October and November 1997
Latest news at the top
Jock Duncan 0700-10 Sleep Row 10-1300 Row Messages,breakfast,wash 13-1600 Lunch,Navigate,radio Row 16-1900 Row Messages,dinner prep,diary 19-2200 Dinner,sleep Row 22-0100 Row Sleep 01-0400 Sleep Row 04-0700 Row Sleep
The pattern is being followed day in day out and is exhausting to say the least: it's amazing that the body does actually adjust to it. Now the weather is with us this pattern is enabling us to cover 55-65 miles per day. When you consider that we were rowing against the wind in the first few weeks and only achieving 0.3 miles in about 8 hours: still worth it to stop being blown back.
We have a number of pieces of emergancy equipment on board: a four man liferaft that we can deploy in about 10-15 seconds, an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon that sends out a distress signal that initiates a rescue attempt. The signal is bounced off a satellite to a rescue co-ordination cantre with can discern the details of the beacon specific to boat and location.
SART (Search & rescue Transponders) transmit a radar signal - the advantage of this is that SART can be picked up by all vessels and aircraft fitted with radar, not just those with specialist search & rescue equipment. The ARGOS unit gives out our daily position via satellite to France and then relayed to the UK. Plus all the usual harnesses and lifejackets. Of course all this stuff is useless unless you know how to use them, hence our attending an ocean safety survival course before departure. We believe we have it reasonably covered. We also hope we never have to use them.
So what's it like living on a boat this size in the middle of the Atlantic? Firstly when you go to sea you have to take everything, ever been on holiday and forgotten something?, well you can't afford to out here, there are no shops just around the corner. Fundamentals such as food and water, the basics, are one thing but there is so much more to it. All the safety equipment that needs carrying, medicines etc., we have a medical box that looks more like a complete pharmacy and any forgotten item could mean crisis.
It's strange how Father Neptune looks out for your weaknesses: our one cloth sea anchor was torn in the first storm, now well repaired by Duncan's nimble fingers - he'll make someone a good (if not lovely) wife one day; our only whip aerial for the short wave radio our only means of voice communication broken in one of its early uses in bad conditions. Even Jock's watch stopped in spite of a new battery a couple of nights ago which caused him great concern as without a watch there is difficulty in navigating. Physical problems such as salt sores, blood blisters and the occasional burn from cooking are normal, but Jock has also suffered from a strained knee and Duncan from 'claw hands', both due to the high number of hours spent rowing each day (3 hours on, 3 off for the forseeable future: not a bad winter's training). Being prepared with the correct equipment is making all the difference.
Until next time, Duncan & Jock.
Despite all the consistency there supposedly is in the Azores high we have now had 13 days of winds from the wrong quarter which is both frustrating and psychologically offputting when we still have so far to go. Also today Jock had an injury to his knee which is of concern to us both as we are unsure whether it is a build up of lactic acid or something more serious. Happily the the bad weather meant we could not row in any case and we are both a lot happier this evening.
We wait for our luck to turn but we are still in good shape and good spirits and hopefully better than most and there is still a long long way to go yet: we pray however for the North Easterly winds. Some five boats are now definitely out with we believe some three others being rowed by individuals, latest casualty being the Germans who gave up in complete exhaustion. Last night we had a visitor, a small squid which we found lying on the deck in the morning but Duncan despite his handiness in the kitchen is not yet up to grilled calamari so back to the sea it went!
In the back cuddy which is our home, 6ft by 4ft, we have all that anyone could desire (Jock's words not mine - Duncan) all powered amazingly by solar panels which on some days are giving as much as 10 amps to power the many electrical items we have on board. This electricity powers our water maker, which through a reverse osmosis filter converts salt water to perfectly drinkable fresh water.
Sorry we're not in touch that much at the moment but please don't hold back if you have any messages for us at the present time, we really appreciate all the messages that have come. Thanks, Duncan and Jock.
If you want to send a message to Jock and Duncan, write an email to Chris Jones - keep it short and sweet, with minimum carriage returns etc.
Later on that night we ate our supper with the ocean like a mill pond around us; there was absolutely no noise to be heard apart from the hull in the water, difficult to imagine we're in the Atlantic Ocean. People may wonder what we're eating: we're on a diet of freeze-dried food, boil-in-a-bag and South African army rations all of which is quite palatable if sometimes a trifle boring.
We're in good humour and fine fettle, all systems working well and feeling strong. Waiting desperately for the North East winds to fill in: till then we rest.
© Copyright Regatta Magazine, 1997.
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