This used to be a workbench in the workshop at Dolphin Quay Boatyard. Now it groans under the weight of my assembled goodies (including all my Simrad, awaiting installation on the Solo.
There's another pile, at least as large, filling the inglenook fireplace in the kitchen of my rented cottage. Somehow I have to find space to fix, lash, stow, or otherwise secure all this lot somewhere in a boat measuring 23 foot by 6.
And lord only knows how on earth the crews of four are going to manage - they have 4 times as much food, and also have to find space for 4 people to hunker down below decks when the weather is bad. They're going to be very close friends by the time they get to Antigua, that's for sure.
Relieved to see from your daily dispatch you're fully victualled again, courtesy of the Royal Navy's finest. Cool photo, too!
Who cares about unsupported anyway - you have my deepest respect regardless, just for being out there and keeping going - KBO!
When I'm doing my own solo transatlantic row I'll remember what I've learned about your experiences and draw strength from them.
All power to your elbow!
Yesterday I met Tiny Little, who entered the ocean rowing Hall of Fame earlier this year when he rowed solo across the Atlantic in a time of 116 days. His row was most notable not for the amount of time it took (it was in fact the 4th slowest crossing ever), but for being probably the only ocean rower in history to have an onboard fridge (to chill the champagne, of course), and the huge entertainment value that Tiny managed to extract from the experience. For example...
"There is a special type of wave. They occur every half an hour or sooner depending on whether or not you are trying to prepare food, or trying to use the toilet, or any other task that requires a level platform. The wave is a giant. It resembles a hospital Matron at full steam, always preceded by a couple of large bustling Sisters and followed by a pair of giggling chanting acolytes.
"Matron can be seen from a great distance and has a huge white hat. She moves at great speed and nothing gets in her way, not even the other waves which are simply sucked in and absorbed.
"Her main job seems to be to encourage all the others to keep pace. When your innocent boat gets in the way, it is carried rapidly up her front and up to the hat which is the part that does the humiliating whack, and tosses you and boat to one side for the acolytes to snigger at as they speed along behind...
"This analogy has helped to civilise my relation with the big waves. When I received a drenching this morning I was able to call out "morning matron" instead of shouting an expletive."
Tiny has already been an enormous help to me. He sold me his para-anchor and first aid kit. (Mandatory first aid kit as required by Race Rules: weighs 7.5kg, fills a stack of round containers 10 inches across and 30 inches high. Usual cost £400.)
He'll also be out in La Gomera to offer last minute support and advice to the competitors. He's offered to take me to the La Gomera supermarket for final victualling of salami and Ritter chocolate bars.
I took Tiny on a guided tour of my boat (as pictured above). He was dead impressed. You'd have thought he'd have had enough of rowing for one year, but he fancies having a row of the Solo while we're in La Gomera. He'd almost be welcome to come the whole 3000 miles with me - we wouldn't get there very fast, but we'd probably have a very good time!
Dunking is something I thought only happened to witches, but it seems it's shortly going to happen to me. Through the generosity of the Royal Navy I'm going to be treated to the dubious privilege of a session in their Underwater Escape Training Unit in Yeovilton. It sounds ghastly - click here to find out all about it.
I had to arrange £5million of public liability cover for the occasion (evidently I'm a very big liability to the public), and the insurance company Besso wrote to me this morning to confirm the cover provided by Illium. Interestingly, "Premium will only become payable in the event of a claim. On completion of the training we will need your confirmation of no claims or incidents."
Looks like a win-win situation - if I emerge intact there's no fee. And if I don't emerge at all then I'm not around to pay the premium. Bargain!