Mel – Fri 19th February. Getting to the 'bottom' of it...
So we’re in 12th which is disappointing and isn’t ideal for us but is indicative of the battle that has emerged between Explore and two or three other boats. Ocean Summit (from the West Country) and Reason Why, (also from Bristol) and ourselves have been trading places and I find it unbelievable that after 45 days rowing the race is so close and that there are just 2 or 3 miles between us. But it does tend to focus the mind and makes it more exciting for us and everyone following us back home.
We have been off the pace last couple of days, but we’re not really sure why. It’s easy to plod along averaging 1.5 knots without really analysing what your doing. But I have become obsessed with what the other crews are up to. Some are performing similar to us but a lot are doing a lot better: we were one of the top performers but are now very much near the bottom.
So we have been asking questions of ourselves and the boat trying to figure out where it’s going wrong. We think there are two main reasons On the bottom front we are both suffering from pressure sores which are extremely painful and caused by sitting and rowing for 12 hours a day. It makes every stroke painful and must be slowing us down as we’re not giving it as much beef because of the pain. Our attitude has been, we just need to get on and do it but we now think that if it’s affecting our performance then we need to do something about it. So the serious painkillers are out and we’re hoping our bottoms get a rest and we can get back on form. It seems to be working so far so we hope it improves our speed. Last night I had an almost pain free row so our mileage should improve. However, we will have to ration the pills as there are not enough to last the rest of the trip. We’ll take them for a couple of days for now as things could get much worse later in the race.
The second thing is that we have retrimmed the boat again. As we eat more and more of our rations, the weight distribution changes, so we’ve moved more from the bow to stern – mostly the endless supplies of freeze-dried food which seems to go on and on. The idea is to keep the bow up and not digging into the water. It immediately feels lighter on each stroke optimising our speed – so we hope in the next 24 hrs we’ll be back on track. At the moment we’re off the British record pace, but are getting close to it again so are pressing hard.
The weather has been good but is predicted to be changeable meaning light and probably from the east. It should affect the northerly boats more and we are south. My decision to stay south might have worked – who knows. Whatever happens I don’t think there will be any 60 mile days in next few days.
The next milestone when we pass the 1000 miles to go mark tomorrow. We’re going to have a big party and get through more Christmas pressies and food. It feels as if it will all be downhill from there although it will still be a few more weeks to go. There is a psychological barrier here though, knowing there are just hundreds of miles to go rather than 1000s