"Please note that consumption of personal alcohol is not allowed on this airplane." First time I heard that one! So here I am, sitting on a plane en route to Sydney. After an emotional departure from Auckland, I am ready for us to get the job done. I cannot see the Tasman, but I feel as nervous as I would if there were no clouds. It takes only 3.5 hours to fly but more than 3.5 weeks to row across. Are we insane? I find it challenging to quieten my mind. It keeps on zipping through a whole list of things. Have I done this? Have I checked that? What if X or Y happen? I cannot wait to be on the ground and help bring us to the start line.
The last week in New Zealand was different because the boat was on the way to Sydney. It was also different because, while packing, we realized how small the boat is for 4 men with 40 days of food. In fact, we are all pretty certain it was not meant to be used for four guys. It is like sharing a 2m x 8m container with 3 other guys, for some 40 days.
Physically and mentally, I feel ready. I could have trained harder but that would have taken off some of the other things I had to do also (work!). We still have to deal with a number of issues in Sydney: set up the oars properly (we are getting custom-made in-boards shipped in), re-pack all food, test the fuel cell, not to mention figure out if we can actually float with 400kg of food and 350kg of people on board (not to mention 80-100kg of water). So things like these kept going through my head after we lost access to the boat.
I have packed my ipod with songs and podcasts. It contains about 12 days (that is, nearly 300 hours) worth of podcasts, mostly economics and current affairs. I don't think humour will be a problem on the boat, we have a pretty good team in that respect (and all others). I was trying to figure out what book to take with me, and I think I will buy a bible to read. I have never read it, and I wonder what it will be like. I have tried to work as much as possible on my research, knowing that I will be off that for a month or so.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have supported me, personally. I have a great support in my family and my girlfriend. I would also want to thank my friends in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Slovakia, Vancouver, Sydney, and all around the world, who have kept asking me about the progress and were always ready to lend an ear when I had to vent. I would also like to thank my colleagues at Victoria University of Wellington - and previously at Massey University - who have been resoundedly behind me, while light-heartedly reminding me of the lunacy of the expedition. I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. McEwan who have very kindly housed us in Sydney, and Steve Gates who has helped in many ways. I would like to thank my current and past landlords, who have very kindly contributed to cover part of my expenses along the way. There were many kind people who have lent us a hand, small or large. Thank you all!
- Martin Berka