EDIT MAY 2021 – WE DID IT! You can read about my (BRUTAL!) experience rowing the Atlantic HERE
Ocean Rowing; What Have I got myself into?!
So, yeah. Ocean Rowing. I’m rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in January 2021. Unsupported, and fuelled only by muscle-power. It’s all very last minute. And I haven’t done THAT much research. But I have spoken to the team that is operating it all, and they seem to know what they’re doing. I’ve spoken to the 3 other people who’ll be on the boat (is it called a boat?!) with me, and they all seem like great guys. And COVID-19 has meant my wedding ceremony has been delayed. I can’t really travel properly like usual, and things are pretty quiet, so I sort-of, kinda have the time. So yeah. I might as well.
How Are You Rowing Across the Atlantic!?
I was going to say it’s a long story. But it’s not really. Firstly, there’s a legendary guy I follow on Instagram called Damien. He’s from Ireland, and he’s a beast. He rowed the Atlantic SOLO (mental!) a few years ago, and I was blown away. Then, when I did that stupid, painful 6 marathons in 6 days across the Sahara during the Marathon Des Sables, a guy called Chris (another legend, spot the theme?!) had also rowed the Atlantic, but in a team. Again, I was blown away, but the team thing sounded much more appealing. Like a lot of these crazy adventures you see people doing, I thought “I wish I could do that”.
But we shouldn’t think like that. If we truly want something in our lives, we need to take action. So during one of the marathon days in the Sahara, I pestered him all day. I ended up joining a Facebook group on his recommendation – The Ocean Rowing Society. And so I watched all these heroes from afar over the last 18 months. Then, about 6 weeks ago, an organisation called Monkey Fist Adventures posted on the group. 2 last-minute spots need filling for a Trans-Atlantic row in January 2021.
Without telling anyone, and terrified, I applied. Then I harassed them on Facebook and Instagram. And I emailed again (Sorry everyone, if you’re reading this!). They had been inundated with applications. Shit. Thankfully, they don’t know me, so I made the shortlist for group Zoom interviews! And we did the interview. At this point they mentioned the potential financial side should we not secure funding ($20k. Ouch). They did also mention that if we secure corporate sponsors, however, that cost will reduce (a likely chance, I’m sure you think!). And that it could take up to 7 or 8 weeks on sea. Wow. And that the weather could delay the start or the finish, so we must set aside the best part of a quarter of a year for this expedition. Holy hell. Ok, f*ck it. If you choose me, I’m in. 10000% in.
Then I had a call. I was in. Like REALLY in. Oh dear. Then the reality hit. I told my mrs (she was furious), told my mum (she was ecstatic). I’m in Thailand, so I need to get back to the UK to meet the team in December, then we’ll start in January, All things being well. So, that’s how I am rowing across the Atlantic.
Oh, and the corporate sponsor? Gold sponsor secured. We’re already down to $10k. Fingers crossed for the rest of the sponsors. I have a wedding, and a house to pay for next year and my mrs isn’t overly delighted that I’m spending all my money on this expedition!
Why Are You Rowing Across the Atlantic?
Good question. A few reasons.
1) LAW OF ATTRACTION.
The universe pointed me this way, or at least I pointed me this way. With Damien, then Chris telling me about it. The law of attraction kicked in. From there, one way or another, I made it happen. When the opportunity finally presented itself to me, I did some research into Monkey Fist Adventures and saw that they had also worked closely with Parkinson’s Sufferers on past expeditions. As you guys know, my mum has Parkinson’s (and we climbed Mount Fuji together last year to raise $20k for ‘Cure Parksinons’ – what a legend she is!). Everything was screaming at me to make this happen. I couldn’t pass it up.
In a time where mental health seems to be causing more problems than ever, this expedition will be supporting Humen. A mental health charity, with a movement to improve and maintain men’s mental health through campaigning. Also Dean Farm Trust, an animal sanctuary will also be one of our adopted charities, promoting cruelty-free choices.
Men’s Mental Health with HuMEN:
Dean Farm Trust Animal Sanctuary:
3) 100% MEAT-FREE EXPEDITION:
I have been plant-powered for almost 4 years now. And to have the boat commit to being 100% meat-free, and plant-powered is beautiful. You don’t need meat to be a beast!
4) OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME.
I’m hugely privileged to be able to join the team at Monkey Fist Adventures. The logistics, the funding, the PR, the expertise. I have zero ability for all of that. I’m humbled and hugely grateful, to be given this chance. It would be criminal to waste such an amazing opportunity.
I look forward to disconnecting from the internet 99% of the days, reconnecting with new people in my team, and of course nature. Facing my fears of claustrophobia and the wide-open spaces (a contradiction I know, but it’s how I’m feeling right now). It’s a physical, and mental challenge unlike anything I’ve ever done, and I’m so thankful (and genuinely scared) to be able to test myself like this. I can’t waste the opportunity of a lifetime. So thank you Monkey Fist Adventures.
Who Are You Rowing the Atlantic With?
There are 4 people in the boat with me.
Billy Taylor: The skipper, and the boss. A veteran of crossing oceans, and a campaigner for Parkinson’s. He’s, amazingly, rowed the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. He’s basically our lifeline!
Matthew Pritchard: Brits may remember him as one of the crew from Dirty Sanchez, or on BBC as ‘The Dirty Vegan’. He’s a fitness beast, and he’s no doubt going to be our engine.
Martin Heseltine: Martin has spent his life on the ocean, and has more experience with all things water-based than I do with pretty much anything. At 61, he’ll be our wisdom
And me. God knows what I offer. Stubbornness?
How Long Will Rowing the Atlantic Take?
Good question. The world record is 30 days-ish. We certainly won’t be going for that. Figure on something more like 50 days I think. So 7 weeks without any land in sight. Now that is truly terrifying.
Where Will You Start and Finish?
From Lanzarote (Spanish island off the coast off Morocco) to Antigua (a tiny country in the Caribbean).
How Far Is it?!
How Much Does it Cost to Row Across the Atlantic?
A lot. Which is why I’m so grateful to be able to join. Thanks to generous corporate sponsors, and various other tricks of the trade, the Monkey Fist Adventures team have made it happen. Numbers? Probably somewhere around $100k USD. Add another $20k or so to that for the internet-tech stuff on board that we’re borrowing (just don’t drop it in the ocean johnny boy).
But You Can’t Really Swim, Can you!?
I mean, I can swim from a side of a pool to a swim-up bar. Can I swim 10 lengths? No Probably not. I’ll work on that during the next few weeks though. I promise. I did tell the team that swimming isn’t my strong point, to be fair. They said “Don’t worry Johnny, we plan to be spending most of our time IN the boat”. That’s that sorted then.
And What About the Boat?
29 foot long, 6 feet wide. You row for 2 hours. Rest/sleep for 2 hours. In those 4 hour blocks. 24 hours per day. For 7 weeks. Where do we sleep? In a tiny space about the size of a queen-size bed. 2 of us at time. And the toilet? Look away guys. Bucket. Back in the ocean. Job done.
Thoughts on Rowing the Atlantic?
It’s the most scared I’ve ever been for one of my challenges. Being unsupported, the power of the ocean. Sleep deprivation. The lack of personal space. The sheer discomfort. But it’s also the most excited I’ve ever been for a challenge. For the opportunity to raise awareness for men’s mental health in a time that it’s never been so pertinent. And to push myself, physically and mentally harder than ever before. Wish me luck, or if you believe in God, pray to him for me too. I’ll be setting up fund-raising of course, but in the mean time, I’ll be in the gym learning to row, and to swim.
KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE PROGRESS OF OUR ‘ATLANTIC DASH’
Check out Monkey Fist Adventures on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_monkeyfist/
- We have satellite gear, so our progress will be updated daily. Follow these guys, and my own insta (i hope!?) to see how we’re getting on.
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