Sea Dragon the Hunter!
So yesterday was a lot of fun! We have been following the Great Pacific Race, well as best as we can with no internet. But before departure in Ensenada we worked out that we may cross paths with a tiny ocean rowing boat with 3 INSANE girls on it! Team Girls Who Dare, consisting of Orlagh Dempsey, Jane Leonard, and Vicki Anstey, hails from the UK and Ireland.
Those following our route may have seen some questionable steering yesterday as we were on a mission to try and intercept their course, hopefully before nightfall. Our shore team Eric and Shanley had been feeding us Girls who Dare’s position every 12 hours, So a bit of plotting and some guesstimates of their route and speed gave us something to hunt for. By lunch time, we thought we would catch them before dark, and the boys brought out their best helming skills and most focused concentration on watch of the whole voyage!
Little did we know the girls were in ‘beast mode’, rowing hard, so they were still 15 miles ahead of us when we got another position update at sunset.
We managed to get hold of them on the VHF first and had a little chat, the team are in good spirits and were excited to not be alone in this wilderness. We were all so excited to see them and began the chase to get closer. Tina and Gabbi offered them cupcakes over the radio, which it must have been torturous to refuse, as were my offers of anything from Sea Dragon’s spares, especially as their nav lights were not working. Instead they had strapped a torch (flashlight to Americans) to the top of the boat in its place. As we zeroed in on their position, we spotted a little white light blinking in the dark.
Next for us came to approach, in the dark everything at sea looks 2D, distance from a little light disappearing amongst the waves is impossible to judge, and these girls are rowing well! The last thing we want is to collide or get too close and cause problems for them. So we cautiously approached, relying on Maggie on Nav duty to expertly guide us in with the AIS and Radar.
Finally we saw them in our spot light light. Then lots of shouting, bell ringing, bad photo taking and, to be honest, a pretty poor attempt at using the fog horn from our boat ensued. Their boat was going well and looked more organized than us – Sea Dragon’s rails were decorated with Wade’s underpants.
As much as we would love to hang around and shout in the dark with them all night and keep them company, we did not stay too long. We didn’t want risk their safety and both of us were on a mission to get to Oahu. It was hard to hold Sea Dragon back – sailing downwind like this she can’t resist surfing the waves. I’m sure it was a bit of a relief for them to watch us sail away so they can get back to work and us back to sailing! So sorry it was so short and sweet ladies, but we had a lot of fun searching for you in the big blue!
If Girls Who Dare are reading this, our crew are still in awe of what you are doing, and we all owe you a beer when you get in! See you on dry land!
So yes you heard right, we have been out-adventured by the incredibly brave teams that cross oceans by rowing! Gabbi has a new perspective on the current luxurious living conditions on Sea Dragon and although her friends think she is on some crazy adventure, she is now blown away by the teams strength, resilience and is wondering how they survived in the 8m by 2m row boat.
These ocean rowing races are extreme taken to the extreme. They are in a tiny open exposed boat, with a little crawl space to sleep in if they can amid the constant rolling of the boat enough to make even Maggie sick I expect. Then on deck theres no shelter from the salt and spray, no sitting about with a cup of tea and cake, they row, a lot… Our crew have vowed never to complain again about getting too hot in the galley or that they were missing their double beds.
They are also unsupported, so they cannot accept any gifts or help from us, not even food, med supplies, tools. Their only propulsion is from the oars, no-one is following them in a safety boat, and they haven’t spoken/seen to anyone in over 40 days. From the start line at the Golden Gate Bridge to the finish line off Waikiki, the race is 2400 nautical miles of open ocean, but the rowers often have to row much further due to winds and currents.
This one I have to say was a little personal, I have followed the rowing for years and have been at many Antiguan rowing receptions when the Talisker Atlantic rowers have come in. A family friend of mine recently died far too young from complications with an injury sustained from rowing around the UK. So this one goes out to Andrew Mason and the family. Thank you to my incredible crew for allowing me to divert, burn some diesel (Thanks Pangaea!) and go and give them a good cheer on! Made my trip, and I think we made their day!