Special thank you to our First Sea Lords WeSEE.com today for their wonderful sponsorship of our row.
Words can’t really describe the first 24 hours, we wanted to be out front for that great helicopter shot at the start, and our youthful exuberance, and gun ho attitude meant we went flat out. Jamie said at one point ‘its a sprint not a marathon!’However as the night came we were absolutely exhausted, I got off the oars cramping in every part of my body; back, arms thighs; places it would never usually get me. I can’t even remember what schedule we were doing. Our cabin quickly became a mess as we tried to adjust to our routines, I was trying hopelessly to find the right ointment to put on my bum which was agony already; I had ruined it by sitting in sweat for too long on the wrong kind of seat.
I have never seen rain like that which is falling here in La Gomera. The true definition of torrential still falls miserably short. To pass time, the ocean rowers occasionally hang out at the Blue Marlin, a bar run by an incredibly well known and energetic man they call Monolo. Monolo enjoys testing us either with push up contests or every now and again, a good old arm-wrestle. For years I’ve rated myself at this usually drunk pastime and so Monolo had met his match. He could clearly tell from my firm grasp that it was game over for the ripped 60 year old before it had started and so, after 10 mins of complaining about this and that, he refused.
8 days to go now before departure and some teams are starting to feel the pinch as time is quickly running out. luckily however, our boat is in good order with only a few issues to get sorted before we’ll be 100% ready.
Yesterday, Luke and I went for our first outing out on the ocean. The conditions were calm and the heat was blistering. This gave us our first real taste of what is to come, as trying to sleep in a cabin with both hatches shut can be somewhat unbearable as temperatures surpass 40 degrees. Oh the joys of ocean rowing are fast becoming apparent!
Its great to be here in La Gomera. The last few days have been very tiring for me – last Wednesday I had to pull an all-nighter trying to complete an essay for university. My last day in Scotland was extremely busy and left me pretty exhausted by the time my mother came to drive me away. In the car, as soon as we got out of Edinburgh, I think I felt the real weight of the challenge I am about to undertake. There was suddenly nothing to focus on except the row. I had left my friends and comfortable living arrangement to spend 2 months on a tiny boat. I felt worried that we didn’t have all the kit we needed, that my iPod did not have enough music, a pile up of small things that I knew were slightly out of my control now I was leaving the UK.
I got home, sat in my room for a bit and said goodbye to my family. I think in some ways it is harder for them than it is for me, because they don’t know what’s going on, and the whole thing is quite frightening superficially. I got to Jamie’s late that night and had a couple of hours sleep. Its always disconcerting how rubbish I feel when I have consistently under slept; as I know I will feel way more tired than I have ever felt all the time, once the row starts.
However I also experienced how tiredness can be trumped by excitement and will to succeed; at each small milestone I can feel the anticipation building inside me. Once we had left our families it became more real, and tomorrow when we get our boat on the water after scrutineering it will sink in a bit further.
The remarkable turnout on Tuesday night’s fundraiser/farewell party at the RAC was overwhelming to say the least. 300 plus people including a mixture of Sponsors, family and friends braved the London traffic to come and support us and our charity Breast Cancer Care, just 14 days before our departure. The encouragement we received with kind words from so many and with such generous donations to the charity are overwhelming and very much appreciated.
The vast majority of our fantastic London sponsors attended the evening and it was great to talk with as many of them as possible. We are so thankful and lucky to have such a diverse successful group of companies backing us every single one of those 3000 miles. It’s obvious, but we would not be at this stage, about to embark on this adventure of a lifetime without the backing of these companies. So thank you once again.
I have no doubt that when Luke and I inevitably start finding life extremely tough, it will be with the words of the lovely people that we have spoken to along our journey that will lift us out of the pits and spur us on.
2 Boys with Rory Mackenzie who rowed the Atlantic with one leg in 2011 and spoke at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics
Well, we said goodbye to our darling boat Maple Leaf (aka Tracey) almost 2 weeks ago now which means she will be on a container ship heading south to the Canaries where we will greet her in just 3 and a half weeks time! Putting all the last bits of equipment into her hatches and stowaways really made me appreciate how little space there is on a 24ft rowing boat when you we have to take everything we’ll need to survive for 90 days on the ocean completely unsupported.
When we arrive in Gomera, one of the jobs which Luke and I will have to do is attach on the stickers of the newest recruits to the fleet – our most recent sponsors – Sealords: – Sidley Austin and Buzzacott, and Admirals: Aquila, Advent, Arnold House School and Rees Pollock. Our costs are nearly completely covered now and we are both delighted to be involved with these companies.
Having completed our 24hr row and cleaned the boat down, it was time to transport her to Lincolnshire for final packing before her shipping to La Gomera on the 14th October.
To tow a 1 tonne, highly fragile and expensive rowing boat on English roads for 3 hours is risky business, but Claire Birch did a brilliant job. However, Luke and I still found ourselves checking over our shoulders every few minutes to make sure our dream hadn’t been smashed off the back by a truck. It was one of the few times I have felt very vulnerable, simply because there are very few ocean rowing boats in the world and even fewer that could possibly be fitted out for rowing in less than 8 weeks. However, we safely and thankfully reached Doddington all in one piece.
We have been pretty flat out for the last few weeks, but we are almost there with logistical preparation! I have to go back to university today, and then I will be leaving again on the 18th of November, so there are really only 8 weeks left, it will fly by!
Jamie and I have done our first 24 hour row, which was a great experience. We started at about 16:00 last weekend, and rowed down the river crouch with a following wind whilst the tide was also going out. The conditions were favourable and it was a good opportunity to get the jet boil out for the first time and practice eating rations on the deck. I had one spill with a porridge meal, and learnt how difficult it can be to make food if there is a lot of stuff moving around. Its going to be tricky!
Spending a day with the fastest solo Atlantic rower Charlie pitcher is not something that many people get to experience. Having spent the previous night on the boat we were well rested for what was going to be a long day on the oars. It will be the last night we spend on there without our new mattress which will be welcomed by our back and bums.
Well, it’s been a while since our last written update but this is simply due to the fact that we have been so busy! It’s just 3 months and 19 days away until our departure to La Gomera, the Canary islands, and our start line before the 3000 nautical mile journey to our destination, English Harbour in Antigua, the Caribbean.