Not all couples might like the idea of being trapped in a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean, sharing a bucket for an ensuite, so I thought it might be an idea to lay out a little bit of background of just how we got here!
I met Andy almost 2 years ago now. I was mid-way through university, as anxious as I’d ever been, and confused about myself, my work and what I wanted. We clicked instantly (after about half an hour and 2 pints I was talking about rowing the Atlantic with him!), and about a week later headed off on what turned into a month long road trip around Scotland. I promised myself we’d be “just friends”, but the more I got to know him, the more I realised that our values and our goals aligned perfectly.
The classic Scottish weather
Andy had rowed solo around Britain in 2018. It took him 174 days - and that was after a first attempt of another 86 days! Every ocean rower says that Britain is much harder than the Atlantic (think tides and cliffs!) and he earned a Guinness World Record. But it’s not the physical achievement that I think is so remarkable.
Andy took himself from a place of depression and from a loved one having just passed away, to spending every penny he had on a boat and going to pursue something he’d always wanted. He didn’t come from money, had never rowed before, and frankly didn’t have the first clue of where to start. It’s overcoming those barriers that I respect much more than the row itself - it signals an underlying optimism even when everything else feels hopeless; a characteristic I’m trying my best to emulate now.
Some snaps from Andy's Round Britain Row
We ended up moving in together at the start of the coronavirus pandemic; he had just started a job in Plymouth and I came down to visit for the weekend. Lockdown was announced, and I thought I may as well stay! Luckily, things worked out, and after a year spending every minute together in a studio flat we felt we were in a place to start working properly on an Atlantic campaign.
Clearly, the process is easier for me. I have Andy to teach me the practical side of things - the logistics of how to row an ocean. However, we are both in over our heads when it comes to the other aspects; fundraising, marketing, and attracting sponsors. I really thought the hardest bit of the row would be on the oars - blisters and salt sores - and maybe it will be, but I definitely underestimated how tough even getting to the start line would be.
The last 6 months we have been working relentlessly to try and fundraise for the row, but we’ve had limited success. We’ve given up our flat and are working full time on trying to make it happen, and so to be making no progress is difficult.
Some days I find it hard to see a way through the financial barriers and I feel at a loss. But I keep trying to remember the leap of faith Andy took. Without money we can’t complete the training and the logistics, but equally we can’t wait forever. And so, we keep doing what we can, we keep making opportunities, and we find solutions...
I think I’m going to learn a lot more in this process than just how to go to sea!