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  • Writer's pictureLauren & Jemma

Moments of madness as we close in on Antigua

We’ve now reached the end of week 5 and disaster has struck. The portable cabin fan has finally decided it’s time to give up the ghost. Sure, this may not sound like the biggest disaster in the world, but  as a result the ‘chokey’ (our cabin) has now taken on a whole new level of pain. Now unbearable in the day time, we’ve instead taken to lying on the deck covered in a damp sheet, in a bid to combat the daytime heat.

On a more positive note, the wildlife sightings have returned. Throughout the course of our crossing, Jemma has been desperate to see a turtle, and on Tuesday, we got lucky; a small turtle passed straight by the side of the boat. Unfortunately for Jemma, in all of her excitement, she stood up so quickly that the rowing seat rolled away from her, tripping her up and landing her straight on her back. In a cruel twist of irony, whilst Jemma resembled an upturned turtle herself, the little turtle in question passed her straight by.

The following day we celebrated Jemma’s birthday and this came with a brief siting of dolphins, albeit from a distance. We also had an exciting afternoon when we managed to hook our first fish. Taking us both slightly by surprise, the dorado (we think!) was on the line moments after the line went in the water. There followed a small battle to bring him in, with both of us in fits of laughter. Although we were looking forward to our first taste of Atlantic sushi, the fish was much bigger than we anticipated, so we decided to release him back in to the ocean.

Thankfully we’ve also now had a bit of an upturn in the weather and faster conditions have returned. We’re hopeful that the conditions will stick around long enough for us to make our final push to the finish line. Up until now, we have taken a more southerly course to the other pairs teams, but we are now much closer as we begin to all push directly West. Although they were at one point 100 miles ahead of us, the leading male pair team, the Wolf Pack, is now just 14 miles ahead. Considering how competitive we both are, this has of course given us an added boost of motivation and we are now working even harder to give the guys a proper race to the finish line :)

Inevitably, our minds now keep wondering towards the moment when we reach Antigua - we have daily conversations about fresh food, a few cocktails and a proper nights sleep! We don’t yet have a solid idea of our expected arrival date, but with Haribo and Cadbury’s supplies running low, that finish line is now more needed than ever. After doing a quick dairy milk bar count up and realising we might have to have a few days without, for some reason Lauren is now working over time on the oars.

On a  final note, today was supposed to be another day of cleaning the hull of the boat. But with both of us on the oars this morning, Jemma casually announced that she thought something was following us. Both of us jumped out of our seats to see a dark shadow in the water about 2 metres in length. Of course our first thought was ‘shark’ (!), but as it sailed past the side of the boat, it turned out to be another monster fish. Dark in colour, with silvery blue vertical stripes on it's body, our best guess was that it was a massive swordfish, due to its overly long snork. The colour of the water made it difficult to see whether or not there was a ‘ sword’ or not, but we did manage to get the GoPro into the water, so we’re hoping all will be revealed once we get to Antigua to view the footage. Amazingly, the fish stayed with us for about 20 minutes, tailing our stern before darting under the boat several times and reappearing on either side. Needless to say boat cleaning has been postponed until tomorrow.

Two nights ago we had a thunderstorm throughout the night. We won’t sugar coat was terrifying. The thunder was so loud and fierce followed by purple bolts of lightening down onto the water. Telling each other to remain calm, we carried on our shifts in the pouring rain. On the plus side we did get some beautiful pictures of the boat and surrounding purple sea and sky.

Apart from that our days remain the same, rowing and laughing. Lauren continues to turn mahogany and Jemma sunset red. Life is very simple here.

We received some updates this week of our fundraising total and just want to say a huge thank you to all those who have donated to our chosen charities and supported our journey. We can’t thank you enough and hopefully we look forward to catching up with most on our return. Not long now xx


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