In six months brothers Jude and Greg as team, Ocean Brothers, will set off to cross the Atlantic Ocean, to raise money for the British Skin Foundation.
It has to be one of the most pleasurable experiences when out afloat. The flickering of the sun as it reflects from the wave tops, making the surface of the water look as if it is crusted in diamonds.
Yet that double dose of the sun, combined with the breeze, often results in sailors coming ashore at the end of the day with brick red faces. It does not help that when our normal days are spent indoors in an office, with little in the way of protection, a full day afloat, out in the open, can leave its mark on exposed skin.
Peeling noses and chapped lips might well be the badge of a great day afloat, but at the same time there are perils in getting sun and wind burnt and they do take their toll.
Worse is the apparent lack of a causal connection between exposure and the development of problems. Long forgotten periods of damage back in the carefree years of your youth can suddenly surface with an aggressive vengeance decades later.
One Solent sailor who discovered the dangers of this cocktail of sun and wind was Peter Massey who had been a keen windsurfer and fisherman in his younger years. But it would be nearly 30 years later when skin cancer would strike and keep striking, with each outbreak causing more damage. Peter fought bravely and the doctors did all they could but in the end, this terrible illness would take him from his family.
His fight, though, goes on, for his son and stepson have set themselves a challenge to not only raise awareness of the ever-present dangers of unprotected exposure to the sun, but at the same time raise £100,000 pounds to be donated to research into skin cancers.
It was obvious from the outset that whatever task they undertook would be centred on activities afloat, with the toughest of these being the ‘big one’ – a transatlantic crossing, powered solely by their own endeavours. It is one of the great surprises to find that there are more people who have been into space than have rowed the Atlantic.
Rowing across the Atlantic might sound a fantastic notion but it has been made possible by the fact that Peter’s children are uniquely qualified to undertake such a challenge. Lymington based Jude Massey is a sailing instructor, whilst Greg Bailey, when not working as an A&E Doctor, is keen on all watersports.
Even so, crossing the Atlantic purely on oar power (the pair have eschewed some of the more radical designs of boat that have a structure that also acts as a sail) will require many months of gym time, building up strength and stamina. The pair are making an unsupported crossing, meaning that there will be nothing in the way of a safe chase boat nearby.
Once they set out from the Canaries, in January 2018, it will be muscle power all the way, one rowing whilst the other rests. They will work 24 hours a day for anything between four and eight weeks as they head towards the Caribbean. What power there is on the boat is only there to maintain their vital communications and navigation equipment, plus the water maker that is essential for the re-hydrating of their freeze-dried meals.
Everyone at All at Sea wishes Jude and Greg well with their preparations and their equally tough job of raising the donations for this cause. We will be following their progress and in the coming months will be reporting from not too far from land (hopefully no further than the western Solent) as we go afloat with them to find out what it will be like rowing for an hour at a time.