Persistence, or Percy for short, is our 24ft Rannoch R25 ocean rowing boat, weighing 350kg (race weight 1000kg) and will be our home for 6-8 weeks as we battle the Atlantic swells. During the race we cannot accept any outside help and so everything we need must be on Percy when we depart La Gomera. She has two rowing positions and we will take 6 oars (two each and two spares), which are made of carbon reinforced with kevlar.
Life on board is pretty minimalist, we individually row for 2 hours and then have 2 hours off during which time we will need to eat, clean the boat, make water, switch over our auto-tillers, navigate, keep our social media updated and sleep. We have two cabins, one at the bow which stores a lot of our kit and one at the stern. We will hot bunk in the stern cabin, as this is where all our navigation and communication systems are located. Its overall space is around the third of the size of a red phone box… cosy!
We make our own water on board with a water maker that desalinates the sea water into drinking water. Utilising power from our 2 solar panels this can create around 30L of drinking water in an hour (with a slightly eggy taste). Should our power fail we also have a handheld water maker which through a manual pump action can create a few Litres per hour. This is obviously the last thing we want to be doing during a rest period but provides a useful backup option.
Our toilet is a rather glamorous yellow bucket which we have to share. We have another bucket that we will use to wash with, using some specialist soap that works with sea water, supplied by Driftwood Shaper Ltd; check them out here: www.driftwoodshaper.com
It’s really difficult to keep the cabins dry, especially when coming in and out in wet clothing. We have a clothing doffing procedure to mitigate this and have installed a specialist matting called Ventisit which helps the water drain. This does however come with the disadvantage of not being quite as comfortable as the normal sponge bedding. Moving further West the cabins can heat up considerably; sometimes in the region of 40 degrees celsius so getting a good sleep can be tricky!
On board we have a liferaft, 2 Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRBs ), 2 Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s), 2 fire extinguishers and a fire blanket. We also have some emergency drinking water and various safety supplies in a grab bag. We have plenty of anti-collision and distress flares for emergency situations. If the worst was to happen we would make comms via our satellite phone with the race safety officer who would locate our position and see if there are any vessels nearby that may be able to divert and offer assistance (lets hope there are some luxury super yachts with a hot tub!).
We will also have a small BGAN internet terminal on board so we can keep you updated via our social media with photos and short videos during the race. So make sure you stay tuned for regular updates of life on board.