Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | December 25, 2011

Day 21: Christmas Day!

Happy Christmas everyone, from the ocean! And you won’t get a greeting like that very often…

The day started fairly dismally. Either because the boat hasn’t been fitted with a sleigh landing pad (honestly Roger, I thought you were meant to be good about details) or because H lost her socks about 2 weeks ago (we’re very worried what will be growing on them by the time we DO find them) and thus didn’t hang them up for Santa, and so he hadn’t visited. Instead, all we got was a rough, grey sea with matching skies.

However, things soon began to pick up with so many wonderful messages coming in – from people who have been in touch already, and others we didn’t even know were following our Atlantic Antics – you’re all so wonderful that you deserved to be named, so here goes:

Roger and Amanda, James Knight (from Maidstone? – if so, wow, but we gather you were talking to Hs tigery friends at the 4’s), Chris Martin, Eric & Lisa plus “Old” Mrs “flapjack” Froggatt and Mr Froggatt, Lydia, Alison & David, Heff, Alison Faiers, Immy Preece, The B-Ps (Flo, suggesting that your coach does a Tiger 1000 push is not necessarily going to win you favour with him, that’s the kind of thing he gets to say to YOU!), The Butchers, The Charleses (despite this being the Rdevd Jim’s busiest day of the year), the Beech Boys, Mel, Baz, Siobhan, Catriona McL and her family, Clint & Sally, John O’Driscoll, the Pateys, Daphne, Peter, Robert and Jeremy in Guildford, and R’s parents and Psyche (H’s are out for the day). We are so touched to have so many supporters, and you genuinely make a difference – when it’s tough, we think of all of you.

A big thanks also goes to all of those who have been remembering us in their prayers, and especially to Heff’s uncle the priest who said a special blessing for us at Mass in Ireland today.

We’ll share some of the lovely poems and stuff tomorrow or this blog will go on for ever.

We gather that Lisa has been running a competition on the blog to get people to predict where we’d be at noon today – and we beat you all! But congrats to Emma from the KGS Maths dept who was closest.

As well as all of that to lift our spirits right up we got a text from Aurora, the support yacht, around 10am announcing that she was just 10nm from our 8am position, and was coming to see us! She eventually appeared around 1pm, and it was fab to spot her mast on the horizon, followed by her distinctive sail and then hull! She had our friends John and Barnaby on board as they’d had to be taken off their boat Go Commando about a week ago after it suffered technical, mainly electrical, problems which meant they couldn’t continue. Gutted for them, but super to see them safe and sound. The yacht had a Christmas tree hoisted up one of her stays – never thought we’d see one of those out here!

We and they took pics – hopefully the footage or stills Gavin the cameraman took will get onto the Talisker site in due course. We transferred a data card of footage back to them – getting the line tangled round our rudder in the process, but got it sorted in the end.

And once they’d gone we cooked up the excellent Christmas dinner R’s mum had packed up for us – chicken in white sauce with new potatoes and sweetcorn. The attached pic shows R in his beard about to dig in. NB we eat out of jugs as there’s less danger of the food falling off than with a plate, and the handle makes them easier to manage than a bowl.

Her home-made brandy butter was also in immaculate condition, and we LOVED too the 2 Ferrero Rocher chocolates each wearing hand knitted covers that made them look like tiny Christmas puds. We’re guessing these came from a Cottage Hospital Christmas fair?!

And we opened presents from Roger which turned out to be fruit pastilles which H LOVES and has eaten half a packet of already – thank you!

Anyway, more tomorrow, which is forecast to be calmer, and thank you all so much for helping us have a great day. Hope the Queen was interesting. Apparently Prince Harry rang the Row 2 Recovery crew yesterday! Glad he knows about ocean rowing.

P.S. Hope this was enough of a “Christmas special” for the Barnard family – certainly a bumper edition!


  1. happy xmas from the roberts familyxx

  2. Hope you had a great Christmas day …. Jackie and Sarah managed to join us despite being in Christchurch Airport when two earthquakes hit! Things seem to follow them as a hurricane hit Melbourne after they arrived!
    Hope you get a calm day today … love R’s beard!

  3. I think I’ve consumed enough calories for you both today! Your spirits seem high and progress good, great blog and good to remind the KGS rowers 20km is not a long outing!

  4. Please accept a slightly late message, but Happy Christmas to you both and I am so pleased that you are doing so well. I have even forgotten the Christmas cracker growners, but believe me, they weren’t that good! Keep at it and and enjoy a brandy or two from the optics in the cabin and a cigar from the humidor. Or did that bloody Rog take them out before selling the boat! All the best. Tom

  5. “By chance” met Peter & Elizabeth today – they lunched late in Waitrose, Cirencester, and so did we with Charlotte (with Kate, Becca & Ben) as she was driving us home from family time over Christmas! Among other things we exchanged our experiences of “wow” readings of your doings/beings!! Good to know you had some brandy butter…etc.

    Will continue reading & praying on – and monitoring little red dots!

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