The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records

 


NEWS FROM THE ROUTE

 

Andreas ROMMEL

Atlantic West - East 2004

 
September 4 2004. On board of the MV Federal Elbe heading for Canada
I get a text message from Henry through my sat. phone around 11:00 GMT : "Andreas get ready itís going to be rough; Gaston coming up from Florida is heading your way and you will be very close to the eye of the hurricane the wind should be between 30 and 45 knots with big waves up to 8 meters max., he will be with you very soon, tonight in a few hours probablyÖ Iím aware that you should have a lot of wind already. Hold on mate, weíre thinking of you Henry and Kaya".

2 oíclock GMT my flag outside sounds like it has been put behind the reactor of a jet plane, the wave height has decreased flatten by this strong wind. When it does that it usually only lasts for a little while before the waves get even bigger than before. I can feel Lady Georgia being lifted up by this wind, by now my flag sounds like the continuous noise of a whip,
all of the sudden no noise anymore; I naively think for a second that the storm past me.
My flag had been ripped off.. I could feel the waves getting bigger again.

3 oíclock GMT first capsize, I wasnít expecting it; a violent 360 deg like during Alex.
When Lady Georgia stabilized herself again I started cleaning up the mess inside my cabin, the weirdest thought came to my mind, I remember thinking it was messy any way it will give me a reason to put it all in order tomorrow ..?!

30 min later second capsize, I still donít have my survival suit on but I feel a bit shaken and it is getting a little bit hot in here, I decide to call MK to get my mind of the storm..
After a 12 min conversation Lady Georgia gets flipped over on her roof. At that point Iím kneeling down on my fours inside my boat upside down, all of a sudden my right hand goes through the back hatch straight in the ocean; 20 to 30 lts of water came sucked in very fast before she self righted again.
Now Iím scared; in the dark, thinking that my small hatch has been ripped out.. Knowing that I will be capsizing again very soon. Very quickly I reach for the light switch, thanks God it still works,- the hatch is still there, it just popped open because of my weight being pushed against it.
I twist the handles, close the hatch and twist it again to lock it. Now everything is floating in my cabin: sat phone, my sleeping bag and matelas have transformed into heavy sponges making it difficult for me to move. I decide to throw most of my stuff out, which I do through the main hatch; sleeping bag, matelas, towel, stoveÖ etc. What I did not realize was that my drogue had been pulled off during my last flip which made Lady Georgia even more vulnerable..

Fourth capsize it hit me almost from behind, it made such a noise that I thought that the all structure was exploding, this wave lifted us up and twisted Lady Georgia in the air, she fell back on her side like a wale.. I could not breath properly, I quickly opened the back hatch, stock my head out to check where that noise came from; my rudder got ripped straight off.
That was it, I said to myself : Andreas you have to call for help, itís going to take hours for them to find you if they do.. So at 7:20 GMT I activated my Argos beacon distress and my EPIRB.
I capsized one more time, daylight started, coming up at 8:30 GMT I checked outside only to realize the damage caused on Lady Georgia by this last storm : 4 carbon fiber oars broken like match sticks, my beaming light, 1 solar panel, my drogue was missing and my rudder got ripped off, Sat phoneÖ etc

I have to say that her main structure saved my life, not many vessels this size would have resisted such a biting..

I was very lucky, compared to the 6 rowers who lost their life on the north Atlantic ocean in the last 20 years trying this extreme challenge. Thanks God I love you !!!And of course I would like to thank all the rescue team starting with the Canadian Flight rescue team and the Captain Robert Kusmierczyk Commander of the 200 meters long bulk carrier who changed his course, localized me in the fog with the help of the Canadian flight rescue team.
Captain Roberts and his crew have done such a fantastic job, I could never thank them enough for their professionalism and their hospitality. (even Lady Georgia got saved)

We are on our way to Canada at the moment, expecting to arrive in Becancour on the 6th of Sept. at 6:00 pm LT

Andreas
 
September 1 2004. Day 47
This is Andreas' last log a few hours before he got hit by hurricane Gaston :

11:00 GMT
pos. 45:38N 43:04W
990 hpa


Great progress Iím riding the storm, had to stop because the wind increased to 25 knots enormous waves, I rowed for 16 hrs, what a buzz ! it felt like white water rafting on 3 meters waves with a 750 kg kayak, top speed a wild surf at 12,5 knots !
My hands are killing me I canít even write properly so Iím going to make it short.
Yesterday my brother informed me of the high low coming down my way from Greenland and Iceland I should expect 48 hrs of bad weatherÖ Itís suppose to be with me tonight.
The wind has increase dramatically to 30 knots in the last 3 hours.
 
August 22 2004
Finally Iím starting to move faster, as I just hit faster currents. I was starting to doubt myself. I was pushing with all my strength for about 15 hours a day. I felt like I was pulling a super-tanker.
It was getting so frustrating that I was getting down both physically and mentally. I found myself in a similar situation as Jean-Luc, rowing against the waves and headwinds. I was thinking to stop my journey because of exhaustion.
The reason I found myself in this position for the first 30 days was because an announced storm was hitting south just before my departure. Therefore I was unable to go down and try to hit the Gulf Stream where Emmanuel got it.
So I started my trip going north, from then on, my nightmare started.
Iím glad I didnít give up because now Iím moving forward at an acceptable pace.
Now Iím rowing 17 hours a day and itís not as tiring as before.
I got in contact with the first officer of the ďJarvis BayĒ, a British container ship, who gave me valuable meteorological information. He told me about three hurricanes starting from the Gulf of Mexico and headed north in my direction. I could hear the captain in the background insisting on picking me up. He asked three times and I said ďno, Iím confident with my boatĒ. When I asked the first officer if those hurricanes would ďblow me out in the middle of the oceanĒ, and said, ďyes, most probablyĒ. He must have thought I was crazy when I responded, ďthatís what I was waiting for, a good push!Ē
Then the captain called me directly and told me his sister ship would pass by the area in a few days and would inform her of my position.
Two days later, the wind was getting stronger and the waves bigger. I think I was getting what I was asking for: at around 6GMT, it felt like something was smashing the boat with a sledgehammer. It was pitch black and I was inside. All of a sudden, my boat capsized. It didnít turn over as fast as the first time. I laid on the roof for much too long. I felt like a hamster in a cage-wheel. I was totally in shock. This was it, I thought. Then the boat self-righted again.
The darkness made the situation worse. I was now in the middle of a heavy storm and I was getting battered. My survival suit and my beacon were ready. I felt my boat wasnít going to take it this time.
Morning came, but I was still on gale nine with 41 knots winds and 25 foot waves.
In the afternoon, the winds went down to 30 knots, the waves to 15-18 feet.
I could feel ďthe Lady GeorgiaĒ lower down on the water, extremely heavy. The center of my boat was full of water, as well as all my compartments on deck. It took me two hours to get all the water out. After this exercise, I went back into my cabin to get some rest.
But something strange happened, I was listening to the sound of water dripping close to me. Too close. I began to check around me and found water inside my watertight cabin! I was horrified. Now Iím really scared; electrical wiring was submerged under water, my stove burner was under water, and Iím thinking I have a hole in the boat.
After searching for the problem, I realized that the outside compartments are connected to the inside ones. This doesnít make them watertight anymoreÖit explained why my electrical water maker broke.
Now I wonít have warm food anymore. I feel like Iím turning into Robinson Crusoe in the middle of the ocean.
On a brighter note, the day the storm started, I saw a sea turtle following my drag, trying to mate with it. Then I saw four huge, white, dolphin type fish surfing the waves (do not know the names of this animal).
I would like to thank M.K. and Henry for their precious meteorological information and support.

August 15 2004, 43į 05'N  57į 49' W  Message from Andreas 

London, ORS HQ

This morning I received a satellite phone call from Captain Stuart McNeill of P&O NedLloyd ship Jervis Bay, headed to Halifax. Captain McNeill told me that he was passing on a message from Andreas Rommel (who came up on his VHF radio) as follows:

 "All is ok with me. I heard about the four, such bad luck so close to home. I am glad to hear they are all safe. I plan to carry on to Europe". I thanked the Captain for his efforts, and the oceanrower and the container ship carried on their way.

 

Jervis Bay

Captain McNeill told that there is a sister ship on her way from Halifax and that he would pass positions of Andreas to her Captain  so that the ship can meet Andreas at sea

 Kenneth F.Crutchlow


August 15 2004

My first 20 days was a battle against a very difficult current. This is my first expedition with the boat, and I discovered how heavy it is. Not to mention, I never rowed a boat before. But there is a first for everything, isnít there?

I was rowing for 4 to 6 hours straight without moving 1 meter. I was shouting at the wind, the current, myself, asking why I was doing this. But at the end of the day, I didnít lose a mile. Even if my progression was that slow, I never went back! This kept me going.

For the first 15 days, I was in a constant heavy fog. What a amazing surprise when 1 day I escaped it for a few hours, and saw a migration of about 15 whale sharks passing by the boat. Three of those giants came to check me out for about 10 minutes. It was surreal.

My first intense moment (before meeting Alex) was the day I nearly got crushed by a tanker. It was in the middle of the afternoon. Due to the fog, I couldnít see further than 100 feet and the waves didnít help much. I was minding my own business, swearing at everything as usual, when I heard a strange noise coming out of the fog. I was as exited as a kid, thinking, hey Iíll encounter some whales or other strange creatures. But coming out of nowhere, like a giant ghost, a huge 700 ft. metal mass was directing its course so close to me that I could read the name of the boat. I jumped on my radio and got the captain on. I asked him if he didnít see me on his radar. He said no he didnít, and asked me if he needed to change his course. Well, no, I told him to stay where he is. If luck wouldnít be with me, I would have been crushed by now, and the captain wouldnít even know it. My guess is, my radar has some issues in high waves.

Another fun detail, beside feeling Iím paddling through a field of mud for 14 to 16 hours, my water maker broke 3 days into my journey. Now I have to pump each night for 1 hour to get fresh water, just the idea of it makes me sick in my stomach, this pumping system is harder than rowing for an entire day. This brought me to drink half of my emergency water supply, and also push me to drink the minimum I need to survive.

Now letís talk about Alex. I got a call from a reporter of the German ďStern MagazineĒ, telling me the good news about Cyclone Alex heading right towards me.

A few hours before I thought the cyclone would hit me, I secured everything the best I could. I took out the survival suit and laid it out inside the cabin. I was waiting anxiously all night long. I thought I would be in the middle of the storm by 9:00GMT.

9:00GMT came, the wind went up to 40 knots and the waves up to25 ft. The sky looked apocalyptic. But all of this didnít stop me from falling asleep, as I was so exhausted. 

By 10:30GMT I was in a deep sleep. What a rude awakening I had as the boat flipped over 360 degrees! I was hit pretty hard, hurt my hips, hurt my face, my nose was bleeding. The wind went up 65 knots and the waves were 35-40 ft. high!

I can say to you Justin, there is no doubt your boat is self-righting.

I spent the first 2 hours inside, as I had no clue what to do. But I got nervous that I would lose something important during this nightmare, or the boat would just be smacked by a wave. I put my harness on and went out. What an adrenaline rush. I spent 5 hours in a T-shirt and a pants, soaked to the bone, repeating myself that I hade to direct the boat in order to surf the waves. The boat nearly capsized many times. It would lie on its side, but would be righted straight away. On some waves, I was going 12-15 knots. The situation was crazy, but I just couldnít get back to my cabin.

After the cyclone, the only victim was my active radar detector. Not too bad, I thought.

To end this on a positive note, Iím getting used to my situation and my morale is high.

I think I should be hitting faster currents in the next few days.

I heard about the Pink Lady, I feel a lot of sadness for the crew, so close to target. But Iím also very glad that everybody came back safe, this is what counts. All my sympathy to you guys, and I hope I will get to meet you for a few beers in the near future.

I would like also to thank some of you for the support you have given to my mother (she needs it more than I do). My brother will write you a weekly update as Iím giving it to him per phone.



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