Theoretically you don’t need any experience, or specialist knowledge, before getting in a rowing boat and setting off across thousands of miles of open ocean. In fact, many people who decide to row an ocean have neither rowed nor sailed before.
But the Pacific is a dangerous and unforgiving place. Help is rarely close by and the costs involved of sending planes out, or diverting commercial shipping is substantial. If things go wrong, we wouldn’t just be risking our own lives, but also the lives of those who might try to assist us. So, its no surprise that the US Coast Guard will insist that we gain clearance from them before departing. And to get that clearance, we must demonstrate we’ve obtained a minimal level of knowledge and experience.
There are many new skills the Endurance Limits crew will need to obtain and become proficient in, such as proper radio use, navigation, chartwork, position fixing and course plotting. We must understand weather forecasting and how to plan for various sea conditions, winds, tides, and currents. If things go wrong, our lives will depend on being able to diagnose and deliver good-quality medical aid. And there is no room for error when it comes to survival techniques, including what to do if we must abandon our boat.
So, it’s been back to (maritime) school for us, passing various Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses, including: Day Skipper, Coastal/Yachtmaster, VHF/DSC Radio, First Aid and Sea Survival. Once the boat is finished, we will then practice all our new skills, so we are as effective and efficient as possible. But mainly to ensure that we will be as safe whatever the trip may throw at us.