Atlantic rowing: what it’s like

A short film detailing our participation in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is now out! It’s an amateur effort, but gives an idea of the scale of the task we faced.

Rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean as Team Margot Atlantic Rowers was an epic experience. It’s hard to begin to describe it without lapsing into an adjectival soup.

We took 39 days to get from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. And there were many highs and lows.

Our crossing was marked by astonishingly bad weather in the first 48 hours, big waves on many days that tested our surfing skills, strong winds, several days of flat calm, and several remarkable encounters with wildlife. We never tired of the view – we saw the Atlantic in all its majesty, and it was always a sight to behold – and we looked forward to the night sky which, free of light pollution, allowed our minds to absorb the miracle of life itself.

On a more mundane level, we suffered along with the rest of the fleet: foot infections, bruising, chafing, extreme fatigue, hallucinations, seasickness, mood swings, equipment failure, electrical problems and occasional despair when we doubted our navigation advice and managed to row further than anyone else in this year’s race. But all this paled into insignificance when set against the magnificence of crossing the Atlantic.

So were we changed by the experience? For Martin, Hamish and me, rowing the Atlantic was the culmination of a 20 year ambition. Sadly, with the Covid-19 crisis now enveloping the world, it’s been hard from our respective lockdowns to gain the perspective from which to judge how we feel about it.

For me, however, it’s confirmed the maxim of my other half which is that if you really want to do something, you need to go and do it. And don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t! Rowing the Atlantic may be the toughest thing I’ll ever do. But it won’t stop me looking for other things to challenge me.

We took part in the row to raise awareness of the global Stem Cell and Bone Marrow Register. You can find out more at www.werowyouregister.org – please, please sign up…you could save a life!