Intrepid East Woodhay rower Lesley Foden has completed her epic challenge, rowing around the coastline of Britain.
Setting out from Burham-on-Crouch in Essex on June 3, the crew of five rowed 1,800 miles clockwise around Britain, and had to contend with high winds, 25-metre waves as well as stunning sunsets, sunrises and dolphins around the boat.
Lesley finished back in Burnham on Saturday.
“I would have to say it was absolutely everything I had imagined it would be and probably a lot more as well, it was jolly, jolly very hard work and strangely, the things that were hard work weren’t necessarily the physical bits,” the 60-year-old said.
“It was really the psychological part of it which I found hard as well.”
The married mother of one described the highlights of the row. She said: “We saw dolphins every day and they were just beautiful. One day we had 20 or 30 of them around the boat and flipping in the air and it was just fantastic, the birds too, I think we saw a whale, jellyfish and fish, just wonderful, wonderful wildlife.”
“There were some amazing sights, seeing the whole coastline of Britain from the outside looking in, isn’t something that you normally do and it was fantastic.”
However, there were some hairy moments along the way and none more so than during the last week when they were trying to get into Hartlepool Harbour at midnight with strong winds and 25-metre waves, at the end of a tough day.
“We couldn’t get in (to the harbour) and they (the waves) were really up above us, they were crashing into the boat, that was a real capsize moment, we got there and stayed upright, by the time we got there, I was so exhausted,” Lesley explained.
Living on the eight-metre boat was also “very tough and brutal” with Lesley surviving on a diet of oatcakes, baby-bell cheese, nuts, raisins and water, she added: “It was row, eat, sleep repeat.”
Not to mention the bruises from being thrown about the boat in rough seas.
The crew usually rowed in pairs in two-hour arduous shifts, day and night as Lesley explained: “I would say we had no more than 40 hours of wind behind us for the whole journey so for 54 days, we went straight through the headwind and that just meant we were rowing so hard all of the time.”
Lesley has already raised £3,500 for the RNLI and said her marvellous achievement had not quite sunk in.
“When I finished, I just felt overwhelmingly calm,” she said.
“I still feel quite numb, I keep thinking about it but I haven’t had that little moment where I’ve thought ‘whoa, I’ve done it!’