It’s hard to describe how low, deflated, terrified and broken you can feel on the oars at 02.00 in the morning, rowing in the pitch black listening to the sound of huge North Atlantic swells breaking all round you.
If you are agoraphobic then this is no place for you. This ocean is vast, in fact it is so huge that it is almost incomprehensible that five ordinary men could have the audacity to even try to row across it. When you are in the boat you become part of a very much bigger picture. We are making slow progress in a general direction but, above all, the ocean is master and commander, she is our fate, our life blood, our demise and saviour. One mistake here would be fatal.
The only thing that keeps us going, without doubt, is the continued support we receive daily, thanks to the Inmarsat BGAN terminal and IsatPhone 2 satellite phone we have on board. [Team Essence also have an IsatData Pro M2M terminal for real-time tracking of their progress]. Without Inmarsat this would be a very different expedition.
The row so far has been pretty epic. We certainly didn’t anticipate the bad weather and huge seas we encountered in the first two weeks. Rowing boat capsizes are relatively unheard of. We capsized and rolled three times with men overboard in one week.
These were the worst experiences to date for everyone. You feel completely out of control, insignificant and particularly close to death. But then the best part has been getting back out the water, righting the boat and cracking on within 10 minutes of everyone being submerged. We got good at it.
The connectivity we have had out here really is second to none. We joke that our connection mid Atlantic in a tiny rowing boat is better than some of our broadband packages back home. This has enabled us to be ‘in reach when out of touch’ – a phrase we now love using.
— Team Essence (@teamessencerow) February 24, 2016
When doing a challenge such as this record breaking row, constant real time social media updates are what generate interest, momentum and, above all, sponsors for our chosen charity, the NSPCC. We are a fully self-funded expedition so every single penny raised goes to them. That is important to us and without doubt it would not be so successful without our comms package from Inmarsat. We should eventually have around £150,000 raised for the NSPCC.
I have also been using both the BGAN and the satellite phone as a consultation tool, relaying real time information and pictures to our emergency doctor. As on board medic, this facility is invaluable. Recently I have been treating one of our crew members for a bad infection and large abscess in his toe. I have also been using WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family who are often surprised to hear from me!
Water maker issues!
Posted by Team Essence – The Rogues of Ocean Rowing on Friday, 11 March 2016
Reaching the halfway point on 5 March was unbelievable. To think that we have come this far especially after the many potentially show stopping situations that we have encountered already. It’s daunting sometimes to think how remote, isolated and alone we are and knowing someone in space is our closest neighbour – Tim Peake in the International Space Station – is genuinely food for thought.
But we still have a long way to go and we cannot let our guard down as completing this safely comes first, making and breaking records aside. Rowing across the Atlantic is a privilege and a genuinely life changing experience. But I would advise anyone considering it to bear in mind the Royal Marines Commando ethos: Courage. Determination. Unselfishness. Cheerfulness in Adversity.
The Real Atlantic Row: https://www.inmarsat.com/about-us/sponsorship/real-atlantic-row/
About the author
Aldo Kane is a former Royal Marine Commando who became one of the youngest snipers in the UK Armed Forces. He spent 10 years in operations around the globe, including war in the Middle East. Today, through his company Vertical Planet, Aldo provides safety, security, medical and risk management services for TV and film production companies, often working for long periods in some of the world’s most hostile and extreme environments. He is one of the five Team Essence rowers.