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Here we go blog readers - the concluding blog entry from 'The Reason Why' which wouldn't be complete without a poem! Also, I've now received photos from Paul - lots of them!! They will take a while to upload onto this site so bear with me as it may take a day or so to get through them all and, believe it or not, I do have a life outside of 'The Reason Why'!!!!!  No doubt photos will continue to be received over the next few weeks, especially once Steve and Paul return, so keep checking this site for updates.

 

Continued thanks to everyone who has donated money to Cornwall Hospice Care. The target that I personally wanted to reach in the Paypal account before Paul and Steve finished the race has been met and exceeded - brilliant news and all thanks to our generous supporters. However, don't go thinking that just because the target that I wanted to reach has been achieved and exceeded, that further donations are not needed - you couldn't be more wrong!!  In order for the Hospice to run, it needs to raise £5million every year, of which more than 80% has to be met by voluntary contributions, so you can see why all financial donations are so appreciated.

 

If you haven't donated already, please do so - there's still plenty of time. Just click the button that says 'DONATE'. Don't forget, everyone who donates will have their names immortalised forever on the 'Sponsors' page of this website, and Steve and Paul will be able to see who's donated and who hasn't when they return to hot and sunny Cornwall - ok, well, perhaps not hot and sunny but it will be soon - summer is coming!  I spoke too soon - just seen the forecast and it is for rain, gales, and then getting colder.  Paul and Steve will definitely feel a tad chilly when they return to Cornwall having spent the last two and a half months in the sun!!

 

Plans are afoot for a party of some sort once the two rowers return and I've already received a couple of suggestions for a venue. Details will be posted on this website and everyone who donated will be invited either by phone, email or in person. Watch this space!!

 

That's all for now.  I hope you've all enjoyed the 2007 Atlantic Rowing Race - I'm off to the opticians to get some glasses - spent too much time on the computer over the last few months and my eyesight is now non-existent!!

 

Bye all,  Jen x

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Tuesday 29th January

Simon Chalk and his 5 man boat 'Oyster Shack' have just arrived.  We gave them the same heroes welcome.  Unfortunately, they norrowly missed the record but still took a fantastic 37 days so there will be much rejoicing tonight.  'Pendovey Swift' is expected later in the week, and 'Komale' at weekend or just past.

Thanks again for showing us so much support and so much interest in our blog.  Please keep the donations coming in - Cornwall Hospice Care needs your support.

Now I suppose I can't finish without a poem:-  

Our Journey's End

So there we are

Our journey's end

The Mighty Mo

Our new found friend

 

Two thousand miles

Five hundred more

From Gomeran dock

To Antiguan shore

 

Sometimes we stalled

When seas were big

At others moved

Like a buttered pig

 

We kept our heads

When things looked glum

Like wolfish stew

And the final rum

 

We chased the wind

It chased us back

From Spanish Isle

To the Rastus Shack

 

The shooting stars

The night come soon

The Grinning Turk

Our part time moon

 

Beneath the clouds

Beneath the sun

And fizzing waves

That smack your bum

 

That Christmas came

And New Year went

The rum we had

Was heaven sent

 

And then the day

We saw the land

Emotions you

May understand

 

Then here we are

That welcome night

An English Harbour

Sheer delight

 

I can't recall

A better sight

A bacon roll

And a beer that night

 

And like this row

The end has come

Farewell my friends

I'm off for rum

 

(Any publishers interested in "The Reason Why - The Book" ..... we're open to offers!)

 

PS:  The view from the hotel window, in front of the 6 foot fence, includes: 3 chunks of concrete rubble, an old coil of water pipe, a rusting step ladder, and yes....both a scabby dog and a scabby cat (well, they're not really scabby) .... and not a sign of the sea anywhere ..... bloody perfect!

Thats it Jen, see you next week.

Love Steve x


Saturday 26th January

So here we are- 2 men, 1 boat and 2 buckets (actually 3...we had a spare), Droops has clocked off as watch pig, and Gus has said his last goodbyes and gone off to do greater things and line greater bins!

Antigua....wow!  We first saw it 26 miles out and frantically worked out whether we could get in before closing time!  We had doubled up rowing the night before to try and pull Antigua within a days row - 50 mile- ish.  We didn't know we were to get a 3 knot helping wind all the next day, Saturday, which improved our ETA in Antigua by two hours, plus we had a joker to play, as we were on The Reason Why time and still two hours ahead of Antigua.  Suddenly we were not only going to make Saturday but we were going to have a Saturday night out!

We spoke to ABSAR (Antigua and Barbuda Search And Rescue) and Woodvale at 20 miles and 5 miles.  We were met by 'Sara' and a second yacht carrying our families.  Thanks to Nick from 'No Fear' for the second yacht and the ABSAR rib, with Amanda and the finishing klaxon.

Once across the line, which was far from easy, we received the most incredible and totally unforgettable welcome.  As we rowed into English Harbour, suddenly the inky black night was burst into light by all of the rowers who had already arrived, leaping up from the ramparts of the old fort all carrying hand-held orange and red smoke flares, airhorns deafened us and echoed around the whole of English Harbour.  Every yacht suddenly burst into life with horns and lights and shouts of welcome.  The 'Pura Vida' boys, the 'Unfinished Business' girls (now 'Finished Business'), the 'No Fear' boys and even those pesky 'Commandos' were there to welcome us.  As we came up to dock, hundreds of people cheering and shouting and handing us beer and bacon rolls, family all together, those long awaited hugs, a welcome committee from the Antiguan and Barbudan Tourist Board and a dozen photo calls - well I suppose it was a Kodak moment. I have to say that we were totally overwhelmed and it has to be one of the most special and memorable moments of my life, and we will never forget it.  Difficult to stand up, we wobbled like drunken sailors and proceeded with everyone, without so much as a shower, to the Galley Bar till 1.30 am.  It was simply perfect, and had to be done, and done right!

We achieved a crossing time of 55 days 12 hours and 3 minutes, arriving in Antigua at 8.03 pm and, guess what, they even had the rum!!!

Finally, as we have a holiday to enjoy with our families now for a week or so, on top of all else, it turns out that 'The Reason Why' has completed the 200th successful ocean crossing EVER!  They have made quite a fuss over us about this.  We may get a certificate or something, and it has just about put the icing on top of what was already a memorable and incredible journey.

Thanks for the support of so many, especially our families, Droops, Gus,Amanda, Tony and Simon at Woodvale, Stu, Andrew and John on 'Sara' and, of course, Jen, the third member of 'The Reason Why' team, still back home in Cornwall, who was our land contact person and also the person responsible for building this website, the publishing of this blog, photos, etc.


Saturday 26th January (by Jen)

Phone call received at 8.45pm(GMT) - All well aboard 'The Reason Why' and only 8 miles left to row.  Paul phoned to give me an update whilst Steve was busy rowing but he still managed to shout out bits and pieces!  They are currently moving at a speed of approximately 3mph so expect to cross the finish line before midnight.  Their bums are very sore and their hands are in a claw-like state, but other than that they are fine.  Paul's knee has given him no problems whatsoever and Steve's back has been absolutely fine.  They have lost weight:- Steve recently put on his white shorts that he wore back in La Gomera and Paul reckons there's now room in the shorts for both rowers!!!  Once they cross the finish line, they will be met by the Barbuda Authorities. Paul will be letting me know their official finishing time which I will publish on this site.  

The laptop inverter is still not working due to it getting drenched along with bedding, clothing etc. but Steve has said he will send an update blog in a couple of days.  Paul has promised to try to send some photos through as well.  Think that's all for now - will keep everyone posted with news as and when it is received.


Saturday 26th January (by Jen)

Message received at 1.50pm(GMT) - land has been spotted by Paul and Steve, and 27m left to row.  Two very happy rowers!!

Saturday 26th January (by Jen)

Well, today is hopefully the last day for Paul and Steve on board The Reason Why.  It is anticipated that they will make landfall about midnight tonight, giving them a race period of 55 1/2 days - the plan was to take between 50 and 60 days so they are right in the middle of their target.  As soon as I hear from that they have arrived and the official time taken, I will publish it here although no doubt you, like me, are all watching the ARR site several times a day - do we have nothing else to do??!! ha ha.

There are plans afoot to hold a party for Paul and Steve once they have had time to adjust to normal day-to-day living back in Cornwall.  Those people who have donated money to this project will be receiving an invite.

In the meantime, enjoy the last day of the day for Paul and Steve.  Steve will no doubt be doing an update for this blog once he has had a few beers and has recovered from spending 55 days on The Reason Why with Paul, Mo, Gus, Droops and the Grinning Turk!!


Monday 21st January

We were being pounded by huge waves coming over the aft hatch and, at times, fizzers would smack the side of 'The Reason Why' sending white foam over us.  In fact, we think our nicknames should be 'squalls' because we had every one of them in the Atlantic come down on us yesterday and last night!  

Anyway, poor Gus, the black bag gorilla, was having to hang on for dear life to the cable ties that he was attached to on the rail on top of the aft cabin.  We'd heard him swearing and cursing under his breath in his true mid-Atlantic gibberish.  Suddenly ...... an enormous wave crashed over us, soaking us yet again, but when we went to put the debris (usually Go Bar wrappers) in Gus, to our horror, he was gone!!  We were distraught but ........... when we looked behind us in the middle of the boat, there he was, sitting there grinning, as cool as you like!!  How wind and wave contrived to deposit Gus back on board after ripping him overboard is a mystery, but there you are .... Gus's little adventure .... a true story too!

Droops (the pig) is sunburnt I'm afraid but still has the coolest oink and still tied on with bind-a-twine!  We actually did see a frigate bird both yesterday and today - ruddy great things, look like pterydactyls!! She was called Freda.

We have had a second visit from Stu in the support boat 'Sara'.  I don't think he could believe that a rowing boat was moving like a buttered pig towards Antigua, manned by two old gits with a combined age of 97 years! - neither can we!!

Well done to Pura Vida.  We still wear your wristbands and, as true supporters, may well claim a pint when we make land, hopefully at the weekend.  Seriously lads, very well done.

The box that charges the laptop has just blown up so this may well be the last blog until its all over - we'll have to see how the battery lasts.  So I'll end with my prayer to Mo that I said to her as we set out:-

Prayer to Mo

Mighty ocean, hear our prayer

And grant us leave your world to share

That we may see your majesty

And gaze upon your beauty free

They’ll be no victory or defeat

If you allow our worlds to meet

And let us safely be as one

Together till our journey’s done

Mighty ocean, you’re the boss

Please grant our wish and let us cross

 

So that's it - still some rowing to do as we head for the '250 nautical miles to go' mark.  Our families are arriving in Antigua and we can't wait to see them and ourfellow rowers.

 

Thank you again for the endless messages of support and for all the monetary donations in aid of our chosen charity, Cornwall Hospice Care.  Hope to see most of you soon.  Love Steve and Paul


Sunday 20th January (by Jen)

No updated blog yet received from Steve but instead a photo received from Bex, his daughter, showing him having his head shaved by wife Chris before leaving Cornwall back in November 2007. The Gardner family (apart from Baggins, the dog!) leave Zennor this evening to make the long journey to Antigua.  Arrival date for Steve and Paul aboard 'The Reason Why' is estimated to be in about one week's time.

 


Wednesday 16th January

We have had a couple of bad nights since our last blog and the mileage has suffered but we have got through that now and are picking up on the winds and sea which are nearly in our favour ... well, better than before anyway.  We've passed the '600n/miles to go' mark and have completed 2002 n/miles since the start.  We are now closing in on the '500n/miles to go' and should reach this point either late today or early tomorrow.

We have had more brushes with tankers.  No 6 was not a problem although we didn't see him until he was level with us in broad daylight! Ship number 7, however, was a cruise liner which was right up on our tail last night, so to speak.  I called the vessel, which was named 'Black Watch' according to our AIS radar, and spoke to someone who was a spendid fellow.  He took our website details and wished us good luck on getting to Antigua.  The ship was a blaze of lights about one mile away and it flashed spots at us.

Last Sunday saw us at sea for six weeks - don't ask me how that's possible or where the time's gone.  Important news is that we've found choccy biscuits and have introduced twilight dunking which, of course, avoids meltage  We now look forward to our twilight dunk since the rum has gone  - had I mentioned that the rum had gone?!

Now, not that you really want to know, but .... I've had a go at naked rowing!!  Just had to be done for someone with a similar physique as James Cracknell!!  Paul should eventually recover from the sight ..... with therapy!!

On the wildlife front, this picked up about 20 minutes ago when  two whales, possibly pilot whales, came and frightened the life out of me by surfacing and blowing a spout about ten yards from me, but they were gone before Paul could get a picture.

Yes, it's poem time again.  When not rowing and on deck (that's promenade or poop), this is where we are:-

The Bear Pit

 

It may not have a pretty door

Or curtains round the hatch

It may not have a window box

Or roof tiles, slate or thatch

 

It may not have a garden

Or flowers planted bright

It hasn’t got a dining room

Or one small table light

 

But this place is our home now

And has been seven weeks

We christened it 'The Bear Pit'

Because it simply reeks

 

Clothes stand up without us

Towels crack when folded down

The mattresses once brightly blue

Have all turned beastly brown

 

In daytime it’s a sauna

In night time it’s 'The Pit'

Strewn about with sweaty clothes

And two old beastly gits

 

But she has been our haven

Gainst tempest, wave and gale

And we both know our 'Bear Pit'

Would us never ever fail

 

It may not have a pretty door

It may not smell that sweet

But all who enter, never fear

No safer place you’ll meet

That's it.  Love to families, friends and supporters.  We shouldn't be that long now.  If I could just stop Paul from singing and get him rowing, we'd be laughing!


Friday 11th January

Hi everyone, been a bit busy on the oars lately to be able to write a blog.  We've been making up a few miles but Mo and the wind conspire to make life difficult.  The cunning Old Grinning Turk has been playing away and we haven't seen him for a few nights until last night when a mere slither of a thing appeared and cast very little light as we hurtled backwards into the black inky void.  Big black clouds rained on us in the wee small hours as well.  On top of everything else .... the rum has gone!!

We had a very frustrating night last night making all speed for the '750 n/miles to go' mark, but the wind and sea delayed us.  We are, at this moment, within 4 miles of it as at 11.35am local time (1.35pm with you).

Now, we don't want to tempt fate but the facts are that family accommodation must be booked in Antigua now so a few minor requests have been sent home when choosing a hotel, or whatever:-

  • no amusements, fairs or games that involve any undue or random movement
  • DEFINITELY no gym with rowing machines
  • nowhere with a hatchway or alarm clocks
  • no food out of bags, no food or drink you add water to, no bloody noodles on the menu
  • no laptops, especially ones that bounce up and down uncontrollably
  • nothing salty, especially water, in fact ...no water
  • no so called 'hi-tech equipment' that keeps you awake bleeping all night for no damn good reason
  • no damp towels or damp clothes
  • no headlamps
  • no large buckets
  • no refillable drinking bottles
  • no wet toilet paper
  • no forks without prongs and no spoons with prongs
  • no gps crosstrack error
  • in fact nothing with an 'l' or an 'r' on
  • no fully inclusive outings, especially NO BLOODY BOAT TRIPS , and finally NO SEA VIEW!!  I'll even pay for a view of the grottiest rear back yard with rubbish bins and a scabby dog chasing a scabby cat.....other than that....I'm easy!

My turn on the oars so I'd best go and relieve Paul.

Thanks again for all your texts and support - sorry if not all of them get answered. Love to family and friends, really do hope to see you all very soon now, love Steve and Paul

P.S. Sorry Jen, forgot to say hi, here's the blog. x


Sunday 6th January

Hi all, and sorry for the delay.  An update blog entry for you since 2nd January:-

We have now been at sea for five weeks.  We had strong winds and big seas on 2nd January but since then Mo has sort of calmed down a bit, although the wind and sea haven't been in our favour hence the struggle to get past the '1000 n/m to go' mark which we did at 6.30am today.

Yesterday was very hot and Paul cleaned the bottom of the boat in a flat sea.  There wasn't much on the boat's bottom but we like to keep our bottoms clean!  Incidentally, it's our bottoms that are causing the most discomfort at the moment.  Every time one of us finishes rowing, the other is greated by a 'Jim Royal' "my arse".

We've had visits from Trinni and Toby (the tropical birds) and more notably the support yacht 'Sara' who took pictures and had a chat for about 20 minutes before moving off to the next boat.

Picture this:- a man just awoken from his second attempt at two hours sleep, just sitting on the rowing seat .......a great slapper of a wave hits the side of the boat and soaks him all over!  It was 2.15am straight after a rain storm the like of which descended on him, and you can understand what dejected means! But, I got over it!

The old GT is up to his tricks again and only now a slither of his former self, but the idiot didn't rise until 6am - just before the sun!

As we carry on plodding towards Antigua, I will leave you with my latest poem, the inspiration for which came from my daughter Rebecca:-

The Problem With Land

 

There isn’t any water

And everywhere's so still

Where’s the fun in drinking tea

That you never get to spill

 

All your clothes are dry not damp

Your towel is never wet

There’s room to wash, and nasty spots

You hardly ever get

 

There’s space you can stand up in

Without a smack on head

You don’t have to scramble through a hatch

And there’s room for two in bed

 

There’s people you can talk to

Or visit them by car

Or even walk there using legs

But maybe that’s too far

 

So what's land got to offer

Cities, trees and sand

But it hasn't got an ocean

That's the problem with the land

 

Love to families and friends, and thank you for the hundreds and thousands of messages.


Photos taken by Support Vessel 'Sara' on Thursday 3rd January 2008  (Thanks Amanda!)

 


Thursday 3rd January (by Jen)

I have today heard from The Reason Why that the support yacht, Sara, has paid a visit to Paul and Steve this morning.  The guys were very pleased to see some new faces - the first time in four weeks!

The support crew took some photos which will hopefully be published on the official ARR site soon so keep a look out for them.  I will try to get copies for this website too.  (Now received and shown above.)

When Sara left The Reason Why, she was off to find No Fear, and apparently Paul and Steve were quite sad to see her sail away again!


Wednesday 2nd January

Hello everybody.  Mo is on form, but the trade winds are blowing so we mustn't grumble.  However, typing this is very difficult and uncomfortable, and stiflingly hot in the cabin.

Tuesday 1st January

All is quiet on New Years Day.  Mo has let us go a little quicker and although baking hot, we are making all speed to get to that '1000 to go' mark.

 

Happy New Year to everyone, especially our families and the thousands of people following our progress. Can't type much more now - very difficult to type in this bear pit of a cabin, but this is very apt and suits our thoughts.

Monday 31st December

Those ghostly old apparitions seem to be looking even older and they still hang about in the hatch covers.  We got to the illusive halfway point today, apparently,  although there is some confusion over the mileage.

 

Every ……

 

Every stroke is 10 yards further

Every wave is 10 yards more

Every breeze is 10 yards nearer

Every day is nearer shore.

 

Every second brings us closer

Every minute on the foam

Every time we travel forward

Every yard is nearer home.


Sunday 30th December

At midday today, we have been at sea for four weeks, and we haven't seen another living soul since - weird! We were cast adrift in a 23' open boat with no cold drinks, only salty water; no cheese or ham (the first item on the menu of international cuisine), no chocolate or sweets (we forgot to buy any in La Gomera), and the plastic cutlery that we have is rapidly running out of prongs hence our forks are now more like spoons - just as well we broke the spoons!!  Oh for bread and a pork pie, oh perishable substance we covet thee!! But, unlike Jack Sparrow, we have still got the rum!!


Saturday 29th December

A Day In The Life

12 Midnight:- Steve: 2hr row.  Paul: prepare and repair bum.

2am:- Paul: 2hr row.  Steve: prepare and repair bum.

4am:- Steve: 2hr row.  Paul: prepare and repair bum, eat a Go Bar.

6am:- Paul: 2hr row.  Steve: prepare and repair bum, eat a Go Bar.

 

Change-over lingo:- "your turn old mate, yes no problem, see you in a couple of hours, thanks."

Actually heard as:- "Uhh,  what? mmmhh, umm, bahhh bug ba ba nnna."

 

8am:- Steve: 1hr row. Paul: get breakfast for 1.

9am:- Paul: 1hr row. Steve: get breakfast for 1 ( if Paul's left any!), 

10am until 1pm:- alternate hourly rows, listen to music, raid snack bucket.

I like to play "Woke Up This Morning" by  the Alabama Three to start each day's rows (the theme from Sopranos).  We cook ourselves lunch individually now at about the 2pm/3pm shifts so as not to stop rowing, and then continue rowing into the pre-night at 6pm when we stop for a sundowner - a tot of rum, and the highlight of our day. Then it's back to the hourly rows till midnight, and then we start the whole routine again. We cook our own dinners at about 9pm/10 pm.

The only other thing worthy of mention, besides trying to write this blog in a revolving sauna, is .... the  bucket!!!  At some stage during the day, we have to become performing monkey acrobats and magicians as, in turn, we have to perch on a plastic bucket steering the foot steering with one hand, hanging onto the boat with the other hand and hanging onto the bucket with our thighs. And all the while, Mo tries her damnest to throw us off the bucket ..... and the bucket off the boat!!  We then track the Grinning Turk across the sky, if he bothers to turn up.  Last night he came up at 2.30am.


Friday 28th December

Still no wildlife apart from Pete the Petrel, who sometimes brings a mate. There is also the fish...Dorado I think, or is that beer?  They follow the boat and, at night, catch in the lights of our headlamps, flashing like a silver blue ballet all around us, and with every oarstroke tumbling over a myriad tiny phosherescent jewels....I feel a poem coming on....but not today.

Thursday 27th December

Still no wind, heavy old Mo, backs and bums suffering, but the cheese melts good and, unlike Captain Jack Sparrow, we still have the rum!

 

On a whim, Paul decided to go fishing last night with his £1.75 hand line from Lidls. From the decision to fish, dropping in the line, catching fish, losing fish, catching second fish, filletting fish, frying and eating fish - half hour tops so no problems for fish out here. I don't know what it was, but it was bright shiny yellow with a blue tail, and it tasted good.

Today is day 25 and mileage wise we are heading for halfway hopefully by New Year, then hopefully a bit quicker run in, but we'll see.


Wednesday 26th December

We had an early visit from Trinni and Tobago - two very nice tropical birds who popped by to see if we were interested in the job at Rastus Island as second palm tree or, if it looks better on the passport, Hammock Holder First Class. I respectfully declined saying we were on route for Antigua. "Too busy for me" said Trinni, "full of touristy seagulls."

 

The calm weather continues, very calm, its like rowing an old Gloucester sow uphill through treacle. This is not a buttered pig situation, but at night the old grinning turk moon quickly became a star, if that's possible?  He illuminated the otherwise inky blackness by fighting his way through a million freshly baked harvest loaves, a three square mile Bakewell Tart, a fish the size of Cornwall, and a three hundred foot rampaging stallion in full gallop....at least that's what the cloud cover looked like. He then shone a moonlight trail on our exact course - it was pretty special.

Tuesday 25th December

We ate the weevils - they were better than the biscuits! Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for the hundreds of text messages - sorry we can't answer them all.

 

We opened our boxes from home which included three Southern Comforts (take note: - I like this, if the beers off!), three ports, red wine, champagne, and rum. Are they making a statement do you think?

We had an incident in the early hours of Christmas morning - the Sea-me and Radar alarms started sounding and there was our sixth tanker, the "Hoegh Sydney" doing 17.8 knots and coming within four miles of us.  We sat and watched her go by at 3.30am on Christmas Day.

We had our favourite steak boil-in-a-bag, drank rum, rowed....the usual sort of Christmas - not!   Mo allowed us a very calm Christmas night which was nice. So many messages from home, thank you all so much.  We'll try not to let you down.

 


Monday 24th December

Plodding on and reached the 1000 mile marker - good of Woodvale to put a neon palm tree in the middle of Mo to tell us.  Rumour has it that this palm tree is the estranged onemissing from Rastus Island, but that's just a bit of mid-Atlantic gossip.

After rowing all day, we decided to start tapping the weevils out of the boat's biscuits ready for tomorrow's lunch. Then, I wrote a poem just for Keith:-

Christmas On The Atlantic

 

It was Christmas on the Atlantic

The wave tops as white as snow

And they bounce and they roll and they fizzle

At the will of Mighty Mo

 

The Christmas lights were missing

No holly or a tree

But I wore a big red Santa coat

‘Cos the bugger rained on me!

 

It was Christmas on the Atlantic

And it’s not the same as land

‘Cos peace and still and silent nights

Mo just can’t understand

 


Saturday 22nd December

We are bouncing along the Atlantic Highway today - not exactly comfortable but going the right way!  Night comes so often here; there is no morning or afternoon, just after-night and pre-night.  

 

New development:- I am writing this very quietly as we believe The Reason Why is haunted .... every time we glance into one of the hatches we see an apparition of an old tired-eyed, sad faced gentleman with a bushy beard.  We've both seen him and funnily enough, he looks familiar to us both somehow!

 

Just a note about the start: Bill, one of the South Africans, is also a mad Douglas Adams fan and had asked for boat number 42.  Unfortunately for him, we got there first but the last words anyone said to me at La Gomera were from Bill which he shouted across the startline to me, as I was reciting my prayer to Mo actually.  Bill said: "So long and thanks for all the fish" - another D.A. book.  Who can tell me who or what said these words in the book?

 

Hi to Richard and Graham at The Tinners Arms, thanks for message.  Hi to all at The Gurnards Head, Charles and Andy, Rachel, Krish, Ogz of course and everyone else. Robbie and Scottie, thanks for the messages. The other TWATS, JL, thanks for the chart, Colin .. be good!

 

Merry Christmas to everyone, especially families gathering without us.  See you all soon.


Friday 21st December

A rough, blowey and choppy night - I may never sit still again - and I'm sure my first meal on land will get thrown all over the floor!

 

A note to Trilby:- Don't worry, we tested Gus with chocolate biscuits last night and he passed, so it's up to the Keira Knightly Suite with Griselda for Gus!

 

We now have 142 jobs for a calm day.  As we haven't had one yet, we need a week of them to get everything done!  Every morning as the sun rises, we proclaim: "It's a new dawn", with hope anew etc, as the heater slowly restores her warmth to this wet world.  It reminds me of a Douglas Adams passage from Hitch-hikers:- "Each morning the sun drags herself up over the horizon, hauls herself across the sky spreading a little warmth here, a little light there, and sadly sinks below the opposite horizon eleven hours later with a feeling of totally wasted effort".

 

Hey, Amanda, the moon stayed up till 4am-ish - have you pulled rank?  

 

Must go and put suncream on Droops - he's fading!


ROWERS SECOND

The Cornishman Newspaper - 20th December 2007

Zennor gig rowers Steve Gardner and Paul Harris have moved up into second place in the cross-Atlantic rowing race made famous two years ago by Olympian James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle.The pair, who both row for the Zennor Gig club, have covered more than 700 miles of the route between the Canaries and Antigua in their boat, The Reason Why, and trail the leaders by more than a day.

Supporters can check progress on the web site at
www.atlanticrowingrace2007 . co.uk.


Thursday 20th December

It lashed down with rain all night last night.  We didn't think for one moment about the 30 revellers from Zennor Gig Club eating chicken and chips washed down with beer and blackberry wine at the Waterside Meadery in Penzance!! What would we do with chicken and chips when we've got dried aardvark and essence of dead dog to eat?!  Mind you, at 4.10am, the thought "I hope it chokes them" did flit across my mind - but not for long, good turnout chaps.


Wednesday 19th December

We have turned south at last. It was a wild old night but have finally got beyond the 20th parallel and seem to be in the Trades.  We reckon only a mere 1805 nautical miles to go!!  There are not waves here, just monstrous mountainsides of water but they are going our way thank goodness.

 

As we get on with our journey south and west, there is one final thing to report.  The great dunker biscuit robbery for whom the prime suspect is Gus the Black Bag Gorilla - we hadn't got any fresh lycees you see.  If it turns out to be Gus, this will damage his chances of a romatic liaison with Griselda, the other Black Bag Gorilla frequenting the 'Keira Knightly Suite' (alias the forward cabin).

 

FAO Robbie:- you TOG, put your reply address in the text message and I will try to reply - got no number here, thanks mate.

 

More soon, love to all, Steve and Paul


Tuesday 18th December

I have to start with an erratum (things I got wrong last time):- the frigate bird I referred to wasn't, it was a red billed tropic bird but funnily enough, it's name was still Freddie!  Secondly, and someone should have noticed, that on Rastus's Island what's the use of a hammock with only one palm tree?!

 

Today was the calmest day so far with no wind, no Mo, no sound, no wildlife ...nothing .... if I can get Paul to stop singing a medley of 'The Lonely Goatherd', 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing', 'Down At The Tube Station At Midnight' and 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' !!!

 

Very hot again today and trying to make progress against the sea was hard work.  Paul took this opportunity to clean the bottom of the boat - I'm not ready for this adventure yet.  As Paul said, it's four and a half miles deep and it takes a cannonball one hour forty minutes to hit the bottom ....... how does anybody know that??!!

 

Old GT Moon was at it again last night but the stars and the shooting stars are incredible.  Several people have asked for more poetry - those who know me will tell you that's a silly thing to do!

 

A Thousand Million Stars Of Light

 

All of God’s creation

Is looking down on me

A thousand million stars of light

On us upon the sea

 

The waves provide the music

In this cathedral of the night

For shooting stars and meteors

And the moon gone out of sight

 

All of God’s creation

Is looking down on me

Perhaps we’ll find ‘The Reason Why’

As we go across the sea

 


Tuesday 18th December (by Jen)

I have just phoned 'The Reason Why' for the first time - am not looking forward to the phone bill now!!  Anyway, all is well on board, and both Paul and Steve are in fine spirits, although the temperature inside the cabin is 83 degrees ... and that's with both hatches open!  Having gone in the wrong direction recently, they are back on course but are experiencing some headwinds which probably won't affect the boats that are further south.  They are therefore expecting their mileage to drop for the next few days.  They have today given the hull a clean off as there was enough wildlife attached underneath to slow up their progress.

 

They both have sore backs and bottoms although nothing too severe, but their hands are holding up very well.  Oh, and sore feet where the straps keep rubbing even though they are wearing shoes.  Expectations before setting out on this row were that there would be more extremes of conditions, i.e. some very flat days and some much rougher days, but they seem to be experiencing lots of medium-rough days which provide enough movement that you can't stand up or put a cup of tea down anywhere in case it spills.  Generally speaking, it is hard work but nothing worse than they expected, and they are enjoying the experience.

 

The days go past quite quickly, but the nights seem to take forever because it gets dark about 7pm and not light again until 8am.  During their rest periods, they have to eat, sleep, plot charts, wash, etc so it never seems long before it's time to take to the oars again.  They are very pleased with the progress they are making, especially considering they are not racing and certainly not rowing full time.  The main priority remains to make it safe and sound to the other side of the Atlantic, and so they will continue trundling along at a sensible and moderate pace.  They both stop for an hour to eat together at breakfast, dinner and tea - all very civilised aboard 'The Reason Why'!  No sightings of anybody else, i.e. other boats or support vessels, since leaving La Gomera, although they did see a tanker recently which passed a bit too close for comfort.  

 

Talking of comfort, I asked if there was anything they needed (meaning info, bearings, etc) ....... the answer:-  some new forks and two pints of beer!!

 

They were extremely pleased to know that their website is receiving so many hits, and that friends and supporters have recently donated more money to their chosen charity, Cornwall Hospice Care, via Paypal.  The amount of supporters and well-wishers is quite amazing and has far exceeded their expectations.   


Monday 17th December

It has been slow, hot and hard work on the oars today, but we are going the right way.  We had an encounter with our fifth tanker ship just now - no radar, no AIS, no SeaMe! That's three tankers out of the five that haven't had the equipment they are supposed to have.  Anyway, no problems, we've seen them coming and no sweat.

 

The GT Moon (Great Tropical, or Grinning Turk!) came along again last night arriving two hours before the sunset but it stayed around and lit the night sky up lovely.  At one point, it hung in the sky gold with a scallop out of the top side and it looked for the world like The Holy Grail!  I was ready to forgive it all, until the daft sod went down at 1.17am, leaving us nearly seven hours of night as black as pitch.

 

FAO Amanda:  Can Woodvale do something about this rebellious moon situation?? Or are they on a three day week??

 

More soon when Mo and the charging laptop allow.  Love to all and thanks for the tremendous support - it's been a bit overwhelming really ..... but please don't stop!!


Sunday 16th December

Today, Mo is still messy but we are going the right way now!  We are heading for the second mark which is about 540 miles on, where we can only imagine there is a little roundabout called 'Rastus's Place' with one palm tree, a hammock and a sign saying 'Inter Ocean Tradewinds Freeway',  'Keep Right For Antigua',  'Have A Red Stripe'!

 

We had a big fry-up this morning ....well, a boil-in-the-bag-up really, then got chased by a couple of angry looking squalls.  Fortunately we managed to avoid the worst of them although a bit of rain was like a welcome shower in this heat.  The sweat is running off me as I type this.

 

Big news - today we saw our first flying fish, a little shoal, or should that be flock?  Anyway, we haven't had one in the boat yet.  We had a good night on the oars, good Mo, and good weather.  We had been avoiding eating the wolf-fish as it just didn't sound appealing but, at last, I tried some and guess what? .... Yep, it's bloody awful!!  I gave mine to Mo!  What is wolf-fish anyway?


Saturday 15th December

Hi Jen, Sorry for the delay in sending our blog entry to you.  Mo has been a little temperamental and typing was not an option.  Anyway, here we go with the weekend's progress.

 

With a Messy Mo and going the wrong way, we tried to strike a 'happy medium' and were soon surfing 15' waves!  We had a disaster tonight ............ we broke a prong off the eating fork!! (And since then, we've lost the other two as well!!)  There are no mornings here, only after-nights.  We hadn't realised that we would have 13 hours of darkness every day, and only 11 hours of light.  By the time you've recovered from the night, it's always afternoon and then it's nearly night again!


Friday 14th December

A much better night.  We ate later and watched the usual rubbish sunrise ..... that could stop breath! .... before getting on with the business of making everything hot, sunny and bright.  More praise for Mo - the forecast for the next four days is as we are now, which suits us.  So, as another day in paradise without wildlife heads towards another rubbish sunset that could also stop breath, we'll say thanks for all the support, including the kind words of Trilby, partner of Chris who rowed with Clint in C2 in 2005.  

 

We did make a discovery last night - a distant relative of the La Gomeran albino bag lizard arrived on the boat ... the nocturnal mid Atlantic black bag gorilla.  He crawls up over the aft cabin after dark, stares at you for 12 hours then disappears .... weird eh?  The tropical moon is the same as before, only it comes up before the sun sets and goes down soon after - somebody needs to talk job description to these 'ere moons!   

 

More news soon, but in the meantime ....... another poem, hastily penned, following publication of the first one on the ARR site:-

 

In The Clouds

 

They march and dance across the sky

Their poses all in flight

Majestically they float and show

Ethereal delight

 

All the faces ever born

Imagined, real or not

Are here for all the world to see

In the land that time forgot


The Cornishman Newspaper - 13th December 2007

Two Zennor Gig Club rowers currently lie fourth in the biannual Atlantic rowing race made famous by Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle.Steve Gardner from Zennor and Hayle's Paul Harris set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in their self-built boat, The Reason Why, just over a week ago and have already completed 370 miles.  They hope to take between 50 and 55 days to complete the 2,500-mile trip to the finishing line in Antigua and raise as much as £25,000 for Cornwall Hospice Care.  Their specially-designed boat takes its name from a line from Cornwall's unofficial national anthem, Trelawny.

The duo have rowed together for more than 10 years and finished a creditable fifth in the World Pilot Gig championships at the Isles of Scilly last year.  A total of 23 boats set off with 15 competing for the pairs title.  Speaking from a satellite phone on board, Steve said the pair were blistered, black and blue from being hit by the oars but were still laughing.  He said: "Last night, we had a good night and rowed right through the night.  We did alternate one-hour shifts until midnight followed by two-hour stints until 8am and we appear to have made some headway.  The wind has dropped a little but the sea is still choppy and it is hard to put two strokes together."

Supporters can send messages of support at the website
www.the-reason-why.co.uk and check progress on the official website at www.atlantic rowingrace2007.co.uk

Thursday 13th December

Several milestones came and went today:- the 500 nautical mile line was crossed, and in the early hours we crossed 23o27'N which puts us in the Tropics - yippee ....... still bloody chilly at 4 in the morning though!  We also discovered that it is possible to fall asleep whilst rowing!

 

We must remember to make a sacrifice to Mo, who is being wonderful at the moment, with gentle following seas.  We thought a box of Pringles would be a suitable gesture but then we ate them instead - but we have more!  Beautiful days, cloudless, ethereal or otherwise, so hot - strange to think it so cold at home.  And Christmas doesn't exist here .... bah humbug!

 

The tuna shoal turned up .... well, Tommy Tuna did, yes, alright, it was just the one, but it jumped right out of the water just as Paul and I looked up. More wildlife arrived later when a frigate bird arrived just as I was trying to eat a half hundred weight bag of peanuts.  Freddie the Frigate gave us quite a few passes - he must have thought to himself: 'couple of old Janners out in a boat ..... must be some mackerel about' - too bad Freddie!


Wednesday 12th December

Do you realise, after such hot days, just how chillly it gets at night?  And another thing, why are the nights pitch black, apart from the stars? .... no moon!  The moon comes up like a grinning Turk at about 5am, an hour or so before the sun comes up!  What's the point of that?

 

Making progress on another baking hot day with waves that are not big but are making it tricky to stay on course ..... and still no mackerell!!!  We're going to the Tropics now - perhaps they have a moon?!

 

Love to everyone, as always, especially Chris, Sam, Bex & Ogz, Dawn, Jake & Danielle.  See you all soon.


Tuesday 11th December

Hi Everyone.  It's hot ......... damn hot ........ I mean, it's daaaammmn hot!!  We've kept plugging away on the oars, which is all we intend to continue doing.  We had a tired night and didn't get even the little bit of sleep we needed but, hey, we got over it and we burst into the new day with porridge, Twix bars and peanuts - ideal!

 

Big lobby waves have kept knocking us off course and 'The Reason Why' steers in this sea like an old bucking Gloucester bull pig!  Talking of pigs .... a big mid-Atlantic oink from Droops (pig mascot) who has survived the rough weather so far.  He's enjoying himself and I'm making sure he has plenty of suncream - nothing worse than a sunburnt snout!   Big hi to everyone in Lostwithiel, Wombwell Homes, Hotdog and The Globe - bit short of text messages from you lot (hint, hint) .... or have you sold my desk and moved??!!

 

Still no sign of any wildlife, except for Pete the Petrel - I think he's got a thing for Droops!!


Monday 10th December

A hard night last night.  Although calm, we were tired for some season - can't think why!  But today has been just the best day yet - blazing sunshine from sunrise to sunset (which is just happening as I write this, by the way).  Porridge with strawberries is a winner for breakfast.

 

Mo has been at her calmest yet today, letting us chug across her surface all day with hardly a wave.  We have a couple of forthcoming mini landmarks (should that be seamarks?!) in the next few days, i.e. the 500 miles point to cross and the Tropics to go into at 23o27'N.

 

Some people may be questioning why we are further north than the other boats - well there is a simple answer to that my friends .... looking for mackerel - what else?!

 

Thanks for the messages - keep them coming.  Love to friends and families.  More blog soon, Steve and Paul.


Sunday 9th December

Paul was pleased today as we passed within eight miles of the first waypoint that he worked out back at home - good shot!  That having been done, we have resolved to stick to the original route and go with the wind we've got which is taking us straight for Antigua.

 

The sunrise was a beauty again today.  No more wildlife as yet but the sky makes up for it.  And not just the stars at night but the clouds during the day - great white fluffy ethereal clouds with every face or animal, mythical or real, in them.  They are amazing and we both love to lay in the cabin on our off-watch and stare up out of the top hatch.  I have never seen anything like them and there is nobody else here to see them with us.  I shall write a poem ... or seven!  Oh, and Paul saw 2 UFO's last night!

 

12 noon has now passed - so that is one whole week at sea ...... wow!


Saturday 8th December - Part II

Steak for dinner tonight - the best yet, but the chocolate chip mousse needs some work!  We have settled into our routine of rowing, rowing and rowing! 16 x 1hr shifts and 4 x 2hr shifts through the night.  We now eat breakfast together after the 8am shift, lunch after 1pm and dinner as the sun sets after the 6pm shift.

 

Mo has settled down a bit and calm seas through the night have enabled us to gain better progress.  We just turned all the boat lights off and the whole majesty of creation was up there in the sky in front of us - not the sky full of stars like at home but ten times as many, with shooting stars every little while including one that is the closest I've ever seen.  We watched it burn out almost right down in front of us - brilliant!  Funny to see Orion rise here as I know it is plain right over the back gate at home right now.  Night is like a magic carpet ride through space since Mo has calmed down.


Saturday 8th December (Received from Steve on Saturday 8th)

Last night, we had a good night and rowed right through the night.  We did shifts of ‘one hour on, one hour off’ until midnight followed by ‘two hours on two hours off’ until 8am, and we appear to have done some good mileage.  The wind has dropped a little but the sea is still choppy and it is hard to put two strokes together.  Our knees are black and blue from being hit with the oars and we have blisters on various fingers and toes all well plastered up, but nothing too serious.  We are both well and still laughing!

 

We set waypoints at the start of the race.  Leg 1 took us to El Hierro, and Leg 2 took us almost to where we are now.  In about 40 miles, we have to turn right at ‘Little Mo’s Roundabout’ at the centre of the universe and start Leg 3 – about 1300 miles long, if Mo lets us, that is! 

 

A few thanks:-  firstly for all the texts and messages of support, especially to our support person Jen, to our families Chris, Sam, Og, Bex, Dawn, Jake, Danielle, to Simon at Hot Dog, Robbie (T.O.G.), Scottie (T.W.A.T.) (a girlfriend eh??  -  you won’t be allowed out on Wednesdays now! ha ha)

 

Big hellos to both mums, Hazel and Minnie, all at Wombwell Homes and Western Power Distribution, and to all at the Gurnards Head, The Tinners Arms, and The Bucket of Blood.      Love to all, more soon


Friday 7th December (Received from Steve on Saturday 8th)

Today we were up early, and the weather got hot very quickly.  We pulled up the sea anchor and started making good ground again.  The waves are generally 20’-25’ and, as I told Jen on the phone, we surfed one wave at a recorded speed of 7.8 knots.  Fortunately all our sea sickness has gone now, and it is amazing what we can do whilst bouncing up and down on the waves all the time.

 

We had a visitor today – ‘Pete the Petrel’.  He made a spectacular crash landing onto the boat like something out of Harry Potter, hit the water tank and sat looking up at me in amazement.  He sat there for about two hours before flapping around and flying off again.


Thursday 6th December (Received from Steve on Saturday 8th)

The weather is still disappointing.  It is very windy with overcast skies and big seas.  Have composed a little poem which sums up the sea conditions:-

 

Surfing waves as big as houses

That keep rolling through the night

I keep looking for Antigua

But the bugger’s out of sight

 

In the day seas aren’t much smaller

But least you see them as they pass

They sizzle when they’re right beside you

And sometimes hit you up the arse

 

Mo is still being very moody, but we are not downhearted.  We are eating well and getting into a routine now.  We are rather enjoying our daily ‘baby wipes bed baths’!  We had enormous seas in the night and tried to set the drogues but they wouldn’t keep us straight so we had to put the sea anchor out and spend an awful night being pounded by waves.


Friday 7th December 2007 (by Jen)

I have just received a telephone call from Steve.  Good news - they are both over the sea sickness and eating well!  Last night was another rough night with waves coming at them from all directions including broadside on.  They made the decision to put the para-anchor out, even though this would inevitably prevent them from covering any mileage.  This morning they discovered that the buoy on the para-anchor was missing which had resulted in the nose of the boat being pulled down, hence a very rocky night spent in the cabin.  They have now pulled the para-anchor back in and are currently rowing well again.  

Today the ocean is 'Bad Tempered Mo' with large waves continually rising up to an estimated height of at least 20', many of which are breaking over the boat.  They appear to be averaging a speed of about 3.5 knots, although whilst on the phone to Steve, the boat surfed a large wave and recorded a speed of 7.8 knots - much to the delight of Paul who now claims the fastest speed over Steve - obviously a bit of competition going on out there between them both!  

They have now been updated with their position compared to all the other boats and they are  very happy with how things are going.  Hopefully now that they are rowing again, they will make up some of the ground lost last night.  Although currently only one mile distant from No Fear, the chance of seeing the other boat(s) is extremely slim as the horizon is only as close as the next wave!

They are receiving the messages of support from friends and family but it is still difficult to type/text very much because of the rough conditions.  They asked that I pass on their thanks to everyone, and confirm that they are absolutely fine and everything is going well.


Tuesday 4th December 2007 (by Steve)

The third night was still sloppy so we both rested as we tied the rudder off and let the wind take us in the right direction at between 1.7 and 2.2 knots. We breakfasted on bangers and beans, and have also been snacking.  We  joined the others in giving The Atlantic Ocean a nickname after my mighty ocean setting-off prayer - she will be called 'Mo' - so far she's been 'Sloppy Mo'!   

The sea is still all over the place at the moment.  Paul is rowing whilst I prop myself up in the cabin writing this report.  It is like trying to type in a washing machine that's been turned on!

We will send more progress reports when Mo settles down. Thank you all very much for the texts etc.  We are receiving them, but won't be replying as it is just too difficult at present!  Love and best wishes to friends and families from us both.

Monday 3rd December 2007 (by Steve)

The second night was equally awful and we were still poorly.  However, in the morning, we did manage to force some food down and it even managed to stay there!  The sun came up lovely and, for the first time, we realised we were out of sight of land.  We made an executive decision and threw our plan out of window.  We turned the boat to go with the sea and at one point starting making good time straight towards Antigua, El Hierro having been successfully passed.  We had some porridge and rice pudding, and have started eating more now.  Our second wildlife sighting was a sea turtle followed by more dolphins just before dark.  Rowing is going much better now with the easterly wind.

Sunday 2nd December 2007 (by Steve)

After the photo call, handshakes and hugs, there we were out milling around on the start line.  The five minute warning came followed by the countdown to go.  It was a beautiful, hot sunny day and the sea was calm.  We had a good start, but Joss and Ian in Pendovey shot off.  Incidentally, Ian won the Great London River Race on his own, as we teased him the previous night in the pub!  The South Africans got away well too, along with John and Nick from Fowey, and Orlando and Ben in Go Commando, with Scott and Neil in Ocean Summit not far away. The South Africans had a problem with the auto helm later but we don't know outcome.

They say the first night at sea is the worst - well, it wasn't good!  An easterly cross wind blew up which tried to blow everyone onto the island of El Hierro.  It was choppy and messy, on and off the boat, as Paul so eloquently put it.  Basically, we were as sick as shags!

Monday didn't get much better as we were still feeling rough and had to cope with a messy sea.  We did see the first wildlife which was a dolphin. Eventually the old oranges, apples and cherries did manage to stay down, and a box of Pringles was opened.  The wind came and went, but it was never easy.

Tuesday 4th December 2007 (by Jen)

I have received a phone call from Chris this evening to say that Steve had just phoned home via the satellite phone.  They are still rowing well and acclimatising themselves to life on board.  However, the sea and weather conditions are still too rough for Steve to type any reports and email back to me.  As soon as I receive any news, I will publish it on this site for you all to read.


Monday 3rd December 2007 (by Jen)

I have received some text messages and apparently the first night on the water was rough! The Reason Why, and no doubt all the other boats, was caught up in a south easterly gale which has caused sea sickness to both Paul and Steve.  Despite trying to continue rowing through strong seas and gale force winds, they were forced to give up at 2am this morning.  They retreated to the cabin where they were thrown about for the rest of the night! However, they are both fine and appear to be in good spirits.  

 

Rowing recommenced about 9am this morning and today has seen the boat coping well among the 25' waves.  There has been a 3 knot wind blowing them in the right direction.  Only one wave went over the stern end of the boat where the sleeping cabin is located but, unfortunately, this was at the very moment that Paul opened the hatch in the roof!  Accordingly, some of Steve's bedding is now rather wet!  The sea sickness is being kept at bay as long as the guys keep rowing or lie down - try to stand up and look out!

 

Apparently the island of El Hierro is very much like Paul Church - however much they row, they just can't get past it - ask any Ladies A rower and she'll know what they mean!

 

Most of the other boats are out of sight now although whilst tucked away in the cabin during the rough weather, Paul and Steve could hear shouts. When they opened the hatch and looked out, there was the other Cornish boat, 'No Fear'!

 

 

 

 

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