Day 15 Race Report

Posted on June 24, 2014 in Battleborn, Boatylicious, CC4 Pacific, Clearly Contacts - Row the Pacific, Elsa Hammond, Fat Chance, Great Pacific Race 2014, NOMAN, Pacific Warriors, Project Flight Plan, Uniting Nations


LEAD BOATS: Winds from the NE clocking to the NNE @ 10 to 14 knots. Seas from the SSE @ SSE 6 feet / 13 seconds.
MIDDLE BOATS: Winds from the N @ 12 to 18 knots. Seas from the S @ 7 feet at 13-14 seconds.
BACK OF THE FLEET BOATS: Winds from the NNW @ 16 to 24 knots. Seas from the NNW @ 9 feet / 8 seconds.

As you are reading this post, you are perhaps sitting in a comfortable chair, looking at your computer screen in a temperature controlled room while sipping a cup of coffee. Or you might be at your local coffee house, reading this on your mobile device as you decide between a breakfast sandwich and a bagel with the choice of lox or maybe it’s just cream cheese for today. Either way, when you’re done reading you will go about your daily routine. You don’t really give a second thought to your refrigerator stocked with a variety of food and beverages, having a microwave to warm up tasty treats in a moment or your ceiling fan that keeps air circulating for you. Later on you will curl up on your pillow-top mattress, lay your head upon some memory foam pillows and perhaps during the night you’ll get up, wander down the hall to the bathroom and create the need to flush the toilet. These are some of the comforts of home.

Our rowers have given up these creature comforts for the next several weeks and are slowly adapting to life without them onboard their tiny rowboats. In most cases everything from bedroom to living room to bathroom is being shared with one, if not three, additional people. There is no privacy. There is no escape.

We have learned that even though teams went through extensive preparations for their journey, they are pretty much making it up as they go for their daily duties. The stories from our second wave of rowers sound familiar as they learn the lessons our first wave learned about a week before. In turn, we get some insights from our first wave of rowers as to what lies ahead for our second wave.

For Sami Inkinen on board Fat Chance Row, the “initial shock (this is impossible!) is over” and our married couple is getting use to their new home. Inkinen lets us know that even though the divorce-o-meter is still at 0.0, life on board their boat Roosevelt is “uncomfortable, different and slow (any little task takes 10x the time it’d take on land eg changing clothes) but it is where we are now.”

Teams are finding that cooking is not easy. Elsa Hammond / Elsa Hammond’s Pacific Solo Row provides us with a great description of what her kitchen is like on board her vessel Darien.

“I’m getting quite adept at ‘speed cooking’ – trying to time my food preparation between waves. I take a good look out towards the waves and wait for a quieter patch, then quickly open up my ‘cooking’ hatch, and snatch out my stove, gimbal, gas canister, and bag with lighter. I balance them between my knees and quickly close the hatch up again before a wave can break over it.

“Then I put everything together, carefully holding onto loose bags and bits and pieces (at the moment I’m tucking them under one of the broken oars while I cook). I choose an expedition meal out of another hatch (using the same wave avoidance method), and check the amount of water I need. Tucking that under my foot, I fill the stove with the right amount of water from my water bladder – again trying to time the pouring between waves so I don’t spill everything. While the water heats I open up the meal and remove the desiccant sachet, and usually refill my drinking bottle at the same time.

“Once the water has boiled, I pour it into the meal and stir, and then close the pouch up and tuck it behind the broken oar while I put all the stove pieces away (again, trying to avoid waves). This has been mostly successful so far.”

In reading the reports from our all girls team on Boatylicious, one might think that they have been visiting the spa as the “steam room” is often mentioned. This is actually the air tight cabin where all four of the girls are often found trying to fix oars, eat their meals, change their clothes and sleep, if possible. At times, all four of them will be in the one cabin when gigantic waves make it impossible for them to be on deck rowing. Their blog describes their steam room as a place …

“where floor space is about the size of a one man tent with 20 days of food, all our personal kit and our electronics panel. It’s also designed to be watertight so has all the ventilation of a plastic bag…”

These are, however, rooms with a view. Team members tucked inside their cabins can watch as wave after wave crash over their team mates who are out there rowing, desperately trying to make progress toward Hawaii. We have received several reports of watching the sun set or rise from the comfort of these confined quarters, usually through the same wall of water. And at night, teams keep an eye out for vessels while talking with passing ships on their radios.

These little spaces are home and do provide comfort for our rowers.  Hammond summed up well the best part of the day while at sea with this comment:

“It’s so lovely to lie down in my cabin, sore and aching, after I’ve cleaned the salt off at the end of a long day, and read everyone’s messages. Thank you – you keep me going.”

Keeping clean on board is important, but also a challenge.  For Fat Chance Row, Inkinen tells us that it wasn’t until day 5 that he washed himself for the first time. “Disgusting, but we were too scared to even try it ‘on deck’ earlier” he reports.

From the Boatylicious girls we learn that “it’s cold and wet out in the Pacific and having been continuously soggy since the race started the inevitable bottom chafing has begun.”  Keeping as dry as possible is very important while at sea. If skin never dries, it prunes up like when taking a long bath. This can make your skin softer and more susceptible to damage by salt chaffing, creating painful open sores in areas subject to most pressure. This being the case, rowers try to keep themselves as dry as possible but in the damp conditions our crews are currently experiencing, this can prove to be difficult.

The elephant in room regarding this report is the whole bodily function / bathroom situation. The Battleborn boys give us a rather detailed report of the challenges they have been facing in regard to using their bucket, which is their toilet, on board. Their shore team states that they “went into detail about the toilet conditions…I won’t repeat them on here but it sounds like they have mastered a technique! – as for Dan’s [Kierath] apparent stage fright, he is well over that and likes to talk about the boat toilet quite a lot! We are all wondering how that is working.” Wonder no more … click here for the story.

The weather is easing up for all our teams. Our front teams are getting warmer as our teams toward the back are getting a bit drier. As teams warm up they are able to take in more of their surroundings. Dolphins and whales have been spotted. Some birds have come along from time to time and teams have even tried to adopt some pets as some wild life tend to hang around them for periods of time. But it’s not all pretty out there on the great Pacific as we learn from our Battleborn boys.

“One unfortunate thing that we have noticed is the amount of rubbish floating around the Pacific Ocean. We see fairly large chunks of rubbish floating by all the time. I’ve heard about the oceans being polluted – but for some reason it makes it more shocking when you see it first hand. I keep having these elated moments where I think that I am so lucky to be so far away from any human contact and I could not be in a more remote place, but then a big chunk of polystyrene floats past and brings me crashing down to reality. I’m going to try and help do something about this when I get home – it’s pretty horrible what we are doing to our planet.”

As you finish reading this report, and perhaps that cup of coffee, think about what you might be able to do today to keep our planet and oceans clean.


Solo Rsacers:
Project Flight Plan: Withdrawn
Rowing 4 Reefs: Retired
Elsa Hammond: ROWING – Position 8; 2048 NM to finish, Rowed 301 NM
Row for Hope: Retired

Pair Racers:
Clearly Contacts CA: Withdrawn
CC4 Pacific: ROWING – Position 5; 1908 NM to finish, Rowed 468 NM
Fat Chance: ROWING – Position 7; 1999 NM to finish, Rowed 290 NM

Four Person Teams:
Battleborn: ROWING – Position 2; 1610 NM to finish, Rowed 674 NM
Boatylicious: ROWING – Position 6; 1959 NM to finish, Rowed 242 NM
NOMAN: ROWING – Position 3; 1758 NM to finish, Rowed 531 NM
Pacific Rowers: Retired, Rowed 751 NM
Pacific Warriors:  ROWING – Position 4; 1811 NM to finish, Rowed 190**NM
Uniting Nations:  ROWING – Position 1; 1519 NM to finish, Rowed 751 NM

** The miles rowed reflect the data from when their tracker was reset.