Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | January 11, 2012

Day 38: Whale Watching Excursion?

OK, so what on earth are we playing at? We offer 2 versions:

Version 1: As generally happens when you’re on a package holiday, various excursions are offered, and on this trip of a lifetime, we were tempted by a special excursion round the waves and other attractions of the “just above 20 degrees north and just short of 37 degrees west” area, which is said to be particularly beautiful at this time of year, and is widely known for it’s particularly beautiful waves.

So, yesterday lunchtime we abandoned our focused pursuit of the fastest route to Barbados and caught the para anchor coach to head north to where there were some “unmissable” prehistoric wave paintings. We spent most of the afternoon looking at this – the variety was astonishing! Then, as one does on luxury cruises, we splashed out on an “intimate dining experience” which included fresh home-grown vegetables eaten watching the sunset.

After a gentle night, as our tour party, in the company of a Mr S Wind – an unexpected guest – proceeded slowly back to the Atlantic highway, we enjoyed a final treat of a whale display – one surfaced quite near the boat on the obligatory 2 occasions (one to make you get the camera out and then another that’s too brief to get a picture), and then a little later, 2-3 did some splashing and fin flashing about half a mile away. Magic, though we hope to get some more before the trip is out.

Version 2: After being on para anchor all afternoon yesterday and all night, we were frustrated to find that we’d been dragged north and even a little east for goodness sake. However, as the conditions were very calm at first light, we dragged old Percy in and set off 2-up. This was because conditions usually roughen after dawn, and so as the wind was annoyingly coming from the South (Chris – the wind always seems to be slightly more southerly than your forecasts suggest – not sure if this is mag/true variation?) we thought we should make as much progress as possible before it got too windy to make any at all.

However, the wind actually calmed down, and we’ve spent the day actually rowing across the Atlantic rather than blowing across it. It’s been the first day when we’ve both had sweat pouring down our faces – not because we haven’t rowed hard before, but because there was really no wind at all to keep us cool. Although there was enough breeze to keep it hard work hence we’ve gone about 11nm since 10am today.

The bit in V1 about the whales is true. To save switching stuff on the ipod today, R announced that he didn’t mind listening to classical as it was so calm, so we put it on genre=classical and shuffle (which he worked out how to do by accident a couple of weeks ago) and the 2nd set of whale action happened to coincide with the first movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. I don’t know if they can hear it underwater, but thought they might be responding to the low notes?

The bit about the intimate dining is also true – the first harvest of beansprouts was excellent (and very quick – I think they like the hot, damp conditions!).

Other stuff – Our main sponsor, Helena’s employer has a great offer going on their website at the moment – which H thinks ends tomorrow (well, that was the plan when she left), so do visit it!

John H – THANK YOU – we really appreciate that you’re being so generous about it. Talk back in the UK.

Torrential rain last night – it was rather like camping! About 10cm in the foot well this morning (that’s a lot of snowman components, Baz), which washed out the last of the rudder-fettling sawdust!

Great to hear from Cath, Mary & Alice, Rachel M, Andrew Ronaldson, Chris Anton, Mrs Beentje (that was a real WOW!), Ed, Rich K (you’re right), and A4 supporter (we love it that you’ve adopted us as well as following your impressively fast young men – they were horrified when they discovered we only had 1 iPod between us – apparently they have 1 each and a spare each…)

Yvonne (GBvoni) – you may recall you gave me a long-handled jam spoon some years ago when you were moving to the US. I have been using this to eat from meal packs which the long handle helps. Unfortunately, in a washing up accident, I tipped it into the drink yesterday. Sorry!

And some of the best news today was from the land team who tell us that we have now reached a whopping 63% of our target of £2 for each mile between La Gomera and Barbados (as the storm petrel flies, not the route we’ve actually taken!) for each of our charities. Thank you all SO much for this!


  1. Loved yesterday’s blog!Hope new rudder is behaving!U6 preparing for C3 now so got a moment to send a message.Pembroke Lodge tomorrow.Got a posh frock ready!Some great auction items but strangely no-one offering a trip across the Atlantic in a rowing boat – or even a cruise liner!Keep going DIDI!Those poor guys on R2R still waiting for water.Still serious case of OARS here – waiting now for 11am update.Following your every move!HelenCx

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