Bench Blog

No power, atlantic storms and sharks: but nothing gets our Yorkshire Rows down!

Jan 13, 2016

No power, atlantic storms and sharks: but nothing gets our Yorkshire Rows down!

While we’ve all been merrily enjoying two weeks of eating, drinking and celebrating with friends and family, our rowing team of four have been battling Atlantic storms, salt rash and bouts of sea sickness; now that’s a Christmas to remember!

After a delayed start the Yorkshire Rows left La Gomera on 21 December, alongside 26 competitor boats, ready to row 3,000 nautical miles to Antigua. Communication from the teams has been pretty good considering it comes between 2 hours on, 2 hours off of rowing whilst negotiating constant rocking of the boat. According to Skipper Janette, it can take up to 30 minutes just to attempt to make a cup of tea so hats off to their blog posting efforts.

It’s been great to hear that crew moral has been high as they quickly got into the routine of “eating, sleeping, rowing, washing, and rubbing alcohol on our behinds!!” Frances has provided the calm support, Nikki has been ensuring the girls do not run out of food, and Janette has obsessively been keeping the place clean and tidy. Helen initially suffered sea sickness as predicted but has still been managing to do her rowing bit. Sea sickness can be really detrimental to progress, as fellow team American Spirit found out, losing one of their rowers due to his sickness severely affecting his health.

We’ve no news of the wildlife spotting by the girls yet, but from other crews we know there have been spottings of orcas, dolphins and huge flying fish. A seven-foot shark took an interest in Team Beyond’s bright orange rudder – yikes! Team Row Like A Girl provided a update describing the wonders of rowing by night: “Millions and squllions of stars arching around our little boat in an enormous dome… stars so bright that they created their own light halo through the passing clouds.”

On Christmas Eve, our girls had hoped to see Santa fly over after a night of hard rowing against strong winds which were pushing them west a little too early, spending the night fighting against big waves that were crashing upon them: “So learning to live on a very small rocking boat is our primary goal!  It is enjoyable and it is fun but it’s also jolly hard.“ We also read this week that fellow competitor and solo rower Callum of Persil Atlantic Waterbabies has somehow managed to prop up his laptop so he can watch every series of ‘House’ while he rows. Good work!

There was a bit of a lull in communication from the girls for a while and we soon found out that at 3am one morning, in the pitch black, in very rough seas their power went down. The girls wrote: “When the power went down we lost our auto pilot and GPS and had to steer by hand using a compass it was a bit of a challenge! For five days we could not turn on the water maker for fear of losing power so had to pump water by hand to get 10 litres takes several hours of specific hand movement on the pump! We have also had to use our para-anchor twice once when the wind and sea was pushing us back East and once when we lost all power on the boat.”

Luckily, things are going ok for the moment and they have sufficient power but are still trying to conserve it as much as possible. However, with a looming large low pressure and most boats facing headwinds, the whole fleet are probably experiencing some unpleasant few days relying on their para-anchors.

While we wait for more news, we leave you with some advice from the Rows

“When you are making your New Year’s resolution or setting your goals for 2016 – You had better make them big!”

Quotes courtesy of Yorkshire Rows & Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge with thanks. 

Pictures courtesy of Ben Duffy