I had hoped that this would be a final blog to bid farewell to dry land before we started our voyage across the North Atlantic. But if you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of weeks you will have noticed our growing concern about the unusually large quantities of ice off the coast of Newfoundland, largely due to the huge chunk of ice that broke off a Greenland glacier 2 years ago which has now drifted south into Canadian waters, breaking up into a minefield of icebergs as it goes.
Given our immovable deadline of reaching London in time for the start of the Olympics, we unfortunately don’t have the option to wait until the ice dissipates, which will take another couple of weeks at least. After much soul searching, it is with regret that we have come to the difficult decision to postpone our row for this year. The chances of hitting ice – and the serious consequences of a punctured hull in freezing North Atlantic waters – meant that the risk to our safety was simply unacceptable.
“That’s the biggest iceberg I’ve ever seen in these waters,” said Harry Spurrell, native Newfoundlander, as he took us on a tour of the icebergs around Torbay today. Mos and I were out in his speedboat to get up close and personal with the bergs that could impede our progress across the North Atlantic.
Yesterday I went out on a plane to check out the ice situation offshore. Despite a favourable forecast, Mother Nature decided to hide her icy secrets in an extensive layer of fog. After being in the air for over 5 hours, the only icebergs I was able to see were within half a mile of shore. Those further offshore were shrouded in mists and mystery, pending further visual investigation, I decided to do some research online.
Given our current preoccupation with unusually high numbers of bergy bits and other ice fragments off the coast of Newfoundland this year, it seems poignant that we have just passed the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Mos and I plan to take a wreath with us in remembrance of those lives lost at sea.
Yesterday I was sitting in the boat shed with Mos (and Bojangles, of course) as we discussed our safety strategies. This is top of our minds – and for good reason. If you go to the Ocean Rowing Society website, the little box at the bottom of the page that sums up the stats on Atlantic rows from West to East reads like this:
Completed: 19 Incomplete: 33 Rowers lost at sea: 5
These are sobering statistics. A closer look at the numbers however, shows that the odds are actually pretty good.
The rigorous 2012 training regime is well underway with a focus for Andrew Morris on managing a number of injuries sustained during his last row in 2005. Andrew has enlisted the help of leading expert Dr Rodger Oldham to regrow the damaged ligaments in his back using a groundbreaking technique, prolotherpay.
I thought I had retired from ocean rowing, but I also said ‘never say never!’ When the opportunity to take part in the OAR Project presented itself, the time was right and the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I’m really excited to take on the challenge – not only of rowing the North Atlantic route, but also as a mixed pair, which will add a new dimension to my ocean rowing experience. I’m also really looking forward to rowing home, and continuing the journey across Britain to arrive in London in time for the Olympic Games.
We are delighted to announce that Roz Savage will be joining the OAR Team. Roz, holder of four world records for ocean rowing, is an eminent environmental campaigner who uses ocean rowing to inspire action on the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today.
Mick Dawson, who was originally set to row with Andrew, has been unable to devote sufficient time to prepare for the voyage due to his day job fighting pirates. Mick remains fully committed to the OAR Project however, and has taken on the role of leading the shore based team. He is currently in San Francisco refitting Bojangles as a live working exhibit at the Maritime National Historical Park on Hyde Street Pier.
Join the excitement as Bojangles, the 24-foot, carbon/kevlar composite foam ocean rowboat is refitted ready for her forthcoming journey across the North Atlantic. From March 1 to March 7, visit with British Ocean Rowers Mick Dawson and Andrew Morris as they ready their high-tech craft at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park’s Hyde Street Pier. During the seven-day work period, visitors to the pier (enter at Hyde and Jefferson streets) will be able to observe the preparation work and speak with the crew between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.