The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records
|Atlantic West - East Solo|
|Stein HOFF, Norway|
|Day 65 • Day 70 • Day 75 • Day 80|
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Monday 18th July
Good news: After a good sleep woke up to sun shining
straight on my face!
Day 65, evening
The morning's bliss lasted till noon, by then it was
overcast, wind increasing from SSE and I had to give up rowing and
put out the sea anchor...
|Monday 19th July!|
Day 66, evening
|Wednesday 20th July|
Greetings to Delta Club 64-70!
First a small correction; the phone that landed in water 9 th June was an Iridium, not Inmarsat (had that on White Admiral's last crossing). Should have been the waterproof Iridium Extreme...
I've done my first 2 hr stint, had 11/2 cups of tea, one of Diana's energy bars and a big spoon of crunchy peanut butter with raisins (can be recommended!) Conditions not quite as fast as I first thought due to lumpy seas throwing us off course regularly. Still better than yesterday. Only three splashes over the port side. I have oilskin trousers on my left leg, which is nearest that side, looks weird but protects that leg from the splashes. Sitting here inside I became so warm I am without a top for the first time in weeks. But I will have to dress again when resuming my row.
I really want to do this extra note as a greeting to those in my medical year at Glasgow Uni who are following: Members of Delta Club 64-70. What a good course in a historical place, Hunter & Lister among others, beautiful buildings, the Tower, The Chapel, Professors's Square, Bute Hall. And some grotty ones! We were about 200, so a big group, who are scattered all over the World, but get together every 5 years. Two I have a lot of contact with are Kate and "Mac" (Ernest). Thanks for keeping a keen eye on me and hope to see you soon in Scotland or Norway. Mac's intellect is impressive, he was top of our year & has been CMO (Chief Medical Officer) of Scotland, but also a sailor and ordinary guy. But also to Bruce, Brian, Jean, Ethel and many, many others: best wishes from a lonely rower loaded with good (mostly!) memories.
We were three Norwegians in our year, but Ivar Hauge and Reidar Melsom have both succumbed to malignant disease. How sad, how unfair!
Back to my seat by the oars.
Still fog, but might be thinning out like it did y'day. You will know tonight.
|Day 67, evening|
Another day of fog, no sun and unpleasant rolling which became worse again after I first wrote. But with mild wind from SW I should not complain, there's nothing worse than having to get out the SA! It took self discipline to do the 2-hour stints and I admit I cut them down a bit. I made a sort of sling for the Buddy loudspeaker. I now have it as a big necklace dangling inside my jacket. It is bluetooth paired to the iPad so I can pause or stop what is being transmitted. This way I can listen to music and those Ibsen plays from the 1950's even when the surroundings are noisy. "A Doll's House" kept me going for my last session with the wind weakening, but the rolling as bad as ever...
Thought of supper is always inspiring!
I dropped one freeze-dried meal today (planning ahead!) and for supper had a fried egg and a tin of mackerel in tomato sauce (take note grandson Finn: Ketchup-like, right?) plus a "Vegetable Hotpot" from Adventure Food. And some crisps. Tasted fantastic and was really filling, but knekkebrød and cheese and cup of herb tea is also on the list before I keel over...
Thanks for comments on the current. Right now in little wind it seems to be pushing me NNE (30 T) which also was the feeling when I rowed. Not 170 right here, anyway.
Lots of WSW winds for 3 days at least, so it does not look like I can prevent going further N. Unless the current changes direction.
Glad to hear no hurricanes in sight, yet, keep it like that, please!
Thanks for many greetings and comments again. It is a huge inspiration to get your greetings and hear that so many are interested followers.
Next milestone is the Mid-Atlantic Trench N of Azores and about 400 nm away, from there "only" 900 nm to the finish!
|Thursday 21st July|
Woke up with a good feeling!
Nice and warm, hardly any condensation, even bed clothes seem to be drying slowly in spite of no more airing due to all that fog. Fog this morning also, before that a rain shower. Algae are growing along the scuppers on both sides! Must go over with a brush before it starts growing on me, too! The deck is actually surprisingly wet considering more than half the stores eaten and only one person aboard. It's all that rolling that allows a little water to slush in in spite of the flaps.
Best news is, however, we seem to have picked up speed E just drifting. Last night it did not looks promising at all at we drifted almost straight N at 1,5 k when the wind died. But about 2 am the drift gradually curved E and the wind picked up. Now from WSW about 15 k and we're doing about 2 k before rowing. Y'day I only averaged 2,5 k when rowing!
If we now also got some sun!
Cheering mails from my daughter Elisabeth with her two boys in Greece for the week, from her hubby Hugh on business in Melbourne (modern folks do get around!) and from my youngest, Robert, in England with his Mekhola for a couple of days break before starting new job Monday: Good luck!!
A faithful follower and supporter in NY/Connecticut is Victor, thanks for news! See you soon in Isles of Scilly!
I am now less than 400 nm from the longitude of Flores in the Azores Archipelago. That is less then back to E coast of Newfoundland!
Off to work!
|Day 68, evening|
Today got better and better after I wrote. Our progress has been quite amazing with a current that I saw curving E this morning establishing itself in E to SE direction at 1,5 k or more! So yesterday's suggestion of 170 (nearly S) was not far off. We did more than 40 nm in 12 hours!
Wind has been around SE all day 10-20 k and as always with current and wind at odd angles, lumpy, steep seas is an accompaniment. So quite uncomfy to row, especially as I struggle to go a little S, a bit of banging and sloshing over SB side, but also that improved after noon. And the fog lifted! Suddenly there was a horizon and we have even got a couple of hours of sun. Lots of birds and just before I finished rowing, two dolphins visiting.
Sun has just now come down from behind a low bank of clouds and shines in through the stern hatch...
My bum and fingers are better and I have managed to dry a couple of things.
On the menu tonight: DryTech's "Cod in creamy curry sauce", sprouts on the side (they are germinating fast now in the warmer air), tea, knekkebrød with cheese and Diana's fruit cake!
But how long will this amazing progress continue?
Tune in tomorrow for the continuous saga of "Fox II"s trek across the North Atlantic!
|Friday 22nd July|
It's Friday -and what a Friday it is! It's Robert's birthday and it's record progress for Fox II!
First of all Happy Birthday, Robert, hope you and Mekhola celebrate and include Diana and I in a toast. And in good Ocean Rowing Society tradition also have a Third Toast to those lost at sea. A few of those in these waters. Not just from Titanic and WW convoys, but also some rowers. There is a monument to them on W coast of Ireland.
Diana and I have three children. Not surprisingly, they are cosmopolitans, Robert especially. He was born in Gisborne, NZ, during our circumnavigation in 1980. I left work at Cook Hospital, collected the kids at school and we all welcomed the new crew as he arrived. He was 8 months when we got Red Admiral back on water and carried on sailing. He climbed the rigging before he could walk. First steps were in Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Kindergarten while D & I worked in Durban was a bit tough, much happier when we carried on. First school in Pitcairn 1986. A-levels in London. B Sc England/Bergen, Computer Science degree in Cambridge where he and Mekhola (a medic!) met & married in a field last year.
Today is also one for Ripley's Believe It or Not! I have their colourful top on, on the back "Unbelievable Voyage". (Thank you Ed & Stacey for believing in me!)
In 24 hours we have covered 88 nm towards Hugh Town! That is an average speed of 3,7 k, and I only rowed about 10 of those hours. And if anybody has any suspicion, there is no sail up! In fact I have the cockpit canopy back almost all the time as I want the wind to catch the bow and not the stern. Otherwise we often end up slewing sideways with danger of knock-downs. I am sure this current & progress will not last, must be a freak eddy, but hope it does not curve off N. During the night the current went NE as the boat is pointing ESE. Wind is again from SW. Fairly rough out there, regular splashes. Hope to edge her a bit further S again.
Have a nice day, all!
|Day 69, evening|
Another fast day, but not quite like y'day. Diana says ORS credited me with 90 nm! That is personal best ever and not likely to be broken. Also good forecast as far as D can see ahead - can hardly believe it! So must thank all of you out there who send me wishes, vibes, prayers - it obviously works! Or is it just Neptun in a benevolent mood?
First part today was lumpy and irregular throwing us all over the place, but the last two 2-hour sessions were fast and allowed me to go more E than NE. In between ordinary seas are some huge waves topped by white curlers. If we just drift and I am in the stern, the angle we meet them with seems to nearly always be right, meaning they do not bang us too much, but if I row sitting up in the bow and get side to, it can be both quite scary and wet. Once my right oar got caught by the surf. I was amazed at the strength of both the oar itself and the plastic gate it sits in! So it is very much a concentration-and steering correcly-game.
Lots of greetings via Diana tonight. It is mind-boggling how I can communicate with you out there from this lonely craft in a vast sea! Greetings back to one and all on both sides of Equator. Like Kari & Brian in Auckland, Sigrun in Kristiansand, Elizabeth&Fred in LA: glad your surgery went fine!
American Elizabeth I first met in Wolfson Hall, Glasgow Uni in 1965. She became a good friend and visited us several times during our circumnavigation. She was always bringing or sending loads of quality books. Some ended up in tiny schools in Solomon Islands and a Papua New Guinea Atoll giving us local goodwill! Thanks again for the way you entertained us when we visited 2 years ago: Seeing Californian otters in the wild and close up and the trees heavy with Monarch butterflies were among highlights!
Supper tonight: Pasta ai Funghi (Adventure Food), fried egg, sardines, Mung bean sprouts, couple of my 1/2-way olives and a little white wine toasting Robert, all friends & then The Third Toast.
|Saturday 23rd July|
Writing this for the 2nd time, I pushed "Send" and it vanished - to where, I do not know. "Cancel" is on the other side of the screen - grr!
But it is a nice morning, nice sunrise before it hid behind low clouds. Y'day it changed from blue, clear sky to overcast in minutes, probably a sort of low fog.
Moderate W wind. Moderate seas, mild. Drifting E, no more NE, thank goodness, but at latitude 49 17 N we are only 35 nm S of Bishop Rocks - famous lighthouse at SW corner of Isles of Scilly and about 10 nm from Hugh Town, St Mary Island.
Did 63 nm last 24 hrs - another great run. But less current now.
Had my usual breakfast of cereal, fruit and tea. Got out the 2nd of my 3 packets of sliced rye bread with sunflower seeds. "Best before 15 May 16"-still tastes great. Had one slice with the rest of last night's sardines. Probably more filling than several of my normal single knekkebrød/crisp bread.
Opened Day 70 Card from Elisabeth. Full of encouragement. Thank you so much, my lovely, considerate daughter. Safe travel home from Greece!
And I shaved and trimmed my hair and inspected my body. It now seems to belong to an ancient marathon runner! Just about all subcutaneous fat is gone, so I am burning off more than the 4000 cal/day we estimated... I still cut down the rations every 2nd day, but if we can do 40 nm/day I will have dinner in St Mary in 30 days, and I will have pleny food left!
My next challenge after this trip will be to rebuild muscle suitable for hill-walking, biking, skiing...
Have a nice week-end family, friends, followers!
|Day 70 evening|
After those two fast days Neptune decided to sober me up and today provided a counter current! I imagine it is part of a big eddy, but after more than 30 nm of uncomfortable struggle today, it is still here...
Wind has been a steady 10-15 k from SW (not W), which alone should have given us great speed, but we have been slowed by very irregular seas going at odd angles and often just heaving up and down on the spot! Trying to stay E - 80-90 degrees - has not been possible as the boat rocks and rolls in crazy fashion. In fact sitting inside trying to write the motion makes me quite giddy...
Hopefully, tonight or tomorrow we get out of this bewitched place and into regular conditions again. Also all the rocking from side to side has caused my bottom to get sore again, as are my hands and fingers.
Discovered that the second and last three liter bag of wine I opened a few days ago has leaked about half its content.. (Not likely to become an alcoholic on this trip!)
But apart from that, things are fine! Nice sun-set.
And seen more blue-bottles and dolphins!
10 weeks at sea.
Actually, apart from isolation, same meager, menu daily, miserable toilet and washing facilities, dirty clothes, unwashed hair, damp bed, calloused hands and pimpled bottom, I have nothing to moan about!
On the contrary, during the night, Neptune decided to assist after all and gradually my speed increased and the crazy rolling improved. So I am now a very happy man, in fact.
Wind is still a gentle from SW, we are being pushed N all the time, now at 49 40 N and only a few miles S of the Scillies. But neighbour Leif in Engersand has studied the wave direction and says they go straight from me to my finish! Thank you and tune in again tonight, Leif!
I have decided to increase food intake in sheer optimism, but in the back of my mind I keep wondering why Oliver Hicks took as long over 2nd half as 1st half in 2005.* Can Olly himself (you are preparing another big row, right?) or Tatiana/Teddy in ORS explain? Weather, equipment problems, ran out of food, rudder failure?
Meanwhile I remain a guarded optimist.
The 1950's NRK productions of Henrik Ibsen's plays kept me going y'day. Not too much optimism in his dramas, but his use of symbols and understanding of psychology is timeless. Finished "A Doll's House" and listened to all of "The Wild Duck". Impressive acting by famous Norwegians from my childhood and youth. Not dramas to cheer you up, but lots of food for thought and makes me so happy to live in a time when women have equal rights and children are better protected from their parent's mistakes and delusions.
Now to the oars!
If easy to row I do not need any other entertainment than thinking and talking to myself and the birds and dolphins and also to some of you!
|* - Please follow the link to read the answer to Stein's question regarding the progress of Oliver Hicks >>> [ Tatiana ]|
Day 71, evening
Monday 25th July
*ancient excuse for a drink
|Day 72, evening|
Fog never went away, but at least no rain. But the thick fog gives a drizzle that is clammy and moist. Struggled hard to go straight E, but not possible due S-SSW winds and side-waves. So we get pushed N all the time in spite of weak winds, now only 4 nm till we're at latitude 50 N.
Still, looks like we will get another 40 nm day by the morning.
I hear that Olly Hicks in 2005 was slowed down by tail ends of hurricanes. Which may well happen to me, too. Also hear he is presently kayaking from Greenland to Scotland. So there's somebody who must tolerates cold better than I!
Sorry to say I listened to the very last Ibsen play today: "Gjengangere" (Ghosts) from 1955. Ibsen published this drama in 1881. He deals with congenital syphilis, attitudes to relationships outside marriage, religion and euthanasia in a way that caused a lot of controversy. It was 20 years before a thater abroad had the courage to stage it. But it became a sensation. In this production Tordis Maurstad is the mother, the son Osvald with the fatal disease is played by Thoralf Maurstad.
About 6 months ago Diana and I saw the same actor as Socrates in his long defence monologue. The actor is now nearly 90 - we were so impressed! Last week I heard his father, Alfred Maurstad, as Peer Gynt in the 1952 production. What a family!
So in my confined world of limited news and happenings, an audio-book or a play can fill my thoughts for an entire day! If I have inspired some of you to read up a little about Henrik Ibsen and some of the plays I have mentioned, that would be very satisfying, too!
To even out the impression of intellectual snobbery, I shall also admit to watching animation films when I am not too tired at night. Last night the beginning of "Ice Age 3". Will watch some more in bed later as supper tonight is just a simple meal in the bag. Have not decided what yet, boiling water first. With lots of ventilation! (I probably had mild CO-poisoning up in the cold at Grand Banks.)
|Tuesday 26th July|
I saw the horizon briefly 2 hours ago, now it's all shades of gray and clammy fog yet again! Right now I can see no further than across an average school square, so especially my young readers - hope you are still there - must forgive me for boring reports. No fog means I see much more and that makes it much more entertaining for me too. But I see dolphins daily as they come past in small groups of 2-6 animals. No big whales within my small circle, but I will see some for sure when I get closer to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge about 150 nm (3 days?) ahead. That's where the sea floor rises from about 4000 to 2000 m and where Earth's hot and liquid inside gets squeezed up and gradually widen the gap between Europe and America. Some places volcanoes form and produce islands, like Iceland and the Azores, just S of me soon. These islands are Portuguese, have high tops with craters, black, sandy beaches, lots of Hydrangia bushes with either blue or red flower depending on the acidity of the earth they grow in, friendly people, mosaic pattern in the pavements, great sea-food. And they make excellent wine. When we first sailed to Horta, Faial in 1982 in "Red Admiral", hunting sperm whales was still important industry. We took the ferry across to Pico with crew from "Scally" and saw one huge specimen. It was a pretty gruesome sight as it was being parted. In fact World opinion made them stop a couple of years later. Now the old yards on Pico and Faial are museums. We were back with Red Admiral in 1991 and White Admiral in 2014 and saw whales at sea each time.
My most faithful company are the birds, especially the " krykkje", fulmar gulls.They are curious and especially if I row slowly, like most of yesterday, some will land close to the bow, paddle as fast as they can to keep up, fly off, do a big circle and land just outside the range of the oars once more. And so on! They probably hope for food. Sorry!
46 nm last 24 hrs.
Strong winds forecast for later.
|Day 73, evening|
The wind from SSW continued to build. Stopped rowing, just drifting from 8 hours ago. after some bad knocks and full cockpit got the sea anchor out 1/2 hour ago. So now facing some enormously steep waves. Still light fog, rain showers and a bit scary when we get jerked around. Difficult to write. Not supposed to last too many hours, says Diana. Thanks for lots of greetings! More tomorrow.
|Wednesday 27th July|
Yesterday will be another day to forget!
I rowed for two sessions in morning, never getting much speed and with wind from SSW tried first to go more E, but found short steep waves at 60 degrees to those with the wind. Less than a boat's length between these transverse waves, so the rolling was unbelievable. My bum got increasingly sore, it was thick fog, drizzle and utterly miserable, even rowing NE. Gave up midday and lay inside reading the original log from "Fox" in 1896. (They also had lots of fog in these waters.) Then about 5 pm the wind increased and we had some terrifying seas, steep and breaking. One knocked us down to port side, the gunnels went under for a few seconds, filled the cockpit, of course, but not up to the hatch. Got my gear on and had the SA set at 7 pm.
But next many hours were very uncomfortable, tossing and rolling.
The reason for the chaotic seas became quickly obvious: counter current! With SA out we suddenly drifted S! Later in fact SSW. In 10 hours we were pulled S by 4 nm..
Gradually better after midnight, but impossible to get any good sleep. Got the sea anchor up in drizzle and moderate wind at 5 am. Can again boil water and had normal breakfast. Again fog and drizzle that comes and goes...
I really need sun now for charging, running the water maker and dry clothes that are just piling up front. Bed clothes damp again.
Now we are drifting ESE, not sure what's happening out there yet. You will know tonight - have a good day!
Don't worry, be happy!
|Day 74, evening|
Another difficult day, but a lot better than last night! I have worked quite hard at the oars for more than 10 hours and have only 19 nm to my credit... That's an average speed of less than 2 k... The current is still not going near my course, wind has been light, mostly W, but even that cannot counteract the slowing effect of the short, criss-crossing seas and sections where the waves are doing a sort of "jump up". (Right now the rolling makes it difficult to hit the right letter.)
But on the positive: Fog lifted for good about 1 pm and we have had some hazy sun giving reasonable charge for basic needs, but not water enough to make water. And some overdue, wet clothes are dry ( but not smelling too good...).
Talking about "jump ups". Somebody is asking what I sing. I have a few songs with the Barbados group "The Merrymen" - very popular when we lived there in 1978 and still in 1988/89 (6 months). A lot of jump-ups in Barbados, where it basically is dancing to calypso tunes. I know these songs well and join in! On my own I sing what I can remember the text of, mainly children's songs we sung at school and have sung for my own children. Also Glasgow Uni songs from the 1960's. Whenever students were together in Glasgow, in the hostels or pubs or club meetings, songs were sung. (Not all decent ones, mind you...)
I have had many reasons for singing "Foggy, foggy dew" recently, for example!
More relevant to my port of departure 73 days ago: I also join in when Frank Sinatra renders "New York, New York"!
My hope of averaging 40 nm/day is quickly dwindling - again - with the current diversions yesterday and today... But I am sure it will return. Good forecast for following wind for next couple of days, anyway.
With my rehydrated meal tonight - Vegetable Hotpot - I'll add a fried egg, some mackerel in tomato sauce and lots of mung bean/alfa-alfa sprouts. They grow fast up in the bows just now! Putting a new lot in tomorrow morning.
|Thursday 28th July|
Good morning from the rocking "Fox II" in a dark, grey, slight but restless and disorganized, slight sea. Or so it seems. About 1 mile away is the hazy pale gray edge of fog...
Bow is facing W into slight wind and when it rained an hour ago, it rained in underneath the canopy. So the witches are still out there playing me tricks and probably laughing all their heads off!
When I started breakfast we were 1011 nm from Hugh Town, now it is 1012. Last two days we have averaged 21 nm/24 hr. Better than going back, I suppose, but not like I had expected, here where the warm water from the Mexican Gulf if supposed to flow like a broad back! So I better get out and get on with it, every hour looking for signs of change back to normality...
Diana sent me greetings from Chris & Sylvi in Spanish Wells, Bahamas. Thank you! (And to the many others in y'day's mail.) They are Canadians with a holiday house in SW and we met them as we kept "White Admiral" there for 3 months while we visited Pitcairn Islands 2013/14. This island has, like Pitcairn and others, a fascinating history. It was founded by Loyalists from North America. These were British who did not want to be part of Washington's new nation and travelled off to settle several successful colonies in the British Bahamas. Even today most are white and related, but there is an increasing community of Tahitians, like those in the boatyard that painted our boat while we were away. Another place I'd like to return to!
Must get out. Fog thicker, drizzle... Now 1013! Still I hope to have less than 1000 miles to go next time I report.
The new influx of people in Spanish Wells are, of
course, from nearby Haiti, not Tahiti!
Haiti is, unfortunately, one if the poorest countries in the World. They have been beset by poor political leaders (Papa Doc, Baby Doc etc) and a succession of natural disasters. Many arrive in Bahamas as boat refugees.
Elisabeth did a shoot with celebrity Davina McCall, who likes to follow my project and will link to her Fb: Welcome aboard!
Back-breaking work here. After a shower the wind is still light, but now from SE - contrary. With daggerboard down I manage 1-1,5 k in easish direction, but in more than 2 hours have only regained 1 mile towards the finish. Still fog, but not too wet just now. Warm. Sea is less lumpy, but no sign of the current turning yet. I just plan for ahead 2 hours at a time.
A few white, small and pretty mackerel terns around. They try to land on my poles! Their cries give me such good associations to sunny, coastal summer sounds in Norway...
|Day 75, evening|
A tough morning that demanded self discipline to keep
going as thick fog, drizzle, showers and head wind made it
unpleasant up front fighting for little gain. I did chicken out once
and crawled under the canopy till a short, heavy shower had past,
otherwise told myself loudly to be ashamed of myself as it was not
cold, no salt spray flying, no gales or threats from anywhere and
that the terrible sideways rolling last two days in fact was better!
It worked! Conditions also improved gradually - the all important wind backed from SE to SW, still light, then gradually we seem to be in a NE heading current again!
In early afternoon my main aim was to get below 1000 nautical miles left. At 18.32 ship's time, 20.32 UTC, the GPS showed 999 nm to Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly! I welcomed it by standing up, hooting and singing! Then did one more mile before retiring half hour ago.
The fog today is the thickest for a whole day so far. Very poor charging, hard on the batteries tonight, but must keep the AIS on for other ships to see us.
Picking out food tor tomorrow I found that the bag of white wine had leaked more... A bit tragi-comical to be mopping up wine and wringing it out on deck. Nice smell, though! Still do not where the leak is, I am having some tonight before it is all gone.
Thanks Jane, for reminding me about your Ibsen play in Spring 1967! Jane was then the girlfriend of Diana's cousin Tom and all three had parts in an amateur theatre performance of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler". I had only been dating Diana a short time when I came along to see a rehearsal. Apparently my presence upset her memory in her part as Thea Elvestad. I was too much in love to noticed anything wrong! But not so focused on Diana that I did not also notice good-looking Jane in a mini-skirt!
Tom and Diana were together again on stage during Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. Jane was also there in the production of "Plaza Suit" by Neil Simon. A gap of 47 years. It was excellent!
|Friday 29th July|
After my euphoric report last night the wind died and the current reversed, sent us first SW and this morning straight W... We got down to 997 nm to finish, now it's at 1008 and increasing by 1 knot, i.e. 1 nm/hr. Totally gray day again, not a glimmer of sun. Main batteries are at 12.5 v, 80%. Damp, not dripping inside. Fortunately not cold. But we desperately need sun now. To dry, to make water. For many days now I have been using the ballast water and replacing it with salt water. I need 5 l/day for basic needs, that does not include washing or rinsing clothes. A rare luxury.
Actually slept well with much less movement and decided to just use the damp quilt and pillow as mattress (most of the original mattress is gone due to salt water), spread out the sleeping bag on top, went to bed fully dressed and used the thin blanket on top of me. Added jacket and socks during the night.
Fog seems to lie here above us all the time, dropping down regularly as a lid. As I write the horizon has gone and the hazy, light grey curtain is being drawn tighter around us.
Five dolphins just passed!
May have to go SE or S this morning, depends on what wind comes up. I want to avoid rowing straight against the current.
I would like to wish all Diana's and my family in Norway, Scotland, England, Canada and California, friends on both sides of the Atlantic, north and south of Equator, on Pitcairn, Norfolk, NZ, Aussie, our Engersand neighbours and all you followers of this my extended voyage, old and new:
Have an excellent day!
|Day 75, evening|
Hope your day was ok, mine turned out better than I feared this morning. Had pale sun for a couple of hours in the afternoon, enough to make 8 l of water. Washed some underwear, but it rained briefly after I hung up to dry... They were wetter when I took them down than when I hung them up!
Very quiet day. Only slight sea and little wind. Only sound has been from the knock-knock of the rudder and from birds. I did hear whales blow once, but they were hidden by fog.
The birds have given me lots of entertainment, I needed it for it was another day of having to work for every mile. The mackerel tern was back and this time managed to settle on the LED light on top of the red pole. It is immediately above where I row, so quite fun to look up and see all the antics as it fluttered to stay put or slid off and flew back repeatedly! Camera in action, of course. These small birds are master-fliers with stamina. The ones in North Norway fly to South Africa when it gets cold! But they cannot live out on the ocean for many days, so wonder where their base and source of drinking water is. The Azores?
A trio of birds that also kept me entertained, I think are called skuas (tyvjo). They are more shaped like birds of pray, their specialty is stealing catch from others. I think I saw a parent with lyre-like tail (long, thin central feathers) teaching two young ones the tricks. They were not just going after fulmars and others, but practicing dive-bombing each others!
Another pod of dolphins in the afternoon and one beautiful blue-bottle (Portuguese Man-of-war). There was no wind when I rowed past it, I should have stopped and filmed it! It had it's bluish-pink semi-circular mantle flattened for best performance when swimming into the wind.
In my last session I listened to the 2nd CD of "History of Classical Music" and remembered back to happy years when Diana, Martin & I played in Agder Orkesterforening.
Best wishes to you who were with us - & thanks for more greetings!
|Saturday 30th July|
Happy week-end, folks!
Here it's the sort of morning when I am happy to sit and write and sip hot tea rather than facing the oars and the fog. I have not counted the days, but that fog seems to have been a constant companion for years!
About 35 miles now since the minus 4 nm position yesterday, 27 towards the finish. Since 10 hours ago we have drifted 12 nm N and 8 nm E. We're heading for the Faeroes!
Only slight wind from S, but more waves and rolling. Still unusually quiet. Diana says SW wind today, W tomorrow (yes, please). James, manager to the other single-handler Laval (who left from Novo Scotia, Canada) says the Gulf Stream is 30 nm S of me... Thank you, James, I had a go at rowing S or SE y'day, but gave up after 1/2 hr as I had both the current and swell against me. According to my Admiralty Chart, it should also be in this area, normally. I will probably have yet another day of being carried off N no matter what I do...
I am now 980 nm from Hugh Town. Another 13 miles and I have "only" 1/3 to go. Expect another hoot & shout!
There was a greeting from Erik in Malmø, Sweden y'day. He and Stefan had this boat before me and I thought of them last night when I had yet another of their left-over meals: Blå Band (Swedish Campbell Soup): Rice with asparagus and chicken. "Best before 04.04.2016". While it rehydrated I fried an egg and after mixing in olive oil added the meal from the bag. It was awesome! Rest of the white wine went with it. I think Erik, you also would like another ocean row?
So now we have a "dry ship". Only alcohol left is Judi's gift of after-shave. But that precious bottle is what occasionally gives me and my cabin's atmosphere a civilized impression and is well looked after.
Another greeting was from our neighbour Leif at Engersand who has videoed a seal on the beach just outside our apartment: Almost a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" occasion!
No more tea left, fog has receded a little.
Get the wet gear on and go!
|Day 77, evening|
1/3 left on a foggy day.
A long and rather boring, tough, mostly foggy day with no help from current (still heading N/NE) and only occasional help from the light wind. It was S in the morning, fortunately SW for most of the day, now more S again and not good for our drift tonight. Unless things change to our advantage. The fog came and almost went and came again. Very thick again right now. My underwear is still not dry after two days and are back in front hanging from the bucket with the sprouts. They grow fast, however, ready to be eaten by tomorrow.
But at 2 pm another small mile-stone when 967 nm to go came up, i.e. only 1/3 left! Standing hoots and shouts and filmed a little. Coincided with the brightest part of the day!
For my last, a bit amputated 2-hour session as I was really quite worn out, the MP3-player kept me going. But when Elvis Presley sang "Are you lonesome tonight?" I had to join in "yes I am" - and thought about my dearest ones...
But soon even this seemingly endless row will be history.
Tomorrow I'll be fit for fight again.
Right now I will get going with the day's highlight: Supper or rather: Late dinner. I have counted some stores and found we still have 26 eggs left, so I will do a repeat of last night, this time adding a rehydrated "Pasta Carbonara" (Adventure Food) to the fried egg in the casserole. Then tea, crisp bread w cheese and a small piece of Diana's fruit cake. Mm...
And then hit the bunk!
|Sunday 31st July|
Optimistic morning to you all!
During the night my drift NE flattened out, went E, SE and now E again. There only seems to be light wind, so I think the changes are due to friendly current. Hopefully back on the main body of the Gulf Stream! But the relentless fog is here still. I am trying hard not to let it affect me ... But the constant damp, the droplets settling everywhere, including eyelashes, often drizzle & rain. The worst is, however, as I have moaned about repeatedly, the lack of sun for charging, water making, drying... So in a way it is "Good moaning, all!" from Fox II today!
Boat is a lot livelier, rocking about, than the last two days. Must have some side waves. I'll find out soon. With deck covered in heavy dew I do not run out and inspect my world first thing.
I think I keep hearing boats, but the noise is from overhead planes. Must be another traffic zone above here. I cannot see anything, of course.
I am now 680 nm directly N of Flores, the most westerly of the Azores Archipelago, and soon on the Atlantic Ridge - or is it trough? Certainly a lot of volcanoes come up along it, some are new and active. Only 60 years since Faial had a huge eruption that increased its size to the W a lot and put an important lighthouse off the coast and in one direction obscured by a new mountain! It is now on top of a volcanic museum.
Tomorrow morning is 120 years since Harbo & Samuelsen discovered Bishop Rocks lighthouse 10 nm NE and decided to row in to Isles of Scilly before carrying on to Le Havre, their original destination. Last month was also 70 years since Gabriel "Frank" Samuelsen died in Farsund - just when they were commemorating 50 years since that unbelievable crossing. He became 76. At my send-off party in NY several of his American descendants were present and I carry with me a very special amulet. Unfortunately I have not any names and relationship written up. Can you outline details, please, and Diana will forward?
|Day 78 update|
It's 11 am my time, but I will put my watch forward 1
hr tonight to be UCT minus 1.
1 hr ago had to put out the sea anchor after rowing 2 hrs in drizzle and side wind from S, only making 1,5 k, getting pushed NE and getting increasingly wet. When both wind and rain increased, I gave up. Spent some time rigging up the small canvas to catch water. Surprisingly difficult with wind and motion, but have drips into a bucket now. Only worry is that waves have also built up and may splash into my bucket up there in port side.
That final job really soaked me!
I was completely wrong about the current, it now goes NNW it seems! Must either have been eddies or wind that helped me last night.
So this could be depressing, but seen in the big picture it is a minor thing. Boat and I are fine, the tea & energy bar I just had tasted great. Best of all, all my nearest and dearest are well. For example, this morning I had a lovely mail from daughter-in-law Mekhola in England that cheered me up no end, thank you! And in y'day's mail Diana had a long list of greetings - most names I know, some I don't, yet - but thank you very much!
I have about 30 pretty fulmar sea gulls on the water around me chatting away amongst each other and hoping for hand- outs, I suppose. They will be disappointed...
To the Samuelsen family.
Just now I received from Victor names of you all who honoured us with your presence in St Olav's Church, Ny, May 15th.
Still on SA in strong S to SW wind and rough sea. Drifted NE first, now straight N. Rain was off and we could charge batteries, rain back now, but not so strong. Less fog. I have slept a little and managed to boil some water - and ventilating the cabin at the same time! - another Blå Band left-over from the Swedes, outdated, but fine: "Indian Chicken Stew".
At 650 kcal Blå Band (Blue Band) is 50 more than the meals from DryTech and Adventure Food. Makes a worthwhile difference.
I do know of better sea-food meals, though.
For example lobster and other delicious stuff from Lobsterpot in Connecticut and served at Victor's: Hi, you guys in that mouth-watering shop: Glad to hear you remember me and follow my (lack of) progress! Don't give me up and hope to see you again later this year.
And Victor, thanks for the info and hope your rain is off soon, too. Love to your girls!
|Day 78, evening|
After a few very rough hours the wind suddenly died and left a very lumpy sea with occasional large swells from SW. And we started drifting E! I needed to get out to take down my canvas and see what water I had managed to catch, so donned my wet wet gear. Found 10 l water, a little plastic taste, but fine with me, put it all in containers and tidied up. The 30 sea gulls had now become about 150! A whole congregation of very chatty, curious fulmars. As we still seemed to drift eastish, I pulled in the SA and got rowing and could make 3 k no bother!
After an hour the drizzle stopped and during the last hour my clothes dried a bit. Got about 6 nm nearer the Scillies. Now we are drifting NE again, hardly any wind, what will the night bring? The two main batteries are at 75%, should ideally always be kept at 80 % or more, lowest ever, a challenge. Front battery ok.
Fog more or less all day. This morning, a big Maersk ship emerged less than 1 nm away while sounding his fog horn every 2nd minute. At the same time I heard planes overhead. Three modes of travelling the Atlantic and three ways of measuring time necessary: Fox II in months, the ship in days, the plane in hours...
Correction in my greeting to that wonderful sea-food shop near Greenwich, Conn.: Name is "Lobsterden" (not Lobsterpot). Sorry, guys! A little drawback of the mailing via the YB tracker is that there is no draft function, just send or cancel. No spelling check either, as many will have noticed!
Thanks for lots of greetings from Kristiansand (we lived there more than 26 years), from the lady rowers on "Liberty": Well done all 5-hope you are still good friends! What an achievement! Thanks also to Val - ex "Scally" in Portugal, and Trudi & Co, Barbados. And many more.
I was singing tonight "Are you lonesome tonight"- one song I actually remember the text of. But with so many followers I feel I have company. Lonely, yes, but not lonesome!
|Monday 1st August|
120 years ago today, at 11 am, Harbo & Samuelsen stepped ashore in Hugh Town, St Mary, Isles of Scilly. Harbo writes in their log:
"Went up and called at the U.S. Consul and was received with great honour and favouring us in every way."
They could telegraph their families. The famous photo of them in their 18,5', white boat with the Stars & Stripes in the stern and wearing hats, was taken in the harbour.
At night they were aboard again, anchored in the harbour, but did not carry on until next evening for Le Havre.
70 years ago Farsund was celebrating half a century since the epic voyage, but Samuelsen was old and sick and died quietly 26th June. In their log for that date, 1896, It says:
"The night has been fine with wind east and light and smooth water."
I had been at sea for 6 weeks that day and also had a good day.
Frank, as he called himself in USA, remained a Norwegian citizen, and returned to Farsund to take over his parents' small farm a few years after the row. He had one son who sadly died working as a fisherman off New Jersey, but also two grandsons, Norman & Spencer. In my book "Atlanterhavsroerne" by Kåre Rudjord is a picture of them in 1976 with daughters in Norwegian bunad (National dress) and a replica of "Fox". They rowed the boat together in that 80 year celebration.
Norman died in 2015, but in NY for my send-off were his widow, Judith, from Lista near Farsund, and their children Eric, John, Nancy & Sharon. They read a moving dedication and presented me with a capsule with remains of their dad.
So I carry some of my hero with me and shall do my best to deliver it to the family in Hugh Town.
"Fox II" and I are a very happy team this morning! Wind came up from NW at midnight and we have made good speed SE and regained some lost ground. Sun comes and goes, I cannot remember the last time I had morning sun! I actually see clouds and not just grey curtains. Batteries down to 70%, but charging fast.
|Day 79, evening|
Good day with NW strong breeze, a lot of waves with the wind in addition to big swell from SW, but has still been easy to row in. A bit like slalom and roller-coasting combined. 33 nm nearer the finish than this morning and less than 900 nm to go!
Also rowed past two huge sperm whales lying like rocks with waves washing over their dark brown backs. Quite large dorsal fins for a whale, typical big forehead and when they sprout the spray is angled foreword. I stopped rowing and stood up, but could not stop the boat and the distance was quickly too far for my camera.
I have done a little filming and photo relating to the 120 year anniversary today of Harbo & Samuelsen arriving in Hugh Town. And I wore the special capsule for my second last session.
Good weather mostly, did have some fog off and on on the morning, but not after noon. Some sun, even saw blue sky for a while. Meckrel terns are back and some were singing away almost like larks! I love their cries and songs and the associations I get of coastal summer days in Norway. Ever since I was born my parents had summer holidays by the coast in a small cottage, first in Eidangerfjorden, after I was 11 in Tønsbergfjorden on the island of Veierland. The all too short summers were important reason for planning sailing to the Tropics as an adult. I was lucky to meet a woman with the same idea!
Some final details about today's heroes: Gabriel Emanuel Samuelsen was born in Sellegrod near Farsund in 1870. In USA he used Frank G. Samuelsen. He died in Farsund 1946.
Gottleb Georg Harbo Ragnhildrød was born in Stokke in 1864, nearest town, now 15 min by road, is Sandefjord, where I grew up. He moved with his family to Brevik before going to sea. He became a mate and pilot and could navigate. In USA he called himself George G. Harbo, became a US citizen, married Anine from Brevik. He died only 44 years old of pneumonia in Brooklyn, his wife the same a couple of years later. They had many children.
|Tuesday 2nd August|
Brief this morning as all tasks are difficult and I am tense and tired after rough night and still very rough conditions. Knock-down to portside at 2am, but no damage or water in here, emptied cockpit, sorted the deck and adjusted steering and we have been able to keep going. With WNW strong wind it is just the direction I wanted, but not quite so strong, please! Much more than the 26 knots in the forecast! Add rain showers and black, torn up clouds, big breaking seas and you got the picture. May have to go go the sea anchor...
Thanks, Leif for wishing me welcome back in Europe! And sorry, Inger in NY, for giving the Manhattan Norwegian church the wrong name. Correct is "Kong Olavs kirke". (King of Norway 1957-91)
On sea anchor.
Another knock-down to 180 degrees, water halfway up my hatch. I had just fallen asleep but with my safety belt across. Scary. But We righted fairly quickly, with the list to port till the water got out through the scuppers. Wet gear on and got the anchor out double quick. Daggerboard in place. Rain and spray...
No more than drops inside, I'm happy to report, a minor advantage: Can now boil water with care!
So bit of a mess in here, tidying, but not mopping! Not happy with the conditions and worried about my own misjudgement earlier. Even a minor knock-down means SA from now on!
The little LED light on top of the red pole is gone. May also have lost my boat hook. I can make one from the red pole and will tie it down this time! (The other one was in a jammed position, I thought...)
|Day 80, evening|
That knock-down was to 90 (or a bit more), not 180 degrees, bad enough! I thought we would roll right over when it happened, that would have produced havoc and must be avoided. Very uncomfy, scary day followed and I must admit being frightened and having serious regrets about putting myself here... Looking at that thin rope to the SA tensing and pulling one way or the other, whipping into oncoming waves, is not good medicine! But after hours of waves washing over the gunnels and many full cockpits, the wind became less and the sprays rarer. And I listened to ABBA and others on the MP3 and felt better and decided to do a test row before sunset. After all, W wind is just what I want!
Pulling in the SA in heavy sea is hard work, but I have a good technique turning the rope around a stanchion each times it tenses. At 6 pm, after 10 hrs we were off again and did 6 nm in 2 hrs in spite of very lumpy, irregular seas. Got forecast from Diana saying the wind is not likely to increase now, so have balanced the boat and set the rudder as well as possible with starboard side facing wind and waves. I want to go my course E or S of it, also if more knock-down it's best to have them from starboard. The roof ventilator is on that side and did not get under today.
I did not lose the boat hook, by the way, but the LED light is definitely gone. Also lost my yellow oilskin trousers that I thought were well attached to the rope next to the cabin. And a couple of other not important items.
Now late supper and keep watching the conditions, and of course, if in doubt, out goes the SA!
Thanks for more greetings! Glad some people enjoy my ramblings. Thinking -and talking - about what to write when I row really makes the sessions pass quicker!
|Wednesday 3rd August|
A different and much nicer world here this morning!
But first: Happy birthday to Sigrid! You are probably sitting outside your hytte in Veierland with a cup of tea (and a secret fag?) after morning swim. You can look south to Stauper and other small islands of Tønsbergfjorden, and you can look across the narrow Krikakilen to the hytte where I spent my summers. What a lot of fun we had and my!, did your mum Wilhelmine make waffles a boy loved!
Last night's rough sea gradually settled and the sounds around me got friendlier and the movements gentler. So I am so glad I plucked up the courage and got going at 6 pm, in spite of the one big spray that soaked trousers and shoes. I am now having to put up a screen behind the hatch to shield the iPad from the sun, so observant readers will confirm I am heading the right way!
Nearest land now is SW cape of Ireland at 680 nm. I am 841 nm from my finish and 700 nm directly N of Faial and Horta. Horta is the Mid-Atlantic Mecca for sailors from W to E, that's where the quays are decorated with boat names, some are works of art, that's where Peter's Bar is and countless, small restaurants. Red Admiral's name is also there still, but not White Admiral. In 2014 we were so busy with repairs, the weather was bad and sightseeing and geocaching more important in spare time. That's when we visited the Volcanic Museum and learnt that after that huge eruption in 1957 (i think), ashes destroyed homes and fields on Faial and other islands. People were suffering and USA, especially California, opened her friendly gates and allowed a large influx from Azores.
I got up a bit late, had late supper. With "Potato with chicken & spinach" I had a lot of sprouts. They were collected from all over the front hatch where the bucket with the kit they grow in turned over in the knock-down. Still great!
I was a bit muddled waking up, convinced I had been to Elisabeth in London y'day.
It's Diana, Hedda & Johan who is there!
|Day 81, evening|
This was as lovely a day I could ask for as yesterday - at least from from 2 am to 6 pm - was horrible.
We've had a nice breeze from NW mostly, sun, picturesque clouds, a couple of tiny showers, but none of that hated fog! Air is cool, dryer, warm in the sun. Been drying lots. Easy rowing. Made water, everything that needs charging has had their demands of amps. And my biggest luxury, maybe to some a surprise: dry, warm feet! My Sebago deck shoes took 2 weeks to dry, used them all day!
Forecast is good for next 2 days according to Diana last night, but Saturday may bring a brief gale.
I am soon N of the island of Terceira, Azores. It has a harbour in SE with huge fortifications and interesting history. When the Spanish and Portuguese in 16th century brought ship after ship with traded and looted goods from the Americas, the Azores was an important stop-over to check navigation, get supplies and protection before the last passage to the Continent. Chronometers for ships were only invented around 1750 (by Harrison in England). Before that longitude was only by dead reckoning - guesswork really - while ever since the Vikings sailing along latitude was easy.
The biggest island in the Azores is Sao Miguel to east. Robert and I sailed there in Red Admiral from Horta in 1991. He was just 11.We had arrived in Horta and had a great time there with Arne, Mads and his daughter Marte - she about Robert's age.
In Sao Miguel Diana, Elisabeth and her friend Lene arrived by plane. We explored that beautiful island by car and came to geothermal areas with mud and hot water bubbling out of the ground. Free heat all year and free food making, too! A sturdy woman was boiling nets of corn on the cob. They smelled slightly of sulphur, but tasted great!
From Sao Miguel we sailed directly to Hugh Town, Island of St Mary, Isles of Scilly.
We loved the slightly old-fashioned, charming place. I am sure I will this time, too - tonight Fox II and I have 814 nautical miles left!
|Thursday 4th August|
Good morning from a gently rocking boat 804 nm from Isles of Scilly!
But looking out is not a view like 24 hrs ago: Dense clouds of varying grey, some down to the horizon and probably full of rain. Some lighter streaks. Mackrel terns are there, singing alway and I have slept quite well in spite of some worrying news last night. The gale expected to hit us in 48 hours is a real storm, but at least not large in extent. Last night at 10 pm the boat came to a hault before starting to drift NNE. In the beginning it went back and forth many times as seen by tracks on the chart plotter. We have drifted 12 nm N and 7 nm E since then. If the S wind is part of that low, it must be fairly extensive. If the wind remains southerly, it is heading straight for me. What I hope for is a gradual change to SW and W as signs that it passes N of me. (Wind revolves anti-clockwise around low pressure systems on the northern hemisphere.) That will help me to where I am going, even if I am on SA. If it goes SE and E it is the opposite, also I think the wind is usually stronger on N side...
It's an opportunity to tidy away anything not necessary on deck and here in the cabin. As much as possible goes below deck. The emergency bucket with flares etc comes in here where I keep the EPIRP (emergency beacon). Survival suit is aready my pillow, get a life jacket in addition. Food and water for a couple of days within easy reach. Take off the canvas for the canopy. When it hits: Store and tie the oars I use along the boat, not across as usual. Put out the sea anchor.
But I do not have a prayer-book for sailors!
Diana is having a super time in London. With all 4 grans and Emma (who helps looking after Finn & Soren when their parents both work) went to Tower of London and the Aquarium, before going to Les Miserables with the two oldest, Martin's Hedda & Johan (14 & 12). They missed me, apparently... Sorry, I will try to make up for it!
Long list of greetings - thank you!
Daggerboard in storm?
I wonder if Simon Chalk or others who know my boat can give some advice?
I am facing very bad weather from tomorrow evening for 24 hrs or so. Maybe 54 knot winds! I will be on sea anchor from the bow as usual when it gets rough. So far I have mostly had the daggerboard down at the same time. I am not sure of recommended practice and will be grateful for comments, which my wife, Diana, will relay. I do not have direct Internet connection.
My boat is a WoodVale Challenge of the Adkins Pairs built, I think, in 2009, hull no. 2, and first used as BeechBoys by the father-and-son team in 2010. Next by the Swedes Erik & Stefan as Nordic Endurance in 2013/14, both times along the Mid-Atlantic route.
All well here just now at 50 30 N, 26 59 W in gentle conditions from SW. 791 nm to Isles of Scilly. Some sun, making water, collecting food and making positive thoughts as far as possible!!
|Day 82, evening.|
It turned out to be a much better day than anticipated this morning. Wind went from S to SW, never strong, slight to moderate seas and we've made 28 nm towards finish since 6 am. In the afternoon a really big pod of dolphins visited - 30 or 40 animals- and stayed around for a while. I can hardly think of better entertainment!
My friends the mackrel terns have also been here all day and showing off. They often fly with the skuas (tyvjo) and seem to make mock attacks on each other without any food being handed over or feathers hurt. They really look like they are playing games - maybe they are just tern and skua teenagers full of energy!
But all day my thoughts have mainly been on the oncoming storm.
Peak winds are supposed to occur in the early hours of Saturday, but there will be strong winds already from tomorrow noon and for the next 48 hours. I still have a gentle SW as I write, but by tomorrow morning the direction is supposed to be SE and much of my miles will most likely be lost tomorrow and Saturday...
I have removed the canvas from the cockpit canopy, but left the thin aluminium rod in place. Lots of items from in here and also from the front hatch have been secured or moved to below deck. No lose items will be left on deck!
And I have gathered food and water.
Family and friends are worried. So am I, of course, but I have confidence in the construction of both the boat and the amazing sea anchor. As long as I stay inside, have everything shut when big waves hit, hold on and protect myself from injury during any knock-downs and roll-overs, it will soon become just another memory from my Atlantic crossing... (I hope!)
Lots of greetings again via Diana from many places in the World.
Thank you, thank you!
And I will keep the daggerboard down when on SA.
|Friday 5th August|
Already very rough here with wind, waves and rain from SW. Wind turned at 2 am, I was not out until 6.30 in fresh breeze and drizzle to shift and tie oars to the stanchions, pack away last things on deck , secure liferaft (centrally place just in front of cockpit, knife next to it) and put out SA. Nice breakfast with a hard-boiled egg in addition to the usual. Got the dreaded bucket business done as it was getting rough. Only a bucket and a half 5 l water container in cockpit, both separately tied to liferaft strap. The little floor board I'll probably jam in beside the liferaft.
Diana just writes advice on daggerboard, that it may prevent the free swing laterally and should probably be up. When I study the movement and effect of wind/wave I think that's correct. But I need a lull to get it up and tied down. If and when. This may last 48 hrs with the worst tomorrow morning... Probably do it with no clothes on as it is very wet out there now, but not cold.
Things inside well organized, I think, for knock downs or even the dreaded roll. Straps across and along. I have a 13 mm spanner ready for tightening the roof ventilator as the handle sometimes slips, so I added two 13 mm locking nuts just above it. Timing and remaining alert will be the main challenge regarding air in but no water. Slept well last night, at least.
The most important small items are in a water-proof, sturdy plastic tube with screw lid, but iPad and pc not, of course. They are in plastic, inside a zipped bag when not in use. It is "water resistant".
Interesting situation this. A real test of boat and person, I suppose, but right now I'd rather be at home and watching the opening of the Olympics in Rio. Good luck to Olaf Tufte & Co. I am still wearing your underwear, Olaf!
Diana, Hedda & Johan: thanks all for mails and safe journey back to Norway!
Wishing all you friends and followers a nice, quiet week-end!
From Stein in "Fox II", at 50 43 N, 26 27 W, 770 nm to Hugh Town.
Close to 6 hrs on SA. Thrown around by steep, confused seas, not worse than we've had before. Got the daggerboard up at 10 am, tied down, free shower in the process. Brett you are right, the bow moved quicker. Two half full cockpits so far, but I suppose this is just the prelude...
Had a snooze, lunch of "Rice pudding with strawberries", cold, fine with raisins added.
Lovely mails from grans Finn & Soren and mum Elisabeth in London wishing me well- loved it, thank you.
Sun it out, charging well
But blowing like hell!
(Well, not quite yet...)
|Thoughts from home|
The thoughts at the moment are mainly worried ones! Stein is probably about to experience the worst weather he has ever, or ever will experience! A small intense low pressure has hit him full on, the wind is increasing and he is already on the sea-anchor, with everything tied down ready to weather the storm. The forecast gives winds of up to 56 knots early tomorrow morning, that is a full storm, 10-11 on the Beaufort scale. He has assured me that he is well organized, all ropes and fittings checked, rudder tied, nothing loose on deck or in the cabin, emergency beacon by his side, liferaft in centre of cockpit, easy to untie or cut loose. Fortunately it will not last too long, already diminishing tomorrow afternoon and over on Sunday. So we have to trust that the construction of the boat will tolerate the stresses involved and he will just have to tie himself down, shut the hatch very firmly and wait for it to pass. I will be a very happy woman on Sunday when I know that he and Fox II have survived without much damage.
|Weather forecasts can obviously vary. I have been feeding Stein with forecasts from the app Buoyweather, which seems to have been pretty accurate. I have just noticed that ORS have posted a forecast which is much kinder, winds only about 35-40knots. I hope of course this is more correct, although I fear it will be more, and am glad that Stein has prepared himself for the worst. Diana|
|Day 83, evening|
Been on SA 12 hrs. Very rough, probably a little worse than my brief update 6 hrs ago, plenty Rock & Roll and loud sound effects to accompany, but no more tendency to ship water. Rather strange, but I am grateful for smsll measures! Only the bucket lying in the cockpit now, the can is in here and empty as I have transferred the water to thermos and two drinking bottles. Opening the hatch to get fresh air has not been a problem either as long as we are parallel to the wind and I watch the waves. Not a drop of salt water in here yet, long may that last!
Had a chicken dish out of the bag at 4 pm and feeling well, but worried about what is still coming, of course. The peak early tomorrow, says Diana.
Right now drifting ENE, wind is between S and SW. Difficult to write or do anything. I do not dare take out the pc and watch some of the films I have not seen. I mostly just lie and hold on, snooze, think about pleasant activities, family, friends, places I've been that I'd like to revisit. Top of the list is - you guessed it - Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly! And soon!
I will try listening to the MP3 and stay awake as much as possible tonight.
Mackrel terns singing outside just now! Did any of you send them here? A couple of seagulls paddle about looking hungrily at the boat. They are not fast learners, but I love their presence!
Just now long list of wishes from family, friends, from several countries. I am honoured and grateful. Thank you, thank you.
Hope you all have a pleasant, quiet night, wherever you are!
|Saturday 6th August|
|EMERGENCY AT SEA UPDATE POST|
08:00 UTC approx
- Epirb emergency beacon activated. Position received by Norwegian rescue in Bodø
- Epirb is acive now since this morning. British Rescue are heading the rescue mission and have received a few additional positions.
- Currently no ships and/or planes are en route to his position. Nearest ship 34NM, but have been unable to make contact. No rescue planes available
- RECEIVED MESSAGE FROM STEIN via YB-tracker. Reads "Activated EPIRP two hours ago".
Sorry. This is end of my trip. Lots of damage to
rudder, sea anchor gone. Rolled around and knock downs many times.
Activated EPIRB 2 hrs ago. Not dared to get out iPad before now, but
was worried in case thought false EPIRB activation. I deeply regret
this, no choice, hope the boat stands it till a ship comes. But I
have a story to tell, even filmed rolling around - if I get off this
boat with camera and stuff... Only minor personal injuries so far.
Again sorry and thanks again for your support and interest.
Probably last message from "Fox II".
New position report from YB-tracker
Thankfully the YB-tracker is still functioning and is together with emergency beacon EPIRP is also sending out a position (via Iridium satellite) each six-hours. Weather conditions are still extremely challenging with winds approx 26-35kts and 7-9m waves - but to calm down tonight. Waiting from updates on rescue situation from NMOC (National Maritime Operations Centre / UK Coast Guard). YB-position can be seen here:
- New message from Stein & update from NMOC
- FoxII rolling around. Upside down for several minutes. Stein injured but not severe. Still has liftraft ready if necessary.
- NMOC still trying to contact ships in the area. No success yet. Organizing plane to send out to locate him and call ships via VHF to send to his position. One of the ships approx 30NM from Stein might have turned towards him they think (seen via satellite), but not certain. New update from them in an hour...
- SHIP EN ROUTE TO STEIN!
Great news! Tanker Ludolf Oldendorff (300m bulk carrier) approaching FoxII, 30nm from north. Rendevouz in approx three hours. Rescue planes now on standby in case he cannot be located. Weather still extremely challenging for getting Stein up on ship - may have to lay alongside him for shelter until weather/waves calm tonight. Updates to follow.
- AIRCRAFTS EN ROUTE
NMOC has confirmed that two planes from UK and Ireland are en route to assist Ludolf Oldendorff in locating FoxII and Stein. ETA is 17:30 UTC
- REPORT FROM STEIN/FOXII
"Just got news that a ship is diverting to me and should be here in 2 hrs - at 17.30 UTC. Been almost as bad as in my worst dreams. Was a bit better just now, but seems to get rougher again. Three of my four oars now broken, one gone completely. Cannot row without oars or rudder. Lots of other breakages after about 10 complete rolls. Some cuts here and there. Been only inside in my tiny cabin, just leaning out occasionally.
Almost a knock- down just now!
I am taking chances here with the iPad, but with the knowledge above and the EPIRB peeping and flashing away in the half- full cockpit, rockets ready and AIS still working, I am prepared to chance it for a penultimate greeting to you all from my little ship. Thsnks for the company! I was on my own, but not lonely for 84 days. I got 3/4 way.
Again sorry! A dream for me for many years - but not for me, now or ever...
What an amazing achievent by my heroes Harbo & Samuelsen in 1896! 55 days!!"
18:39 UTC -
Ship Ludolf Oldendolff soon at FoxII/Stein
Ship en route to Steins latest GPS position. ETA estimated around 30min. First they must locate him. Stein has VHF and flares available. Aircraft can assist in locating. NMOC reports that they may not be able to get him aboard ship today due to still extreme weather.
Bulk Carrier Ludolf Oldenolff
- STEIN IS SAFE
Just received confirmation that Stein is safely aboard the ship Ludolf Ordendorff!!!
No details on how they managed to get him aboard yet, but they are attempting to connect us to him via satellite phone. He is ok - although probably extremely exhausted. The ship is continuing its route towards Canada! Great work from the National Maritime Operations Centre - we are extremely thankful for their fantastic work today! And of course the detour/rescue of the Ludolf Ordendorff!
I have just spoken to Stein aboard Ludolf Ordendorf!! He is tired, a bit battered and bruised, a bit disappointed, but very happy to be safe and sound, and looking forward to some proper food! It was lovely to hear his voice after over two months, and I am looking forward to seeing him in a few days. The ship is on its way to Canada, tomorrow I will get the details of where and when it will dock, and will probably fly over to meet him. So that is the end of his Atlantic crossing, he was unlucky to meet such extreme weather, but he has made a heroic attempt and I am very proud of him. Like my son, I am very grateful to the 'redningssentral' in Bodø, Norway, the National Maritime Operations Centre in UK and the captain and crew of Ludolf Ordendorf for a fantastic rescue operation. Many thanks to all.
That is all from Martin and me at the moment, I expect Stein will be back tomorrow with some more tales of his experiences in the storm.
|Sunday 7th August|
from Stein on Ludolf Oldendorff
Stein has not posted anything himself today, presumably it is difficult from the ship, what follows is part of the letters he has written to family and those who rescued him. Diana.
I owe my life
to the persons in the British Coastguard who responded quickly to my
EPIRB signal yesterday morning, who found the good ship "Ludolf
Oldendorff" 33 nautical miles away from me to the north and
requested the possibility of rescue. The management and owners were
contacted. Owners Oldendorff Carriers in Lubeck and managing owners
Peter Dohle in Hamburg gave their permission immediately. Master on
the ship, Edi Cherim and crew altered course 105 degrees to go SSE
to find me. They arrived as I had been informed by mail via my YB
Tracker device about 17.30 UTC. Then became a very difficult
operation to get close to me and upwind from me. I was unable to
help manouver myself, all my four oars were broken, the rudder was
broken and seas were very big and rough, the wind strong. They
managed on their third attempt.
They used line-throwing rocket appliance 4 times. The first was shot perfectly and landed 1 m to my starboard side, but I had not understood what was happenening quickly enough and by the time I had untied my boat-hook it had drifted too far away. Eventually they managed to manoeuvre very close to me and after several attempts got a line into my boat. I tied it to the front stanchion on starboard side. Then a line came which I tied to my special life jacket with harness, got another line down which I used for my most important properties prepared in three bags. These went aloft, 18 m above me safely and
efficiently. Then I got another rope down, which I also grabbed and hoped to tie to myself, but could not. My boat is bumping into the side of the big ship while going up and down with 2-3 m occillations. I just held it while trying to enter the also wildly swinging ladder, one second high up and then next second nto the water or banging the rigging of my boat. I tried to
grab it without managing a transfer, my hands were quickly weakened, my survival suit had only socks, no shoes and I shouted to just be pulled up.
This was done successfully, but with a rope just going over the side with no special appliance above, was slow and difficult. I bumped into the water and
into the ship side, was once completely submerged with my own boat heaving up and down just outside me and quite a scary situation, but the men above
managed their job, I received a few bruises, but was brought up and on deck and was suddenly an extremely happy man!
Since that moment I have had incredible help and hospitality in every way, given clothes and food, a comfortable cabin and altogether treated as a VIP!
Clothes are washed and dried, all my equipment is unharmed.
So I have gone from hell to heaven in a few hours!
Being tossed around by a violent force 11 storm, seeing and hearing my boat equipment being broken and destroyed around me and wondering how long the hull and I could take it was a near-death experience. I rolled right around about 10 times, several knock-downs in addition. Twice I spent more than a minute
practically upside down with howling wind wondering if the boat was ever going to get upright and if I was going to survive.
In my 84 days at sea, I managed almost 3/4 of my, for years planned, solo row from New York to Isles of Scilly. But it was not to be. Still I do not regret
it. It has given me highs and lows and getting safely aboard M/V Ludolf Oldendorff is forever going to be a major highlight of my life.
I thank you all, Coastguard, Managers and Owners, Master and crew, from the bottom of my heart!
As for me, I was sort of reborn yesterday. So in the
middle of a genuine sorrow for a failed project and a lost boat and
equipment, I feel that this was beyond my own fault or control.
Maybe not totally, as I will never know the exact sequence of
events. It the sea anchor had held, i.e. I had had stronger sea
anchor rope, maybe the rolling and worst destruction would not have
occurred... I will never know, for sure. The fitting in the bow
It was very frightening and twice I thought the end was approaching fast with the boat remaining upside down for seemingly ages... I had the camera
on for one of the occasions and you can see for yourself next time we meet.
I am now having a luxury holiday being treated like a
king. Great cabin, shower, washing machine, dryer, bottled water,
amazing food and great
variety. Dinner in 1 hr, I thought the 3 courses at 12 was dinner, too, no that was lunch!
Crew yesterday filmed me being rescued, by the way. I have not seen it, was dramatic, all right. Hope to get copies.
I am now en route slowly as far as modern ships go, due to berthing problems, to Sept Iles. We arrive 14th, but cannot get ashore before 15th at the earliest. They cannot tell me exactly when I can get off yet. A surveyor has to come aboard first, 15th earliest, apparently.
|Monday 8th August|
This should have been my 86th day at sea,
but my expedition ended in the evening on the 84th Day, Saturday 6th August. So it lasted 83½ days, ending in spectacular fashion. I was always prepared for the possibility, but never really believing it would happen. This you should read after another entry to Fb, a copy of yesterday’s letter of gratitude to the British Coastguard, the Managers and Owners, Master (Captain) Edi Cherim and his crew on this good ship M/V “Ludolf Oldendorff”. With Master’s permission, of course.
To them like to me this rescue was also something they are always prepared for, a huge challenge to execute in the conditions that prevailed, but also good entertainment when it went well! In fact I got such a surge of happiness when I stood there swaying by the rail on portside, supported by new friends on both side, that it was another highlight of my entire life! I really wanted to hug them all, but I was dripping wet and we left it at hand-shakes. I had not zipped up the SeaWind survival suit tightly in the neck to make it completely waterproof before I was momentarily submerged between the two boats, did not have shoes on, and now had some water inside the socks of the suit. My left woollen sock inside was quickly sliding down, so I waddled along more like a drunken duck than a happy human. My boat was then still riding along the ship by the first, not too thick rope used to reach me. They had thrown me another thick rope that I was supposed to use also for the boat, but I did not understand that and it was extremely difficult to balance and do anything at all at that point, so once I saw the luggage safely above me I wanted to get off quickly. I tried to hang on to the thick rope while reaching for the wildly swinging ladder. With no loop or knot it slipped through my hands, the ladder behaved like a crazy snake, so thank goodness that both the rope I was tied to and my life jacket of the SeaLion type with leg straps was strong enough.
The ship was only planning to proceed at 3-4 knots
and the crew thought it possible to salvage the rowing boat the next
day in calmer water. I honestly did not think that would work and
was not surprised when after a short time the rope broke and “Fox
II” was left on her own…
|Tuesday 9th August|
|Greetings from Stein on Ludolf Oldendorff.|
I have just had a telephone chat to Stein and he has asked me to post this greeting on his blog as he is not able to do so himself from the ship, nor can he post photos or videos. He is in good spirits, enjoying the comforts, the company and the good food on board. He gave a little show of his pictures and videos to the crew yesterday evening. He weighed himself for the first time today, 6kg less than usual, so he probably lost about 7kg as he has eaten a lot already since he was rescued. He would like to visit Hugh Town in the Isles of Scilly as a fitting finale to his trip, so he and I will make a little pilgrimage there on the way home. I will be flying out to Quebec City on Friday, and from there will take a bus (or possibly drive with my brother who lives in Canada) to the port of Sept Iles. This is a port for iron-ore quite far north on the coast of Quebec, should be a lovely drive along the St Lawrence Estuary.
Stein will be able to get wi-fi when he lands in Canada which should be on the 15th or 16th August. So there will probably be no more on this blog until then, when I hope he will be able to post some interesting photos.
|Wednesday 10th August|
Tonight, Wednesday 10th August, it is four days since
I was rescued and felt reborn, hauled up
from my tossing “Fox II”.
Many times I thought that cabin was to become my coffin as the boat was knocked-down and rolled over numerous times. The longest knock-downs were the worst. I managed to film one lying to starboard side for more than 7 minutes, so I have proof. I thought it was at least one minute thinking back, but it was actually more than seven. The last knock-down I did not get the camera in time and was about as long, held over by wind, I suppose, and this time practically at 180 degrees with water straight across the hatch repeatedly. I was seriously doubting if we would ever rise, thinking water had come in somewhere and stopped the self-writing ability, so I was talking to and taking farewell with my dearest. I really thought it was the end.
It was about 11 long hours from activating my EPIRB (emergency beacon) until the ship was near me. I had also activated digital VHF emergency signal at the same time, not knowing that the VHF antenna was broken. I dared not use the iPad and check mail via the Yellow Brick tracker until 2 hours later due to the frequent rolls and knock down that could damage it, and only then could I confirm that I had a real emergency. From then it took 9 hours. My boat was thrown around and about so violently a couple of times so that it pounded into the sea with loud thumping noise and vibration. I thought it might split. But it did not. Staying inside and not trying to launch the life-raft I am sure saved me as the conditionsimproved after a few hours. By then there was tremendous damage to my equipment. All oars cracked and floppy, one broke completely and was washed away.
But here I am, on M/V Ludolf Oldendorff, a 300 m long
bulk carrier, enjoying superb hospitality and friendship, as much
food as I can eat – only today am I slowing down eating a little –
can come and go wherever on the ship – within the rules, obviously.
I have my own cabin with a bed that
does not move, wash basin and shower with warm
water, toilet you can flush with a button! (I wonder how many times
before I stop thinking it is a miracle?!) I have had tour of the
enormous engine room, it reminded me of the inside of a cathedral (thank
you Yuri!) and the hospital, a bit more
modest with 2 beds, but an impressive stock of
equipment and medicines (thank you Aurelian!), spent time on the
Bridge marvelling at all the gadgets and electronics and I have got
to know almost all the 21 men aboard this ship. Especially “Misha” (Mykaylo)
Myrza from Ukraine, Second Officer,
who with Captain Edi Cherim (from Romania) up
at the bridge, led the difficult rescue from deck level, 18 m above
the sea. Manoeuvring the unloaded ship (in ballast) in 6 m waves in
order to get close to and shelter me was not easy. Twice I drifted
away too fast. Reversing upwind past me eventually did the trick.
The rudder, the huge, four-bladed
propeller and six cylinder engine were really put to
the test as much as the people. But after about 1hour 40 minutes
since first arriving, I was standing/staggering safely on deck!
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