297 Days to Go – Excited: The Atlantic Awaits!

Welcome to my last blog entry of 2021 - Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and an even better New Year, a safer and healthier year, wherever you are, no matter what you are doing. Thank you all for your support, sponsorship, and encouragement in 2021 too. Together, in 2022, we will achieve the extraordinary!

Christmas blew through with Atlantic Storms, wind, rain, and busy times, monitoring the great progress of the One Ocean Crew I met in August who row-on across The Atlantic, 1500nm left to go, with 35 other competitors and full Talisker support vessels, for Antigua. I pray Em and the team gain their front running place back and smash their goals to succeed. A great team of Ladies who are inspiring! However, as I was sat, building Lego with my daughter on the carpet, Turkey and sprouts hanging in the air, a whiff of Chlorine from training gear still heavy in the heat, this moment came with the realization that this could very well be the last Christmas I get to experience with my daughter.

Now, as a realist (and five times dead already) and a positive realist at that, I slapped myself out of it, as I tend not to think of the dark side of expeditions but I do plan for all eventualities from medical to delay and spare team members, to emergency and evacuation. It also serves as a reminder for us all, to enjoy every moment we have with our loved ones and that we should live in the here and now, not the past, not filled with anger or bitterness, and more importantly, that we remember our motivation for taking on such world-firsts or extreme expeditions. Nevermore was this hammered home more than when I had the privilege of catching up with Ran Fiennes pre-talk, in December. My expedition patron is "The Greatest Living Explorer alive today," and a humble man. During the conversation, Ran reiterated being aware of people's motivations and the importance of only working with those who are armed with true motivations, only they should support the swim and be part of our team. Nobody gets paid, not even me the swimmer. Everybody helps, and all as one team. Very wise words from Ran, thank you Ran for lifting my spirits, and with his usual fantastic talk to the public that evening, littered with humble experiences, tips, and plenty of anti-Norwegian Polar references 🙂 It was a great evening and as always, incredibly humbling to have some one-to-one time with this incredible human, legend, and to be able to support his charity Friends of Fiennes Institute, in Antigua. Thank you Ran for your unwavering belief and support. It is this kind of motivation, that lifts me too. This expedition work and organizing can be very lonely at times when you are organizing it alone, training and preparing, and sponsor chasing too, for an expedition of this magnitude.

Ben & Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE - Backstage for a brew & Atlantic Ocean chat - Dec 2021

I am delighted to welcome Promarine Finance & Finsulate UK to the team. Your support really does matter for our support vessel and most vital supplies. Especially once we are on the Atlantic Ocean and isolated beyond all help - hence the incredible arrival of the first of our first-aid and emergency supplies from SJA (see images below) - Thank you all. This means everything to me personally and to the team.

I am delighted also to welcome Dave and his wonderful vessel, Labora, (currently on The Atlantic Ocean) to the STBB2 team. Both Dave and Labora (60ft, over 50tns, 5tn fuel, solar panels, and room for 12 with all supplies) are supporting the swim and should be in the UK by late Spring, ready to kit up with AST and ASG/Mastervolt's vital equipment, our medical and food supplies, and so much more in order to launch next summer from the UK for Dakar, Senegal, the start line in October 2022. Amazing, welcome Dave - You are our savior and together we will raise great charity funds, achieve a true world-first and amazing research on our ocean and the human body. See you soon! followers and readers, keep an eye on the website & Blog, for further images and the incredible and adventurous background, of Dave and Labora.

S/V Labora - Atlantic Mooring on The Cape Verde Isles - 2021

Now, while I am chasing the last few items required and planning, to even be able to commence such a feat in October 2022, on the mighty Atlantic Ocean, I continue to train and work on top of organizing - a 90 hour plus week is good for the soul, someone told me once. Swim and gym combinations, recovery from a calf pull, pain, s&c and yoga, core work, and endurance running (the latter now giving way to swim volume going up a gear!) is all great stuff. Slow and steady wins the day; achieves the marathons per day that we will need to succeed. In terms of final items, we are searching for a RiB and 20hp outboard, fuel and flights coverage, and some smaller items. We are nearly there!

Well, with all this in mind and New Year's Eve beckoning, I wish you all an amazing 2022 and with all my heart, thank you for your support to date. Come back in January for the next update.

Next year, together, we will achieve the extraordinary for Queen & Country and all our charities during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Year. We all wish Her Majesty a healthy New Year and a wonderful celebration of her life and reign to date.

Happy New Year to you all.

Ben (Dec 2021).