BLOG 09.02.2021 - Ode to Storm Petrol
(Photo courtesy of Atlantic Campaigns)
Sitting on a tiny 20ft long boat in the middle of the ocean should be scary. It probably would be for some people. However for me it never has been.
This could be down to the amount of training I have done on her, alone or it could be down to the amount of ocean miles I have logged since taking part in the Round the World Clipper race in 2013/14.....or it could be partly down to the confidence I have in Storm Petrel as an amazing rowing boat.
Ok, she may lack some of the more modern features like autohelm, but, to date I think there has only been one day when I wished I’d had it. Out of the near 60 days or so out here, that one day isn’t that much a loss.
I could be wishing she had the higher forward cabin that with its design is able to catch the tailwinds and assist with some boat speed and direct downwind rowing....but the whole reason Mike bought this pure boat, was because neither of those two things were on her.
What she does have is confidence and in return she installs confidence in her rower. Whilst sitting in the trough of the swell you stare behind her stern and watch as the ocean grows like some giant water monster that is looking to wrap its self around you and consume you in one fail swoop. Instead she rises up as if on an ocean elevator and her stern leads the way up toward the mouth of the monster. A four metre swell can look very intimidating as it looks to engulf you. (Imagine laying to the floor outside your house and swing your gutters. That’s the heights we see out here. ) But Storm Petrol as she slides gently towards the monster mouth we begin to guess at what will await us. Will it be a breaking wave that could allow us to then ride it’s crest and surf for as far as we can or be allowed to? You pray for a long surf and perhaps a couple of hundred miles.... in your dreams! Haha.
Her design keeps Storm Petrol straight and true, regardless of size or direction of wave. She has kept us upright on every occasion, never wavering yet. As the wave departs it's allowing you its surf time and usually dumping large amounts of oceans over either side of the boat as way of thank you. Just what we need. NOT!
The monster could decide to show you its teeth and break just before we reach the top. It then brings down its mighty fist and slams on to the top of the stern depositing gallons of its salty breath all over the open deck where the rower (thats me!) has just sat waiting to se this outcome.
The other outcome is that the monster could still be sleeping, and on this one occasion it will allow us to gently ride up to its crest. It pauses for a moment and then gently allow you to reverse back down its back and you feel like you are tiptoeing to try not to awaken it.
What ever the monster decides to do Storm Petrel always copes with it. She shrugs and continues her journey on towards Antigua. A route that she should now know as this is her fourth crossing.
I now understand the love and affection that Kelda Wood (rower in the 2018 race) developed for her. She’s is very likeable and has a sense of pride and passion. Maybe that's what maybe makes you want to love old, strong, confident and reliable Storm Petrol.