18th June, and it's Oscar Hontvedt Hoff's birthday: Gratulerer med
3-årsdagen, kjære Oscar, fra farfar! Hope you are well and have a super
day with presents and food you like. Wish I were with you, Tonje, Martin
& Diana, Hedda & Johan.
Oscar lives not far from us in Stabekk, Oslo, so we see him often and he
comes to stay overnight regularly. Always a delight to look after
him-especially when his parents are out of sight!
Here my situation sofar
is a near copy of 24 hours ago. Rolling and slamming behind the SA in
the fresh breeze (15-20 k) from NE and being slowly pulled E, our drift
maybe a few more degrees in our favour. Sun is half out, barometer is
high at 1015,4 and still rising. The cabin is nice and dry. I will have
a go at the oars as soon as the wind drops or backs just a wee bit..
My good friend and marine expert in Barbados, Martin Smyth is concerned
that I may run out of supplies. Also he fears for more hurricanes this
summer than normal. (They often go up the US East Coast before turning
right.) The chance is that they weaken and pass N of me. As far as
supplies go, I eat and cook less when I lie idle like this, I have full
rations for 105 days plus extras and can make my food last at least 14
days more. Some of the dehydrated food I now just add non-boiling water
to. After standing 1-2 hours in the bag closed it tastes OK. That saves
gas. I'm on my 8th out of 31 gas canisters. The Swedes, Erik & Stefan,
who rowed the Mid-Atlantic route in this boat in 2013/14 brought no
cooking facilities and had all their meals like that. (Bet they enjoyed
their first hot meal and cool drinks when they reached Antigua!)
Hope you all have a nice week-end, that Elisabeth & Hugh are doing well
or maybe even are finished with the big house moving in London, and that
Diana is not fed up yet with sorting 1000's of old slides for scanning
in Engersand! xxx
Day 35 continued
Seen by a ship!
The day turned out a lot better than I thought this morning. Soon after
breakfast the wind lessened and in came the sea anchor at 08.45. I have
managed about 10 hours by the oars. With wind and sea at right angles it
has been hard work. My back hurt in the beginning, but improved! Lots of
low and high clouds, but also a high barometric pressure, and after a
hazy sunset what looks like a full moon now lights up the deck.
In the morning I noticed
several blue-bottles. How about dolphins or whales? I thought. Suddenly
there is this white-studded large, black shape blowing bubbles on
portside. A whale, I thought first, but the "beast" just wallowed about,
staying at the same place and now blowing from both ends! A hollow tree?
I stopped the boat and spent about 5 minutes backing her up, eventually
turning right round. It turned out to be a section of a giant pipe
covered with goose-necked barnacles! Probably 10 m long and 1/2 m in
diameter. I hope there are not many of these floating around!
As I have my lunch and the AIS is turned on I see on my screen a ship
approaching from E, the Cornelia Maersk. It should pass about 4 miles
north. Soon a voice comes over the VHF: "MMSI 25827030, MMSI 25827030,
this Cornelia Maersk".
I was delighted! That MMSI # is the i.d. of Fox II! So we do show up on
other screens like we are supposed to! The ship is Danish heading for
New York top-stacked with containers. What has taken me 34 days he will
cover in 48 hours! Bon voyage!
Now I have had supper of yet another Blå Band meal left over from the
Swedes: "Rice with spinach and chicken. Best before April 4 2016."
It was still excellent June 18 2016!
Sunday 19th June
Five weeks since departure-what a lot of weather and what a slow journey
so far! During the night the waves built and kept kicking us, but no big
sprays or scary healing over. Daylight revealed a very confused, heaving
seascape, lots of breakers criss-crossing. Bow faces SE but the boat is
amazingly enough heading NE at a speed of 2 -3 knots - but thank you
very much! So I am obviously in a river-like part of the ocean, just
hope it does
start pushing me W again. Meanwhile it looks impossible to row. I have
only been out to take out the dagger-board, but we seem to both make
less headway E and roll more so it's back in place and I am back inside.
The miles roll by and in about 10 miles we should be 1/4 way! Finally!
(375 nm to WP1, 725 nm to New York.)
I listened to some old favourite music filling the cabin during supper
last night. And became happily sentimental. Cliff Richard's "The Young
One" reminding me of teenage joy listening to Radio Luxemburg, Rod
Steward's "I am Sailing" the excitement in 1977 of preparing for
circumnavigation with my family - and still appropriate for my present
Thoughts from home
Quarter way after five weeks! Yes, I do feel sorry for Stein even though
he has chosen to take on this challenge. I think he has underestimated
the Herculean task that it is and we will need to be even more patient
than expected. His eta of middle of August is looking more like end of
September. People are now asking me if he has enough provisions on
board. I packed enough for 15 weeks, but also put in some extra rice,
tins, eggs, crisps etc so I hope he will
manage, but if it takes more than four months he will have to ration a
bit - hope he doesn't look like a Belsen prisoner when he arrives! He
does also have a fishing line and hook.
I am disappointed that the boat has been knocked on its side three
times, wish we had put some lead on the keel which we did when I rowed,
but too late to think about things like that. I was also almost angry at
him for being too casual about not having the main hatch firmly shut at
all times and getting water into the cabin. He has now assured me that
it will not happen again. I reminded him that if the boat should roll
round, it will only self- right if the hatch is firmly shut.
I decided to do something useful while he is away, and have taken on the
big task of sorting out all our slides. That should keep me busy as
there are about 12000!
One good thing about his slowness is that it will be easier to get
accommodation in the Isles of Scilly out of the summer season. Not so
good for us is that we have to cancel a very interesting holiday towards
the end of September. I will write another post about this in Norwegian
in case anybody would be interested in taking our places. (It is in
I wish you all a good summer, enjoy being on land and not fighting the
waves in the North Atlantic! Since Stein cannot send pictures, here is
his grand-son Oscar, who was three yesterday.
It is 8 pm and I'm trying to decide if it was a good day as I got
through another knock-down or if it was a bad day as I had another
knock-down with ensuing water and mess inside. Certainly no rowing, it
was very, very rough again. But the current responsible for the mess
carried me 5 further miles past the 1/4-way mark, 370 left to first WP.
After the knock-down at 3 pm I went on SA. The wind had veered from N to
E, but we were heading N at a steady 4 knots! Thatis
4 miles every hour, like a fast running river, a speed I can only do for
about 10 strokes of maximum effort. I have not been aware of currents of
such speed far from shallows or shore, what do you say, my maritime
expert in Barbados, Martin Smyth? (I wrote marine expert by mistake the
other day, but he is knowledgeable on that, too!)
Too much water came in through the tiny opening before I got the hatch
completely shut. In spite of having one hand on one of the two handles.
No warning, just bang, gush and on the side in a flash. Not quite 90
degrees this time, but gunnels were under and that traps lots of water.
So for nearly 5 hours I have mopped, rinsed, cleaned and dried as much
as possible. Only my outside clothes got very wet. They serve to build
up where I have my head just inside the hatch at night and are often wet
or damp when I come inside, so its a useful position. But the mattress
and the separate mattress head part ( use it to sit on during the day)
took too much to be usable tonight. I have in fact amputated more parts
and also committed the cover to king Neptune.
Now I am very hungry. No proper food since 1 pm. Dug out the bag of red
wine for an evening tranquilliser & try to recreate some of last night's
bliss. We did after all pass 1/4 way, I only have a couple of cuts and
bruises from today's trial, there's a beautiful red sky out there just
now, wind is less, fewer breakers, but we are still heading N at a
"Ripley's Believe It or Not" type of fact of 4,4 knots as I write!
Monday 20 th June
Still at sea anchor
(SA) after yesterdays knock-down. Did not sleep too well, a bit damp (
no wonder!), just a small piece of half-thickness mattress was a bit
skimpy for my bony frame, also sore right ear after bumping it with my
glasses on. Slight E breeze, moderate sea, Very red sky before sunrise
also made me see some ghosts, but then I had a comfy 1,5 hrs snooze. Now
at 08.15 breakfast and bucket business is over, I'm listening to Nat
Jussi Bjørling and just now Vera Lind. An old man's taste, but gladdens
this man's heart for sure!
Monday means back to school and college. So today a special greetings to
those I met in New York in May: About 100 pupils and teachers from PS
(Public School) 17 and PS 43. It was fun together with my wife Diana
showing slides, talking to you and demonstrating my boat and equipment
at La Marina! I was impressed with your attention and your questions.
When Miss Judi Cheng two days later gave me all those cards with
drawings and greetings I was very touched! Some I have here, others I
have photographed and look at on my laptop. And Judi, thanks again for
organizing such a worthwhile event!
Next day, Thursday 12th May I gave a similar talk to Director Petter
Sørum, Norwegian students and others at Dowling College, Battery Park. I
got lost on the Subway and was 1/2 hr late-sorry! But again a very
attentive audience with more questions on ocean rowing than Diana,
Elisabeth and I had time to answer before we rushed off late to a dinner
arrangement. Thank you again for the Belgian Godiva Signature Truffles
chocolates - they are so good and packed with calories! I still have one
Good luck to pupils and students and teachers that Diana, Elisabeth and
I met in New York, whether from Bronx or Battery Park, you touched my
heart! I will do my utmost to complete this expedition as planned and
come and tell you how it really was.
Paul Anka is just singing "Diana".
Oh, my dear Diana...
Day 37 continued
No rowing today,
wind from E, slight this morning, soon picked up and soo also the waves
mounted. Current pulling N is still there, but moderated to 1-2 k.
Heading NNW just now. Rinsed clothes and tried to dry, but put them away
after 1-2 hours due to drizzle and fog. Piece of mattress I also strung
up and hoped to add to the one I used last night, but it also had to go
back into the front hatch.
I have done service on the Katadyn water-maker, replaced a connection.
Then straightened the aluminium frame for the canopy on port side that
got bent back on May 16th. It in turn has caused the fitting on the
gunnel to work loose. My muscle power pulling and shoving was not
enough, but stabilized with ropes in different angles a Spanish windlass
did the trick. On a dry day a little epoxy filler will finish that
Quarter way was yesterday, but with my 4th knock-down (I think) and
inability to keep salt water outside where it belongs, there wasn't much
to celebrate. But I have now opened a gift and card from my darling
Diana. The gift is a tin of mussels - sea food is my favourite! May
scramble eggs, have an extra knekkebrød (crisp bread) and some caviar,
too. Boiling rice would be good, too, but I only have one small pot, so
that needs more planning.
I wrote a greeting to school children and students I met in New York
this morning, but ran out of space for my final message (The Yellow
Brick Tracker allows up to 2000 character updates free.) So to the
yonger ones in PS 17X and PS 43X and the older ones in Dowling College
Manhattan: Good luck in final efforts before the summer holiday! And
hope you get a nice summer with good company and enjoyable activities.
The same best wishes go to my grandsons Finn & Soren Hoff Chambers in
And to the two older in Oslo, Hedda & Johan Hoff, this is the first week
of your long summer break: Have a good time!
Much love from a proud grandfather, The Old Man and the Sea...
Tuesday 21st June
Good morning from Fox II!
Conditions much better this morning as wind kept veering to S during the
night and that N current is weaker or maybe more in my direction. For my
WP now 365 nm away the perfect course is 96 degrees-90 being due E. Bit
bumpy to the SA during the night, my head support kept sliding off the
bench. So there's another job for the home-improvement crew! We have an
eye-bolt that may solve the problem. Super supper last night withmy
1/4 way gift of mussels with scrambled eggs and knekkebrød before a
pasta dish. I was full! Watched two parts of the four-part video on "Madoff".
What a sleek crook! Good acting! The day before, after my knock-down,
Disney's "Frozen". Good music, good fairy-tale entertainment similar to
the Disney cartoons I loved when I grew up.
My ear and new abrasions are healing. SA came out with sunrise 05.15 -
gave me some pre-breakfast exercise. Good for my back. Hazy sky, not a
cloud. Drifting NE (45 degrees) in a 15 k S breeze. Now for some rowing!
Day 38 continued.
Beautiful morning, then hazy, then succession of rain and drizzle, then
again nice sunset. Manage to dry bits and pieces at least partly before
first rain. Testing normal thickness foam again for my bum and lower
back tonight! Foam with salt water is virtually impossible to dry
completely in this environment, so I am using plastic and canvas for
barrier on top.
Very mild, the south wind bringing summer. A little less humidity now
and its perfect!
- and last couple of hours from SSW maybe up to 20-25 knots, mostly
15-20 (Force 5). Plus current going NE, thank goodness. But if this
lasts, we'll be heading straight for the Grand Banks. I see its 37 m at
its most shallow, mostly 50-70 m. Others have rowed across. Apart from
fog, any information on other risks? Tidal rips? Tatiana and Teddy in
ORS, have you any information or warnings? Fishing boats, I expect. I
should have researched this myself earlier, but the plan was to row S
where the shipping lanes go.
Best that happened today was about 11 hours of rowing! A bit scary size
waves with breakers sometimes, but we slide down them quite easily
today. Never felt threatening.
One oar is starting to crack and delaminate just shove the blade, looks
like it could easily break. Strange damage, maybe frost if water
remained inside the hollow shaft in freezing temperatures. Just a
theory. No trace of anything similar on the other three. I have only
used the same pair since NY.
Still problems with the extra switches near the compass. This panel got
completely submerged on the worst knock-down. I have just spent an hour
trying to sort it out, cleaning etc, but may have to bypass the switches
Tomorrow similar day, says Diana, all wind is S or SW till Thursday, on
that day nearly 30 k. Ugh! Now to finish my supper
Wednesday 22nd June
Bright moon all night, clean sunrise again and 2 hrs later still
cloudless. But it did not take long yesterday to change that, we'll see.
Also less wind, a gentle 10-15 k fromSSW, sea
also calmer than for a long time, only occasional white "curlers". Maybe
1 k or so current with me more like it should be according to the
Admiralty chart for June. Slept much better with my patch of mattress
back to original thickness. But some of the bedding is still
damp, especially the quilt cover. Maybe make some extra water and try
rinsing it and the rug up in the front hatch today.
Diana reminded me two days ago that the one single-hander who has done
my route exactly was Oliver Hicks in 2005. He took 123 days. And that
only 1/3 that row this W to E route succeed. (Is that all crews or just
solo rowers, Diana?)
So I am cutting down on use of gas and rations, at least till I am E of
Grand Banks. They are only 200 nm ahead now on this course of about 45
degrees. I am now in Canadian territory. My WP south of GB is at 87.
(Courses I have quoted earlier were magnetic, I only realized y'day, now
is it all true/geographical course: 87 T.)
Sunblock, hand cream, gloves, hat, sunglasses, seat cushion and camera
is ready - to work!
Day 38 evening
A nice day!
This day has been possibly the nicest on the trip so far, warm, moderate
wind, moderate seas, sun almost all day. Only complaint is that the wind
is a bit too much from S and that it is very humid. So it took all day
to dry the blanket I rinsed this morning. But I am now half lying, half
sitting on it. It serves as my sheet at night and is my favourite-my
Managed between 10 and 11 hours of rowing today, but the skin on my bum
tender since sitting in wet and damp shorts most of yesterday, so
stopped with still more than 1 hr till sunset. Had a wash and shave
instead -hade made plenty water earlier.
Finally got a good set-up for sound-books, of which I have many. Laptop
plays them inside the cabin and via Blootooth transfers them to a small,
waterproof "Buddy" loudspeaker at my feet. If I pause the Buddy, the
laptop also pauses inside. Perfect!
Pre-supper wash and shave.
Wind and waves picking up as I write. Strong winds are forecast for
tomorrow and Friday, still from S. (Sea anchor is now ready!)
The longest day, 2016.
is Mid-summer's Day, known as "St. Hans" in Norway. In Sandefjord, a
small coastal town where I grew up, tomorrow is a public holiday as
tonight everybody is expected to be outside, lighting bonfires, some
will bring guitar or accordion, there will be singing, dancing and
partying until early morning. If weather permits, one should have a trip
in a boat included. Once, having sailed to the Azores, we discovered
that the locals
there, too, celebrate their St Johannes Day thoroughly and with great
Day 40 means I have a card from London to be opened later - an occasion!
I wrote Day 38, not 39 last night, sorry! Days sort of flow into each
others and merge here. Without my written log and date on the watch I'd
easily get dates mixed up.
Last night the wind picked up, the sea became noisy and the rolling and
surging of the boat increased. But nothing unpleasant materialized,
except sleep interrupted by worrying, but this morning it's not too bad.
Wind about 20 k from same SSW direction. Overcast and just had a small
shower. Current seems to be with us at about 1 k -great! I have given up
the waypoint (WP) S of Grand Banks and put up Bishops Rock Light-house
near my destination instead. It is 2073 nm ahead at 60 degrees true, our
course is about 45 T heading for the Grand Banks. Does not look like I
can avoid this huge bank S of New Foundland...
Diana tells me the five women crew has already passed me about 20 nm N.
Well done and good luck ahead! She and Robert (thank's for nice mail!)
also say that compared to the 2005 row of Oliver Hicks, I'm not far
behind, I should be pleased. However, I'm glad I did not know how slow
this was going to be when I first started!
Best wishes from 42 35 N, 56 14 W.
Day 40, evening.
super, today fairly miserable. And just to top a day of wind, rough
seas, rain, thunder and lightening, the fog has just appeared! I had to
return inside about 5 pm, ie 3 hours ago, very nearly put out the SA.
But nothing terribly worrying has actually happened. That is until I had
a mail from Diana a few minutes ago saying a deep low pressure with
stronger wind is passing tomorrow morning. So now I will go and get it
Mid-summer Night's Dream
come true aboard "Fox II" today was a grinning male dolphin delivering a
mail to Morfar, a "Day 40" card from my grand-son Soren (5) in London.
On the front is a beetroot saying "you can do it!" and a carrot says
"all the best!" With "rooting for you, good luck!" underneath.
Inside on left Soren has written Yumyum! On the right:
Dear Morfar* I hope you are doing well. I love you. Love * Soren
Back of the card: drawing of red, precious stone and "rock on!"
Well, that made my day, thank you, thank you Soren! I love you, too!
Not much fresh vegetables here, I miss both them (not too much) and you
and my other grand-children (very much!)
But of rocking (and rolling) I get plenty of, thank you!
I suppose I am doing well, but I will definitely not choose rowing the
Atlantic for another all-summer activity! Rather spend ut with family
Today at Engersand, where Diana and I live I hope the weather is good
for the traditional neighbours' get-together with grilling and bonfire
on the lawn by the beach. Special greetings to our nearest neighbours
Sofia & Hege, Toril & Tore, Dagmar & Christian. Must also mention Hege &
Pippa, her dog. Hege started a Fb page and is a big follower of my
project. Remembered me in a toast? I'm having a wee token here to all of
you and all the others who like living in Engersand!
Friday 24th June
got dressed to go out and set the SA after supper last night when the
rain eased, the fog lifted, the wind died and a pink horizon appeared!
I had meant for a while to secure the two big shackles on the SA
assembly with seizing wire, got that done by the light of my head torch
and retired to the cabin again. It had become noticeably cooler. The
calmest night for a while followed as we drifted N 0,5-1,0 k. This
morning the clouds and rain is back, forerunners
of a deep low that according to Diana's warning will pass me this pm (I
misread as 'am' first). Temp outside 16 C this morning and lowest for a
while, so again condensation is running down my hatches and slowly
dripping from the metal fittings.
If the rain eases I will of course get out and row. If the drift the
wrong way gets worse I'll get out the SA. As indeed I will when/if the
wind and waves get nasty. Meanwhile the ocean rower is demoted to
moisture mopper and hatch wiper.
And do not forget: It's Friday! Hope you have a nice week- end!
Day 41 evening
Today nature was very generous in demonstrating a large
selection of weather! Raining with little wind first, then more rain,
more wind and then from E and Fox II going backwards, so I put out the
sea anchor at 10 am. The wet weather clothes I had to bring with me back
inside afterwards got the condensation really going...
The blow that Diana had warned me about was not too bad -
maybe F6, i.e. 20-25 k, and lasted only a couple of hours, then no wind!
Lots of rain-water
in the cockpit, so felt I had to make good use of it to wash some
clothes and rinse others before I pulled the SA back in and started
rowing my course of 61 T for Bishop's Rock (Isles of Scilly), 2036 nm
away. But that was like rowing in treacle! Swell kept pushing me off
course and a breeze started puffing out of the NE. Tried with the
daggerboard in, not any better, so at 5 pm, having clawed back only 2
miles or so, gave up, put out the SA again and did some jobs instead.
(Felt good to use the body, though!) One job was screwing and gluing
stoppers for the front battery. It slides about a bit when it's very
rough in spite of standing on non-slip surface and having a strap over
it. Now it should stay put! Another was epoxying back the portside
fitting for the canopy.
Then it got very clammy, I looked forward and thought a rain shower was
rapidly approaching. I was in the middle of jobs with tools and bits and
pieces everywhere, and what with all the clothes drying? But it was the
same also looking behind me! So it was not more rain this time, but very
I did get the jobs done. But the wet clothes are for the time being in
the front hatch while I hope for more suitable weather tomorrow for both
drying clothes and rowing the intended direction!
Mail both from Diana and my son-in-law Hugh today saying UK voted for
That will no doubt cause big waves!
Ps. I wrote an extra report for "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" yesterday.
It should be out on their website.
Saturday 25th June
Fog, easterly wind!
Hope your morning is a bit more according to plan than
mine! I am in enforced inactivity, have had a long lie, will soon have
late breakfast as there is not much else to do just now: I am at sea
anchor in easterly breeze and surrounded by thick, cold, clammy fog.
Lost some miles during the night, now 2041 nm left at 61 degrees. And
with weather forecast from my darling Diana just in, we are not likely
to move in the right direction
until tomorrow night when the wind goes southerly for several days.
(It's really W or SW I really want.) But nothing nasty, at least. And
I've finished the dreaded MBB no problem - not much waves, movements not
so bad, so not too challenging (MBB =morning bucket business!). Washed
hands, wiped face, but wearing the same clothes. Last night I had to put
on extra when I retired with the laptop on my tummy! (Watched more on
BBC's Africa, "Sahara" this time. Wonderfully inapprpropriate to the
climate here right now.)
Now for a cup of hot tea, cereal with the usual "fruit", a knekkebrød &
Hope you all have a nice week-end with the best of wishes from "Fox II"
Day 42 evening
Nothing exciting to report as it is virtually status quo
since this morning. Cold &!humid, thermometer says 15 C, but it feels
like its about to snow the few times I've been outside! Due to the
humidity and NE breeze, I suppose. So it's been a bit like returning to
heaven getting back in here each time! The fog lifted or thinned out
about midday, enough to charge batteries, laptop, iPad and make 5 l
No wild-life seen except the faithful storm petrels and
brown gulls I don't know the name of. Two days ago it was almost
tropical and I saw many Portuguese man-of-war, schools of fish jumping
in unison looking like porpoises, today: nothing. Not even seaweed. I
probably miss lots being mainly inside, but I sit at the hatch looking
out a lot, too.
I replaced the little self-contained light on top of a pole on port
front side. The other one lasted well, considering it is primarily meant
for gardens. It had at least one dip when it was completely submerged
(16th May). I never thought of rinsing or drying it, it continued to
light up faithfully until 2 nights ago. I only have this one spare, my
main lantern is not working after 2 or 3 submersions and countless
sprays, so I have sealed every opening possible with silicone filler.
Maybe it will last longer, maybe till end of trip! Whenever that is; I
have cut down rations when not rowing without problems, gas bottles also
lasting 7 instead of 5 days.
Found some more maintenance, also played the recorder. It's been my
companion before, this time no song book or music, works quite well by
ear, too. (Just as well I'm alone!)
I have some long-grained, brown rice. Very healthy, but requires more
boiling the two times I have made some here, so far. Today I'm testing a
new method. I left it in equal volume water all day, tonight boiled it
for 10 min with a whole egg added, wrapped the pot in a towel and my
quilt for a planned couple of hours till I need the bedclothes myself.
Hopefully be ready for breakfast!
Sunday 26th June
6 weeks at sea!
Not too much fun to report today either, so far, but boat
and I are in good shape and ready for better conditions! My last full
day of rowing was Thursday, only rowed a little Friday, then SA all
yesterday. Frustrating! At least no fog this morning, but raining. To
reduce windage and drift I have the canopy back so the breeze from E
makes the rain hit the sloping hatch and my main window at right angles.
Another cool day, 15 C. Main activity
is moisture mopping...
At dawn about 05.20 I managed to misread the compass above my head and
thought the wind had gone S, as it is supposed to later today.
Optimistic and full of energy I donned my wet weather clothes and had
the SA out at 05.45, thinking that was a case of good self discipline. I
then switched on the cockpit GPS and noticed we were heading W at 2 k!
Confused, I got inside, got jacket off and saw the same on the chart
plotter... At least there was a lull in the rain, the SA and daggerboard
were back in place in 5 min.
The front portside deck locker is for "extra food". While on deck I
found a tin of mackerel in tomato sauce, more raisins and a packet of rye
bread. Not sure if I deserved it after my mistake, but then followed the
best breakfast for a long time:
Rice I boiled with an egg last night was now perfect. That was given a
quick heat-up with some marge, and with the mackerel and egg added, salt
& pepper, rye bread and a cup of tea was great! Finished with a bowl of
If Sunday is a day of rest, I'm doing fine, but I hope to end my strange
circles on the chart plotter today. The pattern of my drift the last two
days is that of a large 3 with small circles top, middle and bottom.
Looks artistic, but not to my taste..
Rain's off, sun is breaking through as I write. We badly need charging,
the amp-meter suddenly went from 0,3 to 3,0! I listened to an old BBC's
Goons Show CD last night. Still very funny, I have two more!
On the road again!
The wind gradually veered SE, the temperature rose noticeably and I was
finally rowing again at 4 pm. Soon my friends the jelly fish appeared
beating into the wind, clumps of sea weed too, and as the wind veered
further towards S there were amazingly warm puffs hitting my face! First
I could only do a course of 25 T, gradually as the conditions improved
35-40. My ideal course is 61, but that's good enough. I kept going till
sunset 8.15 pm. Hopefully
more SW tomorrow, then back to S, apparently. Meanwhile Fox II is
drifting in more or less the right direction at 1,5-2 k, wind is only
about 10 k, so I think we may also have some help from the Gulf Stream
Cabin is less humid, water is boiled and the Pasta Carbonara from
Adventure Food is almost ready - life is very good again!
And after Acker Bilks magic clarinet, Ruthie Henchel is now singing
Gerswin love songs...
Monday 27th June
Ok night, but the good drift NNE after my session last
night has not lasted, although the direction is at least E of N. Still
same, moderate breeze from S, but seas are lumpy, boat rolling more and
I suppose it is current playing tricks with us again. Foggy, but the sun
is trying hard to chase it off. 16 C and coolish.
Diana has not found any serious reason for not crossing
the Grand Banks. Fog and fishing I knew about already. I assume the five
women crew are heading the same way.
We are soon at the longitude of St John's, New Foundland.
The first single-handler to row from W to E in these waters started
there in 1969: Tom MacClean, a character associated many adventures.
So, on with the wet weather clothes, off to work!
Day 44 evening
A good day with 11 hours rowing, pleased with the progress, but fairly
exhausting and as I
write can hardly keep awake! Fog this morning, fog again tonight, but in
between was a lot of sunshine and blue skies. And quite hard
work...Bright sun meant good charging, topped up all devices, made 15 l
water, did a little rinsing and drying, listened to audiobook by Karin
Fossum (thank you, Frode & Susanne!).
All that work makes me hungry and I have not been doing any rationing
today. That included 3 freeze-dried-meals. I noticed that all those
three today were left-over from the Swedes who owned the boat before me.
So those meals have already made one successful Atlantic crossing!
Hardly any wild-life to be seen these days. Must be a nutrient-poor
section of the ocean. It should be different when we enter the Grand
Banks in a few days.
Don't seem to have any following fish underneath, either.
Distance to Bishop's Rocks tonight: 1998 nm! From there to Hugh Town and
the finish in Isles of Scilly is only another 10 nm.
We're soon 1/3 of the way and the forecast is good.
Best sleep for a while!
I wake up as usual every 2 hrs or so and register drift and conditions,
but sleep well in between. Quilt still damp, but not directly wet to the
touch any more!
At 5.20 there were orange sunbeams hitting the wall
opposite. A clean, lovely sunrise! And we were drifting N at 1,5-2 k!
Out comes the camera to document with happy comments before I have
another snooze. But at 6.20 here is the wet blanket all around us again!
down to maybe 50 m...
But breakfast tasted great as always, the water in the thermos still
quite warm. The MBB is done, teeth cleaned. Bum and back not too bad, so
on with the rain gear as it is wet everywhere and dripping off the
rigging. Not for too long I hope. Yesterday afternoon became sooo nice!
The Great Banks of Newfoundland are 65 miles ahead, Hugh Town is now
exactly 2000 miles to NE and forecast is for moderate winds from S or SW
for several days. - Yeehaa!!:-)
Day 45, evening
The fog went and came several times this morning, by noon is was gone
for good and the day became nearly as good as yesterday, except that the
little wind there is, is mainly from S, even some SSE tonight. So we are
now drifting straigt N as I prepare supper. But in another way it was
Two visits of pods of dolphins! Nothing cheers me up out here like have
those little whales criss-crossing the bow and underneath the boat. Also
saw the tall, waving
dorsal fin of what must have been a very big sun-fish, as well as
blue-bottles and clumps of sea-weed. Set aside an hour for strengthening
the cockpit floor-board, which is cracking and splitting (I obviously
did not imregnate it well enough) and adding an eye-bolt for securing
the life-raft better.
With the blue, unbroken horizon and the sun above I had to sing the song
that Diana and I first learnt from our crew Gordon, on our first sail
across the Atlantic with our children in 1977 (in "Red Admiral" from
Tenerife to Barbados).
It's been sung ever since on occasions when we feel we are having a nice
day at sea:
"We're riding along on the crest of the wave
And the sun is in the sky.
All around us the distant horizon,
Look out for passers by!
We'll do the hailing!
While other ships are on the sailing.
We're riding along on the crest of the wave
and the World is ours!"
Supper is now ready and tonight or tomorrow we should be
passing 1/3 of the way
Wednesday 29th June
44 50 N, 54 14 W.
After just under 45 days at sea we finally passed 1/3 of the 2900 nm in
the wee hours of the morning!The rest should
be faster, a lot faster, I hope, but nothing here is for granted. With
the same speed I will be in about October 1st. Horrors!
But with a reasonable 40 nm daily mileage I have 50 days to go and will
be in about September 1st! The boat is gradually getting a little
lighter and if body & mind maintains present
good form, that is not an unreasonable estimate. The conditions and
speed next couple of weeks will give us a good idea. A couple of days on
SA and my averages quickly drop. Cross fingers for more stable
conditions, less E winds and less 30 knot days!
Same fog that comes and goes also this
morning. Cool, 14,5 C.
AIS is on and working when I have good power, but I have not seen or
heard any ships now for more than a week.Just
as well with this frequent lack of visibility. Tomorrow I'll be crossing
to the Great Banks and then I have to be extra on the look-out for
But I see and hear a lot of air traffic, especially yesterday and also
when I was on SA a few days ago. Probably the North Europe to New York
flights. My neighbour at Engersand, Leif is a senior pilot with SAS and
should be there overhead, regularly, I waved to you the other day, Leif!
Thinking of family, friends & other faithful followers many places on
this Internet-linked World. To those of you who have difficult times
especially, go some hope, love and care from my little boat and I. Take
note, Anne & Alastair in Scotland, Ingrid Helene in Engersand, Inger in
Kristiansand and Kiki & Russell in Texas!
Day 46, evening
Today the fog stayed with us the entire day, never
visibility for more than 200 m, mostly much less. But the sun still
shone through well enough from above to charge the batteries and dry off
most surfaces. Towards evening, however, dew and drips formed everywhere
- and I gave up rowing half hour before sunset.
My rowing in the afternoon had a two hour unplanned stop
as I found water in the P2 storage. That is nr 2 hold in the deck from
the cockpit on port side.
(There are five storage holds on each side and three in the centre.)
Having finished all the freeze-dried meals in P1 I started on P2 a
couple of days ago. The bags were a little wet and today I found a
couple of litres of salt water in the bottom! I have checked it before,
but it has been packed with plastic bags jammed with the meals and a
knot tied on top of each bag, so in order to see or feel the bottom
properly, a lot had to come out.
In the end 70 or 80 mealbags were littering the deck. The flimsy plastic
bags have mostly been torn on getting them out and are now useless and
part of the garbage, the meals are relocated to P1 and S1.
Next the Raymarine GPS in the cockpit switched itself off...
After some looking and testing I found a lose lead between the solar
regulator and the
battery. Finally, the sea anchor rope was showing wear where it was tied
to the metal swivel.
A redesign was necessary, including new splicing.
Received newsy mails tonight from Elisabeth & family moving into their
redecorated, half chaotic house in London, and from Diana, on her way to
visit them tomorrow. Both had greetings from friends, thank you! Some
worry still that I will run out of food and even drift into Newfoundland.
Forecast for a week ahead is all S or SW winds, so I do not think that
is a danger. I have no problem cutting down on food and gas in order to
make it last. Let's see in a couple of weeks! But again, thanks for the
attention and concern.
Good night from "Fox II" with 1940 nm to go.
Thursday 30th June
Dense fog again!
Gentle breeze from S plus some kind current has pushed us NNE, but the
wind seems to be going more SW now and should freshen. Good for me.
Nothing nasty ahead, thank goodness, but I do not like this poor
visibility. Yesterday the ship "Heather Knutsen" (call sign VABH)
appeared on my AIS screen just W of me. He passed N at a distance of 3
nm and as he got near he sounded a fog horn every minute. His engine,
however, I could not hear,
that noise was absorbed by the fog. But the regular, booming base of his
horn was eerie, reassuring.
Sea is not warm, I measure 14 C, air is 14,5 C. Not tempting for a swim
yet! I did not measure the sea temp. Earlier, but I think the sea was a
few degrees warmer last week. There's about 80 m below me now, two days
ago 5000 m!
Diana wrote just now that there is another solo rower near me, Laval St.
Germain, who left from Novo Scotia. I think he is heading for Portugal.
Last night he was only 30 nm NW and looking for me! Well, that would be
another amazing encounter if it works out. I will keep my AIS on all
day. Just now I see one ship "Elka Elefsis" (D5HM2) 11 nm E and heading
my way, no slow moving craft nearby that I can see.
To clear the nearest SE corner of Newfoundland
95 nm away I need to head 25 degrees or more. My course for Bishops Rock
1920 nm away is 64. I do not think there will be any problems, Bjørn &
Eva! Thanks for greetings and concern!
Another Bjørn on "Rozinante 2" is probably arriving in Horta, Azores
Now off to work!
Day 47, evening
Just lost a long update as I pushed "send"...
Short version is another full day of fog, S wind that was
moderate, became quite strong and with some rough seas. Not possible to
row the ideal 65 degree course, but have managed about 45. At the price
of hard, uncomfortable work with frequent slaps and splashes halfway
across deck. But very pleased to have taken 34 nm off the distance left
since this morning. Another good news was a passing ship that reported
me with name, call sign and id# up on his AIS screen for a long time
before passing, like I saw him ("Point Lisas" - heading for Portugal).
He passed 1 nm S, I heard engine and fog horn, did not see any lights
through the fog.
No sign of the other rower, Laval St Germain, on my AIS so far. The fog
needs to lift if we shall have the slightest chance of an encounter.
Eaten lots today. Needed it.
Very noisy outside just now, in here rolling with a rather jerky
movement. Makes me a little giddy.
Wind should be less tomorrow. Hatches are firmly shut!
Friday 1st July
Cold and uncomfortable night,
kept putting on clothes, including woollen booties and woollen
balaclava! Got the very damp quilt cover off, the synthetically filled
quilt warmed me ok. 13 C outside now. But all that violent movement and
noise was worth it as we have made tremendous progress, 50 nm nearer the
finish than 24 hours ago. Newfoundland is less than 40 nm away now, but
the wind has kindly veered SW this morning and already we are drifting
that gives us a safe distance to the SE cape. While writing I am
listening to local radio and my first news for weeks. Today is a special
day of commemoration all over UK and in Germany I expect. It is 100
years since the WWI Battle of Sommes (?). Nearly a full regiment from
Newfoundland were among the dead, practically every household on this
island lost a man or a son. Princess Anne is here on behalf of the Royal
Back in London Diana and Elisabeth are off to Henley Royal Regatta to
meet friends and watch top rowers -and models! I first took part in this
Mecca of rowing in 1965, rowing with Scottish Argonauts, unofficially
the national team. Not sure how that was allowed, main thing I had to
wear a kilt! We competed in Razeburg and Henley, got to the quarter
final, beaten by Harvard, the eventual winners of Wyfold Cup (2nd best
eights' event). We rowed with blue oars with a white cross-the St Andrew
flag of Scotland -of which I was very proud. Three years later I married
Scottish Diana and became even more fond of that flag!
Now I row with oars in Norwegian colours, same as in 1997 and 2002. Hope
I can also be proud of that in two months or so!
Summer holiday starts today for Tonje and Martin in Norway: enjoy the
biking and hytta! And Happy Birthday to Gro in Maridalen!
And a happy Friday to everybody else!
Bjørn, are you safely in the Azores now?
Fog still there.
My MP3 player hidden behind rain top, hood and cap got me through
yesterday and will help me today as well.
Thoughts from home
Stein's journey is turning into a test of patience
both for himself and those of us at home watching the squiggly line that
represents his course. The last few days he has looked as though he is
heading straight for Newfoundland, but thankfully the wind has gone
westerly today, and he should get safely passed. Our friend Martin in
Barbados, an experienced sailor, thinks he should stop, dry out and buy
more food, but knowing Stein he will not take this advice.
I have been most concerned about safety, and have discussed with him if
there could be a potential situation in which I should raise the alarm
to get him rescued. He says no, as we cannot know what is happening, if
we lose contact it would most likely be some equipment failure, like
getting sea-water into the lap-top. He is able to give an emergency
signal himself, has both a distress button on the VHF and has an EPIRB (
emergency beacon). The latter will go off automatically if submerged. He
also has a life-raft. For those who like statistics, I can tell you that
there have until now been 14 successful rows West to East across the
North Atlantic, only one from New York like Stein, the others shorter, 5
from Cape Cod and 8 from Canada. The one from New York to Isles of
Scilly was in 2005, by 23 year old Oliver Hicks who took nearly 124
days. There have also been 28 unsuccessful rows, 3 were lost at sea, the
other returned or were picked up. Rather sobering! The Ocean Rowing
I have compared the tracks of Stein and Oliver after
38 days and there was not a big difference, which is quite cheering. I
think it is just a very difficult piece of ocean to row in alone! Thank-
you for all the greetings and messages. If anyone does not know, can I
remind you that these do not go directly to Stein as he has not the
capacity, but I do relay greetings and he will enjoy reading them when
he is back on land, so feel free to post comments. Many have told me
that they admire Stein's resilience and good humour - and so do I!
Day 48 evening
Tonight as I prepared supper only 21 nm from SE Cape of Newfoundland, in
comes a mail with offer of resupply! Two of my supporters in New York,
Victor and Ragnar, would organize and finance it with a local boat
delivering. That warmed my heart! What care and generosity! But I have
declined after mailing with Diana, although this is my own decision. My
reasons are that I can cut down on food on days when I cannot row all
day - have done so already. Also I verymuch
want to do this non-stop and unsupported. Like my Portugal to Guyana row
And I want to get away from this dangerous coast asap!
I would have to row N along the coast for a rendezvous. And last: Any
meeting at sea involves a risk of something getting damaged.
But again: thank you, thank you! (I hope I will not regret this!)
morning the heaving seas continued to throw us around even after the
wind had nearly gone. Eventually the seas settled, but the conditions
were never fast and we have only edged 26 nm nearer Bishops Rock. After
several days with all-day rowing I also had bouts of lethargy, feeing a
little giddy. But eating definitely helps. I have also drunk some salt
water and had one 100 mg Caffeine tablet which seemed to help.
Interesting bird phenomenon: the brownish gulls are moulting! Lots of
feather on the water and the birds lie in small groups only swimming to
one side as web
fog all day again, the 3rd day in a row...
Saturday, 2nd July
It's 5 am, sun shining orange and beautiful after lifting
its red scalp above the waters and sending its first rays straight onto
my hatch door and face 20 min ago! Wonderful to see the old sun and the
horizon again, hope fog stays completely away today! How I welcome its
warming rays! I am not used to these temperatures, 13 inside, 10
outside. So much condensation... Sitting in my sleeping bag, which
fortunately never got wet during those knock-downs
I had, plus several layers of clothes. Firing up the stove and kettle in
a minute. Glad to report that SE Cape of Newfoundland and nearest shore
is now 28 nm away. We are drifting E at 1-1.5 k in slight SW breeze. The
seas are the calmest for a long time. SE wind is forecast for this pm. I
will row as well as I can to avoid set-back. All depends on the waves.
Then SA when I retire, probably. Wind is back to W tomorrow, says Diana.
She sent me last night a long list of names of friends and followers
posting greetings - from Diana's family in California among many others.
Rune & Stian, who should have been out here too, were also among them.
Next year will be your turn with undiluted, Norwegian attention, boys!
Thank you all, it gives me motivation and strength!
Again a special greeting to Victor & Ragnar in New York and many thanks
once more for the offer of a resupply. (I am not regretting it - yet!)
You are now getting a less hectic week-end, I trust. I know that Victor
years ago was a shipping agent based on Staten Island and resupplied
commercial ships docking in the New York area. Demanding work at which I
am sure you are superbly qualified! You may have had local problems, not
sure how if it is ordinary shopping in St Johns today. 1000's were
gathered yesterday in the 100 yr WWI commemoration.
Sun is actually warming a little through the perspex, will hopefully
soon dry off the condensation and thaw my hands.
Have a nice week-end, all followers!
Day 49, evening
Whales and puffins!
The sun I so enjoyed this morning was engulfed and gone
at 6.30 as a dark grey wall of fog rose up from the NE horizon. Happened
amazingly fast. So for the first hours behind the oars it was nearly the
same as the past two days, but as there was little wind, I did not get
so cold and clammy. Then around 11 the fog started thinning and my world
expanded and lit up and all afternoon is was superbly clear and still
and beautiful. Birds everywhere
on the water and in the air.
Soon there were the familiar puffs and blows from whales, too. Some too
far away, but suddenly there is this incredibly tall, pointed dorsal fin
visible after each, close- by blow - an orca - a large, male killer
whale! I heard others, but they were hidden by the fog.
About the same time I saw puffins with their colourful beaks stuffed
with small fish and heading for land in straight lines, wings beating
like propellers. They only have one chick, but it is protected by a deep
burrow. I have seen these colourful master fishers before in north
Norway, in Fair Isle (lots!) and - Isles of Scilly - where I'm heading.
Rowing in head-wind is not much fun, but as the fog lifted, there seemed
to be birds and action everywhere. I also saw auks we in Norway call "lomvi".
After lunch I did some maintenance, rinsed the quilt cover, aired the
quilt, made water, rowed a bit more and was happy to put out the sea
anchor (SA) at 5.30 pm. More blows not far away, and this time really
powerful with tall sprays like fountains. The back and raised tail with
white underside when diving gave it away as hump-back whales - big ones!
So a day of little progress, but a lot of entertainment.
Also my body needed a wee rest.
It's going to be another cold night. Tonight I am well prepared!
It's 9 am, it's foggy. Breakfast and my morning routines
all done, now waiting for the moderate wind to veer to SW or W, when it
should strengthen. So I have had a long lie, slept surprisingly well,
too! I prepared for it thoroughly and did not have damp, cold feet when
I retired like Friday night. Also had the sleeping bag well tucked over
my head. I woke up after an hour having to take socks off - en unusual
We have during the night drifteda
little back W, then N, and mileage to Bishops Rock is, amazingly enough,
the same as last night: 1824. But my 24 hour mileage was a miserable 8,
so my good average the last 3 days quickly dropped.
Yesterday's Nature Day experiences gave me a real high.
It is a relief to see wildlife and it gives me hope of humanity not
destroying this planet - or each other.
On my MP3 player I have two versions of "Imagine" by John Lennon. One by
Lennon himself, the other sung by
Eva Cassidy. It brings tears to my
An mixed advantage of lying close to Newfoundland is listening to CBC
news. I have learn a lot about why Friday was War Memorial Day and I
believe also Canadian Day same evening. Stirring poems, stories and
songs about the losses and about the survivors and their descendents.
Books and exhibitions are out in St Johns. But news also brings in the
horrors of what still goes on in Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq. How
about more love, less war?
I have set my watch on East Canadian time, that includes Labrador, but
here in this part it is 1/2 hr later, i.e. 9.30 am when I started
Diana is still in our flat in Bishop's Stortford after visitors, seeing
Elisabeth & Co now in Acton, London and today should have Robert &
Mekhola down from Cambridge for dinner. Hope that finger you crushed is
healing well, Robert! Robert, our youngest, is most of the time glued to
a PC in his digital world of computer science and needs his digits more
than anybody else in the family.
Love and peace to you all!
Day 50 evening
In spite of my easy morning, the 4 hours I rowed from 3
pm were pretty tough and I just hope to stay awake well enough to get
this off quickly. It is very cold, about 10 C. When I got inside again
7.30 pm it was 13 C in here! My digital thermometer is broken. I took it
apart today, found a little humidity and discolouration, cleaned and
reassembled, still no go...
My last thermometer is in the regulator for the solar
panel at my "chart table". My shoes sit there
now that I have had supper, hoping they will dry a bit during the night.
Socks and gloves I gave a slow heat up in the pot over the gas before
putting them on again or behind my top next to my tummy. (Tummy heater
is always turned on!)
Diana sends me greetings from many people almost every day, Thank you, I
love them! Today that included Judi and school children in New York,
including more pictures posted on my Fb page! Thank you so much! If you
have time and have not done so already, it would be fun with drawings of
some of the animals I see here: Blue-bottles, killer whale, humpback
whale, minke whale, sun (moon) fish, puffin birds, storm petrels.
A special greeting is appropriate not only to the school children and
teachers I know in New York, but all American friends: Happy National
Day! It's 4th July tomorrow! Some of the states apart from New York
where Diana and I have friends and family: California, Washington State,
Texas, Arizona, Maine, Connecticut.
As I write the wind has indeed increased from SW and we are on the
correct course of 66 just now. Waves are also getting bigger and the
boat is rocking and rolling along at 2 k. Long may it last! But I need
to go out and check if the rudder angle seems right and that everything
is secured before I get into my sleeping bag.
A final greeting and congratulations to my son Martin who today became
Norwegian Champion in cycling for his age group; 40-44. He has been
close before, but this was a first in fierce competition. That's my boy!