By Team Status Row on February 10, 2019
It’s finally here, the last update from sea. Writing this brings a bittersweet tear to my eye, although tears come easier at sea so perhaps that’s to be expected. After 60 long, hard days we are a mere 56.5 nm from that allusive finish line. But before I let myself run away with dreams of celebrations I wanted to share the trials and tribulations of the past week with you, one last time.
This final stretch has been by far the hardest challenge of them all. I do not say that lightly and, if you’ve been with us throughout the journey you’ll know we have already had the book thrown at us during this crossing. How could it possibly get any harder right?
Well when we hit 500 miles out we thought it was all downhill from there and oh boy we were wrong. Slow conditions plagued us and every morning we’d hear the update that weather would soon turn in our favour only to have to battle all day long. The miles ticked by, painfully slow. Then disaster… we had to deploy our sea anchor, halting progress. We sat with baited breath for the go ahead to keep rowing.
There are no words for how demoralising it is to do nothing and watch your dream of a world record slip away. But every time we pulled in the anchor the currents got the best of us and back out it went. Eventually the wind shifted, the waves lined up and we were able to haul in our parachute and get on our way. Ian called and told us that conditions would be more favourable from here on out. He told us that while there would be challenges this really was the final stretch.
From your mouth to gods ears, Ian, because not 30 minutes after that call our foot steering line snapped. The sea was not finished with us. But a spare lanyard and a quickly thrown bowline later and we were off again. Can’t get us down… right?
The next morning the rain came. Torrential downpour that soaked everything through. You know my feelings on this already. As I climbed into my damp bed, having spent two hours barely pulling a knot, I cried until I fell asleep. But after 24 hours the sun came back and a dehumidifier bag gifted to us by team Row Row Row Our Boat had mostly dried my cabin. But progress was still slow.
We worked so hard to move from 500 to 300 miles, leaving everything on the oars but getting little in return. We tried, tried to stay positive until one night we realised the speed on our repeater was in fact us going backwards. Before anyone could even say the word “anchor” I was in tears. Why couldn’t we get a break? The parachute went back out.
In again for a few hours in the morning before having to deploy again. A curious fish making this more difficult by investigating the colourful fabric, getting in the way of the lines. We tried fruitlessly to shoo him away but he would not budge. At the end of my rope I yelled out “God, Nelson, didn’t your mother ever teach you to stay out of nets, you bloody idiot!” While the newly named Nelson was unfazed the outburst at least gave the team a moment of laughter. Finally the anchor went out and for two hours Caroline and I ate peanut butter in the rain while Susan, more sensibly, caught up on sleep.
You might wonder why we didn’t just keep pushing on but sometimes doing nothing is the only option. Even on anchor we were drifting east (again, demoralising to lose miles) but at least we’d stopped being pushed south. On final approach to Antigua you ideally want to be slightly north. Too far south and you can miss the island completely and we did not row this whole ocean just to end up somewhere else!
I won’t lie, this was the hardest time for me. The sky grey, rain relentless and drifting backwards started to get to me in a way I cannot really explain. Plus, there was a creepy prehistoric looking bird circling our boat which made the whole thing feel a bit like purgatory. Were we being punished for daring to think we could achieve this monumental feat? Just as I was about ready to give up we received a messages from previous teams Atlantic Discovery and the NautiBouys encouraging us to keep our spirits up - it will all be worth it they said. And we had to believe them, they had battled this same ocean and come out the other side.
We put out an SOS on our socials for more words of encouragement and man, you guys did not disappoint. In 24 hours we received over 130 messages and we bawled over each kind remark. We had messages from friends, families, people we’d met along the way and, potentially most touching, strangers who had heard our story and were rooting for us… three random girls trying their best. So we pulled in that anchor and got back to the business of finishing this row. The record may have been out of reach but there was still a finish line and our families are waiting.
We’ve learned not to count our chickens but today we’ve had a great day rowing and are excited to touch down in English harbour sometime tomorrow. It’s been tough and at times felt impossible but we have persevered and at long last the end is in sight. We couldn’t have done it without you all cheering us on and we hope you’ll tune into the Facebook live as we arrive tomorrow.
This may be our last update from sea but we will be posting more from terra firma soon so keep an eye out. There is so much more we want to share with you - our favourite moments and the lessons we’ve learned from life at sea. While the others may never step foot on a rowboat again don’t be surprised if you hear whispers of another ocean adventure for me. I’m not sure I’m done with the sea yet, and I know it has more to teach me. But first, a very long separation as we return to real life with our loved ones and put in action the lessons we’ve learned out here.
I’ll leave you with a quote the duty officers pinned on a notice board at the start line. We’ve had it on the roof of the main cabin so have seen it everyday and think it’s something that anyone who has ever doubted themselves should try to remember:
“It will pass. However much you want to quit, never doubt yourself. The fear, the pain - it will all end. Quitting will haunt you forever.”
Well, we never quit and we never gave up. Life has setbacks and can be beyond painful at times but if we, three ordinary women with nothing more than a dream and determination, can cross an entire ocean then I have no doubt you can achieve your goals too.
Much love from only 54.6nm out (yep the girls have done great while I’ve been writing!) and we will see you soon.
Back to blog