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


UPPSALA UPDATES (Translation and occasional comments in brackets by Diana and Stein Hoff, Norway)

Niclas and Rune will during their journey send regular report home to Sweden. 
You can follow their experiences and impressions here.

Rune Larsson's ( Belated Christmas Letter

First day ashore.

Last night we slept in proper beds in Barbados! 

The press kept phoning us all yesterday.

Also we were woken up by the Customs Officials. It was necessary to fill in forms and declare what we have on board.

The boat is now out of the water and many practical details must now be solved. How do we get the boat home? How do we get home ourselves?

Just now we are concentrating on sending pictures back home to you in Sweden. Hopefully they will arrive during the afternoon.

Tonight we are invited to a golf club. It is very pleasant to be a little civilised again. 

2002-01-10 16:08 

The rowers have arrived!

Niclas and Rune stepped ashore just now after 95 days, 5 hours and 55 minutes at sea.

Team with Niclas Mardfelt and Rune Larsson this afternoon made history by stepping ashore in Barbados, West Indies as the first Swedes to row an ocean. At 15.55 Swedish time they again felt solid ground below their feet after more than 95 days at sea.

On arriving they were exhausted, but jubilant to see again nearest and dearest. The Port St Charles web-camera beside the arrival quay filmed the event. 

The rowers started October 7th from Tenerife in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge. Right from the start the team had problems with the power supply and a quarrelsome watermaker that purifies sea water to drinking water. These problems lasted the entire way and while other teams could concentrate on rowing, Niclas and Rune had to spend a lot of time and energy on hand-pumping water through the filter of the watermaker.

The rowers return to Sweden next week sometimes when a press conference will be held at Arlanda Airport. 

More details with pictures and comments will be made available as soon as possible.

2002-01-10 11:00 
Arriving soon!

We sense the smell of fresh bread, asphalt and civilisation. We hear the sound of dogs and happy activities. We see streetlights and lit-up buildings. We are arriving soon! Between three and six hours left to row!

We are rowing along the west coast of Barbados. Just now we have 6 nautical miles left to Port St. Charles. 

We are longing for home! 

We are longing for near ones and dear ones. 

We are longing for a shower. 

We are longing for good food. 

We are longing for a beautiful bed. 

We are home-sick for Sweden!

During next week we will hopefully return to our homes in Sweden. We will arrive at Arlanda Airport (near the capital Stockholm, East Sweden).

Safely home Niclas will meet his Sandra and a new family member, the dog Alice, as well as family and friends. Rune will take part in the press conference before returning to Trollhattan (West Sweden, not far from the border with Norway) and meet his mother and father, but his friends and family near Stockholm will meet up at Arlanda.

(Sandra, Niclas’ girlfriend, has not been able to make it to Barbados, but Rune’s American wife, Mary, and their two sons are proudly waiting in Barbados. D&S.) 

2002-01-09 09:00 
The lights of Barbados.

Last night we saw it! We saw Barbados, not the island but the lights of the island in the sky, and we knew that civilisation is there behind the horizon!

We are approaching at great speed and soon it will not be far to go. We hope to reach the south point today. We carry enough ballast and hope it will help us against the rough seas we may encounter.

Our latest position: N12˚59,6’ W59˚05,3’ and we have about 26 nautical miles left to the South Point.

(At 16.09, 7 hours later, the Inmarsat D+ says position N13˚00’ W59˚18’; 25 n. miles to Port St. Charles – measured in a straight line through the island – only 14 n. miles to South Point! Enclosed is a picture taken just at the start in Tenerife Sunday Oct 7th, 94 days ago – we are looking forward to seeing how the boat and the men look when they pull in their oars for the last time tomorrow. One thing is sure, Niclas & Rune will be grinning from ear to ear! D&S.) 

2002-01-08 12:00
Unpredictable current

The rain is coming down in buckets. We are now struggling with counter-current. Just now we have a 1 knot of current straight against us. We are rowing straight North to avoid being pushed further South, while doing that we drift West! We do hope this counter-current will shift soon so we can make progress.

We are now constantly getting small bangs to our heads. We cannot predict these winds and waves. Quite suddenly a wave comes from the "wrong" direction and one gets thrown about in the cabin.

Our latest position: N12˚46,2’ W58˚30,1’. We have about 67 n. miles left to Bridgetown.

(This banging about in the cabin makes us a little worried that the boat is getting too light, and therefore gets knocked about by the seas more than earlier. On approaching land they are likely to encounter rough seas, and it is important that they have at least 150 kg (330 lbs) of ballast below deck centrally placed to avoid a capsize. The ballast is mainly carried in 10 l cans of (sea) - water. We will post a comment about this in their Visitors’ Book ("Gastbok") – which they read regularly via their satellite phone. Which, in spite of spray and rain and high humidity is still working – thank goodness!

The Inmarsat D+unit transmitted the following position at 1600 today: N1249’ W5839’. That leaves only about 55 n. miles to South Point, Barbados! D&S.)

2002-01-07 10:17 
Foot - plate problems.

We imagine a connection with "Aguamarinen", "Syster Yster" and "Goteborgstjejen". (These are names/pseudonyms of frequent writers in their web-site Visitors’ Book.) We on board think we can reveal who you are, but for now it remains our secret… 

During the last day we have had problems with the foot-plate (stretcher). It has broken on several occasions, but so far we have managed to make repairs. Just now we have completed another repair job; this time we are using drift-wood and hope this is the last time. It is functioning well!

We have big problems with blisters and boils on our behinds. In addition all our buckets are now broken so the toilet is no longer functioning ideally, either.

But what does it matter, we are soon in Barbados!

Our latest position: N12°36,4’ W57°58,1’. We have 100 n. miles left to the south coast of Barbados. Just now we are rowing a course of 300 degrees (NW).

(Good going, boys! Rune’s wife, Mary and their two sons, Isak and Zakarias are already in Barbados scanning the horizon! D&S.)

2002-01-06 12:00 
Strange weather.

Conditions out here are a little strange. First we had waves and swell from ENE that soon changed to straight from E. We then rowed straight North; 360 degrees. Later conditions forced us to alter course to 330 degrees (NW), but we only made 295 degrees true.

We are fine, but are naturally somewhat tired and fed up. We hope to arrive around 10th of January.

We are also curious to know who is hiding behind the name "Aquamarinen" (a frequent, Swedish, writer in the Visitors’ Book). We are very grateful for all the cheerful and entertaining entries in the Visitors’ Book.

Our latest position is N12°24,5’ W57°30’. We have about 129 n. miles (239 km) left to South Point, Barbados.

(As our readers note from the above, Niclas & Rune are able to regularly read comments and greetings posted in their Visitors’ Book. This gives them a lot of inspiration. Those wishing to add their greetings as the boys are approaching the final 100 nautical miles of their Atlantic challenge – and ordeal! – can do so at click "Gastboken". D&S.)

2002-01-05 09:30 
Better weather! 

We have drifted during the night and waited for the bad weather to settle.

Presently we are both rowing and are able to keep a course of 280 degrees! Which means that we hopefully can make it to Barbados under our own steam.

Niclas hit his head again last night. It was a small bang, but after many small bangs one gets a fairly sore head…

Our position: N12°08 W57°00’ (We make it only 157 n. miles to South Point, Barbados: Go boys, go! D&S.)

2002-01-04 09:20
We are drifting North.

The bad weather is forcing us to shelter inside the cabin and wait for the storm to settle. We have drifted 8 n. miles North in 24 hours, and that feels very good. As soon as the weather improves we will both get going rowing. Weather, wind and current improves further North.

The wind is blowing a steady gale, and in the gusts it feels like hurricane force.

The Race Officials are on their way towards us just now to give us a little more water and check that all is well on board. However, we are not sure how we will get the water passed across with the weather as unstable as it is.

Our backs are aching, the cabin is narrow and we cannot stretch out.

Our latest position: N12°03’ W56°51’. (About 200 n. miles to South Point, Barbados.)

Posted on the Swedish Visitor's Page (Gastbok) this evening (Thu, 3 Jan 2002), Norwegian time:

"Dear N&R,

Greetings and messages from Thomas Herbert of Port St. Charles and from Kenneth Crutchlow, Ocean Rowing Society. They are both following your reports and progress with great interest and some concern. To become official "Atlantic Rowers" ("supported") you must row unaided to the longitude of Barbados (about W59°30', about 180 n. miles further west).

If you manage to keep around N12° latitude Thomas Herbert is willing to organise a tow of your boat. The Race Safety Vessel in Barbados has lost its mast. They will pick you up if asked, but we think it is doubtful that they will tow you the 60+ n. miles N to the shelter of Barbados before the last 15 n. miles to PSC. They may demand the boat to be burnt. 

If you drift S of 12° you may chose to carry on to Grenada in order to save your boat. It will mean 2 or 3 days more, but you will keep your now famous boat! Approaching Grenada or the Grenadines there should be no problems finding local or visiting yachts willing to guide or tow you through safe waters. This is the high season for foreign yachts, no doubt some are Scandinavian. We know radio amateurs that are in daily contact with many of these yachts through the Caribbean MM-net.

Meanwhile try to row together and try to claw a little further N and use the sea-anchor if necessary in between these double sessions: Whatever happens, you are soon ashore!

Diana & Stein"

2002-01-03 09:25
Rain and rough weather!

The weather is awful and we have put out the sea-anchor to see how the boat drifts.

It seems like we are getting a little more Northerly all the time, and we have fingers crossed that we shall manage to get to Barbados and not Grenada.

Both rowing positions are working and we shall try rowing together to see what that will do. (Good news! There is still a chance they can reach Barbados on their own steam, but we’re talking about very hard work if the Trades blows from the usual NE. Pray for winds from E or SE instead! D&S). The problem is that we have never rowed together, so we will have to find the same rhythm. 

The hull has been damaged since the start. The damage (to the front part of the narrow plywood keel) happened when the boat was being launched, and it has been getting worse during the journey. Due to this damage the boat is harder to steer and glides more slowly through the water. 

The weather is cold, rainy and stormy. We just want to get to the finish!

Our latest position: N11°53,7’ W56°38,7’. We have 197 nautical miles to go.

2002-01-02 11:35 
With life at risk!

We are suffering from many physical problems. Niclas has a headache and pain in his neck after hitting his neck when he fell inside the cabin as the boat was struck by a big wave. Rune has to massage his wrists and fingers before and after every rowing session.

We both realise that this journey has involved some risk to our lives. Occasionally people die in these waters; fortunately our journey is soon over. We are becoming increasingly worried about the dangers lurking out here. Every day we have to be on guard as one never knows when danger is near. After Niclas was burnt by the jelly-fish and Rune was washed overboard, we realise that an accident can happen any time and when one least expects it.

We are having problems staying North and we hope that we can row straight North when we meet the northerly current, but we will wait doing so until we are at 57-59 West latitude when the current is due to increase.

(Sorry, but it is not likely that N&R will manage to row against the NE trade winds unless both are fully fit and can row at the same time. From earlier writing we believe that the bow (front) rowing position is damaged, which means that they can only row one at a time from the stern (back) position. Rowing into the wind, or at an angle to wind and waves, it is better to sit in the bow where you better leverage for altering the course. They are probably too late for reaching Barbados unless they are towed. If they do not want to be towed, they should head for Grenada or one of the smaller Grenadines between Grenada and St. Vincent. But that is about 90 n. miles further West than Barbados.

On the dangers around them: We believe this is very small. Nobody has died yet on attempts to row this particular route from the Canaries to the Caribbean. As long as N & R are attached to the boat (which is unsinkable), where they have a life-raft and a (waterproof) emergency beacon (EPIRB), emergency assistance should reach them quickly. D & S)

Our latest position is N11°53’ W56°15’. (About 241 n. miles to Port St. Charles, Barbados.)

2002-01-01 19:10

The strength of the wind is quite unbelievable out here. We have had squalls with gusts of 25-35 m/sec. After we have fought against the wind and struggled with the waves for a while, we are completely exhausted, and have problems rowing each time the conditions improve.

Niclas has truly got his appetite back. Since Christmas he has eaten 60 packets of noodles! But we do not feel we have enough time to heat or boil the food, so we just soak it for a while.

It is extremely hot, the humidity is nauseating, and one is gradually longing home for the snow and the cold…

Our latest position: N11°57,5’ W55°49,4’.

2001-12-31 10:25

We are not particularly amused by all the salt water! Last night we had a "break in" twice of salt water in our sleeping-quarters, which means that we do not have any salt-free areas any more.

The waves are very deceiving. We row with the waves thinking all is safe and happy, then suddenly one of these big waves hit us sideways and washes right across the deck!

Our sores are getting worse with all the salt, and blisters have also reappeared in our hands due to the work of tackling the tricky waves.

We now have four new stowaway passengers. They are birds resting on the boat. However, they quarrel about which is to sit where, and the loser ends up beside the rowing seat and keeps getting washed over board.

Our latest position: N12°03’ W55°00’. 

We have about 285 n. miles left till the finish.


2001-12-30 10:00
Strong gusts of wind! 

We have had quite tough weather the last 24 hours. Strong squalls have caused waves to wash over the boat and we have difficulties in keeping to our course,

The wind-strength has reached 20 m/sec.

It is extremely tiring to angle the boat correctly during the bad weather. Five minutes of "correct angling" of the boat feels like three hours of ordinary rowing.

If this weather continues we will be forced to through out the sea-anchor.

Rune has a little pain in one hand. His hand is "sleeping", and sometimes it takes a long time to "wake up". Rune has to work on it for 5 or 10 minutes before he can start rowing.

Our latest position: N12°17,2’ W54°12,6’. 

We have rowed about 45 n. miles the last 24 hours and we have about 325 n. miles (about 602 km) to Barbados.

2001-12-29 17:30 

It is hot, extremely hot! Sweat is poring off us and it is almost impossible to sleep in the cabin. We are talking about a temperature of 45 centigrades!!

The hatch to the cabin is broken. We cannot open the hatch any more to ventilate the cabin, and we cannot remove it either for fear of letting water entering the sleeping area.

Our bodies are reasonably fresh, level of discomfort fairly steady… ("Vara kroppar kanns hyfsat frascha, jamna plagor med andra ord": Not too sure about the meaning of this! D&S.)

We are making fast progress, but we still have problems rowing North. We hope the currents will help us as we get nearer Barbados.

Our latest position is N12°22,9’ W53°40,3’

(Inmarsat D+ position 16.03: N12°22’ W53°42’ with 352 n. miles to Barbados.)

A quiet night.

We have had a quiet night and we have kept rowing. The time difference between Sweden and Barbados is increasing and we now have a difference of 5 hours. We are eating more than ever, 12 packets of noodles this last 24 hours.The boils on our behinds come and go, but are behaving rather politely just now. Since yesterday we have fiddled around with the video-camera, and we hope that we will be able to provide some entertainment when we arrive.

Our latest position is:

N12°51,1 W52°15,2’. We now have 430 nautical miles left to the finish.

(46 n. miles rowed last 24 hour: Well done, Nicke & Rune! But please, do not drift any further South; Barbados lies between North latitudes of 13°02’ and 13°21’. D&S)

2001-12-26 10:00
Bad weather during the night.

It blew hard during the night. We had confused cross-waves, and it was difficult to know what was up, down, bow and stern. We must have had at least 10 m/sec, and it also rained.

Rune spotted a bird yesterday afternoon. It was a very unusual bird, one that belongs to the Tropics, we imagine. That bird gave us hope that land is not so far away.

A school of tuna-fish accompanied the boat for a while. It was like the water boiled when they were close to the boat. The sea made quite a loud, bubbling noise.

We are starting to get used to the heat. But the temperatures are high and we daily have 35-40 centigrade.

We are hoping to row 50 nautical miles a day, weather and winds permitting. In order to get the distance in perspective, it is like rowing the Vanern every day (a 90 km long Swedish lake).

Our latest position: N13°09,7’ W51°30,9’.

We are now rowing due West and have an average speed of 2 knots (3,7 km/hr). We have 476 n. miles to go(882 km).

2001-12-25 11:10
The best Christmas present!

On Christmas Eve we got an excellent Christmas present: New water, more food and a bottle of champagne for New Year. We even were given a few old newspapers, which means we also have more toilet paper! It was in fact wonderful to see the Safety Vessel again after all we have been through.

The hottest day for a long time was 23rd of December (in Sweden known as Little Christmas Eve). The heat was severe and the thermometer read nearly 40 centigrade.

Now we have even scraped the bottom of the boat and we hope we can increase the speed to nearly 50 nautical miles daily.

Our latest position: N13°21,4’ W50°54,8’. Just now we are rowing due West.
(They have about 540 n. miles to Barbados.)

Drifting slowly on Christmas Eve.

This is just a little greeting from the Norwegian fanclub in Kristiansand, Norway: No direct news from Niclas & Rune today, but fortunately their Inmarsat D+ unit is working and we know where they are, and we know they are going the right way. But from the speed and the silence we assume they have not been replenished with water and food and are conserving energy. Our thoughts are with our rowing friends tonight when the Scandinavians have their main Christmas celebration.

This is when they will miss their friends and family more than at any other time during the trip. But take courage boys! You will get there!

Position at 16.06: N13°20’ W50°24’. 

21 n. miles past 24 hours, 557 n. miles to Barbados (exactly due West!). 

D&S Hoff, Norway

2001-12-23 15:00
We are lying still.

We are lying still for the time being. We have stopped rowing in order to conserve energy.

We are waiting for the Safety Vessel which is supposed to pay us a visit on Christmas Eve.

Our water has nearly finished and we are rationing what we have left to avoid becoming totally dehydrated.

However, the current is helping us in the right direction. Just now we are drifting North at 0,5 knots and West at 0,7 knots. (So just now they may not have to worry about drifting South of Barbados. We are a little surprised that they have not been able to get water from a passing boat. If they activate a strobe-light at night and have a VHF radio that functions they should be able to attract attention. D&S.)

We are in good spirits and are keeping calm in spite of the current situation.

Our latest position is: N13°32,9’ W50°06,1’ (About 560 n. miles left to Barbados.)

2001-12-22 09:23
Drift is a big problem.

Our biggest problem just now is sideways drift as well as lack of water. We hope the Safety Vessel will find us soon so that we can get new water. 

We are now very worried that we may pass South of Barbados. We are trying to struggle North, but the currents prevent us and we keep drifting more towards the Equator.

Our latest position is N13°28,1’ W49°36,4’. 
We are trying to keep a course of 240°-270° (270° is due West) and our speed is 2 knots

2001-12-21 14:00
Merry Christmas!

It appears that we will celebrate Christmas in our boat! Who shall be Santa Claus is an open question. We cannot trust the telephone to function for long and therefore want to use this opportunity to wish all visitors to our web-site a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Last night we heard a loud bump against the hull. We thought at first it was drift-wood that we had rowed into, but found out that is was one of the many animals wanting to greet us. 

We are in good spirits and we keep fighting to reach Barbados as quickly as possible.
Our latest position is: N13°40,1’ W49°07,65’ We have 615 n. miles left.

2001-12-20 10:30 
The watermaker is not making water.

All the filters in the watermaker have been replaced, but again the machine is not producing water. Sometime today Niclas will examine the pump housing more closely, it seems to be slipping.

We have 50 litres of water left as reserve and again we are forced to contact the Race Officials about our situation. We are suffering from lack of both water and food. There is no emergency, but we are rationing what we have left.

Sun panels and battery function well. But it is as if something is constantly causing a leaking of current. We do not know if it is due to the wires or if it is linked to the electrical equipment on board.

Niclas’ burns have improved and both fever and pain have subsided. His strength has also recovered. Rune’s hand is also better and we are rowing as much as we possibly can. Our latest position is N13°44,5’ W48°34,8’. We have a following current that has increased our speed by about 1 knot (1,8 km/hr).

(Inmarsat D+ position at 16.08: N13°44’ W48°48’. 40 n. miles rowed last 24 hrs, 633 n. miles to Barbados.) 

2001-12-19 16:40 
The watermaker repaired.

A miracle has happened; the watermaker is working again!

We keep rowing and are fighting in order to arrive between New Year and the Thirteenth Day of Christmas.
There is now less animal life around and the sea is getting warmer.

Our latest position: N13°53’ W48°04’. (They rowed 30 n. miles last 24 hrs and have 678 n. miles to Barbados.)

2001-12-18 10:18
Biggest problem is the watermaker.

We are constantly being chased by bad luck and we have a real struggle with all the problems on board.

The watermaker is the biggest worry just now. We do not have much cleaning solution left, and the pump housing appears to be giving way. Nicke is trying to replace the membrane inside the machine, trouble is that we do not have the right tool for the job. Just now we have 63 litres of water left.

The telephone is also about to give up the ghost. We hope it will last a few days yet, but it would be a small wonder if it worked all the way to Barbados.

Our rear ends are again worse and it is very painful rowing. However, we are not giving up, but we have to contact the Race Officials and inform them about our situation and in particular about the watermaker. (Closing in on the Caribbean Islands at this time of the year they are going to be passed by numerous yachts that can assist with emergency water and food, if necessary. Doing this they will be out of the official race, but will be able to carry on semi-unsupported! D&S.)

Flying-fish are everywhere and we also have dead fish around the deck. They land inside the boat, we do not have time to throw them back in, and end up stepping on dead flying-fish instead.

Our latest position: N 13°49,4’ W 47 °34’

2001-12-17 09:24

Yesterday Niclas got himself burned by a jellyfish. He was just rinsing his hands after trying to get the watermaker working. The jellyfish had long, blue tentacles with small, dark spots. They were 30-40 cm long. Niclas now has bad burns affecting one hand. We attended quickly to the burns and we hope they will be healed within a couple of days.

The watermaker has now stopped producing water altogether. Yesterday Niclas cleaned it out twice and checked all filters. We have 80 litres in our reserve tanks and we hope to get the machine working before these reserves are finished.

Rune’s hand is better and now he can row continuously.

We must scrape the bottom of the boat soon. It’s like a large jungle down there, a lot of seaweed growing and slowing the boat. However, we are starting to get a little scared of jumping in after all the animals we have encountered…

We have discussed giving up the race about 200 times, but we are so used to having problems, and a few burns, damaged feet and hands and a difficult watermaker is not enough to stop us! 

(The jellyfish referred to is probably a Portuguese man-of-war, a strange creature with an air-filled, floating mantle that looks like a bluish, slightly squashed plastic bag. This mantle or bladder acts a bit like a sail, even helping the creature to move into the wind. The bladder is from 2 to 20 cm long, underneath are trailing tentacles that can be from a few cm up to 15 m long! Normal length is 20-40 cm. The tentacles can give really nasty stings. Rubbing the tentacles stuck to the skin only makes the irritation and the pain worse, best is to quickly clean the affected skin with alcohol, e.g. methylated spirit. 

Swimming close to the boat with all these sea-creatures so well observed by N&R is not likely to be risky. Sharks are virtually unknown to attack humans in the open sea. And we do hope they have managed to photograph some of their many encounters! 

Well done with the 40 n. miles rowed from Dec 15th to 16th! So far on 17th we have no up-to-date position

Position 16.12.01 at 16.07: N1346’ W4639’, 40 n. miles last 24 hrs, 758 n. miles to Barbados.)

2001-12-15 21:00
Gigantic sword-fish!

Today we have had a fantastic experience! First we saw a sword-fish (marlin) which was more than 7 metres long, absolutely unbelievable! A few hours later two hammerhead sharks appeared, chasing fish under the boat.

Fortunately Uncle Bob, our favourite fish survived.

Rune’s hand has swollen up after he hit himself with a hammer while repairing the rowing-seat. He is now testing it out to see if he can still row, otherwise he will have to rest.

Niclas’s foot is also swollen, and he is trying to avoid straining it while he is rowing. But this means the other leg gets wrongly loaded and gives him cramps and pain in the knee. 

Apart from cramps, we are very well, and help each other keep in good humour!

(Position at 16.11: N13°52’ W 45°58’, 798 22 n. miles rowed last 24 hrs, 798 n .miles to Barbados)

2001-12-14 09:48
Whales visiting.

We are rowing well now. Nicke has gathered fresh energy and feels strong and we are progressing well.

During last night the heavens were pitch black. It is unusual for it to be so dark, normally there are stars out. It is difficult to row when you cannot see how the waves are approaching and occasionally this causes problems. However, Rune completed a successful stint during the night. Niclas concentrated on pumping water during the night in order to top up our reserve supply.

There are plenty flying fish out here on the Atlantic, but yesterday we had other visitors when 15 lightly grey whales accompanied us for a while. They were quite small – maybe about five meters long. (Could be mink whales, a small baleen whale.)

We still have not eaten any fresh fish on board. But if there should be a crisis we always have Uncle Bob, as we have named him. He is a really fat dorado (dolphin-fish) who has followed us for many weeks and has lots of flesh on his body.

Niclas Mrdfelt & Rune Larsson

(Position at 16.55: N13°51’ W45°35’. 34 n. miles the last 24 hrs., 820 n.miles to Barbados.)

2001-12-13 10:00 
We are weak, but we don’t give up!

Nicke felt better yesterday afternoon and emerged from the cabin in order to sort out the food-stores. However, he soon felt heavy-headed and crawled back in to rest more.

Neither is Rune in top form. During a food-break yesterday he got a sort of cramp in his lungs (stomach?) and vomited the tuna- fish he was eating. It all went away quickly and he feels better now.

We have started to name some of the fish that accompany our boat. It seems like they multiply and we now have families of fish swimming underneath.

We are awfully tired of the food we eat. It feels like we have been eating more than 40 kg of sugar! All the sweet stuff bring us to tears. It is not possible to explain the longing we have for proteins, quite depressing, in fact…

Last night part of the rowing frame broke down yet again. And once again we have repaired it. We saw up what metal parts we have on board in order to make the repairs. Yesterday we cut up parts of the "kitchen" (the galley)

(Position 16.10: N16°10’ W45°02’. 29 n.miles rowed last 24 hrs, 853 n.miles to Barbados.)

2001-12-12 09:55
Our Struggle for Survival!

Today Niclas feels better. For the first time in 60 days has he been able to rest more than two hours at a time. After all the pumping he has done (manually operating the PUR Watermaker in order to produce fresh-water) he can now rest. While pumping his muscles nearly exploded and the skin became much stretched. But he looks very athletic – his hair bleached nearly white by the sun.

During the period when we lost contact with the outside world we had many problems and several crises to tackle.

If the Race Officials had known how bad it was they would have told us to retire. For a while it was so bad that all Niclas and I concentrated on was survival!

Niclas and I make a good team out here and we look after each other.

Rune Larsson

(Position 16.27: N14˚09’ W44˚31’)

2001-12-11 10:11

Last night Nicke knocked his head on his way out of the cabin - it was his turn to do a stint of rowing. He started to row but felt unwell about an hour later.

He is probably suffering from a slight concussion and I am keeping an eye on him. Niclas also has big problems with sores on his bottom and I have therefore told him to rest for a couple of days.

In fact we row so hard the seats become blood-stained! - However, my sores are slowly improving.

The best treat out here on the Atlantic is when we get a rain shower! We undress and let the rain wash away all the salt. And the most unpleasant is when we get a big wave hitting us side on and splashing across us, salting our sores anew. It feels a bit like an unexpected left hook!

Our toilet paper is finished, so when we visit the bucket we usually say Hello Africa! as there is no paper to cover the stuff with. Fortunately, we still have shampoo, but are now having to ration even that.

I want to take the opportunity to greet all you who write in our Visitor’s Book (http\\ Gastboken).

It is absolutely great to get your stories and greetings.

Rune Larsson

(Position 16.32: N14˚15’ W44˚01’)

2001-12-10 09:26
Many are Curious!

During these last weeks a lot of things have happened on board and around us. A few days ago a Norwegian yacht sailed up to us and asked how we were. It was a Maxi Rate yacht named Ondine. They happen to know Diana & Stein Hoff (who translate our website to English, have rowed across the Atlantic and sailed around the World).

The other day we got the "Monkey-in-the-cage" feeling. A large yacht participating in the ARC (Atlantic Rally Cruise from Gran Canaria to St Lucia) came to inspect us. They seemed curious about what sort of people row the Atlantic voluntarily. We could just laugh back and struggle on our way.

Niclas has lost a lot of weight. It is obvious that both muscle bulk and layer of fat have become reduced. Rune has also lost weight, but luckily Rune had managed to fatten up a little before the start of the trip.(Not too obvious if you check the pre-race photo shown on Nov 24th!

The yacht we circumnavigated is called Red Admiral. With new Norwegian owners, the Haugen family from Eidsvoll, it happened to arrive in Barbados this very day – Dec 10th 2001!

Position 15.47: N14˚ 22’ W43˚ 24’)

2001-12-09 12:45
The Phone is Working!

After three weeks of quiet Rune and Niclas have managed to get the phone working.
Sorry it took a couple of days for us translators to discover this good news – better late than never! Here we go:

We have finally got the phone working again. However, we have a new problem on board – our solar-cell panels. They do not produce as much power as we wish, we only hope we are able to charge our phone regularly in order to keep in touch.

During these three weeks we have encountered new problems. The worst was when the seat collapsed and we no longer could steer the boat. The waves that kept washing over us were 6 – 7 meter high.

Our sores became a lot worse from all the salt water while we were working on the seat and slides. However, Rune managed to get it all working eventually.

Niclas has spent much time on the watermaker and produced a lot of water. Almost all stores are full and we hope to stop pumping water when we have a distance of 700 nautical miles left to Barbados. From then on we should be able to manage on the reserves we now carry. Our speed will increase and we hope and believe that we will be able to step ashore before New Year.

Niclas & Rune

Their position 16.07: N 14˚ 28’ W 42˚ 43’

Telephone not working, but regular electronic signals.

During the last three days Team has transmitted a daily electronic position and we are very glad to note a steady pogress of 61 n. miles during the last 48 hr. They now have 1405 n. miles to go. With a full moon coming up in two days the nights out on the Atlantic will be so much easier for all the rowers. Let us also hope for good tail-winds and friendly currents in addition.

Positions: Nov 26th at 17.19: 16 06 N and 35 36 W
                Nov 27th at 15.59: 15 59 N and 36 09 W
                Nov 28th at 16.51: 15 53 N and 36 38 W

D&S Hoff 

No signal from the last three days, unfortunately.

The last two reported positions were
22nd November at 16.32: 16 37 N and 33 28 W
23rd November at 17.39: 16 27 N and 33 50 W. 

This means about 25 n. miles/day - not fast, but steady. But unless Niclas & Rune get faster very soon they will have to celebrate Christmas 2001 on the Atlantic!
Enclosed is a photo of our Swedish friends two days before departure from San Juan.

D&S Hoff 

2001-11-22 20:00
Message from the Safety Vessel…

The Safety Vessel has been in contact with Rune and Niclas.

Both are in good spirit and will keep on fighting.

The reason for the broken contact with the mainland is moisture in the satellite telephone.

Here is the message that Niclas and Rune have for everybody interested:

"All OK but think phone not working due to moisture in it. Making water by hand, so pumping 6 - 8 hours a day and rowing the rest of the time. Progress slow at the moment due to an adverse current as well as only rowing part days. God willing and better current, no promises, but hope can be in Barbados for XMAS. Regards to all. Niclas and Rune."

Their position according to the site at 16.32 was 16 37 N and 33 28 W. 

2001-11-21 22:10
Freedom from Australia finished after 45 days at sea.

The 2nd boat of the race has arrived in Barbados. They stepped ashore at 19.35 Wednesday night after about 45 days at sea.

There is still a hard fight for 3rd position between Win Belgium and the female crew of Telecom Challenge 25. The Belgians are now leading with 28 nautical miles and only have 218 n. miles to the finish.

Niclas and Rune have not been on the phone since Nov 15th. Their Inmarsat D+ equipment (which transmit the boat’s position regularly) is, however, still functioning and according to this they are carrying on in the right direction and with a speed that indicates that they are still rowing. They may have problems with the charging or their satellite telephone is malfunctioning. Race Officials say that there has not been sunny lately so we still hope the first explanation to be the correct one. One of the Safety Vessels which refuelled in the Cape Verde islands are now going to visit the team and found out what has happened.

The position of the boat and the distance left to Barbados can in the future be found on the official website ( According to this they are 1546 nautical miles from Barbados and rowed 26 n. miles the last 24 hrs. Position Nov 21st at 16.30: 16 48 N and 33 12 W; rowing in the direction of 245 degrees.

This news is from, Sweden.

Nov 20th

Still no news

Unfortunately, the satellite telephone on board remains silent, but we are happy to report progression in the right direction thanks to the automatic transmission from the Inmarsat D: At 17.44 today, Nov 20th, position was 16 59 N and 32 48 W. (At 09.27 Nov 19th position was 17 00 N and 32 18 W)

D&S Hoff


Silent progression

For the last 3 days, since Nov 16th, there have been no telephone contact with the boat. However, the Inmarsat D position signals are transmitting, although a bit irregularely (they are programmed to transmit 4 times/day if power is available) and show progress in the right direction:

Nov 16th at 10.59: 17 37 N and 31 17 W
Nov 17th at 17.39: 17 22 N and 31 50 W
Nov 18th at 16.01: 17 07 N and 32 05 W
Nov 19th at 09.27: 17 00 N and 32 18 W

Progress from 16th to 18th was good and can only have been achieved through active rowing, while from 18th evening to this morning is not so good. We can only speculate on why this is. Hopefully Niclas and Rune will be able to get the system functioning again. Meanwhile a Rece Safety Vessel is heading toward them.

D&S Hoff, Norway

2001-11-18 still have no contact with the boat.

The most likely reason is that Niclas and Rune have problems with their satellite telephone and for this reason cannot phone home or transmit photographs to their website.

The Race Official’s Safety Vessel is, however, on their way towards to check that everything is OK with the two rowers.

Rune and Niclas are transmitting their positions via the Inmarsat-D system on board and they are making good progress in the right direction. In the past have had problems with this satellite system, but fortunately it seems for now to function well.



No news today from Niclas & Rune. What has happened noone knows. They may have had power-problems, humidity affecting the telephone or had unexpected visits.

We at have contacted the Race Officials and they have promised to direct the Safety Vessel to look for Team


Last night we saw a very strong light on the horizon. The light came from heaven and fell down to the sea. We think it was some kind of meteor.

Nicke has lost a little weight, both muscle and fat have decreased. He can also feel that his body is firmer and harder. 

Rune has, however, put on a little weight, got a little more body-fat, which was really needed. Rune was worried before the start that he hadn’t eaten enough, but now he has put on some weight.

The manual labour on board is tiring. Pumping water is twice as hard as rowing. 

Our latest position is 17 51.9 N and 30 39.9 W. We have rowed 39.5 nautical miles the past 24 hours. 

Niclas & Rune.

2001-11-14 09.41
Humidity and heat increasing! 

The last day has been very calm. We are getting there slowly but steadily. During the past 24 hours we have covered 41 nautical miles. 

The humidity is very high. The temperature has also risen since we began 35 days ago. 

We have also noticed that the fish following the boat have become bigger. They have either become fatter or bigger ones have replaced them. 

The dorado (or dolphin) fish are between 40 and 100 cm long. They shine beautifully in the dark. We have some smaller fish following the boat, one type of which is striped and looks like an aquarium fish. There is also a green one, which is rather temperamental and likes to bite us when we jump into the water. 

Our latest position is 18 15.18 N and 30 12.7 W

Niclas and Rune.

2001-11-13 09:30

Las night was star-lit and we saw many falling stars.

During Niclas’ rowing-watch there were hard bangs against the hull. Niclas got out the torch to have a look, but could see nothing but foam. He turned off the torch and continued to row. In the starlight he could, however, see a huge fin disappearing. Lighting the torch again confirmed his suspicion. What he observed was a huge shark or a killer-whale. The fin was between 1m and 1.5m tall.

Rune wishes to send a greeting to his children, Isak and Zakarias: You are very clever reading all those books. Carry on reading and I will soon be home!

During parts of the night we had a calm, but we have also recorded a counter current. We know how important it is to get into the strong current, and we are therefore continuing with our present course in order to get south as fast as possible. 

Nicke still has problems with his hands. Last night it took more than one hour to get the right hand going.

Today when he woke up was a little better and the numbness was gone after about 5 minutes.

Our latest position is: 18 40,4 N and 29 45,7 W

Niclas Mårdfelt & Rune Larsson

2001-11-12 09.30
Sick of sugar! 

We are now in an area with weak currents, but we have good weather and just a slightly disturbed sea.

We have begun to ration our fuel, and we avoid cooking any food that doesn’t absolutely need it. For example, we don’t cook cous-cous, just soak it until it can be eaten. 

Niclas is now getting very tired of sugar, and often longs for protein. A lot of the food on board consists of sugar to give quick energy. Occasionally one just wants meat and rice! All the sugar means that we have to brush our teeth several times a day, but there must still be a risk of us coming home with holes in our teeth!

We are now getting 6 litres an hour from the water-maker when we hand-pump. (Congratulations! That is a better production than the usual when using the electrical pump!)

Our latest position is 19 02.2 N and 29 17.8 W

We have 1780 nautical miles to Barbados.

Niclas and Rune.

2001-11-11 12:31
Large flying-fish in the head!

We have rowed nearly 50 nautical miles the last 24 hours. It feels very good that we are progressing.

The mood on board is excellent and we are very motivated!

But occasionally it can be difficult to get sufficiently motivated. The heat makes you lose your appetite.

We have also managed to spill sports-drink on deck and it is slippery instead of sticky, so we have to be careful not to slide and get injured.

Last night each of us got hit in the head by a large flying-fish. Nicke’s was a really large specimen that gave him a bit of a struggle to catch before he could throw it back into the sea.

We have also had the opportunity to work on the technical equipment on board. Both the PC and the video camera are now charged and soon we can transmit pictures from the boat

Our latest position is 19 25,0 N and 28 48,9 W

2001-11-10 09:28
Unpleasant visit...

The wind has turned and we have had good rowing conditions.

Last night Rune heard a strange sound. It sounded like a large ship heading towards us, but he could not see any boats. Finally he spotted lots of whales and we realised that they made a sound like a large ship.

Yesterday Rune went for a swim to scrape the bottom of the boat. Just as he was about to come up for a rest, a 2.5 m long snake-like creature, thick as a thigh, appeared. The serpent-like creature had white spots and was a little
scary. After the “snake” had gone a large shark followed and started circling 1 m below the boat. Rather unpleasant.

During Niclas’s rowing watch there were suddenly strange sounds from the sea and a lot of foam appeared around the boat. Niclas carried on rowing and the foam disappeared. (Maybe volcanic activity on the sea-floor?)

Our latest position is: 19 53,0 N and 28 16,5 W. We have a course of 230 degrees and a speed of 2,8-3 knots.

Niclas & Rune Larsson

2001-11-09 09:37
Pictures from the boat on their way!

Niclas has a touch of his cold again. It is important that he recovers fully and does not exert himself too much.

We are pumping water in order to build up our stores (of drinking water), as we cannot row much in the headwind anyway.

We have finally succeeded in connecting the PC to the digital video camera on board. We are soon able to transmit pictures to you back home.

Rune gets a pain in his bottom when he pumps water. Our skin problems, aches and pains do not go away but remain with us the whole time.

When we row (at night) there is lots of phosphorescence around the boat. It looks like small fireflies.

Our latest position: 20 21,27 N and 27 43,35 W

Niclas Mårdfelt & Rune Larsson

2001-11-08 09:25

During the night we were hit by the headwind that "Running Doc" wrote about in our Visitors’ Book ( click "Gastbok"). For tactical reasons we have stopped up and concentrated on pumping water. (They probably use the large sea-anchor with 70 m rope downwind to the boat.) We now hope to have sufficient drinking-water for a few days, but we must also make sure that the machine does not get clogged up again (by algae).

Rune’s biggest dream is to row across the Atlantic to see his family waiting on the jetty. He dreams about the Atlantic also while asleep, maybe not so strange since that is what he has mainly seen these last 30 days!

Our latest position is 20 14, 2 N and 27 36,3 W

2001-11-07 09.18
Pumping water is time-consuming!

There is almost a complete calm and a heat-wave!

Pumping water is terrible and it takes 6-7 hours a day to get the water we need. The biggest problem is that we cannot row at the same time because then we cannot get to the water-maker easily. 

We hope to get more water out of the machine by changing all the tubes to it. A kink in one of the tubes can decrease the water out-put by 30%. We have to get more time to row! And not have to pump 7 hours a day!

Our latest position is 20 04.9 N and 27.31 W

Niclas and Rune

2001-11-06 09:25
Hand-pumping toward Barbados!

During the night we continued our struggle with the watermaker. We have now exhausted all possibilities of getting the machine to function through our electrical system. Hand-pumping is going to be the order of the day all the way to Barbados.

We have a weak following wind and good currents. Today we will pass the latitude of 20 degrees North and that feels wonderful! It is one of many goals that we shall reach.

We feel very tired, but still strong. We have rebuilt a pair of oars and adjusted the stretcher to improve the efficiency of the rowing. 

Our latest position is 20 09,57 N and 27 06,08 W

Niclas Mardfelt & Rune Larsson

The water-maker…

Yesterday Niclas worked with the water-maker for four hours. We have a great desire to get it connected to electricity, but it is not as easy as it seems. 
The water-maker needs 13.8 volts and our battery only gives 12, but we can get up to 18 from the sun-panels.
The machine is also very clumsy and difficult to work with. One needs 12 hands to handle it smoothly, but we only have four, and instead get lots of new bruises on our bodies. 
One thing is clear, we shall never give up!!

We have another question for our home-page visitors. We have a lot of fish around, and one we see all the time under the boat is a blue fish with a yellow tail. It is 50-70 cms long and the tail is divided in two. The answer can be written in the guest-book. (this is almost certainly the dolphin-fish or dorado.)

Our latest position is 20 28.9 N and 26 34.9 W
We are starting to get a little speed!

Niclas and Rune.

Niclas & Rune - 2001-11-04 09:24
We start to feel the Westerly current. 

2001-11-04 09:24
Niclas has had a few hours' quality sleep and the boat has moved in the right direction. The mood on board has also become better.

Last night Rune saw enormous whales. Their fins were huge. We have lots of fish below the boat, which also means we have a lot of weed on the bottom. It would have been great if the fish ate up the algae so that we did not have to scrape the bottom so often.

The sun rises about 9 o'clock Swedish time. It is beautiful, but not as magnificent as in Scandinavia. It is already warm and as the sun climbs higher it gets hotter. Back home one appreciates the warmth that the sunrise gives, but with 30 degrees centigrade one can do without it.

We are starting to notice that it is easier to row West than earlier and we think we soon will get even more help from the currents.

In addition to our earlier ailments, we now also have tummy-aches. We think it may have come from rice we ate that was not completely cooked, but we do not know for sure.

Our latest position 20 53,50 N and 26 04,4 W

Niclas Mardfelt & Rune Larsson

Niclas & Rune - 2001-11-03 09:45
Frustration increases on board! 

2001-11-03 09:45
Our frustration is increasing and we have lots of tactical discussions. We are feeling tired and disappointed about how slowly we are going. We can do better and we will get over faster! We also disagree about what should be thrown overboard.
The boat is also letting in a little water. We have to pump out from time to time to get rid of the extra weight. 

Last night Niclas tried again to get the water-machine connected to the electricity, but after some discussion on board, we decided to give it up. If we get time today we shall try again. 

During the night we saw some really big sharks swimming about 30 metres from the boat. It was good that they chose to stay at a safe distance. (Could also be marlins = sailfish. Both their dorsal (back) fin and their tail may look like those of a shark and both frequently stick out of the water. Large marlins may be seen especially on calm days. They appear to be attracted to slow crafts like rowing-boats. They can become several metres long, but are harmless.) 

Our latest position is 21 11.5 N and 25 35.5 W

Niclas Mardfelt & Rune Larsson

Niclas & Rune - 2001-11-02 10:28
Apollo 13, that's us! 

2001-11-02 10:28 

It feels as if our boat is a friend of Apollo 13. We are quite frustrated by all the problems and in order to get away from it all, Nicke is contemplating suicide about every five minutes! Nothing can get worse now and every three minutes the best solution may be to burn the boat and escape from the problems!
However, we know that giving up is not the solution and we will keep on fighting!

Rune is a sensitive person and gets depressed when Niclas is upset. It can be tiring when one cannot display how one feels, because of the fear of depressing one's rowing partner. In spite of this, we manage fine and function well as a team. We enjoy each other's company, but we both have our weaknesses and failures.

Our latest position is 21 17,4 N and 25 37,3 W. 
It has been quite windy and for part of the night we used our sea-anchor.

Niclas Mardfelt & Rune Larsson

Niclas & Rune - 2001-11-01 09:30
Near the eye!

2001-11-01 09:30
Last night Niclas had a small outburst of rage as the forward rowing-seat broke down several times during his rowing watch.
He was about to throw the whole seat over board, but settled for throwing in some mayonnaise instead.

We have had a few rain-showers. They last no more than five minutes, and then it is all over. We try to collect what water we can in order to avoid pumping unnecessarily.

Yesterday afternoon we were in the sea scraping the boat again. The growth is a problem that we have to tackle repeatedly. We didn't manage to do the whole boat, but it is much better than it was.
Last night Niclas nearly had his left eye stuck by a sharp nail in the cabin. He was lucky and got it just over the eye. 
We have seen many aeroplanes. But we can't tell if they have SAS or another air-line logo on them!

Our latest position is 21 30,4 N and 25 29,8 W. We have 2011 nautical miles to Barbados and a course of 210 degrees.

Niclas Mardfelt & Rune Larsson

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-31 09:43
A UFO and flying fish in the head! 

2001-10-31 09:43
We have passed one million strokes!

Last night a good wind helped us along. However, the waves varied a lot during the night, sometimes they were long and large, sometimes short, small, quick and plentiful.

Our present problems are Rune's painful finger-joints, me still having some problems with my behind, it is difficult to sit on artificial materials. Hence I try to air out as much as possible (charming!). I also have a painful left shoulder-blade. It seems like it is heavier to row with the left arm than with the right. Rune has massaged a knot I had on my back and it feels much better now.

Now it has happened! Rune had a direct hit to his head from a flying fish last night. We have lots of flying fish around us and the airborne fish attract a bird that has followed us the last week.

During the night I observed something strange. At a height of about 500 m I saw a strong light that spread out and disappeared behind a cloud and was gone after about 5 seconds. One probably has to classify it as an Unidentified Flying Object, because I have absolutely no idea what I saw!

Our latest position is 21 58,4 N and 25 14,6 W. Our course is 210 degrees and we have 1970 nautical miles to Barbados

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-30 09:52
The currents are against us.

2001-10-30 09:52 
We can answer the guest-book contributor "Curious 14" that Rune's personal belonging is a picture which one of his children has painted, and mine is a picture of my girl-friend.
At the moment we have good winds, a North-Easterly is blowing into our rear, which is a good help!

Tiredness is becoming more and more apparent. Rune and I are taking shorter rowing sessions to recover faster and get rest more often.

We still have not managed to get our water-machine working by electricity. We know how to pump now, sometimes we pump until our hands go to sleep.

The currents are odd out here. Yesterday it felt as though the current was against us and it was difficult to make any progress. But I cannot find these counter-currents on any of the charts which I have which show the direction of the currents. We should have the current with us, not against us! If anybody knows more about currents in this area, please tell us in the guest-book. (Although the dominant current in this area is in a South-Westerly direction, there are numerous smaller and larger eddies - sometimes 100's of nautical miles in diameter. Also the currents may have different directions in different depths. After squalls deeper water moving in the opposite direction may surface for a shorter or longer period. As all these movements produce a complex pattern, oceanographers with detailed current-charts can be of assistance to boats trying to make a fast passage.)

Our position is 22 32,6N and 25 00,6W. Our course is 210 degrees, and speed 2.2 knots. We have 2039 nautical miles to Barbados. 

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-29 09:36
The bottom of the boat is cleaned. 
(Translations and comments in brackets by D&S Hoff.)

2001-10-29 09:36. I scraped the bottom of the boat yesterday. It took about 2 hours, the waves pushed me about all the time and I repeatedly gulped some seawater. Just as I was finishing the cleaning I received a real mouthful and Rune had to drag me back on board. Back on deck I was sick and brought back up much of the water I had swallowed.

We are fighting to get further South, but the winds and waves are pushing us West and it is hard to row against these forces. We have decided instead to take advantage of the push nature is providing.
We have lots of flying fish around us. They jump and sail across high waves, occasionally we have to duck to avoid getting hit on the head by a flying fish.

We now pump water continuously to avoid the watermaker getting blocked again by growth.
The electrics are functioning, but we appear to have a contact problem to the battery. When I charge the telephone I can see immediately that I have good contact with the battery as a green light is lit when the telephone is charging. Unfortunately there is no such indicator on the Inmarsat D+ unit to tell us if it receives power. That is why our position is not always as updated as it should be.

Rune's got pain in one of his wrists. He can still row without problems, but we may bandage the wrist to give him more support.

My cold is still there, but I struggle on and hope it will go away. (Treating a cold by two hours swimming and swallowing sea-water is what we in Norway call a real "Hestekur" - i.e. therapy fit for a horse!) 

Our latest position is 22 55,03 N and 24 32,55 W.
We have about 2000 nautical miles left to Barbados. We shall recharge our GPS in order to give more exact distance left to Barbados. Watch this space tomorrow.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-28 09:47
We row and row, but are we making the correct tactical decisions?
We still have not scraped the bottom of the boat and now we have both barnacles (goose-necked barnacles) and seaweed there. The weather is not good so we don't dare to jump in and scrape the bottom. I also consider that we are not making optimal use of the currents, which occasionally causes Rune and I to have arguments. We have started to quarrel a little about small details in spite of both of us trying to bite our tongues.

Rune is doing a great job on board and he is letting me rest enough to get over my cold. Yesterday I thought this was better, but now I have got a bit of a sore throat. 
We have worn out the first pair of socks on the handles of the oars. The socks are a great help in keeping our hands in good shape and avoiding blisters.

Our latest position is 23 13.05 N and 24 02.64 W.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-27 09:46
Bad weather coming our way.

2001-10-27 09:46 Last night a large black bird flew into Rune's head, no damage done. There are lots of fish around the boat, and we see flying fish every day.
My cold is starting to go away, and I feel stronger than I have done for some time. I have just finished a 5 hour rowing session, and now Rune is going as fast as he can!
We are very keen to get South as fast as possible to get away from the bad weather which is approaching. 

Thanks to all those who have written in the guest-book, with weather forecasts and other practical advice. All your encouraging comments give us a kick, and we feel that we are not alone.

We see here and there the odd plastic-can and other rubbish. We suspect it might be from some boat that has been burned by the Challenge business. Our boat will not end up being burned, it is going to Barbados!
The weather now feels much heavier, with warm, damp air meeting us. We plan to scrape the boat today. The growth is increasing, and we have to get rid of it soon to stop the boat getting heavier to row than it is already.

Our latest position is 
23 34.5 N and 23 41.6W. 
We are keeping the same course as before, but considering going more southerly to get away from the approaching bad weather.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-26 09:47
We struggle on!

2001-10-26 09:47

Rune is still doing the most pulling, he takes the longest sessions and is working hard to get us across the Atlantic as fast as possible. He still has a problem with sores on his rear-end. My problem is the same as yesterday, my hand is painful and I still have a cold.
We have seen flying fish and jumping tuna-fish (more likely to be dorado-fish). 
During the night I even thought I saw a shark's fin, but it was too far from the boat for me to be 100% sure it was a shark, it might have been a dolphin or a whale. (Sharks are extremely rare in the middle of an ocean).

Our latest position is 23 50,8 N and 23 20.1 W
We have 2143 nautical miles to Barbados.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-25 11:38
Short reply to writers in our Visitors' Book... 
2001-10-25 11:38

First of all we would like to reply to some of the entries in our Visitors' Book regarding Olympic rowers and whether they are competent to take part in this race. Of course an Olympic oarsman can very well take part, but what I meant was that this event requires much more than the ability to row. In the last race there was a team of professional rowers who had to give up after only a couple of days when they hit "the wall". However, there are all kinds also among Olympic rowers and naturally there are those suited to an Atlantic row.

This dairy is updated via satellite telephone. It has seemed natural that I should do it and when I phone Sweden every morning I relate what has happened during the night and how Rune and I are feeling. What is written in the dairy relates to both Rune and me. Of course we could alternate who is phoning home, something we are considering just now.

Rune has rested most of the night and I have been busy pumping water. The hose has developed a small leak, but this we shall easily repair with some tape. Unfortunately my hand is giving me a lot of pain. Half the hand is numb when I wake up and it takes about 20 min to get it going normally again. However, I do not have any pain when I row or when I pump the watermaker. (The unaccustomed, hard, manual work with the watermaker has probably caused soft-tissue swelling of Niclas' wrist and some degree of nerve compression causing the numbness. Rest may be necessary, NSAID medication may help. Here's hoping for either good battery-power or a heavy rain-shower!)

Last night we produced a record speed. During one half hour we maintained the speed of 6 knots. We are now trying to eat up the heavy food in order to reduce the weight of the boat so that we can beat that record again!

Our latest position is 24 05,2 N and 22 56,7 W

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-24 09:56
We fight on!

2001-10-24 09:56 We row and row but it feels like we are not getting where we want as fast as we want!

We are giving priority to eating properly and getting enough good food. We have a constant lack of sleep.
I still have my cold and cannot manage to row more than one hour at a time. Rune is now taking the heaviest load and does long sessions, sometimes up to several hours at a time.

Quote from Rune: "Even if it not obvious that we are struggling with both the sea and the rowing, we are doing so, there is no time to contemplate one's navel out in the Atlantic!"
We have at least kept up our good humour, and we will never give up fighting our way across the Atlantic.
Last night the safety vessel came up to us and took back the forbidden water. Now at least we do not have that extra weight on board.

Unfortunately the pump-handle of the water machine broke during the night, but we managed to fix it with some of our spare-parts.

Our latest position is 24 24.05 N and 22 24.54 W. We still have 2100 nautical miles to Barbados.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-23 09:39

A night of falling stars.

2001-10-23 09:39 

Last night Rune and I saw many falling stars. At times it was as if the entire Great Bear was descending on us, but it was very beautiful.

As usual we are struggling on in our boat and we are starting to get into good routines, but we know we have to solve this water problem in order to avoid hand pumping across the entire Atlantic.

Rune went in for a swim yesterday. He discovered that algae have started to grow on the bottom of the boat, so today we shall try to scrape off this early growth to prevent this slowing us through the water.

I am a little bothered by my cold, but I have no time to rest, instead I want to get on. Maybe a little unwise, but every stroke of the oars make us arrive earlier in Barbados.

Rune and I are now getting plenty to eat. A good sign is that a pimple has popped up on my cheek!

Our latest position is 24 33,67 N and 21 59,99 W. When we next report we will indicated the distance left and distance covered.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-22 09:33
Struggling, but we are carrying on!

2001-10-22 09:33

We have quite a struggle on board these days as we have had to hand pump the watermaker all the time. Rune and I have not had time to sleep as much as we need, and I also have the first symptoms of a cold.
We agree that we must get the watermaker to function better. We are not getting out as much water as we should while operating manually, only about 2 litres each hour. (This may not be far from "normal". Hand pumping is less efficient than when operating the machine by the electrical motor when production is about 4 liters per hour. Several teams in 1997 ended up hand pumping, especially towards the end of the race. For "Carpe Diem", however, also known as the Mother-And-Son Team, this way of producing fresh water was the main method throughout their 101 day journey! They still enjoyed the trip and made enough water to include a gin and "tonic" at sunset!)

Once again we will attempt to replace the filter (membrane) in the watermaker and run the cleaning solution through the machine and hope that will help. We will even try to connect it to the electrical pump again, hoping that we will not have to spend so much energy on this hand pumping.

Our latest position is: 24 53, 83 N and 21 33, 04 W

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-21 09:31

Resting and gathering strength. 

We have more or less had to take it easy now for three days. First we had to rest because of lack of water, then we had to save energy and recover from the effect of dehydration.
Yesterday Rune and I alternated in hitting "the wall". Rune had rowed for five hours while I was working on the watermaker. Rune felt weak and had to lie down to recover while I had to hand-pump the machine for about three hours in order to give him sports-drink and power-bars.
When I helped Rune to get energy, I could go on no longer myself and was also forced to rest. Fortunately Rune recovered very quickly and we were never both knocked out at the same time.

Rune is in remarkable form out here on the ocean, he has taken to it like a fish to the sea, even with all our difficulties. (Rune has no seagoing experience, but he is an ultra-marathon runner! His stamina must be a useful quality in this endurance test.)
Unfortunately we are forced to hand-pump the watermaker as we have problems getting the pressure high enough on ordinary electrical operation. We now have to spend 4 - 5 hours daily to produce the necessary amount of water. To pump is actually much harder than to row, and we hope to get the machine back on electricity as soon as possible and as soon as we can spare the time to fix it.
We have no intention of drinking the "forbidden water". We have jokingly named it "dishwater" as we are going to be "dishqualified" (sorry!) from the race if we drink from it. (Let us hope N&R encounter some friendly squalls full of nice fresh water from above to ease the pumping...)
Our latest position is 25 13,23 N 21 11,86 W. Our course is 225 grader (SW) and just now we have no speed. 

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-20 10:07
2001-10-20 10:07 

Why does everything have to be twice as tough, twice as much work and twice as problematic for us?!
It feels as if we are constantly taking two steps forward and one backward. Question in my head right now: Why can the race officials not be a little more cooperative? Why must Rune and I go through this?

For four hours last night Rune and I discussed with the safety vessel belonging to the race administration (Challenge). The theme of our talk was that we needed water, but did not want to give up the race. 
We now have water, but are not allowed to use it or else we will be disqualified from the race. This creates an enormous pressure on us to fix the watermaker.
During the negotiations, the safety vessel bumped into us four times. Our boat is no longer a beauty, but full of marks. I have double-checked that we are not taking in water due to their bad manoeuvring.
One does realise out here on the ocean that this is not a place for Olympic oarsmen, here you must be practical and be used to the sea. (Actually two Olympian rowers - both lightweights, took part in the 1997 race: British Peter Haining and Newzealander Rob Hamill. Peter and his mate had to be rescued from the breakers off La Gomera after 1 day, but Rob went on to win the race in 41 days!)

Just now Rune and I want to prove to everybody that we can do it! We can row the Atlantic and we know that we can arrive among the 10 top teams as long as we fix this watermaker.
We hardly rowed last night as talking with the race officials took about four hours, and in addition we have not been able to drink any water these last 24 hours. 
Our latest position is: 25 14, 6 N 21 00, 9 W

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-19 09:57
2001-10-19 09:57 

A small thank you to Diana and Stein for translating our dairy to English. The Hoffs have both rowed across the Atlantic! (Stein with Arvid Bentsen in 97 and Diana alone in 99. We also were in Tenerife the last days before departure.)

We also wish to address all you who write in our Visitor's Book: Thank you for all those encouraging words. And to everybody visiting our website looking for videos and photographs en route: we will shortly be able to transmit pictures from the boat. We are filming and taking snaps continuously. 
We had to contact the Race office last night as we were having problems with the watermaker. The reason for the problem is that we did not have power to use the machine during the first part of the race and had to drink from the reserve water (ballast water). When the watermaker is not flushed through regularly, a layer of algae starts growing on the membrane and this can cause failure. We have now run a special cleaning solution (biocide) through the machine and shall examine the membrane shortly. The supporting yacht will call on us regardless and replace our 150 litres of fresh water - they were partly responsible for our initial power failure. (Crew from the support yacht Ward Evans wired up the electrical system for N&R the day before departure.)

Last night Rune saw our first commercial ship. There was no risk of collision, but still a little unpleasant.

Rune and I often hear from the Race office that our team is the most positive and cheerful of the lot. That may indeed stem from the two of us being happy and in harmony.... We joke a lot aboard and that improves the atmosphere. We seem to be like two MacGyvers constantly finding new solutions to problems! For example, we now have socks covering the oar handles as this helps to prevent blisters in the hands. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to pull socks across the rowing seats...
Our latest position: 25 28, 5 N 20 47,3 W. Our speed is between 2 and 5 knots depending on the direction of the waves.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-18 09:39

During my night watch I saw a sort of explosion in the water, I got a fright and woke up Rune who calmed me down. The cause was an enormous whale that had surfaced rapidly from the deep. It turned out to be a sperm whale at least twice the size of our boat and very curious about us.

Last night was very cool and when it was windy it felt like 10 centigrades. The state of my behind is such that when I start to row it's like sitting on pins and needles. For the first time I was forced to shorten my rowing watch because of the state of my skin. I have tried to give the skin both fresh air and some sun, however, yesterday the dosage of sunlight was probabely excessive, so now it's in addition burnt...

I am much impressed with Rune ; he has no previous experience with the sea, now he proves to be a real sailor and a great asset aboard. 

We were blessed with plenty power yesterday and could run both the watermaker and the position system, as well as charging the satellite telephone. Everything aboard is going so much better, we are a little tired, but I think we are one of the teams with most reserves and are right on top when it comes to good spirit.

Our latest position is: 26 49,4N 20 23,8W

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-17 09:33

Rune and I try to eat and drink as much as possible, but it still feels as if we are not getting as much food as we need. This in spite of having increased our food consumption compared to the first few days.

We feel quite tired both physically and mentally, still we try to cheer up listening to the mini discs we have on board. A little Kim Larsen and one is cheerful again. Also we get many laughs and much encouragement from what is written in the Visitors' Book.

Just now our position is 26 12,3N 20 00,09W. Rune is rowing, he keeps the incredible speed of 4,6 knots!

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-16 09:47

Last night was quite rough and it was difficult to steer as it was overcast and the stars were hidden behind clouds.

Rune and I are trying to get our behinds to heal and the skin does indeed seem to be mending.

We had a huge turtle visiting us last night. It greeted us and tried to taste the hull. But we had more visitors: a family of dophin whales were as curious as we were.

Our latest position is 26 36N and 19 34W. We are doing about 2,5 knots, but are taking it a little easy to give our behinds a chance.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-15 16:35

The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are starting to find their places! The power problem is now solved and I and Rune will shortly be able to transfer pictures to the website.

The only annoying thing right now is that I and Rune together have 120 pimples on our behinds! Just as well that we have both powder and ointment for the skin...

I am very happy about the survival suits we have on board. I used mine for the third time today as I had to jump into the water in order to reattach the rudder.

Food making on board also go well. We have now finished one gas cannister, now we know that one cannister lasts us one week.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-14 09:40

I have tried to solve the electricity problem during the night, but in spite of the couplings beein foolproof I cannot draw any power from the system! We must solve the problem shortly or we will lose contact with the surrounding world as we cannot charge the satellite telephone.

Last night we had lightening all over the sky. I and Rune started stowing the boat in readiness for bad weather and strong winds. We even threw out our sea-anchor and hoped that it would help us. Unfortunately the weather did not become like we had expected, so now we drifted North!

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-13 09:30

The night went well and the weather has been perfect for rowing.

The safety vessel was due to come and talk to us yesterday, but they never showed up. Probabely they did not have the correct position of our whereabouts.

We are starting to get the various routines on bord organized, our main problem being that the electrical system does not deliver as much power as it is supposed to. This in spite of the fact that we cannot find any faults. I do hope that this does not mean that the solar ponels are damaged.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-12 10:03

We have got away from the island of La Gomera and are now near the island La Hierro.

The good weather seems to hold and soon we shall only see the Atlantic ocean around us.

However, we have some problems, one is our power supply that is not functioning as it should.

Rune's and my hands are full of blisters, our behinds have also suffered. We must try to keep our Tempur cushions dry, so that the moisture does not worsen the blisters on our skin.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-11 10:07

Finally good weather. No headwind, clear sky and it feels easy to row.

Rune has not been sick now for two days and is now able to work on board.

We are starting to get away from the nasty currents around the islands and are now rowing South, away from the currents that washed us back in the past.

The electrical system is working on and off. It seems like there is some kind of short circuit that knocks out the technical equipment.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-10 10:34

We feel pretty tired and it is mentally hard to have rowed a whole day only to get washed back up with the currents.

Rune, however, is getting stronger and stronger and we shall soon make e new attempt at conquering the currents around the islands.

Last night the rudder broke down. I had to jump in with my survival-suit and worked on the rudder which is now fixed.

The weather has been pretty bad. 10 m/sec, 5 to 6 m high waves have woshed over the boat. Rune and I have been lying in the cabin resting and waiting for the weather to improve.

We unfortunately have yet another problem, namely thet the boat is leaking so that we have to pump the boat all the time. We shall try to plug the hole where water is enterering as soon as one of us can row in order to stabilise the boat.

We also have limited electrical power and try to be very restrictive in using the technical equipment on board.

Rune and I will from now on focus on getting stronger and escape from the currents around the islands, then we shall show what we are good for. 

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-09 12:12

After two days we can testify to the fact that the currents here are tougher thatn we thought. Also Rune has had quite a lot of problems with sea-sickness. I have had to row a lot on my own, and this has been quite hard work. Things will, hopefully, become easier.
But one feels quite clearly, that it is necessary for both to be in good physical condition.

The electrical problem will be solved when we are out at sea. For a while we were considering rowing back to improve things, but we do think we can sort out the problems on the ocean. Au revoir! Greetings from Rune.

Niclas Mardfelt - 2001-10-08 10:38

Here comes a short report after the first day.

We got away from the start a little delayed, but nothing to worry about, the trip ahead is fairly long.

The first night went well, Rune was a little sea-sick, but that'll be mended. However, the start of the race has been physically tough. We had been working hard the last days (before departure) and we could have had more strength...

Our power supply has been poor, therefore we have not been able to activate the electronics in order to see where we are. We are working on it and it should function during the journey. More later. All the best back home.


 © 1983-2001 Ocean Rowing Society

Design by REDTED