Dawn Wood's

solo atlantic challenge 2019

DAY 4 (13)


25th January 2019
Well this morning started well, got a nice sunrise and didn’t get hit by any flying fish (although I did find another dead one in the bilge) all was going well in the world of Aurora. 

Gradually as the day went on, rowing became tougher and tougher as the wind started to shift from east to south, then to South West. The wind strength also gradually increased until eventually, by 1pm, I was rowing with all my might and only making 0.5kts. Time to get out the dreaded para anchor. 

Now it transpires I have an incredible fear of my para anchor!! Some people have normal fears like spiders, oh no not me!! I have a fear of catching a whale or shark in my anchor. I wonder if I am the only person on earth with this fear. Can I name it?

Honestly, all the massive waves and gnarly ocean I have rowed in without fear and loving every moment over the past few weeks, and this is what stumps me! 

To explain, if you are rowing into a headwind and can’t make ground then you deploy a parachute (para anchor) into the water which is attached to the front of the boat. This holds you in the wind so should only be pushed back at a rate of 0.5kts rather than 1.5 or whatever the wind strength is. You can’t row with this in the water, it’s simply a way of slowing your backwards progression. Then you just sit and wait for the wind to change. 

It’s pretty frustrating not rowing or progressing forward but for me having that blooming thing in the water is also really scary! 

I desperately try to think of ways I can rig it up with some sort of quick release mechanism, I send Angus from Rannoch (my shore team) loads of messages asking if I can rig it here, do this, do that?

He must think I am suffering with scurvy or something as I am sure he never encountered these questions. Anyway, funnily enough the reason the boats are set up as they are is because this is the best and safest way to do it. So eventually I conceded and set the para anchor out as it should be. 

During the night I try to get some sleep as I won’t be doing any rowing, the wind is getting up to 20kts and will be directly head on.

There was definitely no sleeping happening tonight! The noises in the boat were loud, no different to other windy nights, but this time I was very conscious of having 40m of rope hanging out the front of the boat with a parachute attached to it.

Every bang, every swoosh of a wave, every creak of the boat I assumed was the dreaded anchor getting snagged on something. It was relentless all night. I wish I had filmed myself now as it would be like that scene from Blair Witch Project! But at the time I was too scared to think about it. 

All in all, another frustrating day ending in being scared of my anchor. But…. I still find a way to get through it and gradually conclude another day. 

  1. Sheila C on January 26, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    The best is definitely yet to come !! and your ln Reach message message of “let’s do this” shows your courage and determination … I think you may even have exceeded the Super Human category !! Crikey…., However your concern about the para anchor brings you back to being just super human again!…the para anchor is your friend! If the fear of spiders is ‘arachnophobia’, then you must have ‘paranchnophobia’ ! (Hope there’s something for scurvy in the first aid box?)
    P.S. You need your rest and look forward to the best…”Go Dawny Go”….

    • Barry Smith. SWF Essex on January 26, 2019 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Sheila C,
      On behalf of Dawn may we thank you most sincerely for your comments. Dawn was very reluctant to deploy the sea/para anchor because, it has to pulled onboard when the wind changing and by that time it will be a large soaking wet piece of fabric and lines.! But Dawn can do it and she now know it is her friend!
      The wind is due to change shortly in her favour but it will be very strong again which could bring different problems. Our Dawn thanks you for your encouragement. Go..Dawny…Go to Barbados.
      From Jaime, Sheila, Gary, Zoe & Barry (Essex UK)

  2. Amanda Wood on January 26, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    I think after facing what you’re facing every single day and being such an amazing role model you should have the right to name the next grandchild of the queen!! Let alone the fear of a Para Anchor! … 🤔 Perhaps Aurora for a girl….
    I often wonder how you deal with the long nights and have thought to myself that with all the exercise throughout the day that you’d be out like a light, it couldn’t have been easy for you last night and it sounds like no amount of exhaustion would have sent you to sleep.
    I hope the sunshine today has a bought a lightness to your heart and tonight you rest much easier.
    You’ve achieved so much already and every day tracking your progress, every update and blog our hearts continue to swell with pride.
    Love you millions xxxxx 🐾

    • Barry Smith Essex UK on January 26, 2019 at 11:35 pm

      Hi Amanda,
      On behalf of Dawn we would like to let you know she is aware that so many people are wishing her well and it’s your words of encouragement that are keeping her going. Please don’t stop, she does welcome your wonderful comments. In spite of the adverse weather conditions she remains positive and is fighting back. Thank you again for your comments they are appreciated by Dawn and her family.
      Go Dawny Go to Barbados.
      From Jaime, Sheila, Gary, Zoe & Barry (Essex UK)

      • Christine Hill on January 27, 2019 at 4:16 pm

        Hi, your Dawn is absolutely amazing. Such a challenge to undertake. She certainly deserves all the encouragement and best wishes. Hope the weather changes in her favour soon. Love cousin Chris xxx

        • Barry Smith Essex UK on January 28, 2019 at 10:15 am

          Hi Chris,
          Many thanks for following Dawn and your lovely comments – they are very much appreciated. We think Dawn is a little bit special too!!! The weather should be changing soon in Dawn’s favour. However, if the wind is too strong it will bring a different set of problems for our ‘little girl’, but we are confident she will meet the challenge!. We have just heard that Barbados are banning the importation, sale & use of certain single use plastic as from 1st April 2019. This is exactly what Dawn wants to achieve with her epic Atlantic Row. Many thanks Chris
          Love From Jaime, Sheila, Zoe, Gary & Barry (Row Aurora HQ Essex UK)

  3. John Bridge on January 27, 2019 at 3:37 am

    Keep going Dawn what you are doing is absolutely amazing. and the quicker you make land in the Windies the better. The English cricket team needs your help.

  4. Nick and Clare Hockings on January 27, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Dawn, reading your blogs makes us feel like we are with you, going through the many trials and tribulations of the wind shifts the wretched para-anchor and the moments of excitement seeing what this wonderful world offers us! You inspire us daily, your determination and persistence is something that many only dream off. Keep going girl you will do it!

  5. Nigel on January 27, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Dawn we all feel for you. The wind has not been kind to you, I have been watching it too, but it is turning to your favour again soon. As for the dreaded para-anchor will a friendly dolphin to give it a tug for you and all will be well.
    Keep going, your determination is what marks you out from us slouches. By the way, you do know there is a sunny beach in Barbados just waiting for you, and the locals don’t even mind loud music there either.

  6. Sven Bradley on January 27, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Fantastic reading your updates. Really interesting stuff. Your doing brilliant mate. A hell of an achievement. 👍

  7. Ben Felton on January 27, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Checking your progress every day Dawn! We’re all following you and willing you onwards mate.
    Fair winds and calm seas from the Felton family.

  8. JB on January 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    Dawn your doing incrediblely well. Everyone is so proud of what you have done.
    Really like reading your updates.

  9. Susan Trott on January 27, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Dawn, hopefully you can use your frustration to fire you up for further great achievement. You are amazing and can’t wait for the next instalment.

  10. Linda Coom on January 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Dawn, it’s a shame you couldn’t take the opportunity to sleep through the time with the para anchor but you are human! Just reading about what you’re doing and trying to imagine it scares me rigid – seriously, I’m not joking! I would not be there. But, God bless you, you are – hats off to you!
    I’m guessing the local whales and sharks are used to lots of stuff in the seas, and I’m sure the anchor’s designed to be “seen”, so they’ll give it a wide berth – they’ll probably steer around you muttering about humans cluttering up the place!!
    Take care, hope you get lots of sunshine and singing, be safe and happy 🙂

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