5 February, 2016
Having not blogged for some time I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the last few days, and attempt to describe the arrival and thank those that have been so incredibly supportive.
I write this sat on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea with a rum and coke within arms reach. Life is good.
We spotted our last significant fish - a large green blob tracking the stern of the boat. "Dan, grab the camera we have a bloody huge fish following us" Dan replies what is it? I squawked, "not a clue but it is huge". It was an 8ft Marlin, effortlessly gliding around the boat. What was most incredible was that this bluey green slender figure would come alive when the sunlight caught its scales. Electric blue tiger stripes down its entire body would spark when it turned sideways giving us a full view of the size and beauty of this creature. Amazing.
A lucky escape for that individual as Dan’s fishing embargo meant I was was barred from wrestling this monster of the deep onto deck. Next time!
The last few days leading up to the finish dragged, up until 150 miles out. The anticipation of finishing had been playing over in our head for so long, 1000 miles out and we discussing the finish for 12 days was just too early.
The 24 hours before we landed we rowed and reminisced over the days we had shared so far. The emotions were odd, a surreal feeling to think all of this would be over soon. So simple, so straight forward two men in a boat just rowing, all focused on getting to a little paradise island in the Caribbean. The arrival itself had been played out in my mind every 2 hours for the last 42 days. The emotional expectation was such that I worried that the actual arrival may be a sterile affair. Thankfully I was quite wrong.
Dusk was fast approaching on our arrival with an 2300-0100hrs estimated landfall. We drove hard to get in during January and make last orders at the bar! The miles were ticking off. We had chased our last sunset and watched our last sunrise. We knew that perfectly straight horizon would never be that uninterrupted again. Every oar stroke pulling us closer to loved ones and elation of the finish line.
Dan was pulling hard and we knew roughly 15 miles out, land should be visible. I paused from our conversation and stood up as something on the horizon had caught my eye. “Dan, I think I can…… Yeah I think I can see a light… Yes…..” My hair stood on end as I stood up. I bellowed at the top of my voice. “ LAND AHOY”. Dan jumped up to confirm. The end was literally in sight. What an amazing feeling that was.
The run into English Harbour, was navigated on paper chart due to our power situation. Pitch black with rocky outcrops and razor sharp coral Dan did a sterling job and the call from the pilot boat to lead us in the final mile could not have come sooner.
We approached the mouth of the harbour and I caught a glimpse of small boats tracking either side of us. Screams and cheering from their silhouetted passengers. As you enter English harbour there is a fort on your left, this was packed with people whooping and screaming. With Dan now in the rowing seat and myself steering, the finish bouy was lit up by a boat light, there it was 50m away. Dan “almost there mate” I called. The horn from the Duty Officer on top of the fort sounded… as we trickled past the line. That was it, JOB DONE, we jumped up, reached for our flares, as we ignited them the small boats became illuminated by their own flares. To our stern our families came to light, much to my surprise and to our port the Row like a Girl team screaming and whooping in cocktail dresses, which was rather bizarre!
Now for the arrival to the dock which I thought would have been a subdued affair. How wrong was I? Before we turned the corner past a line of elegant super yachts I heard a roar which I took to be a football match. The nose of the boat poked around the corner to be faced with 100 people and a wall of noise, shouting, screaming, waving. Overwhelmed that so many people made the effort to come out for us. I couldn’t really understand why. We drifted our way into the dock side, sprayed with champagne and dazzled by flashing lights. Moments later we were on firm, amazing and dry land. We wobbled our way over to our families. A truly incredible feeling. From there we were whisked away for a quick interview and for some well earned food and beers. That cold beer was the sweetest I've had.
Since then we have watched the other teams come in reliving the elation of that Sunday night. The sores and cuts have started their recovery and the 39 Kg lost as a team, we have started to put back on. Sitting is actually now enjoyable although walking is still a bit of a painful effort as our calves adjust to taking our body weight.
Throughout the race we have receive messaged labelling us as inspirational, which has been flattering. I am sure I can speak for both of us in saying we are extremely proud to be even considered inspirational however I would ask you to take a moment to consider those that the charities support as the inspirational ones. People who continually have a battle to get through the day due to unfortunate circumstances and endure this with such fortitude. That is inspirational, so if you are able please sponsor us through our website. Every penny counts www.atlantic-row.com.
Through out the support has been amazing, more so since we have been away on the water. Messages of support that have turned dark days into positive successful days. These have been the driving forces, so we sincerely thank you. At this point it seems fitting to thank those who have been so influential.
Family and friend – for putting up with our bad moods, especially Abi and Annie for all you have done.
My father in particular, who without his help this would have not happened. Truly indebted.
The incredible charities: The Soldiers Charity and Prostate Cancer UK.
Atlantic Campaigns for making this competition the exciting and vibrant event that it deserves to be.
Our major sponsors: Rift Group for their overwhelming support, Musto for the excellent clothing that kept the elements out. Gocycle for their contributions and of course letting Dan off work! Finally SAV who constructed the website, drove the marketing and online presences. In particular my sister who has been incredible. Further more all the 100 club sponsors (here) and donators. Of note, Harkan, Optima, Landau and SsangYong
Finally to Dan for asking me on this adventure and for being truly exceptional through out.
Thank you all for being part of the journey, we hope you enjoyed it.
The focal question we have received throughout is WHY? ……Well, I could answer by saying…. the charities, the challenge, the adventure; indeed, all of these are true. Or could it simply be, one friend asks another to come on an adventure with them, and you says "Yes".
Say “Yes" today and you may find yourself doing something different and new tomorrow.