What a weekend!
Held in the fantastically inspiring surroundings of the Royal Geographical Society the Explore weekend happens every autumn and brings together the most concentrated group of explorers and would-be explorers in the world. This was my first experience of it and it was brilliant.
The lecture theatre on the Friday night was full of big names in the world of adventure, field research and exploration. Throughout the weekend I found myself having cups of tea with people I’ve admired from afar from a long time, getting first-hand advice from the experts in ocean rowing/working with plastic pollution/organising expeditions, and sitting next to people who have just returned from amazing adventures. From Quincy Connell, who is off to work north of the Arctic Circle next week, to Lloyd Figgins, a seasoned adventurer who has rowed the Atlantic; from Emily Penn, doing exciting work researching and teaching about plastic pollution in the oceans, to Dave Cornthwaite, an adventurer with numerous challenges on the go including his campaign to ‘Say Yes More’; from Roz Savage, the first woman to row solo across three oceans, to Nigel Winser, scientist and Executive Vice President of Earthwatch – all these people and more gave me huge amounts of time, support, inspiration (or all three) over the weekend.
One of the highlights was the ‘Oceans’ workshop on Saturday afternoon, chaired by biological oceanographer Helen Findlay, accompanied by a hugely experienced panel. Some samples of plastic collected from the ocean were passed around, which made what I am trying to communicate with my row all the more real. A good number of the ideas and contacts I’ve come away with from this weekend relate to ‘citizen science’: scientific research carried out by non-professionals, often in the field. There are numerous pieces of research I might be able to undertake from my little boat on the Pacific – more to follow I hope.
Another highlight was becoming one of the two winners of the ‘RBS-IBG Explore 2013 Risk Assessment Competition’! (obviously a greatly sought-after thing to win). I had to complete a three point example risk assessment for my project, taking into account likelihood, severity, and risk management. I assessed the risks of falling overboard, a shark attack, and the watermaker breaking or running out of electricity. All three severe-to-fatal if they were to happen, but all of rather differing likelihoods! The more one considers the potential risks in advance, and the ways to minimise these, the better. My prize was a £50 training voucher for a course of my choice with Training Expertise. Now I just need to decide which one to go for! This was an especially nice thing to happen, as the prize was presented by expedition leader and safety trainer Dom Hall, who led a two month expedition I went on in 2005 to the Maliau Basin in Borneo. 🙂
I’m feeling very exhausted at the end of such a busy weekend, but also really revitalised. It is fantastic to meet other people who are also undertaking crazy adventures, as it can sometimes get a little lonely sitting at my desk and emailing potential sponsors.
In sponsorship news, I’d like to thank Kakadu and nuun, who have both sent me product towards the row in the last week. Kakadu produce kangaroo skin golf gloves, which have proven themselves in ocean rowing in the past – I’m really looking forward to trying them! Nuun produce portable hydration tabs that add electrolytes to drinking water to aid training and recovery – these will be particularly useful when I’m hot, sweaty and thirsty on the boat!
Thank you to everyone for this last week.