Charlie set to arrive at 4pm UK time!

13 March 2013

If there is anyone in Burnham this afternoon, please join us at the RBYC where I will be playing a live commentary on speaker phone of Charlie Pitchers arrival into Barbados after 35 days of rowing across the Atlantic!!!! Latest guess is that he will arrive at around 4pm UK time! Come and join me hear him smash the world record to pieces!

Team CP

PS. Brace yourselves for a secret to be revealed shortly!

Day 32 – fighting to the end thanks to Deep Purple, Led Zep and ELP (and my daughter, Lottie)

12 March 2013

I was in a desperate state yesterday and so frustrated with the weather. Late in the evening, when it was almost dark, a bright bright white long tailed frigate bird passed by me so slowly and I could see it looking at me with wonder before accidentally being lifted sky high by a headwind. At this moment I could see the shape of a person with it's wings wide and the tails like legs! I never saw it again, but then the wind changed. Was this beautiful bird a messenger come to tell me the test was over?

Through the night, the wind built and is stable and strong, due to build more. It's like the first days of my journey. Hairy, hold on stuff and check the lifeline is secure! Soma has gone crazy and is bouncing and rocking all over the place, but generally in the right direction. She is like this now, as together, we are so much lighter than when we started. Hard work on the core and in co-ordinating the oars again. I'm smashed in the shins again, but now it doesn't hurt anymore, all I can think of is the last furlong. I've jumped the last fence and now can really imagine finishing late tomorrow sometime. My emotions are running all over the place, but I'm still watching the fluid, food and injury prevention. So with a little more energy and careful navigating around the top of Barbados, this incredible journey will be over and I feel lucky to have been able to do this and come out of it in one piece!

Norrie would say take the fight to the end, and that is what I've done. I never gave up and hope that he is watching over me, as he did last time round. I have to thank my daughter Lottie for telling me to put on Rock n roll music to get me going and for the last 15 hours that is what I've done and it works!! I'll carry on singing to Deep Purple, Led Zep, ELP.....to the end.

So far, I have used the allen key and a spanner to change the bearings on my seat wheels. I have not had to touch any other tool or make a repair! My nails grow extra fast out here...why is that! I've eaten two thirds of the food I was meant to finish by the end and have eaten three bars of chocolate. I still have two tea bags left and have only had one coffee. I have never felt in danger of my life, but have felt that things could go very wrong on a few occasions early on in the rough weather and the dreaded day 18 when I have never been so sick in my life.

Ships log – Creaming along at lightning speed bouncing on top of the waves, all the pogle waves are out again and the punk waves have rocked up, but we are all going the same way this time. My course is 244*T to the top of Barbados which is 87 miles away. I have a further 6 miles around the other side to my finishing point at Arawak Key just above Port St Charles and should get there very late tomorrow night.

I will continue rowing now to the end, have my snack bags and loads of water stashed around my rowing position and music in my ears, so all there is left to do is row this little boat until we reach the fial waypoint! I hope to do a quick blog tomorrow, but it depends how it's all going here. However, I will continue to blog after I reach the shore as I will reflect on many things about this extreme challenge and how this time, it has changed things for me.

Thank you every on of you for following and being part of this.........which is not over just yet! ( as I have just got smashed in the side by a huge wave!!!)

Day 31 – Almost home but my bottom is suffering!

11 March 2013

Well I just don't know what to expect next. Again, the weather is not helping me at all and I've managed very little mileage as a result of resting when I should have been rowing with some favourable wind. After a rest, the wind went to the South and I had to row against the wind. I'm getting used to this now. I get down when I remember the days I was clocking big miles, but that was a long time ago. As with my first Atlantic row, I find myself knocking on the door but just not getting one single break to give me one more last shove to the post. Today, I have rowed with no wind at all, but in the last few minutes, a new breeze has set in. WILL THIS BE THE NEW WIND we have been waiting for? Lets see.....

The good news is I am almost home with 158 miles to go and I know I can prepare for one last long haul, but not just yet as my body is suffering, especially my poor bottom!

I saw two big Yellow fin Tuna by the boat and got a photo. They were stunningly beautiful. Oh, and I've just managed that fresh water body wash. Next one under a shower!

Apart from my tantrums, I am still in good mind and being careful. I cannot imagine ever doing anything harder than this and just can't wait to see land soon. I am very lucky to be out here whilst others are watching me, but the mental and physical fight I've been through is not something I would recommend to others.

Day 30 – Working with the wind with 217 miles to go

10 March 2013

I am trying to work with an ESE wind to get me up on the approach to Barbados as the weather is set to turn sometime between tonight and tomorrow morning. It should (!) come fro the NNE, then settle down at NE and build to a good breeze for the last leg of this journey. Wouldn't it just be great if this happened as I am putting in extra miles to line myself up. The reason I need to do this is because I don't want to risk being in the Lee of North Point and would much rather have some sea room to play with. As I write there are 217 miles to go, so I think I'll be ashore on Thursday afternoon.....

I am actually more concerned with looking after myself as opposed to racing to the finish. I can't pull a decent stroke now as my strength has diminished, but I work very hard at keeping in balance and pulling through the centre of the boat lightly each time and this is as good as putting raw power into every stroke. Sometime, in the last few days, when I was knocked over, it must have pushed the collar up one of the oars by 40mm which I didn't notice. I have been wondering about trying to keep this balance and applying even pressure to each oar....wondering why one side of my neck was in agony. Then I notice my thumbs were not touching as usual. looked at the oars and saw the problem. This took seconds to fix and the feeling was completely different as you would expect. But through the uneven nature of ocean rowing, every muscle group gets a solid work out time after time and eventually the only thing to do is....rest. I am doing that now with a view to making as long as possible to restore my energy levels ready for the final push.

I managed to drain the power yesterday through not being alert to procedures (tiredness) so today I am being very careful to get the voltage backup to 14v before long. I was really looking forward to having a hand body wash today, but it will have to wait until tomorrow now as I need to make more fresh water. However, I did manage to have another shave a few days ago, so although very smelly and sticky, I look smart! By the end I will have had three body washes and three shaves......soap dodger eh?

I just can't wait to see land, but as we all know, let's concentrate on now and not then!

Day 29 – ALL GOOD NEWS

9 March 2013

ALL GOOD NEWS!.....I only needed to deploy the Para anchor twice last night as the wind clocked around and I was then able to drift in the right direction later on when I took breaks.

I saw a ship who came up behind me and passed by no more than half a mile from my port side. It as the Capetown Lonestar Cargo ship and wasn't very chatty on the VHF, but we did make contact long before the scene, so no worries. It was the first time I also smelt diesel and general smells that come from a ship, long after he disappeared into the night. Then whilst lying down in the early hours this morning, looking out of my hatch, the brown bird landed on my spare oars not 3 feet from my face and just looked at me with a "I am not good to eat, so just let rest a bit eh?". This was just what I neede and it calmed me through and through and made me remember there are good things happening here and he is trusting me. So I took a few photos of him and let him rest whilst I did. He flew off an hour later.

This morning, I saw a bunch of whales not far from the boat, maybe half a kilometre away. I watched them spouting for a while before they moved on, then this afternoon, a cruise ship, The Aidaluna, Went by the opposite direction about 3 miles from me. I had a really good conversation with the Captain and he told all the passengers about me and passed on the website details to them before we said our good byes.

The wind has been a little better today, although very light. I have rowed many hours over the last week and this afternoon, my body said "enough" again, so I have been lying down to relax my muscles for three hours. My back is really sore now, but we are moving in the right direction and I know there is only one more bad day of this light stuff before a new strong NE sets in early next week. In time for me to finish!

I have had a host of help from locals about approaches to Barbados and it looks as though I have to be careful coming in as there are reefs there. A special thanks to Jonathan Cornelius at ABSAR for his advice and also to some locals who I believe are expecting me. Brian Wells is coming out to North Point to guide me in for the last 6 miles to Arawak Jetty where I will officially finish. The wind is meant to be about 20 knots NE when this all happens, so it could be a frantic finish. ETA???? I can reasonably say I will finish sometime between late Wednesday and early Friday which is enough to get the World Record.

I have 272 miles to go and better get back onto the oars again.

Thank you to all of you who have offered advice on this last stretch and and please keep those messages coming in.....I need them. One very lonely, tired man here who can't wait to read them once a day.

Day 28 part 2 – Now in the right frame of mind: bring it on

8 March 2013

I am of the right frame of mind and am thinking how Luke Baker would. Break it down, plan each session and execute. Repeat again and again until you get the result. I am now on my Para – anchor just 318 miles from the finish, but the wind is against me so every time I stop, I drift in the wrong direction. Since this afternoon, the wind turn Southerly again and the time now is midnight, although there is little wind. However, I've smashed my body getting here and it needs rest. I am rowing 5 miles forward, then deploying the para anchor and resting for two hours, then moving on again until there are changes which should come late tomorrow or the day after.

What a way to finish this off. It feels as though I'm being watched and things are being done to prevent me from getting there....well bring it on and what's the next test please? Appropriate spirits here and knowing that this time next week I will have a cool drink in my hand.

Day 28 – Low in spirit, low in body

8 March 2013

Oh I wish I could be high in spirit all the time, but It's just not getting better. I am now hove to and watching a Southerly 10 knots wind blow over me. My headway is nil towards Barbados. I have 339 miles to go, but now the weather is predicted to be adverse until Monday/ Tuesday when a proper breeze is meant to set in from the NE. It is stinking hot, I am shattered from my last big session hoping today was going the be the big day for new wind, but now I am low in spirit, low in body and all I can do now is wait for any good signs.

I have fought the last few weeks with all I have including a bit of humour, but I really cannot believe how unlucky I have been with the weather in the second part of this row. How can it happen twice to me???

Day 27 – RIP Harold the Autopilot, but good news: I've found the Hammer Endurolytes!

7 March 2013

A bit of sad news today...on top of a nice wave, Harold the Autopilot, couldn't take any more in the scorching heat and burnt out. His timing was bad as this put me into a spin and it took me a few seconds to work out what was going on. Anyway, he worked non stop for 2,300 miles without a break and I am ever thankful for his grand efforts, especially in the rough stuff early on in our voyage. Onwards and forwards, I've taken the extension off Harold's neck and put it on my spare, Eddie WO, who has taken well to it and is now steering me, hopefully until the end which is only 400 miles from this place we'll call Harold's Patch. I hope Eddie WO is up to it as I haven't got another spare.......

There is a little wind behind me and the mileage is up a fraction, I am really in the groove and working with the weather to move forward as fast as possible in what has been a few weeks of adverse weather for record breaking! I still have to remember to keep my body alive as so often, once an endurance athlete can see the end and imagines the end, his body goes into shut down and all the wheels fall off. I must keep on giving this my utmost priority as there are a few problems going on physically already.

And now the good news....the Hammer Endurolytes I've been looking for were under where Eddie WO was stored, so I've now got heeps of flavoured sports supplement to add to my water, which is fantastic. Maybe these head aches I am having will go now? The sun is still high and sapping everything I have from me, but I'm in good spirit. The bad news .....I've run out of breakfast meals and have 4 tea bags left. I have enough pudding to make up for no breakfast, but not ideal as I've never been a pudding man! I remember on my last journey, a good curry first thing in the morning went down well, so all is not lost.

Still not a single sign of other human life, which does surprise me as I thought maybe a ship going south west would have crossed my path at some time. Wildlife is quiet aswell, although the little brown bird still turns up every evening and does the anti clockwise fly by before moving on again.

I mustn't think about the finish.........which is not far now and I estimate this will be my last Thursday as sea! just need to keep nursing everything and Soma and I will make it. She is looking tired, but absolutely everything on her is in top working condition, just very salty. As for this old salty, I need to be really careful with my backside as it is not looking pretty and is very tender. I'm going through alot of wet wipes and Arbonne Herbal Nappy Cream. I pray I am a good nurse and won't get too many bad sores! My forearm tendons are like violin strings and do hurt, but I think some tube grip on my wrists might help, yet to find some in the first aid box...Weight wise, I think I'm down about 10 kilos, maybe more as my corset belt gets bigger every day!

I challenge Mr Munro to a weekend in Marrakech with a hire car, as I don't believe it is harder than this.........but I need to check this out to be sure, so I feel there's another challenge forming. Of course Mr Munro will have to do it with me.

Battle on!

Day 26 – listening to music is much better than thinking!

6 March 2013

As I finished my watch (rowing session) at 2100 and came below, a fair wind has piped up and is helping to push me along ever so slightly at about 2 knots. This was very much needed as I have put everything into the last two days to get over the adverse conditions and soaring heat and really do not have any more in me. This is like the end of term, trunk packed and going home, sort of mood. I am excited about having a good rest and being able to relax and enjoy watching the boat tail between the waves coming up behind it as I sit in my cabin and look out of the hatch exhausted but with a nice packet of Kung Po Chicken in my hand. In the last two days days I have slept for no more than 4 hours and rowed for over 35 hours which is startling, but I can do this from time to time. However, I really do hope that is the last time as I approach the last part of my route. With 460 miles to go, I can now afford to take it a bit easier knowing the wind is forecast to be fair for the next four days.

For the last three days, I have not heard any music, because my mind has been busy and my thoughts are entertainment enough without the music!! However, today I got the Nano back out and put on the favourite playlists and realised that listening to music is much better than thinking!! All my family will love that. Again and again I come back to The Who, I think because Billy and I were playing it in La Gomera just before I left. Billy is a wonderful person I met in Exmouth earlier this year and because of him, I'm sponsored by The Sun. They have been fantastic in their support and enjoying this as much as everyone else is. They have an answerphone at their office I'm allowed to talk to, so now and again I pick up the phone and ring the number, wait for the beep and rant off about how happy I am, how pissed off I am, what has been happening...everything. It's a good way of getting things off my mind. I hope they don't publish some of them! I can't wait to see Billy again in Barbados. He will be there to see me through.

I'm seeing a lot more birds now now and a few days ago, I saw a Marlin and was lucky enough to get a photo of it. At about 8 feet long, I'd say it was a young one. Beautiful. The nights aren't so good at the moment as there is hardly any moon. Because of this, rowing at night time is really difficult. Without my head torch, I can just about see things and get my balance right, but I miss so many strokes and hurt my shins that I've found it easier just to keep my head torch on, look at the numbers on the instruments, get dizzy doing this, but at least see where I can plant the oars, a little better. Still, the whole process of rowing at sea.......rubbish! Only now and again will I ever get some rythmn. If Olympic rowing was the greyhound racing of the sport, ocean rowing is definately banger racing at Wimbledon! Be prepared to be knocked around all over the place and when you finish, you will not be looking pretty.

But the the ocean is magnificent, it's a wilderness and it's beautiful. To be out here is very special. I am all alone and have to make it work. The sea can be kind and when everything is in sync, you are at one with the ocean and it's this which makes us obsessive about being here. Mountaineers must think the same way. The danger and the wilderness and it's just you facing it, to reach the top or cross the sea gives you a unique sense of achievement that no one else will ever have. It's this that makes you want to come back for more.

I better stop there as I need to eat and rest. I do hope people find this is a great cause for raising money for Great Ormand Street Hospital and The C Group Charities. If you think so, it is so easy to klick on the donation page and make a small donation which will go along way to helping other people who are having a harder time than me here!