20:00 19/07/10 Its been 48 hours since the RNLI towed us into Grimsby for the last time. Some of us have been to work and some have had a day with their families…but I am sure we have all reflected upon the last 3 weeks of adventure. We’ve had so many highs and so few lows. I am overwhelmed by the calls of support and congratulations that I have had over the last 24 hours…maybe it has put into perspective that the challenge has ended as a huge achievement – not in disappointment as we have all felt. Of course, we would have loved to do the final leg….but you can not fight adverse weather conditions in the North Sea with a mere row boat….even if that row boat is Oyster Shack! The weather would still be against us today with the northerly winds blowing us south making passage out and away from the Humber impossible. The Coastguard warned us that this weather front has now settled in for the foreseeable future….so we realise we had no alternative but to finish.
I have posted some more photos onto the website of our record breaking row and hope these can illustrate the fun and success we have had during the 3 weeks. Always after an adventure like this there are the highs and lows, the euphoria and the disappointments. From my point of view these are some of my highlights:
Highs: The dolphins joining us off the Cornwall coast….just a privilege to have seen that at a time (4am!!) that I needed a lift! Simon Chaulk meeting us at Ilfracombe…absolutely amazed at the speed at which we had rowed from Lands End breaking the existing record in recording 120 miles in just 31 hours!! The Minehead pub; talking and understanding the sacrifices that the volunteers of the RNLI make. Strange one…as I’m not a townie!!…but the protection of parents in nature…the timeless occasions that we saw ducks protect their ducklings or swans defend their signets as our oars came close to their families. Ben Kay cracking open the locks at Foxton…and the one that I am sure that I pushed open before the British Lion and England 2nd row forward!! The Foxton record tumbling. The cheer that we heard whilst rowing up the Soar to Colourworks with the horns blowing and family and friends running alongside the boat. The sight of the Humber Bridge…at that time believing we could make it to Hull before tide turned. Getting out the Humber estuary….before being sucked back in!!
Lows. Getting stuck in the tide after Ilfracombe and rowing for 6 hours covering less than 6 miles!! The pains and aches all over the body after 2 days….although these subsided the longer the rowing continued. Technology…..my iPhone will be claimed by the kids tomorrow as its signal failed time after time when other phones seemed to work well!! The tracker failing from Leicester to Hull was such bad timing for family and friends following us. Calling out the RNLI after we’d been sucked back into the Humber estaury with the realisation that our adventure was coming to a premature end and then mooring up Oyster Shack for the last occasion.
So the adventure has ended and my thanks go to a fantastic crew that I really enjoyed rowing with and have built up lifetime friendships with… Paul Williams – never stopped rowing – just rowed and rowed and rowed! Ian – for all the treats he continually managed to hide in the boats and come out with when we were low. Kiwi – for his power in the stroke and literally being a one man rowing engine! Andy – for all the last minute organisation as the Lumbers panic management was in danger of collapse!! Paul – just to watch the experinced gig rower in action and trying to keep us in check on the river sections (sometimes!!) Simon Cooper – for his rowing contribution and all the organisation of hotels and so much more.
Also our thanks to everyone who has contributed….our land team of Alan and my brother J…….Mark and Annette who delivered and collected the gig…….Chloe at PWC for getting so many freebies……Sarah, Sara, Anna and David who coxed……..accomodation with Liz at Staverton and Steve & Alison at Hoverington……celebs Ben Kay for his 2 days rowing and his blogs!!!……Willie Thorne, Andy Abrahams, Steve Hodge, Andrew Castle……..the Bishop of Leicester for blessing Tiger!
Importantly, thanks to our sponsors: Mattioli Woods, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Lumbers. Chris Sturgess at Sturgess Land Rover for the hugely generous loan of the 2 cars…I want a Discovery – it is an absolutely fantastic car! Breilting for making the limited edition Emergency watches (still 1 available at Lumbers!!). To Stewart, Dave, Mark and all at Virtual Viewing for their patience in creating a fantastic website, which got changed more than once!!!
The most important thanks though is to Simon Chaulk at Woodvale Challenge who lent us both boats and coordinated the trip. Along with Ian Couch and Lee Fudge the route was fantastic and the planning perfect. Good luck for the Round Britain Race….maybe Lumbers should sponsor??!!! And of course my gratitude goes to all of you who have read my blogs, followed our adventure and donated generously to our charities.
All the best Dom