I’m on board this tiny boat, having just finished one of my many 2 hour rowing shift. My team are pulling hard on the oars as I sit cramped in the cabin after eating a rehydrated ‘penne alla bolognese’ meal.
My 3 crew mates are not only my team, but currently my best friends and my family. We’re an odd bunch. A crew thrown together because our love for adventure and pushing outside our comfort zone.
Before signing up to this challenge, I didn’t know any of these people. I originally saw the challenge advertised on Facebook and decided right there and then I needed to do it. I had the option to sign up for between 1 and 8 weeks. Being the ‘all or nothing’ person, I couldn’t resist signing up for all 8 legs to take me the whole way around Great Britain.
I share Lionheart, our 8.6m by 1.5m ocean rowing boat with Lesley Foden, Steve Sidaway and Angus Collins.
Lesley is a well spoken, 60 year old, still life artist from Hampshire. Despite being cabin mates, I don’t know very much about her life as we spend most of our time apart. When she rows I rest and vice versa. What I guess is that she has a lovely life in a beautiful house in the countryside with her family and dogs. Looking at her, you would never guess she is rowing around Great Britain. She is strong, determined and resilient. When we do spend time together we laugh a lot, much to the boys confusion.
Steve is an incredibly strong, 49 year old ex-cop from Warwickshire. I reckon he was quite high up in the ranks from the stories he tells. He is a world record indoor rower, with a calm and patient disposition and keeps us entertained with tales of his life. Steve and I spend a fair bit of time together on the oars, interviewing each other with deep and meaningful questions.
Angus is our skipper. He’s a 28 year old, strong-as-an-ox ocean rowing champion with 4 World records. Again, well spoken, an Oxford graduate from the Essex countryside, to first meet him some might feel intimated by his city-boy turned adventurer demeanour. Yet to know him is something different. The youngest on board by far, the knowledge of the sea this man has astounds us. Lesley, Steve and I are quite literally putting our lives in his hands, crossing shipping channels in extreme weather and strong tides in our little boat.
Then there’s me. Laura, the 34 year old, I don’t know what I am (blogger, events manager, social media consultant, adventurer-wannabe, entrepreneur, anything that earns me money) from Essex. This time last year I wasn’t having a very good time in life with nowhere to live, and now I am rowing around Great Britain this trio!
Outside of this challenge, our paths never would have crossed. At most, perhaps it’d been in the aisles of Waitrose. Who am I kidding!? As if I can afford to shop at Waitrose!
During our land visits, I see people trying to work out the dynamics between us as we wander around, smelly, fatigued, hungry yet elated.
One thing that brings us together is our love for food. Our favourite game is the alphabet game; foods beginning with a, foods beginning with b, so on and so forth. Steve and Lesley have had one game going for 5 days and they are only on E!
Sitting on anchor waiting for the tides to change means we cram ourselves in the middle of Lionheart and have a ‘smörgåsbord’ (that’s Steve’s word, I had to google it), stuffing our face with Mini Cheddars, Baby Bels, Pink Lady apples and Pepperami.
We work so well together as a team; 4 people from completely different walks of life, of 2.5 generations all living on this tiny boat. It’s more than just living though, it’s thriving.
I am feeling extremely lucky to be a part of this. And I know the others feel the same.
Read more from the Great British Row 2017