DESPITE a near miss with a ‘very large’ tanker, a Jersey duo attempting to row across the Atlantic Ocean have hit the half-way mark in their gruelling challenge.
Peter Wright and Steve Hayes – Team DragonFish – are taking part in the Talisker Whiskey Challenge and hoping to raise £50,000 for local charities Macmillan Jersey and Durrell.
After setting off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December with no previous rowing experience, the pair have now covered 1,700 nautical miles in 27 days. They have 1,300 to go until they reach the finish line in Antigua.
The duo are currently 28th out of 42 crews remaining in the race and are ranked first in the open pair class.
An update posted on their Facebook page on their behalf stated that they were worried their Automatic Identification System had broken down.
‘Recently they looked across to see a very large tanker bearing down on them. Unable to raise the bridge on their VHF, they both grabbed the fog horn and white flares ready to make as much of a warning as possible to the ship. Thankfully its direction changed a little and it passed by without issue, except for raising the heart rates of the fearless adventurers,’ they said.
The pair also celebrated Christmas and new year on the boat with their usual two hours on, two hours off rowing shift.
Earlier in the race, they were forced to drop their rowing shifts down to an hour at a time. This was because they had started to suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation, including hallucinations, as they struggled to cram in what little sleep they could in between rowing shifts.
Another update read: ‘If you are doing two hours on, two hours off, it feels like there are six miniature days inside a real day. Some opt to do three-hour shifts, mostly so that there are only four mini days in 24 hours – it somehow makes the day go quicker. But with one-hour shifts, you go through 12 micro-days. Having to wake up exhausted and drag yourself out onto the oars, there is no getting around it, that’s a horrendous shift pattern.’
Since day six, the pair have manually been making drinking water using a solar-power desalinator. However, this has since broken down forcing them to resort to manually pumping the water through the diaphragm instead.
During their last bout of poor weather, the duo were stuck in their cabin for four days. One update read: ‘The cabin becomes overheated at the best of times, and with two people in it, it just becomes a horrible sweat box.’
A number of chargers for their devices were lost during the bad weather and the solar panels used to power the boat have not been receiving enough sunlight to keep everything running. As a result, they have lost access to the music and audiobooks they might have brought with them, forcing them to row in silence.
Islanders can still donate to the rower’s fundraiser at: sportsgiving.co.uk/sponsorship/race/2165.