We’ve now spent two weekends training on our beloved boat Nellie and boy have we learnt a few things; some entertaining, some a little more serious…here is my top 10:
- The most important thing we’ve learnt over the last two weeks is that we should double-check absolutely everything, from each other’s knowledge to knowing exactly what is on the boat. This has let us down twice so far – I managed to get the tides entirely wrong and make the team row against wind and tide after a large pub lunch, not the favourite team member at the time! We also headed on our first overnight row without a gas cylinder for our jet boil, meaning no hearty meals for us, just cereal bars, cold crunchy macaroni cheese and bananas.
- Having never been a rower before, blisters are a relatively new thing to me. So as my first ones develop and get to the popping stage, I become a complete wimp and slightly freak out as Dr. Gee tends to my hand with a sharp needle. However, it turns out popping blisters doesn’t hurt at all and (strangely) it’s quite satisfying!
- The music system (which we can only use if the batteries are well solar-charged) does a lot to lift our spirits – especially when we’re rowing our hardest against wind and tide and not going anywhere (sorry again girls).
- That plastic buckets are not strong enough and only rubber ones will do. A good lesson to learn quickly!
- How to tie a bowline in a fool-proof fashion – thanks to skipper Lauren for her top tips on getting “the loop” right.
- We absolutely LOVE talking about food – every interview we have, food is mentioned as the thing we’ll miss most. I’m glad we all have this in common; I’m already looking forward to that first burger when we arrive in Antigua!
- We need to practise the speed at which we change over rowers – this time becomes invaluable and every minute/second you can shave off on the changeover is vital in the long run.
- Despite all knowing each other for less than a year, we’re already working in unison as a team and our characters bounce off and work together incredibly well. I have absolute faith that not only we will get to the finish line in good time, we’ll also have a laugh whilst doing it.
- How to throw an anchor – working out the depth beneath us from our charts, how much line we therefore want out (taking tides into consideration) and creating a retrieval line to make pulling the anchor in easier.
- Sorry about this one – but it’s a painful reality – going commando is far more comfortable than wearing underwear when rowing.
We have so much more to learn; from knowing all our electronics inside-out, to using the para-anchor – a vital piece of equipment in storms – to simply knowing how to make our de-hydrated food taste good (I hear leaving them to soak for half an hour in HOT water does the trick!).
We’ll keep you updated.