Recently, getting something delivered in the UK has evolved into someone screaming up to your house in an MOT-failure and simply launching a battered parcel deep in to your front hedge or over your neighbours fence for safe keeping.
But not today. Because today it’s finally here. Delivered to the marina reeking of newness- the GRP and carbon fibre glinting in the sun whilst the fumes still manage to provide an ever-so-slight legal high.
Today is a good day, a great day, if only because it marks the end of months of eye-watering bills from the boat’s build.
I’m stood beside the slipway at Fambridge Yacht Haven. Arguably the best marina and boatyard facilities on the South East coast of the UK, and lucky for me and Commonwealth Row, I’ve been kindly given the full use for free to allow me to train and get ready for the main event.
Delivering is Angus, not only fully proficient in reversing a boat trailer but a walking almanac on ocean rowing – himself having crossed a few and supported far too many.
He gives me a short brief on launching before all three of us – Angus, my Dad and me – stand back for a short while admiring the boat in all its glory- pristine, unblemished, and very if not too white.
New Ocean Rowing Boat?
I jump on in haste dragging a bucket-load of Essex mudflat with me, and that’s it, within fifteen minutes of being delivered, what was my nice shiny very white and very expensive boat is no longer new. That proud excitement of newness sinks immediately, leaving the GRP fumes billowing off in the 35 degree heat to to pickup the slack and lift spirits.
And so, the newest but arguably now the worst looking boat in the marina starts its unceremonious boat launch. No music, no fanfare, speech, cheering crowds or cheap fizzy booze to stain the bow, just the three of us and ‘it’ the boat.
Now I I say ‘it’, because ‘it’ – the boat – hasn’t yet got a name. But ‘it’ is now in the water, the rudder is on and Angus has given me a full brief and left, leaving me to sit, play around and ponder.
Ocean Rowing Luxury
It’s a cracking day, the sun is out, the marina is full of people on their boats having lunch prepared in their fully equipped galleys, drinking cold drinks from their powered refrigerators, ready to take a nap in their fun size cabins if need be and maybe even a cheeky cold shower if it gets too hot.
And then there’s me, sitting, burning and desperately dehydrating on a seven metre rowing boat that’s as sparsely kitted out as North Korean travel agents, which ironically has probably cost more than most here.
I can’t help but think that I could be sat there in luxury relaxing doing things the easy way, but then I can’t help but find the funny side of that.
You see, no matter how hard it was to get this far, how much it’s cost or even how much more there is left to do. Even if it was all harder, costly and consuming still, by hook or by crook Commonwealth Row would have happened.
But as I sit here watching everyone else swill cold beer and gin in comfort, two things are immediately apparent – I no longer feel like a naked, flaccid, age-bedraggled Berlusconi is going to appear any second mid bunga bunga, and that Mike was right – it really does seem smaller, much smaller.