Dirk's Blog - Marking our half-way point.

Forget Me Knot Atlantic Row
Johnnie, Stef and Dirk
Tue 8 Mar 2022 09:11

6 March – The message that we have finally reached the halfway mark in terms of miles rowed reaches us at 8pm UTC, just as the sun was getting ready for bed.  I was already "in bed", but hearing the other two lads both on deck, I got up to share the happy news.  It was also the first calm evening we’d had in weeks, so it was possible to share the moment with a quick celebration, a wee bottle cap of rum each, a hug and smiles all round. The shared moment buoyed us all and the fact that the moon is also back in the sky put a glow on the nights rowing.  The night did turn rough and gusty again, but we have accepted this as "normal".

Talking about the moon, I confess we have all become, in the root sense of the word, lunatic. Or should that be lunaphiles? Anyway, the moon, even its current slim crescent form, makes night rowing so much more pleasant. It helps a lot, having light to show you just how big the next monster swell is or where the next one of Neptune's little miscreants that splash across the deck, soaking you ‘totalement’ is coming from.

7 March - And just as calm as the evening of the 6th was, the mid-morning of the next day was calm again.  Well, what we have come to accept as calm.  And certainly calm enough to have a swim off our boat.  The boat's hull, below the water line hadn't had a scrape and clean in a while due to the very heavy seas.  We knew it was needed as our boat speed and handling was not what we are used to. Hull fouling is the growth of soft coral under the boat and causes a lot of resistance to the flow of water, which slows things down.  Ever rowed through marmite? Well...  The sun took it’s jolly time to appear from behind the daily bank of clouds but by 12:30 there it was, and it was all hands on deck. As Johnnie wanted GoPro video footage and photos, this was not the time for a naked swim in the mid-Atlantic. However, after making sure I was securely tied to the boat, in I went. And shiver-me-timbers, had we grown a coral garden.  Hull, dagger board, rudder, all covered in delicate and not so delicate ocean flora. Or, animals? With corals I am never sure. Animal? Plant? Planimal? Animant?  Anyway, down you dive, scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape and up you come for air. All the time the ocean tries its best to drop a rowing boat on your head with well-timed swells that roll from North East to, well, across the ocean...

And then the little fish appear.  Little black and white stripey fellows who come and nibble on the scrapings and scratchings.  And, who comes next? The big fellows to eat the little ones.  Hmmmm.  And that's how we spotted a school of mahi-mahi or dolphin fish. They are totally gorgeous when you’re in the water with them and just as striking seen from the boat.  These predators grow to 70 pounds in weight.  They have the most amazing electric blue colour all along their back. Apparently this colour becomes even more intense when they go after prey or become excited.   The deeply forked tail stands out in a contrasting yellow.  The mahi-mahi were about for most of the cleaning procedure and we saw more of them from the deck for most of the afternoon.  I have a cousin, one of many, but this one will ask me: "Did you have a spear gun? Did you have a go?" And to this cuz I'll say: "Yoh my bru; no reel and no float and me, an emaciated spearo against a fish famous for its fight... not today. But next holiday on a surf boat in Indo, let's go..." 

Ok, that's it for now. We’ll have more tales to share with you as we continue our adventure across the Atlantic.

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