably insane.

Like those disc jockeys who vow to sit atop a flagpole until the home team wins a game. They aren't married either.

Pearson justifies the trip, saying "It's been an ambition of mine to cross the ocean since eighth grade."

Two words for the Reverend: British Airways.

At least that's the way I would do it, but I always take the easy way out. I've been on a Jet Ski, and they're pretty interesting for the first half hour. But on an ocean crossing, what you'd do for the next 1,151 half-hours is beyond me. It's not like you can play the license plate game.

And of course it's the kids whom Pearson hopes will benefit from the excursion. With enough sponsors, he'll be able to pay for a new gym, tennis courts and dormitory for the school.

I never thought any good could come out of a Jet Ski, but here is the example that proves me wrong. As a matter of fact, this could be a good example for other Jet Skiers. If Pearson could convince those folks who spend the summer mindlessly buzzing the Potomac like scalded locusts to go along with him, it would be a true service for humanity and a project that I would enthusiastically and financially endorse.

As it is, I would happily offer the group my services as a publicist, writing the occasional press release, sealing it in a bottle and flicking it from the deck of the yacht in between lemonades. And I'd watch for icebergs. Anything I can do to help the kids, you know.

Besides, I'd like to be a part of history. Because as I see it, this may be the first extended trip on record where the elder is hollering to the kids "are we there yet?"

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