In about ten days Shirley Thompson will be setting off on her double-record breaking attempt on the Atlantic Ocean. She has tapered her training and is finalising her planning and getting everything in place for the three month voyage. Her boat, RV Amigo, is already on its way to Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria, where she arrives around on 15th November. She will set off for St Barts on around 22nd November. Read her earlier thoughts on the adventure from early September here. Below are her thoughts shortly before departure.
During the crossing you can follow her on facebook at Shirl’s Atlantic Row and at her twitter account - @ShirlsRow.
How has the final training been going?
Shirley Thompson: It has gone well. I have been out rowing at every possible moment, building my time on the water and getting to know how the boat handles, and I now feel comfortable in her and geared up for my imminent departure. At the same time I have been accustoming myself to how the equipment works and learning knots, weather, navigation using the stars. And of course gathering together all my kit and food.
The boat leaves for the Canaries by road this weekend, 10-11th November and I fly out there on the 14th, so I am there for its arrival on 15th. I expect to depart for the crossing around 22nd November.
The physical side can only take you so far. What have you done to prepare yourself mentally?
I will break the crossing into tiny pieces, into one hour, a rowing session of a few hours and then a complete a day. If I can do an hour then I can do another hour, if I can do a 2-3 hour rowing session then I can do the next one, and if I manage a day then I can do another day and so on. My mind will control my body - I know this challenge will be a huge mental battle.
Have you settled on a routine?
I will row each morning from 6 am to midday and then row 2 hours on 2 hours off until midnight. I will then sleep from midnight to 6am. This is a minimum. I would like to increase the rowing time to 14 hours a day if possible. The “off oars” time is for admin, eating, coping with sores, aches and pains, cleaning the boat, repairs etc etc
What approach do you have to food and hydration?
I intend to use the same strategy as I do in endurance races, ie never allow myself to be thirsty, so I will keep hydrated and I will eat often, both snacks and 3-4 dehydrated meals per day. I am mixing my food with cold water, I am not carrying any facility to heat water.
I think hydration will be the main priority at the beginning of the crossing. I am likely to suffer from seasickness so I will need to make sure to keep hydrated.
What are your final preparations?
There are so many last minute things to do, down to the practicalities of being away and out of touch for 3 months.
In terms of preparation for the row I think I am pretty much on track, though I frequently wake up in the middle of the night remembering something which I then have to write down!!
As it departure comes more sharply into focus, what are your main concerns?
The enormity of it. The unpredictability of the ocean, the weather, going through potential problems in my mind and how to resolve them.
What will be last your indulgence before you set off?
An ice cream!!!