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.