What a manic last month it has been since the 24 hour row. Now with just two days until I fly out to Gomera, I finally have the time to sit down (for about 20 minutes) and go through all that has been happening. It’s funny I’ve been working on this project for a long time and with ‘the process’ of getting to the start line coming to an end it all feels a bit weird, the last couple days I have started to wonder what I am going to do with myself once I am back…I am then quickly reminded that a job is the normal and necessary requirement once I finish to get those loans paid off!!
On the back of the success of the dinner it has thus been full ahead with acquiring all the equipment I need for the row. It is an extensive list and I promise that once in Gomera I will sit down and get it all on the website, meaning you can see exactly what I have (and don’t have!) on board, gives you an idea of weight, safety and luxuries that I will be living on. So over the past 4 weeks I have been all over the South coast picking up all the bits I need, from a life raft and rockets (Dad was very keen to let one off on Bonfire night) to sheepskin and all the arrangements for my seat. I never thought I would become such an expert in foam, but it seems I know more than anyone should about the different types, strengths, capabilities and characters of what is out there. Let’s see if it ends up working out!
A hugely generous Sue Bonham has also made my sheepskin covers for the rowing seat which is really kind of her. Sue has worked in the textile industry for years and so knows a thing or two about sheepskin as well as fitting it to foam I am using. I’m picking up the covers this afternoon and sure they will be more than up to the job of crossing the Atlantic (I tried not to put too much pressure on but a pivotal job as you can imagine!)
A lot of kit I have been able to get online as well which is massively useful, and also great fun receiving all these packages in the post…never too old for presents! The internet is good for getting cheaper prices on stock such as energy bars etc and also great for fining the more unusual items, shark repellent being an obvious one. (NATO approved…hmm) but makes everyone at home happy that I have something to chuck in the water and make my quick exit.
KED, the boat, is also finally on her way down to the start and right now should be on a ferry in the channel. We were down to Totnes on Monday (Woodvale HQ) to load her up with everything after she spend about 2 weeks with Jamie up in North Devon having some works done. I was really fortunate that Jamie and Emily, who built KED, were a week ahead on a project which gave the time to get the boat in to attach some carbon safety rails (the look awesome, will get a photo across from Gomera) and sort out some other bits and pieces. We dropped KED down end of October and I was able to stay with them for a few days to help where I could and do other things I just hadn’t found the time to do. (it was also great to be in a workshop working on the boat not in Sussex Yacht club boat yard where is seems to rain 9/10ths of the time I was there!) But it was amazing to watch Jamie work, he is a true craftsman and perfectionist and builds some incredible boats. I was told that in the last race KED was known as ‘the princess’ for the way she looked, hopefully I can emulate something similar! A huge thank you to them for all there help and support, two lovely people.
There have also been some exciting developments on the race side of things. Talisker Whiskey have come on board as lead race sponsors, the first time in the history of the race that this has happened. Therefore this race and the 2013 Atlantic race is now known as the ‘Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge’ and no longer the Woodvale Challenge (my website will be changed shortly!). Talisker put on a race launch last week in St Katherine’s dock next to Tower Bridge last week which was good fun, met some teams I hadn’t met before, caught up with others and got a free bottle of Talisker out of it, a great day all in all! It is really exciting for everyone involved, I think Talisker will bring a lot to the table on the media side and start promoting the race to a wider circle of the general public. Also talk of GoPro’s on each boat supplied by them…winning!
Also last week Rob Burrows of KED put on a leaving drinks for me in the city which was really kind of him and was a great evening, free cocktails this time! Was able to get a few collections buckets down there as well so got some more fundraising in and got to chat to a lot of people about what I was up to, really nice evening. Friday night was my leaving ‘drinks’ with all my friends, a pub and bar up in London. Was a great send off (I think) which took my 2 days to recover from, but felt the excuse was there for it and was a great evening with a lot of very close friends. I think their already planning my return ‘drinks’!
This week has been spent getting those last little bits together. I probably shouldn’t have a 2 page list of things to pick up 2 days before I fly but that’s just how it has turned out. I wouldn’t want to be bored in Gomera with nothing to do!
I know I go on about the generosity of people throughout this project but it really has been unbelievable. Here’s another example: I ordered online (obviously) a journal for the trip to keep a diary, I thought if there was ever a time to write one it would probably be drifting across the Atlantic. I received a donation from the company on the website the next day for the cost of the journal citing it as a donation towards my row and happy to give me the journal for free (having assumed it probably was for the row!) I replied saying my thank you’s and received and email back offering me a free matching photo album on my return for all my photos of the sea (!) and advice for if the journal gets a bit wet…I received the journal yesterday and is perfect; leather bound with cotton pages so should survive a soaking or two.
So for those of you currently buying all your Christmas presents please visit www.paperhigh.comand have a look at their wide range of products and see if you can find a present on there.
So as you can see a busy month or so! I will be updating the website now to get ready for the race so sorry if it goes down for a day or so, but will be back looking even better!
Speak to you all soon, from Gomera of course. 18 days to go until race start…start looking at the weather you’ll see it’s looking favourable at the moment.