Atlantic Row – We need a life raft, please!

Justin Coleman

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Jim, Justin, Rob and Tom are aiming to do something extraordinary: be the first crew of four to row non-stop from Portugal to French Guiana in a Pure class boat. 

Most Atlantic rows start and end in the islands. We’ll be rowing mainland to mainland, which adds another 800 miles, and another layer of difficulty, on to an already incredibly onerous challenge. 

It’s a trip which should take around 60 days. For all that time we’ll be entirely self sufficient: taking all our own food and desalinating all the water we need for drinking, cleaning and cooking.

We’ll encounter 40 foot waves, blistering heat and treacherous winds and seas, all in a 29′ x 7′ boat. 


One of the most crucial bits of kit is a life raft. We hope we’ll never need it but it could be the item that saves our lives. Self-righting, it comes with a wide range of safety kit and should keep us alive until we can get picked up by a passing ship. 


Our challenge starts at the marina of Portimao, on the south coast of Portugal.  Pushing south west towards the Canary Islands through notoriously unpredictable weather, our first 600nm will be an unforgiving test of life at sea. 

From the Canaries we will track the African coast, pressed forward by the mid-Atlantic currents towards South America.

Once level with the Cape Verde Islands, it is time to turn due west across the vast Atlantic Ocean towards French Guiana.

Some 3,800nm after leaving Portugal, we will approach Cayenne – the capital of French Guiana – where a hot meal and cold beer awaits! 


Jim Davidson is Head Rowing Coach at George Heriot’s School. “I am sure my coaching experience, together with my sports science background, means I can add useful skills and knowledge to the crew. This is something I aim to share as much as possible during our crossing.”

Justin Coleman is a promoter and comic. “I rowed the Atlantic in 2018 as part of a four person crew. There’s still an itch to scratch, however, so here I go again.”

Tom Riley works as a Paramedic. “I am excited to push myself, discover new experiences, make new friends and, most of all, set off on an adventure.”

Rob Lucas works for a cycling charity in Rotherham. “As someone who has spent the majority of their life on land, I’m intrigued by what life is like far from shore.”


Trilogy is a Woodvale Pure 4, 29′ x 7′. She was constructed in 2010 and has completed three ocean crossings so far.

She also possesses an extensive range of electrical equipment including a water maker and auto helm, and safety and communications kit such as GPS, a Sea-Me, an EPIRB and VHF radios. Power comes from solar panels and is stored in two marine batteries.

Each cabin is 6 feet long, so space on deck is at a premium. All eating and personal hygiene routines take place in an area of a few square feet outside the bow cabin, while much of the space at the stern end is reserved for the life raft.

The cabins themselves can fit one comfortably, but any more than that can be a squeeze, particularly in the bow!


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