Rowing 4 Research Week 7: Land A-Hoy!

Alex Bland & Harry Martin-Dreyer


Land a-hoy! Well, not quite but its not too far away now!  As I type, we are just under 100NM from our penultimate way point - the north point of Barbados . There is a distinct sense of excitement on board as we count down the remaining miles. Perhaps, a little prematurely I already have the binoculars poised ready and awaiting - looking forward to the first sight of land.

 

From the outset we deliberately decided not to set an arrival date so as to avoid the potential disappoint and disagreement. With the help of statistical analysis and advice on land it has been hard to stick to this rule. We have however, been speculating that with some extra effort that a mile gained here and there will equate to an earlier arrival date. Though perfectly valid, it is not difficult to see how an obsession with such analysis and targets indeed equates to extra stress and unnecessary pressures to an already stressful situation. Last weekend, with the last few hundred miles showing on the clock I decided to let this rule pass me by and Harry enthusiastically set about marking with a marker pen, next to the cabin hatch, the number of daily miles required to get to our destination on a particular date and time. We started the week with winds of 25-30 knots which was scarily reminiscent of our first week at sea - although we were better prepared for such vast conditions this time. Needless to say, we notched up some pretty good mileage and arriving on the last day of January was a realistic prospect. Annoyingly, the winds have since slowed down and in order to ensure we arrive in daylight hours (the north coast approach can be treacherous especially for a tiny rowing boat!) we have had to reluctantly slow down and now aim to arrive on Saturday morning. This will equate to a total crossing time of 50 days  - much quicker than we had anticipated. 

 

Once on dry land and more likely back in the UK I will no doubt be able to reflect more thoroughly on what has been an extraordinary experience. For now however, whilst still living in the moment, I find myself feeling that the past 48 days have been much of a blur which at times has passed by very quickly and at others very slowly. It is hard to believe, that since early December we have lived in this wet, unfamiliar environment, in a space only a few meters square -  constantly pitching and rolling, rowing 12 hours each a day and never sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time.  When we began, we had no idea how our minds and bodies would react to such extreme changes - but it seems the human body is remarkably adaptable. Now, at the end of the journey, getting up every 2 hours seems slightly normal but our bodies are now showing significant signs of wear and tear. Our hands are falling apart and our backsides look and feel like we have sat on a hornets nest.  That said, we are as fit as we have ever been and properly ever will be.  For the most part, I think both of us are in agreement that this experience has challenged us in more ways than we could have ever imagined and as such the predominant sense of excitement that we now feel is combined with a great sense of relief. Relief in the sense that all things that could have gone wrong (so many have not) and relief that where numerous others have failed we have (so nearly now) succeeded.

 

To have got this far is in no small part thanks to a large element of luck, careful planing and preparation - some fantastic sponsors and not least to so many of you who have helped, supported and advised throughout.  As to every single person who has made a donation please know that a constant thought of motivation throughout the tough times has been to remind oneself that it is a result of your staggering generosity, two very worthwhile charities will be much better off. The last update I received had our charity fund-raising at over £137k. This is unbelievable and so much more than we could have ever hoped for. It is a big figure that will make a massive difference. 

 

With any luck our final update will come from the comfort of a Bajan beach bar. For now, having tempted fate enough, all the remains for us to do is to make it to the north point of the island where we hope to rendezvous with a flotilla of family and friends. A short and safe distance from the shore we will then be escorted seven miles down the west coast of the island to Port St Charles - where i have a feeling our detox will come to an abrupt and dramatic end. 

 

I can hardly wait!

 

Alex

 

PS -  There is still time to catch a fish - i haven't given up yet!

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