Cast your minds back to July 2020 (if you dare), a short break in the lockdowns meant that the four of us were able to meet up in real life for the first time ever (there's a blog about it if you've got time to kill!). Our journey started in Dorset, kayaking from Ringstead Bay to Lulworth Cove and back again. Little did we know that out of chance (or opportunity depending on what lense you prefer!) that that exact section of the coast would become our ocean rowing training ground. And train we did, every weekend we could from April - Sept. We met some amazing people, some incredible adventurers and had a blast.
Last weekend saw us launching for the very last time in UK waters. Due to some repairs being done to Vaquita in Cornwall, this time we headed out from Teignmouth, Devon, roughly half way for us all and with an easily accessible slipway. Teignmouth just so happens to be the home of SeaSports SouthWest where we have all completed our mandatory courses with the brilliant Tim, Sue and Sam to ensure we are prepared for all evantualities at sea. Funny how these things turn out isn't it.
This weekend was all about the drills. Fine tuning our para anchor, drogue and man over board drills. Making sure we can execute them in different conditions, in the middle of the day or night, and without having to think about it. We also fine tuned our basic living drills - shift change whilst remaining clipped onto the boat takes a certain amount of choreography and we want to do it as quick as possible to ensure we maximise time on the oars. It is a race after all!
It was a great 24hours on the water; new scenery, a slightly more relaxed pace as we prioritised our drills rather than pushing out the rowing hours, and of course, trying some new snacks - got to be sure we have the best ones for the Atlantic!
After hours upon days of on water training we had seemed to miss the elusive dolphins in Dorset. There is one potential sighting that Jen and Em had, but it was at night when they were particularly sleep deprived and with minimal evidence it's a touch and go sighting at best! As we rowed towards Berry Head, however, we were treated with the most magnificent dolphin sighting ever! We had three or four occasions when we downed oars and floated whilst the dolphins we swimming under and around the boat - a huge pod of them and they just kept on coming! So graceful and so quick, gliding through the water and every so often leaping out. They gave us quite the show. In fact Erin who spends her life on the water said it was the best dolphin sighting she has ever experienced! They visited again at night and with the moon glimmering off their backs as they flowed out of the water it was pretty special.
A good omen for our final training session? Whatever you think about it, we feel primed and ready to go. We've trained hard, we've given it everything we've got, we have nailed our boat skills and we cannot wait to get to La Gomera!
For now, the training chapter is closing. We will continue with our land based training while we pack Vaquita up ready for shipping. Next stop: Rannoch. And then La Gomera here we come!