Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Update on the Big Row

As most of us know, author Charles Wilkins has joined a crew to row across the Atlantic. Here are some excerpts from his latest letter.

Nine months from now, immediately after Christmas, I will be embarking from Tarfaya, a fishing village on the west coast of Morocco, with a crew of twelve oarsmen, plus a captain and an electronics engineer, in an attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Of the nine men and three women in the crew, most are less than half my age and outweigh me by anywhere up to sixty to seventy pounds. All of them are competitive rowers or “endurance” athletes, or are at least perceived to be indomitable outdoor survivalists.

Our destination will be Barbados, some 3,000 miles from out starting point and our hope—or more specifically that of our captain, Roy Findlay—is that we will cover the distance in 30 days, chopping three days off the existing record. Our boat, Big Blue, a sleek 38-foot catamaran is currently being completed by Roy at his shop.

As you might guess this will be no luxury holiday. To keep the boat light, meals aboard will be restricted largely to nutritional concentrates, with nuts and dried fruit for a little culinary variety.

Beyond sharks (and the requirement that the crew get into the water every three or four days to remove barnacles from the hulls), the hazards of such voyages run to intense tropical sun, dehydration, exhaustion, malnutrition, super tankers in the shipping lanes, salt sores, mid-Atlantic delirium, breakdown of navigation and desalination equipment, antipathies among crew members and, most significantly, bad weather.

To avoid all-out gales, most such crossings tale place between the autumn hurricane season and the storms of mid-winter. Our own plan is to be on the beach ready to boogie the day after Christmas and to wait for fair winds and auspicious weather reports before setting out.

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