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1st December 2007

Hello folks, here's the last entry on our 'Pre-Race Blog' from your 'Definitely Not On Holiday But Preparing For The Row' correspondant in sunny and hot La Gomera. Jen will be publishing all future entries on the 'Race Blog' page of our website.  We met Hilary, the chap from The Sunday Independant, who did a report and a photo shoot on us which we expect to be published in next week's paper, 9th December.  In the afternoon, we managed to make an Antiguan flag because we didn't have one and will need one to fly from 'The Reason Why' when we get to Antigua - amazing what you can do with a bit of cloth and some felt tip pens!

Last night, we went to the Woodvale Farewell Barbecue at which it was confirmed that the race start will go ahead as planned, tomorrow at 12noon.  We managed to eat the barbecued fish and drink the three barrels of free beer but not before catching a glimpse of the very rare La Gomera Albino Bag Lizard which I managed to capture on a blurred and very unclear photo, but it caused quite a stir with everyone trying to get a picture of this 2 -3 foot white monster lizard on the cliff behind us.

The party continued later in The Blue Marlin where Simon stood up to present the new La Gomera Cup donated by Manuel.  As the morning "race" was basically a procession and a parade, they had a discussion as to which crew deserved to win it.  Well, guess what??  In the words of Simon Chalk " for being the most laid back crew both on and off the water (we are still the only crew to have been fishing and to catch a fish), the most organised and prepared crew, and the crew which has done more to boost the coffers of the 'Manuel Retirement Fund' .... it must go to The Reason Why!!!"  Talk about proud!!  The bar erupted and we had to say a thank you speech on a stool.  You should see the cup - well you will because we're bringing it home and we have to come back in two years time to present it at the start of the next race.

We have just stocked the boat up with fresh fruit, and have practiced the satellite phone options.  I think Paul has it all sussed - I've got my Arthur Dent head again when it comes to the technical stuff.  Funny to see the clock on our website with no days on it, and will be glad to see it counting up again as we get going.

Well, it is getting very close now to when we start rowing and we are basically killing time by stocking up on cheese and ham.  We have just met Chris Jenkins from the Isles of Scilly who is here to see the start of the race and check out the boats in readiness for his crew's attempt to row the North Atlantic next year.  We wish him and his crew the very best of luck, as he did us - actually he bought us lunch and so double best wishes to him!

This will be the last blog before we set off and I will leave you with what Simon Chalk says:- "Everything appears in place for a very fast crossing and records will be broken!"  We'll wait and see but at least it sounds very promising.

That's it!  The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things, of ships and shoes and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings ............well pretty soon, we may be able to tell you as Paul, Droops the pig complete with bind-a-twine lead, and myself make our merry way across The Atlantic Ocean.

Thank you for everyone's support and messages, love to all our families and friends, see you all soon.

Steve and Paul   xx


29th November 2007

We enjoyed another hearty cheese and ham breakfast this morning together with fresh peaches and pineapple.  Following this, Paul and I went off on a coach trip around the island of La Gomera, organised by Woodvale.  The island is amazing and Juan, the coach driver, has to be the best coach driver in the world ... he needed to be!  And with Petra, our Spanish and English speaking German guide, the two of them showed us most of the island.  We are based in the south of the island in San Sebastian which is hot and dry, and very different from the lush, wet mountainous north.  There are massive valleys and giant rock monoliths towering over tiered valley sides for thousands of feet where farmers have cultivated their crops over the millenium.  There are trees full of figs, dates, lemons, oranges, avocadoes and bananas lining the twisting winding roads that first loop up thousands of feet only to come back down again in true 'Italian Job' type hair-pins.  Great palm trees sway in the gentle breeze as Petra describes the names of the "winyards", the "twees" and the lush "wegitation" before we "wisit the wisitor centre"!  The three course lunch with free wine was superb - a real gut buster!

We have just had a course meeting and have plotted our proposed course on the chart but, basically, we will go with the wind as long as it is in our general favour.  There are rumours of a weather front heading our way which would be typical after having had ten days of wind that would have been good.  Apparently, the weather front is not too bad and the start is not in jeopardy ... yet, but watch this space.  Some of the other rowers here are expecting to do really quick times.  Hopefully they will be right because if they can do fast times, then maybe we can as well.  But we will just have to wait and see - we are going to go at our own pace - just getting to the other side of the Atlantic is our priority.

Tomorrow is the La Gomera Cup although this is likely to be more of a procession than a race as it was a couple of years ago when the start was delayed due to bad weather.  We have a chap from the Sunday Independent coming to meet us tomorrow who wants to come out on 'The Reason Why' with us to take photographs and do an interview.

Thank you again for all the messages of support - they are getting through by various emails, websites, texts, phones etc.  Thank you to Richard for the very lovely photo of the "engine house" !  ...INVALUABLE, but the others were ok too ..... thanks mate.  Heard last night that a friend of Paul's won a competition to name a new Skinners beer.  It will be called "Manacle" but I'd have thought that name would be better suited to a short rather than a beer then people could have asked for a "Manacle on the Rocks"!


28th November 2007

Firstly, must thank Pete in 'Charmed Life' for the rope, and Andy and Ian in 'C2' for the loan of the fenders - we have now bought our own, but it is great the way everyone mucks in and helps everyone else.  Manuel was in fine 'ham-swinging form' the other night and gave us a sort of free promotional-stuff lucky dip.  Paul got a bag and I got a t-shirt which is handy as most of mine can walk to the pub on their own now!

We took the boat out yesterday and did ok against the wind.  Have been out again today and the wind has dropped so conditions are perfect and it's all I can do to stop Paul setting off now!  We had Antigua right on course this morning with a gently following 1 knot breeze that allowed us to put our feet up while testing the watermaker, which performed perfectly by the way.  It was then that we decided to go fishing, much to the amusement of one of the Woodvale support yachts that sailed past us.  Of course I did all the donkey work, dangling the lures, etc, etc, and as soon as I gave the line to Paul, he pulled up a great spiney-looking fish.  Don't worry Chris, we threw it back in again.

Compasses and GPS all seem co-ordinated now so our deviation is just the standard 7 degrees that the book tells us.  Well, that's the technical bit done.  I feel a bit like Arthur Dent most of the time and just say "I don't understand" and "Where's the tea?"  Got well set up for today on the usual feast of cheese and ham breakfast, the first items on the menu of international cuisine and, having returned to this fair isle, may go for a sandwich soon before our 'Crisis Ops Meeting' - may have ham and cheese!!

Good news from home for those who don't know:- Baggins is recovering well after his stroke, not out of the woods yet but Chris says he is much better.

We ate in El Pajar last night, a great little place that was sort of inside out with great palm trees growing up in the restaurant through the roof, which is sort of open air but has guttering on the inside.  Above our heads as we ate, the whole place seemed to be growing with raffeta walls and ceiling.  The only thing wrong was all the Spaniards watching Seville play Arsenal on the television in the corner.  It was 2-1 to Seville when we came out but Arsenal are past masters at last minute equalisers so it wouldn't surprise me if they did it again.

We gave Manuel a sticker and a t-shirt last night - he was so chuffed that he had a special ham swinging to celebrate.  I will get a picture of Manuel if possible so that Jan can put it on the website for you all to see.

I have sent a text to work via Jayne but the phone is not saying you've received it - let me know if you have a new number, and a big hello to everyone at Wombwell Homes in Lostwithiel.  Hope you are coping without me and haven't rented out my desk!

Right, must go to our meeting now.  Will send more news soon.  Love to all, Steve and Paul.


26th November 2007

Well, more time has been spent in The Blue Marlin and more hams have been swinging from the ceiling!  Had a Chinese last night and thought we had ordered ok, but it turned out to be a bit of a cock-up - we got double portions of everything and didn't dare send them back so we were totally stuffed!  Got some sad news from Chris last night - Baggins (my dog) suffered a stroke.  He's sort of ok but it is obviously upsetting, especially with me being away.

We have done some final bits and pieces to the boat today and bubble-wrapped everything securely in.  If the wind keeps up, it will be perfect for our route and everyone here is saying that it could be a quick crossing but we'll just have to wait and see - watch this space!  Guy, our friendly Fin, was on song again today, in between eating lunch, drinking wine and suddenly leaping into the marina.  I have to repeat just how alive the marina is:- bright blue fish over a foot long with beautiful elongated tails, some like angel fish, john dory, mullett, and long thin barracouda type things that chase them all the other fish.  Last night, we even saw an octopus swimming along the surface and then it clung onto a mooring buoy for a minute before it was gone - unbelievable.

I must stress that we are NOT on holiday here ... but we have just sipped iced coke and eaten toasted ham, cheese, egg and tomato sandwiches whilst sitting under gently swaying palms.  Today is extremely hot and sunny as I sit writing this on the beach wearing only a pair of shorts.  Must go now as I'm starting to burn.  More reports soon.  Have to thank some fellow rowers so will get boats and names sorted out and send to Jen soon to put public thanks on the website.  Love to all, Steve & Paul.


25th November 2007 (no prizes for guessing who wrote this!)

We have had a lazy day today, sitting in the sun on the boat, recovering from last night when some absolute bounder spiked our tonic water with gin!! But more about that in a minute.  We have both taken lots of photos today but I have forgotten the lead to link my camera to the laptop so it will only be Paul's photos that will be sent back for the website.

After sending my last report, an impromptu fancy dress party was organised, but when we saw the costumes, it was obviously less impromptu than we thought! We didn't actually have our boat scrutineering finished until gone 9pm that night so we decided to go as we were.... disguised as a couple of smelly, unshaven ne'erdo wells, which is what we were - see photo opposite!  Up-to-date photos and progress reports will be put on this website, but there is also a new official website now for the race which is www.atlanticrowingrace2007.co.uk (if you look at that address quickly, it looks like "at last I crow in grace "...or is it me ). On there are more pictures of the boats, our welcome to La Gomera meeting, on Saturday, and The Reason Why being put in the water. I think Paul has managed to send some of his photos back, so by the good grace of Jen, they will soon start appearing on our website too.  (Already done Steve!  Jen)

Have to mention the meal for two we had Friday night - it was a beastly sized paella with mussells and prawns nearly as big as your head....well nearly.  Had a bit of rain Saturday and intermittently since but it comes and goes very quickly, like the wind, which funnels down the narrow streets and although warmish can get really quite strong. There always seems to be white tops on the ocean and hopefully they will be going our way next Sunday so will give us a quick start.

At the welcoming meeting, we were told the agenda for meetings through the week, ending up with a race between all the ocean rowing boats next Friday or Saturday.  This is the Gomera Cup which was started two years ago when the race start proper was delayed - hopefully it won't be delayed this year. Most people are expecting a more "usual" weather pattern this year, and I'm told by the captain of  one of the support yachts that the Azores High is in place earlier than usual which is apparently good and should help to stabilise the weather in this part of the Atlantic.

We had the boat all packed up by Saturday lunchtime, and Neil and Scott from " Ocean Summit " next to us were also ready, so Amanda from Woodvale organised both our boats to be lifted in together.  This was done by 5pm-ish and so we are now tied up on the pontoon in the marina, again next to " Ocean Summit ". Then we were invited onto the support yacht "Sara" for drinks which was great fun, but as they ran out of tonic before the gin, you can imagine why we are having a lazy day!  The marina is absolutely teeming with fish of all sizes, some really big ones, mostly mullett, but others we don't know what they are.

We also had the good fortune to meet Guy, the mad Fin, today whose yacht is moored next door to us.  He was larger than life and was just what I needed in my fragile state, but at least he didn't ask how long was it going to take or where are we going from!! But when he presented us with a smelly, Finnish garlic sausage, then stripped off and dived into the marina, nearly sinking the pontoon, it all became too much, and we resolved to go for a wander.


23rd November 2007 (by Steve, again!!)

We spent a few hours on Wednesday afternoon in Tenerife drinking a few beers ... it was hot, very hot.  Then we caught the Fred Olsen ferry to La Gomera... eventually that is, as a certain person had his watch set an hour ahead of English time but as the ferry didn't show and we asked the time, it appears that we are on the same time as English time so we were an hour early and could have had another beer!

Anyway, La Gomera:-  I suppose I should tell you all how horrible it is here ...... quiet, no bars, no restaurants, no shops, nothing to do but work, work, work on the boat, and how cold it is as well ..... problem is, La Gomera is really nice, if not quiet.  The food so far has been superb, and there are as many restaurants and bars as you can shake a stick at.  

As with all places you visit, one particular bar becomes your favourite and this applies to The Blue Marlin, run by a splended chap called Manuel who keeps announcing that he is 51, and you often find that if you include him in each round, later on the rounds get cheaper!  Every now and again, he will start all the hanging things from his ceiling swinging - a hammock, several pork hams, etc, - nobody knows why, but it seems to suit the place - you just have to be here

!We have had 'The Reason Why' scrutinised by Simon and Tony from Woodvale, and apart from a missing book and a few minor suggestions, we are cleared to go!!  The part about working on the boat was true - we were there all day today fetching 150 litres of water from the supermarket and wheeling it in shopping trollies right through the town.  The locals looked a bit bewildered but virtually all of the 22 crews are doing it on pretty much a daily basis so the locals are getting used to it now.  The water has been sealed and stowed in the boat, and we have been properly packing the mountains of food away in their proper positions and I can say, amazingly, it is going to fit.

We should have our tracking beacon fitted tomorrow and then be put in the water the next day, if not later tomorrow. (Photos of this on 'Photos' page of this site.)  The weather has been hot but it does cloud up early and late, and there is a threat of rain.  I'm sitting here typing this report wearing only a pair of shorts as close to the wide open window as possible to get a bit of breeze which is not cold even though it is dark now and approaching 7pm.

All the other crews seem very friendly.  The South African team are great and have hardly mentioned anything about the rugby - in fact, they were very complimentary about England who, in their words, made The World Cup.  There is a Welsh girl here who plays rugby and apparently Wales are playing South Africa soon so everyone is planning to find a bar that will show the match - should be good fun.  Incidentally, the South African boat still hasn't arrived - for some reason it is stuck in Las Palmas but due in tomorrow, we think!

Anyway, that's us all caught up.  We will send more news soon to Jen for publishing on this website.  Thanks Jen in advance for keeping up our excellent website.  A big thank you to everyone for sending their best wishes to us and of course love to our familes.  That's about it - I can hear the call of the Blue Marlin, and food besides Pringles seems a good idea.  Bye for now.


STEVE AND PAUL KNOW REASON WHY

The Cornishman Newspaper - 22nd November 2007

As usual there are several intrepid Cornish rowers taking on this challenge and this time I expect the county to split into two, with West Cornwall supporting Steve Gardner and Paul Harris from Penzance on 'The Reason Why' and East Cornwall supporting Nick Histon and Jon Csehi from Fowey on 'Row4Cornwall'.  

There have been four Atlantic Rows to date in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2005 and the Cornish have been very well represented in the previous races.  In 1997 I was delighted to follow the exploits of three of the 17 competitors all with family connections here in the West Country.  My good friend, St Mawes-based boatbuilder Jon Leach built the entry 'Golden Fleece' for Daniel Innes and Andrew Whittaker, which completed the crossing in 61 days. Unfortunately due to injury Andrew had to be replaced at very short notice by Pete Lowe and it was highly creditable to start let alone finish as Pete had not trained for 60-odd days at sea!  Russell Reid, with Andrew Watson, rowed across in 64 days on board 'Bitzer'. Fowey boys Louis Hunkin and Michael Elliott on board 'Cornish Challenger' took 66 days but had the satisfaction of both building and rowing their own boat.  Indeed it was the exploits of Louis and Michael that persuaded Nick Michael's cousin to embark on the same mad adventure. Two years ago Chris Barrett and Bob Warren from St Mawes had a really good stab at the event sadly capsizing 'Spirit of Cornwall' when almost in sight of Antigua.

Both crews have really worked hard just to get to the Canaries with the initial challenge being to raise the finance to purchase the rowing boats, which are supplied in kit form.  The kits, a bit like flat pack furniture, were dispatched by race organisers Woodvale Events in October last year and the crews worked through the winter to both launch their completed craft in early spring.  Combining fitness training with boat building is no easy task and although just rowing the Atlantic is some achievement ever since the first race back in 1997 it has been treated as a serious race.

In 1997 New Zealanders Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs rowed from Tenerife to Barbados in 41 days and set a standard successive competitors have sought to match if not better. Fellow Kiwis James Fitzgerald and Kevin Biggar in 2003 finally bettered the time by 24 hours in 2003.

The Penzance challenge in this year's event is strong, with both Steve and Paul being members of Zennor Gig Club and having participated in several long distance rows in gigs.  The 2550 nautical miles is obviously substantially longer than any previous row attempted but I am confident they will get to English Harbour.  The pair is raising money for Cornwall Hospice Care and you can follow their progress and donate to the charity on their web site
www.the-reason-why.co.uk

The Fowey duo, Nick and Jon, do not have the experience of Steve and Paul but do have youth on their side. Obviously bettering the time set by Mike Elliott and Louis Hunkin of 66 days will be their first priority but I think there will be a keen battle for bragging rights between the two crews. Again the pair are using their row as a focus to raise money for charity with Epilepsy and Cancer the chosen charities and donations can be made on
www.row4cornwall.co.uk   I saw the Row4Cornwall team at the Southampton Boat Show after Nick and Jon had rowed from Fowey to Southampton as part of their training programme.

Indeed both crews have been rowing along the Cornish coast over the summer months so you may well have met one or other of the Cornish Challenges during their preparation for next Sunday.  Nothing to date will prepare them, however, for the daunting task that they will embark upon. The sore hands, the blisters on bums, the sunstroke and the sheer mental and physical effort you cannot help but wish both crews success.  The human spirit is a precious and rare commodity, which can, if challenged, overcome all adversity and hardship.  I can think of no bigger challenge than rowing the Atlantic and I hope our Cornish lads do themselves and us proud.


21st November 2007

Well, the latest update is that Paul and Steve left Cornwall yesterday to spend 11 days in La Gomera doing the compulsory final boat checks which are required by Woodvale.  No doubt they will also enjoy the beaches, sunshine, swimming pools, together with a few beers now and then ….. just to be social, of course!

More money was raised last weekend when more people entered the competition to guess how long the row would take.  The winner will receive £50.  If anyone reading this hasn’t had a guess and would like to, please email your name, telephone number and 'guess' to:- the-reason-why@hotmail.co.uk and make a donation using the secure online payment method, PayPal, which can be found on the ‘Donations’ page of this website. 

Unfortunately we don’t know yet how much money has been raised for the local charity, Cornwall Hospice Care, (formerly St Julia’s Hospice and Mount Edgcumbe Hospice) as donations are continuing to be received but obviously we will let everyone know when we have a definite figure. 

Paul and Steve will be sending back regular reports regarding their progress throughout the row and these will be published on this website for everyone to read.


18th November 2007   (by, not surprisingly,Steve!)

 

Truly the longest day!! .... But then it was over and there we all were saying our goodbyes on Penzance Railway Station platform - a very cold and damp place at 10pm on a November night! .. and then we were gone!!  We drank out-of-date Budweiser and feasted on in-date Pringles all through the night until we reached Reading after only a few dozes.  Unfortunately Reading was shut, but the Gatwick Express arrived on time and, although cold, it got us to Gatwick right on time.  After a full English breakfast at Garfunkels, we were ready for the flight.  Gate 34 to Tenerife to the Thomsonfly 737 and, as I write these notes, we are flying over the entire south coast directly over Cornwall and our houses!!  Then it was out over Lands End, the Isles of Scilly, and then south for the Canaries.  So, if you saw a plane flying over Penwith about 10.30am on Wednesday morning, it was probably us!!


18th November 2007   (by Steve)

 

Following the great success last Friday, our second farewell party turned out to be a fantastic day in Zennor at The Gurnards Head, who kindly donated a barrel of bear and roast potatoes on the bar - a big thank you once again to The Gurnards.  Thanks to all members of Zennor Gig Club who attended, and to The Walkers and Talkers Society, and everyone else who was there including Vanessa who brought the cake, Andy for the udder cream, Anne and Simon for the letters, Jen for the photo album duly signed by our fellow gig rowers, and the many other gifts, cards and free beer that descended upon us so generously - thanks to all.

 

The mountain bike draw was also done some weeks ago and the presentation was finally made to Lydia for buying square number 440.  Thanks to everyone who bought a square and special thanks to Cycle Logic of Helston who generously donated the mountain bike.

We cannot thank all our friends and families enough for their kind words and support over the past two years but thank you anyway.  Special thanks to our families who are about to see us go off on our adventure, our thoughts and love are with you, and don't worry, we will be back - we don't intend missing out on a truly memorable and momentous reunion in Antigua!


16th November 2007   (by Steve)

 

This was it, our last day at work!  Our i-pods have been fully loaded with music and talking books, our minds are full of secret plans to melt down the rowing machines upon our return to Cornwall, and it is hard to believe that this day is actually here!  Beer, pasties and baguettes for lunch then 'farewell and see you in February'!  Once again, our thanks go to Western Power Distribution and Wombwell Homes, our two employees, without whom we would never have done this rowing challenge.  

 

At night, it was the first farewell party at The Bucket of Blood in Phillack complete with more pasties courtesy of Western Power Distribution - thanks again.  There was a fantastic turnout from our friends for which we were very grateful.  My weekend was already brilliant as my eldest daughter Sam and her boyfriend Alex made a surprise visit and the long journey down from Edinburgh which meant a lot as I was able to say farewell to my complete family:- Chris, Rebecca, Oliver and Sam ....as well as Baggins, the dog!


19th October 2007   (by Steve)

 

So, there we were, driving back from Newark - yes, north of Nottingham - having dripped off 'The Reason Why' for shipping to La Gomera from Felixstowe! ... we couldn't work it out either.  But these were the experts and they'd done it all before.  Mind you, after three hours (the two girls in front of us had to wait five hours!) of watching people scouring the edges of the car park to find pieces of old weather-stained wood (still with the remnants of boat names on them from the race two years ago), they then proceeded to nail them together.  Surely these weren't the precision-made purpose-built cradles we had driven so far and paid so much to make use of??  Anyway, after turning the girls' boat around, as instructed, then turning it back again because it was the right way round in the first place, and watching oversized strops for lifting the boats being wrapped around each other on an oversized forklift, then watching the cradle for our boat just start to be built, I was convinced the security cameras were in fact filing for 'Beadles About' and Jeremy Beadle would jump out at any moment, after he'd stretched our disbelief at the circumstances just too far!  But no, it was all true. And in fairness I can add that the boat, despite al our fears, arrived safely in La Gomera.

 

So that was it!  The boat was gone and all we had to do was get home through traffic that was described as 'Black Friday' and the worst of the year.  The M1, M6, M42, M5 and A30 were all just car parks, and towing a 30' gig trailer didn't make it any easier either, but we got home 18 hours after leaving - tired but ok!


17th October 2007   (by Steve)

Well, as the website now proudly displays (thanks Jen), only 45 days 10 hours 51 minutes and 2 seconds to the start of the race on 2nd December.  Things are coming together fairly well and last night, Paul and I ran through the entire Woodvale checklist and it would appear we have everything…amazing!

Talk about a mountain of stuff.  It will be like trying to get a pint in a half pint pot, when we pack it all in the boat tonight.  As for the food, it looks like we have enough to feed an army for a year, but having to take a mandatory 90 day supply has inflated the food to a veritable mountain of black bin liners full of daily ration packs made up of muesli, pasta, rice, noodles, go bars, chilli con carne or spaghetti bolognaise, crisps, peanuts and the inevitable pot noodle, the first item on the menu of international cuisine!  It’ll be pot luck what ration bag we pick and one day’s delight of chicken curry and chocolate chip mousse may well be countered by the next day’s wolf fish and a bag of raisins!  (What the hell is wolf fish anyway?)

Final preparations being made.

Sorting out daily food rations.

One last photo before being towed to Newark.

The last items on the equipment list were the Satellite phone sim card and the massive first aid kit (there’s stuff in there Doc Martin would have to look up what they were for!)   These we now have purchased thanks to the ladies darts team from The Globe Inn, Lostwithiel, who did a 24 hour darts marathon and raised a fantastic £1,500 for us and Cornwall Hospice Care.  Thanks to Will in The Globe and Georgina, Michele, Tina, Angela, Marion, Jeannie, Maisey and especially Karen for organising it all, it was a great success.

The Reason Why joined the three Cornish pilot gigs from Zennor Gig Club (Penzance) to take part in September’s Zennor carnival.  It has to be said that having a route of only 1½ miles means that you go the speed of the walking entrants and this year a police presence (for traffic management) calmly said no-one could walk the route and all the floats had to follow him in his squad car.  He then proceeded to go at 50mph from the Gurnards Head to the Tinners Arms, and thus the procession lasted a grand total of almost 5 minutes! ... and that was because I stopped and held everybody else up behind me.  Still, it got us to the bar earlier than expected!

We’ve been out rowing in The Reason Why again for a night row from Penzance to Mountamopus Buoy off Cudden Point and back, about 8–9 miles, just a little loosener.

One thing I should add is that the board we have been selling 1,000 squares on for the mountain bike, kindly donated by Cycle Logic from Helston, has now been drawn.  The winning number was 440, and the winner is Lydia Dean-Barrows from St Ives.  Paul and I will be presenting the bicycle to Lydia very soon.

Well there you have it, the early morning rowing machine and running the cliff path in the dark stage is nearly over and, together with the endless fundraising and begging letters, we are nearly there.  On Friday 19th October, Paul and I deliver The Reason Why, fully packed and ready to go, to the freight company in Nottingham (Newark) for shipping to La Gomera.  Soon after, on 20th November, it will be Paul and I that ship ourselves on trains, planes, cars and ferries (one better than Steve Martin!) on one-way tickets to rejoin the fruit of our labours and trusty wooden steed “The Reason Why” in the Canaries.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped, donated, and supported us, which has enabled us to get where we are now …. so very close now to that elusive start line.  A massive thank you to Simon at Hotdog for all the vinyl’s, stickers, T-shirts etc – I promise that’s the lot now….well…probably…?!

Look at that, writing this with a thousand interruptions, the clock says 45 days, 8 hours 58 minutes and 42 seconds to go.   Doesn’t time just fly?


31st August 2007   (by Steve)

Have been out in the boat a few more times now but there always seems to be a strong headwind and the coastline around here doesn't take prisoners.  If not the wind, then the tide is rarely right to launch after work, and it seems even more rarely at weekends.  We did manage a trip from Penzance towards Lamorna past Mousehole but again, all too soon, a strong headwind appeared and made progress difficult.  We tried rowing 'one hour on and one hour off' for a while but as the wind increased against us, we thought it a good idea to test the sea anchor again.  Strange to say that not only did it hold our position but it caught the outgoing tide and current, and actually pulled us out against the wind we had struggled to row into!  This is an important point to remember, I think, when expending energy is less efficient than deploying the sea anchor and still make progress.

Also had a trip across the notorious Hayle Bar to St Ives.  This went well and the wind was kind to us for a change.  The strangest thing was the hot air balloon that appeared very low over St Ives and slowly rose away over the Hayle Estuary.  Mental note: must put more weight/ballast in boat - still sitting a biy high and light.

Had a great weekend just past, with a fundraising barbecue at The Gurnards Head Hotel, Zennor.  A big thank you to everyone who supported us and to Charles for making it possible, and for providing the beer and food which enabled us to raise over £600.  Thanks also to Andy and all the staff, and a special thanks to Roger Warren and Chunky and everyone else for their donations.  For the record, there is no truth in the rumour that one potential ocean rower tried his hardest, but failed miserably, to drink dry the barrel of Betty Stoggs bitter!!

Bank Holiday Monday saw us at the Newlyn Fish Festival and, after the head finally cleared, we had a great day raising another £300+.  There was a lot of interest in the boat, and we just wished we'd had a tape recorder to answer quite a lot of the same questions, such as:-

  1. How long will it take?
  2. When are you going?
  3. Why are you going in the winter?
  4. Are you rowing back?    
  5. What size are the engines? (Yes, seriously!!)
  6. Are you mad?

The answer to the last is possibly still in the balance!

Flights to, and accommodation in, La Gomera are all booked.  It is very strange booking one way tickets; it really begins to hit home that this is not something we are helping with and will be able to sit back and watch ......this is for us, exciting edge of the seat stuff.  There must be easier ways to get a holiday in Antigua!!

As I sit here typing this, it's just 93 days until the race starts ......wow!


July 2007 - 48 Hour Row   (by Steve)

Sorry for delay in keeping up to date, but you haven’t missed anything.  It’s all about the trouble with oars:- their size, are they the right ones and if they are, why don’t they fit the rowing gates?? Anyway, all ok now. (If a certain James Cracknell says they’re ok, then they’re ok with us!)

12.00 Friday 27th July

Departed Mylor slipway for Woodvale mandatory 48 hour row. Half an hour in, first encounter with two enormous ships exiting Falmouth Harbour, but the pilot was very precise in his instructions, it was ”get out the ……. way,” or something like, we understood him anyway, and removed ourselves.

We visited St.Anthony’s lighthouse and across the bay to the Helford river, and set off for a night row - 14.7 miles to Dodman point. This started fine but by 2245hrs-ish the wind started to pick up from the south-west, and we decided to turn back for the Helford. We had done 7.5 miles, but the 7.5 miles back took 4.5 hours into the wind, and was hard work. Not to mention our 2nd and 3rd encounters with supertankers, but let me tell you at night they are infinitely more scary!  We managed to avoid them though.  You can’t imagine how busy the mouth to Carrick Roads is, and we were glad to get across even if it did seem to take forever. As we slowly drew into the Helford, by now it was 0330hrs and we found a few hours sleep fairly easy!

Saturday 28th July

Breakfasted and refreshed, we set off to The Manacles, actually Porthoustock Cove, for the local gig racing event which we watched part of before rowing back to Falmouth ahead of the predicted heavy rain. Blackrock Buoy seemed  an awful long way, and the sea was getting up and we were soaked through to the skin way before we got there.  At one point we were going 2.6 knots in the wind without rowing! We realise just what a difference having a friendly wind can make.  It was horrible as we tried to put on dry clothes and cook a meal in the relative shelter of the Truro river. But even here, the wind through the night gusted very strongly.

Sunday 29th July

It dawned raining but cleared up nicely as we rowed back up Carrick Roads, round and about, just right for 1200hrs and timed it about as wrong as you can get in Mylor, as there was no water to recover The Reason Why. That and there was that bloody blue Devoran gig blocking up the slipway as well!!  Joking aside, thanks to Devoran Gig Club for giving us a lift recovering the boat, and to Nicky for gratuitously splashing water in my face when at my most vulnerable, but then, could I expect anything more?

But still, we had been out for 48 hours, found out about oars, electrics, cooking, night rowing, headwinds etc and apart from a rain drip through a couple of bolts, it was all good, and we had rowed about 42 miles.

Getting near the sharp end now as the boat is due to be shipped to La Gomera in two months or so.  Lets hope La Gomera and The Canaries in general have stopped burning by then - for all the people living there, not just The Atlantic Rowing Race.

We’ll keep you posted with whatever happens between now and then.


9th June 2007

The Reason Why, complete with sponsors' logos and new trailer, was on display at the local gig racing event held today at Gyllingvase Beach in Falmouth.  There was a lot of interest in the boat and this was an ideal location to raise the profile of our Atlantic row as well as raising some funds for the outstanding equipment that we still require before we start out on our epic journey in six months time.

More photos are available on the 'Photos' page.


 

 

27th May 2007

Although no photos have been put on here lately, it doesn't mean we've given up!!

Work has been continuing on the electrics, aerials, etc which has been fiddly and time consuming.  However, we can now add a photo showing the aerials in place and the electrics box inside the sleeping cabin.


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9th April 2007

The Reason Why was taken up to The Tinners Arms on Easter Monday where funds were raised from selling t-shirts, polo shirts, 'Squares On Board' to win a mountain bike (kindly donated by Cycle Logic of Helston) and 'Guess The Time' it will take us to row across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as donation buckets.


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7th April 2007

Since the launch day, we have been fitting more equipment.  Photos from the right and working clockwise show:-  solar panels fitted to roof and side, batteries installed in cabin, water maker in deck cupboard, cooker attached next to hatch, and mattress in sleeping cabin.

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25th February 2007

The red and black covers have now been added which give access to the storage areas below the deck.  The deck itself has been painted with non-skid paint.  Work continues on the rudder and the foot rests.


15th February 2007

The cabin has had a 'world' sticker placed on the side, and the hatch has been installed in the cabin roof.  Lots of small jobs continue to be completed each week which are too numerous to mention.


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1st February 2007

Photos to the left show what the seating positions look like from either end of the boat.  Photos to the right show the sleeping area - it looks quite spacious in the first photo, but add a couple of rowers and it soon becomes very cosy!

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20th January 2007

One of us got a bit carried away with some yellow paint - the boat looked awful! So, over the last ten days, we have been experimenting with new colours schemes and all but reinstating the paintwork of nearly two weeks ago!  The name has been painted on, the runners have been fixed to the deck, and some of the hatches have now been installed.


7th January 2007

The first photo of 2007 and during the Christmas holidays, the bottom of the boat had its first coat of black paint, and the sides have been painted blue.  Contrary to the  beliefs of 'The Devoran 4', this shade of blue is called 'Zennor Blue' and definitely not 'Devoran Blue'!          No doubt comments will be posted on the guestbook drekkly! Ha ha.


31st December 2006

The last day of 2006 and so far 'The Reason Why' has had two coats of undercoat, some of the hatches in the rear cabin have been installed, and the water line marked on in pencil.


16th December 2006

The resin-ing has been completed and the whole boat is currently undergoing wet and dry sanding in preparation for the first coat of paint which is scheduled to be done next week.


 

 

22nd November 2006

The left hand photo shows the sleeping area complete with roof and hatch hole.  

The right hand photo shows 'the view from our bedroom'!


11th November 2006

The sides and front cabin have been planked.  The deck has also been covered leaving access holes to the storage areas below.


29th October 2006

Two phrases sum up the current situation:-

'relentless resin-ing'  and  'eternal epoxy-ing'


14th October 2006

Today we started putting the bottom sections onto the main framework - it is now beginning to look like something like a boat.


10th October 2006

Over the last week, we have spent most evenings and the weekend glueing the various parts of the boat together.  We did this in three separate sections, and then joined these together to form the basis of the boat.  During this time, Steve was contacted by Radio Cornwall to do an interview about our trip - hopefully this will have raised local awareness which may result in further sponsorship.  


7th October 2006

Do you remember the days when your parents bought you airfix kits for Christmas?  Well, this is much the same thing ...... only bigger!  Suffice to say, the glueing continues!  The middle section can be seen in the background leant up against the wall.  The photo shows us working on the bow.


4th October 2006

Having cut out all the various pieces of wood, the job of glueing them together began - cable ties came in very handy to keep everything in place until dry!


29th Sept 2006

Today we took delivery of 'The Reason Why' although there is no sign of any boat - just a pile of plywood!  Many thanks to Torridge Transport for delivering it, to Billy Faull for unloading it, and to Alan Baumbach for providing the shed in which to build it.  Now all we have to do is put it together - it can't be that difficult ....... can it?!

 

 

 

 

Copyright(c) 2006 The Reason Why. All rights reserved.