DISCLAIMER- No rowers were harmed or vomited on during the writing of this blog entry.
It’s official as I come to you from the stern cabin; typing on the laptop with my own blistered hands, the vomcano has fallen silent. Chunder shall erupt no more aboard Mrs Nelson- crosses fingers- that being said I wouldn’t want to tempt fate so will keep this relatively short and sweet. Just a quick note on vomit whilst I’m at it- man it sucks. There is absolutely no escape or relief from the feeling of seasickness. Almost instantly having been sick you feel nauseous again, it’s unrelenting. For the first 5 days or so having to hold this routine whilst not eating or drinking and constantly vomiting was not fun. Hence it’s taken me until now to brave the blog writing in the cabin- the feeling was just too unbearable to voluntarily put myself through it. But finally a blog from Gee, I hope it’s a good’n.
So, just over halfway now and we have more than settled in to our daily routine now and are finding existence on board much more human. Even the 3 hours night time shifts are more manageable. In fact I’m finding I am becoming nocturnal- functioning far better in the night- perhaps because it’s so much cooler. That being said it’s pitch black throughout the night at the moment as we have lost the moon and that never makes changeovers easy.
Though we are more used to them now the cabins are awful, there is no two ways about it. It’s like being ina washing machine on a 2 hour, 60 degree, cotton cycle, with extra spin. In the day times the heat in the cabin is unbearable and at regular intervals those trying to nap during their two hours off will burst out in desperate need of fresh air with sweat pouring down their faces. At night the unavoidable damp cools and makes the cabin feel cold and wet. You finish a shift boiling hot, strip down and fall asleep, only to wake up half hour later freezing, damp and in a cold sweat.
Anyway on to more interesting updates. What has happened of late… Well, everyone’s bums are generally sore, Lauren and Liv have been suffering slightly more in the last few days both jumping up in pain and anger occasionally during a shift. It’s widely accepted that unfortunately they wont get better until we finish so it’s very much a case of preserve and protect what is left. In the meantime we continue to sit on what feels like rough sandpaper speckled with shards of glass. Always fun when the boat is been thrown from side to side and your bum is dragged back and forth over your seat.
We’ve seen some pretty big weather of late. A few nights ago we were unable to row safely and so rowers just manned the decks on look out during shifts instead of taking to the oars. Big wanes and winds were sending the boat flying all over the place and on one occasion we hit a speed of 16.8knots down a monster of a wave- to provide some context a fast average speed for us is 3.5-4knots. Liv and I had been impressed when we had previously reached 9.2knots down a wave that sent us spinning sideways. This 16.8 knotter although fast and fun in hindsight was terrifying and had felt like the boat had been picked up and thrown forward making us realise just how vulnerable we are at times. Again Liv and I were the ones on deck to experience this as the whole deck and bow cabin were entirely submerged and the bow was driven deep into the water. We were convinced we were going to flip end over end as we both through ourselves to the stern in order to weigh the back of he boat down. Bella had emerged from her off shift snooze in the bow cabin not long after and had been non the wiser but did say at one point she thought the cabin was underwater- to which we confirmed it was. Emphasising that age old and golden ocean rowing rule, always keep the hatches closed!
The second and perhaps more important ocean rowing rule is to make sure you are always tied on to the boat. Likewise kit and equipment is all tied down. We’ve managed to have quite a few things go over board in the last couple of days. A sheepskin seat topper, a foam seat, clothes, shoes and a person to name a few. Ok, so I’ll expand on the last one. I would love to be able to provide more context but the only thing I remember is I was stood astride on the deck chatting to Lauren who was rowing in the bow set in front of me when the boat lurched to one side due to a wave, obviously. The guardrails along the edge of the boat used to hold on to and steady ourselves caught me on the back on the legs and I was unable to reach the line on the other side of the boat to steady myself. My feet went over my head and I was in the ocean. Hitting my cheek on Lauren’s oar on the way in to the water. Despite being tied on, as I went over I spotted the yellow grabline on the outside of the boat, reached for it and did not let go. The water was so strong it took my trainers straight off my feet (may they rest in peace) and left me clinging on the side of the boat legs flailing out as the water pulled them. Safe to it I wasn’t going anywhere and I was out of the water again with what felt like seconds, clambering out and with Lauren assistance but pretty scary all the same a good reminder of why you always tie on.
To round off our eventful couple of days we’ve had some autohelm trouble and spent last night up hand steering and constantly trying to reset the autohelm which would not play ball. Every time a waves came side on to the boat it would slam the rudder to one side and the autohelm would fall off it’s pin attachment. This pin attachment took such a pounding that it is also now bent and we are having to reinforce it again daily. Without we cannot attach our autohelm to the rudder. Throughout the day and into the night this happened and it was all hands on deck to turn the boat around which takes all the strength two people can summon whilst one hand steers back to the correct heading. All night we took shifts monitoring it and resetting it and eventually blew the fuse to the steering system. Safe to say not even an hour’s sleep was had between the 4 of us combined. However, with fuse replaced and newly calibrated autohelm in its place things appear to be back on track- for now. It didn’t half make me appreciate the standard 2hours on/ off routine and made that feel easier when you get a taste of how badly things can go wrong.