Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | January 19, 2012

Day 46: Storm Petrels – just little brown birds, or are they?

Almost as soon as this trip started, we reported that we’d seen a storm petrel. How exciting! Identified from our bird sheet. Judith and Roger G filled us in on their habits – fascinating! But as time has gone on, and we’ve seen one every day PLUS we’ve hardly seen any other of the wildlife delights that ocean rowers report, we’re wondering if they really are just the oceanic equivalent of the garden sparrow, and whether there might be something much more complex and sinister going on out here.

Let’s take a step back Storm Petrel. SP. Secret Police? Why DO the SP’s circle round us several times each time they visit. Amazed curiosity, or planned surveillance? And those brown feathers – uniform plumage (PLUS they hide their identification like police and soldiers have been known to do at the kind of incident which finishes up having an enquiry later…)

Sure, we’ve had a couple of amazing whale sightings, but these were brief – almost as if they were naughtily peeping through the “wave curtains” at the “forbidden” tiger they were not yet licensed to visit. We’ve also seen a few amazing distant fly-bys by flying fish, but the only ones that have landed in the boat have been 1cm long or landed in the footwell in the night. One crew in the past played Flying Fish Kerplunk every morning – not a chance we could do that! Turtles, Zero. Dolphins – an empty hoop. Pilot fish under the boat? John Major fish abandoned us ages ago.

So why haven’t we been approved? Has our Wildlife Authorised Visitation Endorsement been lost in the sea-mail? Actually, we think it’s bureaucracy … a manx shearwater has been by for a circle for the last 3 days. We hope it’s the supervisor who will be putting the final rubber stamp on our WAVE and a plethora of fabby wildlife tourists will be visiting us soon… Fingers crossed (or holding thumbs, as we learned that the Austrians do).

OK, the amazing Steinitz maths prob – sorry, we have had rubbish rough seas today so it hasn’t been the day to discuss this – we’ll get back to you, but we love it!

Ansgar – great to hear from you again. I’m not sure if I will be in Geneva this year – I am being a volunteer at the London Olympics this summer and that is using up all of my leave from work! Are you bringing a crew this year?

Hi to Yvonne, Tom and Ana in the Big Apple!

Ben Stansfield – are we rowing back? Good question. NO! Ocean rowing boats aren’t very powerful or fast, compared with yachts or ship swith big engines, so we’re rowing from East to West because the wind and currents go this way. No one will be able to row back. We’re going to get on a plane and the boat will be shipped back in a big box on a cargo ship (you can get 2 ocean rowing boats in a shipping container).

Charlotte – curious about Bunjie’s puzzle, haven’t got it yet but will keep working on it!

Horse – sorry to hear that your cycling camp has literally dissolved into an erg one. We are suspicious at how GB coaches can magic enough ergos for you all out of thin air…

Helen – if our blogs are the highlight of your evenings, you need to get to grips with your evenings! 🙂

Vicky, no idea what “PPA repair” as mentioned in your text is, but yes, the waves are BIG! I’d love to come to CSRC camp at HPP, but would need to first check if I’m already meant to be doing something else that w/e. And also need to row another 1100nm…

Flo – excellent erg score, well done.

Mick and Anne Home – lovely to hear from you!

Now, TVSC members and KGS coaches, we haven’t heard from you with good reasons why we need to be doing this with you on 1 April, and are therefore NOT free to do the rescheduled Boston Marathon. PLEASE let us know! When is the singles Lechlade trip planned for Sarah/Sandra? I am dead keen to be in the land team.

Sooty, what do you think your crew would say if you suggested they did a 72m sprint after the HoRR – even I’d never dare suggest that !

Progress has been slow today as wind and waves from the South East so sort of headwind. Also waves from East, so confused seas – do you remember in the Beijing opening/closing ceremonies there were loads of people with wide strips of satin rippling in different directions weaving in and out of each other. It’s looked like that a lot. Forecast dropping very slightly for the next 3 days. We live in hope.

Mel – we love hearing about crews within 100nm of finish. We can kind of work it out, but do keep telling us!


  1. thinking of you both as I lay in the Australian sun watching kangaroos hop by. Been a bit slow to follow you, but I’m signing up now….Ant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: