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Date: 01 Feb 2010 10:07:52
Title: Pinch, punch, first of the month!

Some of you might not be aware but we are aiming to reach Antigua without any external assistance. If we accept external assistance then we are disqualified from the race and won’t get an official race position although we can still continue to row to Antigua and we would have then rowed an ocean. When Red Arrow left La Gomera last month she had enough food and supplies for a 90 day crossing (race rules for a pairs boat) and 150 litres of emergency ballast water. We make our daily fresh water needs from a water desalination plant which is huge electrical power drain but our most important piece of equipment. If the water-maker fails, we are likely to fail. Touch wood - so far, so good.


So far, to our knowledge, only Limited Intelligence (a fours boat from Cheltenham) has required the assistance of the support yachts. One of the rowers wanted to be taken off the boat for personal reasons and the boat is now disqualified from the race and is continuing to Antigua with 3 rowers.


As normal, there are two support yachts on the water. Their role is to follow the fleet and be in a position to provide assistance, but only if it's needed. Apart from the incredible morale boost rowers will get when they see a sail on the horizon, a short chat is normally (and hopefully)
the extent of our contact with the support crew.

This year the race organisers have adopted a slightly different strategy for the support yacht function. Previously, support came in the form of two cruising yachts each crewed by 3 people. One headed off with the race leaders, while the other stayed with the back markers. This year, two radically different boats have set sail.

The first support yacht is Aurora, one of the 67' Global Challenge yachts, owned and skippered by Stuart Jackson of Ocean Experience and designed to sleep 14 people with ease. Sailed by a crew of four, the boat is built like a tank, and will withstand pretty much anything the ocean can throw at it.

The second boat is an Open 60 called Ocean Planet. Built originally for solo sailor Bruce Schwab, this boat is crewed by three and skippered by former ocean rower Pete Hogden who has performed the support yacht role several times. Ocean Planet is designed to get round the world the ‘right way' and as fast as possible, and the aim is for this boat to be the 'fast response' vessel, able to get to any potential incident in the shortest possible time. Should any more rowers find themselves being
rescued by Ocean Planet, they would be repatriated to Aurora to continue their journey in a more comfortable environment. Ocean Planet is a serious bit of kit – the equivalent of a Formula 1 racing car coming to rescue you.


As rowers, we have no idea where either support vessel is (they don’t even appear on the dots that you’re all probably watching) and we have no way of contacting them directly. If we need any help then we have to contact the 24 hour duty race officer phone and they coordinate the best solution according to our problem.



Days at Sea:                 28 – this time a month ago we were lining up on the start line in La Gomera.

Last 24 Hours:              No change – more eating, more sleeping, more talking and more playing games. We haven’t rowed since 11:30 on Wednesday 27th.

Other Boats:                 Nope, still not heard or seen any.

What’s been happening?

An update from the last couple of days…………………

1.     Cabin Fever

Get me out of here...............

2.     Hull Clean

I went for another little dip in the ocean yesterday and gave the hull another clean. Rich was on lifeguard duty and Mr Muscle got rid of the barnacles. It wasn’t anywhere as bad as the other day but it is now much easier to manage if we do it every 5 or 6 days. This time I was joined by a real selection of fish which made me slightly nervous as I thought they could draw attention to bigger predators but thankfully nothing to report. Rich took some great underwater photos of me in the water.

3.     20:00 Movie

Last night we watched Pirates of the Caribbean and I think it is quite possibly one of the most overrated and worst films I’ve ever fallen asleep to. I made it until about 2 hours and Rich watched the last hour on his own. However, we did watch a cracker yesterday morning - a very clever film. Have a watch of “The Lucky Number Sleven”. It reminded me of Shawshank as I would never have guessed the ending.

4.     Quiz Update

I’m still in the lead and I think Rich is struggling without the 50/50, phone a friend or ask the fish option!


Things p*ssing me off:

  1. Trans World Sport Camera broken

TWS have very kindly loaned us a very good pencil camera to record footage of our crossing. It had been working all the time we were in La Gomera and for the first week or so at sea and now it isn’t. We’ve been in contact with the manufacturers back in the UK and awaiting final instructions but we’ve tried pretty much everything. We’ll both be gutted if we can’t get this working.

  1. Fixed Satellite Phone Antenna playing up

We have a phone Antenna fixed to our cabin roof which is designed to give greater phone signal and strength and it has been working brilliantly up until now. Yesterday, we were trying to link the sat phone to the laptop to send off some emails and we couldn’t get a signal. We then had no luck when just trying to call home. We disconnected the sat phone from the fixed antenna and used one of the removable antennas and managed to get a signal. Laura and all my family were at mums last night and it took me an hour to get through – very annoying!

  1. Ginger Beard

The worst of all is that I’ve been growing my beard since we left La Gomera and I’ve now found a few stray ginger hairs. Rich must have been malting or I’ve been cursed by Katie N, Red Love & Lindsay.


Looking forward to:     

  1. Rowing – more than anything just to get some structure back in our days.
  2. Reaching 40 degrees West - which is our next waypoint. We’re currently at 31 degrees west and each full degree is 60 miles so we’ve 540 miles to go!
  3. England beating Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday. If the race had started on the 6th December, our original aim was to be in Antigua to watch this match. As it turns out we’re 1750 miles from Antigua 

Email of the day goes to Andy Downie and I’ve picked out my favourite 5 from the long list…………..


Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up every two hours?
If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?
Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

Some personal messages from me………….


Neil Skenners               -           Congrats on your recent engagement, really pleased for you both. Your brother does a cracking best man speech if you want him to ruin another wedding?????


Rachel                         -           You may have noticed some plagiarism……..I borrowed some of your words from the Yacht Pals articles about the support yachts. I hope you don’t mind.  


Geoff & Shirley         -           Thanks for the quotes and I’d never heard the Johnson one before.


Ivor Biggun                  -           Yes, well done a very original name to enter on the Iridium website. Perhaps try and work on your jokes as well as your name!


The row must go on – Antigua here we come.




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