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Solo Kayaker Reaches New York, Preps for Last Leg of The Greater Loop

Reverse the Bad
Mark Ervin Fuhrmann arriving in New York

Published Jun 4, 2023 9:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the past year, 65-year-old Mark Ervin Fuhrmann (father of three, grandfather of two) has paddled over 9,500km (ca. 5600) miles to raise money for Doctors Without Borders and Captains Without Borders. The route, known as “the Greater Loop”, began in Nova Scotia, continued west through the St. Lawrence Seaway, then down the Great Lakes, though the Southern states, across Florida and up the Intercoastal Waterway, all the way to New York City and beyond. The route has never been attempted by a solo kayaker.

The approach to New York Harbor took Fuhrmann through congested waters right past the Statue of Liberty, erected in 1876 to welcome immigrants to the New World. “I was reminded of the now-famous poem by Emma Lazarus which reads in part, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ “ he says. “Believe me, after a year of being homeless and tempest-tossed myself, I was ready to take a little break and enjoy the city for a couple of days!”

Fuhrmann, a native Canadian who relocated to Oslo, Norway, in the 1990s, set out on his 10,500km “Reverse the Bad” charity trek from Halifax, Nova Scotia in June, 2022. In addition to the physical challenge of kayaking the Greater Loop, Fuhrmann’s goal was to collect stories about people who had “reversed the bad” into something good. “I can hardly believe I have been at this for almost a year, but it’s been a fantastic journey,” he says. “In addition to helping to raise money for charities, I set out to find people who make a difference and trust me, I never had to look far: I wouldn’t have made it here without the help of a lot of people I met along the way.”

When asked his impressions of his journey so far, Fuhrmann says he has the two big takeaways. “First I have been humbled by the generosity of strangers; Everywhere I go, I meet people who have taken me in, fed me and helped me along the way,” he says. “I have also been in awe of the force and beauty of nature: Sometimes, the breeze is at my back and I’m paddling through serene waters, and other times, I am paddling furiously against the tide to get to the safety of shore before a storm breaks.”

Fuhrmann is enroute to Boston, where he will take a break to see his son before completing his journey in August. “It been a fantastic journey so far but I still have a lot of paddling to do,” he says. “Whenever I feel like I can’t go another mile, I remind myself that I am not alone -- I know I can count on the kindness of people I will meet along the way.”

Fuhrmann chose to support Doctors Without Borders in memory of his late wife (a doctor), while the company he ran before retirement - Blue-C – is a specialist maritime PR and communications firm. Captains Without Borders focuses on providing education scholarships and assistance to females from disadvantaged backgrounds looking to forge careers at sea.

To check Mark’s progress, donate, and see the latest videos from his trip, please see www.mark-ervin.com.

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