Dawn Wood's

solo atlantic challenge 2019


Happy New Year!

I thought I would take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year and update you on what’s been happening.

Reach for the stars everyone, make 2019 your year. 

28th December 2018

I flew from Stansted Airport to Gran Canaria on the 28th of December waved off by my lovely friends Pammy and Stuart and my wonderful Mum, dad, brother and if course my husband Jaime who is flying out with me. My Dad made a banner to wave at the airport which was a bit embarrassing as I am quite shy!!!! Ha ha, only kidding I absolutely loved it. I love how amazing my mum and dad have been. I still have not got emotional as it’s not properly sunk in that it’s actually happening!! 

The airport and flight all went without incident which was a surprise! I usually end up dealing with some kind of crisis – I once actually had to deal with a casualty on board a flight as I seemed to be the only one on board who knew first aid. But that’s another story!!!

After a bit of trouble trying to find each other, we were collected at the airport by Angus Collins from Rannoch Adventure who are helping me get ready in this final week. Angus will also be doing my weather routing but more about that later. 

Angus told us that True Blue had been collected  from the port and had arrived safe and sound. Slight problem tho – all the ports had gone on strike and were not letting anyone in or out! 

This was not good news, however, Angus had managed to locate a marina willing to take us which was just 15min drive from Puerto Morgan which was where we were supposed to be. 

We drove down to see her and she looked amazing sitting pride of place on the hard. Apparently the staff at the port had never seen anything quite like it and were very amused about my bucket with a poo symbol on it!! 

After giving her the once over it was off to our accommodation. 

The apartment was nice and clean and a good base for what we needed. 

The evening was spent doing paperwork and admin, checking everything was in order ready for departure. 

29th December 2018 

Up an out by 9am today to head down to the marina which is a 15min drive. 

The day was spent unpacking the entire boat so she was empty and getting rid of a fair bit of kit that I would not need (the chocolate and ginger nut biscuits stayed!!) 

It’s was amazing to see the amount of kit that came out of my little 21ft boat, a lot of the equipment I will hopefully never need but it would be stupid to go without it. For example the hand water pump, this is a heavy bit of kit and will probably not need it. But if my main watermaker breaks this is essential. 

Re-packing everything into the boat also needs careful thinking. If there is too much weight in the stern the boat will drag and slow my progress, too much weight in the bow and the rudder will have less effect making steering a problem. Too much weight either side and I would have to row hard on the opposite oar to counter steer. 

With everything checked off the list and packed back in it was time to go back to the apartment for some weather routing. 

The weather at the moment is showing some low pressure systems coming across. Low pressure systems move in a counter clockwise direction, so if the bottom of the system is in my way I will end up being blown backwards. 

Too early to say if this will effect my start date as everything could change over the coming days. 

30th December 2018

Today is the day she goes in the water!! Up and  out after a night of broken sleep (our apartment is above a restaurant so can be quite noisy) and down to the marina. 

The staff are really helpful and professional and were really interested to know “how it worked” I was asked if there was an engine and where the sails connected! It caused much amusement when I flexed my muscles to show how the boat was being powered.

In she went and I got to row on Atlantic waters for the first time. Ok, it was only within the marina into my berth but it felt great to be on the oars. 

We found the berth and began the task of moving the equipment round to ensure the boat sits perfectly in the water. 

There was still a lot of maintenance type jobs to do such as adjust the seat wheels. We had taken the seat back to the apartment yesterday taken all the wheels off and replaced the bearings. The wheels are actually rollerblade wheels but do the job perfectly. 

By the time we finished there was only a couple of hours daylight left so we went off shopping. No, we weren’t having a couple of hours off. Armed with a list of equipment needed it was off to decathlon to pick up some final bits needed. For some reason I had packed about 15 head torches, 6 pairs of gloves but only one bottle of sun cream! 

This evening’s weather routing: The low pressure systems are still looking problematic but a 4th Jan start is not ruled out- just need to keep an eye on it. 

31st December 

New Year’s Eve on the island is strange, walking round in shorts and t-shirt with Christmas music playing in the shops! 

We had to pick up a few more bits this morning from the hardware shop. Sandpaper to smooth the oar handles, multi meter for the tool kit, epoxy for any at-sea repairs, bungee, spare charging cables. 

Armed with the shopping it was back down to the boat with the intention of going out for a training row. 

Now the first real problem! The ships GPS has stopped working!!! If this had happened at sea it would not be the end of the world, I have three handheld gps units on board where I can get my position and paper charts so I can plot my position. As a commercial Yachtmaster and Yachtmaster instructor this is all second nature to me so is certainly nothing to panic about. However, the AIS system runs from the GPS which is one of my safety systems. The AIS allows me to see the position of commercial shipping and for them to see me. It’s unlikely I will encounter shipping on my crossing, but in the event I do I really need them to be able to see me. 

So the rest of the day was spent with Angus plugging and unplugging wires and making calls back to Rannoch HQ! 

We finally got back to the apartment at 7.30pm for some weather routing. 

The low pressure systems seem to be moving further north so if the forecast remains the same then the 4th Jan is looking good. 

New Year’s Eve spent with a takeaway pizza and a bottle of red wine watching the fireworks in London on the TV. 

1st January 2019

Happy new year everyone! 

No change of routine today, down to the boat for 10am. 

We are still working on the GPS which is where I leave you for this blog. 

I look forward to updating you all again later in the week. 

Lots of love,


  1. Charles on January 3, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Happy New Year.
    When I’m rowing at Wivenhoe I will be grateful it’s nearer 3 km and not 3,000 miles!!
    Hopefully you will have left and be on track by then.

  2. Gillian from Tiptree on January 3, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Good luck Dawn I will be tracking you , you are doing a great job xx

  3. Helen and Malcolm on January 4, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Hope the weather and current is kind to you thinking of you Helen and Malcolm xx

  4. Spoons and woody on January 4, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    We are all routing for you in Essex
    Good luck girl,
    Much love from the amigo brothers XX

  5. Andy Horlock on January 7, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    All the very best for a quick and safe crossing – Looking forward to following your journey

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