5 day's to race day - La Gomera
Cris Rossiter had made the trip out to assist in items which needed finishing on the boat. Such as fitting the satellite phone antenna to the cabin roof (therefore allowing us to get reception without having to hold the phone out of the cabin door), removing some trimming from the deck so the life raft would fit neatly, and fitting extra stays to the gates to ensure they are securely fastened.
The crew were all hands on deck today. Duties included grinding down bolts which were quite perilously protruding from the deck and the autopilot and steering lines were linked up the the rudder, the deck was cleaned down.
Next up, we had to ask one of the scrutinisers to give us approval to go for our first row. As we had now satisfied them that we had all appropriate safety gear on the boat, we were permitted to leave the marina. Whenever we go for a row, it is necessary for us to inform them, and give them an ETA back at the marina after our row.
So at around 4pm, the ropes securing Tiny Dancer were undone, and we slipped away gently paddling out of the marina. This was such a big moment for us all, and were so happy for it finally to happen.
We rowed along the small boats channel out into the open ocean, where there was a deceptively choppy swell which rolled the boat around and was our first experience of how vulnerable to the water movement we are, let alone the weather. Two people rowed, one steered by hand (just for this first time), and one sat in the cabin. While Bobby was taking his turn to sit in the cabin, he had been working with the GPS and emerged feeling slightly queasy given it is such a small space and enclosed, combined with the rocking of the boat. Once out on deck however he was fine, but it was the first feeling of potential sea sickness any of us have had.
We headed back into the marina at 5.30, and moored up. Although a relatively short row, things became apparent that we will need to work on for our next row, and so on and so forth, until we hope by Monday, the start date, we have ironed out at least the vast majority, and if possible all of these tweaks. Henry also discovered that his previous tennis elbow injury and the arm that has been operated on was a potential problem. He got to work very quickly on extra solutions for this to avoid over gripping the oars, this being a very real problem if while out at sea he suffers it could leave him incapable of rowing. We also realised that 'rowing' in the loosest term is not quite what it says on the tin when in choppy seas -the right hand oar may have swell and be doing it's job, while the left hand oar may be in the air, the technique for this is a skill in itself.
Since being back on dry land from our hour and a half row, a few of us have felt a little land sick, and the earth has been swaying a little below us - so who knows how we will feel after 3000 miles!