By Sea, By Land

Kayak.jpg

Where is that boy off to now? Some people will do anything to get attention.............. Weird to finally see the kayak for real and odd to think they did 2,000 miles in that wee thing last year, right through the current path of Hurricane Irma. The boys are in fact off to the Base Camp Festival give a talk on the expedition. Thoughts of course, are with everyone on the Islands. Hope the Royal Navy arrive soonest and that we fly out Royal Engineers and all other help to them at the earliest possible opportunity.

Into Each Life, Some Rain Must Fall

Yesterday was an interesting day but actually, the fun actually started the evening before on the train to Waterloo.

Whilst on my way to a dinner in aid of the fantastic Children's Trust I received a call from the Coastguard saying the US Coastguard had received a distress signal from the Golden Arc Expedition. That was interesting because the expedition finished 8 weeks ago and one of the boys is now in Barcelona and the other is in New Zealand. After a flurry of calls to locations east and south we established that the signal must have come from the VHF radio which was stolen in Puerto Rico back in November. Whilst no one would wish ill on anyone at sea there is a certain karma there. Mrs Flashbang relaxed and we went to dinner.

During dinner I discovered that my imaginative and audacious plan for Mrs Flashbang's birthday present the next day had one minor flaw. I didn't have the winning raffle ticket. I wondered if I would still have a wife the next morning.

The next morning I was relieved to find I still had a wife and lucky me, a flat tyre. It was raining very hard. I called recovery and a jolly man appeared an hour later. It was still raining. The jolly man stopped being the life and soul when he split the locking nut when trying to remove it, 'it's very common on Land Rovers sir.' I've been driving them for 30 years but you learn something new every day. With the wheel stuck he called the recovery truck and I wait for two hours. It was raining just a bit harder when they came and took my car away to the garage for repair. I was left to ponder just what the cost of 'well, its a very tricky and niggly job sir,' will be.

I had a quick lunch with a friend and we laughed about it all.

I stopped laughing when I returned home. I could hear the dogs were distressed. That would be because of the water pouring out of the front door. There was a lot of water. Burst pipes will do that. Four hours later, I finished the initial clean up and waited for the plumber. Happy Birthday plans were amended somewhat.

Still we said, 'no one got hurt.'

Just then daughter called. Daughter has always wanted to fly in a helicopter. She had just ticked that box being medevaced off a Swiss mountain with a suspected broken arm. 

Poured an agricultural sized gin and Mrs Flashbang said, 'What else could possibly go wrong?' 'Well,' I thought to myself quietly, 'it is only quarter past eight.' 

GET Ready!

GARC1.jpg

A Skype call with the boys in Grenada this morning revealed that that they face an early test of their decision making. A weather system is heading into the Lower Antilles which may develop into a tropical cyclone and is expected around midweek, (you can follow tropical storms and hurricanes here). They now need to decide whether to make a start tomorrow and get a leg or even two under their belts or wait until next weekend after it blows over. Most locals think it is coming except one old boy who resolutely expects it to miss them....... his earnest thoughts were dismissed by his wife who remarked "That's what you said about Hugo,''

Another unforeseen technical hiccup sees them short of about 100 litres of storage space leaving them to decide what to leave behind. Some of their dehydrated rations won't make the trip and they have been making enquiries to see if some helpful yachtsman heading north might take a bag with spare kit and silver packets of dehydrated food up to one of the other islands for them................ good luck with that one lads!

Otherwise all is well. The locals have been most helpful, (if somewhat bemused), sponsors decals are on the boat.... (I think they need to give her a name), and charitable donations continue to come in so thank you to all for your kind contributions and messages of support.

For anyone who missed their Facebook update this morning..... here it is,

So after months and months of preparation we are finally out here in Grenada!

After both arriving on Thursday and negotiating the delights of airport customs - for some reason George created a bit of a stir with the customs officers when he turned up with his 7 bags of equipment - we have since been unbelievably busy getting ready for the off.

Friday morning was spent collecting the kayak from Grenada's commercial port. This involved being bounced from enquiries, to security, to customs, to brokers, to more customs, back to security, and finally to the port storage warehouse. Here, after many stomach churning blank responses from the managers as we asked for what we could only assume would be a fvcking great big box, we finally found our vessel tucked nice and inconspicuously out the back.

A bemused truck driver helped us deliver it back to our poor host's house, aptly named Hard Landings after his career in the RAF. Since then it has been hard at work sorting, prepping and packing our kit and testing our equipment. Check out some of the kit we are using here.

This morning we spent time customizing the kayak and adding our sponsors details to make it look like a proper expedition boat. Check out some of our sponsors on the website here.

And this afternoon, finally, we got out on the water for a paddle. The Caribbean is average. But we think the kayak looks cool... 

(as they say in the movies.......'boys, this shit just got real..)

(as they say in the movies.......'boys, this shit just got real..)

The plan is to set off in a few days time. We have more preparation to do in the meantime and have been told Grenada's national news want to interview us tomorrow!?.. Monday is the proposed date of departure, although this may slip to Tuesday. Our only concern at the moment is the depression developing over the Atlantic heading our way - these things often turn into tropical storms, in which case we will have to batten down the hatches for a few days and wait it out.. 

More to follow! Check out our new Instagram account: goldenarcexpedition

 

Texting Trauma

For a parent, the worrying never stops. Remember the days when we used to worry about stair-gates being left open or perfectly functioning baby monitors being mistrusted because the baby was sleeping not crying, 'I'll just go and check, the monitor might be broken.' Well, it doesn't get any easier. The worry level just goes up a gear . A big contributing factor are mobile phones and texts. Life was so liberating without them despite the obvious drawbacks of often finding oneself being in the wrong place at the wrong time, there being no quick means of contact outside using rarely working public telephones. 

It's been a standing family joke for years that wherever the kids are, their Mum will have spy planes constantly on patrol monitoring their movements. If you don't believe me then stand within 500 m of one of the kids and odds on you'll see an aircraft in the sky. Anyway, look what dropped into my in-box this weekend......

Son No 1

What could possibly go wrong............ 

Son No 2

Clicking on the link takes me to this map, identifying his precise location as the Middle of Nowhere. Good thing these boys were taught by a Jedi.

 

The good news is, for I'm a sharing person, is that you too can climb the wall of worry given the location map is to be found on the Golden Arc expedition website. When the boys kick off later this month the map should update throughout each day of the expedition allowing us to monitor progress. You can find it here

Incidentally, if you thought in passing that the development of satellite GPS technology had anything to do with NASA and the American military industrial complex then think again. Jewish mothers made it happen.................

GET Going!

Back in the day, I left school on a Friday afternoon and seeing no reason to muck around and waste time, joined the Army the following Monday. As it happens, one of the Crumble Kids has a few months spare before he kicks off as a long term employee of HM Gov and what bat-shit-crazy plan has he come up with this time? He and a friend are planning kayaking the 2000 nautical miles between Grenada and Miami. Moscow is closer to London than is the length of this undertaking. I swear, that boy must spend every waking moment dreaming up things for his mother to worry about. She's had a lot to worry about.

With just 24 days to go before the start preparations for the Golden Arc Expedition are warming up and every day more kit arrives at the house from kind sponsors, more 'no thanks,' emails drop into the in-box from not so kind potential sponsors and new challenging last minute issues raise their ugly heads......... 'son, this kayak which is being shipped to Grenada from Vancouver; are you on top of import duties?' 'Import what Dad?' So, what's the point?

Will and his chum George have started a charity, the Get Exploring Trust, (Charity No 116901). The aim of the trust is simple and straight forward. It aims to assist in the advancement in life of young people between the ages of 13 and 25 by providing small to medium sized grants to allow them to access recreational and leisure time activities in the outdoors designed to improve their life conditions and life chances. 

It is extraordinary just what a great equaliser clinging to the side of a windswept hill can be when you are all cold, wet and hungry. Being close to the elements on land, at sea or in the air is inspirational and life affirming. Way too many of our kids don't get the opportunity to access the outdoors. They genuinely don't know what they are missing. The Trust will help more of them discover the outdoors, and themselves, and from there they can make their own minds up.

Now, here at Expedition Headquarters we're not proud  and will of course accept help in any shape or form. If anyone were so moved to assist in sponsoring the actual expedition then there are still some niggly, naggly safety items which need to be purchased but any advice or local contacts through the route would be gratefully received. Obviously, the funding of the expedition is completely segregated from raising funds for the charity. All charity monies will go to the purpose for which donors intend and we are funding both the expedition, and the charity's administrative costs, separately.

If you did wish to donate to the charity the 'giving,' page may be found here while our bank details are, HSBC Sort Code 40-34-18, Acc No 54342615.

Of course, should you happen to be enjoying the azzure blue waters of the Caribbean between October and December and happen to see two blokes paddling in the direction of Florida then do give them a wave. If you see them paddling out to the Atlantic then give Air, Sea Rescue a wave. A bed for the night or dinner would be nice but then we wouldn't want to spoil them, would we?

I will be updating throughout.