THE BLOG
09/02/2016 05:47 GMT | Updated 01/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Two Men in a Rowing Boat Take on the Atlantic (And They Only Learned to Row a Year Ago)

It all began in a pub, as all the best stories do, and after a simple text message we've ended up here, a speck on the deep blue sea, almost halfway across the Atlantic.

The irony is, we're not boat people. A year ago, we'd never set foot in a rowing boat. But every story needs an underdog and our challenge is to be that underdog - and succeed.

We're James Whittle and Tom Caulfield, regular 25 year olds working and living in London who decided to push out against the norm of everyday life, to change our mould and put ourselves well and truly outside the comfort zone.

Setting off from the Canaries, the goal is to cover the 3000 miles to Barbados. If we do it, we'll be joining an elite group of just 500 who've made it.

It's never good to be outdone by your mum.

That's what happened. Tommy's mum sailed across the Atlantic in the Clipper race and said it was the best thing she'd ever done. And we thought "what have we ever done with our lives that we can talk about on this level?" - so we googled: Toughest Challenge on the Planet. The answer? Rowing the Atlantic.

To be honest, I'd never heard of it - I didn't even believe it was possible. As soon as I realised it was, there was no stopping us.

We decided to row for charity - I chose Brain Tumour Research as my mum is now in remission from one, and Tommy has huge respect for the work of the Make a Wish Foundation so we're raising money for them both.

I know you'd think we'd have some pretty big dilemmas before embarking on the trip like this, but I can honestly say, from the first time Tommy texted me suggesting it, I was in. In it for the long haul too. No questions, no dilemmas, no regrets.

Unlike most big adventures these days, we aren't in an organised race or project, we are totally alone and have been from day one. There is no safety net out here, no back-up crew or support boats, simply us against the elements, and it feels truly empowering.

So it's us, the boat, our laptop, a couple of oars, some GoPro cameras, a satellite phone and a Dropbox Business account. Without all of the above, we would be in serious 'struggletown'. Being able to communicate and collaborate with our on-land support team on things like navigation plans and weather maps via Dropbox Business is pretty crucial. As is being able to share our GoPro files with our sponsors, family and supporters - they can see we're still here at least. But we can also show them videos and images of what we're up against, and that we've still got a smile on our faces. For now, at least.

The start to our voyage - in a storm - was not ideal. We had to delay our start date by about a week to take advantage of a calmer period forecast for after the storm.

Even so, we launched into some pretty rough seas. We've trained relentlessly for 16 months for this, but you just can't replicate these conditions. The worst bit is the seasickness. Every time I put my head in the cabin it hits me like a ton of bricks. The cabin is considerably less spacious out here, compared to how it felt in training.

It's been a pretty punchy start, we're both shattered, muscles are screaming for a rest but we need to keep on heading South and pick up some better weather. Some days are hot and calm, and it feels like we are rowing through treacle. But Bieber's on repeat and banter is high - no complaints here. So far so good.