(Picture: Dave on the left, George on the right. The Atlantic Four 2005)

In October last year I spent a weekend with my friend George in
Bristol. He had also rowed across the Atlantic, at the same time as me,
in a crew of four men. One of his crewmates, Dave, was also staying with
George that weekend. I knew Dave too, through having spent time with him
at Henley Royal Regatta, and in the Canaries before the start of the
Atlantic race.

The three of us hung out together that weekend, risked George’s homemade
beef curry, drank too much wine, then went to the gym the next morning
to work it off. We sat on three rowing machines side by side, and rowed
together companionably.

Dave was excited about a forthcoming trip to South Africa to take part
in an ultra-running race. He would be going with another of the
crewmates and their two girlfriends. When we parted company on the
Sunday, it never crossed my mind that when I next saw Dave he would be
significantly altered.

A few weeks later I got an email from George. Dave and the three others
had been in a car crash in South Africa. Dave had broken his back. The
doctors said he would never walk again.

George dropped everything and flew out to South Africa to be with his
former crewmate. Since Dave returned to the UK he has been in the Spinal
Injuries Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and George has made the
round trip from Bristol to visit him there almost every weekend.

George, who surely deserves some kind of award for Best Friend In Need,
yesterday set out to cycle from Canada to Mexico along the western coast
of the US, in a bid to raise funds for a hand bike for Dave so that he
can once again compete in endurance races.

His website says:
David needs to get out of hospital (Stoke Mandeville) as soon as
possible and get back into expeditions. The four of us plan to enter the
2009 New York Marathon as the old crew, Atlantic4. To do this, David
needs a specialist bit of kit called a hand bike. And that, my friends,
is what we’re raising money for.
So please, give what you feel like – not because Tori [a Canadian who
also rowed the Atlantic in 2005, in a mixed pair] and I are doing
something difficult or unpleasant, but because you want to help David
get back out on the road.
Donate cash using the link on the left hand menu. When you do this, 100%
of the money goes directly to David’s Hand Bike Appeal.

So if you want to help Dave, or support George, or just express your
gratitude for your own fit and healthy body (there but for the grace of
God.), please go to their website and make a donation.

And/or go out and do something that you’ve been putting off, thinking,
“I’ll get around to it when.” You never know when you’re going to run
out of tomorrows. So do it now. While you can. Do it for yourself, but
do it in honour of Dave, who – at least as far as his legs are concerned
– ran out of tomorrows.

Other stuff:

Position at 2100 Pacific time, 0400 14th July UTC: 26 06.420’N, 130
00.173’W.

Look again at that last number – I’ve passed 130W!! This is a major
milestone. Still a long way to go – Hawaii lies at nearly 158W – but I
can now regard myself as having successfully broken away from the
Americas, after a long battle with winds that had other ideas!

Hello and thanks to all who have sent messages, especially Mandy Skogebo
(if justdoitiveness isn’t a word, it should be! It’s in my vocabulary
now!), John, Roger, Pippa, Kirk, Bruce (stop chatting up my mother!),
Russell, Gene, Rod, Roger, Nevada Bev, Erin and Mark.

And a special hello to Larry, Leonard and the other Leo Laporte Lurkers.
How about that for alliteration?!

If you haven’t yet checked out my thrice-weekly podcasts with Leo,
they’re apparently really good. Mum discovered on Saturday that when you
watch the podcast live, you get to see Leo in the studio, plus all the
comments that are coming in via the chatroom. I just wish I could watch
them too! I’ll give more details soon.

BLUE PLEDGES

Tomorrow my friends at the BLUE Project will go to the Houses of
Parliament to present the Blue Pledges in support of the Marine Bill.
But you can still make a pledge if you haven’t already. Just go to
www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button.

Thank you to all who have made the pledge already – and those who
haven’t, please do it now! It’s all in support of the Marine Bill
currently going through the UK parliament, but people of any nationality
can make a pledge. After all, the oceans connect all of us!

BE COOL, BE BLUE!

Click here to see Day 50 of the Atlantic Crossing A Little Bit of Toast – longing for food not available on the boat.

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