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Wick round-Britain rowers make progress to Poole harbour


By Alan Hendry

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Mhairi at the oars off the south coast of England. Picture: Stormy and Steth
Mhairi at the oars off the south coast of England. Picture: Stormy and Steth

Round-Britain rowers Allan Lipp and Mhairi Ross have managed to make progress along the south coast of England and hope to resume their epic challenge on Wednesday.

The Wick couple were stuck at anchor in Newtown Creek, just off the Isle of Wight, for a week amid unrelenting westerly winds.

This week a weather window allowed them to continue as far as Poole harbour, Dorset, for shelter ahead of further unfavourable winds.

In an update to their online followers on day 37 of the trip, the pair said they hoped to depart again on Wednesday as Tuesday looked too windy.

They are aiming to become the first mixed pair to complete an unsupported circumnavigation of the British mainland by rowing boat.

Allan (45), the Wick RNLI lifeboat coxswain, and Mhairi (47), who works as a paramedic and is a lifeboat volunteer, have taken up to three months’ unpaid leave for their round-Britain adventure, Stormy and Steth: The Long Row Home.

Before setting off, they were hoping it would take them about 60 days to complete the journey in their seven-metre carbon-fibre vessel Boudicea.

They have set a fundraising target of £30,000, to be divided between the RNLI and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance. The amount raised on their JustGiving page stood at £18,757 by Tuesday morning.

The pair began their challenge on June 1 when friends, family and supporters gathered to see them off from Wick harbour.

In an earlier video message, while still stuck in Newtown Creek, Allan and Mhairi spoke of their frustration but said they were “still on target” to complete the journey.

They said they were looking forward to passing Land’s End and overcoming “one of the mental barriers of this challenge”.

The couple gave an assurance about their food supplies and said: “We’re not starving.”

Mhairi explained that they had brought a mix of dehydrated items and so-called wet rations, or “food that’s ready to eat straight out of the packet”.

She said: “We’re doing all right for food. We haven’t been eating as much as we thought we would, so we’re not short of food at the moment.

A selfie for Allan and Mhairi off Cowes, with the Cunard cruise ship Queen Anne in the background. Picture: Stormy and Steth
A selfie for Allan and Mhairi off Cowes, with the Cunard cruise ship Queen Anne in the background. Picture: Stormy and Steth

“The constraining factor that’s more likely to impact us is the time we have off work. When it’s time to go back to work, our food supplies are probably going to run out round about the same time, so we have approximately three months to complete this venture and we’re hoping that, despite the delays, we’re still on target to do that.

“We’re just hoping that on the back of this wind period, fingers crossed, there’s a couple of weeks of really nice weather, with a bit of wind in the right direction, just to give us a real boost.

“I think we both feel that once we’re past Land’s End and on the way north again we’ll really have broken one of the mental barriers of this challenge as well.”

To be successful in their record attempt, the couple must be totally self-reliant for the duration, including not landing at any point. With that in mind, they were asked whether they are allowed to catch fish to eat.

“Aye, we can – but we haven’t taken any fishing tackle with us,” Allan said.

“One of the limitations we’ve got is how we would actually cook stuff. We cook water, basically. Rather than tainting the taste when we’re cooking water, we thought we’ll not bother taking fishing tackle because we don’t have a pan and it would just make everything taste like fish as we boiled water, so we decided not to take fishing tackle.

“We’re kind of regretting that a little bit because we’re getting a little bit bored with the ration packs... But we’re surviving fine.”

Other topics the couple have also been asked about include sun protection and personal hygiene.

Boudicea is fitted with solar panels and has a desalination unit for turning salt water into fresh water. Mhairi explained: “We do have some emergency water on board but we don’t want to touch that unless we really, really have to. It actually acts as some ballast for the boat as well.”

The couple had asked for suggestions on “how to keep the boredom at bay”. Mhairi said: “Some have been absolutely brilliant, others not so brilliant!”

Boudicea in Wick Bay on the day Allan and Mhairi set off at the beginning of June, with the Isabella Fortuna and Wick lifeboat in the background. Picture: Alan Hendry
Boudicea in Wick Bay on the day Allan and Mhairi set off at the beginning of June, with the Isabella Fortuna and Wick lifeboat in the background. Picture: Alan Hendry

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