The last three days have been very eventful since leaving Belo village in Bangka Island.  As we departed around 3PM in the afternoon we made for the middle of the Selat (Strait) where we thought would be the strongest currents.  We soon picked these up and rode them for 1.5 days, averaging over 2 knots and at one point had a storm blow in behind us which saw us travel at over 6 knots for 45 minutes!  Selat Bangka is HUGE and we could not see one side of Sumatra when out in the centre.  Towards the southern point we got caught in the middle when the tide changed and had a 5nm battle to get to the Bangka side at 4AM as the current pushed us north.  We were exhausted and dropped anchor in 5m water and rested for 4 hours until the tide changed and we set off again around 9AM.

We rounded the southern tip later that evening of Selat Bangka in a glorious sunset and rowed into the night with lovely tail current, which did not last long.  We soon found ourselves battling a strong southerly setting current and I started to develop stomach cramps and diarrhea which sucked the energy from me.  In the early hours we were hit by a massive electrical storm, similar to the one we encountered as we entered Selat Bangka.  Massive bolts of lightning and thunder all around us and I lost control of the boat for 1.5 hours as she was blown all over the place and we did 360 degree turns.  I hate these storms and get quite scared.  It was when it passed however we were blessed with beautiful tailwinds and following seas for three hours and made 3 – 4 knots.  It rained most of yesterday and I was exhausted and weak from feeling sick, so kept up rowing but in my off shift lay and rested. I feel better today and this morning we saw a pod of dolphins and a sea snake as we cleaned the hull of the boat.

Charlie is a great rowing mate, and always remains cheery even when tired.  Dare I say it he is actually quite cute as during the evening time when he is sleeping, he sleep talks like crazy to me; telling me all sorts of wonderful stories and offering to come back on shift after being asleep for 10 minutes!  We are having a real adventure out here, its not easy but nothing in life of value comes easy.  At times I wonder what the hell I am doing, at times I love it, at times I miss my girls so much I cry silently in the cabin, but I always try and remind myself I am lucky to be in this situation.  I leave you with this beautiful poem my mother sent me the day we departed:

If you think you are beaten you are:
If you think you dare, you don’t;
If you want to win but think you can’t;
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in a state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Walter D. Wintle

Posted on January 16, 2017, in Rowing Home. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hello Axe! Thank you for your missives. How do you even find the time to write these! Glad you and your mate Charlie are safe having left Bangka Island. You two are amazing. Always praying for your continued strength and perseverance. Cheers xx


  2. Hi Axe and Charlie – its great to get the updates – please keep them coming. I check your position as I head to sleep in my nice warm bed each night and check it again when I wake up….thinking how lucky I am ! Keep it up, we ‘re all rooting for you. Cheers Youngie.


  3. Axe and Charlie. Blog is great. Fascinating to follow. Thinking of you. Nicola & Shorty xxx


  4. Hey Axe and Charlie
    You guys are doing amazingly well.
    I’m sure you can spend hours talking about the upcoming Lions series.
    Kia kaha


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