Before the 2005 Atlantic Rowing Race, I was in the right place at the right time. Some of the teams with more food than room on their boats were giving away some of their excess food. I saw packets of Expedition Foods Rice Pudding in the pile. As a kiwi, I had never had Expedition Foods before but as a fan of rice pudding, I was happy to give it a go! I grabbed all I could carry and headed back to 'Sun Latte' to stuff my sachets into any spaces I could find. After two hurricanes, a tropical storm, and a shark attack, you can imagine how great if was to discover that my rice pudding was extremely tasty! The only problem was that I didn't have more of it on board. In the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race, fortune again smiled upon me when I saw in the 'free food' pile, some leftover Expedition Foods Rice Pudding packs as well as an entire box of M&Ms. Like the good little pre row scavenger I had become, I again grabbed all that was available and ran back to our boat with delight. I was willing to share all the M&Ms with the girls, but if they had come near my rice pudding stash, we could have had a war on our hands! When the 2014 Pacific Row possibility became a reality, I wasn't going to leave my rice pudding supply to chance. As a seasick rower, when you find something that works in the food department, you take lots of it! So I got in touch with the team at Expedition Foods and they gave me a great price so I could dine on rice pudding every day while at sea if I so desired. So by week 2, when I finally finished 'feeding the fishies', I did just that. It was rice pudding every day until week 8 when my supply ran out-the row took a little longer than expected! I really want to thank everyone at Expedition Foods who helped me become part of the first women's pair and the first kiwi to row across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been sponsored on my Pacific Ocean row by Zhik clothing and wet weather gear. Zhik manufacture the highest quality and most comfortable gear I have ever worn, and after wearing it day in and day out for 60 days of around the clock rowing ( two hours on the oars and two hours off the oars), it was more than up to the demands of the job! From their caps and visors, to their top of the range ocean line, Isotak Ocean, it is clear that the comfort and fit is just so much better than other products on the market. The Pacific threw just about everything at me that it could out there, and whether it was persistent (and very large) waves of cold water washing over me, driving rain, or a Norwest wind from the Arctic that just wouldn't quit, I stayed as warm and comfortable as I possibly could in those conditions. I had a range of Hydrophobic and Hydrobase thermals with me to wear under my Isotak wet weather gear, and in those particularly stormy first 21 days, I never had a day on deck without a full compliment of both layers on my sore and tired body. When you can wear any clothing at sea for 21 days straight without any chafing or sores developing, it is worth keeping and worth telling others about! My only regret is that I didn't discover Zhik gear 2 ocean rows ago! Thank you Mike and the team at ZHIK!!!!!!
When John Isner defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in last year's ATP Masters final in Cincinatti, he made a point of thanking his chiropractor during the trophy ceremony. Like Isner, I too want to thank my wonderful chiropractor Anna Murphy and the team at Balance Chiropractic, Waiuku for all they have done to get this ocean rower successfully across another ocean! The treatments before and after my trip have contributed to me feeling better during and after this row than I have after any other ocean crossing. Also, the supplements and rehydration drink went a long way towards keeping me as healthy as possible in a very inhospitable ocean environment. Thanks team!
Linda from Waiuku Health & Fitness was behind this venture from the start. She supplied me with plenty of protein powder to make sure my muscles were as big and strong as I could possibly get them before departure, and she sponsored me lots of powder for my journey too. Linda is also a staunch supporter of Charlotte's and has had incentives at the gym for members to join and/or take up indoor rowing challenges to get more donations into Char's fund. Linda has also had a donation box at the gym throughout the duration of my row. Thank you for everything Linda!
It is wonderful to be back in Aotearoa New Zealand after nearly 3 months away from home! Getting the critters out of the kennel and cattery. catching up with friends and family, and going back to work and seeing my students and colleagues at The University of Auckland has been fantastic-especially since there were times at sea when I feared I may never see them all again. The only downside to returning home was the 5.30 am alarm clock, a cold southerly blast, this rotten flu that seems to have hit nearly everyone and Auckland traffic! Otherwise I am finding great joy in the simple things like grocery shopping, packing school lunches, folding laundry, etc. In my absence, Spencer and GInger Kiss seem to have commandeered my electric blanket so each night I have to fight them to get my spot back.
During the last week I have been going through photos and trying to put pictures into albums and load albums onto Facebook so you can all see of some of the highlights from before, during, and after the row. I have also started to organise photos for sponsors and to go through the pages and pages of donations that have been made to Charlotte. There are so many of you to thank and I will work my way through the list! There is also time to donate if you have been meaning to do so but just haven't had the chance yet.
There are may stories to tell and photos to show so watch this space in the weeks to come! :-)
After 9 weeks - 58 days of those at sea and over 2,500 miles the end is finally in sight. Tara's family (me, two kids and mother in law) landed in Hawaii 6 days ago and have been watching the little blue arrow inch ever closer to Honolulu. I told someone recently that this week has felt more nerve racking and emotionally all over the place than the previous few weeks in NZ. The excitement of seeing them again, then tension when we discussed the dangers they face actually getting into shore, then panic when tonight we realised they are going faster than what we thought and our 'arrival party' plans might be planned for too late!!
It has seemed that since we have arrived, Tara has found another gear to get here - in fact its her FOMO (fear of missing out) that has kicked in. Every day she has asked what we are doing and I think the temptation of lying by the pool, and playing in the surf with the kids has been just the motivation she has needed. There has also been the threats of going to Cheesecake Factory without her if she doesn't hurry up and of course that I am having to fill my time waiting with shopping!
There was a lot of celebration messages from Tara when last night she announced they could see the lights of Maui and today when they saw land for the first time in 2 months.
So tonight is their last night - the last night of rowing, the last night of 2 hours on, 2 hours off, the last night of trying to sleep while the bed is moving underneath them. I can only imagine what the adjustment will be like coming onto solid ground again, surrounded by people and being able to sleep completely stretched out. Not to mention the hot shower that awaits them. Tara's arrival requests include cheese pizza, fresh pineapple, icy cold Orange Crush, a razor and her sonic toothbrush.
So this time tomorrow Tara will be safely home with us again and I am sure will have some messages for those who have supported this amazing journey and hopefully some great GoPro footage to share.
All I can say is that I am so incredibly proud of her and what she has achieved and I will be so glad to have her home with us again -Bex :)
Well not literally but some schools have gotten behind Tara and supported her row by having mufti days to raise funds for Charlotte.....
Jade's School - Sandspit Road School in Waiuku raised an awesome $558 on their mufti day. Jade is Tara's step daughter and Charlotte's pen pal so was great to see the school we are part of giving us such great support.
Waiau Pa School (thanks to my awesome friend Sarah!!) had a 'Blue day' and raised $393 - which is an awesome effortl!! Sarah's class put together a proposal for why the school should support Tara and have a mufti day and created created 'Blue Day' posters to promote the day.
Check out what the students of Room 15 Waiau School created here and their 'Blue Day' photo below.
Thank you to all the staff and great students at these schools for your support and raising awareness of Tara's row and raising much needed funds for Charlotte. Also Tara wanted to say thank you to the students (and staff) from the schools who have been sending her messages - she appreciates all of the supportive words.
I have heard murmur of other schools also getting behind Tara and coming up with some great fundraisers. If you or your school is doing something, please let me know email@example.com
Also not to be forgotten I received a great picture from Room 4 Sandspit Road School on Friday. They have a regular 'checking on Tara's progress' catch up and send Tara messages. The photo below is of them waving to the 'sea ladies' on the tracker which Mrs Healey has up on her interactive board!!
Well nearly 2 weeks in and Tara and Angela has been slugging it out against the wind. They say it has been tough and many times it has meant resorting to sea anchor and getting cosy in the one person cabin.
A sea anchor looks like a large parachute and rather than tethering them to the sea bed it acts as a brake and just slows progress through the water. It does mean they can lose valuable and hard won kms but it means they can also rest and wait out the bad weather.
When they have the sea anchor out Tara and Angela are both taking refuge in the cabin built for one. Tara describes being in there together as a strange version of Twister - "I am moving my hand to here, can you move your foot to there", and remember the share that space with a lot of their supplies and communications gear. For anyone being in such a confined space would be tough but I also think being in there would be highly frustrating as they just 'want to get moving!' I do feel for Angela as I know that Tara has many musical theatre soundtracks downloaded on her iPod including FROZEN and I can imagine she is there singing along with every word - those of us who know Tara well though, will know she will be keeping spirits high and smiling through it all.
To get a real sense of just how small the space they are sharing is, below is a couple of boat tours Tara shot before she left....
Boat Tour #1
Boat Tour #2
Hi, I'm Rebecca, Tara's partner. Unfortunately Tara is finding it hard to fit updating her blog into her rowing day so I have taken over so everyone can hear about what is going on out there.
As you will all be aware Tara was delayed in leaving and it was a rough few days with wild wind and seasickness taking its toll. However I spoke to her this morning (birthday morning on the sea - beat there was no mud cake out there!) and things are looking up. She said everything around them is grey on grey on grey but the sea was flat with not a breath of wind so hopefully that made for good miles covered today.
She has had many visitors of the wild variety already including sharks! Her favourite was in the early hours of the morning when two sealions came to pay a visit - she described them as synchronised sealions. They both rolled onto their backs together, lifted the same flipper, put it down and then raised the other one in perfect unison. Definitely gave her a giggle! Another 'awesome' experience was having a pod of about 30 dolphins rush towards them, Tara did try to rush to get the Go Pro out and wake Angela but by the time that had happened they were gone!
She would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has sent messages via the tracker - it makes their day to receive the messages of support and the occasion joke. If you would like to send a message go to the home page and follow the link to the progress tracker. I will continue to update the blog when I have heard from her.
Below are some pictures from their boat launch....
Today is the day we start rowing! We have a little packing up to do today, then a test run this morning to check loading and smile for the cameras. After that we will bring Spirit of Orlando home where we can chill a bit before this new adventure begins!!! It was hard to crawl out of my comfy bed this morning knowing it's my last night with actual sheets and a comfy bed. The hardest part of all will be my last Skype with the family...but knowing they will be waiting in Waikiki will be great motivation!
Greetings from the land of giant burgers and free drink refills! Deb and Angela are doing a great job of fattening up this 'rower on stand by' so it's a darn good thing our forecast is looking great for a Tuesday launch. Still waiting to confirm am or pm California time for our departure so watch this space. We have been spending our extra land time tinkering with the boat, going to hardware and boating shops (did you see our Home Depot bucket pics yet?), and doing everything we can to make our crossing as efficient and enjoyable as possible. We have also taken in some of the sights around Long Beach including the Pride Festival! Last night we went to watch some of the festivities and ended up at the front of the march. We were too late to put the boat in the main parade, but we are heading there in the morning to watch.
In an attempt to put on some extra 'shedding kilos' there are two tubs of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the freezer here and I managed to have both lunch and a hot pretzel this afternoon. Finally got to eat a plate of Fried Green Tomatoes too-can tick that one off the bucket list!
Enjoy the pics below from our last couple of days on land and if you haven't done so yet, please go to the front page of my website and make a donation to Char!