Q: What will you eat?
My diet will consist mainly of freeze dried meals, light, easy to store, and approved by people undertaking long term expeditions. They are simple to prepare with boiled water. I will supplement my food with seed bars, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts and Christmas cake as it keeps over time! I will need to consume around 6000-8000 calories per day so I will need to get as much fuel into my body as possible.
Q: Is there a danger of capsize?
Yes, and I fully expect to capsize at least once during the crossing. She has 19 watertight honeycomb compartments built into the hull which provide more storage space but most importantly 4 central and at the lowest point this is where I shall store my water ballast. Having enough ballast combined with the air pockets created in the Fwd and Aft compartments is vital for the boat as she is designed to be self-righting in the event of capsize, and the. The boat should be virtually unsinkable even in the event of damage; I have also incorporated collision void compartments in both fwd and aft areas as extra precaution. Once build complete i will have to do an immersion/roll test to make sure self-righting characteristics are correct.
As part of my preparations, I have and will undergo sea survival training so that I will know what to do should I find myself in an emergency situation.
Q: Where will you get your drinking water from?
I will have a water maker which will supply me with all my fresh water. It forces seawater through membranes at high pressure to produce drinkable water and if it stop working for any reason and cannot be fixed with spares then I will also have a hand-powered water maker on-board too. As a last resort, I will be able to use the ballast bottles of freshwater and as I use them up replenish with seawater to maintain the ballast.
My training consists of cardio-vascular exercises and targeting specific muscle groups with weights. I am working on my stamina by running, cycling/rowing and on a regular basis and I have a workout regime which focuses on the core area of my body. I am also building up the muscles in my legs, shoulders and arms.
Q: What emergency equipment will you have on-board?
This will include a life raft, immersion suit, EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), flares and a Grab Bag (this will contain items that will help me survive should I have to abandon the boat). I myself will be expected to have attained certain qualifications to prove that I am ready for the challenge ahead and these include First Aid, Medical, sea survival which I update at regular intervals through my offshore work and the navigation I will have to train in ocean navigation through the RYA.
Q: Will you have a support boat?
Is the most often asked Question. NO. It would cost too much over a 3 month period to have a boat accompany me. I will take all that I require for my crossing on-board the boat and will not receive any help from other vessels, other than in an emergency. I will be in regular contact via sat phone and limited internet with any problems that I may be having with the boat or my equipment, and weather planner. I will get forecasts from my weatherman on dry land, but other than that I am totally unsupported.
Q: How do you communicate with shore?
By Iridium satellite phone. I also use the phone, connected to a laptop, to send emails and post blogs to my website. The opportunity to experience such complete isolation, peace and quiet is a privilege.
Q: How will you spend your time when you are not rowing?
I will row in a shift pattern (2 hrs rowing 1 hr off), with exception leaving and arriving where I will need to do two long stints to avoid coastal dangers. When I am not rowing I will be eating, sleeping, general maintenance on the boat. Each day I should stick to a routine that I will establish, and adhere to, to keep me focused and keep boredom at bay. I will have a daily blog which I will post on this website to keep everyone updated on my progress. I will also be able read books on my laptop as well as listen to music.
Q: How will you go to the toilet?!
No Airs and graces! Here facilities will be of an open room nature with a ‘bucket ‘for the purpose and chuck it! Bio degradable shouldn’t be an environmental problem.
Q: Why just yourself?
I am fascinated by the idea of building the boat and trying the row as a personal aim, the isolation that I will face will undoubtedly be at times be a challenge when I wish I had some company but I think I can deal with this as I love peace and quiet. It’s like “Fishing without the fishing”. With more than 1 rower you have also the combination of extra weight of food /gas/water/ personnel to row and share a small accommodation in any significant weathers.
Q: What happens while you’re asleep?
It’s a significant disadvantage of going solo, but setting of the rudder to keep the boat on course, leave a light on so ships can see me. Alarm set up to avoid collision course for any boats in surrounding area. Plan my route carefully to take advantage of winds and currents, so most of the time drifts in the right(ish) direction. The use of sea drough and sea anchor to help in bigger weather, also knotted rope maybe used to help drag.
Q: Don’t you get scared?
I don’t know it’s an adventure!!!, but sure I will be at some stages in crossing, but that’s when you know you are alive!! I hope to be too focused and too busy getting on with what needs to be done to survive any negative feelings for any length of time. I always say to my daughter when not sure to “think beyond “seems to work so far!!
Q: Tips for anybody interested in rowing an ocean or organising some other kind of expedition?
I follow as many people in a likewise frame of mind to read the lessons they learned over the years, with an aim to do the same when and if I can do it as well!!