The 'North Atlantic Challenge' 2010
The Artemis North Atlantic Challenge 2010 started from New York on 17 June 2010 and was completed successfully at St Mary's, Isles of Scilly on 31 July 2010.
The oldest record in the history of ocean rowing was 55 days for crossing the North Atlantic in a rowing boat. This was set 114 years ago in 1896 by 2 Norwegian men Harbo & Samuelsen. These two men rowed from New York to the Scilly Isles in an open 18’ skiff ‘The Fox’, the row was deemed to have completed at the Bishop’s Rock.
A log supports this row and altho’ many attempts have been made by rowers in modern covered vessels the Norwegians record time of 55 days has never been bettered until Saturday 31 July 2010, now the record stands at 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds.
The Artemis North Atlantic Challenge beat this record completely unsupported. This meant when the ’Team’ cast off from New York on 17 Jun 2010 they received no help from any other vessel or person whatsoever until they made land at St Mary's, Scilly Isles. This row was an exciting but very daunting crossing as storms, huge seas, poor weather conditions and fog was encountered. The team had already rowed together but they found the seas and the weather of North Atlantic rather different from the conditions of the 'Trade winds' route. These men had courage, commitment, motivation, tenacity, strength and a sense of humour but most of all they had a great respect for the ocean.
Artemis Investments is a 23’ ocean rowing boat and by comparison with the 53 foot ‘La Mondiale’ is extremely small. Although they all knew each other well having crossed the mid Atlantic route they had to exercise extreme tolerance of each other as the sleeping/resting quarters were very confined. They worked the two hours on / two hours off shifts which was onerous for the first few days but once their body clocks acclimatised to this routine it was not be a problem to them. The advantage that these men had is that they knew how hard it was going to be to ‘tough’ it out and did not have any fancy illusions about the task ahead!
This row was an exciting but very daunting crossing as storms, huge seas, poor weather conditions and fog was encountered.
The men maintained a large daily calorie intake to replace the 8000 calories they expended rowing. They had to ensure that they kept themselves well hydrated as all of them knew how important that was. The team well knew that tiredness and dehydration could make them hallucinate, two of them had already experienced this on previous rows, one heard dogs bark and the other saw hands appearing out of the ocean. There were extremes of temperature, some days were hot, some wet and foggy and the nights were very cold, so cold that even the rowing did not keep them warm. Special clothing for these conditions was essential. In all events, they always looked out for and helped each other all of the time.
The route and the months June/July were carefully chosen in an attempt to avoid the worst of the weather patterns. However it was likely that during the time at sea the boat and the rowers would have to endure some fairly grim weather. The boat is strong and is designed to withstand all but the most terrible storms and she did although she suffered capsizes, knockdowns and several swamps. The North Atlantic weather was without doubt quite extreme with adverse winds and huge seas not encountered on the Trade Winds route from Gran Canaria to Barbados but the team had experienced fairly bad weather on that crossing which helped them deal with some foul conditions.
Vigilance was of paramount importance. Several different types of hazards had to be looked out for. Icebergs, commonly known as growlers – these (for the people who don’t already know) are icebergs submerged which are extremely dangerous, fortunately the team did not come across these but spotted a huge tree semi submerged.
Other hazards were large ships such as oil tankers and freighters, metal containers washed overboard from the latter could float just below the surface – this team knew only too well what damage that could cause. ‘Artemis Investments’ carried a pro-active ‘SEE ME’ radar transponder which ‘pinged’ other ships within a 14-mile radius to let them know where the boat was.
If the transponder detected radar it set off an alarm in the boat so the rowers had time to take avoiding action. This happened and both boats being aware of each other avoided a collision. A VHF Radio allowed the men to call up shipping to alert them of the presence of their boat.
Although whales and sharks could have caused problems - they didn't during this row but there were some scary moments when a huge whale was spotted close to the boat as well as a young great white shark. There is a shark repellent spray but no such thing for whales, fortunately neither beast saw the boat as a threat to their territory in their part of the ocean and didn't want to use the boat as an itching post either.
Congratulations to 'Artemis Investments' and her crew from the home team for a very successful expedition.
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