By Chris Hodgson, superyacht officer and Ocean5 rower
Having just stepped off a boat measuring over 300ft, it didn’t take long to realise things are going to be rather different on a 28ft rowing boat. Five men, no bathroom, no bridge and no galley, open to the elements. The closest thing to an engine room is our biceps. These facts take a while to sink in, but the excitement is growing within me as I begin to think how back to basics this journey will be.
Even on a superyacht, crossing the Atlantic is no mean feat. It requires many days of preparation; passage planning, provisioning and stowing the boat for a long time at sea; while keeping in mind that any assistance is a long way away. The bridge, set high above the water, is filled with computers and radars, calculating the journey, providing constant weather updates, a sheltered and air-conditioned place to keep watch and last but not least, a tea and coffee station.
Our little rowing boat, being so low to the sea, will make it hard to spot any ships in the distance – and even worse – harder for them to spot us! It’s a constant worry that we could be mowed down by large ships at any moment and if that’s not scary enough, basic equipment will be our sole means of safely navigating our way 3000 miles across the ocean to Antigua. One other thing to bear in mind is we won’t even be sitting facing the right way. The rowing positions are all sitting with their backs to the bow!
Its back to pure reliance on self and boat, with the lack of luxuries such as a toilet, a bucket will now become our shared commode. Instead of a cozy cabin with my girlfriend, a salty mattress will be the place to rest my weary head (for a whole 2 hours!) Forget chef-prepared meals coming hot from the galley, freeze-dried food and cold water will fuel us for the trip.
There are huge differences between superyachts and rowing boats and it’s not going to comfortable. But at the end of the day, the adventure of rowing the Atlantic is not meant to be easy!