I know your all asking “how is it possible to do so few”. Well like everyday there’s a story and here’s todays. I’m going to do it chronologically in GMT, that’s one our behind UK summer time and fours ahead of eastern time.

07:30 bed, looking for 6 hours sleep. Boat drifting at about 220°, just about ok.

10:00 woken by rain pounding on cabin. My first instinct is always to see what’s happening to our course. We are being pushed due north, no use putting the para anchor out as these squalls only last 20 minutes, plus the currents, plus I’ll get soaked and struggle to keep the cabin dry.

12:00 still belting it down, still going north, about 4nm now. I’m exhausted and must have fallen asleep.

13:00 alarm goes off, now 5.5nm north. I start to get ready to go out, it’s about 4am local time so pitch black and still it rains. I’ve got no choice though, need to do something.

13:30 rain eased off, I’m on deck, my problem now is that I’m 6.5nm from last night’s finish but going NE, I must be caught in a current.

13:45 so we are off, I’m heading south as there is wind from the SW as well as current going NE. It’s slow going, making about 1 knot an hour, the water is messy and the virtual headwind slowing everything down. Once making ground I can’t really stop as I go straight NE, loosing the ground I made.

18:00 stop for 5 minutes, fill in log, still 3 miles to go to last nights latitude. Only good thing is I’m not loosing any west.

20:30 finally pass last nights latitude, there’s a tough 6nm I won’t get credit for rowing (my distance is measured start to finish each day, if they are do over or dog leg miles they don’t measure). Continue on, it’s getting calm and the swell is evening out, the sun comes out for the first time, scorching, never mind it may be time for some sculling. I make a few adjustments and off I go. I gain half a knot per hour, still not happy with my foot position as my knees are getting in the way. The problem letting sailers design boats is they don’t understand rowing, my foot plates are still not really high enough. Anyway, I push them as far forward as possible. Can’t believe it, on the light swell going my way I’m touching 3 knots, doing one mile south in 27 minutes. Row a couple of miles and stop for 5 minutes.

21:30 between 18:00 and 21:30 I actually rowed 6nm. Happy if I can do that all day. I’m rowing one mile, 3 minute break, repeat. This gives me time to have a drink, mop my brow because it’s windless and roasting with high humidity. Sweat is shooting out of me doing nothing. Row one mile, ok, then the flag starts popping gently up and down, the wind is trying to come from the SW, it slows the miles down little by little until I’m taking 45 minutes per mile. I’m fighting the current, the wind ruffles the water and you can’t scull so it all slows you down. I struggle on.

00:30 made 4nm in 3 hours. Black clouds in all directions, my weather came from the west yesterday for the first time, big storm brewing that way now. I row on, it has calmed a little and I start sculling again, knowing it will be over when the black clouds get here. I get about 45 minutes. Storm arrives, wind strong but I’m fighting it, I’ve not struggled all day to give up an inch. Rain comes but not as much as I thought. Manage to hold my ground, however these squalls have a wind in front, wind and rain and then lighter wind but a following swell, it takes until 03:45 for the following swell going east to quell.

04:00 finish, worried about my drift, while cleaning the boat and getting tidied up we hardly moved, then started drifting north a little, now have a light wind helping me fractionally south so not a disaster, we are loosing a little to the east though.

We’ll see in the morning, I’m looking at getting up early, rowing more in the cool and hopefully drift a bit in the high heat. I have to be on deck as the cabin is too hot but I could doze out there maybe.

Few things of interest:

I thought I would be around this position about a week ago, no accounting for ambition I guess.

Tony now thinks I’m in the Inter Tropical Conversion Zone (ITCZ), I’ve got to agree, difficult conditions, slow going. It’s going to be a slog but it will decide when and if I get all the way.

If you take on a challenge be prepared to be challenged!
Here we go then.

The weather is light and confused for the next few days so no big mileage, could be a while before we get back in the 40s.

There are lots of Shearwaters and what I think are juvenile Albertross around, they seem to travel together, both use the boat as a target, fly close to the water (like the dam busters) and pull up at the last second, they’re quite amazing. Anyway, sometimes see them in the distance in a big group, assume they are hunting, find the birds, find the fish is an old fishermen’s saying. Today they all appeared around the boat, all of a sudden they are dive booming head first into the water, all coming up with fish, pretty cool sight, not sure it made the slog worthwhile but it’s neat to see nature doing its thing.

Geoff Allum (a rowing hero, he rowed with his brother (or cousin) to Barbados back in the 70s, no water maker, no sat nav, real ocean adventurer, anyway he sent me a message saying how straight my tracker line was. Well Geoff, you jinxed me, I did a loop just for you this morning.

Last thing, it’s been very calm here today, the silence is an incredible thing to hear!

That’s it for today: more news from the ITCZ tomorrow (hopefully a few more miles too).

John

Out

Notes:

Mike: me oars, the “big boys” don’t have time to converse with me, I make them work too hard.

Patrick: think the boat was 2300lbs, that’s just a guess, not sure I can feel the difference, sometimes in big weather a bit of weight is a good thing. I am fitter and stronger, especially after starting using the big oars, and I do notice the difference there, I can row without breaks and other than mentally not feel that bad. My forearms and shoulders are much stronger and my arteries in my upper and lower arms have noticeably got bigger to deliver blood. My bottom has got skinny and my legs have changed shape. I struggled running when I got to Barbados, be interesting after 5 months or so to see what happens.