The FriendShip Journal - Episode 3
News from the Ocean
Apologies for a slightly delayed update, it has all been quite full on since we came out to the start line here in La Gomera last Monday!
We have now been here for over a week and we have LESS THAN 5 DAYS to go until we set off on our row.
Since we arrived we have been focused on getting all our kit and equipment ready for the trip and making sure that our boat is in the best possible shape. Atlantic Campaigns, who organize the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (the event in which we are partaking) have a very professional set up out here and teams from across the world have come together to take part in this challenge. There are 42 teams in total varying from solo’s to five person boats and having all of the boats lined up in one place is quite a sight.
Last week started with focused preparation for our pre-launch inspection with the safety team from Atlantic Campaigns. Every team must undergo a rigorous inspection to ensure their boat is in good condition, they have all the kit and food required and most importantly perhaps have all the knowledge needed to keep you safe in the middle of the Atlantic.
We volunteered to be one of the first teams to take the inspection, keen to get this milestone under our belt as soon as possible. Thanks to Hamish’s meticulous attention to detail as head of technical and logistics, Arthur’s focused preparation of all our food and supplies, Euan’s medical kit and Jack’s knowledge of the boat and equipment we passed with flying colors!
Following this we needed to pack everything into the boat, not an easy task with well over 1 million calories of food, 2 months of medical supplies, emergency drinking water, safety equipment including a life raft, survival suits, flares…the list goes on! Once packed it was time to give the bottom of our good ship Eppy a good polish, this will help reduce the amount of growth (build up of slime, algae, barnacles etc) that slow us down. Seven coats of polish later and it was time to be launched into the marina.
6th December, 2022 was the date that Eppy was craned into the marina, touching the Atlantic waters for the first time since her last crossing in 2019, the next time she will be taken out of the water will be in Antigua (we hope!). To make it even more special Eppy was launched on her namesake’s Birthday, as our very special Granny celebrated - Happy Birthday Granny!
Between the inspections, the organizing, the polishing and the launching we have been attending briefings on electrical troubleshooting, satellite communications and safety at sea, and spending time meeting lots of the other teams. We also had a really fun weekend with our girlfriends who came out from Friday to Sunday (plus Arthur’s friend Tom!), it was fun to show them all the boat and take a day off to explore the island.
The next five days hold final preparations on the boat, a short confirmatory row to check everything is working as it should be and some R&R time. We are really looking forward to having Mum, Dad, Granny, Aunty Amanda, Uncle Piers and Aunty Liz, Pete and Fiona out with us this weekend and for the start! We couldn’t ask for a better leaving committee!
Nerves are building, excitement is growing and the Atlantic is calling…5 days to go!
Thanks for the questions submitted, please see answers from the team below:
"Very much enjoyed the note about weather and trade winds. I assume that hurricane season is long past so tropical storms are hopefully not a factor?"
Why thank you! Yes, Hurricane season in the Caribbean is from June to November so we should be well clear of that. We could still encounter some Atlantic storms though and there are some tasty looking low pressure systems forming in the North Atlantic that we are hoping won’t venture too far south!
"Do you carry spare oars on board?"
Yes we are taking 4 sets of oars (8 oars in total). As we usually row with two people at a time this gives us two spare sets plus the ability to row with three at a time when we want to increase our speed!
"What does a buoy, in inland waters with a red horizontal band over a green horizontal band indicate? 1. A sunken vessel. 2. A marina with diesel services. 3. The direction of the preferred channel. 4. A swimming area."
Thank you to whoever is testing our knowledge with this one….our answer is “3. The direction of the preferred channel.” Interestingly there is one of these that we will need to be aware of as we leave the marina in La Gomera as there are two channels - one for small ships and one for massive ferries, this is marked by a preferred channel marker.
"Will you row through the night? Where do you sleep, if you get the chance? Who watches out for ships, whales, floating containers etc?"
Lots of questions here! Yes, someone will always be rowing 24 hours a day every day (unless we encounter a major storm…). We will typically row with two of us at a time in a shift pattern of two hours on two hours of - around the clock. We can sleep in the cabins during our off shift (there are two small cabins at either end of the boat), so you can grab up to 90 minutes of sleep at a time. Whoever is on deck rowing is also responsible for watching out for anything around us, we also have an AIS system that will set off an alarm if another boat is within 2 miles of us, this allows us to be more aware of big ships and contact them early so they don’t run us down!