The
first of the aforementioned 4 posts that I anticipate writing over the next few
days….this is to express my thanks, for just reading this you are showing your continued support to the idea of the Irish Sea Crossing. I make no apologies for the length of this post…

Thanks

Firstly,
I wanted to recognise the overwhelming support that I have had for what would
at first appearance seem to be a completely ludicrous idea. I have to echo Neil’s sentiments (see Neil’s previous
post – Being Inspired) in that I have found so many people willing to give
generously of their time and support.
Without all of this support the crossing attempt would not have happened…

Thanks – I have an idea…what do you think?

Neil
had no idea what I was about to ask him.
A year previous to this meeting, Neil had sent me a photo of his 5m sea
going Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) that he uses for diving trips. This looked like a fine specimen of a boat,
just the job to act as a safety boat for the Irish Sea Crossing attempt. Neil didn’t say No, which was a good
start…but he did ask for a few days to consider the proposal. It wasn’t but a day that had passed before Neil
was making lists of things we would need to consider and bringing to bear his sea-going experience.
Neil has been fully committed to this idea since (I’m going to say…) the
day after we first discussed it. He
invested much time, effort, and money in upgrading his RIB to make it a fine
option for the crossing attempt, should we have been unable to secure an
alternative. Neil has been there,
helping with the navigational planning and working out some of the “if”, “but”s and
“maybes” along the whole course of the evolution of this endeavour. I remember one session talking through all
the safety risks; what happens if…fog / radio failure / change of weather /
ship on collision course / rough seas over the sand banks / loss of contact
between me and the safety boat / etc…etc…etc, it was a long session and we both
ended up very tired after that one! So,
for being with the idea from the start, for providing continuous effort and
attention to detail, for being my “moderator” when I was overly optimistic
about weather forecasts, for unwavering commitment and constant state of
readiness for this crossing attempt (not easy when the weather opportunities
were so few and far between). …thank you
Neil, the perfect partner for this endeavour.

Thanks – Pontoons and Paddles

Thanks
have to stem right back to the early days of the idea where I had much help for
the construction and testing of the first attempts at making the Tredalo. Particularly, I would like to thank James
Steele and his Dad, Chris Steele, for generous help with the pontoon and paddle
construction. James also helped with
initial lake trials and provided a safety boat for the initial sea trials (Poole Harbour
was great). Thanks to Richard Bamboat for staying up to 3am in true adventurer
fashion to get the paddles attached prior to the first ever lake test, and for
subsequent assistance with “final preparations of kit” for the crossing attempt.

Thanks – I don’t suppose you might have one of these I could borrow?

Thanks
too, to the Spriggs. I will never forget
the “wire” I got from Graham Sprigg whilst I was in the Arctic on a previous
challenge, regarding reasons to stop when trying to achieve something, it read
“food is ok, but sleep is for wimps”, and this philosophy was certainly pushed
to the limits very often for this challenge in preparing for various test runs
and on the actual day of the crossing itself!
Graham has been a constant source of support and of generously loaned
equipment….including a “floating” GPS….hmm!? (Sorry about that Graham)!

Thanks – “I can’t get this kayak to go straight”

Neil
Houghton helped out on a number of test runs, generated the concept of the stabilising
hand rail (al’a treadmill running machine) and provided some last minute website
user testing to find out if the tracking beacon was working as it should (it
was). So, thanks to Neil for all help.

Thanks – Can I borrow your lake?

Although
it seems like a long time ago…thanks to Jim Butler for loan of his farm lake
for initial training sessions. I have
never seen cows so confused as when we towed the Tredalo through their field to
get to the lake!

Thanks – I need a website

Enter
Steve Fenemore. Thanks to Steve for
sorting out the foundations on which the website was built which is worth more
than can be described here. Can you
imagine trying to describe in words what I was attempting and making it sound
possible? Much easier to say “take a
look at irishseacrossing.co.uk”.

Thanks – Are you free?…I just need to move 200kg of metal (again!)

Without
the endless and untiring support from “the main mover” Rob Buckland, testing
and development progress would not have been possible. Despite me pouncing as
soon as Rob arrived home after a 12 hr day, Rob was always willing to heave
bits of the Tredalo around the garden in what seemed like an endless cycle of
disassemble, move, assemble, test, disassemble, move, assemble, train,
disassemble, move, assemble, test, …etc.
So thanks to Rob for his most sterling support!

Thanks – Those that know…or know someone that does

It
is amazing how a brief conversation can change the course of events. Such a conversation occurred when I spoke
with Sam Healy, who put me in touch with Mark Clark and Patrick Carnie. Mark helped with advice on press matters and
offered many contacts of his own…including one for tracking beacons! Patrick
was very keen to help…and as a result Patrick unlocked the start of the flood
of help that I received. This started
with Pains Wessex sponsoring the flares, and subsequently issuing a press
release. Which lead to the story being
picked up by a media agency, Barcroft Media, who helped to raise the profile of
the event up to the point of being front page news in Ireland and in the media on every
continent in the world. So, thanks to
Sam, Mark, Patrick and to Barcroft Media.

Thanks – Lights, Camera, Action!

At this point I should also thank James and Thomas Mahoney for helping me build the Tredalo (and again, and again, and again) for its photo shoot….’can you just do that again please’?

Thanks – The pea-green boat

Thanks
have to go to Bill Peters for provision of the best safety boat that could have
accompanied the crossing. Imagine a 45ft
search and rescue vessel, fully stacked with all the safety gear,…considering
the charities, very pertinent to the WBA, a key bit of kit was the RADAR which
gave us sight at night – a worry was not being seen by other ships at night,
but the RADAR meant we could look after ourselves! Food for thought? Thank you Bill, and thanks to RIB ENERGY.

Thanks – The folk in the pea-green boat

Thanks
to Dave Rogers of Ambient Marine,
who captained the safety boat during the crossing attempt. What a star.
Thanks to Dave for amazing support in the preparations and for the
unbeatable short notice response to the “go go go” decision. Dave’s flexibility and willingness to help in
this endeavour “made” the crossing attempt possible. Dave’s professionalism and ease with the
conditions and situations made everybody involved feel safe throughout the
crossing attempt, day and night. Outstanding
job. Thank you.

Thanks
to Neil Radcliffe for planning
support as mentioned above…and also for seeing the planning through to the day
itself – it was great to watch the navigation unfold exactly as Neil had
predicted. It was heartening to see Neil
enjoying the trip as much as I did, having earned it in more ways than one with
hard effort and perseverance. I don’t
think I’ll ever forget Neil’s hand waving signals, indicating that he could see
the mountains of Ireland
ahead, just before the sun went down.
Thanks for your help Neil.

Thanks to Dale Humphries who willingly dropped
everything to help on the final day of prep and so ably assisted with the setup
on the beach before boarding the safety boat, I’m not sure I can picture a more
contented sight than Dale fishing off the back of the safety boat, whilst I
walked into the sunset.

Thanks
to the whole crew – I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to have the same crew
again – should that ever come to pass!
Thanks to the crew of the pea-green boat (RIB ENERGY).

Thanks – My darling wife

I
think it is fair to say that this event has consumed me. It took much more effort than I ever
realised, so many small things (administration things mainly) sometimes felt
like I was being nibbled to death by ducks and it was as if the event would never
get to the point of “launch”. Thanks to
Joy for being there to support me through the peaks and troughs of the wavy
path to the start and then the wavier than forecast path to the finish.

Thanks – My family

During the planning and preparation family members have helped in
various ways. Whether it be support on the phone, spreading the word for the charities, taking a ‘holiday’ with us to test the Tredalo in Trearddur Bay and being on stand by to collect me from Ireland – it was all vital help and support.
So to my family, I say thank you all very much. Thanks!

Thanks – The sponsors

Of
key importance to the attempt were the efforts and support from many
individuals and companies to help with equipment and logistics without which
this event would not have happened in the slick and efficient way in which it
did…..so HUGH thanks to those that sponsored me (for more details see the Sponsorship thread on this blog – see menu selections on the right hand side).

Family Adventure Store – Sailing rope for
rudder steering…and for being my first sponsor.

Drew Marine – For flare packs, vital
safety gear for collision avoidance, location and rescue.

Likeys – For drinking pipes and dry bags
that made life on the ocean a bit easier.

QinetiQ Bushman Trackers – For Tracking device,
and superb support.

QinetiQ – For sponsoring the safety boat
fuel. A very major part of the jigsaw
puzzle.

Jewson – For provision of insulation foam
for buoyancy.

Southern Tank Services – For superb fuel pumping
service, provision of containers and filter.

Hacklings – For provision of amazing
short notice transportation of the safety boat fuel.

Thanks – Those waiting in the wings

As
can be seen, many people have helped to make the crossing attempt happen, many
of whom I have mentioned. But, there
were many others who helped. Many
friends and family members who offered support and who were waiting to be
called into action, should the need arise. So to those waiting in the wings,
prepared to help, but for one reason or another not called on…thank you for
being there – ready to spring into action, should the need have arisen.

Thanks – Those watching and supporting

It
seems that this challenge created a lot of interest and many, many people have
sent through great messages of support and encouragement. I am sorry that the outcome was not as
fitting as it might have been, to respond to all of these good wishes – but it
was an adventure, with many unknowns. So
thanks to all those that recognised the spirit of the endeavour and who got
involved and wished me well for the crossing and for the fund raising for the
charities – thanks to you ALL.

Final Thanks – The donations

Thanks
to all those that have generously donated funds to the charities in recognition
of the enormous effort that has been applied to the crossing attempt, even
before the launch on the day, and for recognising the spirit of the
attempt. These charities provide great
services and these services are expensive to upkeep so your donations are
important and very welcome. Thank you. Last
plug….you can still donate via my JustGiving site.

So,
from me, my overwhelming feeling is that of gratitude for all that have helped
this event on behalf of me and the charities (the Wiltshire Blind Association
and the RNLI).

THANK
YOU.

Chris.