Position - N24 37 647 // W021 09 553
Friday 25th as well as being Christmas day, marked our first week on The Atlantic. It is safe to say neither of us have ever felt so ‘un-festive’ in our lives during the build up, but the day itself was a truly memorable one. We made the decision to enjoy and savour the moment, so pulled in the oars and celebrated. Numerous calls with family and loved ones,as well as stockings, letters and presents made it a real highlight of the trip so far. To say it was surreal is an understatement, and speaking to those who have been part of the Christmas routine for our whole lives from the middle of an Ocean was bizarre.
We also held the most pointless and transparent Secret Santa of all time, being only two of us on the boat, the recipient had a pretty good idea of who his Secret Santa may well be. I bought James a Justin Bieber 2016 calendar and another item which cannot be described before the watershed, but was a fitting accompaniment to the calendar given James’ genuine Belieber status. James too clearly put time, thought and money into the purchasing process, as I was amazed to open an incredible set of native indian pan-pipes, and a genuine and certified Breitling watch (neither of which I have been assured were purchased from the same stall in Puerto Mogan)
Towards the end of the day we sat down for Christmas dinner (Chicken Tikka) and cracked open a beer each to toast the occasion - this however is where the charm of Christmas wore off, and wore off very quickly. The weather suddenly changed, and our Easterly wind which was kindly pushing us West towards Barbados, switched and started blowing us North East, back towards the Canaries. I can safely say this was the most soul-destroying moments of the trip, as we both sat there with a full beer, in genuine disbelief that the weather was yet again throwing us a curve ball. After about 20 minutes of colourful language and slagging off the weather in general, we strapped in for what was going to be long-night.
The physicality of this trip is harsh to say the least, but the mental side of it is far more tasking. Until that point our spirits had been high and we were able to laugh off most things with ease, however that evening was slightly different. Rowing for 2 hours on, 2 hours off through a pitch black night into a headwind was hell. We would each punish ourselves on the oars, literally straining on every stroke for 120 minutes, only to realise our efforts were barely keeping us stationary. It was like someone had strapped 50kg weights onto the oars, and we were rowing through treacle, all the while the wind was trying its best to turn the bow of the boat a full 180 and send us back where we came from. It was the most painful night so far, not scary or intense like some of the others, but corrosive on our bodies and minds.
We finally saw the sun come up and spoke to our on land support team who keep an eye on the weather for us, the verdict was the winds were here to stay for at least 48 hours and then a consistent Easterly would be back with us on Monday at the latest, recommendation, drop the para-anchor (a para-anchor is a big parachute type drogue that you tie to the boat and deploy in the water. It basically slams the brakes on and stop you drifting too far) and wait for preferable conditions. If you were wondering why we have simply stopped on our tracker, we haven’t sunk, this is why!
Saturday morning we dropped our para-anchor and settled in for new winds. Initially the thought of standing still and not progressing was a hard pill to swallow, any wasted time in our eyes is another day we aren’t in Barbados. Our attitude soon changed though, as this rare window of calm allowed us to totally relax and enjoy our unique surroundings for the first time. We lead on deck, read books and ate as much as we could, we even had cheese and biscuits for an after-dinner treat which was gratefully received in my stocking. We tended to sore muscles and blisters, tidied the boat and did the maths to figure out our average speed and distance each day to get us into Barbados within our target (2.1 knot av and 51 NM per day if you wondered)
We watched a cheeky Rom-Com in the cabin and both fell into a comatose state for an 11 hour sleep. This was the only time either of us have slept for longer than 90 minutes since we left, and the rest was much needed. I am writing this now on Sunday morning from the cabin, Whittle is reading and we are keeping an eye on the weather, eager for the change. As soon as it does, we are putting everything into the next week to make up time, we will be rowing together 2 up for much of the daytime and back into the seperate 2 hour regime during night. We are eager to get moving, and can’t wait to turn on the gas and hopefully eat up some miles over the next week.
All in all we are happy to be here, and lapping up the experience. We are also constantly being updated on comments and messages on all our social channels, which is acting as a huge boost for us, so please keep them coming and those donations ticking over.