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Read Simon’s twice-weekly diary on http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/oceanrow03/news/  

News from the route


Wednesday, 18 June 2003


(Mauritius, 18/6/03) Simon Chalk (30), the solo British rower who has set the world record for crossing the Indian Ocean has finally arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius to a hero’s welcome.

On the quayside at the Caudan Waterfront to greet him and welcome him personally to Mauritius was David Snoxell, The British High Comissioner, the Mauritian press and Chalk’s supporters.

Vanessa Béchard, Marketing Manager at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel said:

”Mauritius is both pleased and honoured to welcome Simon to our shores. He must be given full acknowledgement for his determination and perseverance under what at times must have been very trying conditions. We certainly recognize the major achievement and congratulate him.”

Chalk added:

“I’m thrilled to have finally arrived here in Mauritius. I can’t thank everyone enough for all their support and encouragement whilst I’ve been at sea and especially during the past few days. It’s been an incredible journey!”

The celebration of Chalk’s amazing achievement has been marred by the sad loss of his boat “True Spirit”. Since he crossed the line of longitude at Ile Raphael in the early hours of Monday morning, setting the record, Chalk has been battling against the wrath of the Indian Ocean. “True Spirit” was being towed behind a privately chartered fishing vessel in conditions so severe that it has been damaged beyond repair and now lays at the mercy of the sea.

Simon Chalk, said:

"I am absolutely devastated. We’ve been through so much together and now, I fear that I may have lost her. I will be chartering a boat in the next few days to try and recover her. Chay Blyth’s company The Challenge Business who designed and tested her is kindly assisting in the monitoring of her whereabouts. It’s a fact that the Indian Ocean and I haven’t finished with each other yet!”

- ENDS -



June 8

So frustrating rowing hard for 3 hours only to be pushed back by the strong current running to the North. In fifteen minutes you're back where you started rowing 3 hours ago.I've put out the sea anchor to try and make sure I don't go any further north.


June 7

It's even calmer today, a big blue mill pond as far as the eye can see. I'm still rowing hard but making little headway. I've been entertained by some sharks today, 2 of them were very large and looked menacing.


June 6

It's been a struggle today, the sun's out, the sea's calm but there's a strong current against me. It's like rowing in concrete. I'm only 130 miles from the Nazareth Bank. I've got no wind, there should be a change in the direction of the current to help me.


June 5

Another storm has passed and the sea's a lot calmer, but the current is to the north so it's hard rowing. I've taken time out today and tried to remove some of the large barnicles off the hull. Hopefully this will reduce the drag and help the boat to move more freely in the water. I'm just keen to move forward more quickly and finish my adventure.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, 5 June 2003


(London, 5/6/03) Simon Chalk (30), the solo British rower attempting to set a new world record for crossing the Indian Ocean is on the verge of completing his remarkable challenge.

After 99 days at sea, Chalk is less than 300 miles from Ile Raphael, the first landmass he will come to after setting off more than three months ago.  He is making excellent progress, covering between 30 and 50 miles per day and is expected to arrive in Reunion on 12-13 June. 

The challenge has not been without its dramas and as Chalk makes his final approach his thoughts are with Rob Abernuthy and Mike Noel-Smith who have tried valiantly to make the same crossing doublehanded.

Simon Chalk, said:

"This has been the toughest thing that I have ever attempted and I’ll be pleased when it’s finally over.  The ocean and the elements are relentless and unforgiving.  I’ve had to dig deep into reserves that I’ve only discovered on this voyage.  Abernuthy and Noel-Smith will be devastated that their challenge is over so soon but it is to their credit that they tried so hard.  I am pleased and relieved that the Australian Navy have been able to effect a successful rescue – I wish them both well – I’m sure that they’ll try again.”

Chalk left Kalbarri, Western Australia on 27th February at the start of the 3,200 mile voyage.  No ocean row is without incident, and this one has been no exception.  Contending with regular storms, enormous seas, sharks and whales was expected, but Chalk has also had to avoid shipping and repair damaged equipment.   His self-righting boat, “True Spirit” has been knocked sideways more than once but, remarkably, Chalk has been able to maintain all of his systems and kept himself fit and well.

Simon added: 

“I know that there will be more adventures to come but, for now, I’m looking forward to the feel of solid ground beneath my feet, a cold beer, a shower and a decent meal – probably in that order!”

Chalk’s progress can be followed on a specially created website www.rowanocean.com.


- ENDS -

Notes to Editors: 

1.  Simon Chalk was born in Leicester in September 1972.  After leaving school at the age of 16 he spent 10 years as a BT Engineer.  In 1996/97, took part in the BT Global Challenge, sailing as a BT legger from Rio de Janeiro to Sydney, round Cape Horn and into the Southern Ocean.  In September 1997 he successfully completed his first ocean row across the Atlantic with fellow rower, George Rock in “Cellnet Atlantic Challenger”.  At the age of 24, Simon became 'the youngest person in history to have sailed round Cape Horn and rowed across the Atlantic.  In May 2002, with Bill Greaves, Chalk attempted to row across the Indian Ocean from Kalbarri, Western Australia to La Reunion but suffered a freak accident and had to abort the world record attempt.


2.  The self-righting rowing boat, True Spirit, was built in Belgium and was brought to the UK where it was re-fitted with all the latest electronic technology, making it the most advanced rowing boat afloat. This work was carried out in the Woodvale workshops in Newton Abbot.  Made of marine plywood and coated with epoxy resin, the boat is 7.5 metres long and 1.8 metres wide. Fully loaded with the food, provisions and equipment it weighs 1,000 kilos.  Consists of a small cabin and solar-powered equipment.


3.  Pictures are available on request

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Johnson 

Tel: +44 (0) 1372 726421
Mob: +44 (0) 77641 99643



June 4

I can't believe I'm in another storm with winds of 35 knots. The sea's huge with large waves coming from all angles. It's also raining very hard and that's cutting visibility,so I need to stay focussed at all times.


June 3

The wind has changed again and I'm being pushed north, but at least the miles are coming down.

There's a low pressure from the south causing a large swell.

I saw my first whale today, not very big but a nice surprise.


June 2

What a near miss! A large cargo boat nearly ran me down in the night. I called it on the VHF but got no reply. It was within 70 yards so I fired my trusty flares, at the last moment it turned away. My heart was really pumping. All this way and a near miss like that proves that it's not all over till I land.


June 1

It's a lot calmer today so it's back rowing hard trying to track south and pull back the miles I've been pushed north. There's no wildlife about, the sea's calm.

I have 10 days of food left plus 6 days of beverages and plenty of water. I'm rationing the coffee so I have 1 cup a day until I get to land.


May 31

I'm being pushed north by the changing wind and seas. Hopefully this storm has nearly blown out. It has been very rough, I've only had 3 meals in the last 3 days but that's not a problem at this stage as there's only 413 miles to go.


May 30

The storm is still with me, high winds, a big sea breaking at two angles to the boat, it's a very bumpy ride. It's very cloudy with the occasional heavy shower, but at least my mileage is going to improve and I'm still getting south which is good.


May 29

What a night, a storm hit me with winds of 28 knots and huge seas. The boat was on its side twice. The second time I thought it was going right over.

The storm has calmed a little now and as daylight is breaking, I'm looking out of the cabin window and the deck looks as if a bomb's gone off, it's carnage.


May 28

It's hot again today, 36 degrees plus, it really saps your energy. I'm still managing to track south but with no help from the wind or current, it's very hard work. As you can see my daily mileage over the last 4 days has been low.


May 27

No change from yesterday, it's hot and sunny with no wind. It's very slow going and very frustrating. I think the barnacles which are large and encrusted on the hull of the boat are not helping the boat to slide through the water.


May 26

A very hot day, sea very calm and cloudless sky. I've rowed all day. It's very trying with the sun beating down and rowing across the current, but I've managed to move south. It's approximately 580 miles to Albatross.


May 25

A very calm and peaceful night, managed to catch up on overdue sleep.

I feel rested and very happy today. I've tracked south and felt really comfortable rowing all day.

I'm counting down the miles and days. It won't be long now.


May 24

After another stormy night the sea's calmed down again. There were 2 dead flying fish on deck this morning so I decided to use one for bait and try some fishing. Surprise surprise I caught a large yellow fin tuna. It was so large it broke the line and got away.


May 23

Another rough night with alot of rain, buts its calmed down this morning. I've tried to repair the CD today but I can't get it working so it's rowing with no music. I shaved the beard off ready for arrival and so the sun can can tan my face all over.


May 22

Another night like last night. The wind and the rain returned. The promised north easterly winds haven't materialised so I'm still fighting a losing battle to try and track south.


May 21

One hell of a night - big seas, strong winds, heavy rain. I was rolling round the cabin all night. It was impossible to sleep.

The wind's now dropped, there's a big sea swell and the sun's back out.


May 20

Another stormy day but although making good mileage, still creeping north. The winds are due to change this afternoon and move round to the north for a few days. This will hopefully help me to track south.


May 19

Not a lot to report - still rowing hard in big seas. The occasional wave comes over the boat giving me a ducking. I'm still struggling to track south but at least I'm getting closer to land.


May 18

Still going north despite all my efforts to track south. It's bloody hard work. The sun's been out all day, the heat is relentless. The sea state is changing, the waves are getting bigger. It's blowing up for another storm.


May 17

Mixed feelings today, it's 12 months to the day that I was rescued from this Ocean off Western Austalia.

The wind's returned and I'm being pushed north again, not what I want.

I think I got too much sun on my head yesterday, I have a real headache today, so I think its a cup of tea and a sleep.


May 16

I've managed to track South today which is encouraging, there's been little wind.

It's been a hot sunny day and cloudless sky. The tuna are back entertaining me, they're such a picture chasing each other and diving in and out of the water.


May 15

It's a special day for me today, it's 12 months since I left Kalbarri on my first attempt to row the Indian Ocean - that attempt as you know failed. Twelve months on I'm over 2700 miles into my second attempt. It's a fine sunny day, little wind, but what there is and with the current against me I'm still drifting north despite rowing non-stop for 6 hours.


May 14

There's not change from yesterday with the weather. I'm rowing my heart out trying to go south but the harder I try, the more north I seem to be going.


May 13

Another sunny and very hot day, little wind but what there is is from the south.This, combined with the current, is still pushing me north.


May 12
No wind today, another storm has passed but the current is very strong and I'm still creeping North.
The sky is completely cloudless, it's so warm and sunny, all the fish have returned. I've seen a tropical bird flying around, that's a first and usually a sign that you're getting closer to land. The water maker's been on most of the day. I've had a shower in fresh water that's refreshing and cool.


May 11
The storm's still raging, winds and rain. The wind changed round completely, it's now blowing from the north and pushing me south. That would do nicely for the next week or so. The waves were huge again this morning. I thought the boat was going to roll at one stage, we went to a crazy angle but then she came back again.


May 10
All yesterday's hard work tracking south 10 miles was for nothing. A new storm with winds from the south has blown me back north - it's so frustrating!


May 9
Little wind today so I'm able to row south. It's very hot and I've got the water maker working overtime. Now that the steering ram is not working I have plenty of power so I washed all my clothes in fresh water today, that's better than sea water - the smell is a lot better. I've also taken time out to work on the boat - all the usual housework.


May 8
The wind has turned again blowing from  the south pushing me north. It's quite worrying really, I'm desperately trying to track south, all that work and effort and I'm still being pushed North. I need a little help from the wind and currents. It feels as if you're rowing two lengths forward and three back.


May 7

It's the worst night I've spent in the cabin since leaving Kalbarri. I've been thrown all over the place. 

I'm fighting to keep the boat upright, it's just dancing from one wave to another.


May 6

This storm I've been in for the last 30 hours was not forecast by the weather router. Huge waves, strong winds and lashings of rain. 

The electronic steering ram has failed, it's impossible to repair. I'm now on manual steering and have set a rudder angle of 20 degrees to try and track south.


May 5

Not a lot of sleep last night, big waves hitting the boat from both sides. It's like going up Niagara Falls in a barrel.

I've had the water maker on for most of the day, filling all available containers.

The wind has been changeable today and the sky overcast, I've rowed hard in an effort to track south.


May 4

I've been checking the boat over today and doing a few repairs. The water maker needed attention as it was not working. The bottom of the boat is covered with barnacles, but I'm not going overboard to clean them off.

The wind has picked up this afternoon to 20 knots from the north pushing me south. The sea state is changing by the minute. I'm securing everything on the boat as another storm is imminent.


May 3

I feel tired today, I think I did too much yesterday.

The wind change again today is pushing me north once more, if I try to track south it kills the boat speed completely.

The weather router tells me there's a cyclone to the north and I should get a push south in the next couple of days off the back of it. 


May 2

The sea swell turned to the east today, thats the first time since leaving Kalbarri. With the wind in the south west and tracking south, it was just great to be rowing and I didn't want to stop, but I need to eat and rest. This afternoon at 2pm I past the 64 days it took me to row the South Atlantic in 1997 with George Rock.


May 1

Not much to report today, feeling a little better health-wise. Although moving east I'm finding it hard to track south without coming to a complete standstill and waiting for the wind to change direction and help me.

Very quiet in the sea today, no wildlife, just the odd shoal of fish.


Read Simon’s twice-weekly diary on http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/oceanrow03/news/

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