At the end of day 49 we are still going pretty well in the right direction with a good speed with 57 miles in the last 24 hours leaving us with 269 miles to Cayenne. If our daily distances keep stable then we could arrive somewhere on Monday morning. Off course also depending on the local authorities.
But there is still some work to be done. As far as Pascal has no authorization from the government yet we are on our own to come in backwards and rudderless with the last days a strong current of round 1 knot coming from the south-east and easterly winds of 15 knots. Because of that we have to row now out of our straight line towards Cayenne and try to get 50 to 100 miles in a straight line to the east of Cayenne. The last thing is to be blown over to the north of Cayenne. If that happens and we are on our own we are screwed!
Day 50: We attached a 70 meter 16 mm bowline at the aft of the boat. Well better bow functioning at the aft of the boat to gain some ground to the south for a better line into Cayenne. In about 16 hours, we gained close to 30 miles to the south; for now, that’s enough so soon we set course again to the west. With 230 miles to go hopefully arriving Monday morning in my beloved French-Guyana.
Rose starts to smell horrible. Worse than ever I would say. We had so many flying fish on deck and without noticing it, they start to rot everywhere in tiny corners. 12 hours long on deck you smell it all the time with every single breath you take. Disgusting. Especially when you slept for a while and open the hatch. We have to do something about it today, otherwise there is still the risk that we are refused entry into French Guyana 😊
Finally, good news. Because of the corona virus all boats are grounded and banned from going in or out to sea from and to French-Guyana. As my local friend Pascal has his own marine and fishing company and boatyard he understandably didn’t want to go out illegally to support us in the last part escorting us in so he had to apply for authorization at the authorities which had to send the apply on to the marine authorities on the island of Martinique who are in charge of these cases and today we got approval so it looks now that we can safely arrive! F*CK the Dutch embassy in Parimaribo! If I had listened to them, we would have been rescued now by a freight ship or tanker and my ocean rowing boat would have been lost to the sea!!!
As we come closer to South-America we leave the depths of the Atlantic. The closest coastline, that of North-Brazil, is now less than 200 miles away. The average depth of the Atlantic where we were rowing mostly of the time is around 4500 meters deep. At the moment we are closing in on the line that separates 3000 from 2000 meters.
Thursday the 23rd of April. The date that we planned to arrive in Cayenne to break the world record from Africa to South-America in 26 days. We were well on track and probably would have made it but our rudder got eaten by a shark. If we arrive on Monday that’s just 4 days slower. Not bad rowing backwards without a rudder. At 16.45 UTC we start rowing day 51 of this crossing and that’s a bit of a special day for me. Today is day 800 that I have spent on ocean rowing boats on oceans. Yep that’s a lot. More than two years. Not the ocean rower with the most ocean rowing days. There are two persons who rowed more than 900 days. The one with the most almost joined me on this crossing. I think he is at 968 days. And the 2nd at 937 days. That number will not change anymore cause that ocean rower died back in 1996 while rowing the Pacific. And behind me, there is a bit of a gap. Somewhere round 540 is number 4. If we don’t look at days but at miles I rowed by far the most nautical miles on oceans. As the crow flies, I’m coming close to 40.000 miles while the second one doesn’t come close to 30.000. That’s almost two times around the world at the widest point at the equator and I think I’m not done yet. Well better to say I know! This year was a bit busy with ocean rowing. Rowing 3 oceans in a year of which 2 oceans in 5 months. I’ll try to stay of the water now for 10 months till the next Atlantic group crossing in Rose in March 2021.
Everything falls into place. If we arrive on Monday the boat will immediately go out of the water onto a trailer and will be brought to Pascals boatyard to clean it and prepare it for boat transport to Rotterdam. On Wednesday the 40ft container will arrive so we can put the boat with a forklift in the container and seal it. We just have to see how long we have to stay in our private hotel with private swimming pool and private restaurant kitchen. Well there are worse places in the world especially after an ocean crossing. We will enjoy ourselves in the tropics. No doubt about that. The freedom of our ocean row has to be changed a bit for the corona restrictions that we are not used to yet. I just got them in for French-Guiana. Don’t know how it is in other countries but we have to download a form that we have to fill in every time on our phone when we leave the hotel. We can do that for 3 reasons. 1. To go to the supermarket for food. 2. To go to work if that’s not possible at home so that’s at the boatyard. 3. To exercise one hour a day not further than one kilometer from where you are staying.
In case you cannot show what you are doing outside of your hotel you get fined €135. The French police have done that more than one million times already!
It’s Saturday the 25th of April. We are closing in on Cayenne but we got more wind, waves and currents. Last night we got a lot of rain and according to the weather forecast that will stay to Cayenne. At 9.00 local time in the morning we still have 104 miles to go. We contact Pascal two times a day with our position, course, speed and distance but it is still difficult to predict around what time we will be there. For now, we think tomorrow evening late or round midnight but everything can change quickly due to circumstances. Like at the moment. The ocean floor below us rises quickly going from 2000 meters to less than 100 meter in 10 miles so in a couple of hours and that’s where the currents are the strongest doing as we speak 5-6 knots about straight to the west without having much control over the boat while we still have to get some further south. Let’s hope that we reach soon less deep water with less currents and that we get some control back. We aren’t there yet!