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.
The next morning we finished vacuum packing the food into daily rations and begun organising the vast amount of kit into some sort of order. Believe me when I say that to imagine the amount of kit we have to take for an ocean crossing is impossible, I am still staggered by some of the items that we must carry, some of which seem trivial and useless but of course must be taken to adhere by the race rules. One of these items being a 6kg anchor and 15kg chain! Why? So that if we get pushed past Antigua (already impossible to think that far ahead), we have a way of saving our boat and our-selves from the shallow reefs of Guadalupe.
To list some of the kit;
- 90 days of food each at around 5000 cals a day.
- Numerous spanners, nuts, washers and bolts (a huge number of spares generally)
- Waterproof handheld vhf and GPS bags, waterproof headphones and spares.
- Hammer, axe and hand drill.
- Electronic E charts and handheld laminated charts
- 15ks of baby wipes (1 each per 24hrs)
- A further 10kgs of antibiotics and various elephant strength pain killers for back and butt pain especially.
- Jet boil and spare plus 60 litres or so of gas. Thermoses and cutlery.
- Reflective tape, water resistant tape and gorilla duct tape.
- 100’s of metres worth of rigging rope and tow lines.
- Anchor and chain
- Para-anchor assembly
And the list goes on and on…
When it came to packing the boat, just imagining that all our kit plus 150 kg of ballast water would fit on was a tall order, however, thanks to the many hatches and stow ways, everything found a place. Our boat is very stern heavy meaning we have had to put as much of the ballast water at the bow as possible in order to level her out and ensure we make the most of the big waves when it comes to surfing them.
I genuinely don’t think the magnitude of the operation at hand will ever be realised until we finish the race, though it is the amount of work that the racers (and race organisers) have to go through that I’m sure will help spur us on when the going gets tough.