Ocean Brothers – Update 2 – Mid-Atlantic

Post by: Dee White
19 February 2018

The Ocean Brothers Greg Bailey and Jude Massey are well into their unaccompanied Atlantic row, to raise funds for vital projects to combat skin cancer.  After a delayed and uncomfortable start they are now settling into the routine of continuous rowing, but have been frustrated by breakages. First their water-maker broke, then their GPS stopped working and having been advised to take the dagger board out a medium sized wave caught them and they capsized. Thankfully they were both strapped on and the boat righted itself. Apart from losing some kit over the side, the pair were fine.

The loss of GPS is a problem with 48 hours straight spent on phone calls to fix the problem, to no avail. To continue their journey, one of them must steer while the other rows, meaning that they both have to sleep at the same time. Eventually they decided to put the boat on the para-anchor and managed to get 12 hours straight sleep, revitalising them to face the next day’s challenges.

Here are some of the details they have sent to their supporters:

  • Day 12 – 30th Jan. “Doing well, 750nm from the start with 1,800nm to go. It’s really hot. Everything is a struggle. We’re pumping the water maker manually and really hard just for a few drops. Lots of equipment failures and it’s a real problem at night. But night time is spectacular with the whole sky lit up and up to 10 shooting stars every night. No other ships seen for 1 week. Keeping our spirits up by spoonfuls of soy sauce or marmite”.
  • Day 15 – 3rd Feb. “Set up a rig so we can steer with one hand and row with the other, to combat the problem with the GPS and no auto helm. Have to change hands every 10 minutes or so, so it’s very cumbersome, but we still aim to row 40-50 miles per day”.
  • Day 17 – 4th Feb. “Jude was hit on the side of the face by a flying fish during his night watch. Hopefully this was a good omen; Barbados is known as “the land of the flying fish” and its one the country’s national symbols. Every stroke we row should bring us closer. We’ve both experienced hallucinations at night and the steering/rowing rig we’ve set up is now causing extreme back pain”.
  • Day 18 – 5th Feb. “Estimated to be 1000 from the start and are finding our rhythm and routine. Having accepted the fact that everything that can break has broken, we are in better mental shape”.
  • Day 20 – 7th Feb. “Suffered drenched kit in the cabin yesterday and have had to clean off huge growths from the bottom of the hull. Hopefully that will help the speed. The blisters are getting bigger but we’re getting used to the routine of rowing with one hand and steering with the other. The one thing that’s keeping us going is the people back home – their encouragement and donations”.
  • Day 22 – 9th Feb. “Have been rowing for 3 weeks solid. Highlights – the marine life, unpolluted night sky and being immersed in nature. Lowlights – sleeping in 4 inches of water when the cabin flooded, broken equipment, enormous blisters and the capsize. Certain that our late father, Pete, is guiding us across the Atlantic”.
  • Day 32 – 19th Feb. Over half way – and to mark this event they celebrated with a slug of grog. Well deserved. If there are no more dramas they could be in Barbados in three weeks. Just to emphasise the fact that their row across the Atlantic is unsupported, which means that if anything serious goes wrong it would take about a week for another ship to reach them. You may wonder how they are able to sleep in the stressful conditions on their boat, cramped and wet. They have a pillow, eye shades and ear plugs, but also the pre-recorded voice of their hypnotherapist which has been tailored to each of them to lull them off to sleep. Added to these they are of course absolutely exhausted!

Can other ships see the Ocean Brothers – are they in danger of a collision?

The AIS system they have on board should alert other vessels to their presence but these ships see the odd looking craft on their radar and are intrigued by it, often changing course to come over and have a look. Pretty scary for Jude and Chris. It must be reassuring to see other vessels in the vast expanse of the ocean and they can be useful, helping with position now their GPS is broken and also relaying a weather report. They also carry some rum that they could trade with for food and water in an emergency.

More news to follow as they get nearer to their goal.