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Muscular Dystrophy Ireland is a voluntary, member organisation. It aims to support people with neuromuscular conditions to fully participate in societ...
They did it! The four-man crew today completed their epic journey of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Setting off from southern Portugal in a small craft, Kevin O’Farrell and Rob Collins, alongside their Dutch compatriots Ralph Tujin and Somon van de Hoek, battled rough seas, technical hitches and physical injuries to arrive in French Guiana 55 days later. Using just their own strength and the ocean currents, the crew worked in 2 hour shifts, day and night, for nearly two months. They had to hunker down in a tiny cabin off the coast of Portugal when they hit a storm with sea swells the size of a house, were nearly run over by a tanker off the coast of the Canary Islands, had to repair their boat in the Cape Verde islands when their navigation equipment broke, and battled a 4 hour onslaught from a shoal of flying fish in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Today they rowed up the Kourou river to reach their final destination – the small town of Kourou in French Guiana – to be greeted with fireworks and a few well-deserved beers.30 May 2022
It’s Day 50 and the end is truly in sight. Arms are sore, rashes are common, the open cuts and decaying hands are mandatory for everybody, but spirits are high. As you can see from the map, we’re starting to enter shallower waters now (albeit still a couple of miles to the bottom). Over the last few days the weather has been stormy, leading to some spectacular sights. We’ve watched flashes of green lightning hit the skies in the distance. Reassuringly, we’ve been informed that lightning doesn’t favour the highest point at sea like it does on land, and that it’s only ever been recorded hitting a boat once. Less reassuringly, our skipper Ralph told us that it was his boat hit by lightning in a storm in the Pacific a few years ago! Conversation nowadays basically revolves around what food and drink we’re going to eat first when we hit the shore. There is a small marina close to the town of Kourou in French Guyana that will receive us when we’re there, and we believe there’s a restaurant there.26 May 2022
Day 43 and we’re approximately 800 miles from our destination. We’re still having significant energy issues on board – our battery and solar power are functioning to a minimum degree. As a result, we’re basically only using the power that we have to use the auto pilot, which corrects our course when we waver. Each morning we pump water by hand. It takes around an hour to pump just 4 litres of water – very trying work in the sun. We may miss the sun that we’ve been cursing the last while as there is bad weather predicted ahead this weekend. Probably the worst news though is that we’ve ran out of chocolate and are down to energy bars and protein gels! #musculardistrophyireland #stmichaelsrowingclub #kevandrobsatlanticrow #oceanrowing18 May 2022
Really good news as Ralph got the all clear on his ankle. Bruised and sore but no broken bones so we keep going. We took advantage of the stop-off in Cape Verde to get ourselves some proper food (and a well-deserved beer) before hitting the sea again before spending even 24 hours here. It's also given us time to go through all the messages on this page and, as we always say, it makes a big difference knowing there are people cheering us on. Cape Verde itself is beautiful - a mix of African, European and Portuguese culture. Weather is really good this morning with the wind (and currents) working in our favour. On to the Atlantic once more!03 May 2022
Day 22 and a mammoth effort over the last few days, easily powering past 100km every 24 hours. These are big numbers for our little boat. We (Kev and Rob) have had the privilege of taking the sunrise and sunset shifts. Both are equally amazing. The night time shifts are hard but pass quickly. The bioluminescence puts on an amazing show for us. The moon currently rises around 4am, meaning we have a full unspoiled view of the Milky Way and its billion stars. The night sky and sea blend into one seamless back drop which when rowing makes for a very surreal experience. We've seen shooting stars of all colours, satellites and the space station. Hard to believe that the people on the space station are the closest human beings to us as the pass over. Here's to many more good days and spectacular night skies.28 Apr 2022
Day 20 and time for a rare break from the rowing for a few minutes! We jumped into the refreshing waters of the Atlantic for a swim and a snorkel off the boat while the sea was nice and calm (hasn't happened nearly enough during the trip for our liking...). 20 days on the boat is another milestone and, while the worldrecord won't be achievable, we're starting to settle into the rhythm of life at sea and spirits are high. As you can see from the live tracking - https://www.oceanrower.eu/follow-expedition/ - we're getting closer to the point where we break towards the west and the open waters of the Atlantic, using the North Equatorial Current to push us towards our destination. Brings both excitement and the inevitable nerves to us all. #musculardistrophyireland #stmichaelsrowingclub #kevandrobsatlanticrow #oceanrowing25 Apr 2022
Day 12 and hello to the Canary Islands! A big milestone in the journey as we pass near land for the last time before the big push over the Atlantic. We had to drop the para anchor a few days ago because of bad weather again but, since then, we've made good progress down the coast of North Africa. Slowly the wind has increased and moved into a more favourable direction, but it certainly has not been smooth sailing. The wind makes the seas choppier and more confused, with waves and swells hitting the boat from multiple directions. It often means your oars hit nothing but air and it can be difficult to keep the boat pointed in the right direction. We’ve been smashed by waves and whitewater coming over the side more times than we can count, and we’ve had one close incident with a large tanker that was on a direct collision course with us. We had to contact the captain and request him to divert course several times as he couldn't see us on the radar, eventually passing us only 200 metres on our port-side. For now though, we're just glad to be making good progress again and getting into a rhythm of taking shifts between the two teams of two. We'll update you soon on a few questions we've been getting about communication, food and what the schedule is like.17 Apr 2022
Day 9 and we're fully back at it! A real effort yesterday, covering 145km after our enforced break. As you can see from the blurry pictures (we have very limited ability to send pictures so everything gets compressed) the weather is stunning after the storm. Must say, very difficult to imagine how big a 12 metre wave is until it's coming towards you... A really amazing and humbling experience. It has given us full trust in the boat though, and in each other, so it might have been worth the few rough days. We're now going full steam to hit the trade winds that will hopefully push us towards our destination.14 Apr 2022
Day 7 and this has pretty much been our view for the last 36 hours (apart from the trees and land, of course). Storm still hitting us so we've had to bunker down and wait for a break in the weather - hoping it'll be today or tonight. Even though the initial few days have been exhausting, we're all really keen to get going again. We've seen whales, dolphins, and even turtles, on the journey so far which is a lot more stimulating and inspiring than the inside of a cabin! Thanks for all the support - we've been relayed your messages where possible - and we're using each and every one as motivation. #musculardistrophyireland #stmichaelsrowingclub #kevandrobsatlanticrow #oceanrowing12 Apr 2022
24 hours in and we’re fighting against the currents to get out into the Atlantic and the ocean flows that will push us towards our destination. Making steady progress though. Arms are sore but no blisters (yet!). These first days are some of the hardest in terms of physicality, as we have to row across the ‘The Canary Current’ which comes from north to south before we hit the ‘The North Equatorial Current’, which will be our extra oarsman pushing us to French Guyana in South America. You can follow our progress live here: https://www.oceanrower.eu/follow-expedition/07 Apr 2022
Rob and Kev are waiting for a weather window in Portugal. The first week will see them face some of the toughest conditions of their crossing. Fingers crossed they'll depart on the 6th of April. The frustration of waiting for the right weather will be worth it once they set off. While they have been waiting, they have been doing some jobs on the boat to make sure everything is perfect. Kevin took on the job of rebalancing the boat. This involved shifting some of the food supplies between lockers.04 Apr 2022
Just over three weeks out before we set... row! For anyone wondering what an ocean rowing boat looks like, here is a picture of our boat! at a length of approx 28 feet, this boat will hold everything we need to sustain us for the duration of our expedition.09 Mar 2022