Friday, August 26, 2011

Update at the end - but not the last

Hello all,

My apologies for not updating sooner, but to be quite honest, we have been asleep for the past 2 days as we have tried to recover from what was a fairly amazing few days.

I am writing a full debrief at the moment, but by means of a quick summary:

As expected we headed into the night from Katwijk on Monday. The press conference and send off was very emotional and pretty big with live news coverage etc.

We headed from the beach straight to the support boat marie, about 500 meters off shore to get set before we headed on. when all were on board we set off, with a favorable force 4 wind from the back and side. we made great speed, cruising at about 4 and a half knots. The first 6-8 hours were ok, the wind picked up and made things rather unconfortable, and many of us were sick, but by dawn we were ok.

Into the next morning the swell persisted and made us have to surf down the waves and then plough up the faces of the next wave- pretty tiring, but we were making good progress. Chiel, one of the dutch kayakers was so sea sick that he couldn't keep any food, water or pills down, so had to have an injection on the water- pretty tricky for the doctor Flora.

The day was extremely grey, and we had some atrocious downpours, but we persisted. unfortunately, in the late in the day Alec had to pack it in through exhaustion, as he hadn't been feeling good for a few hours. it was a very hard decision for him to make, and it was a blow to the team to see him stop.

During the afternoon we had tried all sorts of conversations to numb the boredom, and to help us pass the hours. towards the evening, Ed's niggle in his shoulder got worse. knowing that we had a storm tyo face during the coming night, he decided to get out while the going was good, safe in the knowledge that he had givene everything he had.

The second night saw a force 5 gusting 6 hit us head on, and Olly, the Dutch team and I pressed on after a great bit of supper kindly cooked by Vicks.

I was next to drop- I had a stomach problem that I had got over earlier in the day, but unfortunately the doc couldn't sort a second time, so I had to bow out. I know how Ed and Alec felt a few hours before, and can only say that it still hurts.

For the next few hours Olly, Chiel and Ben were truely remarkable. All except Ben, were passing out whilst kayaking, and really struggling to stay awake. Ben was solid- living off a diet of red bull and malboro reds to ploughed on into some pretty big waves.

As dawn came in the next day they were still there, and all the team on the support boat were working in shifts of encouragement to keep them going.

The pace slowed dramtically as they neared the coast, but they had been going without stopping for 40 hours.

Near the coast, the three of us who hadn't made it went into the shore on the Zodiac rib to a very warm welcome. 15 minutes later Olly, Ben and Chiel followed to great applause.

It was the most superhuman effort I have ever seen from all involved. being on the support boat was miserable through lasck of sleep and sea sickness, but they worked tirelessly- I don't think we will ever be able to thank them enough.

As mentioned at the top, there will be a full debrief in due course, but for now, I must thank a few people who made it happen for the four of us.

Art, James, Sketch, Flora, Vicks, Jonna and Ernst- you were unbelievable on the boat- and i know at times you wished you could escape to a kayak.

Niels, Walter and Paul Peteri who's support through Quooker made it all happen.

SKUK, Lendal, Standard Horizon, Peak UK, Ovation Business, Ward and Mackenzie, Lifeboat Tea for their generous support and donations.

Jack, Ben, Chiel- you guys were great, and tougher than I would have ever believed.

Friends and family- for your endless support, patience and help, and for all the messages of support we have received during and since we finished.Mega thanks to you all.

Signing off until a long report soon.

Engelandvaarder 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011