Mr Croker’s Finest – Magic Bendy Oar gets the chop

29 Jan, 06 – 20:41

Today has been a very long day. 28 hours long, to be precise, because today I switched over to Antigua time.

So what did I do with my extra 4 hours? – just what lots of other people would be doing on a Sunday afternoon – a bit of DIY (If I don’t do it, nobody else will!)

Today was the ideal day to cash in my bonus hours, as a small but significant list of maintenance tasks had been accumulating. And on a day when there wasn’t a breath of wind nor a cloud in the sky to relieve the strength of the tropical sun, it was marginally better to spend the hottest part of the day on deck doing DIY than sweating away at the oars.

So I spent 4 hours busily bottom-scrubbing (getting rid of barnacles), replacing washers on rowing pins, padding my rowing seat, sponging out bilges, and most importantly, strengthening my oars.

The last round of oar repairs had been done in less than ideal conditions – 20 foot waves and 25 knot winds – so it was high time to improve on them. Magic Bendy Oar was today relieved of guardrail duties – it was so broken it was useless even as a guardrail – and hacksawed into pieces to make splints for Splintered Loom Oar. The timely discovery of a whole unused reel of duct tape, combined with these splints, plus the boathook, have given me much more confidence in my starboard side oar. Given that it’s mostly blind faith and duck tape holding it together, this matters.

I’ve fashioned a new guardrail out of a length of rope, with some spare plastic piping as a cover, and a length of Mr Croker’s finest oar as a stanchion. Much more satisfactory than an oar with a big bend in the middle.

So now when the stronger winds come (oh, please, lord, let them come!) I will be ready.

Note: I will leave my iPaq on GMT, so the time stamp on my dispatches will still be UK time. Also, I will now post my dispatch after my second rowing shift rather than the third, so it will still come through at around 8.30 or 9.00pm GMT.

Texts: thanks to Andy and Emer (sorry to hear about the rib – hope better soon), Rachel Smith, Margaret and Bob, John T (don’t worry so much – if I want to ignore your questions, I will!), Sandi, Tim Ratbag (Milne cam through, thank you – like it!), Martin T, RHW (loved your message – thanks).

Rita Savage’s PS: knowing Roz as I do, I am very impressed with her DIY ingenuity. Before she left she did say that she hoped she would be able to cope by finding practical solutions to problems. Well done, Roz!!

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

Wind: E, 3-5 knots (estimate)
Weather: sunshine and cloud
Sea state: dead flat and never-ending
Hours rowing: 12

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