15/07/10 13:00

•July 15, 2010 • 1 Comment

13:00 15/07/10 The weather has closed in and all local sailors are warning there are perils on the Humber! The swell looks huge and the driving winds would make further progress impossible. Even the local wind turbines have been stopped due to the severe gusting winds!! We’ve had discussions all morning…alot of them very repetitive but at last we have come to a unanimous decision…there can be no rowing for 48 hours! It does seem amazing that this decision has taken hours to get to when the coast guards told us last night that we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a couple of days! So where does this leave us?? Even though, upon reflection, we realise that our bad decision making and management caused our problems yesterday, we’re still in good spirits and want to continue the row. Time may not allow us to complete the journey to John O’Groats, but we want to still try and get as far as possible. We’re heading home for a 48 hour break during these impossible weather conditions, then back to Hull on Saturday to finish the adventure next week…..with a new GPS!!

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The Kiwi Connection II

•July 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You might have noticed a post here, The Kiwi Connection, where we included a photo of us that Barry and Sandra took of us as they chugged past us in their narrowboat. They’ve very kindly emailed us some more of their photos, which we’re looking at while we wistfully remember what good weather and calm water looks like!

We’ve included more of their photos – with big thanks to them – below for you to enjoy too, and hope they’re having a slightly less dramatic time than we’ve been having!

The Kiwi Connection

The Kiwi Connection 2

The Kiwi Connection 3

14/07/10 22:00

•July 15, 2010 • 2 Comments

My worst fears were realised! It was always a big call to get from West Storthwick to Hull in one tide … and a risky strategy as we didn’t have the experience of Paul Williams with us. It all started well: we were rowing up to speeds of 10 knots and enjoying being back on Oyster Shack. The decision of trying to get to Hull seemed good.

We turned the corner called The Trent Falls, where the Trent and Ouse join together to form the Humber, at about 3 o’clock. We were under the impression it was only about 7 miles to Hull and that we had a whole hour before the tide turned. The Humber bridge loomed in the far distance and we were still rowing fast! As I came off my shift, I almost hoped the ‘A’ team would bring us in this shift.

However we had somewhat mis-calculated the distance. Although we were still rowing at 6 knots, the hour came and went without even getting to the bridge!!

The team seemed to be ignoring the eventuality of our position. Kiwi was the first to say that we should moor up alongside some boats, but as we were still gaining good ground he was ignored!

I repeatedly said we needed a plan ‘B’, but the early trip problems of having too many chiefs on board came back to haunt us as – like normal – these warnings continually fell on deaf or ignorant ears and we all did our own things!

Speeds lowered and lowered as the headwind forced us to try and crank up the pace as we came under the hugely impressive bridge. Again, it seemed not everyone seemed to realise the urgency of our situation.

We swapped shifts again, and it was now 5 o’clock – a full hour after we’d been warned not to be on the Humber without mooring and the wind and rain came down. I was so relieved to get into solitary cabin, but remarkably we could still not see the marina – and we were still ignorant of the danger we had put the boat in.

I was just falling asleep when ‘bang!’ – for the second time on our trip, we grounded.

This time it seemed the rowing team were aware we would but gave no warning, The centre board was out and, before I had opened the hatch, half the ‘A’ crew had abandoned ship! They were up to their knees in mud with ropes deployed, trying to beach the boat!!!

The reality of the situation was that the water was coming in so fast that the boat would be dashed against rocks on the nearing shoreline within the hour!!

Fortunately, we were being monitored by the Humber Coast Guard, and within moments a rig was alongside us! Dave and his merry bunch of lads were fantastic. They got a line on us and carefully pulled us away from the danger.

It still took another 2 hours to be towed the couple of miles that we had failed to row: it had been a harsh lesson. Poor Paul Wiiliams’ first sight of us was being rescued and towed into the marina!!

We’re all ready to continue our journey. We need to get the boat in order today and not ignore the force 10 gale warnings! So it’s a days rest in Hull …

14/07/10 13:49

•July 14, 2010 • 1 Comment

13:49 14/07/10 We all seem in better spirits today. Maybe because we all sub- conciously feel we’re on the last leg of our ordeal or maybe because we’re all happy to be off Tiger and back on the Ocean rower, Oyster Shack! Anyway it doesn’t matter why….it’s just a relief! We had to leave the marina at West Storthwick by 11:15 to make the best of the tidal flow. The crew worked well together as Ian & Kiwi went food shopping including Matti’s treats and the rest of us concentrated on getting Tiger out and Oyster Shack into the water. Mark had brought up the boat behind the Defender and we quickly got the 2 boats swapped over! Once all the essentials were aboard I read Ben Kay’s motivational blog to the lads…with many high fives and shouts of ‘come on’ the blog did the trick…we were mentally prepared for the next perilous and dangerous leg. Thanks Benny…you were great to have aboard, I just wish it was two of the harder rowing days that you had joined us for!! We set off leaving my brother J to sort out the misbehaving GPS tracker and Mark to take back Tiger to Leicester ! We’ve now done a one hour shift each and have covered 13 miles…hopefully on time to reach Hull. Paul Williams our experienced off shore rower is not rejoining us until we reach Hull…and if we don’t before tide turns we will need to moor up somewhere! The real frightening thing about this is that none of us has put down anchor before…specially in a fast flowing estuary!!

13/07/10 22:00

•July 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

22:00 13/07/10

The day finished as it had started…with 7 tired men in a row boat!!

The weather didn’t help…being wet and miserable isn’t a great way to enjoy life!

Our original aim today was to get to the marina at West Stockwith…about a 30 mile row…but with weather closing in and the lock at West Stockwith shuting at 4pm, we changed objective to Gainsborough….oh dear what a mistake!!

We moored up looking forward to an early night at 6pm in Gainsborough only to be met by a group of youths. It was immediately apparent that if we left Tiger in the ‘secure’ waterways mooring till morning, it would have been out for a joy ride within minutes!! At least the kids didn’t hide this fact and it made an easy decision….more rowing!!

There are few moorings on this part of the Trent as it is tidal…so the days objective of West Stockwith became the evenings objective!!

Fortunately Andy had built quite a telephone rapport with the lock keeper, Neil, and he agreed he would open the lock specially for us at 8pm.

We got to the lock and we must thank Sue who came out in the rain from the lock keepers cottage and helped us in!!

Brother J has been a great driver today…adding a humourous twist to all our aches and pains! Also Sara, Paul’s WAG was a great cox on her second coxing day!

Tomorrow could be full of perils…the waterways guide quotes as follows; ‘Nowhere else in Britain will the navigator be exposed to so much water and so little bank. Many boaters, regaled with tales of the fearsome nature of these waters will do anything to avoid passage’!!

To add to our worries of this comment our experienced Atlantic rower, Paul, rejoins us after this stint…in Hull! We also saw a mini oil tanker style barge going so fast around a corner on the river that anything in it’s way could only now be used as firewood!

The weather forecast isn’t good..rain and wind for the next few days – and the wrong wind! We need Southerlys to blow us up the Scottish coast..we’ve now got to face cold headwinds from the North….exactly what we didn’t want!!

Tomorrows objectives: change boat back to Oyster Shack and row to Hull in one tide! Highwater is at 11am…we’ll then only have 6 hours to go 30 miles or we’ll have problems!!

13/07/10 14:20

•July 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

14:20 13/07/10 All seems sombre again! We’re all feeling very tired and therefore there is little banter on Tiger this morning. Even Ian, tongue in cheek, threatened to jump overboard and swim home!! It’s exactly 2 weeks since we left and 2 weeks of just rowing does get a little monotanous!! We’re all on schedule…Oyster Shack is coming up tomorrow ready for the final leg. So nothing too humourous to report today! Fortuanately my brother, J, has come to help with the driving duties till Thursday. Luckily he’s always cheerful and helping getting a few smiles! Again technology is failing us! The GPS is still stuck and this iPhone is a complete pain as I never seem to get signal. In the words of Ian…let’s just row!!

Any words of encouragement, jokes, or photos to get the crew smiling would be greatly appreciated!

12/07/10 17:00

•July 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

17:00 12/07/10 It seems the GPS is still not locating us – so sorry to you all who have been following us on that. According to the GPS we’re still enjoying the party in Leicester – nothing could be further from the truth as we have got the flow of the Trent behind us! We moored Tiger alongside a narrow boat called Tigress last night…hope they behaved! Then it was an early start at 7am. Sarah Wilkins from Lumbers joined us as add additional crew member to cox…but was easily persuaded to row and she has some power in those arms!!

┬áLast night we set a new speed record in the gig at 8.9 knots and with the same flow behind us today we made good ground upto Carlton on Trent just north of Newark. We’re all getting excited about the last leg. Mark is driving Oyster Shack up towards us and we expect our final change tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. Strangely I’m looking forward to getting back into the Ocean rower and getting on with the perilous last leg.