Date - Thursday 19th Jan
Location N17.35.952// W038.04.396
A month is a long time to spend anywhere. Its more ‘travelling’ than a holiday, and there are only 12 of them in a year, yet we have just spent 31 days upon a boat no bigger than a minibus. Our lives have been simplified beyond belief, the stresses of work, commuting, money and general city living have been replaced by a simple goal, to leave A and reach B in one piece. Before departing, our expectations were based on speculation and hear-say and our greatest fears were things we had never even experienced. On reflection, we knew we were in for a tough ride, it would be painful, emotional and quite simply horrible at points. What we didn’t anticipate, was just how amazing this experience could be.
We are generally enjoying ourselves, and lapping up the special moments, whether it be a sunrise, shooting star, dolphins or whales, each one is rare and worth cherishing. We haven’t had the best of luck with the weather, and the last para-anchor during the first hurricane in 50 years to originate in the Atlantic (Shock whilst we are out here!) was probably the toughest time of the entire trip, but we stayed positive and laughed it off. Our biggest challenge we are currently facing, has been a slow burner. The physical side of the trip is beginning to catch up with us. We have surprised ourselves at how strong we have stayed throughout, given we are rowing 24 hours a day with no more than 5 hours sleep, But the relentless strain on our bodies over the past month is slowly catching up to us though, and cracks are beginning to show.
The first thing to go was our backsides. The sheer number of repetitions sat on a seat covered in salt has lead to very sore bums. Sheepskin has helped a little, but the pain is still prevailing and here to stay. This also feels like the right time to squash a myth in Ocean Rowing circles. Many believe that rowing naked is the best solution, as it reduces friction and ‘airs’ the hazardous areas. I can confirm, this is total bollocks. Sitting naked on a salty sheepskin in 35 degree blazing sunshine is not the answer, it is in fact, a terrible idea. We both tend to row in very little, Whittle wears a pair of Rhone shorts whilst I don a pair of compression shorts to keep things locked in place.
Our hands were next to fall, and each of our palms and fingers is littered with callouses and blisters, these aren’t too painful though to be honest and haven’t caused much of an issue (I speak for myself here, as Whittle has struggled with a couple of blisters right in the centre of his palm). What has been excruciating though is ‘The Claw’. Everytime we exit the oars and get some sleep in the cabin, we awake with both hands locked. To bend the fingers feels like manipulating concrete, and it takes a good 15 mins of pain to gain full movement in our fingers.
Over the past few days, our muscles have finally started to complain at the ludicrous amount of rowing we have subjected them to. Lower and upper back, hamstrings and quads are all screaming for mercy, and we have been very disciplined with our stretching routine after each row. A lacrosse ball has proved invaluable, and has helped loosen knots and tightened areas. With around 25 days to go until Barbados, keeping on top of these niggles is a main priority. The smallest thing out here can escalate into something serious in a matter of hours, and once its torn, pulled, sprained or twisted there is little chance of recovery.
As I write this we are making some great progress, and on Saturday we should know an accurate arrival date given weather forecasts and our average speed. James has just screamed into the cabin “Shark” and sure enough we have just spent the last 10 minutes watching a sinister shape following us about 15 feet off our stern. The way it moved just under the surface, with its fin breaching as the waves dipped was unnerving to say the least!
We will continue pushing forward and eating up the miles, but we are about 1000 from our destination, so the countdown has begun. Seeing our donations page creep upwards is a huge boost, so please do keep spreading the word for us.
Thanks for the continued support,
The Tempest Two.