We made it.
For the past 18 months, we have lived and breathed a discipline neither of us even knew existed. Our lives have revolved around an idea, which many believed was impossible, and we have come out the other side victorious.
We write this blog from the comfort of the Sugar Bay Resort in Barbados, sipping on cold beers and eating amazing food, a million miles from our existence for the past 2 months.
Our arrival on Wednesday was one of the most memorable moments of our lives. As we approached Barbados, we knew the hours ahead would be tough going, as the West coast is notorious for high-winds and currents. Little did we know, it would be by far the most arduous afternoon of the entire trip. We slogged for 6 hours in torrential rain, averaging around 1 knot with both of us on the oars. It was genuinely back-breaking stuff, not what you want after 54 days at sea. We battled until we rounded the harbour wall and made our final strokes into the mooring.
The scenes that followed will stay with us forever, we were greeted by 25 of our closest family and friends, champagne and beers chilled, and tears flowing readily. A superyacht names Slipstream which was moored up next to us gave us a salute on its horn (As they did we actually got stuck on their mooring line and had to jump in and untangle – embarrassing) Our first steps were uneasy to say the least, and we stumbled and crawled into the customs office (After being completely bollocked by the customs officials for touching and speaking to anyone before clearing customs. We clearly look like mules). Our first meal was a double-cheese burger, washed down with several beers, and after weeks of fantasising, it did not disappoint. Since then we have relaxed on the beach, surfed amongst sea turtles, eaten amazing cuisine, drunk cocktails and snoozed in the shade. The week has been perfect, and we are dreading stepping off the plane into the bitterness of the British winter.
When we committed to this challenge, we knew it would be something special, but we could not comprehend the effect it would have on our lives. Many of you reading this will undoubtedly be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of modern day life. London and other cities offer a huge amount in terms of stimulation, but one thing it lacks, is simplicity. Our purpose for 54 days was centered towards one goal, to reach the other side. We ate to gain energy, to enable us to row. We slept to recuperate, to enable us to row. We stretched, cleaned and made repairs, to enable us to row. This simplicity gives you time to reflect, and puts things into perspective like never before.
Hearing stories of people who have completed similar challenges, many say it is both the best and the worst thing they have ever done. In such a testing, inescapable environment, the smallest bit of angst can turn into a major issue. The most important thing is whom you surround yourself with. Doing the Atlantic with the wrong person would be unimaginably painful. We were lucky in the sense we never fell out, and had a common ground of pure naivety. Its impossible to have en ego about something you know nothing about, so we worked together to overcome problems and supported each other 100% of the time.
The support and interest in our adventure has been something we never anticipated, and it is not possible to explain in words the effect this had on us out at sea. People we haven’t spoken to in 10 years were following our every move, and it was humbling to know that.
Many of you will have the same sort of questions following our arrival, and there has been a running theme of common queries, so we have bot answered the top 3 below:
What was the best bit?
T: Hard to pin-point a ‘best bit’, but for me there were certain nights where the moon was full, the stars were thick and bright and the rowing was fast. There were times where I would stop rowing and simply look around, and would find myself smiling to the thought of ‘what are we doing here? A moment of pure clarity, and a feeling of content.
J: Seeing the pilot boat after 54 days at sea. Only at this point did I allow myself to think we had made it after all the complications along the way. To come through it all together and reach Barbados was incredible. There were times I thought it may not happen, which only made it sweeter when the moment arrived.
What was the toughest challenge?
T: The weather was without doubt the toughest part. We were not the luckiest with the elements, and spent a fair bit of time in the cabin on the para-anchor as we were thrown around like a twig. When your goal is to gain miles and make progress, the thought of going backwards, and having no control whatsoever over your progress is hard to deal with. The final week where we got stuck in a pressure system, was the worst moment of the trip for me, it fully broke me and made me question why the hell we were doing this. Luckily we pulled together and smashed the final 6 days, averaging over 60 miles p/day and arriving 2 days quicker than we should have done.
J: The first capsize was a tough moment for me, and the negative frame of mind that followed. Letting go of the ‘Why always us?’ mentality and switching to living for the now was a turning point, and once I got over that thought and embraced the obstacles rather than fearing them, the whole journey became more enjoyable and we learnt from every challenge we faced.
If you were to give advice to someone doing the same challenge, what would it be?
T: Go into the challenge with nothing but positivity. The night before we left, I had no nerves, just pure excitement. I was fully aware of how hard the task ahead was going to be, and had no illusions of the pain we would go through, but was so excited to experience things that a handful of people have experienced. Also embrace your naivety, and never stop asking questions.
J: Decide on one purpose and stick with it. Whether it is speed and records or fun and experience, pick one and stay on that path. It’s also so important to simply back yourself beyond the opinions of others. Embrace the doubters and use it to push yourself to places you didn’t know existed.
We have learnt a huge amount about ourselves, and what is possible if you truly commit to something. We hope our journey has been entertaining and has in someway inspired you to take on your own adventure. Those who know us well should understand fully that if we can do it, anyone can. We have laughed, blagged, stumbled and of course pushed our way through what is regarded as the toughest human feat on the planet, and we loved every minute of it. We thank you dearly for being a part of our journey, it has meant a huge amount to us and none of it would have been possible without the support of all those around us.
Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.
The is not the end, watch this space for the next adventure…