Friday 24th February 2017 I woke up early with a realisation that today was my last day in the UK before leaving for Faro Portugal. I was feeling quite anxious mainly because I had not packed anything and still wanted to meet family and friends to say goodbyes.
I received an update from the team advising that the boat had arrived safely at Bluewater Algarve Porto de Pesca de Portimão and they were already working on the boat preparations. Ralph was undertaking the task of victualling to source the vital supplies for an ocean crossing (Hot sauces, baby wipes, sun cream and buckets).
Meanwhile Clement & Niall were packing away the Summit to Eat freeze dried food, fries landcampina Vifit protein bars and selection of different chocolate.
As the hours in the day counted down, my excitement was building, I met Grace & Jenn for lunch who gave me some top tips and supplied me with goodies for the trip, Once back at home I started my own packing and realised that there was very little space in my bag for clothes due to having packed other items:
- Sleeping Bag
- Life jacket, spare canisters and tether,
- Personal Location Beacon (PLB1)
- Automatic Identification System (AIS)
- Waterproof Smock & Trousers
- Musto Windstopper Mid layers
- Mons Royale Merino Wool Onsie
- Icebreaker Merino Wool Boxers
- Keen flip flops
- Salomon s-lab x-trainers
- Forever Living Protein Shakes, Agri+ recovery drink, Artic Sea Omega-3, Therm Vitamins, Aloe Propolis Creme and Aloe Heat Lotion.
- GoPro's, Ipad, Macbook
- Iridium Go! Satellite Phone and Email device (provided by Range Global)
- Hats, gloves, bees wax, sudocrem & vasaline
- Wash kit
So i squeezed in a few pairs of shorts and dri-fit t-shirts, the team assured me the weather is going to be good once we are south of the canaries at which point we are likely to be rowing naked so not to worry too much about the clothes.
With the packing completed I met up with my family for dinner and to say final goodbyes. The following morning at 3am I got up feeling tired and had butterflies in my stomach. I was concerned that I am leaving family and friends behind to embark on another adventure but also that I still had never seen or rowed on an ocean rowing boat, what if I didn't like it or if i had a very poor technic. My worry was that I may let the rest of the team down by not having enough time to train.
Once on the plane I relaxed more and focused on the things that are in my control, I knew that I had a high level of endurance fitness and mentally would push myself to complete the challenge. All I needed to do was arrive, meet the team and get out on the water. A few hours later I arrived and had a warm welcome from Niall and Clement, we used the time in the car back to the marina to get to know each other and this settled my nerves.
Over the next few days we worked on the the boat (Rose) to ensure she was ready to be put in the water. Everything was going smoothly until the point we went to launch her into the water, as we were on the jetty we had to connect the rudder and auto-helm. we carried out some final steering tests and heard crack, on further inspection the block that secures the rudder to the tiller and the auto-helm had snapped. We all looked at each other and said "well good job it happened now, rather than once we had set off".
Luckily Ralph had another one from the solo ocean rowing boat that he had in the same marina. Once we fixed the issue we got the boat in the water and had a good first day getting familiar with the boat setup. As we know issues all seem to happen in 3's and for us it was no different, the next issue to arise was the batteries not charging, on further investigation we noticed the solar panel live feed had come un-soldered from the fuse holder. At this point I started to get flashbacks to the clipper boat prep week on mission performance, and then the 3rd issue was identified, a leak on the water maker. But as a warrior we are used to issues with water makers so a few hours later this was serviced and fully functional again.
The team are now relaxing having ironed out most of the gremlins on the boat. We are focusing on eating as much food on-shore as possible, constantly checking the weather conditions and getting ready for our departure on Monday 6th March 2017.
Wish us luck and follow our progress on the online tracker here, we will try to keep you updated via social media from the middle of the ocean.
Best wishes from a very excited Colin and Team 4 Nations :)