06 February 2006

6 Feb, 06 – 21:34

I knew today was going to be tough, and it has lived up to expectations.

With the conflicting influences of the eddy, the wind and the swell, waves have been coming at me from all directions and the going has been heavy – less like rowing, more like weightlifting. I usually rate about 20 strokes per minute, but today it has been 16, and my usual speed of around 2 knots has been down to a disheartening 1 knot.

And, worse still, I broke an oar. Again. Not really surprising, in these rough conditions. Sikaflexed-Spoon, which had been the only oar with loom intact, has loom intact no more. A sideswiping wave broke it just below the collar. I’ve got the routine down pat now – out with the hacksaw, out with the duck tape. Chop another chunk off the sacrificial oar and tape it up.

I thought that would do the trick, but it wasn’t enough. A few hours later, another big wave, and the oar cracked again. Visions of waiting a week for a support yacht to bring replacements flashed across my mind’s eye. And it would mean losing my unsupported status. I wasn’t ready to give up yet.

But what to use as a splint? Both sections of the boathook were already in service, and I needed something strong and at least a foot long.

There was an option I’d considered previously – the axles from my spare rowing seat – but I hadn’t been able to figure out how to dismantle it. I tried again, but even after calling boatbuilder Richard Uttley for advice I still l couldn’t manage it. So out came the hacksaw again, and after some energetic sawing I had my splints.

But this repair has used up the last of my duck tape – I started out with 3 rolls of it. And still many miles to go.

What will come to an end first – my Atlantic row, my mending materials, or my baby wipes?

Texts: thanks for messages from George from Atlantic4 (great to hear from you! Well done on a great row), Caroline Haines (get rid of the TV and don’t read the papers – it helps!), Tim Ratbag, John T (sorry, I don’t get the clue), Margaret and Bob, James Oglethorpe, Clarkie, Jeff, DB.

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see http://www.atlanticrowingrace.co.uk

Wind: E, about 15 knots (estimate)Weather: sunshine and clouds
Sea state: moderate
Hours rowing: 12

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