To be honest, the row was a lot harder than we anticipated. In fact, I don’t think we really knew what we were in for when we started – maybe that was a good thing!
Even when we landed in Venezuela after 50 days at sea we couldn’t really believe that we had completed the challenge, we were in a kind of daze and were extremely tired. We didn’t even shake hands on the beach because it was so rough. We literally got the GPS fixings and made sure our IsatData Pro pinged our location to validate our finishing position for the record books, then got back in the boat to row to Trinidad where we would be officially welcomed.
Now I can look back on the high points of the trip – being able to see so much wildlife up close. We rowed next to sharks, dolphins, killer whales and even turtles. Even at our lowest point, after the first capsize, we were able to keep going because we knew we were being supported and followed by so many people back home and around the world. Due to the comms package provided by Inmarsat (the team also carried a BGAN terminal and two IsatPhone 2 satellite phones) we were able to read and send messages in real time.
That connectivity meant we also had access to vital telemedicine services. Some of the crew got infected blisters and we were able to check we were giving the right treatment. Things could have escalated extremely quickly and unchecked infections would definitely have required us to be rescued.
In a typical 24 hours at sea we would rotate in two hour shifts. Our satcoms allowed us to carry out detailed real time weather routing and on several occasions helped us avoid rowing into bad storms. Our IsatData Pro pinged every 20 minutes and allowed the official support team back in the UK follow our progress. All the equipment was super easy to use and more importantly it was robust enough to withstand 30 foot waves, capsizes and continued use in the harsh environment.
Now we’re back home we are concentrating on our charity work for the NSPCC. To date we have raised over £150,000 through the row and we hope to raise another £50,000. But watch this space for our next world record breaking adventure!
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.