22 January, 2016
Amazing, these boys know how to keep morale high during one of their darkest days, when Dan called for big spoon! Brilliant. A real reminder to us all what true friendship and inner strength can get you through. Below Olly shares his experiences.
The increase in wind speed against us became overwhelming, so we both jumped onto the oars for it to once again overpower us. At this point we deployed the para anchor, a large water parachute the slows your direction of travel and smooths the ride!
We had a rather relaxing afternoon, doing boat and body admin in the sun. Until night when we squeezed ourselves into the cabin - two half naked men mid-Atlantic in a cabin reaching 35 degrees whilst the seas outside lifted us 20ft into the air then dropping us again. A pretty poor night sleep indeed, interrupted by the instinctive flailing arms as a wave hits and the boat tips to the point where your subconscious prepares to brace for a role over. Despite this we made light of the situation, with Dan's parting words being “this is not what I was sold at the travel agents” and calls for big spoon!
The following morning we had a damage assessment. The key item to break was the tiller arm itself that holds the rudder. The nylon bracket that holds the rudder in place had broken into three. We would not be going anywhere without a fix for this and our race would be over.
Now in the height of the winds and sea state - 30-40Kn. Dan began the repair when I heard a frantic Parsons knock on the door and then Dan blasted through the hatch to be sick. He was not in a great way and was out of action for the rest of the day. I swooped into the sweaty cabin to continue the good work he had started on the tiller bracket. This fixing job turned out to be the mother of all DT projects! Hours passed, as I drilled, screwed, sawed, glued and measured a solution out of bits of wood, nuts, bolts, screws and of course duck tape. I can assure you drilling holes with no vice in an Atlantic storm is something I would not recommend. This proved to be a dark day.
We took a few hours to test rowing which resulted in an unfavourable drop SW. Another night then, frustratingly stuck until the morning of the 14th where the conditions changed and we were off! Huge relief. At this point unaware of other team positions or safety so we were on tender hooks to see how we faired. We wanted to make headway so changed our rotations to 2hr on & 1hr off during the day. This allowed for an overlap to 2’s up on the oars. We drove hard and harder still when we found out that Oarsome Bouys had played the storm well and had pushed 28NM ahead of us. Devastating news and a real morale hit.
And finally to make things worse, and something that we didn’t share after our capsize was that the second rolling seat was lost when we rolled, the lanyard holding it was not man enough. This has resulted in a static and far less efficient second position. Nevertheless the wind and seas are now moving in our favour and we hope with a bit of grit and good fortune we can make some miles back.
The messages of support keep flying in which is amazing as do the donations, so thank you very much indeed. I have extracted this from Dan Howies' message of encouragement (Thanks Dan). A appropriate quote. "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small........Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." Winston Churchill.