Laughter, in my hierarchy of values, is number one above all else. Yesterday we reinforced this value quite heavily. You see, there is no big event in my life that ever happens without being accompanied by a comparatively big prank. This week, waiting on standby for our departure, the crew and I properly built up a prank in which the captain was made to believe that our main support of this extreme challenge would consist of HGH injections. But let's describe it from the beginning, as it deserves more words. A longer telling is the only way to deliver a teaser of this prank that led to so much laughter. We (crew) were sitting at the table after dinner chatting about natural medicines. Suddenly (and it was not planned) Tim pulled the opener of the prank. In quite complex sounding athletic/medical gibberish, he properly introduced the diversity of methods by which to support oneself in extreme settings such as our row. Most importantly, he alluded to everyone at the table that we might have some stuff worth looking at. Here I chipped in with some motivational gibberish, mentioning how intense of a challenge we are about to undertake and how every extreme achievement goes along with sacrifices. As we are going to achieve something superhuman, we need to perform superhuman, I said, and the most superhuman that a person can become is through the application of Human Growth Hormone (HGH).

Having set the stage, I started to explain how amazing HGH is and how harmless and effective it can be at the same time. Everybody was engaged in the talk, and slowly, as to appear believable, each of the guys eventually became convinced that taking HGH is a good idea. During the conversation, we described a story in which Tim got 0,5kg of HGH (which, for the information of readers, would cost up to 6 digits). In the tale, the supplement was busted on the Australian border coming in from Thailand (Tim is a copper). Now we had it, and those of us doing the talking explained that we could use the supplement up now. We argued that this was the perfect opportunity, and a great way to save money. We explained the considerations, but upon mention, all of the guys enthusiastically agreed that ending up 2 inches taller per head by the end of the expedition is not a bad deal. Another thing that they agreed on was that we could all enjoy improved muscles mass by approx 20kg each.

After a moment's thought, Cameron said that he wouldn't mind being 6'4 but was wondering how it will influence our sleeping during the voyage. "It's no concern", I replied, "in fact, we could row 4 hours and rest 1 hour!" (compared to the usual 2 hours of rowing followed by 2 hours rest). Tim added (as he also works as a rowing coach for the kids and teenagers) that he used to give it to the kids and one of them would "rip the shit off the erg!".

Heather, now sufficiently pranked, raised an objection, mentioning that this is cheating. I responded that when we are crossing ocean we are not swimming but supporting ourselves with oars which is also a form of cheating! (I think that when you prank someone it is cool to gradually keep narrowing the distance toward complete absurdity). Tim piped up, adding that "we also need to cleanse in order to be able to benefit fully from the supplement. So here, the frog venom application will come in handy, allowing us to purge and prepare our bodies properly." (By now, everyone present knows that I really do use frog venom, so it didn't sound as unreal as it might to one reading the story). Cameron proceeded, "I will email my mom and ask her to research everything". He pulled out his phone out and started typing quickly. I added that by using frog venom, we can actually amplify the efficiency of HGH by about 5 times, so, we could benefit from it even more and save a lot of money and a lot of HGH itself. We could even use it for the recovery mode after the row itself once we arrive in Africa!

At this stage Heather was crying (with tiny bits of laughing). The captain (also pranked) went with a glass of whiskey and with Heather out for a chat. Inside, all of us pranksters now plotted how we could bring this situation into even deeper absurdity. I suggested that with the same amount of scientific gibberish we could suggest and argue the method of HGH application.

Heather and the captain eventually came back in. Straight away, Captain started to become motivational, beginning a moralizing speech with the words: "I want to assure that all of you understand that you either you don't take the supplement, or you don't go." He added: "we will have a thorough discussion on it tomorrow". I interrupted saying, "Okay, so tomorrow we discuss it, but today we could already start a cycle, and by tomorrow, everyone could see what it works like!"

From there, as if nothing was wrong with my idea, we started explaining our solution to oceanic HGH application. "You don't wanna lose a dose because it messes things up" said Tim.

"However," continued Cameron, "handling needles on a rocking boat that might swing left and right and inject in a wrong place is risky".

"So," I said, "we found an alternative to it."

After a pause, Shane addressed the captain, "Leven, what is the easiest way to get drunk?". The captain blinked. No response. "Through an enema!".

I continued, "following this simple fact, Shane, within his knowledge of biochemical engineering (his real profession) and basic kitchen utensils (motioning toward the dining room), could convert the HGH IV (intravenous) into an IR (intrarectal)!"

At this point, it was really difficult not to burst into laughter but we were making it. Captain responded sarcastically: "Oh, in this case it is not a problem". At that, we all burst into laughter, but it only camouflaged the situation more as he was sure that we were laughing at nothing else than his joke.

The Captain then switched back to the moralizing speech. At that point we had to reveal the prank. Upon disclosure, Captain said nothing. Only after quite a few seconds in a frozen state did he raise his fist at me. This whole event lasted total, about 30 minutes. Although this shortcut can't deliver all the stupid small sentences that were spoken, the funny discussions and the hilarity of the crew pretending to gradually buy into the idea, it is enough to illustrate a precious moment between everyone involved in the row, to share a glimpse into our pre-departure purgatory, and perpetuate the laughter which I value so much. Luckily captain, we didn't proceed on to the next point of pranksters agenda which would convey that the most beneficial HGH assimilation happens when combined with fecal transplant (research fecal transplant on your own, Aussies know how to make things economical, simple and effective).