Just a quick update to say we are still making mileage in the right direction but not much else going on really. The days are hot, back up around 25degs Celsius today and the nights are a little chilly, but still in shorts though. Today should be around the half way point in days as we now expect to cross in around 48 – 50 days but the half way mileage point will not come until next Wednesday. I am really looking forward to that as we will finally have only 3 weeks to go, for the past 10 days I have been telling myself we have 3 ½ weeks so it feels like we are standing still. We are also each stock piling any orange rations to ensure we have enough to get u to the end without having to delve into the contaminated green packs, the thought of them make me feel ill.
Day 21 Today was a great day, after what was the worst night on board so far. We got slammed by a big storm during the night, wind were up over Gale Force and probably gust force 9 most of the night with swell in the region of 7-8 meters. James an I got seriously thrown around in the bow cabin and had a god laugh as we would in turn get flung across on to the other , apologizing all the time although the actions were completely out of our control. Funniest of all must have been opening y eyes to look across at James and we both went airborne and levitated above our bunk for about 2 second before slamming back down as the next wave crashed in. It is probably the closest I will ever get to being in a zero gravity environment. But finally after 124 hours (over 5 days) on sea anchor we finally got moving again at 1500, what a relief. We also had a major morale boost as we caught 2 Derado fish. They have been hanging out under the boat and we didn’t think our rubber lure would catch them but with some foil from our rations and a neat whipping I dressed up our lure to make it look nice and tasty. So much so that Matt had the first fish on board after about 60 seconds and I had one hook before I even realized I had the hook in the water, like catching Mackerel back in the camber in Cobh. The Derado are a nice big fish and after I gutted and filleted them we fried them up to give everybody a tasty fresh treat. Surprising they also taste very like Mackerel. Just as morale was boosted we took our eye off the ball and a large wave crashed into the stern cabin shorting out the laptop charger an nearly toasting Mylene. Bit of the kick in the teeth but we were so glad to be moving again we didn’t let it get us down. After a couple of hours drifting down wind and sorting out the boat, bailing the hatches and resorting the food rations we got back into rowing at 8pm and it was back to the 2 on 2 off grind, at last!
Still on Sea anchor as of Sunday Lunch time but it looks like we only have another 24 hours to go before we finally get the wind shift we badly need. Funny thing a about the past few days is that the boat is pointing in exactly the right direction, this is due to the fact that when a boat is on anchor it will always point directly into the wind. It has been pretty boring on board so not much to report. We have had some equipment issues since we went on sea anchor, some of them have been sorted but we are still waiting to get a couple of them fixed. First up the water maker is tripping the switch when we run it on 2 pumps, we don’t know why just yet and will have to wait until Monday to talk to the electrician. Hopefully he will have an answer for us, it is not a major issue it just means it takes longer to make water on just one pump. Second problem is that after a couple of days going backwards on sea anchor the cable connecting the steering snapped. Thankfully we have a spare but it is very early in the trip to lose our primary cable. Third problem is that our satellite data connection has been down for the past few days. We can still make voice calls but it seems there is a problem with the server receiving the messages from the satellite in America. Hopefully this will also be sorted once they get back to work on Monday. In other news we have a few fish living under the boat, the first guy to arrive was a blue and black stripped guy that we have named Barry, we think he might have some friends bit we only ever see one of them at a time. Yesterday we had some more visiting fish, one of them looked like a 2 foot long tiger shark. He was pretty menacing and was circling the boat for quite a while. No sign of him today though. We are all looking forward to getting back on the oars tomorrow, only 1 more sleep!
As of this evening, Friday, we are still on sea Anchor. It has been a long couple of days sitting around hoping for the wind to change. Thursday was particularly rough with gale force winds, we got throw around a lot in the cabins and with the hatches closed it gets pretty stuffy very quickly. Wednesday night we set up a watch system which involved us hot bunking so when you woke somebody to go on shift you took their bunk, this was because we only had 5 bunks in operation for the 6 of us. This resulted in both James and I having to depart the sanctuary of the bow cabin to sleep in the stern cabin. It is very wet, hot and smelly in there, as somebody keeps farting. I’m not pointing any fingers but let’s just say it isn’t any of the lads. Today Friday has been relatively calm compared to yesterday with some squalls pushing through as the cold front of the depression passes over. The winds have been up and down but we have been able to spend most of the day on deck getting some sun. We also did some more admin getting kit dried out and moving the life raft out on deck to free up the sixth bunk. Now everybody will have a proper bed for the night. According to Stokey we might have these southerly winds until Tuesday which will mean a full week on Sea anchor, Disaster! But hopefully over the next 12-24 hours as the low pressure system moves south east we will get northerly winds and will finally be able to get moving again. The one thing that has become very apparent over the past 50 something hours is that we are now on an expedition, for a while there it seemed like a holiday as we racked up the miles. Now after being pinned down for a few days and having our resolve and our patience tested I am really beginning to fell like this is a pretty big undertaking. We will relish every mile we row for here on and take nothing for granted and hopefully the weather and mighty Atlantic will grant us a safe and swift passage to Barbados to be reunited with our loved ones.
Unfortunately the satelite email system on the boat isn't working too well due to a massive low pressure system about 600 NM north of the Sara G. Therefore there was no update today. Phone contact was made with the boat and all are well. The downside to the low pressure system is that they have had to drop the sea anchor and they are moving north rather than west, although they aren't going that fast. This was expected but is a dissapointment to the crew as they were on target and hoped to break a 40 day crossing earlier in the week. It is expected that the sea anchor could be down until Tuesday. .... Further Updates to follow...
The wind that has been pushing us along and churning up the Ocean finally died off last night, just as predicted by Stokey(our weather man back in the UK). So we are now plodding along in a light breeze heading south to dodge a weather system which is due to blow 20-30knts from the south at 0100am on Friday morning. If we don’t manage to get below 21degress by then it could mean a day on sea anchor, which would not be a disaster but would most likely remove any chance of a sub 40 day crossing. So fingers crossed we get low enough then we should pick up the trade winds and we are westward bound! We are also fully back into routine by now and those of you following the updates will know that I am now on lunch. I get back to oars at 1500 until 1700 and then it is dinner time. Depending on how hungry I am I sometimes eat a full meal other evenings I just have a snack. Once I have eaten I fill in my diaries, one is a personal account of what I get up to during the day and what has happened on board, the second is a special account of the trip for my sort psychologist, Aine McNamara. She has asked me to record specific information each day and she hopes to analyze the data when I get back to see just how mental I am !! Once the diaries are done it is time to chill out and get my kit ready for the night shifts, I try not to sleep during this rest period as if I do it normally means I can’t sleep when I come off the oars at 2100. More on how we are getting on with the pending weather system and on life on board tomorrow.
The honey moon is now over and it is time to get the heads down to bang out some miles. This was always going to be the toughest phase of the trip mentally as each day is like the last and we are a mere spec in this vast blue rolling square of ocean. Each day the horizon to the front, back, left and right all seem to be in the same place so it appears that we are rowing to stand still, the only reference we have to tell us we are moving is our GPS plotter. Thankfully we do always appear to be rowing downhill with a gentle Atlantic swell nudging us along our way.
Nothing special for the past few days, up early each morning to train at home then on to work for the day followed by another session in the evening. I have been working on my technique on the rowing machine in the evenings and it seems to be coming along nicely.