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Day 37 at sea: less than 1000 miles to go

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Atlantic Lions selfie at sunset

The Atlantic Lions have now been rowing continuously for over 37 days. Five weeks of ocean rowing has taken its toll on the boys and in this blog Dr Matt gives us a medical update. 

With less than 1000 nautical miles to go the boys are picking up speed as the Caribbean finish is in sight. 

After more than five weeks at sea we have reached our latest and biggest Joey Milestone to date - now less than 1000 nautical miles to go! We moved into three figures at about 6am on day 36 and to celebrate, the steering line broke on us! Not the first time we’ve had to run repairs by head torch - and probably not the last. But It has been a long time coming since we pulled in the para anchor over a week ago, and life on board since the storm has all been about one thing - speed! And we have done a number of small things to get Tiny moving as fast as possible:

  1. Moving the remaining food and ballast to more forward hatches to balance the boat and keep minimal surface drag In the water.
  2. Disposing of any surplus supplies we have been carrying and this included half of Boots' toiletries aisle - shower gels, after sun, talcum powder etc. But we’ve kept the important bits - our suncream of course and the trusty Sudocrem!
  3. Having the deck repeater on during the day so we can always see our speed, which is a luxury we can now afford (most of the time) as the batteries have generally been charging better in the sunny tropics.
  4. Keeping oars out of the water at changeover and always having one person rowing to make switching positions as efficient as possible, trying to keep the forward momentum.
  5. Regularly cleaning the barnacles off the bottom of the boat which seem to stick like stubborn limpits despite the copper coat! Unfortunately our number one scrubber of choice was lost to the ocean during yesterday’s boat wash so we currently only have half a clean boat! But a contingency plan is in progress…
  6. Fishing has unfortunately had to take a sideline, much to Charlie’s dismay! But after hooking a monster dorado that literally pulled the boat in the opposite direction we have had to retire the rod (for now). But watch this space.

Whilst each of these things may only save a few metres per day (or maybe none at all!) we have convinced ourselves that TD is moving quicker and we hope it will mean a few less strokes we have to pull to the other side! Maybe it’s all in our heads. But then so much of this challenge has been just that. The actual rowing has taken on a new intensity with Caribbean dreams constantly in our heads, and we are pushing ourselves harder and harder each session.

All this said, perhaps the biggest contributor to our speed was the large dorsal fin we saw stalking the boat yesterday evening… It seems even 8ft sharks are intrigued by this little rowing boat. And even more reason to keep paddling quick! Charlie was very excited to spot Bruce in the water!

I also thought I’d share a brief medical update (WARNING: some explicit content):

  • 1 small first degree burn to forearm (hazardous jetboil)
  • 1 case mild patella tendinitis
  • 3 sore hamstrings
  • 3 cases flexor tendinitis of wrists
  • 5 claw hands
  • 8 hands' worth of blisters
  • 8 feet's worth of blisters
  • 1 case of armpit rash
  • 4 cases of buttock salt sores of varying degrees. Two improving, two slightly worsening but all manageable
  • 1 small anal fissure - healing
  • 2 cases of scrotal folliculitis - 1 resolved, 1 improving (girls you’re welcome)

Most of these are being managed with magic baby wipes and a generous helping of Sudocrem. Topical ibuprofen gel, tubigrips and enough wiggling of fingers seem to be sorting the rest for now. Despite these few little niggles spirits remain high and we’ve enjoyed a Disney sing along (acapaella style) in the sunshine this afternoon. Unfortunately we are now completely without music as one iPod has stopped working and the other was lost overboard during a particularly viscious flying fish attack…

We have gratefully received some messages whilst at sea from MS sufferers who have heard of our challenge, and their stories and words of encouragement have really lifted us at times and are spurring us on. We are thrilled to hear the donations are still coming in at home and are so grateful to everyone who has supported us so far. Reminders of where this money is going and the difference that it is making are keeping us all going strong and we are looking forward to eating up these next few hundred miles!

Dr Matt

Joe in the water cleaning the boat


  1. Team sunset selfie
  2. Joe aka the ‘sea slug’ during his weekly wash.

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