By Jess Rego on January 4, 2019
Another week down and oh what a roller coaster it has been. Following our Christmas cheer we were hit with a few hard slow days of rowing. Safety officer Ian had told us to keep heading south but every day in that direction brought us despair. Fighting choppy waves and unhelpful winds for less than a knot of speed was disheartening and with more seat issues the team were feeling less than great. Singing slowed to a halt and there were mutinous murmurs of abandoning the southerly route and making a break for it westward. What’s the worst that could happen right?
As morale hit an all time low I sent an emotional SOS email home. But as though Poseidon himself knew we needed a break, the next morning we woke to a whole new world. The ocean was flat and the air windless. For most boats this might sound like terrible news but getting our oars in completely we were finally making progress with a roaring 3.5 knots. With each stroke the mood on the boat lifted.
Ian rang and gave us even more good news… we could now go west! Turning the boat away from the rising sun we cheered as every mile counted towards that finish line in Antigua. Never doubted you for a minute, Ian!
We were then gifted news from home; Christian on our ground crew sent us some of the lovely responses to our last blog and messages from Facebook. Tears all around as we felt overwhelmed with support. My sister, aunts and godfather all heard the SOS and sent back needed updates from home and such lovely words of love and pride that I started to cry all over again. All happy tears for a much needed reminder that although we are just three girls in a boat we have the most incredible people in our corner, rooting us on.
I was also just completely beside myself to hear that the family had gone on a beach clean and watched blue planet in our honour. Every time we hear that anyone has joined a cleanup, cut their plastic or has gotten educated on the issue is such a massive win for our campaign. Really looking forward to continuing to work with the MCS on this in 2019.
Our good vibes didn’t stop there though! As I settled into bed for a luxury 3 hours of sleep I heard yelling from deck. Dolphins! Dolphins!! And sure enough there was a gorgeous pod of dolphins surrounding us. They sped around Poppy, darting under oars and jumping out for some playful belly flops. Incredible.
Later that evening Susan had a slightly less magical wildlife experience when a little seabird dive bombed straight into the bucket shed just finished with! But a dunk in the ocean to rinse the poor fellow off and he was back on his way. He’s come to visit since so don’t think he holds it against us.
The next day was NYE so we halted the boat at midday for our weekly boat clean and ocean cool down. I even joined this time, facing a lifelong fear of open water. I know, an ocean rower who is afraid of the ocean… but I think it’s healthy to respect the potential dangers of the deep blue. But as I kept an eye out for danger I was faced with nothing more than a few adorably teeny fish who were quite curious about our GoPro and boat cleaning.
Had we stayed in a bit longer we would have had a much larger neighbour as, shortly after reboarding poppy, there was another yell. This time… a whale! Not 100 meters away, doing a slow zigzag, checking us out before moseying on its way. A truly beautiful experience to end 2018 on.
At midnight we stopped for one last team treat of 2018. A can of frizzante (we are so classy) each and a chunk of stollen cake to toast the new year with. As we milled over a busy and surreal 2018 we also look forward to the next year. New adventures, charity work, career opportunities, travel plans and personal goals. But first, Antigua.
Suze had had a particularly frustrating session with #seatgate so retired early, missing my rousing dramatic lip sync of I Dreamed A Dream with Caroline, but I doubt she sees that as a bad thing!
This morning we started the new year with a lovely interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, surreal to hear the news and weather from home for the first time in weeks and exciting to get the opportunity to talk about the campaign while sitting in the middle of the Atlantic.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support, we couldn’t have gotten this far without you. Happiest of New Years to everyone and we look forward to reuniting shortly.
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