Now that Team Gallagher have successfully completed their goal of being the first New Zealand team to row across the Tasman unassisted, team leader Nigel Cherrie’s feeling pretty good about the whole experience.
“It’s a major job ticked off the list,” he says, “We all feel proud that we made it. There were times when we didn’t think we would. On reflection, I’m stoked we pushed through challenges and made it - not only to the finish line but even to the start line.”
After 55 days at sea, the team are glad to be back home with friends, family, real food and even hot drinks! Nigel’s first night on dry land was spent enjoying fish ‘n’ chips and beer with his family.
“I looked like a homeless person, having not shaved or showered in 55 days. My wife had to explain to people that I had just rowed across the Tasman and the reactions were great!”
After living on a diet consisting of freeze-dried food, some of which had to heated using body heat after the team’s gas supply had run out, Nigel says he’s been eating whatever he wants for the past few days and has managed to gain 6kg of the 18kg weight he lost during the row. However, this indulging can’t last for too long as he will be seeing a dietitian soon to gain weight healthily.
Apart from taking hot food and drinks for granted pre-row, he also didn’t appreciate the ability we all have to communicate in the modern world.
“We can pick up a phone and call anyone whenever we want but in the middle of the Tasman, it’s not so easy. Phone calls to our satellite phone were quite expensive so text messages became the main form of communication. It became our emotional lifeline and it definitely made a huge difference to the team’s spirit.”
Since he’s been back home he’s been spending quality time with family including their new adopted dog Hudson, catching up on emails and cleaning Moana which is currently in storage.
Although he found the row mentally tough, he feels pretty readjusted now.
“I’ve had time to reflect on our experience, especially the preparation we did. We thought it was going to be a straightforward row. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.”
So what now? Nigel’s not quite sure but knows he will be talking to people about this experience and the work they’re doing for the Coral Garden Project for a while yet. He also wants to finish writing the children’s book he started while they were on sea anchor in the Tasman.
“At some point I will need a new adventure. Once you’ve gone through all the hard work involved with something like this and you’ve achieved success, you want more.”
Patience and perseverance are the two biggest things he’s learnt about himself during the row.
“I pushed myself harder than I thought I would be capable of. I’ve also realised how fussy I am about food!”