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Date: 03 Mar 2010 15:39:28
Title: 500 Miles to go............

An update for you from onboard HMS Red Arrow…………….


Days at Sea:                 58

Last 24 Hours:              Moving along nicely and we’ve just received a text to say we had the second highest mileage in the fleet over the last 24 hours. Great news and we’re edging closer to Antigua!

Other Boats:                 About 15 minutes before Rich and I were due to change shift at midnight last night the AIS (Automatic Identification System) warning light started flashing straight in front of me on the bulkhead. This tells me we have company nearby! At the same time Richie woke up inside the cabin because the alarm linked into the GPS was sounding. A ship carrying hazardous cargo called “Princess” (which I though was a bit out of keeping with the nature of its contents) was within 4 miles and bearing down on us. We switched on the navigation light which blinded me and on went the VHF. I gave Princess a VHF call and he had us on radar and a visual with us. I must have been speaking to the cleaner because he had the worst radio telephony I’ve ever heard. They gave us a wide berth and when she was running alongside us she really was a beast. The technology worked perfectly.

What’s been happening?

An update from the last 24 hours…………….

  1. Less than 500 miles to go

Early evening on Tuesday we broke through the 500 miles to go which was a big milestone for us. To celebrate this monumental occasion I could think of nothing else but to try and fit as many Rowntrees Pick & Mix in my mouth at once. I didn’t manage the whole packet but it took a while to chew! I was just looking back through some old blogs and I noticed that we passed the first 500 miles after day 16 because I mention about The Proclaimers 500 mile song – it doesn’t seem possible that was 42 days ago!!!!!

  1. Antiguan Flag now flying

Now that we’ve less than 500 miles to Antigua we’ve taken down the Spanish flag which was flown because we left Spanish waters and has been replaced by the Antiguan flag to show our intended destination. If we were doing things properly I think the Spanish flag should have come down ages ago but it was really useful to us as a wind sock! The Royal Ensign flag which signifies that Red Arrow is a British registered vessel continues to fly on the same flag pole and will do so all the way across. There was no major ceremony to mark the new flag being hoisted just Richie hanging out the back hatch getting thrown around and trying to attach it to our loose flag pole!

  1. Sending emails & blogs

In one of my recent blogs I asked people if they wanted us to talk about anything specific in our blogs and if they did to get in touch. As expected I had a range of requests – some suitable and others not so! Our old next door neighbour Bonnie Loudin who now lives in Texas was asking about how we are keeping in touch. Bonnie pictures us using a laptop inside a plastic bag to keep it dry which isn’t the case and I’ll try and explain…….

Laptop – we have a Panasonic Toughbook which is a real heavy duty laptop in a very thick shell. It is sold as being waterproof and unbreakable and although I’m intrigued to test that we’ll just have to accept it. The Toughbook has the standard Windows software and is charged from a cigarette lighter from the power generated from our solar panels. We use outlook express for our emails. Our blog is written as an email and we just sent it to a weird email address and it pops up for you to view on the site.

Satellite Phone – we have an Iridium handset (picture an old brick type mobile) and a phone contract with a UK service provider called MailaSail. MailaSail provide the line rental and tariff. It costs about $1.50 to make or receive calls and this fee also applies when we send and receive emails. We write all of our emails off line and then when we want to send or receive emails we have to connect the Sat phone up to the Toughbook with a fancy USB lead and try and get full reception. All this is done inside the cabin.  We then make a call through the sat phone, albeit a Data Call and then we watch patiently as the emails get sent and then received. Sometimes this can be a 2 minute call if everything is working properly, other times we can be playing around for half an hour wasting minutes as we lose signal or there is some other techy problem. When it works quickly it is an amazing bit of kit. See, no plastic bags here!


Good luck to England tonight at Wembley – Greeno must start!


The row must go on – Antigua here we come.




A few personal messages from me…….


Cath Rogers -               Your 10 or so texts came through but not the punch line….well, I hope the punch line wasn’t one of them otherwise it was a terrible joke. Fire it over on email (tom {CHANGE TO AT} rowingtheatlantic {DOT} com) so we can have a laugh. 


Robin Gilmore -           Thanks for following our progress and touch wood there hasn’t been any boat problems so far.


Rachel -                        We really appreciate the texts – thank you.


Olly -                            Seems like we’re both getting some exercise these days. I’m doing 2 hour shifts whilst you’re doing 2 minute ones!


Livvy -                          I hope the new job is going well. Come up and see us when we get back and don’t forget to bring James.


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