Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Sorry for being so quiet over the past few months. Two reasons: home router went down and its taken Virgin this long to get a new one to me (I can't access the Blog from work), and secondly I'm trying to secure some National PR in order to have something concrete to offer potential sponsors - still trying. Anyone got any contacts?
Have a great Christmas and New Year.
PS: If you want to know what else I'm up to: http://www.mds2010.com/
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
It took about 40 minutes to motor across the Firth to Inchcolm Island and then a quick RIB ride onto the rock. Landing was easy from the sloping western side, but having circumnavigated the rock prior to landing I noted that the eastern flank was near vertical, which should provide some experience of a scramble/climbing landing and somewhere to practice hauling the gear up from a boat.
There are some signs of nesting, although the four nests I could identify had all been vacated, and the build-up of guano means that there are a few level areas which could be suitable locations for the RockPod. One in particular I measured to be about 9‘ x 5‘6’’ (narrowing to 3‘2’’) and is right above the cliff, so this is the most likely candidate for mimicking Hall’s Ledge (11’ x 4’). There were also some signs of previous occupation, perhaps by “birdy people” to quote the skipper, in the form of a cairn and a concrete base and clasp, probably for an aerial. The latter is raised and suitably close to the level area that it could act as the summit of Rockall with its defunct navigation light, and would be a suitable spot for a wind generator.
In all, I spent just over an hour on Haystacks and I think it was worth the trip, getting wet and the early start. Unless something better comes along I’ll be using the rock as a testing ground at some point in the future.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
In terms of organising equipment, I have agreed with Norco that they will polish the ‘RockPod’ design and manufacture the end product. They have very kindly agreed to provide the tooling for free; and on Friday I was approached by a potential financial sponsor with the specific aim of paying for the manufacture!
From a recommendation from Norco, Lewmar have come on board and have promised to provide me with their hatches for free which will give me secure access and observation to and from the Pod. Furthermore, I approached Ampair for some advice and costings for a wind generator to provide me with power on Rockall. They have been amazingly helpful, calculating my power requirements and donating generation equipment to the expedition. Ampair have also said that they will use their industry contacts to try and obtain sponsorship from manufacturers of the other power system components I will require.
Also, this week, I have agreed a window for the expedition in 2011 with the Captain and owner of the Elinca which is a boat which has assisted several previous Rockall landing attempts, both successful and otherwise. They are without a doubt the most experienced in this particular area of the Atlantic and therefore I am very glad that they are involved.
Finally, this coming Wednesday, I am going on a recce trip to some rocks in the Firth of Forth which I hope will make a suitable marine testing ground for the pod and all the equipment in the final months before the expedition; I am very grateful to Bill Simpson who is kindly taking me there (and hopefully back!) for no cost. I will post more details of this recce after the fact.
Friday, 26 June 2009
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Sunday, 24 May 2009
In April 2010 I will be running the Marathon des Sables (MdS) in aid of both Help for Heroes and the National Association for Colitis and Crohn's. More information on the race, along with videos and photos of past events can be found at my website http://www.mds2010.com/.
On Sunday 31st May I will be running the Edinburgh marathon (my second in a month) as part of my training. If you would like to sponsor me for either charity please do so via the MdS website.
Many thanks in advance,
Thursday, 30 April 2009
"Landing on Rockall impossible
The skipper of the "Elinca" did not allow a landing on Rockall. The waves are too high; even launching a Zodiac is impossible.A very sad Theo, ON4ATW told us at 09.00 UT they will have to come back to Scotland. "The weather is worsening by the hour and the weather forecast for the coming days does not give any hope" he told us by satphone. For tomorrow 5 Bft winds are forecasted with gusts up to 80 km/h. We are all very disappointed that after all these preparations a landing was not possible. However we learned a lot about all the aspects of putting up a DXpedition. One way or another this knowledge will be used."
This lack of success highlights the difficulties of landing on Rockall, even with the best preparation which they had, when you are tied to particular time period in which to make a landing. I have a lot of respect for what these guys tried to achieve and wish them the best of luck for any future attempt.
Monday, 20 April 2009
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
I have also this week been contacted by and asked to speak at the annual reunion of the Friends of HMS Vidal in September (http://hmsvidal.synthasite.com). HMS Vidal was the survey ship from which the party landed on Rockall in 1955 to claim the island for the UK. The ship was named after the surveyor who originally plotted the position of Rockall in 1831. This is a great contact with the history of the rock and is going to give me the opportunity to meet more people who have landed on Rockall and also to raise some funds for the expedition.
Friday, 13 March 2009
Friday, 6 March 2009
I have finally managed to track down not one but three contacts at the Royal Navy, two of whom work for Fleet Media. I am still awaiting responses from them, but just getting their contact details is an important step forward as the ideal scenario is to get helicoptered onto Rockall by the Navy.
An architect friend volunteered to design a shelter for me which is great. Once designed and costed he is hopeful that his company may well sponsor the build too, which is amazing. Another friend is in printing and is supplying me with business cards for the expedition to hand out at various events and meetings, they have also offered to print any banners I require to put on Rockall during the expedition. I've also managed to convince a local bronze foundry to give me a good deal on a plaque to fix to the rock once I land.
I'm having a few problems getting insurance as I think it sensible to have Search and Rescue cover. However, Rockall as you know is in the British Isles where SAR is usally free and therefore not included in UK policies; I'm pretty sure it won't be at that range. If you have any suggestions for good expedition insurance providers I'd be grateful to hear from you.
I've had several quotes now for yacht charter to get me to the island. Hopefully the Navy will come through as charter cost are huge!
Having met and spoken with Tom McClean, I finally got in touch with Clem Fisher this week. Clem is James Fisher's daughter, it was James who wrote the 1955 book on Rockall and whose research I am in part hoping to update. In addition, I have tracked down the Greenpeace team from 1997. They informed me that they also went back in 1998 and landed an additional 9 people. I'm awaiting confirmation, but they may also have rotated the team in 1997 thereby increasing the known number of people to have landed by even more. Greenpeace still have a similar pod to the one used in 1997 (the 1997 pod was trashed by the Norweigan government)which I hope to visit at some point. They have also offered to advise me on yacht and helicopter charter, shelter design, access and survival.
Finally, I potentially have a whisky sponsor. There's a new distillery on Harris called Abhainn Dearg, whose first release will be in 2011 conveniently. They have offered a case for auction to raise funds, and few extra bottles to help while the time away!
All in all a few good weeks.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Until now this endeavour has only been communicated and progressed via email, the Internet and the telephone. Finally, something physical has happened, albeit quite small, but its actually been quite a big mental step in the right direction.