17° 50.20 N, 035° 49.82 W
Distance to Finish: 1484 NM
This week we cried FOUL! A few days ago we started to lose speed again so we hopped over the side to take a look and couldn't believe our eyes. Despite having cleaned the bottom of the boat a few days earlier, it was once again covered in growth (known as 'fouling') and was seriously slowing us down!
We treated Pegasus with antifouling paint and polished her before our departure. However, the Atlantic is a very nutrient-rich environment and those pesky organisms just love sticking to her bottom. (There seems to be general theme of bottoms on this expedition!)
After a good scrub our speed immediately leapt from 0.9 knots to 1.8 so we've learned a valuable lesson - we need to get overboard and scrub the bottom at least every 48 hours. It's even more important while conditions are still slow; a slow boat makes it easier for the growth to stick and it can literally turn green overnight. Neil's son, Rob, has put together this very cool speed chart, which shows the effect of a boat clean in stark terms!
Going overboard in the middle of the Atlantic sounds extreme but it's actually quite refreshing. The current calm weather system means the sea is reasonably flat and it's nice to escape from the heat of the boat temporarily and cool down in the clear blue waters. We do put safety first though - we are always clipped on to the boat via a long line and we keep a lookout for sharks!
Talking of sharks....
Don't get too excited... It might be our old eyes but our part the Atlantic appears to be empty! We've seen one dolphin who was very disinterested. We have heard an amazing tale of a whale accompanying our friend Kelda though. She is rowing solo (RowToRaise) and has reported a Minky whale, the size of her boat, swimming along just off the end of her oars for over a week. Incredible!
The weather is frustratingly calm, which means we are getting no help from the trade winds. Although calm weather sounds nice, what it means for us is relentless days and nights of hard, hard rowing. It would be lovely to have a bit more wind behind us and the chance to 'surf' down waves. Last year's race was much quicker due to the extreme conditions but the downside was that some boats suffered frequent capsizes - it's a double-edged sword!
The slow weather means our hopes of a speedy crossing are fading fast, which is making us think of our loved ones - many of whom are scrabbling around changing travel plans based on our ever-drifting arrival date (currently mid-Feb). As many of you know, Peter's mum fell and broke her hip just before our departure and we've since heard that she is back in hospital with an infection. On Tuesday, Peter did a 10-minute live interview via satphone on BBC Radio Solent, which gave him the opportunity to wish her all the best. She was thrilled to hear it apparently! You can listen to the full interview here via BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06xj5fz
Apart from that we are both well. Our bottoms and hands are sore form hours in the rowing seat but we are getting on very well with each other and keeping in good spirits. The only thing we'd love is more sleep. A two-hour rest break soon evaporates once you factor in eating, washing and general admin, so we are permanently tired and longing for some proper Grandad naps!
That's all for now. As always, please remember, we are doing this to raise money for three amazing charities: Royal British Legion Industries , Dreams Come True and Support Our Paras. EVERY donation goes directly to them, so if you inspired by our epic challenge, please dig deep.