Dawn Wood's

solo atlantic challenge 2019

DAY 4 (1)

A message from Queen Elizabeth

8th January 2019

It was blooming freezing by sunset yesterday! Quite a lot of cloud cover plus the waves having an annoying habit of landing on my head, equals a chilly evening. I don’t remember reading this in the holiday brochure! I was expecting a day lounging round in a bikini with an evening meal on the aft deck watching the sun set! Instead I am in full waterproofs looking forward to getting into my sleeping bag! Lol!! 

My ship’s batteries are getting low due to cloud cover so they are not charging as well. I am doing all the right things – turning down the brightness on my screens, turning off anything non essential and generally managing the power so I can always run my safety equipment. 

I have not even listened to any music yet! Just listening to the sound of the ocean! What have I been thinking about? Not a lot really! I have pretty much switched off to the outside world and have been concentrating on my little world here. It’s strange, as I look out to the horizon it looks like the earth only stretches out 3miles around me and I am the only one in it. But I have never once felt alone or scared. After all, I can just ring Jaime to pick me up when I have had enough. 

This morning, as every morning so far, I stood up to take a look out over the front of the boat. It occurs to me that I will be crossing the Atlantic facing backwards the whole way!!! I can sea ship in the distance… a massive ship! I take a look on my AIS system and see it is the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth. Radio on……

“Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth this is True Blue, True Blue- over”

“True Blue this is the Queen Elizabeth- over”

“Good morning sir, I am the rowing vessel about 3 miles off your port side. Can you see me on AIS? I am a solo rower attempting to beat the speed record across the Atlantic, over”

Short pause…..

“True Blue we have you on AIS (laughs) the very best of luck to you ma’am, have a safe passage – over.”

“Queen Elizabeth, True Blue. Thank you sir, safe passage to you also – True Blue out”

Perhaps the crew will remember me when I get invited on board by the Queen!! 

9th January 2019

Today started rather early with my entire body in the aft locker (the space in the back of the boat which contains the steering and para anchor.) 

As reported yesterday, my ship’s batteries are lower than I would like due to the cloud coverage. I woke at 2.30am for a rowing shift to discover the port battery at 12.3V (12.2 is the lowest they should be allowed to get.) I decided to turn off the auto helm and steer the rest of the hours of darkness to preserve some power. 

This involves opening the rear hatch and disconnecting the auto helm. (A pretty straightforward job, just need to time it so a wave does not get in) Then start rowing and adjust the rudder with the steering ropes as needed. I pulled on the starboard (right of the boat) rope and it just kept coming! The knot holding it onto the tiller had come loose and I had just pulled it out through the pulleys. Arhhhh!!! 

So in pitch darkness I now had to climb into the locker, find the end of the rope and re feed it through the pulley. I can tell you that the end of the boat is 5ft 5in from the locker opening because that’s how tall I am and I was all the way in, just my feet poking out the end!! 

Needless to say I managed to reconnect it all and got under way. There is something quite magical about rowing under the stars. The phosphorescence is incredible! It’s some kind of plankton which, when disturbed by the oars, glows up bright green. Without any other light pollution around this is quite something to see. I tried to take a photo, but it just comes out black. Might try doing some go pro footage maybe that will work?

Well, the day is beginning to look a lot more like the holiday brochures I have read! As the sun begins to rise there is not a cloud in the sky, not only will that mean I might be able to take my wet gear off at last, but also get some well needed charge in the batteries.

I am really enjoying rowing today, I am getting used to the waves and how to position my oars depending on the size of the wave and what direction it is coming from. I have a few shin bruises from the first couple of days where the oars hit my leg if Itime it wrong. I am also able to take my waterproofs off making it much easier to row. I still get soaked by the odd rogue wave when least expecting it! But this time the sun quickly dries me out. 

Talking about rogue waves! I actually shouted at one earlier… I had one of the deck hatches open to get some food out, a wave caught me unaware and water got in the locker. Fair enough, I am in the ocean! So I waited a couple of hours and the wind seemed to have dropped – so I opened the hatch, bailed it out and made it all nice and dry. At the exact moment I was about to replace the lid, guess what? Another wave right in the locker!!!!! “Were you actually waiting till I finished drying that out?” I shouted? Who to I don’t know, but made myself laugh! 

Anyway back to the story. About midday pleased with the amount of sun on the solar panels, I went to check how much charge. 12.8V???? What, that’s not good at all. Minimum is 12.2v, max is 14.1. On charge all morning and hardly moved. Slightly concerned I sat back down to row deciding that there must be an obvious explanation! 10-15mins went by whilst I looked at the solar panels directly in front of me on the stern of the boat. Then it hit me… no, not another wave, it was obviously right in front of me!! 

My spare oars are tied up one either side of the boat. As the sun rose on my port (left) side it was casting a shadow from the blade of the oar virtually covering the whole panel!!!! I quickly moved the offending oar to the other side of the boat and hey presto! The meter jumped up 0.1 of a volt almost instantly and has continued to charge nicely all day! Job well done!! 

Had a brief chat with Charlie from Rannoch HQ via GPS text. The wind is expected to die off later today, this is not a good thing as a bit of wind behind me definitely helps. 

I have been on the oars about 8hrs today so far. Am now having a rest before doing the next 4hrs in the tougher conditions. I aim to row 12hrs out of every 24. 

Before I go, here is a sighting check list….

  • Sea turtles- 3
  • Dolphins- 0
  • Whales- 0 (although heard them in the night) 
  • Shark- 0
  • Floating plastic- 8 

Absolutely gutted to have seen more plastic than wildlife. I know the wildlife is out there, I just have not seen it – trouble is that means I have not seen a fraction of the plastic that must also be out here. 

I am rowing an ocean to try and bring awareness, please spread the word to help reduce single use plastics. 

Thank you for reading. 

More over the coming days. 

Dawn x

  1. Trevor Pullum on January 9, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Brilliant Dawn, Love reading of your adventure and feel as though on this with you! albeit from the warmth and comfort of my sofa.
    Enjoy the journey and stay safe.
    Trevor x

  2. Teresa Barr on January 9, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Wow what a read, i love reading these blogs. Keep it up your doing amazing. Love you ?

  3. Lisa on January 9, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    I am besties with a friend of yours-she is proudly posting your progress! A lot of our Cambridgeshire village are enjoying your tales and wish you enormous luck. Keep on keeping on! X

  4. Sara Speller on January 9, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Love your blogs Dawn – gripping and hilarious in equal measure! Keep going love – you have a ton of people with you all the way. Sara xx

  5. Jemma Cracknell on January 9, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Love reading each day of your adventure Dawn, looking forward to reading tomorrow’s xx

  6. Kathy Field on January 9, 2019 at 11:09 pm

    Fantastic blog Dawn…. I intend following you all the way with great interest. Keep safe!

  7. Rebecca Kinder on January 9, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, you are doing such an amazing thing, your a real inspiration! Waiting with you to hear about the whales and dolphins.
    It must be quite magical at night.
    Well done and can’t wait to read more of your fantastic journey!

  8. Dan Hughes on January 9, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Loving the updates Smiffy…!! You’re doing amazing…. so courageous and inspiring..!!!
    Looking forward to the next blog soon!! X

  9. Andy copley on January 9, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Best of luck Dawn, you are doing absolutely amazing. Be safe. God bless x

  10. Colin Baker on January 9, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Fascinating as always Dawn.

    Hard to imagine the reality of it. As you same shame about the wildlife and plastic. Concern that too is visual proof that we have diminished our oceans wildlife numbers too much. I noticed that in Africa with the big cats.

    Keep up the great effort and all your blogs and as always , stay safe.

  11. Maxine on January 9, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Really enjoying hearing how your getting on, you’re doing so well.

  12. Lin Ollett on January 9, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Dawnn, I am Amanda’s aunty and would just like to wish you all the luck in the world. I luv to read your blog it is amazing what your doing and so brave. Keep safe xx

  13. Deb on January 10, 2019 at 12:10 am

    I have seen you fight off a Turkish ice cream seller in a speed boat.. the most persistent little fu#%ers anywhere .. the Atlantic has no chance! Go girl… you are flipping amazing ❤️

  14. Myriam Grech on January 10, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Keep up this amazing diary…..l really look forward to your adventures and descriptions. Amazing…..good luck for more nature sightings and less plastics…..take care…..till the next blog…..

  15. Sarah Maher on January 10, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Brilliant read and well done you ??

  16. Doey on January 10, 2019 at 6:30 am

    Great update – sounds like you have settled into the row well. Keep it up lovely look forward to the next update lots of love doey x

  17. Lynn on January 10, 2019 at 6:33 am

    I’m loving reading your blogs, you are hands down one amazing lady and I’m a little in awe of you. I can’t imagine how tough it is to prepare and get ready for something like this, let alone do it. A while back I set up a little Facebook page called ‘The Do-gooders beach clean’ as every holiday I go on, I walk the beaches and pick up plastic (and I’ve picked up the stuff in some amazing places) and I’m hoping to encourage others to do the same and to try and help bring awareness to this plight but my goodness it’s such a massive task. I’m sharing your blogs and posts on there as well so more folks can see what you are up to.
    Keep going, you’ve got this and just imagine how good you will feel at the end lying on that beach ?

  18. Marion Kelleher on January 10, 2019 at 6:35 am

    I’m loving reading your blogs. Your bloddy marvelous. Lots of love.xx

  19. Nyree McWilliam on January 10, 2019 at 7:16 am

    This is amazing!
    I saw your video at the start of your journey on the TBYC Facebook page and I’m hooked!
    The very best of luck to you Dawn.

  20. Nichola Newman on January 10, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Loving the blogs Dawn, what an adventure! Keep smiling and powering on! X

  21. Teresa Glover on January 10, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Your doing well ? love reading your blogs keep up the good work ?

  22. Rosie Rombaut on January 10, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Brilliant read Dawn. Shame about the plastic though. Let’s hope you see some sea creatures soon. Stay safe ! X

    • Chris Bird on January 10, 2019 at 8:24 am

      We are loving reading your blogs here in Gran Canaria. Keep going girl and we will continue to track you back in b-o-c xxx

  23. Kathy Marshalk on January 10, 2019 at 8:32 am

    What an inspiration you are. Such an amazing influence to everyone. We’re best mates with Brenda and Kevin. The last time we saw you was on stage singing a few years ago. Now you’re rowing an ocean. I love reading your blogs, and have so much admiration for the reason you’re doing this. Good luck.

  24. Sheldrake on January 10, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Love reading your daily adventures. Bet the whales singing at night was amazing. Keep going you, we’re all routing for you.

  25. Lesley on January 10, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Hats off to you Dawn! A brave soul doing a wonderful thing. Thanks for all the info even if sad news about more plastic than wildlife. Says a lot about our world. Take care!

  26. Pete Crisp on January 10, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Just simply amazing Dawn. Such an inspirational read. Thinking of you out there.

  27. Chloe & the Firepot team on January 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Brilliant. What a read, Dawn. Thinking of you from Dorset!

  28. Becky Simmons on January 10, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Loving the blog posts and following your journey. You’re doing amazing. ???xx

  29. ian Wright on January 10, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Hi Dawn, You won’r know me as I retired in 1994 and at that time the Marine Section was part of my old command. Just like to say you have my admiration and respect and I will be following your journey every day. Essex Police should be proud to have an officer of your courage and spirit. You will have bad days to get through but knowing how many people are wishing you well I hope will lift your spirits and drive you on to succeed in your quest.
    Regards Ian.

  30. Jonathan Beale on January 10, 2019 at 10:49 am

    FAntastic blog. Keep up the good work dawn. You are doing amazingly well.
    Ps. I love all the brackets to explain the nautical terms to people!!

  31. Karan Hand on January 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    So love reading your blogs! What an amazing lady! I can only imagine just how tough it is out there, lonely and isolated, at the same time, peaceful, and beautiful, that sky under those stars must have been truly soul touching. You are one brave lady and wishing you a safe journey and looking forward to your next blog!! xx

  32. Manda on January 10, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Wow, I loved reading that update. I had a whole mix of emotions reading that and you’re actually living it!!! The stars sound wonderful, hope you manage to get some footage to share with us all.

    We are continually tracking your progress and continue to be so proud of you. Every night when we are all home together we talk about how far you’ve gone that day. At 6 years old Zac still has no concept of time. Everyday he asks if you’ve rowed across the Atlantic yet ? We talk about how it must feel to look out and only see the ocean. Tonight I’ll read them this blog.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Dawn ??

    Xxxxx ?

  33. Rob Rice on January 10, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Check your progress twice daily, ….. you are doing great!! Your boat moves so far every time I look. keep up the great work!

  34. Jo Hilly Ridge Bridge on January 10, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Dawn ,

    What an experience, you have got some guts girl ! Love reading you blog and you have lots of people behind you. Watching your progress boat go across the map and amazed how it moves !. keep going and smiling

  35. Melanie Mildren on January 10, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Hello Dawn,
    You are doing great, love reading your blog sad that you saw more plastic than wildlife well you are raising awareness. So keep smiling those beautiful break of days, you will never forget what a journey for such a great cause. Can’t wait for next blog.

  36. Cap’n Kev on January 10, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Sounds like you’re ‘riding along on the crest of the wave and the sun is in the sky….’
    Well done Dawn, we know you’ll do it, great blog too

    Team Elettra & all at Marconi SC are behind you all the way

  37. Virginia Collins on January 10, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Dawn – bright girl sorting out the shadow on the solar panel! I know it is hard to type at sea so well done and I hope you see the accompanying wildlife soon. Thinking of you. Ginny Collins (angus’ mum) xx

  38. Diane Duvale on January 10, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    You are awesome Dawn ? keep travelling safely x

  39. James Mint on January 11, 2019 at 6:49 am

    HI Dawn – this is an amazing effort by you. You’re such an inspiration that I’m showing my kids your blog to show what you can achieve if you care enough. The Mints are rooting for you!

  40. Derek & Hilary Gardner on January 11, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Great blog. Following your progress and lost in admiration for you. Discussing your progress with Conrad and Heather! Trust you remember rowing dingy with Nicola a few years ago?!

  41. Gary Clement on January 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Keep going Dawn, all of us at Prince Avenue Academy are cheering you on. I did an assembly about your journey this week and the kids have already started looking at Eco Warriors and ways to reduce our single-use plastics. Good luck!

  42. Linda Coom on January 11, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Keep it up, Dawn, and well done! Shame about the wildlife:plastic ratio, hopefully the wildlife is just a bit shy and they’ll start turning up – the dolphins like a bow wave so maybe you could speed up a bit??? (Joking!!) Have a lasso handy in case one passes, just make sure it’s heading west! Best of luck, thinking of you, stay safe!

  43. Will Hearn on January 11, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Hey Dawn….great blogs, I’m really enjoyed reading about your adventures. Keep em coming…..’may the sun shine brightly upon your solar panels’ ☀️☀️☀️☀️????

  44. David Edwards on January 11, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    Great going. Awaiting you in Barbados

  45. Neil & kimberley Course on January 12, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Hey Dawn,

    Awesome, keep it up – you are making fantastic progress – we love reading your blogs and the daily updates. Safe travels. Neil & Kim 🙂

  46. Louise Turmaine on January 12, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Hey Dawn,

    Fantastic blogs, glad your keeping us all updated on your row. Wonder if you have seen any of the back markers from TWAC yet? This year there seems to be alot of wildlife visible, whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and those awesome little pilot fish that keep you company under the boat, so you never have to feel alone. Keep rowing. Fair winds and following seas. Lou (LTRC member). ?

  47. Andy Goodwin on January 12, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    As someone who has ‘sailed’ the Atlantic on QM2 a few times and am awed by its vastness. As well as being a retired Essex Officer, i can only say how immense and inspirational your voyage, challenge, bravery are. A true adventurer in the finest tradition. You make me proud of my association by proxy. Travel safely and continue your writings. I will be buying a copy of your book.
    May the fair winds ease your journey and the stupid waves stop messing with you. Bon voyage

  48. Jackie tebby on January 13, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Go Dawney Go.
    You are doing amazingly well. We are watching your every move and behind you all the way. Stay safe xx

  49. Paul Chambers on January 13, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Dawn you are an inspiration to so many you go girl keep pushing through we’re all behind you!!

  50. Liz Morgan on January 13, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Go Dawny Go!!!! Don’t let that wind beat you. It will turn. It’s bloody windy here. It will calm. Believe. You are not alone. We are all with you and willing you on. Sending you lots of Love xxxxx

  51. Helen Bates on January 13, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Brilliant job dawn:). Love your news. One thing at a time. Lots of love Helen and 2 js

  52. Anja Cheek on January 13, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Go Dawny Go! The wind might be your enemy today, but this won’t stay. In some days he will be your friend. You’re doing a great job! Just don’t give up. Dennis and Anja

  53. Carla Lala on January 13, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Dream Big. Live Young.
    You can weather any storm. Keep moving onwards and enjoy the experience. Safe journey. Best wishes and so much love xx

  54. Daniel Owen on January 13, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Go dawny go.. proper inspiring. Your determination and effort are off the chart.

    Two fingers to the wrong wind…. go go go!

  55. julie kirrage on January 13, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Wow Dawn ,
    loving your comments and daily blogs !! What a truly inspirational woman you are . I’m sitting in an office in HQ catching up on your travels during my break wishing you well and feeling slightly envious of your passion and drive to actually do something about the planet we live on !!! You deserve a medal . Stay Safe ! keep your humour as its shining through in your daily blogs and good luck xxx

  56. Keren Pope on January 13, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Go go go Dawn. You are doing an amazing job. Bloody windy on my measly 17 mile cycle ride this afternoon. So I have the utmost respect for you. As your winds will make mine looks like little farts!! ?
    Quite a few of my friends are following your epic journey. And love your blogs. We are all willing you on. Love all us Fishpopple’s xx

  57. Jonathan Beale on January 13, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Keep pushing on Dawny. You are doing amazingly well. May the winds change and keep you some help from behind!! ??

  58. Mark Barrett on January 13, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Still in awe of what your doing, hang on in there while the wind is against you. It WILL change and you will reap the benefits. Keep the faith…… !

  59. Angie Hamilton on January 13, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Good winds please . And less of those cheeky jumping in the cabin waves ?. Your doing fantastic Dawny keep going . So many people following your adventures xxx

  60. Matt clark on January 13, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Keep going dawn, you are doing amazingly well, Matt, nic and millie

  61. wayne on January 13, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    well done Dawn, keep going your doing an amazing job.

  62. Allan Blackburn on January 13, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    What a woman you must be to take on this challenge. With Charlie keeping a watch over, no one better for encouragement to keep you well informed as to what to expect. I had the pleasure!!! of working for him, at R K S. on the Isle of Wight. Keep believing, and GO FOR IT. Take care. ps look forward to reading the book. ???

  63. Karen Farrant on January 13, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    I hope that the wind and tide and waves have turned in your favour . Keep on rowing sweetheart . You are doing so well and inspiration to all of us landlubbers . Sing to to whales I am sure they will appreciate it and answer you xx

  64. Steve Tait on January 13, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Go Dawny Go!!!!! Square your self away!! Are you dead? No. Has the boat sunk? No.
    So bring back a bloody record!!
    Remember pain is temporary! Glory is forever!!
    If that all sounds a bit harsh, remember that armchair observers like me have all the answers but none of the courage! We are willing you onwards my friend, only a few more miles till the wind is in your favour again. Stay strong and be safe!

  65. Michelle Philips on January 14, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Keep going, we can see from tracking you how tough it is. You are amazing and can do this. We are all spurring you on with positive thoughts and wishes. You are such an amazing person, thinking back of all those hurdles you conquered to get to a wedding venue! (Lol)
    Lots of love and hugs to a superhero,
    Mark and Michelle

  66. Russell Matthews on January 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Keep going Dawn,I’m looking after my grandkids at the moment and hoping that one day they could be inspired to do something exciting like you.
    Rene x

  67. Sam Becker on January 14, 2019 at 10:39 am

    “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.”

    Morning Dawn, keep on smiling and continue to be amazing! You are doing so well and it’s been so hard…I know you have the power to overcome anything you may be facing.

    Stay patient and trust your journey…the best is yet to come!

    Love your blogs…keep them coming!


  68. Becky Watts (rob's daughter) on January 14, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Your doing an awesome job keep up the good work

  69. Sarah S on January 14, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Keep going Dawn, row row row that boat. You are doing great. I love reading your blogs and tales on the ocean, I admire you and are keeping going but you are a tough cookie so I’m sure you will battle on. Take care and stay safe x

  70. Jo O on January 14, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Super blogs! Keep rowing and keep ’em coming. What an amazing adventure so proud to be supporting you!! X

  71. Carol Whittam on January 14, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Maybe some of the solar power is what’s helping you to be so sparky! Riveting read! You sound so casual…that’s bravery! Watching after seeing you on tv. Carol from Lancashire

  72. S/Sgt Andy Jamieson on January 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Love reading your blog. Keep up the great work. You’re doing yourself and Essex Police proud!

Leave a Comment