Whilst most people were nice and snug in a warm bed on Saturday night, me and the ‘skipper’ Mark Brocklehurst spent the night sleeping in what can only be described as a coffin shaped cabin aboard our Ocean Rowing Boat on the Jumbles reservoir. With freezing temperatures and only a thin carbon fibre shell keeping the ice out for comfort we were getting a minute sense of what it would be like in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Albeit a very limited sense!

Our focus for last weekend’s adventures were to gain a better understanding of how the boats feels on the water, get to know the team better (team bonding) and to make sure that we learn from anything that goes wrong. As you may guess if it goes wrong in the middle of the Atlantic we are in trouble if we don’t know what to do!!

So the weekend of calamity began!

We hitched the boat to the Bolton Lads and Girls Club Pathfinder looking forward to a weekend of ultimate rowing training gaining hours and hours of rowing experience to take with us into the Atlantic Ocean. What we actually got was a lot different to this.

The Pathfinder made it about a whole foot before conking out and not moving. The official line goes that the clutch had burned out. Rumours are circling however that it was all caused by the driver who shall remain nameless (Skipper)!! I know which one I think I’ll believe! So the boat was finally towed up to the Jumbles Sailing Club car park by the old work horse minibus! I must admit I was pretty impressed it made it!!

We got the boat in the water in a flash and got out rowing and rowing. After an hour or so the wind picked up and with a few passengers I decided it would be a good idea to learn how the steering worked. What I didn’t envisage was the lack of response when trying to turn the boat with a massive side wind! Whilst turning, what can only be described as a ‘hurricane like gust’ well more like a strong wind picked the boat up side on and blew us rapidly into the side of the reservoir. Captain fantastic came to the rescue and after narrowly missing the spiky railing that went into the water we headed for the jetty and tied up for lunch.

On the boat over night was FREEZING. I woke up and headed out of the hatch to find the rowing seats and the boat covered in thick ice. I have a great picture of this.

Over the weekend we had numerous breakages and have now certainly realised that we need to master a lot more disciplines than just rowing and mental hardness. I think we would have put Bob the Builder to shame!!

All in all though a fantastic weekend getting to know the team, the boat and on behalf of the team I would like to say a massive thank you to the guys at the Jumbles sailing club for making us feel so welcome and allowing us to row a massive canoe round the water whilst they were holding inter-club races!!

To learn more about the Row and the cause go to www.boltonatlanticchallenge.co.uk To learn more about Jumbles Rowing Club go to www.jumbles.org.uk