N15.16.341 // W050.33.715
43 days at sea (mental) and our onboard GPS is telling us that we are 540 nautical miles away from our waypoint on the northern tip of Barbados. Watching this tick down is a great feeling, we have always had waypoints plugged into the GPS but as soon as we reach them, we are inputting the next lat/long for a further 350 miles, sometimes with a course change to allow for future winds and weather etc. This time, the waypoint is final and the ticking down number represents miles remaining to destination. Wow.
The rowing time and intensity is being increased, sometimes to 16 hours a day on the oars as we row together for a decent chunk of time to put a few more miles in, this giving our bodies little time to rest, we are however, on top of the maintenance of both skin and muscles and religiously tending to blisters, sores and aches.
It was 9.15am (GMT) on 28th Jan, so probably 6.15am here and i was on the morning shift watching the sun come up with some steady rollers behind us, we had just logged our first 70NM day and were feeling good/ smug. When rogue wave 2.0 gave us a huge wake up call. It was a carbon copy of the wave that flipped us on day 12, but from the starboard side this time. A sizeable, random wall of water scooped up out of nowhere and dumped the boat onto its side, I was thrown against the rope railing with my feet stuck into the foot straps, headphones on again, this time watching Entourage on our game changing night time entertainment system (worth its own blog but its basically an iPad in a Lifeproof case mounted to the outside of the cabin - hooked up to headphones - it means we can watch series or movies pre-loaded while we row at night. If your looking for a world first in ocean rowing - I’m pretty sure this is it! Breaking the mould!)
The deck was underwater and i was in the middle of it as the boat righted itself again, our powered bilge pump broke the day before (typical) so it meant bailing the water out by hand. Buckets, cups and the hand bilge (like a bike pump) were in full force and Tom and I went to work on sorting Roberta out. We checked all the hatches and food lockers, some of which had taken on water and then set ourselves up for another day. We found that our oar (reminder we have no spares) had a big crack down one side and was full of water, hugely affecting its performance, we drained the water and taped up the cracks as best we could, we are sincerely hoping for it to hold good for the remaining miles.
It was just another reminder that this sort of thing can happen at anytime, and can be the end of the trip in a second with bit of bad luck.
Since then however, we have made some good progress, one day was extremely slow and heavy but we surprised ourselves with 54 miles that day and on average 60 miles per day which we are stoked about.
We are just nearing an infamous spot on the Atlantic called “Researcher Ridge” this is where the depth changes from 5000m to 500m instantly, on what is basically a ledge. as you can imagine, with some wrong winds and swell, this can create some monstrous waves. A friend of ours, and someone who helped us from the beginning of our voyage, Ian Rowe, fell victim to Researchers Ridge on his atlantic attempt a few years ago, ending their voyage and having them collected by an oil tanker heading for South Africa instead of Barbados. This would be so devastating and we will be strict with change overs and have the cabin doors open for as little time as possible here. an update after the ridge will follow ideally with some good news :)
Finally - we made the classic mistake of leaving the cabin aft door ajar (the small back door). We do this sometimes when it is manned by someone to get a draft and make the cabin bearable in the day. For the third time, a cheeky wave found its way perfectly in and soaked our mattress and clothes. It meant the mattress and Tommy were on deck drying whilst i continued to row… usually a massive pain, until we stumbled across a locker under the mattress we had completely forgotten about. It was full of an untouched rarity - something we thought was just a myth of our imagination “Scrambled egg, ham and Potato breakfast” - the meals we thought didn’t make it to us! We had been fuming at the manufacturers, since the start for messing up our order and mock draft emails were written to the company in conversation over and again to express our dissatisfaction. Only to discover that we had these the whole time. Also in the locker - 5 big bags of Haribo. a real game changer and well worth a wet mattress for! Yeooww!