Atlantic Odyssey update

31 Jan

Update from the Atlantic Odyssey support team

On 30 January 2012 at 11.00 am the crew of Sara G who were taking part in the Atlantic Odyssey challenge to row from Morocco in North Africa to Barbados in the Caribbean capsized.

Its crew included Captain Matthew Craughwell, Ian Rowe, Aodhan Kelly, Simon Brown, Yaacov Mutnikas and Mark Beaumont – all six members were safely evacuated.

The crew were 27 days into their journey when the 36ft (11.1m) vessel overturned just 520 miles from the destination port of St Charles.

Sara G was hit by a large wave 1.5 minutes before the rowers completed their shift change which was performed on a two hours on – two hours off basis. The wave rotated the vessel 180 degrees causing it to immediately take on water causing it to capsize within ten seconds.

In the next fifteen minutes the crew secured the life raft and attached it to the boat. They set-off their alerting alarms which initiated a response from Falmouth Coast Guard.

The crew did try to recover the vessel but due to the speed of the water retention, this proved unsuccessful.

The crew spent approximately three hours recovering on the raft before Matthew Craughwell and Mark Beaumont returned to the vessel to recover equipment to aid the rescue attempt.

At 1.10am, the crew were rescued by the Nord Taipei, a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship and are proceeding to Gibraltar where they are due to arrive on February 9.

Matthew has managed to speak to the BBC. Listen to his interview here.

Thank you all very much for your support and concern!

Sleeping on cargo ship, heading to Gibraltar

31 Jan

Sara G capsized at around 11AM on the 30th of January, due to rough seas. Aodhán and the rest of the crew are safe and currently aboard Panamanian cargo ship “Nord Tapei” and heading towards Gibraltar. They will be arriving in Gibraltar on the 9th of February.

The coast guard said the following: “The shore contact for the Sara G managed to get through to the crew of the boat via satellite phone and ascertained that the boat had capsized. They had abandoned to the life raft, which was tethered to the capsized vessel”.

  • Please click HERE for this morning’s Heart FM chat with Ian’s wife
  • Please click HERE for a related BBC article

We haven’t heard from Aodhán yet, but when we do we will let you all know! He’s safe, that’s the most important thing!

Important update!

30 Jan

I am sorry to write that earlier today the Sara G capsized. Whilst information is scarce at the moment the crew have managed to contact their shore contact. All crew are said to be safe and well, and tethered to the Sara G in a liferaft. A cargo ship is currently on route to pick up the crew with an ETA of 1.00am tomorrow.

Further information will be provided once they have been picked up and greater detail can be provided.

Please click HERE for more details.

Last Monday rowing?!

30 Jan

Stuart and Natalie, from Heart FM, caught up with Ian this morning. Please click HERE to listen to the radio broadcast. Ian announced that there is still a chance for Sara G to catch up with the World Record. Weather conditions are key and will be key to make sure the guys will be relaxing on the beach next week Monday. Get up from your chairs and do a wild good weather dance!

The main question from Natalie was – how bad do the guys smell by now? Ian said that he didn’t think they smelt too bad, compared to the flying fish dying on deck. If that’s the measure, then we’re lucky there is a secret stash of after shave hidden on board!

At the moment the Live Updates are down, but we hope to be able to follow the dot soon again. Updates on Twitter, Facebook and here to follow.

On a magic carpet ride

29 Jan

At 11.30am today Ian (stroking in the picture) recorded the 31st pod cast:×200.swf?callInView=100391&channelInView=&phlogId=41329&phonecastId=125335. Amazing news he shared: The winds have picked up, the speed with it and although there are confused swells Barbados is coming closer and closer. As a result, banter is back on full throttle and morale picked up massively. If it stays like this they hopefully arrive in Port St Charles, Barbados, in seven days from now. Ian said that night shifts were as interesting as day shifts and that by now he’s covered about anything he can talk about with Mark, who’s rowing in the seat behind him.

I’ve also received an email from Aodhán, which shows that the batteries are recharging again and the guys are able to use the laptop again. He wrote: “As I type this we are officially on the home stretch in my mind the winds have picked up and we should have them the rest of the way. Still a chance of getting the record by a few hours but as usual we rely on the weather for that to happen. Don’t worry – all is good here. Fun fact – the Dutch ocean rowing documentary we watched – that boat Vopak Victory is our sister ship and is exactly the same design – designed by a Dutch yacht designer – bloody Dutch ;-)”.

The last week was the toughest week the skipper Matt has experienced out of all the ocean rowing he’s done. He wrote the following: “With the calm of the Atlantic Sara G has not only had her toughest week of the expedition, but her toughest week under my watch.  The crew posted as little as sixty nautical miles some days with a mixed bag of no wind and swells from every direction. Despite all of this the crew have battled on to make this small total. It has now made our world record attempt a massive challenge.  Morale is high and we hope for good weather soon, but it seems everything is against us at the moment!  The latest technical difficulty has been the loss of our electrical power due to the lack of winds and no sun for the past few days, this has meant we are now navigating the old fashion way like the old mariners used to. We hope to have better news soon and would like to thank everyone for all the messages of support we have received, on days like this they mean everything to us.  We will continue to give it our all till we reach Barbados and hope to see a change of fortune in the coming ten days”.

For all of you followers in Reading, check out the Get Reading newspaper you received in the post on Friday. There is a great spread on page 5 featuring Aodhán’s row and his fundraising efforts. For all of you still keen on supporting Plan’s Girl Fund (“Because I’m a Girl” campaign) please click HERE to donate. Any small amount helps!

Following the dot

28 Jan

Day 27 started today at 1pm. Great news today, the winds have started to kick in and Sara G is being rowed towards Barbados much faster than the last few days. Click HERE to follow the dot and see how close the crew is getting to Barbados.

The winds are blowing in the North West direction which causes waves to break over the boat, but that’s probably not the greatest of the crew’s current challenges.

Listen to Mark in his 30th pod cast about nappy rash, Caribbean heat and minor concerns about the batteries:×200.swf?callInView=100309&channelInView=&phlogId=41329&phonecastId=125248.

Ship ahoy

27 Jan

Today was the first day with no pod cast and no radio interview. There was little news but a small message Mark sent that winds picked up a wee bit, but not enough yet. Matt & Simon checked the hull again to make sure there was nothing attached to it that the crew was dragging along, as Sara G is not speeding along fast enough to have a chance of breaking the World Record. Please click here to see their progress.

There is hope still, but all lies in the weather for the coming days. Thank you all for your great comments. They have been sent to Aodhán and I hope he’ll be able to check them soon.

Best thing of today: the guys saw a boat in the far distance. It’s bizarre in a way to imagine the excitement which is caused by planes flying over or spotting someone else out there on that massive ocean. Keep at it guys!! Barbados is not far anymore!!

Dehydration central…

26 Jan

Whilst the speed has not been as good as the team had wished for overnight, it was great to hear Simon in good form on this morning’s Heart breakfast show with Stuart and Natalie. To hear the reason why he was tied up and chucked over the boat and who he thinks he is in competition with for Rear of the Year  listen to the full interview here.

Mark shared both good and bad news with us in the 29th pod cast:×200.swf?callInView=99916&channelInView=&phlogId=41329&phonecastId=124825.

Good news is that there is only 800 miles left on the monitor and that good weather is predicted to benefit Sara G by coming night. The bad news is that the last few days have been some of the slowest yet, with little wind and swell. The guys are loosing significantly on the World Record daily and unfortunately the batteries on board are not being charged enough due to lack of sun and wind. The crew have had to make a hard decision to switch off the water purification machine and ration both their daily water and food intake as a result. The might of the Atlantic is massive and now is when your support is needed most. Leave your comments below this blog and we’ll make sure Aodhán will see them!

The art of ocean rowing

25 Jan

Impressive piece by Aodhán: Three of us here on Sara G (Simon, Ian and myself) consider ourselves to be rowers by trade and with a combined total of over 70 years involved in the sport there is plenty of experience to bring to the table.

Long before we pushed off into the ocean from Morocco we knew this was not going to be anything like river rowing but were confident that our strength as long serving oarsmen had to be of benefit to the speed of the boat. Now over 3 weeks into the crossing I can safely say there has been more to learn about ocean rowing than meets the eye. Our experience as river rowers has certainly helped the speed of the boat which allowed us to adapt quickly to the new requirements of movement. More importantly because we haven’t had much luck with following winds and swells so far we have been able to keep Sara G clipping along at a decent pace by rowing her like a river boat on the days and nights with flat seas – keeping us in contention for the record.

Surprise lesson number one came for us in the first few days of the trip – ocean rowing is in fact a contact sport. If there is one additional piece of personal kit I wish I had brought with me it would have to be shin guards. During those first few days we met some angry and unpredictable waves which threw us about like rag dolls. Every two hours on deck was horrendous with our oars hitting us like a couple of baseball bats from all angles or pinning limbs to the deck while the force of the wave tried to crush it. We looked a sorry state at the end of the first week with injured knees and hands and more bruises and gashes to the shins than anyone could count.

River rowing is often seen as the quest for the perfect stroke. In ocean rowing there is no such thing – just strokes, and a hell of a lot of them. There is no clear defined way to move the boat effectively – the river rowing handbook has to be thrown in the drink at this point. All those fundamental principles are quickly forgotten. No more long flowing strokes with quick catches and clean finishes – but rather better to just get whatever oar you can into the water and pull.

Depending on the conditions the best way to move the boat can be combinations of short strokes or rowing with one hand only. The sea has a funny way of toying with you out here – once you think you have established the best way to move the boat in certain types of conditions you suddenly find that it no longer works and have to find a new style again. There is more than one way to skin a cat and in ocean rowing there seems to be an infinite number of ways to move the boat – as a result the two separate teams of three have developed completely independent rowing styles and would find it hard to mix in with the other group at this stage.

One of the most enjoyable new skills we have learned out here has got to be the surfing. I never imagined that an 11 metre long boat weighing well over a tonne could ride breakwater the way Sara G does – when you catch a good wave it’s an amazing sensation and you watch the speed reading treble in a matter of seconds sometimes.  Our fastest surf so far has been 10 knots and I think it may go a lot faster still as I’ve been told that the boat has hit as high as 19 knots in the past. Moving around these big swells we have all developed an adept touch handling the boat while maintaining a fingertip light grip on the oar handles – something I would not have imagined beforehand.

It’s been a running joke on the boat asking each other what their old rowing coach would think if they saw them rowing out here – and it would certainly be funny to see if any of us brings some ocean rowing moves back to the river when it’s all over.

  • Fun update: Ian spoke in this mornings’ radio broadcast about male model and fellow rower Simon (see photo above). “Mark is regularly wanting to take photos, I think Simon had been out in the sun a bit too long and decided to strike some male modelling poses”. Radio DJ Natalie hinted that a calendar should be in the making!

Less than 1,000 miles and 11 days to go

24 Jan

Today must have been an amazing day. The guys have started the real count down to Barbados with less than 1,000 nautical miles on the clock. Mark did the maths in his latest blog update: “If things stay as they are in terms of weather conditions then that should mean about 11 more days rowing to go – or about 60 shifts at the oars. So only 120 hours each rowing left”. Put it that way and it almost sounds manageable.

The weather is still not really beneficial, but the guys are giving it their all and the result is that they are still neck-and-neck with the World Record pace. It’s going to be an exciting race to the finish line in Port St Charles, Barbados.

Mark was also the one talking to the Heart FM DJs this morning and talking about sore bottoms and stripping down due to the heat. If you want to see a sexy Simon in action, please click HERE – nice one!

In addition to striking sexy poses Simon also took the air with the 28th pod cast, talking about good weather forecasts and recuperating from smashed fingers and eye infections – luckily he’s back on track:×200.swf?callInView=99388&channelInView=&phlogId=41329&phonecastId=124232.

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