Updated: Feb 19, 2019
63 Days and 22 Minutes.
17° 0.46 N, 061° 45.88 W
Distance to Finish: 0 NM
Our new world record: The oldest pair to row any ocean (combined age 123 years)
Rowing into English Harbour… how can we describe it? Firstly, it was possibly the most difficult part of the entire crossing. Strong winds were blowing across the harbour mouth, which meant we needed to make a 90 degree turn in with one of us steering while the other one rowed as hard as possible. As we came side on to the wind and waves, we got knocked so far over that we could almost touch the water.
At one point we seemed to be heading straight for the cliffs. However, as with all Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge rowers, we were in safe hands. ABSAR (Antigua and Barbuda Search and Rescue) were on hand the whole time to advise us of the best course and keep a watchful eye on our progress.
Coming around the corner into English Harbour and crossing the finish line was beyond incredible. After being alone at sea for 63 days, we were suddenly confronted with cheering crowds, flares and superyachts blowing their horns. As we rowed to the jetty, our families and a huge cheering crowd came into view and that was it – our senses were completely blown!
So being paratroopers, we leapt off the boat on to the dockside, flying the regimental flag above our heads and crying ‘green on GO'... In our dreams! In reality, we both had to be helped on to the dockside and as soon as we hit terra firma, it felt like someone had put our feet on backwards. Our sea legs became wobbly jelly and we found ourselves staggering around like two drunk sailors. Not cool, but apparently it happens to everyone and our families had been carefully briefed to ‘pass us’ from hug to hug, making sure there was an arm around us at all times!
We cannot begin to describe the overwhelming, ecstatic feeling of finishing. Rowing across an ocean is quite simply relentless. 'The drag stag' (our nickname for our night shifts) were endless and the trade winds we were promised simply did not arrive. We also got hit by adverse currents and some enormous waves that came at us from every direction, so there were many times when it was impossible to keep our course. We are thankful to Pegasus, our amazing boat who managed to stay upright and keep us relatively dry in some treacherous conditions. With no help from the weather, we were at sea for far longer than we expected which was a massive dent on our morale - Christmas Day was the toughest. With our autohelm in meltdown, it dawned on us that it would be a long time before we would see our families.
Our before and after pictures below tell some of the story...!
We'll be sharing some pictures from the sea in our next blog (once Mrs Grandad has had the chance to sift through hours of GoPro footage) which includes a visit from a whale and our friend, Cyril the Seabird!) But for now, here we are and it's all worth it! Both families are relaxing with us in beautiful Antigua and we are eating our way around the island (we can’t stop eating!), it still feels very surreal to think that we have rowed across the Atlantic. Here, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is a huge event, so we find ourselves being stopped wherever we go. It’s humbling and surreal – certainly being the centre of attention is something we are definitely not used to!
News of our world record has spread far and wide and we understand we have appeared in the press back home, which is wonderful and we hope boost our fundraising total. Our ultimate aim from this challenge has always been to raise
£250k for three amazing charities: RBLI, Dreams Come True and Support Our Paras. So, while the physical work has been done, our job won’t be complete until we have reached our target. Donations can be made via our Virgin Money Giving page.
Thank you to everyone who made this challenge possible. Particularly our families, sponsors and supporters. You helped us to the start line, you helped us across The Atlantic and you have now helped us into the record books. We could not have done this without you.
Our chosen charities are also immensely grateful for every single donation. Please keep them coming as every penny goes directly to them to support some vital work for veterans and children who need and deserve our support. Donate: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/GrandadsoftheAtlantic