Starting out

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"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."  Nelson Mandela

Have you ever done anything right out there?  On the borderline of crazy and inspirational?  Space travel?  Extreme endurance sports or a super-tough mental challenge? 

A team of four, Atlantic Discovery, are launching themselves into the unknown, risking all, leaping out of their comfort zones... and, there's no going back.  They are going to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.  Their boat needs to be fully equipped for 60 days at sea on departure - as they aren't able to accept any help of rescue, repair, food or water during the race...

My name is Penny aka @virtualstowaway.  I'm Cameron's sister (he's the gorgeous guy on the left) - and I've volunteered to write the blogs for the team.  Which means I get to eavesdrop on the team's planning meetings and, I'm even going on a row with them soon.  I can't wait to board the lovely Ellida!

Being privy to the project plan and the all consuming activity has made me realise the enormity of this crossing; I'm feeling excited, and a little nervous.  This journey is going to grow and stretch each of these guys to their outermost physical and mental limits.  But, wow, what a life-changing opportunity.

They got together for the first time about six weeks ago, and already the learnings from each other and about each other are exponential.

Different, but determined

Yes, very different people.  Ben is a genuine standup guy (he's in the pink shirt).  Crossing the Atlantic was his idea and he is inspired by his mum Rose (#row4rose).  She has MS and sets the bar very high with her grit and determination to overcome the hidden symptoms of this disease.  So, Ben is going to put his grit and determination to work and raise £60K for the MS Society and Berkshire MS Therapy Centre.  Both charities have made a substantial difference to the quality of his mum's life.  Go Ben!

Isaac is the social guy (in the tie).  A big smile, trendy, and up for most things.  An opportunist who loves adventure and travel and I'm sure he is going to be the morale booster on the boat.  What I particularly love about Isaac is that he has a dream: to be a geological explorer working on pioneering projects in places like Antartica.  I know you'll get there Isaac - I have every faith in you!

Then there's Jack (the one who's talking!).  He's an all-or-nothing kind of guy (but delete the nothing bit - I doubt that comes about very often).  Charming and articulate, Jack is a cyber security researcher (secretly a bot) who loves a challenge.  He is so keen to cross the Atlantic, I feel sure he would walk across if he had to!

The fourth member of Atlantic Discovery is my bro, Cam.  He's my hero: an intuitive, wise and extremely generous person with a seriously fun side.  Cam has worked for SwissRe for 20 years and is taking a sabbatical for the crossing.  He is incredibly resourceful and a great problem-solver.

This group of people have three things in common:  they're genuine, determined, adventure-seekers.  Together they have a great set of complementary skills and experience. And, they're gonna rock the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018/19.

Watch this space @virtualstowaway  Penny Bird is a professional photographer and writer documenting Atlantic Discovery's incredible journey.