Rowing 4 Research in 2014

Two men blog from Atlantic Ocean

Happy new year from the mid Atlantic! In the interests of sticking to the routine and despite the temptation to let off our entire box of flares, the transition form 2013 to 2014 on board Alexandra was something of a non event. No matter.
We have now been at sea for three weeks (feels like three months!) and as much as it is possible to do so we seem to have settled into a steady rhythm and the endlessly tiring way of life that it is to be living on a tiny boat in the middle of a vast ocean. So what's new? In truth not a huge amount. Whilst not always ideal the weather gods continue to be kind to us, in so much as the wind remains in our favour and we can continue to make decent progress in the right direction. During the day it is warm although lately we have seen a lot of cloud and the occasional intense rain storm. The rain is often welcome as the boat gets a good wash down but it is of little benefit to our solar panels and on such days we have to be vigilant about our power consumption. Otherwise we both continue to suffer from various salt water induced ailments and a number of aches and pains are beginning to manifest themselves more permanently.
These have come about not just from rowing 12 hours a day but simply from moving and being knocked around the boat. For example, to simply get in and out of the cabin requires a master class in yoga when the boat is at a standstill let alone when pitching and rolling as it constantly now does. Even in the calmest conditions to move from one end of the boat to the other in order to access a food hatch or to grab the tool box requires cat like dexterity and normally ends up in the stubbing of a toe or being thrown against the safety barrier as an awkward wave slams into the side of the boat. We have come to refer to such waves as 'sidewinders' - they appear from nowhere going at right angles to the predominant wave direction and normally result, particularly at night, with an oar in the ribs and a complete soaking.
Incredibly frustrating - my response comes usually in a form of road rage as
I cannot help but shout after the rogue wave as it continues on its way blatantly ignoring the correct flow of traffic. The unpredictable sea, the pain, tiredness, damp and cramp are all constantly frustrating features of life out here; a reality we are slowly getting used to.

It is not all bad however. We are in the middle of a true wilderness and at times it is hard not be overwhelmed by the remoteness and majesty of our surroundings. On occasions when surfing down the side of a giant watery half pipe with Elgar's Nimrod playing loudly in my ears I have rarely felt more alive. Add to the picture an exquisite sunset or sunrise, an unbelievably bright starry night or even a pod of dolphins and the daily hardships are quickly forgotten.
A quick note on wildlife as some of you have asked. In terms of bird life we have seen three different types so far. Most common are little Storm
Petrels. We've also seen what I think was a frigate bird and something else which my limited bird knowledge doesn't stretch to. In all cases they seem as perplexed to see us as we are to see them. What are they doing out here??!
Last week we were entertained by a large pod of dolphins for half an hour as they dived in and out of the waves around the boat. It was a wonderful sight and they are long overdue a reappearance. Otherwise we live in hope to see a whale and fortunately we are yet to encounter a shark - it is time we got under the boat to clean the hull but neither of us are feeling particularly keen at the moment. Besides, the sea is too rough still... that's our excuse anyway.
Within the next week we hope to go through a major milestone - the half way point! This is a very exciting prospect but also somewhat unnerving given that when the time comes we will be at the furthest point away from land. Thereafter it will be nice to know at least that with every stroke we will be getting closer to land rather than further away.
Thank you to all of you who have sent and continue to send emails through. We are so grateful to receive them and please know that despite our lack of response they are getting through to us and we do not mean to be rude. Many of you may surmise, quite understandably, that we have all the time in the world out here but the reality is that when not on the oars we tend to be either eating, sleeping, washing or doing whatever other mundane task that might be required in our short breaks. As such it is all I can do to write this little missive but we will endeavor to respond to emails certainly where required.
Until next week...
Alex & Harry

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