Eat, Sleep, Row, Repeat...
19° 50.67 N, 029° 58.37 W
Distance to Finish: 1814 NM
So how was Christmas? We had a lovely day phoning our families and unwrapping surprise treats and a Christmas cake from Neil's wife. Spoilt Grandads!
The dampener was that we lost both autohelms. For those not in the know, an autohelm is a device that attaches to the rudder and steers the boat on a specific compass bearing. Having been designed for yachts, the motion of ocean rowing boats doesn't really suit autohelms so they have to be swapped every few hours to prevent them burning out - hence why we have two.
In our case, a connection cable has pulled loose. Repairing it requires a tiny screwdriver, very good eyesight and a sustained period of concentration in a hot cabin whilst rolling around with one's head stuffed into a locker... all of which feels a bit beyond us at the moment! So we have opted for hand steering and decided this isn't such a bad thing. The autohelm is situated at the back the stern cabin which also happens to be where we sleep... a massive plus is that we are now enjoying more peaceful rest breaks without the hydraulic steering creaking and groaning!
Hand steering involves fixing our steering lines so the rudder doesn't move. Whist this doesn't give us the flexibility to 'ride the waves' as easily, it does mean we can continue to row in shifts with one person resting while the other rows. We also have the option to control the steering lines with our feet, leaving our hands free to row. We've not tried that yet as multi-tasking is tricky for us chaps at the best of times.
Our progress is slower than we'd hoped for as we're not getting much help from the wind. A good strong Easterly would really help, so if you could all pray to the windy gods, that would be smashing. The old joints are starting to complain but hey, we didn't buy our wings in the NAAFI so we'll just crack on...
Apart from a few aches and pains, we are both well and reasonably blister-free. Still no sign of whales or dolphins, but we're enjoying the adventure and the beauty of the ocean. The sunrises and sunsets are just breathtaking.
We're probably now looking at a 50+ day crossing, which means we'll miss a very important date in Antigua - Peter's mums 93rd birthday. It's a huge shame but it's still early days and we'll keep pushing!