Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recap: Introduction to Roc Expedition rowing project Big Blue

Recap: Introduction to Roc Expedition rowing project Big Blue
Dec 12, 2010  By Angela

Just to bring everyone up to speed on what Angela Madsen is up to these days

I do have another rowing project. It is not my solo row that I had begun planning and am chomping at the bit to do. It is something different and interesting. I took a visually impaired rower from Canada ocean rowing. He was considering rowing across the Atlantic. He found me on the internet. He is no longer with the project as he became violently ill on the boat, Sea Sickness combined with some shoulder problems changed his mind about ocean rowing but hey that is why I do the introductory ocean rowing classes. It should be everyone’s first step when considering rowing an ocean. The project that he was part of had lost their skipper so Franck told them about me. I began receiving e-mails from this guy Steve

Steve is relentless and convincing when he wants something, He does not give up! My kind of people! I began finding out more about their project, the crew, the boat and David. I discussed it with Debs, looked at what horrible financial shape I am in from all of this ocean rowing without sponsors, Gave much thought to my solo ocean rowing project and decided what the Hell, I can do both. First thing was to jump right in and organize sea trials for the project. To make sure it happened as this crew had been let down and abandoned before. They were not prepared, much of the critical information they needed to ensure success of their project was missing. I signed on late in the game with some big challenges and I have been cramming them with information, so much they could now be successful without me. They know what they are doing and why, from preparation of the boat to survival training, they have an extreme sense of caring for crew, camaraderie and of loyalty. They are amazing! We are still looking to fill the 16th spot on the crew.

Debs and I leave for Morocco on Christmas day.

I will blog more on my solo rowing project another time, I have not postponed it, changed or deviated from my plan, and it got a little more complicated and difficult. It became more interesting!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Progress on the Big Blue Row & RowofLife Springs a Leak

Progress on the Big Blue Row & RowofLife Springs a Leak
By Angela Madsen  12/07/10

Back from New York dealing with packing food for the crossing, boat will ship this week and be in Morocco on Jan 1. If we can get the boat assembled and all the food ready to load we should be able to Begin the Row on Jan 8. I was hoping to get some training in, row to Catalina, Newport Harbor, Dana Harbor, and San Diego. Not much time left before heading off to row the Atlantic again. So I put Rowoflife in the water the day of Christmas Regatta on Sunday and rowed a bit, checked all my deck hatches, nice and dry. Then we rowed last night. I went to go for a row today. First things first, I checked all the deck hatches. We had a bit of rain so I was fully prepared to pump out some water. I removed the survival suits which were floating around in what looked like way more than rainwater in the starboard battery compartment. I removed the battery. I began pumping and the water level went down. As soon as I thought I got it all I stopped pumping and noticed that the water was pouring in through an 8 inch crack in the hull. She is compartmentalized much like the Titanic so she wasn't really sinking but not willing to chance it. I had rowed it from the Dunster dock over to the rowing dock and noticed a woman in a kayak, Beth, paddling towards me. As soon as she got close enough she said “I Google searched your name” we talked and then she offered to help me get the boat out of the water. I was sad to see the water pouring out of the crack in the hull. Is it repairable? Guess I'll find out soon enough. I hope so.

New Project--Big Blue Atlantic Row

New Atlantic Row
By Angela Madsen 12/03/10 Will be headed for Morocco soon to Skipper Big Blue, The First Ocean Rowing Catamaran with crew of 16 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to break world rowing record. It will be time to start following the tracking and again we will be blogging while we are underway.

World Record breaking attempt December 2010 / January 2011 3000 miles Africa to the Americas in under 33…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flare Guns do Kick by Angela, July 13

Flare Guns do Kick by Angela

July 13, 2010

In the middle of the night on July 13, 2010, Angela and Laura took to the oars. They requested Bel give them the VHF Radio and turn on the SeaMe. Just after the start of their shift, they called the Coast Guard to advise that there was a big ship headed toward them. They were able to get the ship to change course. Shortly after that, there was another big ship headed toward them. They again called the Coast Guard who contacted the ship. That ship’s captain had some difficulty understanding what the Coast Guard was saying. They said they could not see Go Commando and they kept on their collision course. Angela reached for the flare gun and shot up a white, anti-collision, flare. She heard the ship’s captain tell the coast guard they had seen the flare and were changing course. Angela said it was the closest call with a big ship in all of her 166 days at sea in 3 ocean crossings.

There was a casualty of the encounter. When Angela shot the flare gun, it had a big kick. She has a large cut on her hand, broke her left index finger, and other bones in her hand. Apparently, her homecoming on Tuesday will include a visit to her favorite doctor, Dr. G, at the Long Beach Veteran’s Hospital. So if you see Angela trying to make her way around London pushing her chair with one hand, give her some kindness.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poetic blog from Bev near Middlesbrough July 12

Poetic blog from Bev near Middlesbrough

July 12 19.15

Racing to win the Virgin GB row,

a crew of girls aboard Go Commando.

Rowing around Britain, this intrepid four

have been out at sea for a month and more

through high winds, storm, rain and shine

the girls are striving to make good time.

With messages of goodwill they know

friends and family shout, ‘go Seagals, go!’

Now almost there and on the home straight

the aim of all is to try not to be late

for engagements and dates previously known.

The Seagals are ready to finally go home…

Blog By Laura July 12

Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando near Sunderland

July 12 12.01

The crew of Go Commando are a happy lot today, after covering 30miles overnight and arriving in Newcastle 6-12hours ahead of schedule.

We have had wildly variable weather over the past few days, a theme that has followed us through our entire journey in fact.

The wind doesn't seem to want to make its mind up and has continually flipped direction, building to blasting speeds (never in our favour) and then dropping to a complete lull, during which time we row our socks off trying to make the most of light/non-existent winds.

For the past week we have had the tempting forecast of northerly winds lingering around us but so far they are yet to arrive.

If we were to get strong northerly winds we could really make up for some lost ground and speed on down the remaining east coast. If, if, if.....

One thing for sure is that we are nearing the finish line, slowly but surely.

Our thoughts and conversations seem to revolve around what we are looking forward to when we get home.

I can spend a whole two-hour rowing shift dreaming of a long hot shower, crispy clean cotton sheets on a soft bed and a feast of fresh food.

In the meantime we are being kept occupied by the ever-increasing signs of civilisation, brightly lit towns and cities have replaced the natural light nights that we had got used to further north and we can see the stars for the first time in weeks due to the dark skies at night.

The RNLI lifeboats have been out to see us twice over the last few days and they always leave us with the kind reassurance that they are never far away, I would love to look into volunteering to work for the RNLI when I get home.

Our PR friend Katie Scoggins is hoping to see us in Scarborough tonight/tomorrow, I hope that we are there during daytime to see her but if not we'll be celebrating together very soon!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Watch Out for That Tanker! by Bev July 10

Blog from Beverley Ashton

July 10, south of Dunbar

We set off on Thursday evening hoping to get across the Tay and Firth of Forth in one go, we believed we had a 24hr weather window. 12 hrs in the winds began to build again and boat control began to diminish.

Soon all we were doing was being turned by wind and waves as we tried to find our course, it was time to drop the hook again.

We've all been frustrated with how much time we've spent on anchor, but this time spirits were higher as we knew that more good weather was forecast for later in the day.

We were anchored about 5 miles off St Andrews Bay and just about clear of the Tay, it was time to return to our anchor routine.

As the wind built so too did the waves, Belinda and I sat on deck passing the time by discussing what we wanted to eat when we returned home while getting soaked by the occasional big wave crashing over the side.

At one point as I glanced up I saw a ship maybe 3 miles away. It was heading directly for us and moving quickly, you could see the large breaking waves on its hull.

'Um' I said to Belinda, 'I've just spotted a ship and it seems to be heading this way.'

We've encountered the path of other ships but this time was different; this time we were anchored due to our lack of manoeuvrability and so were dependant on the ship changing course.

We both sat still and watched the ship for about 20seconds hoping for a sign that the course wasn't direct at all. However, as we watched it just became more evident that we were in their path.

Realising something needed to change, Belinda grabbed the hand-held VHF radio and I grabbed the flares box.

It's hard to radio a ship when you don't know who they are so Belinda hailed them by location.

Almost immediately, the coastguard responded, 'Hello Go Commando, this is Forth Coastguard the ship you are trying to contact is Whitstar'

Belinda was now able to hail the ship by name. 'Whitstar…Whitstar…Whistar… this is ocean rowing boat Go Commando, Go Commando, Go Commando.'

Thankfully they responded quickly and Belinda explained our predicament and the collision course but all he time they were moving closer.

They confirmed that they couldn't see us but were prepared to change course to avoid a hit.

As Belinda informed them they were a little over half a mile away, I opened the flare box and took out a white hand-held flare. Ready to light the flare, finally we saw Whitstar begin to turn and knew that we'd managed to avoid a hit.

We thanked the coastguard for the quick interception and took a few moments to collect our thoughts. Relief, that in the face of a possible disaster we had stayed calm, taken the best action and everyone was safe.

This reminded us why we sit out in the cold, the wind, the waves, the rain and the swell - the weather is not the only risk to us when we are anchored.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Social Experiment--Blog by Laura July 7

Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando near Montrose

July 7 07.25

It was interesting to read my team mates’ version of accounts from the Force 10 storm, we endured last Sunday.

We all share such a small space and see the same sights, yet the way in which we see them seems to differ depending on personal feelings and individual interpretation.

As a nurse I find people very intriguing; their personalities, mannerisms and overall behaviour.

Being on board Go Commando for over a month with three other women has been like a social experiment!

We are all such different people, from different walks of life and we have had to try and be understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

The act of being empathetic is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective, this is something that I always try to do, yet as people we are instinctively selfish especially when we are in extreme situations.

I found it hard to read Belinda's account that I "shrieked" as we neared the rocks, especially as my recollection was that I had calmly responded to the situation by swiftly lifting the anchor and rowing to safety with Angela on the oars, Beverley guiding and Belinda off-shift.

But, as I say, this is only my interpretation of events.

On the other hand, it is funny to think that such small discrepancies in stories manages to frustrate me and I feel that this demonstrates the intensity of our situation, whereby the smallest disagreement can seem like the end of the world!

One very important bit of advice given to me by my dad and instilled in me by the military is to 'take it on the chin and move on.' Never hold a grudge, especially on a 24ft rowing boat!

The life lessons I have learnt upon this boat over the last month will undoubtedly go on to shape the person I am becoming and I will take with me the wealth of experiences that our adventure has provided us with.

I Don't Like Open Water by Beverley Ashton July 6

Blog from Beverley Ashton on Go Commando
off the coast of Angus.

July 6

It may sound a little odd, but I've never been that taken with the sea; in fact I don't like the open water at all. So what am I doing rowing around Britain?

It's partly due to the above that I've taken on the challenge, to confront one of my personal insecurities.

This race is a huge test of physical and mental endurance and I want to see if I'm strong enough to see it through. So far it's going well, it's been very tough at times but not once have I felt I couldn't do this.

Without doubt the hardest aspect is the mental challenge, sure 12hrs of rowing a day is a physical test but it becomes a manageable, known quantity.

Mentally there is a lot more to take on, the uncertainty of how long you'll be out here for, being confined to such minimal space, no personal space, constantly on top of others and little contact with the outside world; in addition to these, for me, the fact I find the open water an uncomfortable place to be. With the recent high winds and bad sea conditions I've really tested myself.

I'm proud of myself and the crew for how well we've coped.

The challenge has been even greater than any of us expected and we still have a fair stretch to go.

Rumour has it that weather will be more favourable by the end of the week so hopefully we'll be home soon.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bel's Perspective Part 2

4th July (Part 2)

1600hrs: Rogue wave in Bullers of Buchan

Time for me and Bev to swap. I'm already on deck looking at the bird nurseries and the crowds of baby birds taking refuge in our little bay.

Bev's awake and she and Laura chat at the entrance to their cabin as she climbs out.......and then from nowhere we are hit by a wall of water. The deck is awash with water up to our knees.

I hear the girls calling.....The bow cabin is swamped... I start passing jugs and sponges forward.

Bev and Laura bail jugs of water out of the cabin. All their stuff is wet but more dangerous is that the cabin and deck are flooded. I get the bilge pump on to drain the deck. Laura and Bev keep on at their cabin.

A rogue wave must have hit us. As well as flooding us it felt like the boat was pushed over almost on its side, thankfully all three of us held on and Angela is safely inside.

Poor Laura gets seasick again though. We hang sleeping bag and kit out to dry on deck once the majority of the water is bailed out then Laura shrieks.

The wave must have dislodged our anchor and we have drifted towards some rocks. We are almost on top of them.

Laura and Angela row like crazy away from them, Bev lifts the rest of the anchor. I come out of the cabin to find frenetic activity and shouts of 'Belinda'.

We drop the anchor again at a safe distance. That was a bit too close for any of us.

The cold and the swell finally takes its toll on poor Laura- her seasickness comes on again finally the storm dies down and water settles.

We all try to get some rest. I give Laura and Bev my sleeping bag which I feel a little self conscious, might smell, no one has washed properly for over a month and my sleeping bag has gotten damp from wet weather gear and condensation - everything smells a bit of mildew - and probably everyone does.

Thankfully though we are all safe and can have a dry sleep. Now the wind is dropping we can go as soon as the tide comes about....I think we’ll all enjoy getting out of here.

Blog from Bel's perspective July 4

 3rd July 2200hrs Bullers of Buchan.

The storm warnings of gale force winds means we have had to take shelter in a rocky bay.

Shockingly 35-knot winds are predicted over the next 24 hrs. Winds worse than anything we have seen so far and frankly winds that no one wants to try to handle out at sea.

We have five more hours before the storm is predicted to hit and I was hoping to get Go Commando to the River Ythan but I can't take the risk that we won't reach it.

We cannot be in open water when this hits. We've just had a crew meeting and agree that we won't make it in time because the winds have built early and our progress has slowed significantly so we've anchored up In a bay Bev and Laura spotted.

It’s so small it doesn't even appear on our scale maps. It’s also beautiful and ominous, surrounded by huge cliffs. But its shelter and were glad to have found it.

Once I'd checked with the compass that there's definitely southerly protection, we put the anchor down.

Phew, just getting round behind the cliffs in the building winds was a relief. Much calmer waters we've hunkered down now waiting for the storm.

Laura and Angela come off the blades and myself and Bev go on watch 00.00hrs Bev and I reset the anchor. Too close to rocks so moved over a bit.

This bay is incredibly dramatic with steep cliffs to the west and south. The noise of the waves and wind is drowned out by the zillions of nesting gulls, shags and guillemots

0700hrs July 4

Back on deck at 0400hrs to relieve Angela and Laura. Conditions worse by the end of our shift but not too bad.

1000hrs back on deck. Really wet and windy now. Pretty miserable weather to have to sit on deck in. Our trusty plough anchor is holding.

The weather worsens during our shift. Thank goodness we're not out at sea in this!!!!

By midday it’s awful, 35-knot winds on the other side of the cliffs, sea state even inside the bay is bumpy - see video.

Huge waves crash on rocks in middle of bay, sending spray 12ft in the air and scattering the gulls

1500hrs I'm woken up by the boat being battered by waves. It feels like the boat is being picked up by a big hand and shaken. Everyone on deck ok.

The waves and wind must be bending around the cliffs and into the bay.

Second part of blog coming after my next shift

Anchored Blog by Laura Thomasson July 5

Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando

July 5, 15.30

I'm sure that you will get a few separate accounts of our experience yesterday with 35-knot winds, as it was probably one of our closest calls to getting into a dangerous situation.

We had good prior warning that force 10 gales were forecast along the NE coast so despite our longing to continue along the coast to Aberdeen, we played it safe and found a protective cove not far from Peterhead.

The cove was a spectacular sight with jagged rocks, steep cliffs and a menagerie of gulls covering the cliff face.

We carefully edged our way into the rocky cove and anchored in a central position; unfortunately we were unable to get nicely tucked under the protection of the cliff due to a rocky ledge that protruded under the water.

At the time of anchoring the water was fairly calm and it was hard to believe that a big storm was on its way but we resisted the urge to continue down the coastline and stayed put in our cove awaiting the building winds.

The hours seemed to tick by slowly and I began to wonder whether we had been lucky enough to miss the strong winds, until at 06.00 swelling waves started to roll into the cove.

From this time onwards the waves steadily built and the wind began to tunnel down from the cliff top, blowing us out at an angle that was broadside to the waves rolling in.

Facing the waves side on we took the impact of 20foot waves that flooded the deck and also flooded Bev and I's cabin during one of our change over of shifts.

We filled a 10-litre bucket of water in an attempt to bail out the cabin, all of our bedding and belongings were soaked just as I was about to snuggle into my sleeping bag and warm up from the wet and cold outside.

As if matters couldn't have got worse, I was rocked around in the cabin so much as I was trying to empty it of water that I began to feel the creeping nausea of sea sickness.

The best place to be when sea sickness hits you is on the deck where you can see the horizon, so I sat out on deck for 9hours in my wet clothes trying to suppress the urge to be sick!

During this time we began to notice that we were slowly being dragged on our anchor line towards the rocks that were coming perilously close to our starboard side. With the waves continuing to rage into the cove we had no option but to sit it out and watch the boat edge slowly nearer to the rocks.

After 12hours of crashing waves and streaming winds the sun gradually began to creep out from behind the clouds and the waves slowly began to subside.

At 2100hrs we were finally safe enough to lift the anchor and row away from the rocks that had gone from being 30feet away to only one foot away.

A lucky escape! With the relief of re-anchoring a safe distance away and looking out upon the calming waters I promptly gave into my sea sickness and threw up over the side of the boat.

What a day! Let's hope the winds that are forecast for Wednesday and Thursday are a little kinder to us.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Frightening Times on Go Commando July 4, 2010

Frightening Times on Go Commando

By Angela via Text to Deb, July 4, 2010

The SeaGals have been dealing with dangerous weather the last couple of days. Angela sent me info about their ordeal via text message a couple of hours ago. She said, “tg (thank God, the) anchor held today otherwise (we) would be coming home in casket (s.) 3-4 meter waves hail (gale) force winds and too close to smashing on rocks for my taste.” She explained on the phone that she had hoped they would anchor in the next “posh” bay over with “no rocks”. When she woke for her shift she found that they were anchored in this bay which is full of rocks. ”Could have died out here today, no surviving in this water just rock cliffs around with 12-20ft waves crashing into them, it would have made toothpicks of our boat and cast us to the sea. Rogue wave flooded bow cabin. It is still windy and choppy but we moved farther away from rocks. We were just at the wave break barely getting over the top of them, maybe. It's my break now and it's been tough day. I am going to sleep.

She also wanted me to let everyone that they are all fine. They gave Laura and Bev a dry sleeping bag from the back cabin, while they dry out their things. During her next shift, she hopes to be allowed to make it to the next bay without the rocks; but we shall see.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medical bulletin from nurse Laura Thomasson on Go Commando 7 1

Medical bulletin from nurse Laura Thomasson on Go Commando

05.15 July 1

After four weeks at sea you can imagine that the medical issues on the boat have been varied and sometimes a bit of a challenge for me as the medic, but as you know I like a good challenge!

Initial blisters on hands and heels have now hardened up, although the 'claw hand' effect has provided constant pain for the crew, for some more than others.

We use anti-inflammatory tablets and gels to improve the range of movement in our hands and to reduce swelling and pain, but after sleeping we have found that our hands seize up and it can make little tasks like doing up zips and grasping the oars painful until our hands warm up.

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that my bottom has been particularly sore, not helped by my personal padding gradually wasting away!

Luckily, Angela has been able to provide me with some brilliant antibiotic powder that has helped to heal my poor bottom and I feel that it has literally saved my ass!

Some crew members are suffering from bottom problems of another type, while the rest of the crew suffer the after effects of the noxious fumes wafting passed!

Angela affectionately names them 'barking spiders' while I am genuinely worried about their insides.

Now that I have let you all know the secret behind our new record breaking speed I better go, but please be assured that despite general wear and tear we are all holding up well and battling on, determined to come home and get some well-earned rest.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Near Point of Stoer Blog from Laura June 27

Blog from Laura near Point of Stoer

June 27 0725

Wow! Our Saturday night was brilliant! Angela and I initially took on the 2300-0200 shift with little enthusiasm but we were soon to be kept awake by a huge pod of dolphins, both in number and size.

Up to 20 dolphins gradually surrounded our boat, with the biggest looking to be around 10 foot in length, if not longer. The amazing pod performed synchronised jumps out of the water and swirled around our boat, with their sonar clicks and noises clearly audible.

We were amazed by their closeness, which could have been quite intimidating but it was clear that they were harmlessly curious of our strange yellow boat.

After several minutes they gradually dissipated and we were left in awe- stricken silence. It was then that the beauty of our surroundings began to sink in, we had been able to see the dolphins so clearly due to the dusky light that continues through the night here in the highlands, coupled with a moon that glowed orange and pink and framed with clouds.

The stretch of coast between the headlands of Rubha Coigeach and the Point of Stoer was spectacular in itself, having several jagged headlands within that provided a dramatic backdrop for our eventful night.

Now the sun has risen we can see our next headland across the calm waters as we progress to the ominously named Cape Wrath.

If we continue at this rate we should be there by tonight.

Come on SeaGals!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The SeaGals are Bunless by Angela 6 26

SeaGals are Bunless

Mini Blog via text by Angela 06/26/10

A sailboat, Sirocco Star, came up and spoke with us. They were super nice. They tried to give us some food, a black bun for energy, his wife’s special recipe. We felt bad about having to turn down the buns, as he was so excited about the possibility of sharing them with us. We explained it would be against the rules.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Isle of Mull by Bev 6 24

BLOG from Bev on Go Commando near the Isle of Mull, reflecting on the land of her fathers...

June 24 17.25

Although I was brought up in Gateshead, my father’s family are from John o’Groats and I have lots of relatives in the north of Scotland but I don’t know a great deal about Scotland.

So it’s been especially nice for me to see this wonderful country from the sea. In the mornings the islands and the peak of the mountains are shrouded in mist and the countryside looks magical.

I really must come back and visit the west coast of Scotland when I have more time to explore – especially the whisky islands.

We’d rowed constantly for 80 hours before we had to anchor today to wait until the tide turned to our advantage.

If we can make this sort of progress up the rest of the west coast we might be in time to take advantage of the spring tides in the Pentland Firth between the top of the mainland, near John O’Groats and the island of Orkney, and get a flying start to the last leg of our journey, down the east coast.

We have sent in a couple of new videos from Jura and the Sound of Luing in Argyll and Bute, taken on our Samsung Wave phone.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Off Stranraer by Bev 6 22

BLOG from Bev on Go Commando off Stranraer

June 22 13.27

Sunday night we headed north from Wales and toward the Isle of Man. Like the Bristol Channel, the currents here are perpendicular to our direction so cause us to zig -zag across but we arrived at roughly the coordinates we intended.

We've now rowed around the island and are heading on to Scotland. Overnight we we're able to continue to row, even against the tide, and make progress. We're now on our way toward Jura and Islay.

The Southerly winds are just starting so we're hoping for good progress in the next few days.

Approaching Isle of Man by Laura June 22

BLOG from Laura on Go Commando approaching the Isle of Man

June 22 07.15

There have been some tough times during the past 3 weeks at sea. Spending 24 hours a day in cramped confines has made things tense between the crew. We continually rally together and have a laugh to raise our spirits but at times when huge waves have pummelled our boat during the night, the last ounce of humour is drained from us. However, the darkness of night only lasts a few hours and out of the gloom rises some magnificent sunrises that seem to wash away anxieties and bring a fresh outlook to the day.

The breath-taking sunset pictured here was taken on our way to the Isle of White, the morning that the wind direction changed in our favour and we began to finally pick up pace again. With the weather on our side we are more determined than ever to make some good progress in the second half of our journey and make a speedy route home to our loved ones.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mystical,Magic Unicorns and Dreams of 80-mile Days by Angela June 21

BLOG from Angela Madsen on Go Commando

June 21 14.25

Mystical, magic unicorns and dreams of 80-mile days.
Blog Called into Race Media Person, Mike Ridley, by Angela

Life on Go Commando is good at the moment.  We’re getting on well and I’m really getting to know Laura and Bev, who have the front cabin. They both have a great sense of humour.

After days of frustration sat at anchor in northerly headwinds, the wind has dropped and we can start to row for long periods.  If you look at our track on the interactive map on the website, you might wonder why we appear to be zig-zagging across the Irish Sea. The answer is that the tides here run from east to west and we’re taking advantage of them, rather than spend any more time at anchor.  And we’re just where we want to be on the western side of the Isle of Man, the perfect position to head for Scotland.

The wind has dropped and it’s so hot in the sun. We normally row two hours on-two hours off during the day and in three-hour shifts at night.  But without the wind to cool us down, we’re thinking about switching to one-hour shifts during the heat of the day so we get a chance of shade in the cabin.  We’re all waiting for the wind to flip direction to a southerly, which will be behind us as we go north to Scotland.  Then it will be back to following winds and seas, mystical, magic unicorns… and dreams of 80-mile days, when we can start to make up for all the time we’ve spent at anchor.

I’m also thinking of my dear Dad, who hasn’t been too well lately, who’s following our every move on the websites…

Watermaker On Board By Angela via Deb June 21

“They must have to carry a lot of water”…….
Watermaker On Board.

By Angela via Deb June 21, 2010

Ocean Rowing boats are very small, especially when you have 4 people and their gear on a boat that is the size of a pair’s boat (24 feet long, 6 feet wide—nearly a ton loaded). There is no way that they could carry enough water to sustain 4 people for 45 days. There is a watermaker on board the boat. Solar charged batteries run the watermaker. It is an essential piece of equipment, but often one that is a struggle to keep working. Sometimes there is not enough power to run the watermaker and sometimes there are mechanical problems. They carry a back up hand pump watermaker as well. If they are not getting enough exercise rowing, they can always hand pump water.

The Haigh Lyon SeaGals had watermaker problems early on in the Virgin GB Row 2010. Angela worked to fix the clogged intake valve. She details the fix in this text message to me:

Spare hose inboard, lol, no way. I took a piece off a manual pump. They are two different size hoses so I used a reducer. Now there is plenty of hose to go into the water and we can now make water and row at the same time. Malcome suggested I put a weight on it and I had remembered that Belinda had purchased a plumb? A weight with a string on it. I cut off the lenght of string I needed and attached it to the end of the new intake for the watermaker. The watermaker hatch has to be open enough to run the hose out so best not to make water on super splashy days.

They pump water into containers to use for the day. They use the water to drink, rehydrate food, and wash. We talked about buckets in the last blog. There are actually 3 buckets on an ocean rowing boat-1 for clothes washing, 1 for dishwashing and 1 for the potty palace. On anchor due to tides, Angela filled the water containers and a bucket for her to wash her clothes in. I bet Belinda (she shares the back cabin with Angela) is happy it is washday for Angela!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ocean Rowing Potty Palace by Angela via Deb June 20

Ocean Rowing Potty Palace

By Deb for Angela June 20, 2010

I have received many inquiries about the rowers go to the bathroom whilst they are on the ocean rowing boat. There is no toilet on the boat. This is the number one question we get when we are doing presentations at schools. The answer is “bucket and chuck it”. There is a bucket that is on the deck and is tethered (or at least it should be) to the boat. When the bucket is your toilet and you lose it, that is not good.

The boys on Ocean Rowing boats often use a pee bottle, for that part of it, but it is more difficult for women. Angela has tried a variety of things that would equal the pee bottle, but has not been very successful. The closest thing she found was plastic pitcher. Lesson number one, if you see what appears to be a water bottle, don’t assume it is.

On Angela’s Indian Ocean crossing, Pirate Row, she started a little game with the bucket. They tried to see who could stay on the bucket longest, in the roughest conditions. She had a formula based on the speed of the boat, and height of the wave. The winner was Helen Taylor. Some cried foul as Helen had more practice than others did, but she had the best score.

The bucket is not always glamour…..Here is a mishap from the May 17, 2009 blog on Pirate Row. Angela “told me that she fell into the potty bucket and got stuck. She described herself as looking like a scoop of ice cream in a bucket cone. That brings to mind an image that I could probably create in Photoshop, but won't. So the state of the potty bucket on Audeamus is not great at the moment; even after they were able to pull her to safety from her bucket cone.”

Angela’s favorite bucket move is tossing its contents at a shark and saying, “Eat S*** and Die!” Now you know just how boring being on an ocean rowing boat can be.

Blog By Bev June 20

"BLOG from Bev on board Go Commando
Sunday June 20
The Anchor

We're spending a lot more time on anchor than we'd like, partly due to the weather and partly due to being in an area of strong currents

We're developing a love-hate relationship with our anchor, it’s a 15lb plough anchor with 10metres of chain and 150m of rope.

LOVE - our anchor holds and does so well, it’s easy to deploy and stops us losing valuable ground.

HATE - it has to be pulled back in manually, it holds so well that this is exhausting when anchored at greater depths, which recently we often are.

And, of course, after pulling in the anchor we then have to row!"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wind! Always Rowing Against the Wind! By Angela via Deb June 19, 2010

Angela and her parents, Ron and Betty Madsen in Hawaii
Wind! Always Rowing Against the Wind!

By Deb for Angela June 19, 2010

Angela called me from the All Roads Communications Satellite phone this morning to report that they were sitting on anchor in 20-25 knot winds. They could not make any progress when they tried to row, so they anchored. They are also without cell phone service where they are on anchor. They have not seen much in the way of sea life today. She did see a seal. He seemed to look at them as if they were crazy for being out in the wind.

The Haigh Lyon SeaGals change watches whilst they are on anchor. There is not enough room in the cabin for two people to sleep at a time; two are on deck and one in each of the respective cabins. On RowofLife, there is enough room for people to sleep on the deck, but on Go Commando, there is no deck space big enough to sleep in.

They also do chores whilst they are on anchor. They make water, wash clothes, and fix things they have broken. When they were on anchor and had cell phone service, Angela actually checked all her email, called people and checked her facebook.

Angela would like to wish her father, Ron Madsen a Happy Father’s Day.

Ronald Madsen Hanging Loose in Hawaii

Blog from Belinda June 19th

Blog from Belinda

12.30 Saturday June 19

On Sat phone as no mobile coverage - fighting against 20knot gusting winds as we force our way round Holy Island (Holyhead peninsula, NW Wales). We are desperate to move on and get to Isle of Man, knowing that the Western Isles and Inner Hebrides will be beautiful scenery before the squalls expected around Cape Wrath! Spirits high, determined as ever, just frustrated at being pushed back by wind all the time!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dear Mr. Weatherman By Laura

"BLOG from Laura on board Go Commando in the Irish Sea
13.00 Friday 18th June

Dear Mr Weatherman

I remember when I was around seven years old I wrote a letter to the weather-man asking for snow that winter, he very kindly granted my wish and we were blessed with a winter wonderland covering of thick snow. Now, seventeen years later I ask for another weather miracle. After days and days of northerly head winds I beg of you mr weather-man, please can we have some south tail winds? We've had our fair share of north winds and we are clinging on to the hope that our luck has to change soon!

Kind regards from the windswept SeaGals. X X X X"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life on the Boat in Bad Weather June 16

Life on the Boat in Bad Weather
By Deb for Angela June 16, 2010

This is information that I have received over several days. If it seems a little disjointed that is why.

They have had lots of bad weather for about the last week. They have spent more time on anchor than they would have liked. The boat is a 24-foot long, 6 foot wide. It is the same size as RowofLife, which is a pair’s boat. Go Commando was actually made with slightly bigger cabins to accommodate 4 rowers. The row around Great Britain is about half as long as each of the rows across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It would be difficult to put enough food and supplies on the boat for a longer row. There is not enough room in the cabins for both rowers to be inside at the same time. When the SeaGals are on anchor, the still change watches every 2 hours (3 hours at night) and the people that would be rowing are out on the deck in the weather. Angela says in a text message, “On deck on anchor in piss down rain cold is just try and stay warm and during day is do chores fix things clean things tidy up the boat and ourselves.” A couple of nights ago she said in a text, “Storm last night big waves crashing over the deck. Nearly rolled over. Still on anchor waiting for change in weather. It is miserable here.” The weather sometimes makes it difficult to sleep. Angela texts, with the “turbulent waters” it is “like trying to sleep on a bucking horse”

I asked if they used the jet boil for a bon fire on the deck and started singing camp songs. Angela texted, “We do jetboil hot beverages at night but no songs. Not really a singing bunch.”

When they started their trip, almost everything was “fend for yourself”. They were not much of a team and definitely not as organized as they could have been. They did not have prior experience ocean rowing; they did not seem to understand the importance of having chores of cooking etc. assigned to a team members. With the time on anchor, they have done better with the food. There is some shared cooking instead of everyone fending for themselves. The clothes washing, however is still fend for yourself. If there is no hanging room left, you have to wait for another day to wash. There is 3 to 4 weeks of tough rowing left. As there are more challenges, we hope that there will be more team and less of an individual focus.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chicken on the Sea by Deb for Angela June 14, 2010

Chicken on the Sea

Deb blogging for Angela June 14, 2010

Apparently, waves and winds are not enough excitement for Angela and Beverley. They were rowing against the wind today when they came upon a shipping lane. They looked Right for the UK fans and then Left for the US fans, seeing no big ships started across the lane. Rowing, Rowing, Rowing….Holy crap! There is a giant ferryboat “with 500 cars on it” coming at them very fast. Row, Row, Row, Row…..yell at the cabin asking them to come out and take pictures. (I am proud they did not stop rowing to get the shot). They were unable to wake anyone so we will all just have to picture in our minds- a big ship full of cars, moving 30 knots toward our SeaGals tiny little rowing boat. Well they made (I am sure you figured that out, since she was able to call and tell me). However, my new rule….No more playing chicken with other boats on the sea.

RowofLife Journey-YouTube Video by Sageweb