Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | December 26, 2011

Day 22: Having a WHALE of a time!

Well, at the beginning of week 3 on the ocean – you guessed it – we saw our first whale! The day dawned roughish and greyish again (boo). On a slight anti-climax after the fun of yesterday, H took over for her first shift, and R was just retiring to the cabin when there was a pffff on strokeside and no more than 20m away, parallel with the boat, a long black back with a little fin curved gently above the waves and then disappeared. There was much scrabbling for the camera, but no further whale action, till about 10 mins later, when the same happened about 20m behind the boat. And that was the last we saw of our cetacean visitor.

Compared with the little storm petrels that pop by a few times each day (always 1 at a time), it seemed like this venerable emperor of the ocean was saying “Ah yes, an ocean rowing boat, we often get a few of them round these parts at this time of year. Righty ho, I’ll be on my way”. The birds on the other hand are definitely saying “oo, what’s that! Never seen one of THOSE! Let me fly round again, I can hardly believe my eyes!”

(BTW Judith, since we spend so much time watching storm petrels, we’re becoming quite fascinated by them and wonder where they sleep – do they land on the water or somehow sleep on the wing, and where do they go to breed, and what is their approx lifespan? Thank you!)

Amongst many lovely messages today, this seems to have been a day for York City folk to be in touch, and it’s lovely to hear from you all.

Heff – hope you enjoyed BOTH your Christmas dinners.
Steph and also Pat & Alex – Hi!
Andy – The posture pixie is so sea sick that you can hardly hear him whispering, so we largely ignore him. But you’re spot on that the Sea Swell is a Serpent. Boo hiss.
Horse – Are you avoiding telling me how you got on at trials? But we loved your Santa joke – why does Santa have 3 gardens? So he can Hoe Hoe Hoe (Baz, you are at risk of being usurped as the King of Hohoho jokes!)

Dan – we ate the panettone today – they were fab. You know how much we like bakery products and there are no branches of Thomas the Baker round here (too far South) sadly. We added brandy butter dressing.

However, text of the day goes to former YCRC member Charlotte Richer who sent this which was just brilliant in so many ways:
“Have shown off your achievements to family at lunch – all now think I’m sane. Dot watching beats the Queen’s Speech, but not Dr Who.”
This has to be understood in the context that Charlotte has rowed the Boston Marathon more times than H, and has been doing so since she was a junior, has also sunk and later successfully gone round Lac Leman with H, has run several marathons (one whilst hung over), and generally achieves all sorts of extraordinary things with masses of energy whilst also being a Brown Owl in her spare time.
Anyway, the mention of Dr Who led to howls from R who wonders if anyone has done anything so old-fashioned as videoing it… (we understand from Land Team Chris that there were no decent films on tv…)

SS Seniors – thank you for all of your poems – some will be published here soon!
Father & Elisabeth – hope you had a lovely day chez Atlanta’s mum.

The beard photo yesterday has elicited suggestions that R has been morphed into Ringo Starr or poss David Baddiel. R himself says that the moustache is particularly annoying as it collects salt, and when he licks his lips there’s all this hairy stuff. Any advice from more experienced beard users?

Weather due to get windier and then larger swells over the next few days, so housekeeping will have to wait. R did manage to do some laundry today (our fave shorts and long sleeves were standing up on their own, and there are some conditions where shorts ARE useful as the sheepskins get too wet..). The water at the 3rd rinse was still tea-coloured. Now, I know that the Victorians used to rinse their hankies in lavender water, but I don’t think this was the same thing. Ew. Not enough direct sunshine to do further laundry or to dry out the generally damp cabin cushions. Ah well, all part of the experience.

Talking of which, Rog, I have finally got your anagram after your massive clue!
Hijack feet and expense eye opener = Enjoy the experience and keep safe! I did briefly think it was “Enjoy the experience and fake pees”… I’m probably only up to moderate-tough rather than diabolical with these, but keep em coming!

Did TVSC go out for Boxing Day Round the Island today?


  1. If you see Wales Richard, you are too far north east! Good to see you are both in such good spirits. Keep up the massive effort. Technology has always been the downfall of many an Ocean Rower. Sad to see that some have dropped out this year due to electrical failures of one kind or another! Geoff Allum always says that just because something fitted breaks, you can still carry on. Just follow the conditions and make what you can of it. The simpler the better!
    We are all avidly watching your progress in the various Gould households and wish you both a speedy return to your native land – should you so desire it…
    Happy New Year. Roger G & family.

  2. Dear both. The next time someone says. “Big wave coming”! You’ll say. (Maybe to yourself) “That’s not a big wave! I’ve seen a big wave”!! And, when they’re taking a photo and say. “Big wave everyone”! You’ll have the same reply!! ;-))
    They do tend to get you from all directions at once out there from time to time but you are right, they do go ‘mainly’ in the right direction.
    You’ll look back at this in the coming months and yearn to be back out there. Honestly! It doesn’t seem it now, but it is a wonderful place to be.
    Enjoy it all! It’s over only too soon – then, back to reality weigh a bump…
    Happy New Year!!
    Roger G

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