20 Mar 2005, Yorkshire
Solo, single-handed, or unsupported? That is the question.
Yesterday I read an article on www.theoceans.net which defines the rules on how to describe your expedition (and has a pop at Ben Saunders along the way). It has caused me 24 hours of worry - had I been blithely describing myself as solo, when in fact I am merely unsupported ?
Solo/single-handed is defined as "No assistance, no contact with other people throughout entire expedition". Aha, I thought at first, that's me.
But then I read the definition of unsupported. "No physical assistance during expedition". Oh. maybe that was me instead, then, because although I'll be entirely self-sufficient throughout my row, I'll have a VHF radio and satphone on board - the former being a mandatory safety requirement so I can communicate with the safety vessel and/or alert big ships to my presence. It would be downright dangerous to be on an ocean without it.
Yet I'm a female, and in the solo class (as opposed to a pair or four) so didn't that make me a solo female rower?
I turned to Ken Crutchlow of the Ocean Rowing Society for clarification. He rang this afternoon to reassure me that I am indeed a solo female rower, and am undeniably the first solo woman to row in a race across the Atlantic. Phew! I will also be unsupported (nothing to do with whether or not I'm wearing a bra) and, I guess, single-handed.
I'm still not 100% clear on the distinctions - Ellen MacArthur might be surprised to learn that she wasn't solo within the Oceans.net definition. Pete Goss likewise. And HE thought he was solo/single-handed - although not in the way envisaged by a little old lady who once came up to him and said, "As if it isn't hard enough sailing around the world on your own, they tie one hand behind your back as well?!" I wonder what she would have thought of a single-handed rower...
13 Mar 2005, Yorkshire
Or shouldn't I ask? Maybe on your way home, maybe still partying? Me, I was rowing...
I'd woken up at 4am thinking about the 5-hour ergo scheduled for today. It had been looming over me all week, my eyes drawn irresitibly to Sunday's entry in my training programme.
This morning I decided to let it loom no more. Deciding that the anticipation is usually worse than just getting on and doing it, I communed with my pillow for a final blissful moment, then flung back the covers and hopped out of bed.
By 9am I'd rowed over 42km, watched the sun rise, and listened to all four new CD's my WOMAD friend Stevie had burned for me.
Virtuous, me? It's not often said, but maybe this morning, if you'd looked in the direction of Leeds shortly before dawn, you might have seen a glow in the sky - the reflected glow of my halo shining.
03 Mar 2005, Yorkshire
A surprise delivery 5 minutes ago - a huge, HUGE box full of 9 Bars, from those nice people at Wholebake.
The last consignment got mis-delivered to the Blockbuster video shop up the road, and by the time the mistake was discovered the staff there had made a significant dent in my snack bar supply.
So Jenni Gibson has very kindly dispatched emergency replacements from the wilds of Wales, all the way to Yorkshire. I wonder if their delivery service extends to mid-Atlantic?
Blimey - I just worked out how many calories there are in this box - 80,640. Theoretically, if I ate them all in one go, I'd put on 23lb overnight - talk about Super Size Me. But even I would be hard-pushed to chomp my way through them all in one go - these should turbo-charge my workouts for quite some time - oh, at least a week.
01 Mar 2005, Yorkshire
'Hello, I'm enquiring about keeping my boat in the marina over the summer.'
'What sort of boat is it?'
'An ocean rowing boat.'
(expecting usual response of hilarity and/or admiration).
'Sorry, but we don't allow rowing in the marina. The rules say all boats have to have a motor.'
(Hang on, this isn't the way the conversation is meant to go.)
'But it's an ocean rowing boat. The motor is me. That's the whole point. Even having anything that could be used as a sail is totally against the race rules.'
'But OUR rules say you have to have a motor, for safety reasons. Can't you fit an outboard to it?'
'So you want me - let me make sure I've got this right - you want me to fit an outboard engine to my ocean rowing boat? Don't you think that might strike my sponsors as being a little bit suspicious?'
'Those are our rules.'
'Well, there's my plan for the summer up in smoke. I'll have to find another boatbuilder and another place to live then.'
'Well have a think about it, and let me know if you change your mind about the outboard.'