The crew and our little ship Liberty have made steady progress across the north Atlantic, inching East stroke by stroke. Each nautical mile gained by hard earned power from the amazing group of women that makes up Rannoch Women’s Challenge.
At half way it has been a mix of great progress and frustrating near misses on the weather. The big 43 day record is beyond us, but remaining ones are tantalisingly real. The greatest of which could be a world first – the first British women to have ever rowed the North Atlantic from West to East route.
Perhaps the biggest brutality of the first half was the soul sapping counter currents, each day we watched our raw boat speed eaten to a crawl, the crew dug deep to remind ourselves we were doing well, just in bad conditions.
On para anchor in the first week we snapped the dagger board, wind drift has been a important factor to some of our angles when taking on the conditions.
So our biggest daily run noon to noon has been 81 nm. Our fastest surf speed was 10 knots. We are eating our way through the boat with spectacular appetites.
After the first 10 days our leg muscles started to waste away and our ability to walk after each session gets harder and harder and we have witnessed some very comedic walking styles.
We have been on para anchor four times and each time it has been a mix of emotions from delight at a rest to dismay at the lack of progress.
The sleep deprivation of running our 2hr shift system 24 hours a day has been remarkably easy. But the cold damp living in the cabins is the hardest thing to manage. Mould is growing in cabins and the day after day wearing of wet oilskins has meant the smell is beyond description. Don’t ask us if we row naked, it is far too cold for that!
I have been amazed at how connected we are to the outside world, both directly and via Charlie and Louise our on-land support team. Dell from Inmastat has provided us with a brilliant box that allows us to video out most days via WhatsApp even if it means us hanging off the side of the boat with phone in on hand and the Inmastat explorer in the other.
So much is going well and the crew is a tribute to how humans can tolerate discomfort and physical work-load. Heels, bums and hands remain the places in need of the greatest care and attention, as they are so prone to rubs and rashes. With the constant wetness and reduced immune system even the smallest rub can a serous issue to deal with.
Roll on the next 1500nm and our arrival in Falmouth.
Guin Batten RWC