Follow the Adventure

North Atlantic – Ocean Rowing

In January 2013 myself and 7 other like minded adventurers set off on an expedition set up specifically to try to beat the 30 day barrier for rowing across the Atlantic.

Our new boat, a 8 person monohull, made of carbon kevlar with design features which aide self righting and reduce drag significantly. These are unique to our boat and we are quietly confident that she is indeed a very special craft with blistering pace.

We set off from Puerto Mogan on Gran Canaria and arrived in Port St Charles on Barbados a route which will see us covering 3000 miles of open ocean on our quest.

Heres an extract from my diary:



Day 8 – Making the most of it…

Hi All,

just grabbing a few minutes to update you all with our progress.

Picture the scene, i’m sitting cramped in a the aft cabin, being battered around by high winds, big seas and a rowing boat blasting along at 5.6kts. i can see out the cabin 3 big burley blokes in the zone, rowing in unison focus at shifting the boat as fast as they can.  we are, as they say having a flyer and are making the most of some excellent rowing conditions because we know these conditions wont last forever.

its day 8 for us on-board Avalon and we have entered into a new routine. yesterday saw us deploy the sea anchor for the first time due to a mechanical fault with the auto helm. Simply put we rely on the auto helm to steer the boat on a per-determined compass course. the conditions overloaded the system and it basically broke. i guess it doesn’t like a 6 meter sea, 25kts of wind and a rowing boat traveling at 5 kts. we quickly deployed the sea anchor and came to a grinding halt. a few of you realized this and emailed about our predicament. Alls good, we replaced the auto helm quickly and were on the way again within 2 hours. We  have however chosen to steer manually for the time being meaning myself and Leven take turns steering the boat on a similar 2 hours schedule. It means for the first time in a week me and Leven are out of rowing duties and stand at the back of the boat with a rope in each hand pulling left for port and right for starboard. it also means that we now face forward and in all my seafaring days looking forward, into the future to see whats over the horizon is whats best about the sea. we no longer look at the sunrise but instead see magnificent sunsets. (don’t tell the other crew!).


We have evolved as a crew and the first week has positively flown by. wind have not always been in our favor and the seas have thrown up some positively frustrating counter currents and eddies which has slowed our progress to a snails pace at time. but we know these challenges are temporary and we will come out the other end better for them. We have learned in the first week that averages are what an Atlantic crossing is all about and in the word of the skipper “we will start slow and then slow down”.

Now on day 8, start of week 2, we have great conditions which will last until Monday. Lets go!

calum x


Day 16 – Vividness of being.

Hi All,

In every journey you reach a point when its easier to continue to the end than return to the start. We’re nearing that point in this journey and the more time i spend at the oars the more i reflect on my reasons for taking on this adventure.

I have just come off my midnight shift and the scene I have left outside is truly awesome. (these moments where promised by my friend Josh and I’m experiencing one of those moments that eludes everyone who spends 100% of their time on terra firma). The seas are all but flat with next to no wind, we rise and fall on a 1 meter swell. The sky is cloudless and the full moon has just risen on the eastern horizon. It cats its eternal raze towards us. Polaris is shining bright to our starboard and the mighty Orion is high. The countless stars and galaxies of the milky way is directly overhead.

This scene got me thinking about the reasons for taking on this challenge. For leaving behind the safety of land, of shelter of family. Its a question i get asked a lot and in the street or in the bar the usual glib response is one like”because its there”, or “its a good time of year for me” but the true reasons are a little more complex than that.

The reason I’m out on the ocean right now is down to a deep rooted and almost always sub conscious quest for adventure. I believe this quest has been nurtured by a life time of associations.

Over the past few days i have been thinking a lot about folks who have, through no fault of their own, eddied out and left the party too soon. Simple scenes remind me of great people who i have had the fortune to spend time with. When i look at the crashing waves and white horses of the big seas around me, i see the blond haired Bob Smith as we effortlessly kayak down the Upper Setti in Nepal, the dolphins which circled the boat and jumped the waves 10 days ago remind me of Pete McNeil, gracefully windsurfing in the Largs channel, (as we did so often after work), in the rising and setting sun i see the red hair of my uncle Diesel Dave Coles canoeing the best rivers in British Columbia. In acrobatic storm petrels I see Alec Jack in yet another BB gymnastic display and the high white cirrus clouds sweeping across the blue sky I see Alan Bunyan and his faultless skiing technique as he descends Mt. Blanc for his 40th. And at the same time, all around me from the endless number of stars in the huge sky to the microscopic bio-luminescent in the ocean i feel and see mum, encouraging, motivating, egging me on towards my goal. What ever that maybe.

In all the people i know who participate in adventure sports, i know of no one who has a death wish. Conversely all bar none have a wish for life. To experience a heightened feeling of being alive by stretching the comfort zone just that little bit has a powerful draw. The reasons i’m doing what i’m doing is just that.

I like the vividness of being.

Calum x