Monday, 5 December 2011

Rowing the Atlantic: When you need to be a Tiger

If you hang around long enough with ocean rowers, and find that you've developed a taste for expedition rowing (albeit in events you can fit into a weekend), sooner or  later you're going to come to the conclusion that, if your piggy bank can cope, there's really no good reason NOT to row an ocean yourself.

And so it was that my husband and I set off from the Canary Islands in our tiger-striped boat, and landed in Barbados nearly 11 weeks later. Along the way, we'd lost a rudder, been brought another, seen dolphins for 30 seconds, enjoyed eating biltong in bed (only one of us), listened to all seven Harry Potter books, and been reminded almost every day that ocean rowing is much more about the ocean than it is about rowing.

Event: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2011
Where: La Gomera (Canary Islands) to Barbados
Distance: 2,549 nautical miles (as the storm petrel flies)
Duration: 75 days, 1 hour and 29 minutes
Boat type: 23' plywood ocean rowing boat Dream It Do It
Number of crews in the event: 17 started, 12 finished
Event Organiser: The race is now organised by Atlantic Campaigns

We were last in our race, but were eternally relieved to have finished. A famous solo ocean rower, Gerald d'Aboville once said "You do not conquer the ocean rather, it lets you pass." Spot on.

Heating up Christmas lunch. The best meal of the trip.
But whilst our row was slow (as it turned out, we decided we couldn't really be bothered with the 2 hours on/2 hours off routine that is the quickest way to get across, given our only objective was to get to the other side, still happily married), our expedition blog proved to be very popular – not least because the supporters of all the other crews found them,selves suffering from ocean rowing-supporting withdrawal symptoms once their crews had finished (the fastest two finished in just over 40 days).

The links below point to some of the better postings from our original blog. Please bear in  mind that it was written whilst at sea, which explains some of the bad spelling (our Land Team Communications Manager did her best to sort this out, but she was working with some pretty awful material) as well as the deranged humour.

Barbados is a very nice place.

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