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

 


S T U A R T ' s   N E W S  (November - December 2003)

News history (September - October 2003) available at teambluemarble.com
For latest news update please click here>>>


Wednesday, 31st December 2003  

27.5 deg, sunny but some large clouds (4/10 cover), wind NE 12-15kts

On Monday evening and getting concerned at the worsening weather, Stuart decided to make some water; he made 9 litres, He had just finished when the boat was hit by a large wave. He got up Tuesday morning to find 20-25kts wind and waves 18-25 feet. He finished his morning ablutions and was hit by a very large wave; the boat was quite stable and he did not feel safety was an issue, but conditions were too bad to attempt rowing.

Around 7pm in the evening, and having timed the pattern of the largest of the waves, he decided to prepare a hot meal. When he had finished cooking, he was starting to take the cooker off the gimbal fixing when a HUGE wave hit, the decks disappeared in the deluge of water, the cooker was wrenched out of his hand and was dumped in the footwell. The footwell was completely full of water and took 86 strokes of his bilge pump (1 litre per stroke) to empty.

Water deluged into the rear cabin and he spent some hours mopping up. Just before he set off on his own voyage, Graham Walters gave Stuart a chocolate chip pudding for whenever Stuart felt a need for a treat; Stuart thought that now was the time to eat it as a morale booster - so, Thank You Graham! Fortunately, his fleece blanket kept dry and he was able to keep warm during the night. Clearing up the boat, he found a dead 7-inch long flying fish.

Phil

Stuart sends his Best Wishes for 2004 to all Ocean Rowers

- those who are "resting", those who are preparing for ORSARR 2004,

and especially those at sea - and to all readers of the website.


Monday, 29th December 2003  

Congratulations, Jonathan!
Best Wishes to You and Zoe on your Special Day!
I was pleased to hear your news and shall be thinking of you this afternoon.

Stuart      

 

Sunny with no haze, 29 degrees, wind 17kts, no sea-life visible. The Activ’echo radar transponder sounded an alarm this morning, but there was no vessel in sight. Following the phone conversation of two days ago, Stuart settled down to cook his lunch and the cooker failed - no obvious cause and changing the gas cylinder was to no avail. Fortunately he has a spare, and that has been put into service.

Phil


Thursday, 25th December 2003  

At last! The sou'westerly winds are beginning to turn towards becoming nor'easterlies. The best Christmas present ever. Blue sky and temperature just touching 31 degrees both add to the pleasure.

On the phone today, Stuart said that his thoughts were with the congregation of Long Compton Parish Church at Midnight Mass. This morning, he enjoyed opening the small gifts in his Christmas stocking, and as we spoke, raised a glass of a gin and tonic to wish all friends, supporters, sponsors, well wishers, and other rowers at sea, a Very Happy Christmas. After Christmas lunch (chicken casserole, Christmas pudding and custard, followed by brandy and coffee, it would be a case of back to the oars to take advantage of the improving weather.

The sun was giving a good charge to the batteries so, earlier, he made almost twenty litres of fresh water, much of which was used to wash his hair and bathe. Nice and refreshing.

A pod of dolphins played in the sea a short distance away, but although the sky was blue, the sea was grey, making observation of the dolphins difficult.

Phil


Tuesday, 23rd December 2003  

To family and relatives;
To friends old and new;
To well-wishers and supporters of my voyage;
To each and everyone

A Very Happy Christmas to You All,
and Every Good Wish for 2004.

Stuart


Monday, 22nd December 2003  

Weather still not conducive to rowing and disappointingly it is pushing Stuart away from Barbados. He is frustrated with the weather and has run out of jobs to do on the boat. Only a few clouds in a blue sky, but every now and then the rain comes down like the proverbial stair rods.

 

Jonathan is still visiting and there are lots of tuna swiming in the area around the boat. A small squadron of flying fish - well, three actually - flew past his boat. He doesn't think any landed in the boat to lie hidden a get a little "whiffy".

 

An oil tanker came into view and probably picked up the signal from Stuart's radar detector, as it deviated from its course and came within less than a mile from "Macmillan Spirit". It stayed for a short while, then picked up speed again and carried on its way. There was no radio contact.

Phil


Sunday, 21st December 2003  

Stue called at about 13:00 GMT today. As he spoke, the temperature was a pleasant 28.5 degrees, the wind was blowing between five and fifteen knots, and he was riding a fifteen foot (4.6 metre) swell. Normally, this would be a help to him, as he gradually rises to the crest, and then surfs down for 200 metres to start over again, but this time, it is in the wrong direction. After taking him further north, it is now pushing him due south at the rate of half a knot. Having come to terms with it, Stue will now try to use this unwanted weather pattern to force a correction in to his route: His track has been slightly north of where he would like it to be, so he intended to come gradually south in the coming days anway. Now however, he will try and do this by dog-leg. Stue tried hard to row a corrective pattern yesterday, but it was too difficult to maintain against the power of the swell, so during yesterday and in to today he has taken a break, and with it the opportunity to catch up on some maintenance.

For several days now, his video equipment has been blowing fuses in the main switch panel, and he was anxious to find the source. This he did, by using two pairs of pliers to crush open a connector, where he found two wires to be occasionally touching together inside. Wondering how to solve the problem, he remembered the 5cm wide reel of IFS adhesive tape in his tool box, so with a few centimetres cut from the end, all is now well. (Thanks for organizing it Jan and Christine!)

His other worry since the beginning of the journey has been the water leak in to his main food locker, and although reduced to the point that it was not a major concern, he still wants to cure it properly. Regular readers may recall the fundamental problem to be that the surfaces he needs to seal are never dry enough for silicone sealant to take hold. Today, therefore, he has tried a different approach by removing food from the locker to create a void in to which he could place his shaving mirror. This has allowed him to see what he is doing and run a bead of sealant along the reverse (inside) face, which is drier. Hopefully he will succeed. He was however pleased to find that he has not lost any food through water ingress. All packets he removed were sealed properly, and from this he decided today's menu to be sausages and baked beans for lunch, with chilli to look forward to tonight.

Stue has also taken advantage of the break to modify his seat with extra foam. Hopefully this will relieve some of the discomfort to his coccyx that he has been feeling.

During a break from rowing earlier in the week, he also adorned Macmillan Spirit with tinsel and gold bows, and now has a small Father Christmas for company. He opened his Christmas cards, which gave him a connection with people's thoughts from home, and enjoyed a conversation with the Vicar of Long Compton Parish Church, family friend Rev Richard Smith, in which they discussed the true meaning of Christmas.

Earlier in the day, Stue called Mum & Dad, who were at a Christmas drinks party with neighbours Di and John Brown. He enjoyed the conversation, and felt a tremendous boost from the cheer that the assembled party gave him. Imagining their pre-Christmas enjoyment, Stue decided to join in by opening another slice of Mum's fruit cake, and pouring himself a Whisky. Cheers Everyone!

Steve


Thursday, 18th December 2003  

8/10 cloud, little wind, the yellow haze of past few days has disappeared, pressure 1020mb.
The last 24 hours have been a struggle with wind coming from all points of the compass. The wind has now died to nothing and the sea is calm. Rowing without toe straps today to give his little toe respite; sores on his bottom, but no problem.
Stuart was very pleased to have a phone link with the HBoS Awards Dinner yesterday evening, and was pleased when the MC, Dermot Murnaghan, said to the assembled guests that he was sure that they would all wish to send their good wishes. He was even more pleased when he could hear loud applause from the guests.
He saw a large shark this morning - pinky brown in colour with a black tip on the dorsal fin. Stuart also saw 2 tuna about 2ft long but had no inclination to try and catch one. The little bird - christened Jonathan after Jonathan Livingstone Seagull - put in its regular appearance this morning, as it has done for the past few days.
A Special Mention today for Robbie Shurmer and all in Class 3 at Long Compton Primary School - thank you very much for your nice Christmas Card, and a Big Thank You for raising money to give to Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Phil


Tuesday, 16th December 2003  

Still a lot of cloud cover, and the yellow haze still hangs in the air. Interestingly, although the haze looks yellow in colour, the dust settling on the boat is red. The wind cannot make up its mind which direction to blow from. Stuart is rowing mostly with his left arm to counter the swell and to try to keep the boat in approximately the direction he wants it to go.
                                                                                                                                                 Phil

 

Stue called at 12:30 GMT today, full of the joys of life, and relieved that the weather of recent days has been conducive to putting in some serious mileage, at last. He explained that with the unexpected weather and minor other problems that had beset him of late (big toe nail included!), he had been frustrated not to reach full potential, even though from where we have the luxury of sitting, we believe this to be far from the case.
Yesterday's distance of 51 miles (82 kilometres) was the best so far, which also included his highest recorded boat speed to date of 5.7 knots (6.6 mph / 10.6 km/h) whilst riding the crest of a wave. Co-incidentally, 6.6 mph happens to be exactly the same as the top speed of the Countax ride-on lawnmower that he rode from John O'Groats to Lands End a number of years ago!
To achieve these distances he has been rowing hard for long hours, and today was being helped by 10-15 knots of wind and a gentle 3 to 6 foot (90 to 180 cm) swell. Much concentration was required however, as this wind was constantly shifting between 260 (perfect) and 245 degrees, and he was keen that his good mileage really should be in absolutely the right direction. I explained that on the Ocean Rowing Society chart of his progress, since December 9th it had been fantastic to watch the overlaid little white semicircles open up in to almost complete circles of daily progress, and the fact that his efforts were so visibly apparent heartened him greatly.
His good spirits were also being heightened by clear skies overhead, with the result that at last he was able to put a full charge back in to the batteries. He commented however that through a full 360 degrees around him, at a distance of several miles and reaching to several thousand feet, was a distinct yellowy haze that he wondered might be sand from the Sahara.
Breakfast today was Alpen with coffee, lunch planned to be Naan bread and mackerel fillet, and dinner vegetable rigatoni. His first gas bottle eventually ran out on the evening of day 25, the flame extinguishing exactly as he finished cooking, so at this rate, he has enough gas to last another year, though not the rations to go with it! His big toe is healing well, and showing no signs of infection since removing the toenail, and the little toe is also nicely on the mend. He now believes his problems with the latter to have been inflammation from the pressure of continued rowing, rather than infection.

                                                                                                                                               Steve


Monday, 15th December 2003  

Today marks one month at sea. A fickle wind is blowing in all directions making it difficult to maintain his course, consequently Stuart expects his mileage to be down today. The sky is still overcast, but he ran his watermaker to make 18 litres of fresh water. This was more than enough for his drinking needs and to have a nice refreshing wash; the razor had a new blade stuck on to the handle.
                                                                                                                                                 Phil


Saturday, 14th December 2003  

Stue called at 12:30 GMT today, full of the joys of life, and relieved that the weather of recent days has been conducive to putting in some serious mileage, at last. He explained that with the unexpected weather and minor other problems that had beset him of late (big toe nail included!), he had been frustrated not to reach full potential, even though from where we have the luxury of sitting, we believe this to be far from the case.

Yesterday's distance of 51 miles (82 kilometres) was the best so far, which also included his highest recorded boat speed to date of 5.7 knots (6.6 mph / 10.6 km/h) whilst riding the crest of a wave. Co-incidentally, 6.6 mph happens to be exactly the same as the top speed of the Countax ride-on lawnmower that he rode from John O'Groats to Lands End a number of years ago!

To achieve these distances he has been rowing hard for long hours, and today was being helped by 10-15 knots of wind and a gentle 3 to 6 foot (90 to 180 cm) swell. Much concentration was required however, as this wind was constantly shifting between 260 (perfect) and 245 degrees, and he was keen that his good mileage really should be in absolutely the right direction. I explained that on the Ocean Rowing Society chart of his progress, since December 9th it had been fantastic to watch the overlaid little white semicicles open up in to almost complete circles of daily progress, and the fact that his efforts were so visibly apparent heartened him greatly.

His good spirits were also being heightened by clear skies overhead, with the result that at last he was able to put a full charge back in to the batteries. He commented however that through a full 360 degrees around him, at a distance of several miles and reaching to several thousand feet, was a distinct yellowy haze that he wondered might be sand from the Sahara.

Breakfast today was Alpen with coffee, lunch planned to be Naan bread and mackerel fillet, and dinner vegatable ragatoni. His first gas bottle eventually ran out on the evening of day 25, the flame extinguishing exactly as he finished cooking, so at this rate, he has enough gas to last another year, though not the rations to go with it! His big toe is healing well, and showing no signs of infection since removing the toe nail, and the little toe is also nicely on the mend. He now believes his problems with the latter to have been inflamation from the pressure of continued rowing, rather than infection.

Steve.


Friday, 12th December 2003  

Up early and the next window opened on his Advent calendar. Sea quietened down, temperature up at 28 degrees, wind back to NE 10knots and he is hoping to put in a good mileage today. About 11.00pm last night there was a thud as something hit the boat; fortunately, examination showed no damage. After lunch - sausage and beans - he was washing his bowl over the side when he saw 3 sharks close by. They were about 4ft long - large enough to make him wary and to decide not to put any of his personage over the side.

He has taken the dressing off his big toe and it shows no ill affect resulting from the minor operation to remove the nail. The small toe is swelling, maybe in sympathy . . .
Stuart asked for a special message to go to all those who have expressed good wishes and kind thoughts for his safe passage to Port St Charles, Barbados - “It is these very words of encouragement that keep me going to reach my goal. Thank you everybody!"

Phil


Thursday, 11th December 2003  

Wind SE, cloud cover 8/10 and showers. Big seas with waves breaking over the boat, bailing the water out. With the boat rolling and pitching, much of his cooked meals ended up down his chest and in his navel. Not a good day.

Phil


Friday, 5th December 2003  

This morning the wind has eased, albeit variable direction between NE and NW. A small school of dolphins that kept him company were more inquisitive than playful - they kept nudging the stern of the boat. Another yacht passed close by but contact was limited to them asking if Stuart was OK.
Last night as he was turning in, Stuart stubbed his left foot, badly tearing the toenail in the process. As the nail was split and half off anyway, he decided to remove it altogether. With the boat rolling, and difficulty in keeping his head torch focused on his foot, removal took over an hour. The reward for patience was that he did not cut the flesh. It is bandaged and with antibiotics all should be well. He said that, whilst rowing today, the toe was not uncomfortable.

Phil


Thursday, 4th December 2003  

Stuart reports that over night, the swell has reduced to approximately 2 metres from the uncomfortable 6 or so that has prevailed of late, and torrential rain has abated though the sky remains dull and overcast. The good news implied by the reduced swell is that hot food is back on the menu, though sadly no full fry for breakfast! At 08:00 GMT today when we spoke, he was on a bearing of 270 degrees, and had managed to cover ten miles during the night.

Steve


Monday, 1st December 2003  

The weather is still not condusive to rowing - 25knot winds with a boisterous beam sea rolling the boat. Stuart says that he is spending much of his time bailing out the footwell in front of the aft hatch - half full to empty takes 80 strokes on his Whale bilge pump. A useful bit of kit but one which he hoped he would not be using so often. Everything on board is working as it should do, hence he has no problems from that score, but he wishes the weather would abate a little so that he can get on with the serious job of rowing. The forecast shows that the wind should ease on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Phil


Saturday, 29th November 2003  

Stue called at 14:00 today in fine form once again. Today is overcast, though pleasantly warm at 29.5 celsius, and with a 25kt wind. The swell is rolling the boat a little so Prudence suggested a break from rowing, and give his sore hands more time to heal, which they are doing.
He is currently being taken on a course of 220 degrees at a speed of 1.5 knots, though he will shortly need improve this to 260 degrees to stay on track. Despite the overcast sky, his solar panels are working very well, and he's been able to keep the reserve batteries topped up as well as charge the laptop and sat phone, and meet his other power needs.
With the boat rolling, he has decided not to use the cooker and is eating his food cold (pre-cooked and sealed in pouches). He said that his Mum’s finest fruit cake (sliced and vacuum packed) is a godsend in these conditions. Some water is slopping through the scuppers and over the gunwhales, but he has this under control and keeping himself, and the cabin, dry.
The day before yesterday, whilst in his cabin, he was sure that once again he could hear a voice. Now straining to listen, nothing. No sooner back to his jobs, than there it was again. A voice. Going outside to look, the yacht La Novia, also en route to the Caribbean, was running alongside no more than a few feet away, checking all was well. After a quick chat on the VHF, during which Stue learned that the crew have also fund-raised for Macmillan Cancer Relief in the past, the two were on their separate journeys once more. During the conversation, they had actually offered to race, but Stue declined the invitation!
Today, one of the jobs to be done involved the use of the bed-pan. Nicely settled on said device when ping! - off went the radar warning receiver. The job was completed with some rapidity, and a quick look outside saw yet another yacht close by.

Phil and Steve.


Thursday, 27th November 2003  

Satellite phone call from Stue at 12:10 GMT today. He has no problems, and the winds are strong easterlies blowing him westwards. This should be a great help as his present bearing to Barbados is 261 degrees, and quick calculation shows 270 to be the ideal. The highlight of yesterday was another ship in sight, and a school of about 8 dolphins playing just beyond his oars. He watched for a while, and went to get his camera out of the aft cabin, but when he returned, the dolphins had disappeared.

 

Having been at sea for 12 days now, he has settled into a daily routine.

09:00 - 10:00 jobs around the boat
10:00 - 19:00 rowing
19:00 - 20:00 jobs around the boat
20:00 - 09:00 sleeping, but with an alarm every hour to check around.

He didn't mention time to feed, but, knowing Stuart, there will be plenty of grazing!

Steve


Tuesday, 25th November 2003  

Stue reports that today is very wet and overcast, and although temperature is currently a pleasant 25 degrees Celsius, he now needs a blanket at night. Visibility is currently about three miles, out of which came a tanker shortly after the active echo reflector had warned that radar was scanning him. He thinks the tanker came to check he was okay, because having been running parallel, it quickly turned and steamed away. If so, Stue will be pleased to know that the active echo did the job it is designed to do, and made his small craft appear visible. Stue was passed the weather forecast for the next few days, which shows winds changing from northerly to easterly. He is currently on 260 degrees, and making a couple of knots, so if the weather comes to fruition as forecast, he should now make better distance westwards. The scupper leak is now under control, though not completely solved, but Stue is happy that he can wait for better weather before tackling it again. He was still upbeat, in control, and said he had no major problems on board. The only technical issue is that of sending and receiving e-mail via Satellite connection, which appears to be encountering timeout issues. Advice has been given, which Stue will now try and implement.

Phil and Steve Boreham


Sunday, 23rd November 2003  

Stuart called at 12:05 this afternoon to ask for some help with his e-mail configuration, which fails to work after a Big Blue Screen moment. He is also currently trying to stop the last of his water leaks, the one in to a food locker. Because the plastic rim is permanently wet, the silicone sealant won't adhere to it, so various ways of keeping things dry are being tried. This is his primary focus at the moment, hence only five miles actually rowed today, but he was delighted with his progress yesterday, not just in terms of distance covered, but also in terms of a slight eastwards track in search of stronger currents. Having done what he wanted, he is now set back on 220. His spirits were once again high, and he sounded calm and in control. Stue also called Dad, and said he was pleased with his 'active echo' radar reflector, which has now chirped in to life on several occasions. Only once, in the dark of night, has he not been able to see the other vessel that triggered it.

Steve


Saturday, 22nd November 2003  

Sat Phone call from Stue late last night [Friday]. He was in terrific form, with unbounded enthusiasm for what he's embarked on. The connection was of high quality, and it was hard to believe that conversation was being held with a brother, in a rowing boat, on his own in the Atlantic, just as we were getting ready for a comfortable night's kip. No wind or water noise, just the slight delay typical of satellite comms. Though he could have done without them, our conclusions were that he sees the resolved problems of the last few days as being mere annoyances, which if anything, have helped build his confidence for when he may really need to draw on it later.

Steve


Friday, 21st November 2003  

Spoke to Stuart on the Satphone - he has cured the leak through the scuppers into a food locker and stemmed the flow into the watermaker compartment, hoping to stop it altogether later today. Despite flooding, the Spectra watermaker is working 100% as it should do and is producing 12 litres of fresh water in an hour. Sea conditions are 1m swell and NNW wind which hopefully will help push him into the Canary Current and speed up his progress. He has overcome slight sea-sickness and is cooking food.
Earlier today, laying in the aft compartment, he could hear voices. This worried him for a while, so early in his solitude, but when he popped his head outside he found a 40ft yacht coming alongside to see if all was well. The French crew were en-route to Martinique and, after reassurance from Stuart that all was well, they carried on.

Phil


Wednesday, 19th November 2003  

Stuart called on the Satphone this morning (Wednesday, 17 Nov). He sounded in good spirit; all was well apart from leaking scuppers flooding the watermaker compartment. He is working on a solution to overcome this. The only other technical issue was a broken rowlock which he has changed. The wind direction he is experiencing is the opposite to the forecast - southwesterlies and not the northeasterlies he was expecting. He has sore hands from rowing continuously into wind. The conditions were calming as we spoke and he was hoping to set course on 210.

Phil


Saturday, 15th November 2003  

Excellent sea conditions - very calm with not too much wind and sunny. A big crowd gathers - some are locals, the president of the Ocean Rowing Society is there, Stuart's family and friends, tourists on holiday in La Gomera and even a fellow Ocean Rower who has travelled across from mainland Tenerife. The excitement is tangible but Stuart remains calm and collected and at 11:11 sets off on his mammoth journey across the Atlantic. Soon he is just a speck in a sea of blue and you need binoculars to see him. Then he disappears and is truly, on his own.

Emma

At approximately 09:55GMT, BBC2 and BBC News 24 attempted a live telephone link with Stuart just before his departure. Unfortunately, the voice link was very poor, and the interview was cut short.


Friday, 14th November 2003  

The boat is okay!! All the food and other essentials are lowered onto the boat and Stuart attempts to ensure an even spread of the load so that the boat will remain balanced. Almost there now and apart from a farewell meal it's almost time for the off. At this point there is much media interest and the set-off time is put off from 9am to 11am so that Radio interviews can be fitted in!

 Stuart


Thursday, 13th November 2003  

Macmillan Spirit is lifted over the gates of the compound on a forklift truck (a scary time for everyone) and lowered into the water to be secured for the night in the Port Santiago. The swell is huge and Stuart and the rest of the team are concerned that they will return on Friday morning to a damaged boat!

 Stuart


Wednesday, 12th November 2003  

Essential work is still being carried out on Macmillan Spirit, however the boat is on land and the last few logos are applied.

 Stuart


Tuesday, 11th November 2003

 

The remaining members of team blue marble arrive in La Gomera to support Stuart in the essential last few days before departure.

 Stuart


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