Love at first sight.14/06/2011 01:05 GMT
Today I got to see my boat up close and personal for the very first time...and she is a beauty!!
I had seen many pictures of her before but in reality she looks even better. I couldn't wish for a better companion to tackle the North Atlantic with and I am sure that we will look after each other.
She currently carries the name and sponsor's logos of her previous owner, the South African Peter Van Kets http://www.petervankets.com, for whom she was built. These will be removed in due course but I will be keeping one of the South African flags on her as a tribute to that remarkable man and to commemorate the fact that she has already crossed the Atlantic Ocean once before, rowed by Peter, from the Canaries to the Caribbean in 2010.
She is in very good condition considering her previous Atlantic crossing and recent trip up to the UK from South Africa in a shipping container, but there are a few maintainence jobs that need to be done before I can put her in the water so she will be confined to the workshop for a couple of weeks. This will also give me time to become familiar with things like the auto-helm, the watermaker, the electronics and the iPod music player!
As I have mentioned previously, I will be buying the boat outright for NY2SY and will need to fund this sale with the help of sponsors and donations. If you feel that you can help, or think you know someone who can, then please do not hesitate to get in touch!!!
I had the privelege of meeting some of the crew from the 'Row2Recovery' project which I mentioned in my last diary entry. This crew is a mix of able-bodied rowers and injured service men and they are rasing funds for the charity Help For Heroes.
(I should point out that the wet patch on my chest was due to the torrential rain, not a nervous sweat!)
They were waiting to go off on a row in the pouring rain as part of a Press engagement and they showed me their boat "Brixham" which is currently being refitted in the Woodvale Challenge workshop. Just as with all the other ocean rowers that I have met, they were really supportive of my NY2SY row and we compared and contrasted various different aspects of our respective rows.
The Row2Recovery boat "Brixham" being refitted.
Soon, I will have my boat in Stornoway and can focus on raising the profile of NY2SY, both nationally and internationally, and doing some rather interesting training rows...be sure to keep checking the website for more news!
I'd like to thank Simon Chalk and the staff at Woodvale Challenge for all their help and continued support and also everyone who continues to give their backing to NY2SY, in whatever way.
I am currently scheduled to arrive in Stornoway on the ferry this Wednesday evening...if you are about, please come and say hello to both of us!
This time......next year.12/06/2011 00:30 GMT
Had all gone according to plan with NY2SY 2011, I should by now have been a couple of weeks into my attempt to row solo across the North Atlantic Ocean. I would have been settling into the daily routine of life alone at sea in a rowing boat that would be my home for over 3 months.
The reality is that I find myself sitting on my bed in a B&B in Devon after a 2 day road trip from Stornoway recovering from everything that the A9, M74, M6 and M5 could throw at me. But I am far from down as tomorrow (Sunday) I will finally come face to face with the boat that I will using for NY2SY 2012!!!!!!
A couple of months have passed since I took the decision to postpone NY2SY until next year and a lot has happened in that time. The first month was spent doing, well, nothing really. I consciously avoided anything to do with the project, whether that be organising or training. I was really down about how things had turned out and was quite hard on myself for a while. I had never forseen such a situation and wasn't prepared for the feeling of disappointment that inevitably followed. After getting the feeling of failure out of my system I began to look ahead to next year and try and learn from the mistakes, and there were some made, to ensure that 2012 is the year that I realise my goal.
I have to admit to considering other possiblities, from doing the row as part of a team (whether that be as one of a pair or more) to abandoning NY2SY completely and trying the more established route from the Canaries to the Caribbean. But these alternatives just didn't feel right and it's the North Atlantic that attracts me and I feel as strongly about NY2SY as I ever did, the desire is still there. I will never be able to articulate just how I feel about this project or how much it means to me but it's that feeling that drives me on, it's that feeling that will make me finish what I set out to do.
Little has changed really with regard to the project despite the postponement. I will still be aiming to leave at the same time of year, I will still require to get my body into the best possible condition for such an endurance event, I will still have to find the money to fund the whole thing and I will still have to row across an ocean. But a couple of things are different. Firstly, due to the rate of spreading along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, I will have to row an extra 2.5 cm next year....and I hope that this increased distance is reflected in people's donations ; ) But the change that affects me the most is that fact that I am now buying the boat that I will be using. My previous arrangement involved me chartering the boat from Woodvale Challenge but, given the change in circumstances, I have decided that buying the boat gives me the best chance of seeing NY2SY through to a successful conclusion. Owning the boat will allow me to have her until I complete the row next year....beneficial from a training aspect and also for PR and sponsorship purposes. Of course, this now means that I have to find the funds to pay for her very quickly and it's an extra responsibilty to shoulder. I already have some money in place to put towards the costs but more need to be secured....and soon.
Today, I met briefly with Simon Chalk from Woodvale Challenge to finalise arrangements for picking up the boat tomorrow (Sunday). I watched as he took another ocean rowing boat, "Spirit of MA", out of the water in Torquay.
With him was a guy called Ed Jarvin who I first met at an Ocean Rowing seminar back in November 2010. At that time he, along with his friend Alex Mackenzie, were at the early stages of their preparations for the Atlantic Rowing Race 2011. We chatted about our respective projects and shared our concerns about finances and organisation. Much has changed for them as they are now going to enter the race as part of a team of 6 and some of the crew members will be injured British Service members. Ed told me that thay have secured all the funds they need to finance the row and have also raised thousands in sponsorship for their chosen charity, Help For Heroes. It's a fantastic cause and they have done incredibly well to get such backing. I have to admit to being slightly jealous when he told me all about the progress of their project but I was also very happy, and inspired, to hear just how things were going. I can only wish Ed, Alex and their amazing crew all the very best and you can find out more about their row here: http://www.row2recovery.com
All oceans rows are different, from start to finish, and I now just have to accept that mine has taken a road that will eventually become a part of the whole story.
So, in just a few hours I will standing beside my boat and I will be able to take her back up to Stornoway to begin my own preparations for 2012. This journey south has only been possible because of Mackinnon's Self Drive http://www.mackinnonselfdrive.co.uk of Stornoway and Caledonian MacBrayne http://www.calmac.co.uk and I would like to thank them for their generosity and support.
NY2SY: Solo North Atlantic Row 2012 is going to need a lot of similar backing and I would ask you to please spread the word and mention it to anyone you feel might be able to help....your friends, your boss, local companies, complete strangers!! They can get all the info they need here on the website and Sponsorship and Media packs are available.
RUNRIG continue to show amazing support and they have produced special NY2SY t-shirts which are available through the RUNRIG fanzine 'The Wire' (#68). £2.50 from the sale of each t-shirt will go towards NY2SY and I'd once again like to thank the band for all they have done.
Tomorrow is going to be a big day so I should try and get some sleep. Be sure to check the diary for the latest news about the boat and also when she will be arriving in Stornoway.
Worse things happen at sea.29/03/2011 18:59 GMT
It's been a few days now since I announced the postponement of NY2SY until next year. I can't say that I feel any better about the whole thing but it's at least a relief, in some way, that I made a decision.
It felt very strange being in New York last week as I basically knew what was going to happen when I came back and so to be trying to spread the word about a challenge that I knew wasn't likely to go ahead was an odd situation. But I had to make the most of the opportunity and I did make some useful contacts for the future.
At the weekend I decided to escape to the west coast of Lewis and a beautiful place called Bosta. These islands are not short of stunning beaches but Bosta has become one of my favourite places, it's good for the soul. I just wanted to get away from anything connected with NY2SY and sort out my head (in just one weekend, I hear you cry?!). On my return I had to do a few interviews about the postponement of NY2SY, explain the situation, and I have to admit that it wasn't something that I enjoyed. I spoke to some of the same people to whom months earlier I had been enthusing about NY2SY, all my plans and hopes for the challenge. I felt like a bit of a failure and I do feel that I have let people down; my sponsors, supporters and every one of you who have shown such amazing support...and myself. In a few weeks I will probably read back over this and cringe at what I am writing, but I can only convey my feelings at this time. I was always uncomfortable with the praise I seemed to receive before actually achieving anthing, it just didn't...and still doesn't...seem right to me. Please don't think that I am criticising anyone who has written anything of that nature, I am not, I just feel that until I actually complete the crossing then I haven't actually achieved anthing. I feel quite foolish now for standing on the stage at the Runrig gigs in Dunfermline and Glasgow and and taking the applause of the audience. For what? But I will use these experiences, and the way I feel just now, to push me on to seeing NY2SY become a reality next year, and as I have said before....I will finish what set out to do.
You have all been very supportive and I am very grateful for all your messages. I keep saying 'thank you' to people, but it's only because I mean it. A lot of youe have already made a donation to my chosen charity, SAMH, both through my JustGiving page and also privately. Given the change of circumstances, I totally understand if anyone wishes to have their donation refunded and if you would like to message me at email@example.com then I will sort that out. Also, to anyone who purchased a copy of Runrig's limited edition 'Reflections' book, I will honour my promise of writing your name on the boat, I can only apologise for the delay.
I will try and reply to everyone who has been in touch, you may just have to be a little bit patient (it seems to be a recurring theme, eh) and your goodwill will not be forgotten. At the end of the day, there are worse things happening in the world and regardless of what has happened with NY2SY, the sun will still rise tomorrow morning!
So, it's now NY2SY: Solo North Atlantic Row 2012...... let's start again, OK?!