Manxman Andrew Baker has set off on a journey of a lifetime: to row solo from Portugal to Barbados to raise money and awareness for mental health.  His girlfriend Lucy Partington spoke to Gef to tell us more about Andrew’s mammoth effort.

What is he doing?

Andrew set off from Lagos, Portugal on December 8 2020 in an ocean rowing boat named Aurelia aiming to head to the Canary Islands (only stopping if necessary) and then west west west to Barbados. 


Andrew sets off to sea as he begins his row across the Atlantic. Photo supplied by Chris FreerAndrew sets off to sea as he begins his row across the Atlantic. Photo supplied by Chris Freer

Andrew sets off to sea as he begins his row across the Atlantic. Photo supplied by Chris Freer

Why is he doing it?

Andrew is a passionate believer in removing the stigma around talking about mental health. He is aware that this expedition will push him to experience the extremes of emotions and challenge his own mental health, and therefore he feels like it is a good way to raise awareness and money for local charities which support mental health. 

The boat is adorned with the logos of three not for profit organisations: Reach IOM, the Manx Wildlife Trust and Whistleblowers UK- all providing unique ways which support mental health.

Why now?

2020 was a difficult year for many and Andrew hoped that it wouldn’t stop him from setting off; creating some positive news and inspiration for others to get outside and explore. The pandemic caused some uncertainty about Andrew’s trip right up until the moment he left but now he is on his way and experiencing quite an extreme form of isolation. 

What does he eat?

Mostly freeze-dried expedition food, which is high in calories and not so high in taste or texture. He has also taken lots of crunchy snacks and sweets, and has  suggested that he may be the first person to cross the Atlantic ending up heavier than when they started. The boat has a water-maker which converts seawater to drinking water which according to Andrew “tastes like egg”. 


Andrew will be relying on meals similar to this throughout his journeyAndrew will be relying on meals similar to this throughout his journey

Andrew will be relying on meals similar to this throughout his journey

Where is he at? 

Andrew’s position on January 6 was just north of the Canary Islands. He had made sure he had plenty of water and food, set out the sea anchor and is currently waiting in the cabin until a storm passes (likely to be after January 10. This will be a testing time for Andrew and he has been warned to prepare for the boat to capsize (it is designed to flip right back over!).


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How did he train for this?

Andrew has sought guidance and mentorship from others who have completed an Atlantic Ocean Row. He has put all his effort (and every penny) into this trip and he has used the Irish Sea to train. Not quite the Atlantic but the Irish Sea can be a harsh training ground as Andrew’s friend Darren found out when he didn’t get to eat the quiche he brought with them on a trip from Laxey to Castletown.  Andrew was sleeping, eating and breathing rowing up until this adventure.

Find out more and donate

You can find out more about the expedition on Andrew’s website https://www.reachintotheblue.com/ including tracking his progress and donating via his Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/reachintotheblue