The Rowing Marine, Lee Spencer, is once again back on the Rock and preparing for his epic voyage that will see him row solo and unsupported from Gibraltar to mainland South America, becoming the world’s first physically disabled person to do so.
“The row is still happening. It will be happening this winter,” said Mr Spencer, who had to postpone his planned attempt earlier this year due to the sudden passing of his beloved mother.
“Winter is the only time you can do it weather wise. The problem isn’t so much this end [in Europe] but it is hurricane season in the Caribbean from June to the end of October so I can’t go until winter time,” he said.
“I have yet to make a decision whether it is before or after Christmas, it will be either December coming or January next year,” he added.
Mr Spencer is here on a “holiday” with his wife Claire. They are here to see friends and catch-up with some people, but in reality, he has also done a little bit of rowing with the temptation to take the boat out into the water proving too much.
Between this visit and his potential departure in December, Mr Spencer will be returning to Gibraltar as often as he can.
“I want to get the boat in the water, out in the Bay, and between now and Christmas I want to get her out into the Strait.”
“I need a weather window of having an Easterly wind to get out of the Bay and into the Strait and a Westerly to come back in. That will give me a better idea of how I am actually going to do it on the day,” he said.
“I will be using the tidal pulses, every four hours you get a tidal pulse and in certain channels you get an easterly current pushing out West. So row for four hours then anchor up and wait for the next tidal pulse, that is the plan. I want to get out and actually test that,” he added.
If the Rowing Marine doesn’t get a weather window to do that and can only get the Easterly winds out and not the Westerly back, he will take a support vessel with him which will bring him back to Gibraltar.
Mr Spencer was here last month and met with the Governor Lieutenant General Edward Davis, the Commander of British Forces Commodore Mike Walliker, directors of Ocean Village and other supporters.
He also did a full check of the boat and spoke to military personnel who are looking after the boat at the moment.
Mr Spencer is also on the Rock with his new leg, giving it a test run.
“One of the problems with ocean rowing with only one leg is losing weight, the last row I lost three stone, and your stump actually shrinks,” he said.
“The problem being that it becomes loose in the socket and one way to help that is to use socks, the stump changes volume during the day so that is a normal thing for an amputee to do. But, it changes so much when you lose weight that you lose stability, it is so wobbly in the socket.”
“The prosthetists at the Bristol Centre for Enablement, an NHS Centre, have come up with genius new system that needs a little tweaking, as I managed to break it this morning. Where it actually tightens up, it has got a ratchet and there are two slits in the sockets that can be wound up and it closes in on itself,” he added.
To follow Mr Spencer’s journey visit http://www.leespencer.co.uk as he raises money for the Royal Marines Charity and the Endeavour Fund.