The crew has cleared the Channel and has made it to the North coast of France.
Many people are confused as to the difference between a boat and a ship. Well, the definition is quite simple – if a vessel leans into a bend, as a motorbike would, it’s a boat; if it’s large enough to lean away from the bend, it’s a ship. The crew of The Light Fund boat has a simpler definition. When you’re 18 inches from the waterline and someone says, ‘F**k me, look at the size of that,’ it’s a ship.
It’s amazing how the words Maersk and Stenna Line follow you round a shipping lane – like some of Da Vinci’s best works, they appear to bear down on you from all angles. But, dear reader, I am happy to report that this blog is being written from the relative safety of (somewhere off) the North coast of France and we’ve cleared the Channel.
Having arrived in Ramsgate later than planned due to tough weather conditions along the English coast, The Light Fund crew had chance for a brief respite in Ramsgate Harbour before setting off again, this time to cross the Channel.
Heading out to sea to attempt to achieve something which Caligula’s army declined and which has stood as a natural barrier, protecting Britain’s sovereignty from most would-be usurpers over the centuries introduces genuine sense of foreboding.
Of course crossing the Channel these days is no great undertaking, but to do so with human power alone poses the same challenges today as it has for millennia… though these days, of course, we have to contend with the enormous freight containers carrying much-needed licensed goods to their final destinations, an obstacle which has not escaped the notice of the rowers, or the spectacularly populous ship-finder radar on the escort boat.
Initially upon embarking on this expedition, the crew were anxious to keep up to date on social media with various friends, family and onlookers keen to track our progress, though this urge is tempered somewhat by an all-round determination not to be unwittingly updated on Dragon dynasties or AC12. But do please keep the messages (and the donations) coming as they are really spiriting us along… as indeed are the awesome tunes, powered by Jazwares, blasting out our favourite songs across miles of open water.
We’ve now been going for two and a half days straight and, despite enormous blisters (on both hands and elsewhere), clothing damp from rain and sweat and an overwhelming sense of tiredness, the crew remains in good spirits. Ben Harrison’s unbreakable grin, Barry Hayes’ motivational speeches, Dave Mayhew’s incredible organisation and pastoral care for the crew and a determination throughout makes a formidable crew.
To say this crew has limited experience is definitely true. But despite the challenge that brings, the huge amount of training undertaken by all, and one of the most effective ‘learn to row’ courses possible (rowing to Paris!), have combined to whip the boat along at a steady pace.
In fact, techniques are improving so rapidly that Rob made the comment to Jason that he’d be welcome to stroke him any time… a comment which rowers will understand to be a reference to the stroke rate he set and maintained, rather than any L2P hashtag moment.
Special mention in despatches must definitely go to all those members of the crew who put in a double shift, rowing four hours straight to help cover for a seasick rower. Those include Jason, Eliott, Anne, Matt and Rob… with an even bigger shout out to Sam C who, having spent the evening challenging the paint job on the Posh House with his own form of pebbledash, came back from the brink to put in a double shift and help get the rotation back on track.
A two hour on/off rotation and a lack of mobile signal will certainly hamper the writing and sending of the blog, but we will be sure to keep you updated as we go.