What a trip but the boys are now safely on land having arrived at Port St Charles Saturday morning. They passed the Barbados cement works (the official finish line) at 9.48am (local time) meaning the crossing took 50 days 15 hours 43 minutes. For two local Shropshire boys without the latest technology, boat design or intention to set records this is a very respectable time, only a few hours longer than an Olympic rowing gold medallist who also completed an Atlantic crossing a few years ago.
Harry said, “We spotted the refraction of Barbados as the sunset on Friday evening when we were still about 27 miles away. We had a very relaxed final night on the boat without a huge distance to cover and spent it staring at the growing mass of lights. In the morning as the sun rose we were presented with breaking waves and green fields just off our bows, what a great feeling. Soon after sunrise the wonderful Brian Wells met us at the north point of the island bringing family out to see us and importantly acting as our pilot boat whilst we rounded the notorious north coast of the island, offering encouragement during the last hours. Eventually we made it and had a wonderful arrival at the Port St Charles Yacht Club with a great collection of family, friends, sponsors and locals who had come to see us in. As we stepped off the boat trying to walk was very strange and both Alex and I nearly ended up in the water several times as we stumbled around on the jetty (after so long at sea it has taken us about 48 hours to find our “land legs”).”
“For a long time at sea we had both been craving cold drinks and fresh food and almost immediately after amazing hugs and some tears we were presented with a man’s meal – starter of burger followed by an enormous steak, (I lost 15kg out there, maybe I’ll write a diet book) . Neither touched the sides! The afternoon was excellent but there is no doubt we were both slightly distant and confused, with so many people simply making the arrival a little daunting, but very special.”
The boys have now been on the island for a few days enjoying family suppers, tea at the British high commission, much food and beer but probably most importantly big comfortable beds (where they have both been found curled up in a ball as though they were still on the boat). The support however, from the outside world has not ceased and the donations have been rolling in to the website (www.rowing4research.com) taking the fundraising for charity to more than GBP 142,000.
“What a wonderful thing and thank you all so much for this quite staggering support. Also once again this could not have all happened without the support of so many, but especially Hotel Rafayel and all our loyal sponsors.”
The boys along with the help of Pink Banana Studios will be putting together a documentary style video based on the recordings they made during the journey that will hopefully give some insight into the trials and tribulations that they faced.
Until the next challenge (or not!)
The boys safely arrived in Barbados at 1.48pm GMT Sunday 1st Febuary. On very unstable legs they had the most amazing of welcomes at Port St.Charles, with friends and family and locals that had gathered to support their arrival.
Alex said ” The PSC yacht club produced the most amazing starter of burger followed by steak and washed down with a nice cold beer…What more could we have asked for!” Harry added, “I am delighted to say that my girlfriend and future wife, Lucy Plant, said yes when I got on/fell to one knee!”
“To have got this far is in no small part thanks to a large element of luck, careful planing and preparation – some fantastic sponsors and not least to so many of you who have helped, supported and advised throughout. As to every single person who has made a donation please know that a constant thought of motivation throughout the tough times has been to remind oneself that it is a result of your staggering generosity two very worth well charities will be much better off. The last update I received had our charity fund-raising at over £137k. This is unbelievable and so much more than we could have ever hoped for. It is a big figure that will make a massive difference.”
To read the boys blog click here
The boys went through the three-quarter-way point on Monday, and now they only have 499 miles to go. Every day brings some kind of milestone, however they are aware they must not get too complacent as they are still a long way from home.
The weather has been extremely mixed as of late. When the sun is out it is extremely strong although the boys have said the amount of rain has also surprised them. “It is not continuous like the stuff I hear about in the UK in recent weeks but comes in showers lasting 10-30 minutes. When it arrives though it comes in style. The whole sky turns grey making it hard to tell sea from sky, the wind builds and it pours.”
Harry and Alex have been blown away by everyones support via email, blog, twitter etc. “We can’t tell you how important it has been to climb into the cabin once a day and have a private moment going through all the messages, everything from the mundane, truly outrageous and some questionable bits of advice about fighting sharks (we’ll just try to avoid having to do that!). We would like to say a very special thanks to the men of Ridgemount (our boarding house in school days) who held a sponsored row raising £2836 for our charities. Floreat Salopia!”
Should you wish to donate please visit www.rowing4research.com… The total so far is £135,618.46
The boys have promised to increase the frequency of their tracker updates (www.rowing4research.com) in the days before they arrive so you can see them coming around Barbados to the final goal: port St Charles.
It is week 5 of the boys crazy Atlantic journey and unfortunately it has continued with much slower progress over the past week due to the loss of the loyal trade winds which had thus far been spurring them on.
On Monday, they went through the ‘1000 miles to go’ point which psychologically was a big milestone for them, all be it marred by the fact that they crawled through it using all their strength. On the plus side the calm weather enabled them to tackle a number of general housekeeping jobs that were long overdue. The cabin was given a thorough spring clean and most notably, despite having seen a shark a few days earlier, Harry dived in and set about scraping the hull free of barnacles and seaweed to yield a very welcome extra half knot of speed. Bet they wished they’d done it earlier!
They will shortly be going through the final third of the way marker and generally there is a quietly positive feeling of being on the home straight, all be it with their destination still over 800 miles away.
Both Harry and Alex would like to say a huge thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write them a message, send them riddles, rude jokes, motivational quotes and general messages of support via email. Due to their painfully slow satellite internet connection their support team accumulate them and they retrieve them every other day or so. “It is incredibly comforting to know so many people are following our progress and the messages provide a very welcome and much needed distraction. Onwards and westwards we go!”
Until next week you can track the boys progress at http://www.rowing4research.com
28 days on board Alexandra… and the boys flew past the half way mark 10pm Sunday 5th January with an average speed of 58 miles a day (which extrapolated, would lead to a very quick 46 day crossing.)
The boys have admitted to struggling with the boredom, as although they are very busy, 12 hours a day (each) is spent simply rowing. Nothing more or less, and it has begun to grate on them. Harry said, “I am trying to combat it by pushing myself in every session on the oars but we still have a Iong way to go, and it’s that thought that’s hard to beat. Some unidentified whales visited on Tuesday which helped break the monotony. Alex was very happy, and although I’m glad to have ticked the box must admit indifference to them given their failure to perform free willy style tricks, jumps, whale-human communication.”
Until next week you can track the boys progress at http://www.rowing4research.com
Alex and Harry have now been at sea for three weeks and they seem to have settled into a steady rhythm and the endlessly tiring way of life that it is to be living on a tiny boat in the middle of a vast ocean. The weather gods continue to be kind to them, as the wind remains in their favor and they continue to make decent progress in the right direction. Within the next week the boys hope to go through a major milestone – the half way point!
Alex said, “The unpredictable sea, the pain, tiredness, damp and cramp are all constantly frustrating features of life out here; a reality we are slowly getting used to. It is not all bad however. Add to the picture an exquisite sunset or sunrise, an unbelievably bright starry night or even a pod of dolphins and the daily hardships are quickly forgotten.”
Track the boys at http://www.rowing4research.com & Leave a comment on the blog!