Dawn Wood's

solo atlantic challenge 2019

DAY 4 (19)

From Best to Worst

1st Feb 2019
Today went from one of the best days to one of the worst. It started with a little glimpse of the sun so I started up the water maker for the first time in a couple of days. This still is not running right, you should just turn it on and get water (about 4litres an hour) but I have to keep bleeding air out of mine. So I run it with the valve open for just as long as running it closed and end up with half the amount of water, in fact today as the clouds came back in again I got less than a litre. Hopefully tomorrow I will have some sun (I have said that virtually every day.) 

What was going to make this the best day is that with a bit of welly I was making over 3kts average, if I can keep this up I will be back in the running. 

As you can probably guess, I did not keep up 3kt average. At almost midday exactly I slowly began to loose speed. I put it down to the wind dropping slightly and carried on ploughing through regardless. As the afternoon went on I continued to get slower and slower whilst putting in more and more effort. This was not how I planned this day going, I was imagining sending out messages saying how well it was all going, not worrying about my speed.

Things gradually got worse as my seat suddenly stopped moving – two of the wheel bearings had gone. There was now black stuff all over the deck and shortly all over me. Luckily I had packed spare bearings so I set to work changing them and fitting them back on the seat. To someone who knows about this sort of thing it’s probably a 10min job, but I had to work out how to get the old ones out, then by trial and error fit the new ones in. This took up about an hour and a half in the end, which was time I should have been rowing my ever slowing boat.

I wondered if more weed had grown on the bottom of the boat, it’s far too choppy to get in and clean it so I rigged up a scourer on a rope which loops under the boat, and holding one end either side of the rope and pulling back and fourth cleans the bottom. The only problem being that this does not work at the rear of the boat as the rudder is in the way. I then spent another half an hour trying to get as far down as I could whilst staying on the boat to scrape round the rudder end but despite my efforts I did not really make any difference. 

I was eager to get back on the oars as I had missed a lot of time doing diy, but decided to set up the auto helm ready for tonight as I would be needing it. This was my next big issue!!

During the strong winds the other day the spare auto helms became dislodged and the one that was plugged in had been hit by the others. All the cables were loose in the bottom which of course by now has a small amount of water in it. The one that was in the mounting was also now wedged fast and took me a good half hour to get free. Once I eventually got the chance to test them it looks like only one out of the three now work, this is not good news at all. 

By the time all this has happened it is now dark and I will have to continue my investigations of the rudder in the morning, I am not hanging over the side of the boat in the dark.

I am just setting down for a rest, writing this blog, when I also realise my back is now pretty sore from heaving on the oars in a bid to keep up the speed this afternoon.

I am so disappointed as I was determined that today was going to be the start of my bid to catch up to the pace, but now I am just looking forward to some daylight so I can get to work trying to solve some of these problems. 

I hope to bring you a better blog tomorrow.
Night night

  1. Lily Benbow on February 2, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Hi Dawn, I thought I had a bad day also yesterday being barraged by emails and not getting done what I had set out to do…but then I’ve read your blog. You are one amazing, fantastic woman ! Wow, cleaning fixing things, making pace, out in the ocean…and then you apologise! No more apologies; you are awesome! Your achievement so far is inspiring to all . When I next think I’m having a bad day I’ll remind myself of your journey. Thank you, brave lady.

    • Barry Smith Essex UK on February 4, 2019 at 9:33 am

      Hi lily, Sorry to hear you had a bad day recently – Dawn will be so please that her experiences had such a ‘positive’ impact on you and has had such an influence on the way you may look at things in the future. Thank you very much for sharing your lovely comments about Dawn – it is very much appreciated. We estimate that Dawn has just passed the half way point, so fingers crossed in should be ‘downhill’ from now on. Thank you once again for your kind comments
      Go Dawny Row to Barbados!
      Regards from Jaime, Sheila, Zoe, Gary & Barry (Row Aurora HQ SWF Essex UK)

  2. Sheila on February 2, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Yes, you’re still doing a great job, despite you perhaps feeling otherwise at times. Today I award you the OBE….Ongoing Boat Emergency day…., yet another day of surprises for you and, once again, a real test of your endurance, personality and strength, fortunately you’ve got plenty of all three!…. hope the water maker sorts itself out and the sun shines for you today so you can clean the rudder. Look after that back too. I don’t know how accurate the wee map we are looking at, showing your progress, is, but you do look like you’re doing very well ? Stay with it girl, we’re now looking forward to the ‘blue sky and great day’ blog in the very near future! Willing sunshine and blue skies your way, we certainly don’t have it here x

    • Barry Smith Essex UK on February 4, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Sheila, We really appreciate the ‘Ongoing Boat Emergency’ day award – you have bestowed on our Dawn. She, I’m sure would be over the moon with the honour and I thank you most sincerely on her behalf. As you say it’s a real test to come back from all the problems she has experienced and still have a sense of humour. We know that her training and strength of character will bring her safely home.

      Many thanks for taking the time to post your comment we are very grateful.
      Kind regards Jaime, Sheila (Dawn’s mum), Zoe, Gary & Barry (Row Aurora HQ SWF Essex UK)

  3. Neil Rowland on February 2, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Keep going Dawn. We’re all keeping track of you at the FSU and know you can do it. Hope you have a better day today and make up the ground. Smash it👊🏼👊🏼

  4. Jenny Pirie on February 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Keep on pushing on. We are all so proud of you. Your determination and resilience is incredible.
    Just keep rowing 🤞🏻😂

  5. Nigel on February 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Keep going, dig deep. Things breaking are always a worry, more so where you are. Lets hope your luck changes…. the wind did.
    Following your progress daily and spreading interest in your endeavours to anyone and everyone I can.

  6. Sarah D on February 3, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    You go girl, dig deep, keep strong and always remember you’re the most amazing person inside and out xxx ❤️💜💙 we’re all cheering for you xxxxx

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