Its been an exciting few days, flying to the UK, meeting the crew and of course meeting the lady herself, Sara G. On Friday I flew to Stanstead and stayed the night in Cambridge with crew mate Pedro and his Fiance Emma. When I say the night it was only half the night as we were up bright and early at 0300 to hit the road south for Lymington. With a short detour on the way to pick up James we arrived in Lymington before the sun came up at 0630.
After a short wander around we made contact with our skipper, Matt, and finally got our first glimpse of Sara G as the sun came up over the Solent. This was the first time James and I saw the boat and we spent a few minutes looking around, it didn’t take too long!
So that was it the scene was set, the 6 of us were finally in the same place. It was time to buddy off and get our seating and cabin assignments. So in the stroke seat, responsible for setting the rowing rate are Mylene and Pedro, midships in the 2 seat are the skipper Matt and 1st Mate Peter, these 4 will all share the large aft cabin leaving James and I to share the bow seat and the smaller bow cabin.
Once the formalities were out of the way we had a quick dehydrated breakfast, changed into some sexy leggings and set off for our first row in Sara G. Pedro, Peter and I took the first shift and headed out of Lymington with Matt at the helm carefully navigating out of the narrow busy channel into the Solent. Once out we had to push hard to clear Hurst point and make our tidal window, with the wind against tide the chop made rowing difficult at times as the oars would miss the water but after an hour we cleared the headland and were in the calm waters of Christchurch bay.
We spent the next few hours testing the boats system, deploying and recovering the sea anchor, testing the auto helm, GPS plotter and of course adjusting and fine tuning the rowing positions. It was a very productive few hours with everybody learning about the boat and the equipment, it will be key that we are all very familiar with the equipment carried especially the safety kit. We will be running through more drills and looking in detail at everything once we get to Morocco.
Once we had finished all the testing it was time to make our way back along the coast, it was tough going against the tide and breeze and after 4 hours of rowing against a strong tide the decision was made to hook up the outboard engine and motor the final couple of miles up the Solent and back into Lymington. This of course will not be necessary on the Atlantic as the tide will always be with us, thankfully!
We finished up a great day with a nice meal and some banter over beers. Overall a great weekend, I am glad to have gotten through two full 2 hour shifts at the oars, I need to build up more strength in my back but better to know that now rather than 50 miles off Morocco!