(CNN) It sounds like a modern version of Jerome K. Jerome s classic novel Three Men in a Boat. Except there are four of them.
Oh, and they only have three legs between them.
And rather than messing about on the genteel River Thames, these serving and ex-British army soldiers are battling the fiercest of elements as they attempt to row unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean.
That s 3,000 nautical miles of choppy water, burning heat and sore, sore muscles.
While mixed teams of able-bodied and amputee rowers have tackled the crossing before, this is the first time an all-amputee crew has attempted the challenge, known as the world s toughest rowing race. Any contact with the support yacht and they will be immediately disqualified. The other 28 competing crews are able-bodied.
The team s captain Cayle Royce lost both his legs and several fingers in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan s Helmand province in 2012.
The bomb blast also broke his neck in three places, bruised his lungs and punctured his heart, putting him in a coma for over a month.
When you see the state of yourself you think, Wow, this is a huge change , Royce, a keen sailor, tells CNN. You feel like nobody s going to want you around.
A good friend visited him in hospital. He said, Don t worry, we ll get you sailing again.
I thought it would be a 100-foot (30-meter) Swan (yacht) with gin and tonics and pretty girls, he laughs.
Instead Royce, who still serves in the British Army as a Light Dragoon Lance Corporal, was invited to take part in the 2013-14 Atlantic Row as part of a mixed crew of two amputee and two able-bodied soldiers.
Just 18 months after his life-changing injury, his team came third, beating 13 able-bodied crews.
That experience puts Royce in an ideal position to steer his men through the grueling conditions ahead. Leaving from the Canary Islands, they will row two on, two off, nonstop in two-hour shifts for 40-60 days until they reach Caribbean shores in Antigua.
In their two-hour break, the rowers need to feed themselves, clean themselves with baby wipes to save water repair the boat, navigate and blog, using solar-charged waterproof laptops.
Their 7.5-meter (25-foot) fiberglass boat, aptly named Legless, has specially adapted metal slots which the crew can hook into and push against to row.
But the physical aspect isn t their only worry the narrow cabins at front and back of the vessel are only just big enough to lie down in.
It s very tight and sweaty conditions are really hot, says Royce. Every time you rotate, everything gets soaked.
Condensation rains down on you the whole time. Salt water s hugely corrosive, so you get lots of sores and boils. It s a pretty miserable environment.
They will burn 8,000 calories a day, but the boat can only carry 5,000 calories worth of daily food leading to a 20% loss of body weight.
A desalinator will make the team s drinking water, while they will eat wet and dry army rations with a few morale-boosting luxuries fruit pastilles, beef jerky and peanuts.
It sounds like hell on water, so what persuaded them to take part?
I was told rather that I volunteered! jokes Royce. My rehabilitation absolutely rocketed after I was asked to participate in the last one.
This is why former Royal Marine Commander Lee Spencer has also taken up the adventure, which is supported by funding from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry s charity, The Royal Foundation.
Emerging unscathed after three military tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, Spencer lost his leg after being hit by flying debris while helping a driver who had crashed on a motorway in Surrey, England.
He ll spend the two-year anniversary of the accident out on the water.
A lot of people see the irony of it, but the way I see it is: Life just happened to me. It was my military experience that helped me deal with it, says the 46-year-old, who used his training to instruct a man to make a lifesaving tourniquet around his leg.
I ve always defined myself by my physicality, being able to cope with any physical situation. I m no longer that person.
This process will enable me to redefine myself and move on to a different phase in my life equally as positive but different.
The crew is completed by Nigel Rogoff injured in a RAF skydiving accident in 1998 and former Irish Guardsman Paddy Gallagher, whose leg was blown off in Afghanistan in 2009.
What unites the quartet is their thirst for team work and an indefatigable drive to achieve the extraordinary.
Luckily they re all blessed with good humor, as for weeks they will have only each other s company, audiobooks and occasional sightings of birds, dolphins and sharks to entertain them under the starry nights and sweltering sun.
If you can get through rowing an ocean, chances are you can walk down the shop for a pint of milk, laughs Gallagher.
It s the simple things you wouldn t think about.
Outdoor pursuits give you the confidence to reintegrate into society and just feel normal about yourself.
I only feel disabled when I take my leg off at night.
‘LOVING FATHER’: Sergeant Mark Foley, of The Light Dragoons, who was killed in a military vehicle while training at the Warcop training centre.
THE family of a Hull-born soldier who died at an Army training centre say they hope lessons have been learned from his death.
Sergeant Mark Foley, 31, a member of The Light Dragoons, was killed in a car accident at the Warcop training centre in June last year.
At an inquest into his death, the coroner urged the British Army to improve its training for drivers and tighten up on seat- belt wearing, after it was revealed Sgt Foley would probably have survived had he been wearing a safety harness.
The inquest heard Sgt Foley was a veteran of Bosnia and Iraq and had been in a vehicle blown up in Afghainstan.
Coroner Alan Sharp, who led the inquest in Kendal, said: “The fatal injuries suffered by Sgt Foley were caused by his failure to wear his safety harness.
“It really is tragic that, after all the dangers Sgt Foley had gone through in a distinguished Army career, he should lose his life on a training exercise.”
The family, in a statement read by their solicitor, welcomed the coroner’s action, saying they hoped “lessons had been learned”.
The father-of-two, who lived in Norfolk, died when he was flung from an armoured vehicle he was commanding in an exercise.
The accident came at the end of shooting practice, with both the gunner Lance Corporal Joshua Osbourne and Sgt Foley firing live ammunition from their machine guns.
The inquest heard it was accepted in standing orders that commanders had the discre- tion to remove safety harnesses for tactical reasons while firing.
But it also heard it was comm- on practice for the belts to remain unfastened after firing stopped, contrary to regulations.
In this case, the vehicle was being driven 500 metres back to a debriefing when, having gone over a brow, Trooper Dominic Paley felt a bump at a v-junction with a side track.
He lost control and the vehicle spun 180 degrees, before hitting a grass verge with a ditch.
Sgt Foley was flung from the vehicle, which then rolled over and crushed him.
His widow, Kelly Anne, paid tribute to her childhood sweetheart, who she met when they were both in the Army Cadets in Hull, aged 13.
They have two daughters together, Emily, now nine, and Hannah, seven.
She said: “He was a loving, doting father and loved getting involved in school projects when back home in Hull.”
He had served in Bosnia, Iraq and Canada training as a gun operator and driver.
In 2009, he had been in a vehicle blown up by an Improvised Explosion Device in Afghanistan.
Mr Sharp said the accident was caused by the inexperience of the driver Trooper Dominic Paley when the vehicle went out of control.
He recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
Remembrance week is always a poignant time of year for me, as someone who has spent most of their career supporting the UK s Armed Forces on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan .
Those who have died friends or strangers and the families that they left behind are never far from my thoughts.
On Sunday, I hosted a Remembrance Service which was attended by all the UK military personnel serving within the EU Force (EUFOR) here, including almost 100 troops from A Squadron, The Light Dragoons, who arrived here in July to strengthen EUFOR .
Their role has been to contribute to EUFOR s overall awareness of what is going on at the local level in different parts of the country .
They have done a fantastic job, in the best traditions of the British Army, and I know that they have enjoyed meeting a huge number of people from all over the country, as they have travelled around in their distinctive Jackal vehicles.
Light Dragoon in their Jackals
The Light Dragoons association with this country began in 1993 . During the course of the 1990s, the Regiment deployed here 13 times probably more than any other unit in the British Army first as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force, and later with IFOR . At the service on Sunday, I laid a wreath at the memorial to the 59 UK Service personnel who died bringing peace and stability to Bosnia and Herzegovina .
Amongst them, we were honouring the memory of Lieutenant Richard Madden and Troopers John Kelly and Andrew Ovington of the Light Dragoons, all of whom died on 28 January 1996, when their vehicle hit a mine in Titov Drvar.
Remembering Service in the UK Residence
Yesterday, I attended another Remembrance Service, this time at Camp Butmir .
100 years after the armistice that ended the First World War, troops from the 22 nations that comprise EUFOR stood together and solemnly commemorated those who have died on all sides during the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries .
It was particularly poignant to be in Sarajevo, the place which started the chain of events that would pitch us on different sides of the conflict, and to see British and Austrian troops now firm allies and brothers-in-arms here in Bosnia and Herzegovina stand together to remember their common dead.
British and Austrian troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina stand together to remember their common dead
Today, it seems quite natural that British troops should be commanded by an Austrian General . But that this is the case is to the credit of all those who worked for peace and reconciliation in Europe after the wars of the last century . The great statesmen who forged the European Union and NATO achieved what force of arms could not, and brought peace and prosperity to the continent .
Next year will be the twentieth anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement .
And it is my hope that the freshly-elected leaders of this country will show the same foresight and humanity, and work together for the benefit of all the people of this country .
There could be no greater tribute to the memory of all those military or civilian who have died.
With EUFOR Commander, Major General Heidecker