Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 14, 2012

Day 72: How would you like your Ocean?

At the offices of The Atlantic plc, in a scene reminiscent of the one in the sequel to the Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy where a space ship containing people from certain professions crash lands on a deserted planet (Golgafrinchia, I think but I know Ed/Mel will correct me if I’m wrong) and the survivors are tasked with inventing fire – and because the professions represented included market researchers, they start with a focus group – one attendee shouts “stick it up your nose”, and the researchers earnestly ask “well, yes, should fire be designed so that it can be nasally inserted?”, the increasingly insane board of The Atlantic plc decided that because strategy consultants Brine McWhisky had pointed out that it was currently entirely production-led not market-led, they should work out what their customers actually WANT from an ocean.

As a result, the Atlantic will be delivered in various new basic forms, each with customisable elements.

First, for the most devoted, the core 16-33 age group, it will be delivered as a plain iAtlantic version, but users can choose to download all sorts of add-ons from the iShore – such as Angry Sharks, a hurricane app (only works May-October), and so on. Naturally an Atlantic Developer Edition will be made available so that more such apps can be created.

For tweenies, the next younger group of users, there will be AtlanticMyScene which will feature a range of fashionable wave-styles and detatchable sea-bottoms.

And for the very youngest users, there will be the cute My Little Atlantic, which comes in a range of colours, including turquoise, peach and purple, with glittery fish and your very own hairbrush for beach combing.

Of course, the over 33 age group has not been totally forgotten and they’ll be able to get their very own, reliable MyAtlantic from John Lewis, where they can be sure that it will be competitively priced as they are never knowingly undersailed.


Back to the plot, many thanks to all those who have been in touch today – conditions are rough, so I haven’t time to thank you all, but partcularly great to hear from some we haven’t heard form yet – Alex and Kane, thanks for your donation and delighted we’re brightening up a work day!

Linda – great messages (snow up to the BALCONY trumps Naomi’s surprising tale of ice on the Henley stretch), and so much to catch up on but well done to Catriona for passing her 11+.

The message of the day, however, goes to aspiring solo ocean rower Jean-Guy from Canada who we met out in la Gomera who said “What are you doing this weekend? Not rowing!” OK, we are likely to be rowing for the first little bit of it, but we loved this message!

Charleses – great tube station puzzles, we have got 3 out of 5 so far, we think:

Keep low-tech classroom supplied: Chalk Farm (clever)
I’m sorry I haven’t a clue: Parson’s Green
Gap comes into existence: Holborn (v. clever!)
Subcontinental: ??? something to do with East India Dock?

And finally a poem that was sent to us by Mel for Valentini’s day:

Blisters are red
Oceans are blue
I doubt you’ll get roses
So this poem’s for you.

As the sat phone will primarily have to be a piece of safety equipment on Friday and it’s important that turning it on doesn’t lead to lots of “lovely” messages when what we need is a message from Aurora or something about weather, please could you stop sending them on Thurday (it can take them a while to filter through)?

Mandy – that was a bad joke! But you’re right, we dream of the idea of washing hands in a basin/bison. My hand alcohol rub says “this is not a substitute for washing yoru hands” on the bottle. Oh yes it is out here!

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 13, 2012

Day 71: Hot Chocolate

R’s colleague Emma has asked the very good question “how do you keep your chocolate un-melted?” This is one which we’d asked Roger the boat’s previous owner. Obviously I could make flippant comments about the refrigerated hatch (actually, Tiny Little famously DID have a small fridge cooler…) but actually, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, because all of our food is stored in hatches under the decks, the chocolate doesn’t seem to melt.

Now, this makes some sense at sea, as most of the hatch volume is below the water line, but don’t forget the boat spent at least 3 weeks being road-trailed through Spain in order to get to the start in the Canary Islands, when the hull clearly wasn’t sat in the water, yet the chocolate bars clearly haven’t been melted and reformed.

Having said all this, not all of our chocolate bars have survived as Mrs Nestle intended. This is because the choc bars are part of our daily snack packs (also containing cereal bars, peanuts, recovery powders to go in our water etc) which we vacuum packed – excellent for minimizing the size of each pack (and we only JUST squeezed all of the food in, so this was a prudent move) – but it has squashed any bar that has a soft content e.g. Mars bars and Double Deckers, so although unmelted, these are a right mess and spread all over the inside of their wrappers. Mini Cheddars are now somewhat stale too. Oh, those burgers and chips in Port St Charles marina are going to be FAB!

By the way, for any followers who think that we might be able to SEE the various other ocean rowing boats closing in on Barbados, the horizon is about 2nm away, so we can’t. Yachts are a tiny bit easier because of their high masts, but you lose the hull really quickly in the swell.

Can people like Lisa (Janice), Cath (Miss Twiggy), Charlie Rossiter (Atlantic Calling) keep sending us updates on where they are – whether they’re ahead or behind us each day?

Wildlife count has been pathetic again – greatest interest was H seeing a “Barbie” sailfish (R saw one yesterday) – the pink and purple ones.

22 chapters of Harry Potter 7 out of 37 listened to.

Today started with lively conditions, but right now it’s fairly calm (=slow). SO hard to predict what mileage we can manage each day, even now! Forecast a bit calmer tomorrow and then up again for Weds & Thurs.

Helen – sorry for letting a “Barnardos” slip into yesterday’s blog – I endlessly do this typo, and usually manage to correct them. It IS only 1 adjacent letter different from Barnados!

Hodgsons – can’t believe you have burnt your house – really sorry to hear this but hope insurance company is looking after you and it’s better than it was once you eventually get back in there.

Rachel K – wow – fab – looking forward to seeing you in Barbados (not Barnardos) on 22nd. Are you coming on your own? Email me on the land team gmail account that’s on the Contact page of the website with details of exactly when you’re arriving and where staying, and I’ll contact you once we’re there. Note that H’s mobile doesn’t work abroad and R might not turn his on so he doesn’t have to pay for 3 months’ messages being delivered abroad! And thanks for the pps – we did spend 10 mins before the 2nd message came in wondering who was coming out!

Martin R – even H, who is legendary for remembering trivia, is dead impressed you remember the name of that hotel we all stayed at 9 years ago!

Linda – great to hear from you – will try VERY hard NOT to bore people about ocean rowing as dinner conversations for ever more. Please do stop us if I ever do bore any of you…

Sayeeds – great to hear from you and thank you for your kind words! Martha, your presents got to you with the help of a very kind albatross called Dan… glad you liked them!

Talking of which, hope all concerned enjoyed Sunday lunch in Tonbridge. We thought of you at the time and drooled at the idea of home-made blackcurrant ice cream…

Great to hear from supporters of other teams – several FTA ones today (those whose OARS has least died down!) we really love it that you’ve joined in!

Antony – wow, 26 days under the North Atlantic in an experimental submarine with 1940s technology – our trip is SO SAFE in comparison!

Lydia – THANK YOU for that most fascinating (though not really unexpected) info about the make up of the GB 4-.

Mandy – we have no idea what the difference between a buffalo and a bison is. Does it involve mozzarella?

Cath – haha re ice breaker.

Mel – sorry, I keep forgetting to thank you for your so-reliable and welcome daily contribs. What are fieldfares – birds, rodents, urban versions of a show that Kirtsy Alsopp might display competitive knitting at?

Dave and Wendy Morten – Thank you!

Heff – hope you found your first day with your new beans enjoyable and that they will be a pleasure to count.

Horse – hope the reshuffle has a positive impact on you. 😉

Also thanks to Simon G-M for message.

Charleses – you need to send us that last batch pronto, I think (hope!), if we’re to get them all before we finish!

COMING SOON: the final episode in the saga of The Atlantic plc – find out what happened when market research consultants are brought in to the company…

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 12, 2012

Day 70: A visit!

As week 10 out here on the ocean drew to a close, the afternoon was hot, and progress was relatively slow, compared to recent days, owing to the wind and waves having calmed down (nice to row in, but not numerically so pleasant). Suddenly, R, who was rowing, called out to H, in the cabin, that there was a yacht – she grabbed the VHF, then went back to put her shorts on, and clambered out on deck. As Aurora, our support yacht, has always texted us at least 4 hours before appearing on the 2 occasions she’s visited before saying something like “we’re 10 miles from your 1200 position”, we assumed it couldn’t be her. But as she came closer, we realised that the apparent white sail was a gib orgenoa hiding her distinctive navy and cream Talisker-branded mainsail.

It was just great to chat to friendly faces, although the crew has changed a bit since we last saw her and former First Mate Imogen is now Skipper, with Harry joining the crew and former Skipper Rich and Chris, who helped with our rudder repair, having left. To us, we find it incredible that 4 people can manage a 60ft yacht in mid-ocean (she’s a former BT global challenge boat), but then we don’t know anything about sailing.

They passed us over some savoury crackers (H is SO fed up of sugary snacks) and some bottom cream for R who has been getting through our supplies – neither of these items are essential to us, but as we’ve been technically disqualified from the race already for being resupplied with a rudder (!), we might as well have some “luxuries”.

And talking of luxuries, JV and VmcD – thrilled that you giggled over your cappuccinos, and also thanks for these fab poems which have come up on chocolate bars recently:

From the Sparrows in Sydney:
If ever you’re feeling like quittin’
Just remember by rowing you’re smitten
So keep rowing frantic
Across the Atlantic
And soon you’ll be back in Thames Ditton!

And from Ella B:
What are the tributaries of the Nile called? Juve-niles!

A fab set of other messages today, so MANY thanks to Kevin D, Anthony Brown (impressed by your real naval experience), Lisa for info on Atlantic Calling and other inspiration, Liz & Loz, Judy in Melbourne, Rod & Jo on hols in Costa Rica, Paul W on a sofa in Kingston, Chris M for reassurance on our course, Charlie Rossiter for info on Atlantic Calling (who are rowing in Andrew Barnett’s old boat for the benefit of those who know him), Yvonne (thanks for saying Bravo! and not Encore!), Elaine, Helen and Ruth E, and Martin H, the Hancocks, Mum & Dad Martin, Rachel H and Will D. Plus other supporters from other crews. We really are SO grateful that you’re all sticking with us and taking an interest.

Sheena – you ask for advice on spending a prolonged period in a small cabin with your spouse prior to your 8 week camper-van tour of NZ (sounds like a brilliant way to celebrate your retirement). We can suggest:
1) A place for everything and everything in its place. (was that Mary Poppins?)
2) An Ipod with lots of Radio 4 on it (you are welcome to borrow ours – we’ve finally worked out how to do stuff like put a playlist on shuffle, which isn’t bad for a couple of over 40s)
3) Being able to wash yourselves, your clothes and your bedding, but you should be OK on that one!

The news on Atlantic calling is the first we’ve heard of them – they’re a pair who set off from Morocco 55 days ago and are currently East and South of us. Meanwhile Miss Twiggy must be closing in on us – so there should be a good bunch of rowers in Barbados, even if they’re ones we don’t know.

Rog, I’m SO SORRY I plagued you with anagrams. I DID get yours – Barbados here we come! – from people sending me the numbers of letters in words before someone solved the whole thing for us! However, Baz, “Really unintelligent twitcher” (what you are doing) is beyond me so far. I can get the word “challenge” out of it. Am I barking up the right tree? Can you tell me number of words and letters in those words?

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

Day 69: The Sounds of the Sea

Today’s blog is pandering to Liz and Loz who suggested that we describe the sounds of the sea, to go with our visual descriptions of various aspects of the trip. They claim that this is a good idea as it would be needed for the book we would inevitably write – sorry guys, that won’t be happening because a) the world does not need another “what I did on my holidays” book and b) more to the point, everyone who might be interested in it has already read the serialised version free online (albeit quite badly spelled).

Anyway, if the L’s want descriptions of sounds, they can have ’em, even though as experienced sailors they probably know most of it already!

Having said that, one of the things we expected in advance would drive us mad on this trip would be the incessant sounds of the wind – we’d never get that effect you have when you walk in the front door on a windy day and all finally goes quiet. And this hasn’t bothered us at all, though as R pointed out, this is, to an extent, because there’s nothing for wind to whistle through annoyingly on a rowing boat – it’s not like we have masts, rigging and all those things that the wind was HOWLING through in the marina in La Gomera in a decidedly eerie way.

But back to the sounds, which are most obvious whilst in the cabin. SO to experience what it’s like, go and get in the bath. No, I mean, fill the bath, take your clothes off and get in the bath as if you were taking a bath. Now sink down so your ears are only just above the water line, and shut your eyes. With one hand, swirl the water round a bit – that’s the basic nice sound of the sea. Now, get a “friend” (given that you’re naked, one that you know intimately is most appropriate here) to kick a football into the side of the bath. That’s your basic annoying wave. Then get them to fetch a largish plastic crate, the like of which you probably keep clutter  in your garage or attic. They should put about 1 inch of water in this and slosh it slightly irregularly from side to side. This imitates the water in the foot well just outside the door. Really quite annoying, especially later on in the night, if you get my meaning.

You should also arrange for some express trains to roar past in the distance.

Now get your friend to smack the side of the bath with a wet t-shirt unexpectedly. That’s the ocean reminding you who’s boss. And finally, get them to hit the side of the bath REALLY hard with a large beaded handbag – somehow the spatter effect of the individual beads is important.

Thanks to all who keep telling us we’re nearly there – relatively yes, but a week’s a long time in ocean rowing, so please try to avoid labouring the point – our GPS DOES show how far we have to do, so we do know and can do arithmetic. Quite well. Professionally even.

And we seem to have strayed off the North Equatorial Current. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

But we had better wildlife today – saw what we thought was another sailfish, though it was so Barbie pink and purple that we also wondered if it was an escaped bath toy. And both of us, at different times, saw a pair of dorado –  brilliant blue – jumping in and out of the water, and a few more flying fish than usual (which dorado often chase).

Thanks to Chris M for your so-reliable daily weather forecasts – we are utterly dependent on them for feeling vaguely in control.

Glad to hear D invited to Sunday lunch in Tonbridge – hope Psyche isn’t over-awed!

And thanks to all for the updates on this weekend’s racing – largely cancelled. Along with International Rugby even! Just can’t imagine such cold out here!

Good to hear from Martin L (lovely messages), Martin R (will have to think of how to cure OARS addicts – and are you staying in the Luna now or was that where we all were when you were team manager in charge of replacing cars with no wheels?), Angus C, Beech Boys, Matthew T, Ruth E, Di, Helen (glad you have a broadband plan for your hol!) and followers of other crews still suffering from Obsessive Atlantic Rowing Supporting syndrome.

Rog – I am SO rubbish at anagrams. Still can’t get “A barber smooched wee” assuming Barbados is 1 word. And no one is helping me! Can you tell us how many words and what length each one is?

IT was very, very rough this morning, down to just very rough this afternoon. Had the bight out. Forecast is that it goes down a bit which also affects our speed, so please don’t assume any mileage for the rest of our time. Aurora, the support yacht, left Barbados 3 days ago to sail out to us so we’re hoping to see her soon, though she will have been having to tack out against this strong wind.

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 10, 2012

Day 68: Surprised!

The day began with a text from Helen C asking how we managed to do 19 miles overnight – and the answer certainly doesn’t involve doing anything we haven’t done for the previous 67 nights, so we can only conclude that we have happened across the elusive North Equatorial Current. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have “dolphins eyes” at the side of the road to stop us straying off it again.

Conditions, as expected, were “strong” today, but at least they weren’t too wild to be able to listen to Harry Potter (now up to chapter 12) without totally losing concentration on steering.

So, that was one surprise. And a pleasant one at that.

More totally out off the blue, left of centre etc, was a text from our faithful follower Mel who told us that Mitch Benn, from the Now Show, had given us a “shout out” on Twitter! Now we’re not tweeters ourselves, so we’re not 100% sure exactly what a shout out is, but we’re completely flattered and thrilled. And also wondering whether he or his agent has one of those internet traces set up to flag up any mentions of the Now Show (given I mentioned yesterday we had sadly run out of downloaded editions of it to listen to – H went to a live recording with OARS-sufferer Lydia about 18 months ago – it was FAB).

Saw a PAIR of storm petrels for the first time today. Either that or glasses really need cleaning.

On a more somber note RIP the absolutely legendary John Fairfax who died unexpectedly 2 days ago. He was the first man to row an ocean solo. And whilst rowing the Atlantic got bored with how long it was taking (can identify with that!), so threw most of his food overboard to make the boat lighter and faster, and caught fish instead to eat. We will NOT be doing that, however grim Chicken and Vegetable Pasta has become…

Lots of great messages and jokes today – again, please don’t be offended if administrative-plonk leads to you not being mentioned below!

Helen – City Screen cinema in central York has an internet cafe if that helps you at all?! Can you set someone up to text you updates?!

Great to hear from Animal and the little animals, Cath, Michael R, Kath a Corinthians supporter, Stuart McMillan, Heidi (he HAS to have an obligatory photo with the sea dog look, but that beard is coming off asap after that, I promise!), Jack (wow, have you taught the cat to play the piano?!), Lydia (we liked the joke – what did the 0 say to the 8 – nice belt), Sooty, and Mark Lewis for his very generous donation, and Carlos from Armas in La Gomera for saying “vamos tigres”!

Rog – for your anagram “A barber smooched wee” (think of your destination) we can only come up with “row me Barbados cheese”….

Baz – the solution is “parliament” – what are you doing there next week (and are you going to Bucharest?)

Finally, good luck to everyone competing at GB trials at frozen Dorney tomorrow and also at Henley 4s and 8s Head (Naomi, can you let me know how you get on?).

Coming up tomorrow – the Sounds of the Ocean (especially for Liz and Lawrence)!

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 9, 2012

Day 67: Thanks, Harry!

Some time this morning I realised that I’d omitted one of the most important items from the “we brought just the right amount” list we put up yesterday – which is Harry Potter audio books. Admittedly, there is some rationing going on of the last one, which we permitted ourselves to start at 500nm to go. We have now completed chapter 8, and there are 37. Should just be OK. We’ve also been enjoying listening to random people on Desert Island Discs on the iPod (yup, I know, how middle-aged can you get?) and regret that we ran out of episodes of either the News Quiz or the Now Show about a week ago!

Conditions are pretty wild just now – and there was an even worse squall around midday when R happened to be rowing – any rain out here is always preceded by a sudden increase in gusting winds, and boy did he get both!

Saw a yacht on the horizon behind us this morning which was exciting, but eventually it tacked away to the East.

Forecast about the same for tomorrow, stronger on Sat and then down on Sun and down a lot on Monday, at which point our ability to do 45nm days may drop away… So you still have all to play for in your arrival time predictions!

Saw a couple of long-tailed tropic birds today. Sara – loved the very detailed photo of the red kite on today’s flapjack!

Beard Report – R’s beard has now got to the stage of having taken a shape of its own – no longer just following the contours of his face, it’s got those kind of square corners a la Abraham Lincoln… We MUST get to somewhere he can shave soon!

Charleses – barbar & Barbara (very clever clue) = Elephant and Castle. And a clever supporter suggests that “Canonical Tree” might be Gospel Oak if rail stations are allowed as well as tube?

Baz – fair enough, I had heard of Trueman Capote, though not the Bourne Trilogy bloke!

MANY other thanks to (and please don’t worry that your message hasn’t got through or be offended if I have missed you – this is “extreme admin!”) – Elaine (granny duty sounds fun, but hard work), Rog, Jackie & Sarah, the Louizous, Charlotte, Ann Teviotdale, the Atlantic 4 Supporters, Hancocks, Cath (thanks for Tommy & Miss Twiggy info), Heff, Will, the Sealys, Mary & Viv Lavis, the MacLachlans, Judy, Helen C and Meg in the Library (had totally forgotten that daffodils even exist – lovely thought, thanks!).

Jack – we hope to be back some time in the last week of February if this fits with your dwelling plans!

JV – not sure I dare cancel the booking I have taken from Chris H for Vets Head – maybe we should go and have a tiger ambush of Bedford SBH instead?

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 8, 2012

Day 66: Surpluses and deficits

Today we’re reflecting, as is customary at such a stage in an ocean row, on what we have too much of, what not enough of, and what we got just right, like Mountain House porridge (with raspberries). Obviously we’re not covering everything!

Too much: sun cream (but better that way than the other), biscuits (3 packets eaten, about 29 remaining, which is incredible given R gets through a packet a day at home), long sleeved tops – brought 2 each, 1 would have been fine.

Too little: savoury snacks – those 6 packs of oatcakes are long gone! 12V charger for the laptop.

Just right: Baby wipes (though we are alarmed at how much we are now connoisseurs of these – how easily they separate, how well the packs reseal etc), R’s footwear (he brought crocs which he broke, wetsuit shoes, which he has pulled to pieces, and trainers which were a last-minute, but very fortunate addition – H has worn her crocs the whole way), beansprout seeds.

Today started rough as forecast, but calmed down around lunchtime, so it’s felt like rather a slog all afternoon. Forecast is stronger for the next 3 days, but given what today turned into, goodness knows what it will be like! But it WAS calm enough for H to do what she hopes is a last hair wash before landing! 2 degrees south to go and 7 west (60 miles to a degree, remember)…

Talking of which, Emma Coy (we’ve now sorted out the carter thing – you don’t need to include your email, by the way), and yes, we got your estimate that you think we will be in on 22nd, which is a thoroughly depressing thought and we hope we will be in before that!

Helen – thanks for the invite – it’s in the diary!

Lovely Land Team Lisa tells us that, amazing, R is now at 84% of his fundraising target – MANY thanks to all of you who have helped us towards this, including Cath G, Sheena, the Findlays and Jacqueline Crocker today.

JV – Korea move, groan, haha. Would the French say “Cher bourg” if you tried to buy a french town?

Vicky – you are just wonderful with everything you’re doing with the Greens team AND cutting short your Scotland break to “row in” with us! Cake, yes please!

UK GOld – what is everyone planning on doing for the WeHORR and VetZ?

Beccy – are you a tail (tiger tail?)

Baz – I HAVE heard of those books, but have no idea who wrote them and am contemplating that you’re trying to get me to figure out author names that I’ve never heard of. Robert Ludlum for the 2nd one?

Naomi – Hmm!

Also great to hear from Martin H, freezing in Bucharest, Cath G running in the snow, Cath A with her client’s malapropisms, Catriona from KGVBC, Mel re the pedalo pair, and the various people who told us the surprising news that the women’s boat race will move to the championship course in 2015.

Cath A – presumably your friend Aldo is in Miss Twiggy? Could you keep giving us updates on where they are relative to us? Has Janice Jakait landed yet? And is Tommy Tippets still doing fine after restarting?

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 7, 2012

Day 65: Hey, is that a …

… frigatebird? Yes! At last! Ocean rowers have been telling us for nearly 2 weeks that we’d be seeing them soon, so it’s good to do so, especially, as previously mentioned, they can apparently stay at sea for up to a week, which suggests we are only 3.5 days from land as the frigatebird flies (which regrettably, is considerably faster than the tiger boat swims).

Conditions were difficult today, but we’ve known worse, and according to the forecast will experience worse again on Thursday and Friday after a slight decrease tomorrow (maybe H can go for one last hair wash?). Hey ho, keep paddling on as Churchill almost said (kids, if you don’t know what Churchill ACTUALLY said, do ask the nearest history/politics teacher…)

Thanks to all who educated H that the Boomtown Rats don’t like Mondays. We’re still having our noses kept to the puzzle grindstone as follows:

2nd last instalment of Tube stations from the Charleses:
Des Res (2 answers) – Mansion house and ?Manor
Canonical Tree – R thinks Parson’s Green, but H has no idea
Hudson Bay – Canada Water (clever!)
Orienta Pig – East Ham

And 2 from Clint:
What is lighter than a feather, but strong people can’t hold for long – See answer A below
What is at the beginning of eternity to the end of time and space, from the beginning of every end and the end of every place? ditto answer B.

And a most erudite one from Michael R:
Who is the largest person in the Bible? (answer C)

Baz – still working on those authors – could you give me names of books they’ve written in case I haven’t actually heard of them?

Helen C – stop pinning over R’s gowns and do some MARKING!

Adrian – thank you for making us both laugh…

Good to hear from: John O’Driscoll, Karon, BeechBoys, Biff, Andy Devine, Andy C (you’ll be just fine without me at committee and you know it), Liz & Loz, Elaine, Cath (indeed, or had their cat bring one in still alive at dead of night to play with under one’s bed), James and all at and, of course, Mum & Dad Martin!

We were intrigued to hear that R’s mum has had an inoculation to come and meet us in Barbados – does she think we’ll be THAT toxic? We haven’t had any such inoculations…

Will – R’s all in ones are WAY worse than Horses’s – the lycra has degraded so much in his favorite, coolest one that he has to wear it up so the shorts don’t fall down. And the seam at the back has come all unstitched. This will NEVER be worn in public again.

Lisa – sorry, I never set up the collection of voicemail from the sat phone! Are you on a placement again?

Eric – hope we finish before you get back from Slovakia – thrilled that you’re following us even from there!

Chris M – we have got in a muddle about official DMGs for days 62, 63 and 64, please could you send in that clear way you do?!

Lydia- thanks for the info on the Wembley session and for talking to John Biddle – phew!

JV – no, I hadn’t heard about Seoul – when, doing what, how long for?! What does Lacey think about this?

Emma Carter – we very much hope we’ll be in before that!

A Your breath
B the letter e
C The woman of Samarea

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 6, 2012

Day 64: Yet another day at the oars

We have an iPod on the boat which has music, podcasts, and audiobooks for both of us on it. One of R’s music tracks that keeps coming up on shuffle, somehow, has the lyrics “I don’t like Mondays” (don’t ask H who this is by, but I’m sure most of you will know), and it has to be said that today has had few redeeming features out here at sea, other than the conditions enabled another 40nm or so day. But it’s been rough, difficult to steer with confused seas, and no wildlife. We’ve had a bit of sargassum weed come past, much of it marching in lines like oceanic ants, but even the novelty of that has worn off – after all, it’s just mustard-coloured weed!

So it amused us that a friend (who will remain nameless in the interests of not compromising her professional integrity) messaged us today describing her working day, and saying that she’d gladly swap with us for a shift on the oars. In contrast, we’d put up with what she had to do at work today if it meant we could go back to a nice clean, large bed to sleep after! The cabin IS becoming rather yukky, and as it gets hotter the further south we go, it really is rather sweaty at night.

Anyway, enough of this – and on to the many questions and riddles we’ve been set today.

Clint – what is weightless but can be seen, and when put in a bucket makes it lighter – a hole?

Baz – I am getting nowhere on your anagrams for US Authors. Are they first name and last name? If so, can you give me the number of letters in each as a clue?

Beccy – “je suis ce que je suis. Que suis-je?” No idea unless it’s a pronoun. Can we have that clue you offered?

JV – Why should you not throw Finns in the sea? In case they are turned into a shark’s Finn Soup???

Emily Orviss – brilliant to hear from you and I’m really glad that your present got to you – a helpful “albatross” called Dan helped get it to you!

Sheena – we love that you have clearly constructed a detailed algorithm to calculate our arrival date, and then changed it anyway to match your son’s birthday (which is a much more attractive answer…)

Rory – fab to hear from you and to hear that you’ve been following. Strangely, you had a walk-on role in a dream of H’s last night, wearing a Hampton School blazer and claiming it was a Kingston Grammar rowing blazer. Very odd! But H was SO touched that you remembered she once said that “everything is a race” (before a city walls run in York?) and MANY thanks for your donation to the Huntington’s Disease Association as a result (H’s chosen charity’s total is slightly behind R’s).

Also MASSIVE thanks to E (sorry, we THINK this is Elizabeth W rather than Eric or Elisabeth G…) who has offered to double their charity donation if we get in by the 20th (can that be midnight at the end of the 20th?!).

Also thanks for messages from Rachel E, the MacLachlans, Biff and Naomi (this is a 2.5k course not a 2k one, and so having 500 to go is a lot closer than the last 50, if you see what I mean. You HAVE got another cox for the 8 this year, haven’t you?

Mel – we are knackered, so may, sadly, not make it to 500 before Patience get to the line – 509 to go for us should be 40nm in the last 24 hrs, and we’ll probably pull in the oars at that point (it is QUITE dangerous rowing in the dark – credit to those that do, but we’re playing it safe). Wish we COULD be a little closer when they finish though!

Lisa – we know we need to go South, but as we get closer, Aurora, the support yacht will come out to look after us and we’ll formulate a plan with them if we’re not pointing enough at the right 1-nm long line.

Posted by: Helena Smalman-Smith | February 5, 2012

Day 63: Another significant number

Today, the first digit of our longitude (West) clicked up to 5 (at the time of writing we’re at 50 degrees, 27 mins, 47 seconds) which is a bit exciting as this is the first digit of our destination’s longitude (admittedly, up the other end of the 50s at 59 degrees, 38 mins). Still, all in the right direction. Though, as I’ve said before, however you do the numbers, the answer is still that we yet have a long way to row (bearing in mind that a degree is 60 miles).

Today was as rough as R’s beard if it had sand sprinkled all over it. This was forecast. The forecast for tomorrow is the same. Not quite sure when the REALLY big gusts Chris forecast were due – maybe today (in which case, they were OK) or maybe tonight. And then for the following days as well. Fast, but tough to cope with.

The only other crew from our event – James and Bertie in Patience, look likely to finish on Tuesday morning, so for any of you who want to practice watching an arrival on the Port St Charles webcam, remember that there is a link down the bottom of the home page of our website and if you’re our nearest and dearest and can’t make this work, please ring the land team or a techy friend, and don’t ask us! Of course, Port St Charles is about 8 miles on from the actual finish line so it will take a boat a while to get there after officially finishing.

Other stuff:

Alison F – thank you!

Paul – thanks for Hampton Head results!

Di Binley – you seem to think that H has a CHOICE of which of the garments to which you refer she might wear. This is an incorrect assumption, as is the assumption that any such garments are on board…

Geoff Cooper (Corinthians Supporter) – welcome to the blog. Don’t worry, you are only suffering from OARS (Obsessive Atlantic Rowing Supporting) syndrome, and you will find many other sufferers here.

Tonbridge – you have asked for status reports on a number of things:
Hands – ok – stuff fingers bother R more than H, though both have to wriggle them a lot in the mornings to keep them going.
Knees – fine
Boompsidaises – a little polka-dotted, and again, R’s worse than H’s (but nothing like the pic of Cracknell’s in the book, owing to proactive and timely care having been taken of it)
Barnacles – don’t think we have many – a few on the new rudder where it had to have bits chopped out of it to fit our boat and therefore has surface without anti-foul. But it’s way too rough to do anything about them, so this is not even on our agenda.
And if you want an explanation of what velocity made good is (thought the Talisker site said, but maybe not this year), please ask the land team.

George S – your delegate Mr Potter is an ample replacement for your presence in January, so you are totally forgiven. Have also listened to all the Blackadders, of course, because I am a wise woman (and there are 2 things you must know about the wise woman…) which should answer your other question.

Tash – thank you for the shark jokes! Hope you’re having lots of fun in your last 10 days of being Miss Kefford.

Thanks also for messages to Roland, Sarah Searle, Michael Richardson (who informs us we are at the mile post on the Henley course, equivalently – keep us updated, we’re looking forward to being at the hole in the wall…), and Lisa Adams. Mel and Helen C, in addition to our land team, you are like the storm petrels – we can rely on you every day! Cath, can’t believe you couldn’t even get out at Weybridge! I bet the Valley went out and broke the ice, though?

K&D – MANY thanks for your latest donation.

Lisa F – R says thank you for adding the rugby score to that message you passed on!

Keep letting us know what you’re up to (and whether Britain manages to operate in the big freeze tomorrow at all!) – that’s all for today, folks, from the sweltering, and definitely melted Atlantic!

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