At the time of the breakages all oars were stowed in the upper position. Must have been some big mean wave.

18 Jan, 06 – 18:46

Apologies for being offline for a couple of days. My palmtop was on non-speakers with my satphone, probably due to water somewhere in the data cable. There’s water everywhere else, so it’s likely it was in the data cable too. Fortunately it seems to have recovered now.

Life has been interesting since I last wrote – rough and wet mostly – which may appeal to some tastes but not especially mine. I need to have words with the race organisers. I thought I’d signed up for Atlantic Lite – the sort of Atlantic Rowing Race where people talked about ‘Lake Atlantic’, enjoyed silence and serenity, and sipped G&T’s at sunset. Instead I seem to have got Atlantic Hardcore – 20 foot waves, capsizes and broken oars.

When I told my mother about the latest casualties she commented, ‘The ocean is really stripping you down, isn’t it?’. And this is true, metaphorically as well as literally. As I’m left with less and less, it makes me realise how little I actually need, how little is actually important. Everything happens for a reason. So there must be lessons I am meant to learn from this that I couldn’t have learned from Atlantic Lite.

Updated Casualty List

New entries:

4th and final oar now damaged – so I have:
Magic bendy oar – irreparable
Oar with no spoon – irreparable
Oar with spoon almost broken off – Sikaflexed and splinted
Oar with shaft broken close to gate (rowlock) – splinted.

Flattened boathook Sikaflexed to spoon of oar.
Note oar shaft to the right – totally decapitated.

I’m amazed and rather indignant about the two broken spoons. These oars were properly stowed alongside the guardrail oars, i.e. with the spoons 4ft clear of the water, and supposedly protected by the guardrail spoons – yet one broke clean off and the other nearly so. For this sort of pressure to be exerted, 4ft above the waterline, on both sides of the boat… That must have been some knockdown.

And more losses overboard:
Thermos mug #2 (1 remaining) with dinner inside
Drinks bottle #2 (1 remaining)
Lip salve #2 (2 remaining)
Bag for para-anchor line
2 buckets (1 remaining)
Alpaca skin seat cover #2 (1 remaining)

Plus flooded lockers:
#5 – beneath aft cabin. Relatively empty, fortunately, but cosy dry alpaca socks as special treat (courtesy of Alpaca Centre near Penrith) are cosy and dry no more
#7 – grab bags and lifejacket are swimming
#13 – jerrycans and cleaning materials. Deliberately left flooded for added ballast.

And an injury:
Wrenched shoulder during a knockdown while at the oars. Back on the Ibuprofen.

Plus previous casualties:
Petzl head torch (contacts rusted)
Camping stove
Navigation instruments
Thermos mug
Lid off thermos flask
Drinks bottle
Storage jar
Alpaca skin seat cover
Lip salve
Milton fluid
…and a comfy foam cushion for sitting on.

In answer to all enquiries, Monty is absolutely fine, thank you, but is very pleased that he has his lifejacket.


Natalie: thanks for the vibes – keep them coming. In answer to your question, the weight is coming off, but probably due more to boredom with food rather than roaring metabolism. Estimate I am eating 2000-3000 calories on a typical day – about the same as pre-race, but now losing weight rather than gaining. Brown fat? Not sure how to tell, but I doubt it. Plenty enough food to see me through, but shortage of food that appeals. That, alas, only dry land can offer.

Thanks for texts from Damian, H and Phoebe West, John T (macrame – been there, done that, got the string bag), Lizan (don’t worry – I hope to complete the race AND stay safe), Luke Johnston (great to hear from you – this boat a bit smaller than the trireme, this ocean rougher than the Aegean, too bad no ouzo, also no lunatic Irish dentists on mopeds!), Tim Ratbag, Snowy (good suggestion, already considered, may yet resort to cutting broken oars to make sleeve but reluctant to be without guardrails as they’ve already saved my life more than once), Richard Latham, Imelda, Mark Reid, Clarkie, Natalie, Mike C, Adamski, Steve Maskell, Alex F, AJ, Guy.

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Wind: E, 25 knots (estimate)
Weather: cloudy, sunshine, squalls
Sea state: very rough
Hours rowing: 0 (spent day repairing oars and allowing wrenched shoulder to recover)

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