Today I met up with a friend of mine Tim Spiteri for a coffee to wish him well on a journey that he is about to undertake. It isn’t the type of journey that most of the world would ever do. He is about to row from the Canary Islands to Port St. Charles in the Barbados, a total of 3000 nautical miles or 5000 kilometres! He is not doing this alone but with 7 other men who I must admit are as crazy as him! They are attempting to break the world record and raise money for charity with Tim’s charity of choice being MS Australia. Tim’s mother Rhonda lives with MS and this has inspired him to take up this challenge and attempt to raise $250,000. As someone living with MS, how in the world do you thank someone for this when he is about to attempt something that is so dangerous?
I have known about this challenge for quite a while but it always seemed so far away. Now with only days before he leaves (Jan 1st) to meet up with the crew the reality of what he is about to undertake has hit me! I had so many questions for him and to be honest I don’t know how his family will handle the stress of him out there on the Atlantic Ocean. I know as his friend it scares the hell out of me, but talking to him, he is so calm and prepared that I can’t help but be proud of him.
There will always be 4 of the 8 men rowing with constant changes of rower every two hours. I didn’t understand how they could do this so Tim explained that when they start off he will be rowing in the Stroke seat (he sets the pace) and will row for 40 minutes, the skipper of the crew will then change with him and Tim will have 2 hours off. The 2 men who are behind him will initially be rowing for 1:20 then will change with two fresh rowers and the bow oarsman will initially row 2 hours then another change will take place. Then for the rest of the approximately 30 days they will continue to row 2 hours on, 2 hours off. He figures that by the time they reach the Barbados he will have rowed 360 hours! Now for any of you that have ever done an ergo on a rowing machine, even an hour can hurt!
The interesting thing is that not all of the men taking part have been rowers. Some have had a few lessons on how to row but this is new to some of them, albeit they are all very fit people. One of Tim’s jobs on the boat is as a coach, to try and help with the technical aspects of rowing. But as he says when you are rowing through waves as high as a house technique can go out the window. Ocean rowing is like a cross between surf boat racing and river rowing with a bit of crazy thrown in! When I asked about safety he told me that the only time they will use safety lines or a PFD (personal floatation device) will be weather dependant. I can understand why you wouldn’t want something on your upper body while rowing, it would drive you nuts. But seriously we are talking some big waves here!
Tim tells me that the first 10 days will be the worst until they get used to the sleep patterns, eating re-hydrated food and dealing with fatigue. But assures me that after those 10 days it is supposed to become normal and you don’t really want to get off the boat. You are a braver person than me Tim, because the first big wave that hit and I would want to be on solid terra firma! I even asked him what happens if the boat capsizes and you are in the hull on your 2 hours of rest (the beds look like coffins from the pictures he showed me)? He assured me that the hatches are always to be closed, the boat is self-righting and being in those coffin like beds are probably the best place because they are so small and tight you won’t get hurt! Okay that made me feel better…not!
So weather permitting Tim and the crew will set off on the 14th of January and if everything goes to plan will be in Barbados by the 14th of February. I will be following this amazing journey on his website http://timsvoyage.com which has a satellite map to be able to follow their voyage. I am also putting this out there for donations to the cause, please don’t let this undertaking be in vain, lets help him raise his $250,000. You can do this right from his website as well.
In the words of Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” So Tim, from me, my thoughts are with you and the crew, enjoy the journey and I look forward to having a cold one with you upon your return and please stay safe, Love ya!