Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | January 25, 2012

Day 52: Wildlife Action

… but not necessarily the kind of action you were expecting…

Since The Atlantic Ocean plc (Canaries to Caribbean Route Division) was split up into infrastructure provider SailTrack, and the Wave Operating Companies (WOCs), there have been problems with staff stakeholders (including tuna steak holders), particularly those transferred to SailTrack. It seems that no attention was paid to TUPE and as a result, they have had their terms and conditions drastically reduced by the new entity, intent on slashing costs in order to provide a cheap service to the WOCs.

As a result, the various birds and sea creatures have formed a union, the New Airborne & Submarine Union for Watery Types (NASUWT) and have appointed a Bob Shearwater as their shop steward. He said “It’s disgusting that my members are being treated like this, and I can say that confidently, given I’ve got a lucrative private contract as a supervisor in a security firm of Storm Petrels”, and a whale said “Pfff”.

The staff were concerned that new WOCs are diversifying into story fry take-aways, and they’d be required to make deliveries, despite being offered no training in how to ride mopeds.

As a result, they came out on strike, which explains the woeful lack of sightings of wildlife on our voyage so far.

However, over the last couple of days it seems that the strike is crumbling. This began the day before yesterday with an evening whale sighting (see pic!), and yesterday H saw a single flying fish (pretty rubbish compared with the shoals of them we saw the day the rudder was replaced) and a small silver fish under the boat, about the size of a sardine. So maybe we DO have little fishy followers like Rog did, but our ones are exceptionally shy? H also saw a shooting star the night before last.

Yesterday we saw a cargo ship out on the horizon going East, and today there was a sailing yacht, also on the north horizon, travelling west. Neither close enough for details from the AIS, as both were hull down. But you’ve no idea how exciting it is to see something other than sea, sky and our boat!

Other stuff…

Jack – MANY thanks for sorting Dan out about the DVLA thing (I was getting quite stressed, as only I can do!)! Judy (in Mebourne) just texted to say your mum and Rod are on holiday – how’s that for global comms!

QUITE URGENT: Heff or anyone else from YCRC who’s reading this, please can you ensure that Tash and Andy know that sadly we won’t make it to their wedding on Feb 16th, and confirm back to us by text that they know this? Thank you!

Heff – congrats on the new job, and thanks for the comments about ST Brendan!

Anne E – loved your comment!

We’re guessing R2R have finished – haven’t heard anything since Mel said that they had 2 nm to go at 8am today! Lisa – please coud you pass on our good wishes to them, an amazing bunch of guys, especially Neil who is a double amputee.

Nicky W – sorry you are in the gloom of January – take pleasure in things we yearn for that you probably don’t realise are so good – showers, for example, and a bed that doesn’t move!

Many thanks to all those who have expressed good wishes for the recovery of H’s hip – caused by a side on wave (nothing like as big as many that we’ve had), which somehow wrenched muscles across back of pelvis on one side. 15 mins with Emanuel, our beloved osteopath would have fixed it days ago, but getting vaguely better now. But muscles not turn, just out-of-place a bit, hence point pressure with massager, and as many stretches as are poss in this confined space!

Nigel U – thanks for your offer of a good cox to R – he already has one, thank you! (and 5 stone lighter than you…) 😉

Many thanks to our other friends, family and colleagues – Wilton F, Siobhan, Pateys, Vincent, Mel, Spike, Di B, Karon, Richard Fryer, Liz Wray, Sandra, Baz and the land team. And also to supporters of other boats – it’s an amazing feeling to find that complete strangers are willing us on too!

And thanks to Sarah, Dave and Ellen Clarke for a load of messages on chocolates with bad poems that have just come up in snack packs!! Haha. And to the Sparrows in Sydney for their amazing 3-part chunky kitkats – we never had those in the UK that know of!

Weather is frustrating today – reasonably light, but coming from SE and bouncy enough to be hard to row across, which is why we’re only going due west.

Finally, we think from a limerick that R’s parents sent about a week ago that they may be worried we will run out of food – not a chance – we officially had 90 days’ worth, and we’re not getting through our rations each day, so could easily survive for well over 100 (which is a LOT longer than we’re planning on being out here).

Coming soon – the Inside Story – what life’s REALLY like in the cabin of an ocean rowing boat.


  1. Am becoming increasingly worried about H’s inability to look after her rudder. If she can’t manage one the size you’ve got how she going to get on when she gets back into an 8? Also have had no news of your weight. Hope you’re not getting fat with all this sitting around looking at wild life.

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