Ralph Tuijn of Oceanrower.eu is rowing for the 9th time across an ocean and for the 5th time with a group from mainland Europe to mainland America in the legendary Rannoch 45 “ROSE” that holds after 5 crossings 10 world records and won the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018 edition. This time, we are aiming for at least 5 more world records.
Follow the Atlantic crossing of team Apple Pie on oceanrower.eu @ follow next expedition.
After a few days of preparations we, the boat and the weather, where ready for the start on the 4th of March at 17.45 for a first very interesting week.
We left Portimao marina and set off on a course of 215 degrees knowing that the first 24 hours wouldn’t be the fastest cause we had to deal with a side wind from the west. We could not complain with a starting day of 60 nautical miles and the rest of the week all days where in the 70’s and 80’s.
In the first night Livar was hit by a flying fish and not a small one : a serious size of 20-25 cm !!! Even small ones, I never had experienced in this area. Normally they start far beyond the south of the Canarian islands close the Cape Verde halfway of the crossing.
After 24 hours as forecasted, the wind changed from an angle in the back and the distances started to increase. On a nice sunny 3rd day, I was on my off shift when Livar said “look over here next to the boat two killer whales!” Yeah right I thought up here in the Atlantic go fool somebody else. This is my 7th Atlantic crossing on the trade wind route and never saw one so our viking is talking bullshit. But after Darragh also started talking in killer whale language I got interested and jumped up. WTF they where right. What a beautiful animals and what an amazing start of the trip.
The weather predictions where round 15-20 knots the whole first week and according to our weather guy that predictions stayed the same. We where rowing late afternoon on the 4th day till the wind and waves started building. We where surprised but it kept on building what grew with a pretty white sea around us with steep breaking waves. We made amazing speeds of 10-15 knots while surfing of waves but soon we started to dislike it cause the whole boat got flooded in 30 cm cold sea water what slowly had to find its way into the ocean again but above all we where cold and wet and with that the sleeping cabin also.
Luckily the heaviest wind and waves where gone till the problems with the autopilot started. The boat came a side on the wave we had to change the tiller arms meanwhile protecting the cabins from getting flooded and with hard work getting the boat back on course. Tiller after tiller failed and we had to go over on a backup autopilot system that worked. A few days later in calmer weather we could solve all the autopilot problems again so we have trust in them for the rest if the trip.
On day 4 we experienced also problem with the charging of the batteries or better to say discharging. The new solar panels and batteries are charging better then ever before but that’s the same for discharging. Normally in the long nights the batteries discharge about 1,5 ampere but if that’s suddenly unexplainable 8 then there is a serious problem so in night 6 we had to shut everything down except the autopilot and check the marine traffic round us old fashioned by eyesight again but the days after it worked perfect again.
We don’t want to get unnecessary into problems cause of this so we decided to have a quick stop at Lanzerote for a check where we aim to be tomorrow the 12th round noon.