"Christmas without Dan is not unusual for me; we’re children at heart and still go home to our families who live at opposite ends of the country."
"That said, it was obviously slightly different this year so I was looking forward to heading to the comforts of home and tracking Dan and Will surrounded by my lovely friends and family.
Dan and I had agreed that we would keep contact to a minimum; perhaps once or twice throughout the crossing - we both felt comfortable that this would be the best approach for Dan to keep the task at hand. Whilst out for lunch with my best friends from home, Jo Edwards (the ‘Atlantic Row 2013 team doctor’) pulled me aside and said she had received a call from Dan. Admittedly, this was a bit of a concern as I knew it would be medically related but Jo calmly talked me through it and explained that she had advised antibiotics for his infected bum (caused by seat). Thank god it was after lunch that the call came! Jo sourced the full med kit for Dan so knowing that he and Will are in good hands and that they can contact her at any time is such a comfort. She also has a very calm approach to situations (she’s seen it all!) which is exactly what the boys need if they are in any sort of trouble.
I was so excited for Christmas day as this is when we had agreed we would speak. I had said to Dan that if he didn’t feel right then he shouldn’t call, I was keen to keep the conversation positive so that it could try to lift him and keep him going. After expecting his call during Will’s 4:00-6:00pm shift on the oars, I was surprised to hear from him at 11:30am. The first thing he said was that they were having issues with the boat and that the electrics were down which was a big concern. Sweating profusely in the cabin, Dan needed help and advice to get them back up and running. I tracked down Simon Chalk (who built the boat) who surprisingly wasn’t mid-crossing as expected but home for Christmas and within ten minutes he had made contact with Dan and talked him through it. Power regained! Huge thanks to Gemma and Simon for reacting so quickly on Christmas day and helping the boys out.
The relief in Dan’s voice was evident on the second call. He sounded much happier this time around and although not a great line, it was so good to hear his voice. He had a couple of ‘confessions’ being that they had rolled twice; the first time on 13th December and the second on 17th December – much in line with the other crews in the fleet. This wasn’t a surprise, conditions were incredibly rough and I know Dan, he likes to hold things back until he’s regained his composure and prove that he can deal with it. When he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats three years ago, he told me on his return that he came off the bike on the first day of the four day challenge. I know how he works and I trust him to get on with it and judge whether he wants us to know or not.
It was a good reminder of how much confidence that I have in the boys. Although it’s not great to hear about difficult experiences, it doesn’t worry me - they are so prepared, determined and sensible that I know they can deal with challenges like that when they come.
So we’re into 2014 and the boys are over half-way pressing west to Antigua. Before now it seemed an age away but being a new year, we’re now starting to think about the finish and in a couple of weeks we will begin arranging our trip to welcome the boys into English Harbour. This is something that Dan and I have talked about for years and it’s pretty insane that it might actually happen, let alone in a few weeks time!
Time to kick on boys – I’m bored of this rain and could to with a holiday…"