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

 


L A T E S T   N E W S

News history: November - December 2003 (September - October 2003 available at teambluemarble.com)


UPDATES ON STUART BOREHAM'S ARRIVAL

March 4th 2004
At 9:34am local time ( 13:34GMT)    Stuart landed in Port Saint Charles to become the first fisically disabled person to row the Atlantic Ocean. WELL DONE, STUE !!!
March 3rd 2004

At 23:20GMT   Stuart crossed the finish line - longitude of Northern Cape of Barbados!!!

                           After then he took a tow . Arriving to PSC is   planned for  morning March 4th

                           For press-release click here  >>>

At 22:40GMT  "Macmillan Spirit" was in one mile from the line of logitude of Barbados - from the line, which is  the finish line of crossing the Atlantic! Row, row, row, Stuart!!!

 

At 17.20 GMT  s/v "Svoboda" , ORSARR yacht of support,  set sail and left Marina Port Saint Charles to meet Stuart Boreham, whose boat "Macmillan Spirit" at 17:10GMT was 14 miles ( 23 km) (12 nautical miles ) from the northern cape of Barbados

There are Stuart's mother, father, brother and sister-in-law on board, as well as ORS trustees Jan Meek (ocean rower) and Kenneth Crutchlow (ORS executive director).

Stein Hoff -ocean rower and captain of another ORSARR support yacht "White Admiral", - this time is sailing as a crew member of "Svoboda" with Captain Ric Tauson

Arrival of Stuart to Port Saint Charles is expected to-morrow, March 4th at approx 9:00am local time ( 13:00GMT)

 

 
Wednesday, 03rd March 2004  

"Land Ho"! was the call from a very excited Stuart at 10:40GMT. He is about 21nm out and 2nm north of North Point. Will keep you briefed as the day unfolds - if my own excitement will let me!!

Regards,
Phil

 

Port St Charles Barbados

Shortly after 17:00 GMT on 3rd March 2004, the s/v Svoboda, currently at Port St Charles as a support vessel for the Ocean Rowing Society Regatta currently in progress, departed in search of Stue, then about ten miles off North Point. On board were Captain Rik, Stein Hof, Stuart's immediate family, Kenneth Crutchlow, ocean rower Jan Meek, and camera man Mark of Media37.

After a smooth transit up the Western coast of Barbados, the sea state changed considerably as the head of the island was reached, with the wind picking up, and a very significant swell. Half of those on board became ill in short order, and we obtained a very small insight in to the conditions that Stue has not just tolerated, but lived through, rowed through, and kept faith in his ability and his boat through, for one hundred and nine days.

The s/v Svoboda knew in which area of sea to start looking for Stue, very quickly finding him on radar with a strong return. Shortly afterwards, the VHF radio came to life with Stue's voice saying that his active echo had alerted him of our presence. He has often told us of the high regard in which he holds this kit, and the peace of mind it has given him, but it felt very special to be in the vessel triggering this particular alert. As we searched the horizon in exactly the direction where we knew he was, a rainbow appeared, with the foot exactly on his bearing. This in itself was a good omen, but what Stue doesn't yet know as I write this bulletin is that his family have all written a card of congratulations for him, the front cover of which, is a rainbow. An omen indeed. After a few brief snatched sightings of Macmillan Spirit came the good visual contact we all strove for, and with it, a VHF call from Stue, "Good to see you all!"

Having then held station a safe distance away from Macmillan Spirit for the last few miles, at 23:20GMT, those on board s/v Svoboda witnessed the emotional sight of Stue rowing through 13 degrees 26.6 North, 59 degrees 37.0 West, thereby completing his solo, unassisted, crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. What an incredible achievement to salute, and to quote how we cheered him at the time, "Stue, you're simply the best!"

The significance of the line of longitude given as 59 degrees 37.0 West is that this is the Ocean Rowing Society recognised line considered as designating a successful East-West crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Of course every rower then wishes to make unassisted landfall if possible, but history shows that to safely conduct such a landing is very much subject to favourable weather conditions. This is simply because no rower can row against the currents and wind that often prevail in this part of the world. Having crossed the line, Stue therefore accepted a tow from s/v Svoboda to safe mooring off shore for the night, from where he will row in to Port St Charles at 13:00 GMT on Thursday, 4th March 2004. Thursday is going to be quite a day!

Steve


Tuesday, 02nd March 2004  

Oh, the cruel sea was a comment made by Jan Meek after she heard of Stuart’s Stuart phone-in this morning.

Yesterday, was a good day with Stuart in high spirits – good progress under blue skies – with Stuart looking forward to landfall, and in particular, rowing into Port St Charles. Today, the boat is pitching and rolling on white horses under grey skies and rain, with no break apparent. Wind and waves are above the margins for safe rowing and it is a question of hanging on – literally – as the boat goes wherever wind and wave will take it. Wind is over 20 knots and waves 2-3 metres with some waves of over 5 metres hitting the boat.

With little or no control over the boat, Stuart is fearful that his victory of crossing the Atlantic, unassisted, could be snatched away from him. If the conditions would only abate, he could complete his crossing tomorrow (Wednesday), something the whole team would wish for.

Phil


Monday, 01st March 2004  

To Marie, Lesley, and All at Macmillan Cancer Relief.
I am now in the final stages of my epic voyage and very much looking forward
to making landfall in Barbados, and then to return home to present Macmillan
with the proceeds raised through my venture. Best wishes.
Stuart

 

Stuart had been worried by being pushed to far North to be able to make North Point on the island. Yesterday he rowed South, against a South East wind in blistering heat in order to be in a better position. During the night, someone smiled on him, the wind swung to North East and he is making good distance southwards. At present, he is about 80nm East and 15nm North of North Point. Speaking to him on the satphone this morning, he sounded quite excited at the thought of nearing the end of his voyage and reuniting with family, friends and fellow ocean rowers. Asked what he would like to eat on arrival - we are not quite sure what time that would be, probably late Wednesday or early Thursday - and the request was for a Big Mac!

The weather forecast is for the winds to remain northeasterly, 15 to 20 kts, until after his expected arrival. This morning was overcast with showers, somewhat easier than yesterday's heat. "My feet are killing me" was the comment this morning; his hands are in reasonable shape for the final push - for no doubt there will be a push once land is sighted, but his lips are still in a bad way.

Phil


Sunday, 29th February 2004  

Earlier this evening, Mum passed comment that now we're in Barbados, for the first time in over 100 days, she feels that her son is rowing towards her, not away from her. Reporting what she said is a perfect way of describing some of what we feel, as Stue works so hard to complete his incredible crossing.

With no cloud cover and precious little wind to protect from a scorching sun, he pushed himself right to the limit today, finding it difficult to both maintain a sufficient fluid intake, and row hard in a southerly direction. His just reward however was an excellent corrective course of 245 degrees, and in the conditions, solid distance made, though as soon as he stopped rowing, he found himself being taken north of westerly again at 281 degrees. A highlight of the day was having tuna not just swimming near the boat as they have often done before, but actually jumping out of the water. Their proximity was such that he even received a welcome splash each time. He also witnessed a tuna, racing through the water, trying and failing to catch a flying fish as it re-entered the sea. As reported yesterday, Macmillan Spirit has suffered a few electrical gremlins over the past few days, and Stue was pleased to report this evening that he believes he's traced the cause to a loose connection in his control panel, now cured.

Family Boreham spent some of the day at Port St Charles, and in the process stopped at the customs office to enquire as to whether any special formalities applied. The reply was no, they shouldn't. Stue only needs his passport, so long as he doesn't have cigarettes or liquor on board. Well, Stue doesn't smoke, and with just two miniatures and one beer left, there's not much chance of the latter applying, come his estimated arrival on Thursday, either!

Steve


Saturday, 28th February 2004  

Team Bluemarble base camp shifted to Barbados today, with a very accommodating and efficient Virgin Atlantic Airways. As we started our descent from cruising altitude, we were almost directly overhead Stue, though the fast and comfortable machine we were in, with everything we could wish for at our finger tips, could not have been in starker contrast to his. Whilst taxiing to the stand at Grantley Adams Airport, a cabin announcement of his adventure was made, and the entire 747 errupted in cheers and applause. A very proud moment as we thought of him, so near and yet so far away, with 140 miles still to go and arrival likely on Wednesday or Thursday. Many thanks everyone, crew and passengers alike! You made our day, and Stue was very touched when he heard this news.

If this was surprise number one, surprise number two was finding that GSM roaming now works on Barbados, which certainly wasn't the case when Stue and I were last here. Surprise number three was therefore for Dad and I to be standing in a supermarket near to Port St Charles, buying basic provisions for our stay, when the phone rang, and it was Stue. He reported another good day's rowing, though having worked hard to get some northerly distance 'in the bank' a few days ago, is now finding it hard to get back south! As indications of his relative proximity to land, the family of terns continue to roost overnight on his cabin roof, and for the first time, I detected a sense of arrival starting to show in his voice. During the conversation he suffered a temporary total power failure, which is one of several he has experienced, and which we believe to be connected to a fault in his cabin light. Stuart said that chicken casserole was on the menu for dinner, and then prompted by the thought of food, and knowing we were stood in a supermarket, suggested we didn't buy any pasta as he has kilos of it that needs to find a new home. I've heard of meals on wheels, but the thought of eating pasta that has been delivered by hand across an ocean is something else!

Finally, I must offer a huge thank you from Team Bluemarble to Margaret and Barbados ISP, Sunbeach.net. You've been a truly great help in ensuring that away from home, we can seamlessly continue to report the closing phase of the project.

Steve


Thursday, 26th February 2004  

Stue was delighted to have covered 33 nautical miles (38 statute miles / 61km) today, and even more so to have kept an almost perfect course. Having managed to get a few miles North 'in the bank' over the past few days, today he set himself the target of goinf due west. At the start of his rowing day he was a 13.39.022 north, and at the end 13.39.000. I think we'll call that due west! His technique to achieve this was to take advantage of 10-15 knots of wind that was almost exactly astern, and to lock the rudder fractionally to one side with just 2.5cm rope pulled through the block. It still required much concentration to stay on track though, and a key factor in being able to row hard was that the dry weather had allowed some of his sores to become less tender.

Such a successful day lifted his spirits, so tired out, and gambling on arriving in seven or eight days, he allowed himself this evening to dig in to precious stock and pour a pre-dinner whisky. With boat time still GMT, it is now 11:00pm that Stue eats, so at the time of the call he was about to light the cooker. Vegetable curry was on the menu, with fruit dumplings and butterscotch sauce.

Earlier in the day, Stue had caught a BBC world service programme in which Francois Joyon, who recently shattered the solo round the world yachting record in his trimaran IDEC, was interviewed. During the interview, he was asked what had been the most difficult aspect of his endeavour, the reply to which was coming to terms with the psychology of being alone for 72 days. Having now been at sea for over 100 days, Stue felt he was in a fair position to understand the complex emotions, and extreme highs and lows.

Steve


Wednesday, 25th February 2004  

Welcome, Max! Glad to hear that you have arrived safely! Stuart

 

200 nautical miles and counting down, but “So near, yet so far” is Stuart’s comment for the last couple of days. Combating the southerly direction of the swell has been hard work for him and he says that he continues to be physically and mentally tired. Barney, otherwise known as chief keeper-upper of chins, is having a hard time telling Stuart not to have any doubt that he will reach Barbados. Stuart was however pleased to see that his efforts to arrest a southerly track had paid back over the previous day with a slight northerly gain. He started rowing at 13 degrees 34.1 north, and finished at 13 degrees 34.7 north. The gain was only half a mile in real terms, but psychologically, was worth a lot more. His bottom lip continues to worsen, and Vaseline applied before bedtime is now essential to prevent an unpleasant time the following morning trying to separate top from bottom. Naturally, family, relatives and friends are anxiously awaiting the day to reunite with Stuart. Messages of good luck urging him to the finish are much appreciated by him. Thank you to all.

Stue started his last loo roll today, with gives another incentive to arrive before too long(!), and also started his sixth gas canister. Only twenty left….!

As an ex-pupil of The Kings School, Gloucester, a highlight for Stuart was a phone-in to the Headmaster, Philip Lacey, and which was broadcast by BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

Phil & Steve


Monday, 23rd February 2004  

Over a crystal clear connection, Stue reported at 23:00 that he had had a heavy day without much wind or swell to help him, and that he was physically and mentally tired as a result. In fact, he said, it was the mental concentration of trying so hard to minimise his southward track that had taken the most toll. He asked me to confirm his ideal bearing, which I did at 269 degrees 15 minutes. The temperature was 34 degrees Celsius for much of the day, and other than the brief respite of a heavy downpour when he sheltered in the cabin, pretty unrelenting in its intensity. In the strong sunlight, his bottom lip is becoming very sore again after showing signs of starting to heal, but he will try to enjoy his spicy chilli for dinner tonight! Whilst at the oars today, he had one large, and several smaller, tuna for company, along with a school of the unidentified 20cm long grey fish of recent past that flap their dorsal fin to make progress.

Steve


Saturday, 21st February 2004  

To Ninie, Lou Lou, Cri Cri, J-C and Christianne

- my love to you all, and I very much look forward to reuniting

with my Belgian “family” on my return from Barbados. Stuart

 

Today’s call was at sundown - to see a sunset has been a rare treat on his passage. Stuart needs to minimise the distance he makes southwards and has spent the day rowing across the wind and sea. This has meant hard work and an uncomfortable motion. The result was a good course but a low mileage completed. He was pleased, though, that his distance to go is now less than 300 nautical miles.

He is finding it difficult to hold anything tight in his fingers. He wanted to run his watermaker this morning but was unable to open the bleed valve to purge the air out. The solution was to jamb some pliers on the knurled knob of the valve so that he could push with his hand and open the valve. Then the reverse process to get the fresh water to run. He has used very little of his reserve bottled mineral water and has more than enough of this to see him through to the finish.

Phil


Friday, 20th February 2004  

Adrian, Melanie and Heidi, John and Eliza.
Very many thanks for willing me onwards.
I very much appreciate your tremendous
support from down under in Sydney.
Stuart

 

When Stuart phoned in, for the first time since Christmas day, wind and sea were sufficiently calm for him to sit out on deck rather than huddle in the cabin to keep the phone dry. He was feeling better and was taking food again; Friday evening is treat time and tonight’s treat is a small can of beer. Fortunately these have survived somewhat better than the cans of coke!

The good news is that he stripped the bearing on the failed wheel on the “sledge” and put it back together again with some washers for packing. His fingers are crossed tightly hoping that this repair will see him through to his finish. With no water breaking on the boat for the last few days, his skin is drier which is giving the sinus on the insides of his knees chance to heal. A corn under one of his toes has been removed, taking away some of the pain when he applies pressure on the footboard.

The not so good news is, that after a conversation with his doctor, the likely cause of pain in his shoulders and across his back was diagnosed as shingles. Attempting to smarten himself up, a shave took over an hour to complete, and he managed to cut his chin with his makeshift, toothbrush-handled, razor.

He has seen neither birds nor fish for some while (Jonathan has long since departed) and he has not sighted a ship for 4 weeks. He said that having been at sea for so long, the boat has become his home and he will find it very difficult to step off and into a non- rowing regime.

After the little hiccup when it seems that the beacon radio signals were masked, position information is flowing freely via the Argos system. The team in the Argos user office were very responsive and helpful when the problem first appeared.

Phil


Thursday, 19th February 2004  

On the outside face of the cabin on Stuart’s boat is a slogan “The body says stop - the mind says never” Stuart is suffering badly health-wise. Usual rowing sores apart, he has bad pains in his limbs and, with a stomach problem, is not taking enough food. Consequently, he is losing strength and the energy to continue. He says that he cannot complete the last miles quick enough. His body is telling him to give up, but to give up after coming so far is something that he does not want to do. His principal concern at present is that as his strength is waning, he is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his course. For the past two days he has gone South at a faster rate than he would like to. Needless to say, thoughts and prayers are willing him on to his destination.

One of the “wheels” on his jury rigged seat - otherwise known as “the sledge” - has failed and he was spending the afternoon trying to mend it. There is a problem in that the satellite tracking the position of his boat is not picking up a sufficiently strong signal to be able to calculate the boat position. Stuart has GPS on board so he knows where he is, but regular, automatic, reporting is not available to monitor his position. He is going to activate a spare beacon in an attempt to improve the situation. Up to this point, the tracking system has worked extremely well with a steady stream of reports.

He says that he has enough main meals for 11 days, so it looks like a couple of days of a diet of pasta with pasta will be needed judging by his current rate of progress. Meanwhile, the shore team are starting preparations to go to Port St Charles to greet him.

Phil


Monday, 16th February 2004  

It rained again during the morning, wind 20-25 Knots, but the sea has calmed down. This gave Stuart the opportunity to open the small, rear, hatch on his cabin. He located the cause of the leak, and was able to use some epoxy resin to seal it again. Time will tell if his fix has worked.

He feels that he has strained his stomach, so has spent no time on the oars today. Time was spent jobbing around the boat.
Normally, Stuart likes to have breakfast on rising, take his main meal during the evening and to graze on snacks during the day. He was on the verge of running out of snack packs when, as a result of time spent tidying the boat, he found a pack of 25 Belgian waffles and a couple of slices of his favourite fruit cake. Saved! Yvonne - many thanks to the girls in the Supermercado for the vacuum packing - it has worked a treat.

The fixed seat is holding up, but the change in rowing motion has produced some abscesses on his buttocks. He is taking some
anti-biotics to prevent infection. Talking to him, he said how nice it was to talk to nurses at Cirencester Hospital when he phoned to confirm the tablets were suitable.

When starting to update him on F1 news, he said that he new already. Although closer to the Caribbean, he had picked up the West African BBC World Service on his HF radio.

Phil


Saturday, 14th February 2004  

As Stue pointed out when he called this evening with 460 nautical miles to run, yesterday was Friday 13th, and today he has been as sea for 13 weeks. As if to mark the occasion, he had been hit without warning by another large wave, which yet again burst an oar out of the rowlock as it was pivoted under the boat. Thankfully, Stue retrieved it before it was lost. His repaired seat seems to be holding up, though as a consequence of the repair techniques needed, it has become more of a high friction sledge than a free-running cart, so he is developing sores in new places! It has rained hard yet again today, and with the wind at 15-20 knots to whip things up, has been very noisy. The same weather is forecast for tomorrow, though Stue hopes when he starts to get a couple of hundred miles off shore, matters will start to stabilise.

We remarked that the Ocean Rowing 'detail' map of his progress now has him on one side and the wonderful sight of Barbados on the other, and that seeing this earlier in the day had been a moment of some emotion for us. Being familiar with the map, he asked how many days plots appeared on the right hand side, to gain a better impression of progress. Stue then gave me his current latitude and longitude readings so I could double check his required bearing (261 deg 20 min 2 sec, to be precise!) and distance to run. Over the next few days, accurate navigation will steadily become more important, as he aims for a small island after thousands of miles at sea.

Stue also asked what I would like for my fortieth birthday the week after next, to which I replied his safe arrival. This would be the best present of all, and hopefully removes the complication of a corner shop detour on the way!

Steve


Friday, 13th February 2004  

Greetings to friends, colleagues and well-wishers across the HBoS plc group of companies
as I pass 500 nautical miles to go! Thank you for following my progress
and your messages of encouragement which I have appreciated greatly.
I also very much appreciate all the donations made towards
the Macmillan Million Pound Challenge through my rowing endeavour.
Stuart


Wednesday, 11th February 2004  

Greetings to all IFS staff around the globe.
My thanks go to each and every one of you for your interest in my project,
and your good wishes for my continued progress.
Stuart

 

Stuart called at 1200GMT today. He said that the weather overnight, and this morning, bore no resemblance to the forecast - his anemometer showing winds approaching 30 knots and even more in gusts, and waves breaking over the boat. He managed to run the watermaker and filled three 9 litre containers that he keeps in the footwell in front of his main hatch. At about 0200, a big wave swamped the boat with a lot of water entering the cabin through the small ventilation gap that he had left in the hatch closure. Whilst attending to this, a second wave hit with sufficient force to put the boat on its beam ends to the point of rolling over. Fortunately, after teetering, it fell back right way up. A “moment” that he does not want to repeat! In daylight, he found the water containers were no longer in the footwell but jammed under the side decking.

Whilst on the phone, he did not have to say it was raining heavily for I could hear the noise of the rain beating on the cabin roof.

He called again at 2130 to say that at last the weather seemed to be moderating with winds just below 20 knots and the sea was quietening down, and he had been back on the oars for a spell. He fervently hopes that the change is for the longer term.

He hasn’t seen Jonathan for several days - possibly “grounded” (if that is the term) by the wind. The radar transponder keeps sounding an alarm but he has not sighted any ships.

Phil


Monday, 09th February 2004  

At a nicely timed point to give Rennie a break from her studies late in to the night, the telephone rang, and the display read 'International Call'. The smart money was on it being Stue, and it was!

He'd had a slightly more comfortable ride than that of the previous few days with the swell having abated a little, though it was still far from comfortable. Meals have still been taken cold, because it's not been possible to use the cooker, though the forecast is now giving hope for improvement.

Having been confined to his cabin when the weather was at its worst, Stue'd been determined to use the time constructively, which is how it turned out quite literally. Racking his brain for ideas, he has performed yet more surgery on his seat, this time going so far as to strip down wheels and ball bearing races. If it now fails, it really will have been for the last time, he feels. Earlier in the voyage, Dad said that we'd make an engineer out of Stue yet, and it seems like that's exactly how it's turning out! Any such new found skills are shortly going to be put to the test however, because the minor leak around his rear hatch is fast turning in to a more major leak. He currently has a couple of pans and a kettle suspended underneath in a vain attempt to keep his mattress dry, but must wait for better weather before opening the hatch to see what the problem is. With the enormous waves that have been breaking over the stern of Macmillan Spirit for some days now, it's quite likely that the hydraulic forces involved have opened something up.

As ever he was interested to hear the latest Formula news, with the biggest surprise to him this time being that Ralph Firman will not after all be driving for Jordan this year. The biggest surprise of all though today was not this news, but the discovery that the Yellow Fin Tuna have been eating his scupper flaps! These are squares of fabric screwed to the outside hull along their horizontal uppermost edge. They let sea water run off the deck and back in to the sea, or stop it coming in, as appropriate. At least, they should, but one of them is now missing almost completely, and others are showing signs of attack! Thankfully Stue has some spare fabric, and will fashion suitable repairs when the sea state is suitable.

Steve


Sunday, 08th February 2004  

Following telephone call advice from Ian Davis, Stuart has delved in to his comprehensive medical kit, found the recommended cream to apply to his lips, and 24 hours later they are getting to be more bearable again. Thanks, Doc!

This morning, the weather was as bad as it has been for the last few days, but in a call this evening, Stuart said that there were the first signs that the sea was beginning to calm down, wind still gusting to 30 knots. He has the impression that the strong winds are vibrating the Activ’X transponder antenna and loosening the mounting (four 6mm bolts through the cabin roof).

He was unable to row today, so he spent time sitting in his cabin (30 degrees and 90% humidity with the hatches shut) fashioning a repair to his seat. He is not sure how long it will last, if it will last at all and not fail immediately.

Phil


Saturday, 07th February 2004  

Stuart made an unscheduled call 22.30 GMT last night asking for an update in the weather forecast. He said that he had been in 25kt wind, gusting 30 and over, all day. The waves were 12-15 ft on top of a significant swell. Waves and swell were at different angles, and taking this together with the strong wind, he had found it extremely demanding on his strength. He was so tired, he was praying for abatement in the conditions. Regretfully, the forecast shows that these conditions are likely to continue for some days yet.

The sea has been breaking over the boat in large measures and much time was spent bailing it out. It seems that everytime he needs to open the main hatch, a wave arrives to dump water in his cabin. The small hatch at the rear of his cabin is leaking; he has hooked up a saucepan to catch the drips.

The seat has failed again and he has no spares to make a repair. In daylight today, he will have to jury-rig a fixed seat, but he needs calmer conditions to do this.

There was one bright spot during yesterday - he spotted a large green-backed turtle close by his boat.

As we were talking, the distance to go was down to some 675 nautical miles. He said that closing it to zero cannot come quick enough.

Phil


Friday, 06th February 2004  

Stue called this evening to give his diary of the last couple of days. He reported that yesterday morning, the wind was of 15-20 knots from the east, with a twenty foot swell pushing him nicely from behind the boat. Unfortunately however, the sea state then became more choppy, with a number of huge waves breaking over the cabin. It rained so hard that he could hardly see a few feet in front of himself, and he required his foul weather jacket for some protection. Thank heavens for the 'reverse compass' close by his side, which allows him to to navigate without having to switch port and starboard in his mind, and without having to see the master compass on the cabin bulkhead. He rowed hard all day long, apart from a brief break for lunch at 14:30, and found it like being in a sauna as a result. During the break for lunch, he felt another bump, this time harder than when large fish rub against the hull. A few seconds later, looking towards the stern, down the side of the cabin, he saw a large Turtle swim out, with a very nice white go-faster stripe across the shell, courtesy of the antifouling paint it had just rubbed off. So, there's now at least one Turtle in the Atlantic on which barnacles won't grow! The turtle followed Stue for about an hour, and despite the desire to get the journey over with, Stue was sad when he started to row faster than it could, or would, keep up.

Today, the wind has been much as yesterday, though the ambient temperature was very hot for rowing at 30 degrees Celsius. When Stue called, at about 22:00, he was inside the cabin, but it was still 26 degrees, and having spent another day rowing in his jacket, he had consumed over eight litres of drinking water. As a result of the substantial waves that had broken over his boat, some when he was caught unawares with the hatch open, the cabin was by then a sauna, too.

During the latter part of the day, Stue reported that the sea state changed to give towering waves over forty feet high, and the wind also picked up. Macmillan Spirit was by then rolling considerably, and on one occasion, the stern tried to overtake the bow, bursting open a rowlock in the process. Thankfully, Stue had taken the precaution of lashing the oar to the boat, so he didn't lose it. When he made his satellite call, he was lying, very tired, in his soaking wet cabin, and about to eat stone cold sausage and baked beans because the sea state was too violent to go outside and cook. As if this was not enough discomfort, his rear hatch had started to leak under the force of water hitting the stern, and his lower lip blisters have now spread to the full width of the lip, and become very painful. When he awakes in the morning, he literally has to peel his lips apart.

From the warm comfort of our home, having eating a splendid dinner washed down with a pint of Old Speckled Hen for myself, and a 'girly drink' as she calls them for Rennie, the contrast we felt between our respective lives at that moment was acute. What an amazing brother.

Steve


Tuesday, 03rd February 2004  

The grumbling seat bearing has failed. Fortunately, with a bit of ingenuity, he has taken pieces from both of his seat chassis to make up one good one (shades of race days with SKRC, Mary!) He is not hopeful that the fix will last the remaining 750nm that he has to go. If it does indeed fail, some other solution will have to be found.

Wind has died away to 5 knots, and Stuart estimates that the swell has reduced to a mere 2 metres. The sun is scorching hot again today - good for getting the batteries well topped up again by the solar panels after the long spell of grey skies and rain. With the batteries in good shape, he made 15 litres of water. In the sun yesterday, he drank 5 litres and he thinks that he will probably get through the same amount again today. He was pleased that he found the container of energy drink the other day. With his progress slowed down, he has examined his food supplies and has no concerns as yet. His day packs of snacks - cereal bar, dried fruit, nuts, small bar of chocolate, packet of pretzels - will have to be rationed to last the distance.

Jonathan was back again this morning, and the Yellow Fin Tuna are still leaping out of the water.

Phil


Monday, 02nd February 2004  

Congratulations on your 90th birthday, Papa! Much love to you and to Nana.

                                                                                           Stuart.

 

Since the last report, the days have been characterised by overcast skies, heavy rain, strong winds and high seas - the latter two making it very difficult to keep course. As before, Stuart finds it is a question of shivering in the rain, or sweltering if he puts any waterproof clothing on. Progress has been slow, but he is now through the 800nm-to-go point.

Having had a good wash and shave, Stuart thought that he would cut his hair. We are not sure if this was to make himself presentable for a tryst with a mermaid or not. Anyway, mirror in one hand, boat rolling around, and remembering to reverse his actions as he was looking into the mirror, he snipped away. He has not described the result, but we wait to hear what his hairdresser says on Stuart’s next visit.

Stuart has had no sealife sightings to brighten his day, other than for the last two days he has witnessed Yellow Finned Tuna rising vertically out of the water until almost standing on their tails and then falling over sideways with a resounding slap. Jonathan seems to have departed for good.

His seat is grumbling again. On Saturday, after putting a lot of effort in keeping the boat straight, he stopped rowing at "sunset", stowed everything for the night and went to the cabin to prepare his meal. *@#*! The cabin light would not come on. It was a case of doing his best to cook whilst holding a torch. During daylight hours on Sunday, he found the problem to be a defective fluorescent tube and he swopped it for a good one.

Phil


 

Stue called at 22:00 on Monday February 2nd, with 785 nautical miles to go.

The wind was blowing at a gentle 7 to 8 knots, and the swell was less than one metre. He has kept boat time as GMT, so sunrise is now at about 09:20 in his world, and sunset at about 21:00. He also commented that he had turned in for the night, but Macmillan Spirit had slewed sideways to the line of travel. The result was a very uncomfortable rolling motion, and with everything else so quiet, an extremely annoying clonk every few seconds from the rudder hitting the stops despite being secured correctly.

After the torrential rain of late, today has been dry, with scorching sunshine and 27 degrees celsius, throughout which Stue  drank five litres of water. He also found a long forgotten box of energy drinks, on which mum had so carefully written 'drink these first'! Thankfully, seventy nine days later, they were fine!

Despite the care he has been taking, his neck is now sunburnt, and he has some white lumps on his lower lip that he thinks are sunburn, too. His feet were also hurting today, though his bottom was a little better.

Having thought that perhaps he had now departed, his small feathered friend Jonathon flew in six times today, and accepted some bread that Stue dropped in to the sea. He has now kept Stue company since the middle of December, since when they have covered over 1200 nautical miles, though no doubt Jonathon has flown considerably more than that. Stue also had Yellow Finned Tuna for company again today, though no flying fish.

Steve and Rennie


Wednesday, 28th January 2004  

This morning, Stuart was experiencing the heaviest, really torrential, rain so far. This occurred whilst heavy squalls of 25 knots plus buffeted the boat; between squalls, the wind dropped to a more comfortable 10 knots. Stuart said that he feels in a rut - he really wanted to arrive in Barbados before the end of February, but this seems unachievable. The thought of arriving in March has brought about a downturn in morale. No matter how hard he rows, he said that he cannot get a good mileage as a reward. Also on the reward theme, the cache of Mars bars that brought great joy on discovery the other day is not as extensive as he thought, and they will now have to be rationed to see him through. He has enough food for an extended row, but some of his medical supplies may run out, particularly his pain killing tablets. After a small tantrum the other day, his watermaker returned to normal functioning, and he made 14 litres of fresh water today. All other kit is functioning without problems, albeit his seat is creaking somewhat.

His progress is slow, but he is now past the 900 nautical miles to go point. Inspecting the boat, Stuart can see “things” (probably sea urchins) growing on the boat on both sides from level with the aft cabin entrance to the stern. Their growth appears to be unaffected by the anti-foul paint applied just before his departure. He has no intention of going overboard to try and clean them off.

Phil


Monday, 26th January 2004  

Just as Stuart established his routine call today, the radar transponder activated but he could not see anything on the horizon.

Yesterday, the wind was 10-15 knots, occasionally 17, accompanied with rain showers. The sea was very disturbed once more, and even though the wind was easterly, he was pushed north of his ideal course. The rudder had little control over the sea motion. Early in the afternoon, he was pleased when a skua flew round the boat. Stuart was admiring the flight of the bird, its plumage, and how it kept looking down at his boat. His admiration soon stopped when he saw a “message” released! Fortunately, it missed the boat and splashed into the sea. This was a bad omen, for shortly afterwards, his seat failed again and he spent 3 hours cannibalising components from the first failure in order to overcome the problem. It is the bearings in the wheels that fail, despite daily greasing, and he is now reduced to one “spare”.

After spending all this time, he decided to call it a day, had a meal (chicken casserole followed by spotted dick and custard), and turned in. As a result, his daily mileage was less than he might have achieved.

Phil


Friday, 23rd January 2004  

Stue called at 21:50 today, having had a sunny day with 15 to 20 knots of wind. The ride has been somewhat uncomfortable however, with waves slamming hard against the side of Macmillan Spirit. At one point, the boat was rolled violently to an angle of about 60 degrees with such speed that the oar dragged behind in the water, and the 'button' (a collar which stops it sliding out of the rollock) was broken in half. Thankfully, Stue was able to fix it back together again.

He hasn't started to see shipping again yet, though still has regular visits from Yellow Finned Tuna. Two more swam under the hull today, just as Stue was placing the watermaker hose over the side. He currently has a minor gremlin with this equipment, in that an internal valve still tends to stick and the pump cuts out, despite the new filter recently fitted. It consequently took 45 minutes to make the first 4 litres of drinking water today, before the valve then started to work properly, and he made the remaining 15 litres in another 45 minutes.

Stue believes that one of the wheels on his replacement seat is about to fail, and if this happens, will strip one of the axles on the original seat to effect a repair. Electrical systems are all working well, including lights, batteries, and the all important radar reflector. He has plenty of food, with Lancashire hotpot, fruit dumplings and butterscotch sauce on the menu tonight, and is looking forward to tomorrow's Babybell cheese and alcoholic miniature.

Stue had a Skua for company today, and yet another flying fish in the boat. This one was the smallest by far however, at just 1cm in length. The flying fish have become a source of interest, typically travelling up to 5 or 6 feet above the wave tops, for distances of up to 30 feet. Stue even saw one make a distinct course correction in mid flight yesterday.

Steve


Thursday, 22nd January 2004  

The big anti-cyclone centred north of Stuart unleashed itself over the past couple of days. Firstly, the wind dropped marginally and then big seas developed - huge seas once again dumping themselves unceremoniously into the boat. As the seas were hitting the boat causing it to roll, Stuart found grasping the safety rails down each useful in giving him stability when the waves hit. Being kept wet with seawater, the wind-chill made him feel cold, so he put on his foul weather gear. That kept him dry from the waves, but the top-20’s temperature made him much too hot. Six of one and half a dozen of the other. Today the waves have subsided but the wind has increased to 25 knots, and his so-called “hedgehog waves” have  developed once more. In all, the last two days have not been condusive to rowing. He was hoping to be through the 1000nm-to-go point by today, but that will have to wait.

Jonathan has not been seen for two days now. The Mars bar “windfall” is depleting.

Stuart was delighted to hear that Long Compton Primary School are using the sea and his voyage as a theme for School Assembly on Friday, followed by a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief, Stuart’s chosen charity.

Phil


Tuesday, 20th January 2004  

Don and Moira. Thank you for your kind words at Christmas, they were much appreciated.
Moira - your cake recipe is renowned amongst your friends, but little did you know a cake would travel to over half way across the Atlantic. Baked by Mum, sliced and vacuum packed, and carefully rationed, it has been a great morale booster. Unfortunately, I am now down to the last couple of slices. Delicious, thank you!
Stuart


Much to Stuart’s disappointment, the phone call from the QM2 didn’t take place.

Following his scheduled call on Sunday, he found rowing difficult in the conditions. Pulling hard to keep the progress up he has developed two more sores (sinus) on the inside of his right knee. He had just turned in for the night, when he heard a loud thud followed by much flapping around on deck. Looking outside of the cabin, he could see a fully grown flying fish, and spent some time trying to catch hold of it. Eventually, he was able to grasp it round the tail and put it back into the sea.

He found conditions better on Monday and made good progress.

Today is blue sky with 3/10 cloud, winds easterly at 20 -22 knots, sea between 1 and 2 metres. He hopes the easterly winds do not keep up too long, carrying him north of Barbados. By the end of this week, he hopes to have less than 1000nm to go.

Phil


Sunday, 18th January 2004  

South East wind 15kts rising to 20kts during the day, grey skies and rain showers. The sea was less boisterous than hitherto so Stuart took advantage to do a few maintenance jobs around the boat. Following the filter change of the other day, the watermaker is performing perfectly. Tidying up the aft cabin, under the floor he found 2 boxes of Mars bars - long forgotten, but bliss on discovery! They will help the calorie intake. Tonight’s main meal was bacon and beans on pasta, followed by creamed rice pudding and pineapple.

With the calmer sea today, Stuart spotted yellow finned tuna once again. These were small compared with the huge ones of yesterday, being a mere metre in length. Also, on the horizon today, he saw a large car-carrying cargo ship and another large yacht, both of them triggering the radar warning transponder.

His rash is less sore, but his feet are still very painful, with the little toes swollen. He has pain killers in his medical kit, but he is rationing these to last the trip.

Phil


Saturday, 17th January 2004  

Saturday dawned with 15 knots of wind from the east (whereas he would prefer north east), and remained grey and overcast until 16:00 hrs. Stue then experienced two hours on sunshine, before the overcast weather took hold again, the wind increased to 20 knots, and the swell to 2 metres. He is pleased he took his foul weather sailing jacket with him, because it has been put to good use of late.

With the boat never having been still enough, Stue hadn't shaved since New Year's day, so yesterday evening, he decided the time was right. No sooner had he stripped of his T-shirt however, than the wind picked up and a storm cloud appeared in the distance. Perishing cold, with the wind and spray, he decided to go ahead with the shave, but in the aft cabin. Macmillan Spirit was by now pitching around again, so with one hand holding the mirror, one hand stopping the water slopping around in the bowl, one hand holding the razor, one hand pulling his skin tight, one hand stopping him being thrown about the cabin (how many hands are we up to now?)... You get the picture. He felt much better for the shave, but it took seveny minutes to achieve. Father christmas had brought him shampoo and a new comb in the stocking at the end of his 'bed', so with hair washed as well, and a clean T-shirt on, for a while at least he felt clean and presentable.

His third gas bottle ran out yesterday, meaning that each one has averaged twenty days. The supplier said each one would last five days, so with 26 on board, he remains more than well enough stocked, as appeared to be the case when the first one expired. Breakfast today was Alpen, and whilst washing his bowl over the side of his boat, Stue saw something move. Sitting up, a 5 foot (1.5 metre) Yellow Fin Tuna swam between Macmillan Spirit and the oar. Huge in girth, he watched it gently swim away. Being Saturday, dinner this evening was the excellent Wayfayrer Chicken curry and spotted dick with custard. Also being Saturday meant it was a treat day, so out came a Babybell cheese and a small bottle of Cointreau. Back in Aylesbury, Rennie and I were enjoying a quiet evening together when he called, so we opened the Cointreau too, and joined him.

Stue and I talked about the news, and especially that Martin Johnson has today announced his retirement from test rugby, plus the latest F1 testing roundup.

As he had said to Dad previously, Stue said again that it is fantastic to have turned over to the other side of his Admiralty chart, and to see Barbados, not La Gomera. He has been further buoyed by the past week having been his best yet, at 239 nautical miles (275 statute miles / 443km). At his current course and speed, he should pass the one thousand miles to go mark on Thursday this week, though as he has seen before, things can change very quickly at sea. With the choppy sea, and cooler, wetter, conditions, he is suffering with stiff fingers and a stiff shoulder on top of his other aches and pains, though made light of it and exuded confidence.

Steve


Friday, 16th January 2004  

Having reached the halfway milestone, Stuart decided to prepare a celebratory meal. His fresh water was running low so to save time, he thought that he would run the watermaker whilst cooking. The watermaker ran briefly then . . . stopped. So far, the device (a Ventura 150 made by Spectra) had proved to be ultra reliable in all weather conditions. The symptoms pointed to a clogged filter on the sea water side, and a quick call to Hudson Marine Electronics, who supplied the kit, confirmed this to be the likely cause. A good feature of the kit is the fail-safe pressurisation. Stuart had a spare filter - under the floor in the aft cabin. Kneeling on the floor and trying to reach the filter through the small hatch opening was a hot and very sweaty task. Off came the t-shirt, or at least halfway. It was over his head but stuck to his back and the backs of both his arms; attempts to pull it off any further, or pull it back on, failed. Imagine the wrestling match in a boat already rolling around on the waves. After a while and with one hefty great heave, the shirt came off whereupon Stuart fell backwards to park his sore coccyx on a container. Ouch! Lots of *@#!** were muttered!

The good part of the story is that the new filter was placed in the watermaker, everything checked over, and it fired up once again. He made 20 litres to top up his containers.

The Admiralty chart that Stuart is using to plot his position and progress is folded in half because of its size. Today he had to take it out of the plastic folder and turn it over. Much to his delight, no longer does he see The Canaries staring at him but his destination - Barbados. Still a long way to go, but he feels that he has started the home run.

Wind 15kts easterlies today. The blue sky after dawn soon turned to grey with low altitude clouds and frequent showers.

Phil


Wednesday, 14th January 2004  

Welcome home Diana - I kept my promise! Halfway!
                                                                 Stuart.


Half way at last. Stuart is pleased to have reached the line of longitude midway between start and finish. His disappointment is that there have been no calm days when he could press on and enjoy the rowing. The sea is still breaking over the boat and he is reluctant to open the hatch to access the front cabin in case sea water floods in. This cabin - the only dry part of the boat - contains the batteries, some food, and a spare seat that he would like to use. It seems that the storm crossing the Atlantic, that affected the southern part of UK, is the likely culprit that produced a swell coming from the north and has pushed Stuart a little south of the ideal path. There is time and distance enough to correct this. Weather forecasts show another storm brewing in the path of the first and which could give Stuart an uncomfortable ride.

Phil


Saturday, 10th January 2004  

Never laugh at the sea... The sea is still confused with waves in all directions; whilst at the oars, Stuart saw two waves travelling at different angles. He was laughing to himself that they were going to collide, yet there was all that open ocean to go their ways. When they were close by the boat, they collided and the result was a mass of water hitting the boat broadside, pitching him off his seat and twisting his back in the process.

Today started cloudy with rain, but this soon turned to sun - good for keeping the batteries topped up.

Jonathan is still visiting each day, and for the past two days a much larger bird has also flown round the boat. From Stuart’s description, it could be a Skua.

His feet are still painful and the insides of his knees are sore; this is limiting the amount of effort he can exert through his legs. To ease the pressure, he is rowing a few strokes alternately right and left arm.

Phil


Thursday, 8th January 2004  

My thanks go to Dr Ian Davis for his help in preparing my first aid kit
and advising on medical issues en-route, and to all the staff at Cirencester Hospital
who are following my progress. Very Many Thanks to You All.
Stuart


Hot and sunny today, some cloud cover and occasional showers. Wind is 17 - 20kts and the sea-state, together with the problems with his feet, is making it difficult to control the boat.

Phil


Tuesday, 6th January 2004  

Just after the phone link on 4 Jan, Stuart was putting the bedpan to good use outside the cabin. He had finished, cleaned the pan over the side, turned round and saw the oil tanker. With no radar warning, he was literally caught with his trousers down! The tanker was about a mile away passing slowly; after a while it picked up speed and disappeared over the horizon. Fears that the radar detector had failed were soon allayed when it sounded an alarm and Stuart could see what he first thought was the tip of sails. As the vessel got closer, he could see that it was a large ship with what appeared to be a drilling platform.

At about 6pm today, Stuart was just about to take a break from rowing and prepare a meal when the rowing seat collapsed. The problem was that the bearings in the wheels that enable the seat to slide had failed. Fortunately he had a spare chassis and was able to use this to replace the broken one.

His feet are painful and his knees are swollen, a combination that is making it difficult for him to put any pressure on the foot-board. Consequently, progress is short of the target he had set himself.

Phil


Sunday, 4th January 2004  

Yesterday, the razor broke and, whilst getting the epoxy resin to effect a repair, Stuart made a discovery. Unbeknown to him, when the water entered the aft cabin a few days ago, sea water got into one of the under-floor storage lockers. In the locker were meals in plastic pouches and an important commodity - treats. These included tins of coke and these have started exploding open as a result of the aluminium cans corroding in the sea water. Hardly a morale booster as he pours the coke remains over the side.

Today, the wind is blowing from the North and to keep the boat on track as best as he can, Stuart is rowing with just one oar. Temperature is 27deg, mostly sunny with some cloud cover.

The pain that started a while ago in both of his little toes has spread into both of his feet and this has been exacerbated by the heavy conditions of the past few days. He is finding it almost impossible to put any pressure on his feet whilst rowing.

There has been no sea-life visible since Christmas - apart from the dead flying fish on board, and a couple of small garfish - but fortunately Jonathan still performs his ‘fly-rounds’ to brighten each day.

Phil


Friday, 2nd January 2004  

Saw in the New Year with a half bottle of chamagne given to him by Ken and Jan Treadaway as he departed for La Gomera. Up in the morning, Stuart made 20 litres of fresh water and had a good all over wash and shampoo’d his hair. He had just finished when he was drenched in sea water from another big wave - welcome to the New Year.

Grey skies with no visible sunshine today (2nd January). The wind speed had increased to 20kts+ in the morning and sea state deteriorated again making rowing virtually impossible once more. He is experiencing what he has nicknamed “hedgehog waves”. These are large waves from the swell with smaller waves that rise out of the top, and which seem to hit the boat from multiple directions - there is no consistency in pattern - and he is shipping a fair amount of water over the side decks again.

Late in the afternoon, the wind abated to 15-17kts so Stuart decided on another rowing session. He was getting on reasonably well in the conditions when he saw the biggest wave ever approaching the stern. The boat was picked up and accelerated on the crest. After a while, the wave passed down either side of “Macmillan Spirit”, filling the boat once more. The GPS display was showing 10.5kts as it disappeared under the deluge. Another fine mess to clear up. Fortunately, the main cabin hatch was shut this time.

His coccyx is chafing badly from the boat pitching around.

The friction hinges on the main cabin hatch need adjusting. The hatch is quite heavy so this small job will have to wait until the sea settles down and the boat becomes a little more stable. The button on one of his oars needed attention and he has managed to fix it. The spare cooker is playing up already...

 

Regards,
Phil


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