Alby McCracken of Para-Anchors Australia rang this morning, replying to my e-mail asking about these essential items in the ocean rower’s armoury. He sounded remarkably cheery, considering it was 9pm in Australia and he was still at work.

We’ve arranged to meet at the Southampton Boat Show in September to discuss the ins and outs of para-anchors – a large fabric parachute that I trail from the bow of my boat into the sea, to stop me being blown too far backwards if the winds turn against me.

Seems I’m going to have a truly internationally-equipped boat – kangaroo skin gloves and oarsfrom Oz, biltong from South Africa, homeopathic remedies from New Zealand, iTrip from the USA, and what no ocean rower should be without – an alpaca-skin seat cover from Peru. Sheepskin? – pah!

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