Johnnie's Blog - Days 15-18

Forget Me Knot Atlantic Row
Johnnie, Stef and Dirk
Mon 14 Feb 2022 13:21

About Days 15-18

24 jubilant hours of progress. We steamed enthusiastically through the night, holding our course with the Easterly wind (blowing us West) to keep up speed. The waves had some size and were close together making for messy conditions but we were going with them and the odd soaking didn’t bother us.

Then came Guru Chris on the wires. “Love the enthusiasm lads but you need to go South”.  Shitballs. But the wind is blowing West and we’re crushing it! Nothing to be done, the word of Guru Chris is final. We changed our heading to 200-degrees, South.

Remember those childhood holidays on the beach? Bravely taking out your Toy Story boogie-board to catch a wave that picks you up, speeds you along and gracefully places you back on the sand. That was Wa’onomi surfing the Easterly for 24hrs.  All lined up beautifully, Mother Nature by our side chivvying us along.

But boogie-boarding isn’t as much fun if you try to catch a wave going away for the beach. It’s not graceful, you eat lots of sea, get stuck upside down in the whitewash then get dumped on the sand like a waterlogged bin bag.  That’s Wa’omoni on a Southerly course against the elements. We lasted 12hrs. Out went the anchor - it’s starting to feeling we’ve had more stops n starts than Boris’s lockdown.

With the rough sea, this particular para-anchor session took a bit of a pukey turn. Having the sea nausea after 36hrs rowing is a paradox - you’re starving but can’t stomach anything. Food was on the mind - we took time to understand the secrets of the ultimate roast springbok shoulder (ask Dirk’s wife to make it), whether five blues and marmite thins can be considered a full cheeseboard and delved into why Shwarma City is not just the best kebab in Newport but probably in all of Wales. Yet the idea of eating dehydrated pork and beans made us want to hurl.

The calorie deficit is taking its toll. My calves have withered to a state that they wouldn’t look out of place on a London street pigeon. Stef’s once voluptuous booty is a shadow of it’s former self. In the early days there was a glorious, daily struggle as Stef squirmed and writhed to get the booty through his XL harness. It was great, like watching a pregnant walrus trying to use an EasyJet bathroom. Now? Twiglet in a hula-hoop. No fun at all. As for Dirk, he never had any body fat to start with so his jaw has just got more chiselled. Swine.

I’ve described the recurring turmoil of a night on anchor…tossed about, feel like scrambled egg, no sleep, puke up, yada yada yada. But this time - we say NON! Enough of this bow cell Hell. Stef and I emptied out the aft cabin to make space for two. 

The aft has a strange configuration.  It’s made up of two coffin like compartments that run under the external rowing positions and a main cabin.  The main cabin is about 4ft by 5ft. The fibreglass walls have cables running over them that feed the main control panel with our VHF, chart plotter and switchboard.  The front has a 2ftx2ft hatch and is inexplicably littered with protruding bolts and screws that lie in ambush to attack your forehead or backside whenever you make an exit.  To the rear is a kitchen cupboard sized space that houses the autohelm and rudder arm. We love the autohelm but it is not the subtlest of devices. As it micro-adjusts our course it squeals, grates and grinds with excitement. Like a little child that smokes 60 Lambert a day and has discovered a delightful new game: “North a bit! No East!” *caauughh…kergggghh* ”No, no North again! SOUTH! Yay! East, EAAAST!” *wheeeze…ykargggh…kaughkaffka*. You get used to it eventually but I wouldn’t rush to install one in my bedroom.

To sleep, Stef and I slid our legs into the coffins and with our heads poking into the main cabin. At 6am, I woke with my face stuck to the waterproof mattress and Stef cwching me.  Very cosy - and a cracking nights sleep. What ’s more, the waves had calmed. The Guru Chris forecast had us on anchor for another day or so but it felt so much less daunting after more than two hours sleep in 24. Fingers crossed for some favourable winds to The Canaries.

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