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James Bowthorpe returns from his Hudson adventure with TUDOR’s help

January 13, 2016

News | by Lewis Firth

Photo by Antony Crook.
Photograph by Antony Crook

James Bowthorpe has returned from his adventure at Lake Tear of the Clouds in New York. Build a boat from scrap found in New York City’s waste and travel in it through a 300-mile, mid-winter, pre-mapped course: that was the goal.

Rivers are the lifeblood of every city (think: Thames, Seine and Hudson), which was the notion that sparked the project to highlight and re-forge links between man-made human hubs and their surrounding, life-giving environments.


TUDOR’s North Flag watch.

Bowthorpe was supported by TUDOR’s North Flag watch (inspired by the 1952 North Greenland Expedition), which was crafted to withstand the most extreme permutations of weather. A tool of supreme, technical craft, North Flag was the obvious choice for Bowthorpe, enabling him to keep track of the time with prime accuracy due to the watch’s COSC-certified chronometer and silicon balance-spring.

Now he’s back, rested, and ruminating about his time on the Hudson, Bowthorpe gave us a little bit of insight into what drives him to pursue such feats of adventurous glory.

What do you look for in an adventure? 

I try and come up with something that is both a challenging physical engagement with the world that also has a purpose that interests me or that I believe in. When I cycled from Alaska to Los Angeles in 1998, I was interviewing people in National Parks about what they thought “wilderness” meant. I think that without that “interest” part I wouldn’t have left home, because if I just wanted a physical challenge I could go to the gym or run a marathon.

What are the ingredients of a good time for you? 

I like going to the cinema; a sense of temporarily departing from my self (if that makes sense): imagine you are climbing a mountain, or going down a previously unknown path, or descending rapids in a boat made of scrap materials.

What is it about removing yourself from everyday life that is so compelling to you? 

You don’t have time to think about your daily worries, you get a break from yourself. I think you get the same thing watching a good film, or doing any number of things, but making your own story is better if you get the chance.

What’s first into the backpack when you’re heading out into the wild?

I like to pack what I think I need and then take some things away. Its good to not have too much stuff, especially as we are surrounded by it on a daily basis. Electronics need chargers, your clothes can be washed and the “just in case” items just add weight. To answer your question: safety is paramount and I pack things that will keep me warm, dry and fed – Boy Scout-type of stuff.

You can also see one of TUDOR’s Black Bay watches in Candid Magazine’s Issue 12 (out now).