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The FriendShip Journal - Episode 2

News from the Ocean

Another week has flown by so it's time for the second update from the FriendShip Camp! If you missed the first update then you can read it here

The end of last week saw Jack and Hamish put their out of office on, hang up the black shoes, white shirt and grey suit, and put their city jobs on pause as they headed off on Sabbatical leave! Arthur and Euan have one more week of teaching left before they do the same, so you can picture them frantically writing reports as they prepare to leave on Friday.

This week we have been focused on the final UK based preparations before we head off to La Gomera on Monday. It has been great to have some catch ups with our Charity partners; Kiwoko Hospital, Drive Forward and CHAT and we have been busily packing our personal kit - not the most onerous of tasks as all we are really taking in terms of clothes is a couple of t-shirts, a fleece, our waterproofs and a few pairs of boxers!

We also had a catch up with our weather routing team who will be providing shore based support via satellite phone, helping us to make the most of any good winds and helping us to avoid the worst of the bad weather! While we need to prepare ourselves for all possible conditions as we are limited in our ability to move away from unfavorable weather (our average speed will be 3 or 4 knots / 2 or 3 mph) there are some tactical gains to be made through having a good knowledge of the weather and how to adapt the boat to the conditions.

For those who are interested, the Atlantic trade winds will be one of the main factors to consider and the driving force behind our route choice. The trade winds have enabled sailors (and rowers!) to cross the Atlantic for hundreds of years and we will be hoping to capitalize on them to support our rowing effort - in the best case scenario we will have a strong following breeze to push us in the right direction but the ultimate aim is to avoid rowing into strong headwinds which can quickly stop us in our tracks (anything above 15 knots or 13 mph against us will become nearly impossible to make headway against). The trade winds and associated ocean currents are formed between about 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator, in a region called the horse latitudes. The Earth's rotation causes air to slant toward the equator in a southwesterly direction in the northern hemisphere and in a northwesterly direction in the southern hemisphere - known as the Coriolis Effect. The Coriolis Effect, in combination with an area of high pressure, causes the trade winds to move from east to west on both sides of the equator across this 60-degree belt.

So in short our aim will be to balance the benefits of taking a direct route West to minimise the distance with dipping South in order to get benefit from the trade winds. This is not an exact science by any means and there is a lot of skill required to read the weather and its local effects as well as the impact of any weather systems that might form in the North Atlantic. As a team we are lucky to have two shore based weather routers in the form of Dick Koopmans and John Shoulten who will provide us with up to date weather information and advice on our course. We will speak to them on a daily basis via our satellite phone, feeding back the ‘real’ conditions we are experiencing for them to input into their weather models and forecasts. Ultimately they will help us set a course that balances all the variables and considers our position in relation to incoming weather systems.

Monologue on weather aside, our plan for the rest of the week entails a lot of time on the rowing machine, more time with our charity partners and time with friends before we board the early morning flight to Tenerife on Monday and catch the ferry across to La Gomera.

Thank you to everyone who has been sending messages of support and donating! We also had one question submitted last week, and it is a good one…”If a flying fish jumps into your boat, who will be the first to punch it?”

To the anonymous person who submitted that, thank you - we of course would never punch one of God's beautiful creations (unless it was dark, we were tired, and it hit us in the face….in which case all bets are off).

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