Often we never manage to get started on a project because we think we don’t have the resources. And maybe, at the outset, we don’t. But the good thing about resources is that, given enough determination, you can get them.

In this next article in my series on COURAGE (see here for C, O, and U posts) I’ll explain how I went about getting the resources together to row across an ocean, from a standing start to launching my boat in just 14 months…


When I decided I was going to row across oceans, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into (which is probably just as well – naive optimism is a much underrated commodity). But I did have a secret weapon at my disposal.


I’ve always been a list-maker. Almost from the time I could write I’ve been making lists, of presents I wanted for Christmas, things to pack to take on holiday, or whatever. So for me it was the most natural thing in the world to start my ocean rowing career by making a list.

I divided it into 5 categories:

Physical – training, nutrition

Psychological – mental preparation

Equipment – the boat, the kit, safety equipment, comms equipment, etc

Skills – courses in first aid, sea survival, navigation, basic meteorology, marine radio

Financial – how much all that kit and training would cost

I could have added human resources – or as I prefer to call them, people – as well, but really that list emerged from the lists I’ve already mentioned.

When I made this list, it was pretty huge. But it also looked surprisingly manageable. I’d broken the tasks into such small steps that there wasn’t anything on there that looked too daunting or too far beyond my experience.

Most tasks, really, when you break them down into tiny parts, can’t get too far outside the skill sets that we all have – researching, learning, writing, contacting, meeting, comparing, buying – and for the bits that I really didn’t know how to do, like wiring the electrical system on the boat, I hired people.

And so the dream starts to come true.

This is the bit in Hollywood films where they usually do that time-lapse sequence with music that conveys that everything is coming together effortlessly. Of course, real life isn’t like that – there are always glitches and road-bumps and dead ends – but I just kept on going down my list, ticking things off, every day getting a bit closer to the end of the list.


What about you? What is your methodology for tackling a big task? Please post a comment and let me know!




  • Whilst I do not have any major projects currently, there will be one in the next couple of years. I have relied on lists all my life…lists and sub-lists.
    If a project is home related, my wife and I do lists and compare them…reducing the likelyhood of missing something. Inevitably something is missed despite that!
    I often add something to the list that is pretty much done ….it makes me feel better 🙂

    • Ah yes, the little endorphin rush we get when we tick something off the list. Very powerful, as nothing succeeds like success when it comes to building competence and confidence!

    • Goalscape is FANTASTIC!! I use it a lot – although sadly it didn’t yet exist when I was planning my first voyage. It has loads of great features – and the feature I like best is that it forms a circle, so that as you expand the size/significance of one segment, the other segments shrink – which is a great way of reminding me that I only have 24 hours in a day, so that everything I add to my To Do list has an opportunity cost in terms of something else for which I will have less time (like, sleeping!).

  • I have been building my 32 ft live aboard boat for the last 8 years with another 2 years to go
    I also work full time at a straight job
    The way I keep going is a commitment to do something for the project every day
    Sometimes that means 10 hours of hard work and other days its designing a detail in 10 minutes. But every day I move the ball down the field however incrementally
    I have faith that I can someday get over the goal line
    Love your blog it’s like little pep talks in my inbox

    • Good for you, Richard! That’s a great philosophy. I’m sure your persistence and dedication will pay off. And thanks for the kind words!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *