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BLOG: 27.02.2021 THE END OF A CHAPTER



Hi all. I thought I best write this as I feel every story needs a start, a middle and an end.

Why I thought I should push to the finish line I have no idea. Perhaps it was the competitor inside me that still needed to feel like it was competing. I had no idea where I was positioned in the race standings from day one as decided on that prior to leaving to give strict instructions to family and friends not to tell me.....but, I did push to the finish. Race tracker may not suggest that I did. Haha.


From around 400 miles to go I was once again working out the math, if I maintain the speed I was going I will arrive at such and such a time. This may not be a healthy thing to do when you are at the mercy of so many things outside of your own control, but I couldn’t help myself.


A 24 hour run showed a gain of 57 miles on the distance to finish. Woo hoo! That had me as finishing Monday evening, just before sunset. As much as I don’t want to control the day/night hours of the finish line in my mind it seemed that I would be much fairer to people who had been following my journey if I was to finish at a sensible time of the day so that they had the choice to watch it on the internet, live.


A run of 50 plus the following day still didn’t deter my optimism of a daylight finish but, as I had said previously this ocean wouldn’t stop testing me until I stepped on to the dockside in Antigua. My data showed that as I rowed out of the favourable current I would have around two days of rowing across a Northern bound current which shouldn’t have to much of an effect on me. However, for two days I rowed pretty hard only to have daily totals of around 40 miles to show for it. An overnight drift of only 5 miles brought home the realisation that the current was more on my bow than that of a cross current so the next day I just tried harder still.


140 miles to go and it made me realise that a Monday evening finish before sunset was not possible but my focus stayed on pushing forwards to the finish. Seeing the miles drop below the 100 mark now allowed the Garmin display to show the mileage in its tenths now, for some reason though my bearing to finish still showed greater than 270 degrees which didn't sit correctly in my mind. After a few checks, I decided to navigate to the finish line using my Latitude and longitude readings pushing on well into the night and to the next morning as I knew the counter was dropping.


The mileage dropped as I controlled my southerly decent in line with my distances to finish. 20 miles out and I placed my call through to Ian the duty officer aware that it was 06:00 boat time and UTC would make it 02:00 in Antigua I opened the call to Ian with an apology for the unkindly timing of the call and was then given details in relation to my approach line to the island, my approach to the harbour and also some protocols for the harbour. I wasn't sure how I was meant to remember all of it...but let’s try hey!


I’d felt fatigued as I had watched the DTF drop. After only 3 hours out of the rowing seat over night. I hoped I had enough energy to get to the finish, I knew I would but it just played on my mind. Haha!


After controlling my decent south by adjusting my stroke rate on the oars I was now struggling to actually get some south in to my course. My latitude showed me to be slipping north slightly. And over my stern cabin I could see that a squall was building and would soon be heading in my direction. I could also see on my Garmin that the support yacht that would guide me in was just leaving the mouth of the harbour and was 5 miles away from me. But the the squall came over the top of me. The strength of it left me with very little control of the direction of the boat and where ever the squall was going so was I and Storm Petrel. T

The squall had decided that it wanted to go to the Eastern side of Antigua and not the southern part and a view over my shoulder informed me that golden Sandy beaches which I expected from Antigua was replaced by a sheer face of rocks, those rocks to which I was becoming ever closer towards. Oops!


As the squall disappeared a power boat appeared with the Atlantic Campaigns crew onboard one to take photos and the rest to shout like hell at me to change my course and row away from the rocks. What the heck did they think I was trying to do when the showed up?? My music was still pumping out of the deck speaker, my legionaries hat was soaked and stuck to my head and face (and ears!) and 4 people were all shouting like loons and pointing a direction away from the rocks. I couldn’t hear what they said but from the panic on their faces I could see they were worried. I went from feeling fatigued and wondering if I could muster the energy to finish to rowing like I was in a sprint finish for first place. I have no idea where the energy came from! but I’ve dug deep before and I could dig deep again! There was no way I would row to a stones throw of the finish to be then towed at any point from the support crew.....they offered...... they ordered...... but they didn’t have a chance of making me. Pure Yorkshire grit and the thought of Yorkshire tea waiting made me move the boat away from the rocks and to the south.


Eventually the support crew did became less worried, I could see it in their faces Bless 'em. Haha! I just burst out laughing as I had done most of the time I was battling against the wind and the ocean to steer away from the rocks.


How ironic would that have been though? Weeks on the ocean without a major incident only to get ship wrecked on the island you had been heading for. Lol!


From then on in it was pretty easy. I was guided by the safety boat with the camera crew on board towards the entrance of the harbour. A tired solo rower could easily get swept passed the harbour entrance they had said. It’s just one thing after another is this race! ha ha! Pleasingly, the turn in to the harbour went without another battle event.


....and here my chapter is nearly coming to a close......


(Photo: Credit to Atlantic Campaigns)

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