These are my blogs from my failed attempt to get to Hawaii last year
we knew getting away from the cost would be hard but this is the hardest I have ever worked at
anything. We left at 03:13 yesterday and i rowed 21 of the next 24 hours, all to make about 15
miles. Everything is against us, we are rowing directly into the swell, against the wind, it takes an
hour to make a mile if you are lucky and if you stop for 5 minutes you go back a mile.
This will all be better when we get further out and get the wind behind us (hopefully). I have just put
the para anchor out because I have been rowing on he spot for an hour and a half, I am going to
try and hold in place for a while refuel and wait for the wind to drop, i will probably end up rowing
through the night again.
On a mor positive note I have seen loads of seals, they pop up by the boat, stick their heads out
and check me out, plus, load of large (humpback I think) whales, one in particular this morning put
on a massive show,slapping his tail loads of times, it makes an incredible sound.
Met up with Rob on his boat a little while ago, I’m envious of his dagger board, the boat handles
the crosswinds much better than mine, i think I may have there better time when we start down
that’s it for now, I had forgotten how hard it is to type on a boat.
Not getting any easier
This trip is not like the Atlantic, if the weather was against you after leaving the Canneries it’s just a
matter of waiting for the conditions to change. Our problem here is that the first 35 miles the
conditions are always on shore, we just tried to pick the lightest conditions and do battle. I have
now crossed 123 degrees West 6 times and been pushed back. I am just taking a break after 2.5
hours to make half a mile and eventually going east while rowing west and again I just slipped back inside 123.
Rob seems to be struggling just the same, while he has picked up some south, he is no further west than I am. I guesses I just need to plug away. I am going to try night rowing again, that din’t
however work last night as conditions were so big it forced me in after 2 hours.
On the bright side I had some whales feeding close to the boat this morning, I tried to grab some
footage but I drifted away too quickly. They obviously deal much better with the conditions than I
Thanks for all the support.
Getting a little easier.
To rate the effort that’s gone in to the last few day’s I would have to say unachievably hard, by
comparison, today has just been hard. The on shore wether seemed to ease a little last night and I
saw that as an opportunity to make a break. I crossed the 123 degrees line for the six time, on this
occasion however I made enough ground in 3hours not to get blown back east. I came in at 2am
for a quick drink and to stretch my back but I made the mistake of laying back on my bed, I woke
up two hours later. I must have been close to exhaustion and looking back over the last four days I
have only snatched 3 or 4 hours sleep a day (at best). I found I had slipped north east , but only a
mile east, this gave me a good launch pad at 5 am to push on. I made 5 nm in 3hours, had a quick
break, didn’t slip back at all (I hung a trailing rope from the stern). Just finished another 3 hours,
not so good progress as the wind is getting up from the west. I am going to try and get some sleep
and push on tonight, looks like I will loose a little ground though.
More Whales and Dolphins.
Also had a close call with a tanker, less than 200m!!!
Thanks for all the messages.
Congrats to Georgie who passed her driving test today.
Good luck to libby and the girls tomorrow in the rowing champs.
This is sole destroying, I thought today my luck had changed. I got as far as 123 08.450 W. I had
had a break and not slipped back, I finally thought the coast was releasing me from it’s grip. I got
an hours sleep, only to slip back 3nm, I took to the oars to stop the slippage, 2 hours for half a mile
gain, I was rowing west but going east, I stopped rowing only to see the last two hours work
evaporate in 5 minutes.
I believe according to my GPS that it was high tide about an hour or so ago, the current was pulling
very hard, there is little wind so the para anchour is useless, I am trying to slow the drift down buy
trailing a stern rope. I need some food and 45 minutes sleep regardless of the cost. Hopefully on
the out going tide I can make more progress. Looks like a long night.
What the ??????? Is he up to now.
I am sure that is what anyone looking at my track will be saying. Last night was more of the same, I
had had a good day until lunch time and then even when rowing I was going backwards, three
hours rowing for less than a mile gain. I had a break and lost three more miles, started my evening
session early to stem the bleeding, all to no avail. I was ready to believe yesterday a couple more
days grinding and I would be free and off, by midnight I was properly disillusioned. I was exhausted
after 16 hours at the oars and had no option but to throw out the para anchor and hope for the
best. I tried to get some sleep but the VHF was going all night as there were a couple of boats in
trouble (it’s not safe yet not to have the radio off, if it ever is). My intensional was to be up at 3 and
try again, I just didn’t have the strength, ever sinew in my body was screening for more rest. I tried
to snooze between coast guard messages until 5am. Eventually got out about 6, my conclusion
however is that I have to do something different as the previous plan was not working. I am now
looking South as there is supposed to be a SW current down here somewhere. Only problem is
due to the wind the only way South is actually SE, this means giving up hard won millage in the
hopes I e eventually make it to the trades. I’ve not had a report on Rob today, I just hope he is
doing better than I am, I am sure this has been a surprise for both of us, he’s a laid back guy but I
wouldn’t mind betting this struggle has had him using inappropriate words just like it has me. My
current thinking is the only way out of this is to row 24 hours a day for three days, as a solo rower
that’s obviously not possible.
Ah well, it was my decision to be out here so only one fool to blame!
Been a good day on the wildlife front, the Dolphins love swimming about the boat. Big flocks of
birds run along the surface of the water when the Dolphins are feeding, I guess picking up scraps.
The water boils as the Dolphins round up their lunch, it’s a privilege being this close to the real
The end of the beginning
I’m quite sad to be writing this entry. I was always cutting it fine fitting in this attempt, I have an
event in early August I have to be at, this means leaving Toronto on July 26th, I really need a few
days in the office before I leave so you can work out that even if I don’t hang about in Hawaii
(seems a bit unfair) I need to be there by the 20th. Now with a fair wind, 3 days out to the trade
winds (only 45 miles off shore) I thought if I worked hard on the down wind route 40 days was a
possibility. Add 10 days for things not going to plan and that gets you to the 19th / 20th. I still think I
have 3 days to the trades (at least) that uses my 10 contingency and if I make it there and
something else goes against me I will be in big trouble. If I could have held on to my 123′ 08.500
yesterday and got to 123′ 20.00 I think it would still be worth a shot but that’s not the case.
While my heart says push on and to hell with it, I unfortunately have to be a grown up for once and
meet my obligations. I wasn’t sure this morning as the last thing I am is a quitter and with all the
fatigue it’s difficult to be rational. However after rowing all day and thinking it over I know I don’t
really have a choice.
So I am going to get a good nights sleep and the turn for Monterey in the morning while I still have
the option. Sounds simple but I don’t think that will be easy either.
I can take a lot from this trip, I loved getting ready, even though I didn’t have enough time really.
The new boat is great and this was just a fact finding mission for next year and I already have a list
of minor things I can improve, so that’s all positive. Having the boat at home will also make a huge
difference. Also I think I would have rather tried and failed than not given it a go.
I am disappointed I won’t get to experience the beauty of the mid Ocean this year but am
desperate to get back there next year, there are no bigger trips than the full Pacific so bring it on.
This has also been a thrilling experience on the nature front, I have had Dolphins with me all day
today, maybe the we’re trying to cheer me up, Whales in the distance tail slapping again, I have
sen more this week than I did on the entire Atlantic.
So, thanks for everyone who started following, sorry it was a short story. It would be great if you all
gave Rob a shout, I think he found some current further south, he’s also not quite as much under
the time gun as I was. I really hope he hangs onto his gains and get to the trades.
I may post a bit more about the trip in if anyone is interested just so it doesn’t go completely dead.
That’s it for now
The trials of a failed Ocean rower (tongue in cheek).
Well once the decision was made I relaxed a little, had a fair nights sleep but am now boarded.
While a lot of people ask if rowing all day is boring I always say no, you are busy all the time,
navigating, planning what to do in at the next rest, as you’re alone you also have to fit in all your
cooking, cleaning, washing and running repairs. In comparison not having the pressure of rowing
it’s quite challenging, I am sat on the para anchor at the moment (more later) it’s quite cold and I
have nothing to do (I should point out that while I write this the boat is surrounded by Dolphins
playing after they have had their breakfast, so it’s not all bad).
It’s amazing that while you are rowing even in bad weather it’s easy to keep warm. Since I stopped
last night I have been quite chilly. As Tony and Rob will tell my solution is just to wok harder, I hear
Rob is currently wearing everything he has on the boat (he is a southerner so we need to make
some exceptions). The night and morning mists hear are very cold, they hang around until lunch
time and then things pick up a little, I was down to just one Halley Hanson and a tee shirt
yesterday. I even managed to strip down and have a flannel bath, the first time it’s been warm
enough. The night’s are very cold as well, I should have listened to my southern friend on that
front, I will make some changes for next year that’s for sure.
So the plan is that I head for Monterey (playing smoke on the w
ater), my great team now have a lot to do unfortunately, It’s not safe to make landfall without someone experienced to meet you so Tony is bulking up his air miles. With the best will in the world he can’t get here until Monday and he needs time to arrange an escort, so the plan is to arrive some time on Tuesday. The problem that gives me is the opposite of the last few days. The weather we have been fighting will now be behind me, I could probably be in Monterey in the morning, so that means para anchor and sitting about. It also means no more treats, with a boat full of ginger nuts that’s probably my biggest challenge. I already have a few pounds to loose, I was eating like a pig for the two weeks before we left, expecting to burn off 4200 calories a day, I need to hit the road as soon as I get off the boat.
So, I now get to commune with the wildlife, make notes on improvements for my next trip and try
not to get fat.
Thanks Grumpy, the Bachelors analogy is perfect, only difference is we new when they were
finished and we were always in the Fat Cat by 8.30. Hope I’ve not let the old group down, between
you and me, I may just be trying to build a bit of I story for next year!!
That’s it for now.
Timing is everything
If only we had, had the weather I have experienced over the last 48 hours I’m pretty sure I would
have been 250 nm closer to Hawaii. When we left we were facing nearly due West winds and on
shore rollers that must have been in excess of 12 feet minimum, wind well over 10 knots and
closer to 15 I suspect. Hellishly difficult to make any headway against, even when the tide changed
and it calmed a little it was still difficult to make headway. In contrast since I made the decision to
head in the sea has become more benign. Just a two or three foot swell and nearly no wind after
about 9 am. I know you always think differently after the decision has been made but it’s
I am now writing some 12 hours later and the conditions are even better. I could literally row in any
direction I liked. If this was 5 days ago, no doubt two 15 hour days at the oars would have got me
to the trades and it would have been off to the races.
I have spent the day cleaning and sorting the boat out, chilled out listening to “Touching the Void” a
great story of survival (so far at least). Most amazingly thought I have been watching the Ocean
slowly drift by, now it’s calm and the sun is out, I can see the Ocean is stuffed with a thick plankton
soup. Large areas of what I suspect are fish eggs as far as the eye can see, even more amazing
though are the bio luminescent jellies. there are millions just drifting by, some just large enough to
see others 6 inches plus, with incredible light shows pulsing down their length, truly amazing.
I a currently drifting through the Monterey Marine Reserve and I suspect commercial traffic is
prohibited so I haven’t had any shipping to worry about, always a relief.
It’s now 6am, I managed to restrict my drift last night to a couple of miles, this puts me on a better
schedule to meet Tony on Tuesday morning, being early would be a bit of a disaster. Weather
remains calm which with all this thinking time I have is driving me mad. The only positive I can
draw is at least I know conditions to get off shore exist, if it had stayed as it was up until Friday I
would be questioning if it was even possible. Just desperately disappointed that for the want of a
handful of days I have had to abandon.
That’s all for now
Back on full alert
The most dangerous time in any these trips is around coast lines. I am now heading back to the
coast to RV with Tony at 10am Tuesday morning. I am heading today for a point 5 miles off shore, I
the have 13 miles to make to a point 2 miles off shore and then 6 miles to the RV from where Tony
will meet me and I will accept a tow.
All afternoon I have been hearing the coastguard on the radio, mainly rescuing people who have
run out of fuel in Boston whalers. A lot of these small vessels don’t have AIS so they are not easy
to spot. Add to that visibility is no more than a 100m. It will be a stressful 36 hours.
Not a lot to report today, rowed for just 4 hours today to keep on course, now drifting in the right
direction so no need to do anything for a while.
No Dolphins, a whale blew by, I just saw his tail in the distance but not close enough to get a good
Sunday evening (8pm)
Been a very quiet day however I can hear 4 or 5 Whales around the boat, unfortunately the mist
has rolled in and I can’t really see them, a shame but all the same it’s a great sound to hear them
blowing and occasionally slapping the water.
5.30 am Monday
A couple of close encounters in the night. I had set my alarm to wake me every 2.5 hours in the
night to check my drift make sure all was in good order. The amount of visitors I had I needn’t have
There are two more boats in trouble locally, one barge partially submerged and one missing sail
boat, so the coastguard have been braid casting hourly.
The mist cleared about midnight, I know this because I was out on deck, I heard a helicopter pass
over, then what I thought was another only lower, by the third pass i climbed out from under the
covers and went out, the coastguard was circling making lower passes each time. I’m sure the boat
design must confuse the hell out of them. I hailed them on the VHF, assured them I was safe and
under control and they wished me a safe voyage on moved on. They informed me they were on a
standard patrol, I assume that has to do with safety but more than likely they are looking for
shipping that’s up to no good. Obviously my high speed craft if perfect for a quick getaway!!!
I have been hearing Whales blowing in the distance most of the night. About 3am I had checked
my position and all was well, I tried to settle back down and as I did the sounds had definitely
changed. I opened the rear hatch I crack (not something I would normally do but it is flat calm) only
to have a small Whale blow about 10 feet from the boat. The mist had rolled in again so visibility
was zero but I had about 5 or 6 Whales around the boat. While this was intriguing, it also had me
worried a little, I have a 70m rope hung in a U of the rear to slow any drift down, I started to worry
what would happen if one of my visitors got tangled in the rope. I guess I shouldn’t have worried,
after an hour or so listing to them getting further away I dossed off and am still alive and well this
That’s it for now, just the complicated arrival to navigate.