The latest from Jack Friend as the guys finish final preparations having concluded their summer training.
To say the last few months have been busy would be the understatement of the century! Our campaign, which started nearly two years ago, has come to a head as we wrapped up our final summer training on the boat and prepared for our good ship ‘Eppy’ to be shipped to the start line in La Gomera, a small island about 25 nautical miles from Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
This has been a massive milestone for us to reach and marks the end of all of our training on the water. Over two summers, we have racked up over 250 hours on the boat, training in all conditions along the south Devon Coast. This training has mainly consisted of us getting used to life on our Ocean Rowing Boat (a Rannoch Built R45, which is approximately 8 meters in length). We have practised rowing for extended periods of time in our planned 2 hours on 2 hours off shift pattern as well as experimenting with rowing with three of us at a time (in a shift pattern of 2 hours on 40 minutes off), getting used to sleeping in 90-minute bursts, eating our dehydrated meals and experimenting with different snacks and nutrition strategies to make sure we stay as well fuelled as possible to enable us to keep rowing shift after shift!
Another crucial part of this training has been learning everything we can about every inch of our boat and all the equipment on her; we have been putting into practice our navigational training, testing our autohelm system, learning how to take vital equipment like our watermaker (a desalination unit that runs off of solar power) apart and put it together again, practising man overboard drills, learning how to deploy and recover our sea anchor (a large parachute that will keep us anchored in place during severe storms), learning how to tie all sorts of knots underwater, upside down and back to front…the list goes on!
The final element of this summer has come over the last few weeks as we have packed up the boat with all the equipment and food we need before she is shipped off to the start line. This has consisted of packing over 1.2million calories of food into daily meal and snack packs, a process that took weeks of planning from our Head of Nutrition, Arthur and over two days of sorting and packing in Devon to ensure it was all in order and would fit onto the boat. Hamish, our Head of Kit and Logistics, has been meticulously logging and checking every item of kit before packing it onto the boat – spares for every essential piece of equipment, vital tools for maintenance and repairs, emergency evacuation kit and supplies, hundreds of biodegradable wet wipes (to help keep salt sores at bay), wet weather gear, litres of suncream and much more. Euan, our Head of Medical, has been ensuring we have all the supplies and knowledge needed to treat minor and major injuries in one of the most remote places on the planet! In short, it has been a massive team effort and a huge logistical operation that has required us all to work together and trust each other to get everything in place.
Now Eppy is packed, she will be loaded into a container and taken by ship to the Canaries, where we will meet her again on the 28th of November. Once there, we will have two weeks to do the final bits of preparation, pass the rigorous pre-race inspection and do a couple of shake-down training rows before we set off on the 12th of December for the 3000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean!
Reflecting on the past few weeks, it is amazing how much we have managed to achieve together, but none of it would have been possible without the wonderful support from our sponsors, who have enabled us to get all the kit and supplies we need to take on this amazing challenge. Thank you!