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Date: 21 Feb 2010 14:49:23
Title: Dolphins and Diet........

This morning was very special – we were joined by a large pod of dolphins! It was about 10am and I was in the water scraping Red Arrow’s bottom for barnacles whilst Rich was on look out. I came up for a breath and he said,  “mate,  there’s about 30 fins coming towards us over there and another 30 or so coming from over there.” My immediate reaction was that it was Jaws and his mates coming for some human breakfast and I needed to get back in the back prontor but I said, “Sharks or Dolphins?” as I didn’t think you could get that many whales together. Rich replied, “Dolphins I think”. Now, in hindsight I perhaps shouldn’t have trusted his 50/50 vague guess as I know Rich isn’t a marine wildlife expert and got out of the water just in case. I stayed in the water and as it turned out Rich was right – flipper and a large pod of dolphins had come and joined us and we were treated to an amazing close up encounter. When Red Arrow started moving again the dolphins swan alongside us for half an hour or so before disappearing off as quickly as they had arrived. AMAZING!!! Laura – I said hello from you!


In my last blog I bored you with my daily routine and I’m now going to bore you with what I throw down my throat in 24 hours. Food and drink is so important out here – we’re exercising for 12 hours a day and if our energy levels get low we’ll become weak and row like muppets Back home both Rich and I have very healthy appetites and food is one of our only “luxury” items so we spent quite a bit of time on the planning of it.


Just so you are all aware our race rules state the following about food;


“It is a mandatory requirement to start with sufficient food for 90 days. Not all food shall be freeze dried, a minimum of 20% shall be wet rations. The Race organisers shall ask you questions about your calorie budgets and dietary planning.”


After reading up and talking to previous ocean rowers the consensus of opinion is that your food planning should consist of the following 3 areas

  1. Dry food – this is food that requires boiling water to be added to it and left for 5 minutes for it to hydrate and then be edible. 80% of our food is dry food and in emergency cold water can be added but we’d have to be seriously desperate. The 2 main brands we have onboard are First Choice Expedition Foods from Yorkshire and a Norwegian brand called Dry Tech Real Expedition Foods. If you are bored do a Google images search and you’ll see the orange packaging for both of them that we are eating out of each day. After almost 50 days at sea I can honestly say that Norway has mastered the art of making dry food – I look forward to eating them. In comparison First Choice food is vile and if this was sent to African famine victims it would be sent back with, “Return to sender, we’d prefer to go hungry”. Our faces light up when our food bags have some Dry Tech rations although sadly we don’t have that many of them.
  2. Wet food / rations-  this is food that already has water added to it and can be eaten cold straight from the packet or just boiled in the bag for 8 minutes and the meal is ready to eat. I’ve loved some of the sausage, omelette and beans meals out here – the closest I’ll get to a fry up. Wet food is heavier than dry food and is about half as calorie efficient as dry food although if you can’t boil water these are your lifeline – hence the 20% minimum.
  3. Snack bags – a daily goodie bag made up of chocolates, sweets, nuts etc.


The recommended daily calorie allowance for an adult is 2500 calories and we based our plan on each having between 5000 / 6000 calories per day. We’d heard stories of previous teams who plan to eat 9000 / 10000 calories per day but physically can’t force it down and you end up rowing with lots of excess weight unless you decide to ditch it en route.


Below is an overview of a typical day’s food and drink. To keep it simple I’ve based the day all on dry food.


Expedition Meals                                             Calories


    MAIN e.g. Porridge & Strawberries                 800

    DRINK – Hot Chocolate                                 120      

Lunch - 

    MAIN e.g. Shepherds Pie                               800

    DESSERT e.g. Rice Pudding & Cinnamon      500


    MAIN e.g. Chicken Korma                              800

    DESSERT e.g. Custard & Berries                   500

    DRINK – Cup a Soup                                     100

Extra    (Super Noodles)                                    150

SUB TOTAL                                                      3770


*All of the above require water to be boiled to eat and these will all be prepared and eaten during my 2 hour off periods.


A Typical Snack Pack

Item                                                                 Calories

1 x 250g Sunmaid Raisins                                  760

1 x 60g Boost Bar                                             305

1 x 40g Nobby’s Nuts                                        215

1 x 50g Toffee Popcorn                                     200

1 x 45g Lucozade Carbohydrate Energy Gel       150

1 x 28g Quaker Oat Bar                                      139

1 x 25g Peperrami                                             125

SUB TOTAL                                                      1894


*All the snacks are ready to eat from the bag and I’ll munch my way through all the snacks during the night shifts and sometimes during the days.


TOTAL CALORIES                                           5664



4 / 5 Litres of water a day.

1 x Berroca with a litre of water

1 x Centrium (multi vitamin tablet).

A packet of chewing gum every other day,


Since we’ve started I’ve been very consistent with my diet and managed to eat this amount from day one. Some days I might skip a dessert or soup or something although I have eaten significantly more than Rich since we’ve started. We are both noticeably losing weight and I think by the time we finish I would have lost more than a stone. An extreme way of losing weight if some of your diets are failing!


Rich and I decided to load Red Arrow up with 65 full days worth of food and 25 half days each. In total we have 180 food bags crammed into Red Arrow and on top of that we have 130 snack packs (65 each). The food takes up so much of the space onboard and will probably account for 300 / 400kg of the 1000kg fully laden Red Arrow weight. The more we eat the lighter the boat gets!


Sorry if you have nodded off to this blog but I can’t keep gloating about the glorious weather in my blogs! FYI – for those of you in the UK, the sun does still exist!


Joke of the day was sent in by text but we have no name…….


“What is the first thing a blonde learns when she takes driving lessons?

You can also sit upright in a car!


The row must go on – Antigua here we come.




A few personal messages from me………………………….


Kath & Pete -                Just read your letter that you sent and it was so nice until you ruined it when you said, “all the girls fancied Downie at College!” Thanks for the letter and we’re long overdue a catch up when I get home.


Anton -                         Glad we could make your day mate!


Chubbs -                      Thanks for the email and sorry to hear about the old shoulder. Hope the wedding plans are under control!


Andy Downie -              Thanks for the jokes and have a good time in France – enjoy.


Tanya -                        I only know one Tanya so I knew who it was straight away and then you mentioned Adam so I couldn’t not get it! Thanks for the email.

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