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Day 43 at sea: into the flying fifties and the final stretch

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Atlantic Lions swimming in the Atlantic

Atlantic Lion Joe blogs about the final stretch of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge as they move ever closer to Antigua. 

After 43 days of continuous ocean rowing the boys have to come up with new ways to keep themselves entertained. 

Today marks the day we change rowing partners for the final time before arrival in Antigua (we hope) . We return to our original partners from the start of the race. The excitement and anticipation for our arrival is now increasing and it is not long until our nearest and dearest make the flight out to see us in.

In the mean time, we continue to plough through the miles as hard as we can. Whilst minds drift to the Caribbean, mentally and physically we continue to be pushed by the relentless Atlantic Ocean. As Matt would say, ‘it’s psychological warfare’. For example, 2 days ago on the evening shift, Matt and Joe were rowing hard and making good ground. As the sun descended there was a sudden decrease in speed. We were convinced that the speedo on the repeater was wrong. Subsequent resetting of the Raymarine showed no change. We checked the centre board and rudder for anything catching - nothing. Charlie noticed a slight starboard list and thus all hatches were checked for a saltwater leak - nothing. The ocean was playing tricks on us and we had to continue on a slow and arduous night. She is fickle and frustrating and we are completely in her hands. Fortunately she sped up again, allowing us to chew up some miles in the last few days.

In other news, Matt got hit in the left temple by a flying fish travelling at some speed. It was about 6 inches long and sadly died on impact. Matt was initially dazed but survived to tell the tale. Joe witnessed the incident and laughed far too early. The weather has generally been quite quick over the last week or so. This culminated in a night of 20-25 knot winds and big waves. With this comes the risk of a soaking. Charlie and Dave were on the oars. Joe had told Charlie it was dry and just to wear a jacket. Thus proceeded their wettest ever shift - 6 ‘side swipes’ (waves smashing into the hull and spraying water everywhere), 2 rain showers, 1 hail shower and a monster of a wave which crashed over the stern and straight into Dave. It was so powerful it pushed him off his seat and into Charlie’s lap. Nevertheless the boys' spirits remained high despite this terrible shift and reminded them that there was not too long to go. It would also be the last time Charlie took advice from Joe about what to wear. You’ve probably all been wondering what we’ve been doing whilst we’re on the boat to keep ourselves entertained. Music has sadly had to take a back seat as an iPod was stolen by a flying fish and Spotify has stopped working on the other. We’ve thus resorted to talking to each other. Games such as ‘the film game’ - we name a film and the next film has to include one of the lead actors from the previous film. We’ve played a lot of categories, music trivia, capitals of the world and African countries. One of the best was the ‘riddles game’. Charlie is particularly good at making them up and thus I’d like to share one of his with you:

‘I have a face but no eyes or mouth, I come from below yet people have to look up to me, I have no armies but can be conquered’

Answers in the comments below. Prize is your own satisfaction in working it out.

Lastly, in the boredom on the oars, we have given each other nicknames. Joe has anointed himself ‘The Electrician’ - because he lays power down on the oars at the bow. Charlie realised he looked like Mr Tumnus from Narnia whilst gazing at his reflection in the poo bucket. Dave is ‘Barney Rubble from the Flintstones’ after having to cut his t-shirt into vests due to his sore armpits. With his bulging biceps and blonde hair he’s a dead ringer. Matt is ‘James “Crackers” Cracknell’ primarily because of his manic rowing and pushing his body to the brink but also because of his new ginger beard.

Look out for a competition we are running for people to guess our arrival date. It’s set to launch about now and has some great prizes.

We pray for fair weather and fast seas. To Antigua. Less than 500 miles to go.


To show the Lions your support during this final stretch, visit their Virgin Money Giving donation page.

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