My First Brush with Ocean Rowing

Last Saturday, I embarked on an Amy-first: getting into a rowing boat and heading out to sea. First let me say that my nautical experience is by no means vast. Apart from a few outings as a child and an interest in river rafting and rib rides, I have been firmly land-locked. But on the 6th June 2017, I began my first day working with Shoreseeker and the entire ocean rowing world opened up to me. On my first day, Tom mentioned to me that, if I wanted a true Shoreseeker experience, my fiancé Owen and I could join him in testing out the new rowing boats. He offered us to go to Christchurch that Saturday morning and take the boats out into the harbour. Owen is slightly more adventurous than I, having done a lot of kayaking, rock climbing and other manner of things but we were both excited.

Saturday morning I was nervous. Having never been on a rowing boat before, I was worried that my less-than-novice skills might embarrass me in front of my new boss. Once there, it became clear that Tom was experienced and confident in moving around the rowing boat. He jumped down onto it and began moving about as though it weren’t rocking at all (I’m pretty sure he walked better on the boat then I did on dry land).

My first experience was in getting on the boat itself. Although I would like to preach grace and elegance, I was probably more akin to someone falling through a trap door. I didn’t fall into the water, but that may have been thanks to a helping hand which caught me. At first I thought that there was no way you could stay aboard it for more than a few hours, let alone days, but as we all settled in it became clear that it was just a different way of living – one linked to confidence, not initial fear.

Once firmly sat down on the boat I thought I would never be able to move, but it was nice to be on the water on a glorious day. It was so peaceful and beautiful that I could instantly see the appeal in being out on the water. It felt free and full of possibilities.

It is at this point that I should mention that I was not able to row as a previous motorbike accident has meant that I cannot exert force on my left arm. So in my eyes, this whole trip I could lay back and enjoy the ride as I was whisked across the dazzling sea... Tom thought differently.

As we set off, I became enamoured with being on the water. The air was fresh, the sounds were calming and the water seemed to draw me in. Owen was taught how to row in time with others and he was laughing as he messed up a stroke or accidently splashed us all. I couldn’t have felt any better sat in my seat watching the world pass by with each stroke. It became more than just a rowing boat, but rather a vessel to which we could achieve anything – or at the very least getting out of bay into the sea!

It was at this point that Tom asked me if I would like to steer. The boat was brand new and images of a mini shipwreck began to surface in my mind, but I was there to learn and experience for myself. I agreed to take the wheel (well, ropes), so long as I could take the direct path and Tom moved around me. The mechanics of the steering were surprisingly easy. Pull the left rope to move left, the right rope to move right. So what could go wrong moving a brand new boat out of a busy harbour with my partner and new boss aboard?

Steering the boat was an amazing experience. I became so focused on moving between the red and green buoys and avoiding other traffic that I completely forgot that we were on a rowing boat at all. It felt almost like playing a video game (with the world’s weirdest controller) where you need to fly or jump through rings in a certain order. The best part was that I was completely lost in it – and I was loving every second!

I really enjoyed the opportunity to be truly in control with no modern technology guiding or aiding me. The boat felt safer than I expected it to and they do well even when being steered over mud (yeah - a bit of a buoy mix up!). The best part was that I, who has never done anything like this before, was able to do it and I enjoyed pretending to be a pro as onlookers went past.

We actually made it out to sea, where we kind of floated around a bit before heading back. Owen commented on how he took pride in the fact that boats with motors were whizzing past us, but it had been his power, alongside the teams, which had moved us to where we were. He took so much achievement in it that I found myself wishing that I were able to row alongside them. I wanted to be a part of what they were achieving. It almost connected to something embedded within me- like I wanted to throw my lot in with everyone on the boat to achieve something great- something I couldn’t on my own.

I went out on the boat thinking that it would be a nice day out and an experience, but that I could never do a challenge. When I got off the boat, a bit shaky but a lot more graceful than when I got on, I wanted to achieve the next milestone. Although I didn’t row and won’t be able to experience that element of it, Owen did. He was tired, he was achy; he had blisters on his hands but he also had a spark for wanting to do it again. Even now, nearly a week later, he is still incredibly proud of what he accomplished and he certainly wants to do it again.

I loved the experience and I can now truly understand why someone may do a challenge with Shoreseeker. I believe that it speaks to people in a way that we all can tune into – like there is a part of all of us which is waiting to hear this message. I never understood it before I did it and this new insight has certainly helped me with my ability to market the company. I may never be able to row and I may never be able to move around the boat like Tom does, but I can say: “I did that and I want to help you do it to”.