Here and now.06/11/2013 00:58 GMT
The clocks have gone back and winter is here. It's dark, it's cold and I miss the summer...and what a summer it was. Myself and CrazyBrave hit the road and visited many interesting and friendly places, perhaps there was more towing than rowing but it was all worthwhile and enjoyable.
Having to postpone any adventure is disappointing and it doesn't get any easier when you have to take such a decision for a third consecutive year. It may have been the correct decision not to undertake NY2SY this year but it still hurt and no matter the goodwill and support that was shown by all around, and I was shown a lot, I still found it a struggle to deal with the aftermath. I was overcome with self-doubt about the whole project - was I actually capable of getting the boat to the start in New York, let alone tackle a challenge like rowing solo across the North Atlantic Ocean? But these questions and misgivings have to be addressed, and I strongly doubt that it's the last time that I will encounter such emotions before this whole thing is all finished....and it will be finished. Now and again, I have been presented with clear opportunities to walk away from NY2SY, a break in the clouds that might allow me an escape, and this year's postponement was such an opportunity. Although I realised it was there, I never entertained the thought of giving up. Giving up is easy and I've given up too many times in my life before...not because I had to but because I didn't try properly. I'm not saying that I haven't given my all over these past few years with regard to getting NY2SY fully funded and organised, far from it, but I still have plenty to give and the desire to row across the North Atlantic Ocean has never wavered. But if I am to be brutally honest, I have to recognise that as much as I have driven the project forward, I have also held it back too at times. The periods when I have hit a low and found myself in that place that I hate being in, but sometimes struggle to avoid, have had a detrimental effect on NY2SY. I find it hard to pick myself up and re-establish the momentum that I once had, but I'll continue to try and win that battle with myself and overcome the obstacles that still lie in my way with regard to NY2SY.
The weeks following the announcement this year's postponement was spent unorganising everything that had been put in place for the row and writing, yet again, to inform my sponsors and supporters of the situation - a horrible case of de ja vu. Once again, I was heartened and humbled by the reaction of everyone....understanding and supportive, sympathetic and encouraging. They have all stuck by me and that loyalty was such a great help in getting me get over the bitter blow of not getting NY2SY underway this year.
Many thanks for your continued investement in the project and for such amazing support.
Unfortunately, the adventure scholarship of £5000 which I was awarded by Kukri Events earlier this year was withdrawn as the rules stated that any adventure that benefited had to take place in 2013. That is a lot of money to lose and is a fairly major step backwards, but I understand Kukri Events' position and we all knew the rules when we entered the competition for the scholarship. The team at Kukri were as disappointed as I was about the whole thing and there are no bad feelings. It was a fantastic experience to get through to the final of the competition, and to meet the other entrants and the judges at the Royal Geographical Society in London, and I can only thank the folks at Kukri Events for all their help and advice.
Sarah Outen, who was one of the judges, completed a 150 day row across the Pacific Ocean, from Japan to Alaska, this year...a fantastic achievement. Well done Sarah and good luck for the rest of your London2London adventure! http://www.sarahouten.com/
The other adventures that were awarded scholarships didn't all go according to plan either so I wasn't alone this year. Nick Hancock, who was going to attempt to stay on Rockall for 60 days, did manage make it all the way out that tiny dot in the Atlantic Ocean but was unable to land himself, his pod and all his gear due to the conditions (basically a huge swell!) and so had to postpone his attempt. It must have been so hard to turn and sail away from his goal, but he really had no choice as it would be been too dangerous to attempt a landing. These are not easy decisions to make but they have to be taken and it's always braver, and wiser, to wait until you can be sure of doing things properly. I hope Nick manages to return to Rockall next year and I wish him well. http://www.rockallsolo.com
There were successes for: Supercycling Man (Will Hodson) http://www.supercyclingman.com who cycled 4500km from Turkey to Turkmenistan as part of his World Ride; for The Mississippi Challenge 2013 (Sam Norman, Matt Fraser & Harry Hogg) http://themississippichallenge2013.weebly.com who kayaked 2400 miles down the Mississippi River; and to Adventure 2013 (Clare Thorpe, James Boyce, Collette Matthewman, Thomas Ridgway & Jon Seddon) http://www.adventure2013.co.uk who set off from Falmouth at the end of October on their 8 month sail to the South Atlantic and Antarctica. They recently left Rio De Janeiro and are now making their way to Ushuaia, the place where I began my cycling trip through Chile and Argentina in 2009. I'm sure that they are having a great time onboard Elinca, the yacht they chartered from http://www.beyondthebluehorizon.co.uk in Stornoway, and I hope they enjoy a few Beagle Beers when they finally get to fin del mundo!
I must also mention fellow rowers Coxless Crew (previously known as The Coxless Rowers) http://coxlesscrew.com who are continuing with preparations for their row across the Pacific Ocean next year...keep up the great work ladies.
So what have I been up to then? I decided to use the summer months to help raise the profile of NY2SY and use the extra time that I now have in a positive way. I contacted several Highland Games' committees about the possibility of displaying CrazyBrave at their respective events and was delighted with the response that I received. It wasn't long until I had drawn up an itinerary for the summer and prepared the boat to go on show all along the west coast. I knew that this was going to be a bit of a gamble as it is expensive to take a vehicle and boat trailer back and forth on the ferry, as well as paying for fuel and accommodation, but I decided it was a case "speculate to accumlate" and I used my own finances to lessen the impact on the NY2SY funds.
On the way to Gairloch. CrazyBrave above Strathmore with Loch Broom in the distance.
CrazyBrave on display at the Gairloch Highland Gathering.
The summer started with a visit to the Gairloch Highland Gathering at the end of June. This was held adjacent to the Sands Caravan and Camping site http://www.sandscaravanandcamping.co.uk who are one of my sponsors and I'm very grateful to Marie and James for their hospitality. A week later I headed down to the Isle of Barra where my boat was on display at the annual Fisherman's Mass in Castlebay. This event meant a lot to me as my mum was from the island, and I still have lots of relatives there. I'm going to need all the help that I can get so I was very happy to have CrazyBrave included in the blessing of the boats, a ceremony which was conducted by my cousin Father John Paul Mackinnon (some of you will know him from the TV series "An Island Parish"...he was the young one!). A fortnight later I attended the South Uist Highland Games and enjoyed a great day down on the Askernish machair. I spent many holidays on the island and it was great to go back to show everyone my boat and tell everyone about NY2SY. My funds were also boosted by the efforts of 'Team CrazyBrave' who won £24 by securing 2nd place in the hotly contested tug-of-war competition....well done guys and apologies for being less than useless! Towards the end of July I headed up north to the Durness Highland Gathering and almost had the wind turbine struck and blown off by one of the scariest thunder and lightening storms that I have ever witnessed....a Scottish summer,eh! North west Sutherland is one of my favourite places in the world and I only wish that I had had more time to visit some old haunts. The Oban Games & Argyllshire Highland Gathering took place in August and was a fantastic event with fantastic weather. It was a great end to the summer and, as with all the Highland Games, there was a lot of interest in the boat and NY2SY.
On the shores of the Kyle of Durness.
CrazyBrave on display at the Durness Highland Gathering.
Team CrazyBrave's winnings from the Tug-of-war.
I was delighted with the amount of t-shirts, stickers and keyrings that I sold at all the games, which was supplemented by many generous donations.I also managed to make some very good contacts and was more than happy with the success of these trips away with the boat. CrazyBrave is the one who catches people's eye and she played her part brilliantly.
I'd like to thank the organising committees of all the Highland Games that I visited for allowing me to attend their events to display CrazyBrave and for being so helpful and welcoming....and a big thank you to everyone who came along to see us and donated to the cause!
Having to postpone my row this year did allow me the opportunity to be present at RUNRIG's 40th Anniversary Concert at Muir of Ord in August...the Party On The Moor! I was due to be out in the North Atlantic somewhere but instead I had a great time celebrating an amazing milestone for one of my favourite bands and a wonderful NY2SY sponsor. Congratulations to the boys and thanks for playing such a big part in my NY2Y challenge...and the fans too!
My final road trip of the year was to Inverkip where I displayed the boat at Scotland's Boat Show at Kip Marina. It was a really enjoyable event and I was overwhelmed with the interest that people showed in NY2SY and the support there was for my chosen charity, SAMH. Although the days were long and tiring, I had a really good time and would recommend the boat show to both visitors and exhibitors in the future. I did some media interviews, met some old friends and swapped business cards with some parties who seemed genuinely interested in finding out more about the challenge.
Many thanks to Caledonian MacBrayne http://www.calmac.co.uk for their support at this event.
CrazyBrave on display at Scotland's Boat Show.
Scotland's Boat Show, Kip Marina.
This summer I also managed to conduct an 'inversion test' on CrazyBrave, to make sure that the refit work that had been carried out didn't affect her self-righting capability. Although the addition of the oar stanchions and the wind generator did slow her down slightly, she still returned to the upright position after being capsized and I am very happy with the test results. It was also good for me to experience a capsize and know, to some extent, what to expect when it happens out on the ocean. Many thanks to John MacIver & Sons http://www.johnmaciverandsons.co.uk for kindly donating the use of a crane for the test, and to Leven Brown and Angus and Innes Smith for their help too.
You can watch a couple of short videos of the test via these links:
Article about the capsize test in the Stornoway Gazette.
So where does this leave me now? I will be spending the winter months trying to find the money that I still need to get NY2SY fully funded....through sponsorship, fundraising events and my own money. I have revised my budgets and calculated that I need £10,000 to make NY2SY happen. I will of course try and get more, as much as I can, but £10,000 is the magic number. It is a lot of money, but I could be in a worse position financially and I believe that I can find this money over the next 6 months, though I do not think it will be easy or straighforward. There are still spaces available on the boat for any company or business that wants to see become involved and see their logo displayed and I still have some contacts to follow up.
CrazyBrave with the NY2SY sponsor's logos.
The sales of the official NY2SY t-shirts have helped enormously to help finance the project, and ultimately support SAMH, and they can still be purchased via the NY2SY online shop.
Official NY2SY t-shirts.
'NY2SY: The Album' is also still available for download and it features over 20 bands and musicians from the Western Isles. It's a fantastic collection of music and showcases the amazing talent we have in these islands.
It can be downloaded via iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ny2sy-the-album/id636319332
If you think that your business, or the company you work for, might be interested in sponsoring NY2SY then please direct them to this website, where a Sponsorship Pack PDF can be downloaded on the CONTACT ME page.
From the first moment I came up with the idea for NY2SY, I used to try to imagine what it might be like to arrive in Stornoway after rowing across the North Atlantic Ocean.
Now I just try to imagine what it might be like to leave New York.
I'd like to dedicate this diary entry to Mylene Paquette who successfully completed her solo row from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Lorient, France.
Bien fait Mylene!
I'm back....but I never really went away.10/10/2013 03:15 GMT
It's been a while, probably too long, but I am still here and I am still going to row across the North Atlantic Ocean.
I've had a busy summer and have lots to tell you all, but this will have to wait for just a wee while longer. It's late and I have just finished preparing for Scotland's Boat Show http://www.scotlandsboatshow.co.uk which I will be attending this weekend (11th,12th,13th Oct).
My boat, CrazyBrave, will be on display there and I am very much looking forward to letting people see her for the first time with all the sponsor's logos in place. It was just a few hours ago that this work was completed and it's fantastic to show just how much support NY2SY has had from some very generous companies and businesses. It will hopefully inspire some other potential sponsor's to come forward and have their logo on the boat with the others...there is still room for a few more!
Myself and CrazyBrave have spent a lot of time on the road this summer visiting a selection of Highland Games to try and raise the profile of my challenge and also do some fundraising. I met some great people and saw some beautiful places and I'll regale/bore you with my tales in my next diary entry. I am feeling good about NY2SY going ahead in 2014 and my drive and passion for the challenge, and raising fund and awareness for mental health issues, are as strong as ever. Although the latest postponement was hugely disappointing, I know that I have to make the most of the extra time that I have and I feel that I have done that. I can see progress, not only with regard to the project as a whole, but also within myself and feel as good as I have ever done since I first announced my intention to row from New York to Stornoway.
As ever, I am very grateful for all the support that I continue to receive from those of you who also believe in NY2SY and I could never have reached this stage without that backing. There are still corporate sponsors to be found and this is my main priority now and I wont give up until I find the money that I still need to finance NY2SY in 2014.
OK, time for a power nap before I catch the early ferry but please do check back next week for more about what I've been up to and also to see what my plans are for the time leading up to May next year.
Cheers for now.
The horizon will have to wait.24/04/2013 11:50 GMT
As I write this diary entry, I can see a chart for the North Atlantic Ocean lying in the corner of the room, with my intended route across it marked with a red line. Unfortunately, that is all that NY2SY will be for another year, a line on a chart.
I am very sorry to announce that I am postponing my NY2SY Solo North Atlantic Row for this year. It's been a couple of days since I took the decision but I have not made any official statement until now as I wanted to contact all my sponsors and supporters, so that they heard the news from me first. I am gutted that I can't undertake the challenge this year but I have quite simply run out of time and there is no sponsor in the world that can help me with that.
Although, I have made great progress with the project since the turn of the year, I have also had a lot of problems getting equipment to the island and these delays, combined with some other issues, have finally caught up with me. The discovery just recently that my watermaker had a crack in it was also a setback. There is still a couple of weeks' work to be done on the boat and she wouldn't be quite ready for the proposed shipping date to New York next week. It's a tough one to take and I was so close, but that is not good enough given the challenge that lies ahead. Once the boat has been completed I then need to conduct sea trials with her as she has undergone some fairly extensive alterations and I need to see how these affect her on the water. There are also some skills that I still need to master, like deploying and recovering the sea anchor correctly and also emergency procedures to practise, and I wouldn't have time to do these before the boat was shipped. Had I gone ahead with the plans and shipped the boat across to the States, it would have meant that we would have been still trying to complete the outstanding work on the boat in New York. This could have been done, but it's not an ideal scenario just before such a huge challenge, and we would never have been able to conduct sea trials, or practise the skills I mentioned, in New York harbour as it is so busy with marine traffic. I had already delayed the shipping date by a week and as a result the weather window for leaving had already narrowed.
One of the other factors in my decision to postpone is harder to admit. The truth is that I am just not ready to do the row. I have put myself under intense pressure over the past 2 months to get NY2SY to the start and it has taken it's toll on me and some of my old demons have returned. If I am going to bang on about mental health issues and try to raise awareness for SAMH then I need to be honest about my own situation. There have been many testing times over the past couple of years but I found these few weeks leading up to the proposed launch particularly hard. There have been days when I have just shut down, been unable to function, and this needs to be addressed. I was always going to be the weak link in all this, but I'll get myself sorted and I am already looking towards 2014.
I'd like to thank Gordon Maclennan, Tony Morrison and Angus Smith for all their help with getting the boat ready, had it not been for their hard work then I wouldn't even have got this close. Thanks also to Woody's Express Parcels for helping get equipment over to Stornoway, the delays would have been much longer without their generous assistance.
I am very lucky to have such understanding and supportive sponsors and I would like to thank them all for sticking with me yet again, and also to my supporters too. They all have their own reasons for wanting to be involved in NY2SY and I really do appreciate their investment and faith in me.
My plans now are to carry on and get the boat finished as soon as possible and then spend the summer training and attending events with her to get exposure for NY2SY and my sponsors. Unfortunately, this postponement has affected some arrangements that I had in place, so I will need to do some more fundraising over the coming months. There will be many more setbacks before all this is over but I have always said that you just have to try and link them up with successes.
A few years ago I gave up on everything, walked away, and I refuse to go back to that.
NY2SY can be done and I want to do it....and I will.