Monday, 29 October 2012

Not quite begging, but not far off...

Chasing funding for my expedition has been an ongoing issue since the initial concept back in 2009. The original aim was to head out to Rockall in 2011 for the two hundredth anniversary. However, there was no money available so soon after the 'credit crunch'. Postponing, and aiming to go instead in 2012, pushing hard for funding had more success with a family friend pledging a quarter of the 2012 boat charter costs and, after emailing hundreds of companies, Petrostrat kindly pledged £500 toward my costs. Unfortunately, I was still well over ten thousand pounds short of the total I needed. I postponed again, thankfully my sponsors agreed to carry their pledges over to 2013, and I was able to self-fund a reconnaissance trip to Rockall in June this year.
On that trip, I used a new boat, Orca 3, owned and operated by Angus Campbell of Kilda Cruises and Atlantic Marine Services. I have been asked a number of times why I do not charter a cheaper, small yacht, with less fuel requirements and hence a lower cost. To me, the answer is simple: the success or failure of Rockall Solo will, to a greater or lesser extent, be decided by speed and weather. Although more expensive, a motorised vessel taking circa 12 hours to reach Rockall (as opposed to 16 hours plus on a sailing boat) allows me to fit my landing into a shorter weather window. Additionally, Orca 3 is much more manoeuvrable on site than a yacht would be, and importantly is much more stable, as she is a catamaran. Finally, her speed means that she can run ahead of the weather, as she did on our return from Rockall, should things turn bad, therefore ensuring as much as is possible the safety of her crew. I believe, therefore, that she is the perfect vessel for the job, and so the extra cost of fuel is justifiable. I just have to find a way of paying for it!
After my return from Rockall in the summer, I had to have a good hard think about the future of the expedition. I wanted to go back more than ever, but would I find the money? With an initial budget in 2010 of close to £30,000 for a 'domestic' expedition, things did not look good. However, with some judicious rethinking, replanning, and rebudgetting, I have managed to reduce this figure to just shy of £20,000 in 2012.
This is the bare bones headline figure for the expedition, and a high proportion of these costs is boat charter and fuel (an estimated, unfixed cost this far ahead of departure!). However, since my return, I have been looking at reducing costs further, and it is with this in mind that I started a new round of emails in the past couple of months, asking for further goods and services instead of cash, as this has been the most successful tactic so far (companies have products they will loan or donate in return for PR, and others can provide their services free of charge, at no huge cost to themselves). As a result, I am please to announce two new corporate sponsors have come forward in the past week:

CalMac Ferries Ltd provides passenger, vehicle and shipping services to the islands off the West Coast of Scotland and in the Clyde estuary. They sail to 24 destinations off Scotland’s west coast, through some of the most spectacular coastlines and landscapes in the UK, and have very kindly agreed to help with the transportation of me and my gear from Skye to Harris next year; a big cost saving.
Webster Power Products are one of the leading UK suppliers for power tools and machinery. Specialists in everything from petrol lawnmowers to cordless drills at Webster's they have 'the right tool for the right job'. From their fully stocked premises in central Scotland, 20 miles from Glasgow, they aim for a speedy delivery on their complete range of power tools, ground care equipment & site machinery. Today Webster's kindly agreed to provide the expedition with a suitable drill and fixings to enable me to ensure my safety and security on the hard granite of Rockall.
I am also hopeful that by the end of this week I will have agreed with a hire company the use of a van for several trips I will need to take with the RockPod survival shelter in the coming months. These include a run down to Yorkshire for the RockPod to be insulated by Foamspray Technology, a day's flotation testing and winching locally, and then for the trip out to Harris, and back again at the end of the expedition.
However, there is still a requirement for cold, hard cash. With this in mind, I'm aiming to enter a competition for expedition funding, which has just been launched, in the next couple of weeks, once a short film about my recce is finished.  I will need votes via Facebook, so watch thi space! I am also writing yet more letters and send more emails, but the professional expeditioners' advice is that the best source of funding is personal contacts, so if you know anyone or any companies who might be able to help, please point them towards the website: .