Dawn Wood's

solo atlantic challenge 2019


Row Aurora is ready

Hi there,

I hope you are enjoying the new year and have already made a start on those new year resolutions. Firstly to cut down on your single use plastics, and secondly to do something that will give you a challenge 

I will carry on my story from New Years Day where I left you. Please note, I will no longer receive any replies to these blog posts. If you do reply it will be received by my lovely friend Jeremy who manages my website. 

1st January 2019

Happy New Year’s Day! When I left you we were still trying to work out the problem with the GPS, the amazing news is it’s sorted. 

After a lot of fault finding checks and calls to Rannoch HQ in the UK we managed to track the fault down to a wiring junction which had a small amount of corrosion. The part itself probably cost about 50p!!!! 

So although it has taken up a lot of time trying to find the fault, I am taking it all as a positive as I now know what every wire in my boat does and what to check if things go wrong. 

The wiring has also had a complete going over as it all had to be checked to eventually work out where the fault was. 

Weather routing for today: potentially I may be delayed a day to miss the weather system that would bring adverse winds. I will keep you posted, but it is an hour by hour check.

2nd January 2019

The winds on the island seem to pick up consistently during the day making for pretty windy afternoons. This is great for my start but not great when you need to get back into the marina after a training row. My boat is pretty light with a high cabin so with strong winds it can be very difficult to manoeuvre. Because of this we made an early start today getting on the water for first light. It was just beautiful watching the sun rise over the marina. 

I got my first taste of what it is going to feel like leaving port, it was a strange feeling to think in a few days I would be going out the same route but would not be turning round!!! 

I did have a chuckle to myself tho. Whenever I leave my parents’ house I wave for as long as possible out of the car window until I am round the corner and they can no longer see me. I wondered how long my friends waving me off would stand and wave at me, as it will be a good few hours before I am fully out of sight! 

Whilst on the water Angus talked me though the Para anchor drills. The Para anchor is basically a parachute under the water attached to 70metres of rope which in turn is connected to the bow (front) 

 of the boat. I will need to deploy this in the event I have a strong head wind. The anchor fills up from the ocean’s current, which will always be going the right direction, and will slow the drift backwards. I hope I never have to use it as it’s hard work trawling it in and out, plus I will then have piles of wet rope on deck to deal with. 

This was the first time I had used the para anchor as there is not the space on the River Crouch where I have done most of my training rows from. I am pleased to report the drills went well and (although I hope not to) I am very confident of getting it right out in the ocean. 

This afternoon Gary from Rannoch HQ flew in especially to give my wiring the final once over. Rannoch and the team have really gone the extra mile, Gary literally flew in this afternoon, then will fly back tomorrow afternoon! 

Weather routing: My predicted start time is now 9am on the 5th of January. The winds are still coming from the south east which means if I leave too early I would get pushed too far north making my passage more prone to adverse weather systems later down the line. 

The start location is Puerto Deportivo Pasito Blanco.

3rd January 2019

Another early start today to get out on the water before the wind picks up too much. This morning’s drills consisted of auto helm changes. The auto helm is a gadget that connects to the tiller (the bit that you turn to change the position of the rudder) I can set it to steer a course so all I have to do is row and the auto helm will keep the boat pointing the right way. The problem with this bit of kit is that it is constantly working to try and hold a course and the motor can burn out if over used. This means I need to change the auto helm every 4 hours to give it a chance to cool down. I have three auto helms altogether they are called Rodney, Trigger and Del Boy!!!! Play it cool Rodney, play it cool!!! 

Lots of messages all day to day I had been on the the BBC… again… lol!! I recon I will get the call to go on Strictly next year! Or I’m a celebrity get me out of here? 

The afternoon was spent fixing some strapping into the boat which will hold everything in place in the event of bad weather. I am very pleased with how it’s turned out. The heaviest item on the boat is probably the medical kit, it would be pretty ironic if that fell on my head – so I am pleased it’s all strapped in place now. 

Weather routing: Still planning for 9am on the 5th although there is potential we may need to push a later start. 

 it really is an hour by hour decision. As Michael Fish knows well, the weather can be very unpredictable! 

However, it’s unlikely there will ever be a perfect time to leave – it’s just a case of picking a good window. I hope it’s not delayed too much as Jaime has to fly home on the 5th his flight is 4.30pm. 

4th January 2019

It’s actually worked quite well that I am not leaving today. It means I now have a day to pick up some last minute bits I need, get some fresh food in that I can eat in the first few days and do it all without rushing about. 

A bit of a lay in, beans on toast for breakfast then out into town to get some shopping. 

Walking down the road and who do we see? Friends of ours from Burnham getting out of a cab!!! We knew they were on the island as they are going to be part of the ‘when do we stop waving’ gang. But to literally bump into them walking down the road was pretty unbelievable. What a lovely surprise. 

The rest of the afternoon will be spent catching up on my admin, packing the fresh food and generally tidying up loose ends in the hope I don’t come back to lots of work to catch up on. 

Weather routing: still looking promising for a 9am start tomorrow. It’s going to be a slow hard slog for the first 24hrs but if I can get down south in good time I should be in a good position to catch the favourable winds. 

My next blog will probably be from the ocean!!!

I will keep you posted if there are any changes but all being good, this time tomorrow I will be on the oars of an adventure of a lifetime.

Don’t forget to track me on the website or by following this link 



  1. Michelle on January 4, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Hello. Best wishes from the volunteers at Chelmsford Community Radio. We are all rooting for you x

  2. Barry Smith on January 5, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    May You have Fair Winds & a Following Sea.
    We are with you all the way – keep safe.
    We will see you in Barbados in 46 days!!!

    Lots of Love Mum, Dad, Gary & Zoe.

  3. Baddow Bees WI on January 5, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Baddow Bees WI are sending best wishes for fair winds . We are rooting for you too!!

  4. Jennifer Garden on January 5, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    I’m tracking from Tasmania Australia and wishing you smooth sailing and calm seas. ??

  5. Nigel kinseth on January 6, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Stay safe and come back to us?Ann Nigel and diva ?

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