Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | December 30, 2011

Day 26: Going with the wind

As forecast, this has been an extremely windy day – Chris’s latest forecast this morning was for 20-27kts. Without an anemometer (most ocean rowing boats don’t have a fixed one), it’s always hard to tell how what we’re actually experiencing fits with a forecast wind range. However, we have our own wind speed scale based on what the red ensign on the stern flag pole is doing – from fluttering mildly (it’s never yet hung limply) to flapping straight out and then the top speed up to now of “flagpole vibrating”. Today we definitely got some flagpole humming.

Now, we haven’t been rowing at night – it’s just unnecessarily grim, and although we are open to doing this in calmer conditions, with no moon at the moment, we’re not going to make life more unpleasant than it needs to be. So, when R got up this morning as usual for first shift, his initial action, as usual, was to uncleat the rudder from straight to point the boat West, because she always finishes up lying “ahull” or roughly broadside on to the main sea swell. But he just couldn’t get her to budge this morning because the wind on the cabin in the stern was just too strong pushing the stern back. We tried a number of approaches none of which worked, so have spent the day drifting mostly sideways, which is much slower than drifting with the boat pointing in the right direction. Hence our apparently slow progress today despite strong wind. With slightly reduced wind forecast for tomorrow (more like yesterday), we’re confident we will be able to get her pointing in the right direction again then.

So we’ve had a day either in the cabin or on deck – R has just gone out to give H space to get the laptop out, and unfortunately is experiencing our first bout of rain whilst eating a cold soup. Thank goodness for Heater Meals earlier today, is all we can say.

Sorry, don’t really have battery to explain the Time zones and going west thing I was planning on today – another time!
Should also let R in asap!

But just quickly, today’s top msg came from Phil Cree on a chocolate bar:

Sing to the tune of “Whilst shepherds watched their flocks”…

My skin is burnt, I need a wash
I’m covered in a rash.
I long to sleep in my own bed
And in a bath to splash.

We don’t have sunburn and rashes are only localised, but the rest is perfect!

Charleses – doh., Oxford Circus – thank you!

Rog, “A cab emergencies nil onto nosy row” can’t be “Tigers can only row oceans combine”, can it?

Garrett – could this “lake” be frozen too, please! Great that we’re helping you coach your juniors, though!

And hello to George Potts!


  1. Happy New Year guys … really hope the wind gives you a good push tomorrow! – Judy

  2. Hi Richard and Helena!
    We have really been suffering withdrawal symptoms through not being able to read your blogs for the last few days. We’re just back from Edinburgh where we have been for the last 4 days – we walked into Jon’s sister’s house to see a bottle of Talisker Whisky on the shelf!! This initiated a discussion (lasting at least an hour) of your voyage. They all came to the same conclusion as us – you two are totally barmy! But we did manage to infect them with OARS and they were checking your progress with us every day (and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be doing so even with us gone!). Tonight is New year’s Eve of course and the tables have turned for the first time since our girls were born – they are both out at parties and we are at home!! Gone are the days when we used to have to persuade Grandma to babysit whilst we went out!!
    We are very excited to seeing your progress now – you really seem to have made a lot of miles since Christmas. We have also watched your short video on Christmas Day over and over again – such is the OARS disease.
    And now joke time:
    Why did the whale cross the road? To get to the other tide. Groan. Sorry!
    Go DiDi!!

    Helen and the Cooks xxxx

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