Welcome! My name is Tommy Tippetts and this is my website covering my attempt to row the Atlantic Ocean, setting out in January 2012.
Below is my blog where you will be able to keep up to date with all areas of my preparation, from sponsors to securing a boat and all my training to prepare for such a challenge.
Please also take some time to look at why I am doing this row, raising money and awareness for mental health in this country and any small donation you can make will go a long way to improving lives of many people around the UK. Please click below to sponsor me on my row in aid of Mind. I am hoping to raise £25,000 for the charity and any contribution you can make, small or big, would be gratefully received.
Solo Atlantic Row 2011
Read Tommy's blog as he prepares to take on 'the World's toughest rowing race'
To take part in the Woodvale race I am required to hold certain qualifications before the Spanish Authorities will let me leave La Gomera in December. They have had to rescue a fair amount of people in the last 10 years or so who have left Gomera and have got into difficulty within a couple of days, obviously costing the lifeguard a lot of money.
So the last week I have spent down in Southampton completing my short range radio course, sea survival and first aid as well as my Oceanmaster. The last 8 days have undoubtedly been a turning point in the whole project, not only through what I have learnt on the course but also through speaking to the other guys on the course who are also in the race. A room full of ocean rowers makes ocean rowing quite acceptable!
The sea survival course has also made me even more confident than I already was. Even compared to the equipment people had 5 years ago things have really come on and if everything did go monumentally wrong and I ended up in the liferaft it is by no means a lost cause. Some people have survived in life rafts for a couple of months and it really is all about keeping a positive attitude. The minute you lose hope is the minute things start to go downhill very quickly. Being on my own though means I just have to keep conscious...! (I will be taking a helmet)
So having covered all the sea survival course it was on to the oceanmaster which included chart work, navigation, weather routing, plotting etc along with seamanship and general awareness about what to look for whilst at sea. From studying the weather over the Atlantic at the time of year I am going, the headwind now and again is the most likely problem I will face. We all know weather is by no means an exact science and storm have been known to last through December but even hitting one of those wouldn’t be disastrous, it would be a case of a few hours wedged into the cabin very firmly and try and get some sleep!
One skill I have learnt this week is how to use a sextant. For those of you how don’t know what this is, either google it or watch any Victorian era naval film and it’s what was used to navigate at sea with before the invention of GPS. Obviously today it is not the most useful bit of kit, but if all my electrics go and my handheld gps goes then having a sextant on board would mean I could still navigate towards Barbados. A sextant uses the angle of ‘heavenly bodies’ (sun, moon, stars, planets) in relation to you to work out your latitude (how far N or S you are) By taking 2 angles a day this can be down to quite good accuracy, even by not being too accurate on the chart you can get to within a few miles of your position. You can then also use the time to work out your longtitude (E or W) which is all in relation to GMT. All very clever. It also takes some maths and chart work to do which would definitely keep the brain working, even if it was just for half an hour/45 minutes a day. Obviously it is not a required bit of kit to have for the race but I may well take one, use it for a couple days and then chuck it over the side...
One other topic we covered was the medical list for the race. Whilst we have a basic kit that is compulsory to have on board, a lot of time was spent going through other bits and pieces that would prove vital. Hearing from a guy who took part in the last race, re-hydration tablets are key because although I will be drinking a lot of water you still need to replace the salts lost through sweat and minerals etc that the watermaker actually takes out the water. Sounds like Orbana will prove fundamentally important. So I now have a list of medicines, anti-biotics, anti-histamines, pain killers, laxatives, sea sickness tablets, needle and thread and yes, a catheter all to get together so whatever happens I can start to treat myself before receiving radio medical advice and if ultimately it is required, support from another vessel. It also sounds like I will be taking a few gallons of surgical spirit to wash in to prevent sores!
So on the high of finishing all the courses yesterday it was off to Ocean Safety to pickup the safety equipment that I require. I will add it all onto the equipment list in due course, but I now have some pretty cool equipment (I’ve always liked gadgets) that will keep my safe and sound should shit start to hit the fan. Even then the last thing I want to be doing is getting off the boat, made as a lifeboat, into a fabric life raft, no thanks. There have been stories of tankers getting on the radio to boat asking if they need to be rescued, thinking it was a life boat off a ship! “No thanks, we are out here voluntarily”
I was fortunate enough to spend the last 8 days with a 6 man team entering the race called ‘Row2Recovery’. This is a team of 6 guys from the army who have all be on tour out in Afghanistan and 4 of who have been injured. Rory, Neal and Will all got hit by IED blasts and lost lower limbs whilst Carl was hit by an RPG which caused a lot of damage internally, shattering his femur and severing his sciatic nerve. The team was put together by Ed Janvrin and Alex Mackenzie, ex Gurkha and Para Officers and they are raising money for forces charities, already over halfway to their target of £1m. Please take a look at their website, www.Row2Recovery.comand follow their progress. If you thought I was going to have a hard time of it, think about these guys doing it, some of whom missing legs which are fundamental to rowing!
So just one week to go until the dinner! Going to be an awesome evening, looking forward to seeing everyone there. I’m now off to think of a name for the boat, any suggestions much appreciated!
Thanks everyone x