Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | December 29, 2011

Day 25: A day at the sales

Honestly, it’s like the waves have been queuing to burst out on the ocean which is one giant version of the Harrods sale. There isn’t a hint of “forming an orderly queue” and coming past us one at a time, from the same direction, like a well-ordered ocean swell should. Nope, they charge around from all directions (albeit with one mainly prevailing one from E to W, a bit like the path in Ikea which is more a suggestion than an imperative) at various speeds going “oooh, look at those handbags” or “Hey, they’ve got a rail of reduced coats over here”. Chaos. Forecast for tomorrow is windier and higher seas, slightly, then the next 3 days much like today. Still, the sun is shining and at least it’s all in the right direction.

Great to hear from Simon and Sally Hodgson and congrats to their daughter Anna (aged 10) for being the first person to ask the most-FAQ in ocean rowing – how do you go to the toilet? Well, to paraphrase the Elizabethan Blackadder, When it comes to the privies round here we have the latest in minimalist, hyper-portable toilets. You mean “bucket and chuck it”? Yup, that’s it. The bucket is yellow if you want to visualise accurately.

However, today’s top text (primus inter pares, the rest of you understand) goes to Angela Ransley who made us both smile by telling us that she has added “Pff goes the whale” to the range of animal noises she’s been teaching her 1 year old grandson Rory. Love it.

KGS WJ15 girls – Mr S says, don’t worry, with conditions like these, we don’t want to be out here a moment longer than we have to and so will try to be back as soon as possible! Mrs S adds, though, that he may feel slightly differently if we get to a beach on Barbados and the alternative is the Thames in February!

Charleses – we’ve got stuck with “what tube station is Entertainment at a seat of Learning”. We think it must be something Broadway but can’t think what…

Rog – am working on it. Does it include “ocean rowers” or “ocean rowing”?

Chris M – what are the singles and pairs records for any E-W crossing? We were wondering if Box 8 and Andrew Brown could be on for these?

Baz – glad to have such a discerning view taken of the Christmas day photos of us! However, you might use 2 clams if you were sculling with 316cm blades! Thank you for your final Hohoho joke – I think we can safely say the monarchy is restored and the young pretender seen off. However, you then promised some pants jokes. We expected a series on Y-fronts and the like, but what you sent instead were rubbish jokes. When you said “pants” did you mean rubbish or underwear?

Fiona Morrison – great to hear from you and good for Euan coxing an 8 – they’re a lot harder than 4s as they go faster and you can see less! If he can land one of those accurately each time, he must be getting seriously skilled!

Lisa – thanks for the info on the Lat of Njord and Patience – we were just surpised to be keeping pace with them and wondered if they were both somewhere else with diff conditions, but it sounds like they’re not and actually most of all our speeds are to do with the wind.

Also great to hear from SEH Mark Lewis, Geoff Peel and Pauline, Steve Newrick, The beech Boys with facial hair advice and a fun random fact and many thanks to Richard and Jane Froggatt for their direct donation to the Huntington’s Disease Association.

Sheena – thrilled to hear that you think we will now arrive at 12.34 on Valentine’s Day. Michael R – re your previous point in this context about the maths dept needing to explain to their classes the difference between accuracy and precision, R says that he’s an engineer and there isn’t much that can’t be fixed with a piece of scaff pole and a large hammer (much like pin angle).

Horse – sorry to hear you’d eaten a dodgy load of hay before trials. Should have got it from Ransley and Son. How long would it take you under your current regime to cover 2,500 nautical miles (about 5,000 km) on an erg and on the water?

Greens gym in Sheffield – well done! How far have you all gone so far? Are you “beating” us or chasing us?

And amazed to hear of an outbreak of OARS (Obsessive Atlantic Rowing Supporting) in Edmonton, Canada – hi to Jean and her family and friends! Seems like there are cases of OARS in 4 continents now!

And thanks to Flora in Bucharest for her lovely thank you text for her Christmas present – love you too! Can you ask another member of your family to text us the date of Orthodox Christmas, please?

On the 5th day of Christmas the ocean gave Didi, 5 bars of chocolate, 4 tiger t-shirts, etc, etc.

Saw that big white bird with the very long tail I described a couple of blogs ago again today. Mel, could you check if this could be a tropic bird, thanks!

Coming soon – “As the Sun Sinks Slowly in the West… – in which some time zone stuff is explained”


  1. I thought that you might get that one ! Start with your alma mater (and ours). And you can’t get a bigger clue than that.

    • This landlubber guessed – but won’t spoil it for rowers! Sheila

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