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.
It’s amazing to be here but entirely surreal at the same time. On the ferry journey Jamie and I didn’t say much to each other, we just stared out into the horizon at the sea. Our lives are about to change so radically for a couple of months, and the sea will take on completely different meanings to us. I’ve always loved being in the water, but remember being worried about losing sight of land when I was younger. I actually have never done it on my own (apart from on a ferry), neither has Jamie. You have to start somewhere though! Many who have rowed oceans before have had less experience than us and been physically in worse condition, which permits us to believe we have every chance of joining this club of only 600 odd people.
There are some inspirational characters out here, including a ‘Row 2-Recovery’ team comprising of servicemen who have lost limbs. We have been squabbling about what we want our precious bottoms to sit on, as we would like most of them to be there when we arrive in Antigua, yet when you put yourself in the shoes of those missing limbs, a new and humbling perspective is gained.
Its great to be in the heat, to be around fellow rowers, and to be so close to getting a crack at a dream that has been in my head all day every day for a year an a half!