Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 31

Good wind today on the eve of the Superbowl. It's been cloudy with spotty sunshine for the last few days and today was no exception. Rowed by one of the most spectacular rainbows I've ever seen at the beginning of the morning shift. The picture below doesn't do it justice in the least!

I'm also sending a picture of the seagull that visited yesterday. I think this is when he made an attempt to land on the solar panel that's on top of my forward cabin. This didn't go so well for him, as the solar panels are slippery, on an incline, get really hot in the sun, and are attached to a boat that is tossing and turning. For whatever reason, he didn't go for another landing, though I admit to wishing he did for my own entertainment.

On a less entertaining note, my foot steering went out again this morning. While before it had been jamming in the "all-the-way-to-port" position, this time the push-pull cable itself snapped, which will be tough to fix. I spent some time this morning rigging up a replacement pull-pull system using electrical wire (genius, I thought...), but it didn't hold. My backup hand steering still works fine, so I set the rudder straight and had a fine shift in the afternoon steering with just the oars, so I guess I'll do without the luxury of toe steering for a while, until I come up with a fix. No worries...

I'll be thinking of all of you at Superbowl parties tomorrow - feel free to pour out a sip of your favorite beverage and throw a slice of pizza on the floor for me!

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit


Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 30

Wow, 30 days at sea! I can't decide if that sounds like a long time or not...either way, the wind made a reappearance today, so I'm hoping for some good mileage numbers for the first time in a while. The day's rowing seemed good, and at the tail end of my evening shift I crossed 29W. Given how long I spent between 28W and 29W (3-4 days?), this is a very welcome but still minor milestone. With that said, 30W is not far off now, and with good winds forecast through the weekend I have a shot at getting there by Sunday night/Monday morning.

A couple things I forgot in yesterday's post -- the first thing I do every morning is put up a hash mark for a completed day and night on the ceiling of the boat, right above my head. Right now I've got five sets of five, and a sixth set with 4 marks...soon to be completed come the morning. Right above the day counts are the words "Steady as we go...", a reminder that no one has rowed an ocean in a day and to not rush things...

Was visited by a seagull today and was surprised that in their natural habitat they actually seem pretty graceful and not annoying at all. Then again, I don't have all that much other entertainment out here, so maybe I have lowered my standards. Anyway, this seagull couldn't have cared less about my presence and for half an hour or so flew around the boat, often hovering within arm's reach of me before diving into the water to grab one of the little fish that must be living under the boat. I watched him for a while and took a few pictures, which may be interesting even though everyone's seen plenty of seagulls picking at french fries in the parking lot at McDonald's...I'll try to get one up tomorrow.

Keely -- great timing on your note, as I spent all morning yesterday dreaming about Panera Bread's breakfast sandwiches. The bacon and sausage ones got equal time, and I concluded that I could easily eat four of them in a sitting if given the chance. For the uninitiated, Panera's breakfast sandwiches are better than any deli -- thick, real bread, a slice of sharp cheddar, real eggs, and a delish spicy sausage patty or bacon...all toasted/grilled to perfection!

Mrs. Scalzo -- I'm admitting defeat on your math problem with the 4's. I like to think that with a pencil and paper I could eventually figure it out, but since I can't write notes while I row I haven't made much progress. How about an easier one?

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 29

OK, on Day 24 I started going through my daily routine out here. I think I got through waking up, tooth brushing, and breakfast. Then what?

After breakfast, it's time to actually get ready to row and get out there without wasting too much time. It usually goes something like this...breakfast over, wish it was bigger so I guess I'll have an energy bar after I've rowed for half an hour. Lie down, wish I didn't hit my head on the hatch so many times (average 3) while eating breakfast/brushing teeth. Need a playlist for the ipod that will last a minimum of 4 hours, hopefully 5. Guh, not easy with only 5GB of music on here. Go through and add to a playlist anything that looks moderately interesting and/or like it will keep me awake. Always include Al Pacino's "inches" speech from Any Given Sunday (YouTube it, it's out for bad words). Usually cover all genre's...Kanye, Kenny, maybe some Christmas music, an episode of Car Talk from NPR, part of a book on tape (should have brought more of these), plus some random songs here and there that look good -- that would be a typical playlist.

Playlist done, it's time for a "shower." Anti-bacterial baby wipes used to bathe head to toe, with special attention to hands, feet, and anywhere that I've scraped or blistered in the last few weeks (even little things take forever to heal out here). Anti-chafe creme. No need for more detail there. Then time to pick out the rowing shorts I'll wear for that shift. Choices are blue or black -- both are covered in salt and so have many white highlights. Pretty gross. Both are also still wet from hanging to dry overnight from my navigation light on top of my cabin. Better there than inside the cabin with me!

Shorts on, where's my shirt? I've been wearing the same blue and yellow short-sleeved shirt from Coolibar since Day 1 (think it's in the picture Joy posted), which means the same shirt all day every day for a month. Also pretty gross and covered in salt. Oh, well, put it on anyway. Ok, I'm ready. Lie back down for a second. Do I really wanna do this? Another whole day of rowing?....Yup, just get out there! I tell myself "its always better outside the cabin than inside"...and it is. Out I go!

Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and the important research going on at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online, use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit Thanks!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 28

Second straight tough day on board Liv, both physically and mentally. Light winds of 10 knots (and often less) left me wondering throughout the day if I had dropped an anchor and forgotten to pull it back in. With little wind to keep boat speed up between strokes, and small waves (4-5 feet?) that can't really be surfed, it feels like I've been pulling a Mac Truck through the sand.

Even with eye-popping effort on every stroke, the GPS repeater in the bulkhead facing me has only occasionally in the last two days shown more than 3 knots per hour. Compared to the regular 5-6 knots, and sometimes higher, that I can make surfing down waves in 20-knot winds, seeing less than three knots for two days is mind-numbing, even before considering the massive effort required to get the boat moving from nearly a full stop after every stroke.

So, days like these are when I earn it, I suppose. Yesterday's progress was 26 miles and change, which in the grand scheme is dismal. Today probably wasn't much better. There are bright spots though -- on the ocean there's no scenery to remind me how far I still have to go. No mile markers to show that I've covered only 26 of the more than 3,000 miles that it will take to complete this journey. Thankfully, the ocean looks more or less the same and the day-to-day routine is unchanged, whether I've gone 26 or 50 miles in a day.

Tomorrow's winds are predicted to be back in the 20-knot range, and the slate will be wiped clean again by the morning. Needless to say, I have more rowing planned!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 27

More confirmed flying fish sightings today, this time two different schools of them in flight. Bright, silvery, hot-dog shaped bodies with blue highlights up close to the wings. They make a little pop when they fly out of a wave and you can hear their whirring fins/wings beating like mad as they go by. One school of 6-8 of them must have flown 200 feet as I watched, and I'm pretty sure that at one point they went up, which I didn't think they could do. Maybe it was an illusion caused by a wave dropping out from underneath them?

Winds are again light today (10 knots), and I missed my goal of crossing 28W before nightfall by a few miles, though I should cross it overnight. I'm also very close to crossing 20N, which will be a nice milestone too. With that said, my sights are set on 30W, which marks the end of this quarter of the row (in my mind), and the beginning of the second quarter, which I think will be the toughest for me mentally -- more on this in the next couple of days.

Am feeling some fatigue, maybe due to the more strenuous rowing required when the wind is light. Has also occurred to me that I'm not getting enough rest, or that the calorie deficit I'm running every day is starting to take a toll, though I doubt it because I've got plenty left to burn. I am losing some weight, but not enough that it I should feel it, I think. Will try to get pictures of my hands tomorrow (they're really not bad, though), as long as I can figure out how to operate the camera with my teeth. Nothing to it!

Fred -- you and I are on the same page I think. The only thing I run from the bow is the actual sea anchor (nine feet in diameter), which I've had out twice in heavy weather. At night I regularly trail the knotted line from the stern so as to keep boat speed up, which seems to average about 1 knot or so while I'm asleep. Regarding my availability as crew for a crossing in a bigger boat, sign me up on one condition -- there must be more wind than I usually see on the Long Island sound on Friday nights in the summer!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 26

After being on the ocean for weeks, I saw my first big fish today - a 3-foot dorado that jumped out of the water by 3-4 feet in the trough of a wave. Miraculously, I happened to be looking in the right place at the right time because the petrel (smallish black bird) was pretty close to the boat on the same side. He came down with a big splash and was gone...or so I thought.

When I was coming out for my afternoon shift the sun was out (the only time all day). I happened to glance into the water next to the boat and there was another (or the same one, who knows...) big fish swimming leisurely under Liv. From the top this one looked like a dorado too and was also probably three feet in length. I've heard other ocean rowers talk about fish living under their boats for the "safety" that a big, slow moving thing like Liv would provide, and I've actually been surprised that its taken me until day 26 to notice one of my own.

I believe that Dorado in the Atlantic are the same as Mahi-mahi, in which case they're delicious. Maybe its time to break out the fishing tackle?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 25

WOW! Ok, so I just got all of your comments from the past few days and man were there a lot of them -- fantastic!

I had planned to go through some of the physical and mental prep that I do in the morning to coax myself out of bed and into the rowing seat, but first I'll respond to some of your questions/comments from the past few days. Here goes...

Lori H - re snickers melting - it's actually been noticeably hotter out here the last few days, which is expected now that I'm 600 miles or so farther south from the Canaries. With that said, my candy/chocolate stashes are in compartments below the deck which stay cooler because they're close to the water. So, the problem isn't as much with them melting as it is with sea water getting into the compartments...

Donna - the idea on heading south first then west is to get into the east to west trade wind band that, at this time of year, can be found around 21 degrees north or so. If I was in a powerboat I'd head straight for Antigua, but since I don't have as much ability to power through headwinds and such, its a better bet for a solo rower to go S first then West.

Margaret - Pepe's should definitely be on my list. White clam pizza all the way. Mmmm

Zack - I'm still not sold on Nady but will give him a chance. Melky's a bum!

Patti - e-mail from me tonight or tomorrow, I promise!

Alexander - Great! Ask your mom to remind me when I get back about coming into your class. I'd be happy to!

Mike from Nirchi's - Deal. I spent some time today thinking about what toppings I'd have. Chicken spiedie, pepperoni, and tomato bacon all are in the mix...

Marlene - believe it or not, I actually don't have duct tape on the boat. I know...terrible job! I do have gorilla tape, whis is stronger but not very good when wet, electrical tape, masking tape, packing tape, and medical tape though. No peanut butter but lots of peanuts! Wish I head peanut butter cups!

Dave and Leslie - The wind is helping more than hurting now, as I'm comfortably in the trade wind belt. Ideally I'll have 20-25 knots of wind from the east (blowing me west) all the way to Antigua. Right now the forecast is for 20k for the next week plus, which is great. In regards to the sea anchor, in heavy seas it keeps my bow into the waves which smooths out the ride a bit, but also stops me from drifting (because its basically a 10-foot parachute that holds a lot of water). Better to use in a storm to prevent being blown backward than for resting. I still tow a 50 foot knotted line from my stern when I sleep. This keeps the stern from getting tossed around as violently in the waves, which is convenient because I sleep with my head all the way aft, basically on the boat's transom. The line isn't enough to keep me from getting mileage in the right direction while I drift though.

Kyle - Believe it or not I don't have "row row row your boat" on my ipod! Next time I'll remember to get it. Could definitely use Henri for the water maker....or better yet to help with the rowing! Btw, the toe steering that you guys worked up is one of the most useful things on the boat -- I steer up and down every single wave and save TONS of effort when it comes to orienting myself to the seas. Bravo!

Guys at Aquidneck - Glad to hear you're keeping an eye on me. Every day with this boat makes me more impressed. I can't overstate my confidence in Liv -- a good thing when its blowing 30k out there at 3AM in the middle of the Atlantic! Many thanks for a stellar final product!

Ok, the fact that I can't see straight must mean its bedtime.

Thanks again for all of the support and for spreading the word about Row for Hope!


Day 24

Paul's having intermittent email problems again (this time he suspects the connection between computer and sat phone), and he'll post as soon as he can. Meanwhile, he's doing well and logged his second day covering more than 41 miles. He seems to be hitting his stride!

Here's his map, as of the end of Day 24:

Day 24

Another day in the books and another day closer to Antigua. I'm happy to be getting more comfortable with the environment and am getting better at reading waves to determine which I need to worry about and which will pass by without soaking me, which takes my stress level when rowing down quite a bit.

A little on my routine out here -- the hardest part of the day is in the morning between when I wake up and when I actually start rowing. I generally wake up around sunrise, which is roughly 8AM GMT or maybe 7AM in the time zone I'm in right now. For the first couple weeks my first though after opening my eyes was always..."Where am I? Wait..don't tell me I'm in a rowboat in the middle of the no no..." By now I'm pretty aware of where I am and am thinking something along the lines of "its morning already?" which I suppose is pretty normal.

So once I'm awake the fun begins. Grab some water, brush my teeth, think about whats for breakfast, which is usually granola but sometimes clif bars/chocolate or other snacks. I eat breakfast sitting up with my head near the big hatch watching the waves to get a sense of what I'm in for that day. Not that it matters really, because I have no choice but to row, but still...

Ok, enough for now. More on "getting ready to row" tomorrow. This is actually alot more involved than it sounds!

Haven't seen your comments in a few days (not to nag you or anything, Joy!), but when I do I'll get back to people if anyone has questions, etc...


Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 23

Short update today since I'm exhausted from a long day on the oars and lots of work around the boat. Big project today was to find the source of a small leak coming from somewhere near my head that was allowing a few drops of water into the cabin -- enough to keep my pillow (a fleece jacket) constantly damp, which has made for bad sleep the last few nights. Turns out that there is a gland for the toe steerng cable that had worked its way loose and hopefully will be water-tight now that I've given it a couple of extra turns.

Afternoon shift was a tough one today, maybe because I havent been sleeping well. We'll see if tomorrow's any different. Either way I've broken out my medical kit and extra extra strength ibuprofin so maybe that will at least take my mind off of the sore muscles for a while. Hope to cross 26W overnight.

Over the weekend I'll get into what my routine is like out here, typical day, etc...and maye even some water/boat/rower pictures with my fancy camera mounting bracket.

Hope all is good back home - when's the superbowl?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 22 - Flying Fish?

Beginning of week number four at sea, and winds have been good, helping me to the West. This morning I crossed 25 degrees West, which is a minor milestone in that it's halfway to 30W, which will mark the first quarter of my march across the Atlantic (remember the real rowing started at 20W and Antigua's a little past 60W). Right now I'm just about due North of the Western tip of Cape Verde, which means that there's nothing but ocean between me and Antigua, which is a good feeling...until I realize just how much ocean it really is!

Today I concluded that a few bottles of hot sauce would have rocked my culinary world, and I'm annoyed that I didn't bring any Frank's Red Hot. I also forgot to mention that I'm craving steak, and that I could probably put down a dozen of those 6 oz. filet mignons right now. Medium, please, with A-1 sauce and potatoes. And a double bombay sapphire on the rocks with two limes...mmmmm.

No, really, I do have a few highlights when it comes to food. One is astronaut ice cream, which I have in both Neapolitan and ice cream sandwich form. Both are delicious and have been eaten with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The other treat is Jolly Ranchers, which are remnants from my Christmas stocking. Unfortunately, the two that I have left don't have a chance of lasting past the weekend.

Now you're wondering, "What does this have to do with flying fish?" I almost forgot that I was gong to tell you that I saw my first flying fish for the trip this morning. Though I hear there'll be tons of them at times, I only saw a couple today. I was rowing along, and all of a sudden out of the side of one wave to my left come two long, thin fish with their fins beating their fastest, "flying" past my face and splashing down in a wave to my right. It happened so quickly that I could have imagined it, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't. It also was very clearly not birds and certainly came out of the water. Unfortunately, the only other flying fish I've ever seen were years ago in Super Mario 3 for Nintendo, but what I saw looked like them, so who knows...

Thanks for the continued support and encourgement - it makes the days go by much faster!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 21 - FOOD!

[NOTE: Paul's Day 19 blog was posted late because of email connection issues; see separate entry below.]

All day today I dreamed about food...I'm pretty sure that after three weeks this freeze-dried stuff is finally driving me bonkers (but in some ways I'm surprised it took this long). Though I have a little variety, the variations are apparently all within the "chicken-with-rice" food group.

In the last few days I've had Mexican Chicken with Rice, Oriental Chicken with Rice, and the most hated Jamaican Style Chicken with Rice. Oh, and how could I forget plain old Rice with Chicken (seriously), which I had for dinner tonight? Seriously, who dreams this stuff up? Then there's good old Beef Teryaki...sounds good, right? Nope, its simply Oriental Chicken with Rice, but with little beefy chunks instead of chicken chunks!

Here's a rundown of the Greatest Hits of the food I've been craving today. If you live anywhere near one of these fine establishments, please stop by to see if they deliver to 21N 25W:

  • Nirchi's sheet pizza with pepperoni (Binghamton)
  • Dinosaur Barbecue chicken wings (Syracuse)
  • Ye Olde Pizza Pub chicken wings/pizza (Hamilton)
  • Speidies from anywhere (Binghamton)
  • NY City street vendor salted pretzel
  • Sierra Grill chicken burrito and shrimp taco (Norwalk)
  • Two Door chicken parm sandwich (Greenwich)

Michael -- I unfortunately never knew "Rock Dog" while I was rowing at Colgate. Creative name though...! And yes, I do turn on the power every now and then but almost never for 10 straight strokes. It's usually when I see a wall of water to my left/right that will be breaking over my boat unless I stand on it with one oar or the other to swing the stern around. That's better motivation than even the best coxswain could provide! More often I'll take one hard stroke just before a wave is breaking in front of me, to help get a little extra "surfing" speed down the front. This too is a not a dry event...

Anon -- I do brush my teeth out here. I have lots of snickers packed somewhere, but I haven't eaten my way to them yet.

Pete- -- Wow, I struggled with this one, but finally concluded that I'd rather be me with the brain of a chimp than a chimp with my own brain. At least if I looked like myself, people might take me seriously (not too seriously I'm sure) from far away, whereas no matter how brilliant your brain is if you have the body of a chimp you'd just be silly. And you couldn't ride anything at Six Flags.

Oh, and I rowed more today. Same plan for tomorrow!


Day 20

Sorry for the spotty updates, but I've been having trouble getting a data connection with my sat phone. Anyway...

Just after I wrote on Day 19 about how it finally feels as if I've made a little progress, I got my daily mileage text from my dad saying that I made 29.7 miles yesterday.

29.7?!?!?! Terrible! I guess spending time playing with the watermaker has kept me from rowing some this week. But, still...29.7! Ugh...

With that said, it's good to hear that I'm through 20% of the distance, and history would suggest that I'm through more than 20% of my time at sea, as the second half (or three-quarters) of the trip is in the trade wind belt where, I should be making more like 40 miles a day. The way I figure it, a good (fast) pace would mean that I'd cross two degrees of longitude every three days when I have the trade winds helping me. That would get me to 30W in 8 days, and to 60W in another 45 days. This would put me at 73 days, plus another couple days for the last degree-and-a-half to Antigua, plus a few more days if I can't keep up the pace that's right around 80 days. Can you tell I've thought about this a little bit? Yeah, I have lots of time on my hands...

In other news, great to hear about President Obama! I also made almost 10 liters of water yesterday with the repaired watermaker before...believe it or stopped running, due to some other unknown problem. Unbelievable...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 19: From Paul's Dad

Hi! It's Paul's dad, filling in once again for the "hometown hero." Paul has been tinkering with the water-maker in his spare time today (apparently the warranty doesn't include on-site service calls!), so he asked me to handle this post for him.

Paul's discovered one of the paradoxes of ocean rowing. The big waves and big winds can make rowing out there quite a bit hairier, but they can also push you along pretty well, assuming they're going in the right direction (as they have been). Conversely, when the seas calm down, you've got to row that much harder to make mileage. Today was one of those calmer days, and between that and his time spent on repairs, it won't be a stellar day, mileage-wise.

Still, the water-maker is working at the moment. Paul managed to get about a day's worth of water out of it and then turned it off, rather than have it blow its hose again. Like a banged-up baseball player, its status is what they call "day-to-day." But then, as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling is fond of saying, "We're all day-to-day!"

Among my Support Team duties, I'm the expedition's statistician and map-keeper. I'm happy to report that, within the last hour, Paul has now reached the 20% mark on his row - he's exactly 627 miles from La Gomera, and 2,493 miles from English Harbour, Antigua. While he's still got a long way to go, that's real progress!

Map fans might appreciate this Day 18 snapshot from Google Earth (click on it to enlarge). As you can see, Paul's near 21 degrees N latitude and 24 degrees W longitude. His destination is off the map, at about 17 N and 62 W.

It seems like an impossible distance, but there's real mileage between each of those little blue daily squares. Put enough of them together, and he's in Antigua!

I know how much Paul depends on your encouragement; I can hear it in his voice, over the sat phone. Keep it up!

Day 19

Progress? Well, I finally redecorated the cabin with a new map covering Africa/the Canaries, south past Cape Verde and as far west as 40 degrees W, roughly the half-way mark of my row. Though the ocean always looks more or less the same, aside from waves of varying heights, seeing my current position on a map made me feel for the first time like I'm actually going somewhere! Although my first real milestone will be when I cross 30 degrees west, it's good to see that I'm actually not very close to the Canaries any more. Wish I had champagne to celebrate every 1/4 of the trip rather than just halfway.

Spent some time trying to brace the hose on the watermaker that's been blowing out, with little success. Finally got 1.5 liters of water out of the thing (takes about 5 mins), but I don't feel very confident in this holding up for the duration of the trip. Will try to make a real batch (10 liters) tomorrow.

Waves pretty good sized again today and still windy out there now. Wave height is 15+ feet -- maybe closer to 20. Makes for wet rowing. Wind is maybe 20k, and is predicted to be stable around there for the next week or so.

Gary M -- I'm using an Iridium 9505a sat phone (a newer model just came out I think, but it's just as slow for data) with software from GMN called Xgate, which works pretty well. I don't get internet, just e-mail.

Zack -- Please provide updates on the Biggest Loser if possible. Also, who won last season? Is Jillian back for the current season? What about the blond trainer?

Glad the beard is getting good reviews, and thanks again for all of the support!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 18: Beard Watch!

I have no idea what day of beard-growing I'm on; it must be somewhere in the month-and-a-half range. After seeing this picture I'm glad I don't have to look at myself too often -- as you can tell, I'm slightly less clean cut than my usual "high and tight"/freshly-shaven look.

Not a bad day of rowing today, with lighter winds last night than I've had in the previous few. Started winding up again this afternoon and the waves had really built up by the time I crawled into the cabin tonight. I can hear it blowing out there now, which of course makes me glad I'm inside! Fingers crossed for some sleep tonight, though...

The water-maker is back down again, but I have some creative ideas to try in the morning. The same high-pressure connection blew out after only a minute of so of use this afternoon. Came up with a couple potential solutions during my afternoon/evening shift, so we'll see tomorrow if they work.

Stay tuned!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day 17, Part 2: Paul's Position

For those having trouble managing Paul's Event Tracker, here (courtesy of Google Earth) is his position and destination as he begins Day 17 (click on map to enlarge).

Day 17

Another day in the books. Less wind so a more comfortable day on the oars, but I probably didn't go as far as yesterday, when I hear I made 52 miles.

Now that I've been on the water for more than two weeks my body is starting to show signs of wear and tear. The general theme is that everything's always wet, so it's harder to treat small cuts and scrapes and get them patched up before my next turn at the oars. I actually have more recovery time for sore muscles, blisters, etc...than most ocean rowers, because my break at night is so long -- rowers that do "two hours on, two hours off" must end up more sore than I do. I can only imagine what the 50-year-old ocean rowers have felt like!

My hands are still good, but I'm developing lots of sore muscle in my upper body -- shoulders, forearms, between my shoulder blades, etc... My back is holding up well, except for the occasional stiffness/fatigue at the end of a 9-10 hour day of rowing. I use a massage roller on my legs at night, which helps, and my legs seem fine other than that my shins, which are bruised and scraped from getting smashed by my oars/handles by mis-timed waves.

Pretty good winds forecast (more or less like today) for the next week or so, which hopefully means I can log some good mileage toward Antigua.

Thanks again for all the support!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 16, Part Two

After the watermaker drama of yesterday and this morning, I was anxious to get some rowing in -- it's a privilege to be able to row after all, rather than having to mess around with a watermaker.

The swells today were absolutely huge -- 25 plus feet would be my guess, with many bigger. My vantage point is a rowing seat roughly 4 inches off of the water, and looking up from the trough of a 25-foot swell is a sight to remember. Had a few really wet encounters, with waves breaking from the side into the deck and temporarily filling it with water, which is a real wake-up call. For the most part though, all went fine, and the 25-30 knots of tailwind should have really helped my mileage for the day.

I was happy to get into the cabin after sunset (there's no way I'm rowing in the dark in these seas...yet) and to continue to try my new approach of eating inside. The downside is that all my meals inside are cold, but the upside is that I get to stay dry and relax a little while I prepare them. I guess I'm still perfecting my approach, because today's meals left me with lasagna on my pillow and ramen noodles at the foot of my bed (don't forget, my bed takes up the entire cabin!).

Forgot to mention that yesterday in the beginning of my morning shift I saw another ship, this time the "B.W. Phoenix." It looked like a tanker of some sort and was traveling SW at 12 knots. It got within 2.5 miles of me, but again couldn't make radio contact. These big ships must not be monitoring ch 9 this far out at sea...

Slightly less wind is forecast for the weekend, so maybe these waves will get a little smaller. At this early stage in the trip I'd be happy to give up a little bit of speed for some peace of mind... We'll see if the weather agrees.

I'll send some pictures over the weekend... another BEARD WATCH for sure.


Day 16

A quick note as of 10AM GMT I have the watermaker back up and running. Still a little hit or miss, but we'll see. Made 10 liters of water just now. Tube blew out after three minutes the first time then held for 15+ after being reconnected. Fingers remain crossed.

Big seas out there right now (15+ feet?) and consistent winds of 25+ knots. Time to make up for lost mileage yesterday with some hard rowing!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day 15

A tough day for me and Liv. After a morning shift that was pretty good, other than being wet, I went inside for lunch/rest and to make some water, which I need to do about every two days. Well, 5 minutes in...BANG! Loud noise from the starboard side of the boat.

I open up the water-maker compartment and find that everything's wet. A bad sign. One of the high-pressure (~80 psi) hoses that goes from the pump to the membrane that actually filters out the salt had been ripped from its fitting on the pump end. Not good, as broken watemakers have forced the premature end of several past expeditions, and this is a risk I had hoped to minimize by going with a more expensive but reliable unit, a Spectra Ventura 150.

A handful of calls (orchestrated by my Dad -- thanks!) to the company in Massachusetts that did the install and still no solution. The part in question is a compression sleeve/nut assembly that fits over the hose and connects it securely to the pump. Well, once its been compressed it doesn't want to be loosened or compressed again, which makes for a tough fix after a blowout.

More phone calls to Simon Chalk at Woodvale to see about my options -- his response is, "we'll get something figured out, no worries." No worries...I'll work on that! I do have a solid backup that could potentially get me across the ocean (a PUR Survivor 35), but I don't have as much faith in it as I had in the Spectra. With that said, it's fantastic to have someone like Simon who's willing to help in situations like this without asking for anything in return.

So, I can't do much now in the dark, but will be back at it again tomorrow, so it probably won't be much of a rowing day while I work to fix the big water-maker or set up the backup for long-term use.

In the meantime, fingers crossed! Thanks again for all of the support and encouragement in your comments! Great to know that all of you are rooting for me out here.

Mrs. Scalzo - well, 100 divided by 7 is 14, with two days left over (right?). So if today's Tuesday, 100 days from now it will be Tuesday plus, Thursday! Did I get it? Whew...that took a lot outta me...

Alexander -- Great to hear that your class is interested in my trip! Thanks! There are probably sharks near me but I havent seen them because they're probably hiding underwater. If they come out to play I'll tell them you say "hi" and let you know.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 14

Two weeks on the ocean in the books (after tonight), and things are starting to settle down into a routine a little. My long morning and evening shifts with a two hour break in between seem to be working. Tonight I'm going to try an early morning shift 6AM-8AM, which will include sunrise which will be nice. Was planning to do two hours after sunset but decided against it because the moon won't rise for a few more hours. If I can get a sunrise shift in regularly it'll get me up around 12 hours of rowing a day which is where I'd like to be.

Few days in a row of progress to the west which has been nice, though never as far as I'd like of course. Saw another big sea turtle today, this time swimming East.

Aunt Jane, I haven't been able to get the Petrel to show me his feet so i can tell if they're webbed or not. Maybe if he's still here at the halfway mark a little champagne will loosen him up?

Lastly, the philosophical question of today was "How long has it been since I've worn briefs? I wonder if my grandparents generation was on to something with this and now I'm really missing out? Hmmmm..."


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 13

Hi again, everyone,

Thanks to Joy for filling in for me yesterday. Before I get into what's going on today, a little about yesterday.

All started well yesterday morning and I came out of the cabin to see two bright airplane exhaust trals running perfectly parallel to each other against a blue sky -- almost as if to say "You're not alone out here!" After that little tidbit of warmth and fuzziness, I got down to rowing and had a pretty good morning, with time to contemplate some of life's pressing questions, including "Would I rather have popsicles for toes or Pez dispensers for fingers?" (thanks, Anna).

Uneventful lunch break then in the afternoon shift the wind and seas kept building and building, which meant I was going faster but also getting exponentially wetter and more intimidated by the growing waves. After a particularly big wave broke right next to and into the rowing position, filling it with water (again), I finally called it a day around 6 and put out the sea anchor in hopes that things would quiet down overnight, as they often do.

I crawled into the cabin last night cold and soaking wet (which guaranteed that the cabin would be wet all night, too), skipped dinner, made a couple phone calls back home, and tried to ignore the pounding that the boat and I were taking from the waves outside. Despite the fact that the sea anchor keeps my bow to the waves, they don't all come from the same direction, so I can take a few pretty solid glancing blows from the side as the boat corrects. No fun, but thankfully the boat is designed for just these sorts of situations, so its more uncomfortable than it is unsafe.

Morning comes and the waves haven't shrunk and instead have gotten larger. My dad somehow is awake at 4AM EST and texts to say that the wind will be moderating little in the next day or so, meaning I can wait around for another 24 hours and things might be better outside -- not the most appealing scenario. I tried a phone call to four-times ocean rower Simon Chalk at Woodvale Challenge (who's also doing weather for me) to see when the storm that's blowing through and causing all these waves would settle down. Despite the shaky satellite connection, the answer was clear: "This isn't a storm, this is the trade winds and it's like this all the way to Antigua." Shows what I know.

The lesson: get used to the bigger waves and to rowing soaking wet, and both will get you to Antigua faster. So today I salvaged about a half day of rowing and hope to be back on track (and faster) tomorrow.


P.S. I had my first sighting of phosphorescent plankton tonight. I've been trailing a knotted rope to help keep my stern to the waves at night when I'm trying to sleep. When I stuck my head out of the rear hatch tonight I had a 50-foot trail of greenish-blue-lighted water following me.

Day 12

Hi from Minneapolis -- it's Joy's turn today. It's 6 whole degrees here, and it's been snowing all day. I spent most of the morning cursing the cold and feeling sorry for myself, until I talked to Paul. Don't worry, he's fine! But he is riding out some weather on sea anchor. He was pretty cold and wet when I talked to him, but he's now hunkered down in his cabin watching "Rob and Big" on his laptop. Not being able to row is frustrating, but it will be good to get some rest.

He's been making some westward progress the last couple of days, which is encouraging. There's something satisfying about turning in the direction of home! He says the rowing is still going well, and his body's holding up so far, so no real complaints. He just wishes the winds would calm a bit so that he could row again. For now you can picture him belted into his bed (literally -- he's got seatbelts) and belting out bad country music. He's hoping Brooklyn what's-her-name will come to life and burst into song, but so far no luck.

Paul posted some pictures of the inside of his cabin the other day, so I thought I'd add a few to give it some perspective. These were taken during various stages of boat construction. More pictures are available through the Flickr link at the bottom of each page of

This is the interior of Paul's living space, as it looked during construction. The holes lead to storage compartments which are now stuffed full of freeze-dried food, vitamins, and a solar-powered desalinator to create drinking water (that takes up the entire right-hand compartment). The walls are white now, and covered with maps of the sea near the Canary Islands, and the approach to Antigua.

The boat was designed to match Paul's specifications, including allowing just enough headroom for him to sit up...

...and just enough cabin length to stretch out flat. I'm the one in the photo below, and Paul's got a few inches on me, so imagine this as an even tighter fit. Then add a medical kit, a life raft, 2 weeks worth of freeze-dried food and a bag of sheepskin (I'll let him explain what that's for). Suddenly he can't quite stretch out anymore...

This was the first (albeit imaginary) thousands and thousands of strokes...

Stay tuned, Paul should be able to write personally more often in the coming week. For now, thanks for all the support -- Paul's been overwhelmed by your encouragement. Thanks especially to the school classes who are following the expedition! Among others, hi to Patti Raub's Kindergarten class, Alice Kiereck's 8th Graders, Denise Scalzo's 8th Graders, Teddi Black's 2nd grade class, Al Penna and everyone at our alma mater, Binghamton High School, and to the McElligott family, who are in our prayers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 11

Progress to the Southwest today, and I should be crossing 20 degrees west longitude overnight. I like to think of the row as consisting of four quarters, each being 10 degrees of longitude, starting at 20W and ending at 60W. Antigua is at 61W and change, but I figure that, at that point, when I can see the lights of the island, etc... the hardest parts will be over.

So, with that in mind, today marks the end of the warm-up (a long warm-up, I know!) and the beginning of the first (and longest) leg of the race - longest because I'll want to make some more meaningful progress south in addition to the west I'll need to get to the next line at 30W.

Sorry for the short and boring update today, I'll have something more interesting tomorrow, I promise!

One little gem though - today I caught myself singing along to "Chattahoochee" (Alan Jackson?)... how's that for a visual?


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 10

Day 10 in the books...double digits now which is some kind of progress at least. Also crossed 24 degrees N, and there are several days of winds coming in from the east so I should be able grab some western mileage as well.

A little bit about wildlife -- Laura and Alexander, plus Katy, Chris, Dan, Anna, and Zara, sorry no sharks yet, not sure if thats a bad thing. I watched shark week on Discovery and could do without a real-life encounter. Doesn't rule out a swim down the line though. Stay tuned.

Today I saw two big turtles. As slow as I'm going when I'm rowing they were going slower so sorry no pictures. They were big, with shells a little smaller than a garbage can lid (a few feet across?) and were a light brown in color. Anyone know what kind they might have been? I'm hoping for Ridley Sea Turtles...yes, these actually exist.

I also have a little black bird that I've seen every day since Day 2. If he sticks around long enough for me to come up with one I'll name him -- suggestions welcome. His wings are maybe a foot across, mostly black with a few white tail feathers. He's also got a v-shape in lighter feathers over his back and wings. Some kind of petrel maybe? Did I make that up? I'll try to get a picture...

Nancy - I hear the water's around 70-75 where i am, which means its just above freezing when it hits my face.
Devon H - so far I've been rowing about 10 hours per day. 830AM to 130PM, then 3PM to 8PM or so.

Looking forward to an update on the football playoffs too...



Friday, January 9, 2009

Day 9

Hi again from the Atlantic!

A sloppy day out here today with wind coming from the north west trying to blow me south (which is ok) but also east (bad). Spent the morning fighting it and getting splashed and sprayed with what seemed like every wave that went by my starboard side.

I had the wind at almost 90 degrees to my track (perpendicular to my intended SW course), and the waves at 40 degrees to starboard off my stern. The water had a habit of splashing the hull and going straight up, where it was then picked up by the wind and tossed into my lap! It wasn't really as bad as it sounds, but annoying for sure.

I decided to give back a little of my hard earned west in the afternoon (not that there was much of it, anyway) to take some south, which improved matters a fair amount. The forecast is for winds shifting to come from the north then northeast over the weekend and into Monday, at which point I'll get back that western mileage and more.

Anyway, I hear it's almost the weekend in the real world. No big weekend plans out here...maybe some rowing. Yeah, rowing sounds good...

Haven't seen the comments from yesterday yet, but hope to get them soon. They're the highlight of my day!



Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 8

Ok, wow. Where do I begin?!?

First, to what people probably really want to hear about -- the ocean. I woke up today to a pretty calm morning and then almost fell over when I turned around to see a cargo ship on the horizon and coming my way. I couldn't make radio contact, but picked them up on my AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver. I'm not sure where they were going, but they were making 15 knots headed SW. Despite all the technology I have on board, I still don't like the idea lots of massive freighters speeding around me on autopilot. Oh well ...

After watching the ship for a while (funny, I could see it from Liv's luxurious bathroom, too!), I hit the oars for a 4-hour session before lunch; the rowing was a little sloppy and didn't feel all that great. The afternoon/evening shift was a different story...

I came out at 3:30 after rearranging my messes in the cabin to find the calmest water of trip so far. After the various poor excuses for rowing strokes I've been using for the past week (strokes that are just designed to keep boat speed up), this afternoon was more like what flat-water rowers dream about. As opposed to short, choppy, 1/2 slide strokes that keep the boat oriented to the oncoming waves, this afternoon I was able to row long and smooth, stretching out my sore muscles and sitting up straight for once. What a relief!

Generally my body is holding up well -- the benefit of being 25 and healthy, I suppose. Hands were full of hotspots by day 5 or so, but this seems to have cleared up and they're getting to be nicely callused. My lower back has been a little stiff at times, but nothing to write home about (oops - I just did). Backside -- the pain of all ocean rowers -- is holding up OK; a few sore spots, but I'm giving them full treatment and trying my softest butt pads. Right now I have sheepskin on top of a three-inch thick wheelchair seat pad, which is working well. So, in short, no complants physically.

I wish I could go through and reply to every note you all have sent - I can't believe the number of responses from people from all aspects of my life, the friends of their friends, and people who haven't ever met me or anyone from the Row for Hope team. Incredible!

A quick shout-out to Dr. Penna and everyone at Binghamton High School. I'm afraid to think about whether any of the teachers there remember me -- I, of course, remember them well. Mme Wetsig, I still have bad dreams about trying to learn French. It wasn't your fault!

Finally, someone asked for pictures of the inside of my cabin, which I'm sending separately and will hopefully make it into this entry. I swear I didn't take this one to intentionally have the beautiful Ms. Brooklyn Decker front and center, but, hey, it's a small cabin, so she would have been in there somewhere. When things get boring I'll go through all of the interesting stuff I have in here...

Far too long already -- more tomorrow, and thanks again for the support!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day 7

Hi from the Atlantic!

My first direct blog update now that things are starting to seem "normal' out here in a 19-foot boat in the middle of the Atlantic. Many thanks to my family and Liz for keeping everyone up to date with news from my increasingly-encouragng (I hope) phone calls, and for forwarding along all of your support from the blog!

In short, all seems to be going well out here, and I've just wrapped up a 10 hour or so day on the oars. The six-hour (wow, that sounds like a lot!) afternoon shift was my first with music and I had Springsteen, Alabama, and the Allman Brothers to keep me company through the shift.

The monumental adjustment period of the last few days seems to be at least slowing a little bit, and a few things are starting to normalize. I'm working my way through the freeze-dried food and so far, aside from being incredibly salty, it has been fine. Sea sickness is getting to be rare, though I'm sure I could find ways to bring it on if i tried. I'm still taking my meds (Stugeron, thanks Chris!) and found it to be pretty good.

Still lots to learn and deal with out here, but your encouragement and support over the last few days has been fantastic -- I wish I could have each of you out here in person every now and then to see what I'm seeing!

More tomorrow,


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 6: Smooth Sailing

It's Paul's dad once again, with an update from Paul.

Yesterday, Day 5, was his best day yet, covering over 40 miles. But he looks to be on a pace to beat that on Day 6.

Paul was able to exchange emails with a Binghamton TV reporter today, and copied us. Here's what he wrote:

"All is going well here at about 2 PM local time on Day 6. I have the seasickness on the ropes and am feeling good. Have eaten lots this morning and would be feasting more if not for all the rowing that needs to be done!

"Am hoping to find a good routine soon -- so far have been rowing from 8 AM to 1 PM, rest/eat from 1 PM until 3, then row from 3 until 8 or so, at which point it's dark and I'm ready to rest. This gets me 10 hours of rowing, and I'll want to be closer to 12-15 if I can manage it. Think the trick will be to add a 4-5 hour shift from 9-12PM or so.

"We'll see, and am hoping the good weather lasts and thinking lots about my friends and family back in Binghamton. Pls forigve the spelling mistkes -- the keyboard is moving around on me! Best, Paul"

On the sat phone, I asked Paul if he'd seen any other vessels; he hasn't since leaving the Canaries. But today he saw a pod of about 60 dolphins, racing and jumping around him. Pretty impressive sight!

Paul has managed to get his steering problems resolved (he was so busy working on the linkage today that he forgot to take his seasickness medicine - a sure sign that he's getting his sea legs!). And he's really pumped to get your comments. Keep it up!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Day 5: Still adjusting

Hey everyone! It is Liz this time. I had the pleasure of catching up with Paul (aka the boss) this morning. It was mid-day and he was taking a break from rowing for some snacks and water and sounded really strong and in good spirits.

Today we had a big victory on the seasickness front -- Paul actually felt good enough to cook up one of his freeze-dried meals. His only complaint was the flavor profile of the spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken; we will take that as good news. Once he hits his routine he will try to eat at least 4 freeze-dried dinners a day. These meals will be a large component of his 10,000+ calorie diet necessary to fuel him.

The nights are still tough. The winds seem to slowly build all day, so by nightfall when he can't see the waves they are much stronger and he feels like he is getting tossed around more then he would like. He knows many previous rowers have really enjoyed rowing at night so he is hoping the conditions are specific to the current weather system and could change soon.

Again, every time we speak with him we share all of your comments and it seems to be the highlight of his day, so thank you all so much for your continued support! He seems to much prefer hearing stories from us rather than answering our battery of questions to him... so KEEP 'EM COMING!

I can't resist including one of my favorite picture from our time in La Gomera. As a bit of background, apparently in towns where homes do not have chimneys, Santa climbs a rope. It was only fitting to have one on the boat too (again, a bit of inspiration for Paul to take over the daily postings).

More to come...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day 4: Adjusting slowly

Hi all! It's Joy this time-- Paul will take over these posts before long, but for now he's still focusing on adjusting to life at sea.

He called this morning, and reports that his stomach isn't what he'd call normal, but it's definitely improving. He sounds very tired, but he mustered up the energy to leave me with a list of things to do, so I know he's on the mend. Also, he continues to make good progress at the oars, which is encouraging!

His proximity alarm still isn't working as intended, and he's using his backup steering system while he sorts out what seems to be a jam in his toe-steering. We're confident that both issues can be resolved, but until then he's not getting much sleep. He spent last night in a pattern of setting the rudder and checking for nearby ships, then lying in the cabin for 2 hours telling himself not to get up and do it all over again. Oh, and he did get splashed in the face after leaving his hatch cracked to air out the cabin. Imagine lying in bed, somewhere between asleep and awake, and having a bucket of water thrown in your face. This was an entertaining visual for me, but Paul was less amused by the experience.

Despite the mechanical issues, we are all encouraged by the fact that everything he's experienced physically and mentally so far has been anticipated, and prepared for as well as possible. Thanks to the ocean rowing community for all the good advice!

Ok, nobody can tell Paul I posted this, but here's a shot of him trying not to be sick on the ferry to La Gomera. If you're having trouble picturing what Paul looks like nauseous, this will help:[note to The Boyz-- I know you have all the visuals of this you could need already!]

Perhaps as motivation for Paul to get on his feet and start updating the blog himself, I'll post some evidence of his dancing abilities tomorrow [hint: Ridleys are not known for rhythm]....

In the meantime, stay tuned, and thanks for the support! Things are going well overall, and improving every day!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Day 3: Rougher Seas, But a Calmer Stomach

It's Paul's dad again, with the latest from Paul, who called around sunset, his time.

Paul's been making good progress: 32 miles on Day 1 (8:00 AM, Jan. 1, to 8:00 AM, Jan. 2) and 39.6 miles on Day 2.

The weather changed during the night on Friday night, tossing him around a bit. He's now in the middle of some real waves, which naturally are making rowing more of a challenge. For most of today, the pattern has been "row a little, row a little, pump out the footwell; row a little, row a little, pump out the footwell."

In the current conditions, Paul is having to fight the tendency of the winds to push him in a northwesterly direction; it's been a steady battle today to keep the course more to the west (toward home) than to the north. Fortunately, he's well away from the Canaries now, and doesn't have to worry about being blown ashore somewhere.

As darkness falls, Paul has set his sea anchor (a parachute-like device that fills with water once it's tossed overboard and keeps the boat from drifting), and it seems to be working as advertised. As sailors say, "Set the sea anchor, get some rest, and THEN get up to fight again, with your brain back in working order."

The good news is that his seasickness seems to be getting a bit better. He's happy that, as the seas have worsened, his queasiness has not. He's managed to down 3 Cliff Bars, 3 chocolate bars and lots and lots of Gatorade; when I talked with him, he was also eyeing a bag of trail mix with some suspicion.

Paul's decided that the aft cabin, where he lives now, is a whole lot smaller than he had realized; Joy's answer is for him to eat more of the food that's stashed there, to make more room!

We're relaying your Comments and emails to Paul, and he's very encouraged by them. Keep them up!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Day 2: That Queasy Feeling

It's Paul's dad, with an update from Paul via sat phone:

Paul called at around 1:30 P.M. EST (sunset, out where he is) to report on Day 2 of the row. On the whole, it was a very good report. So far the challenges he's facing are pretty much the ones he expected (see his 6:25 P.M. blog of December 31, for his predictions).

The main challenge has been seasickness. The only two places where Paul's been at all comfortable are the rowing seat or the aft cabin (leaning up against the back wall with his eyes closed), and neither place is comfortable for very long. The queasiness itself would be bad enough, but it makes it hard for him to eat, and the resulting loss of energy has made everything an effort.

Nonetheless, Paul's put in a lot of time at the oars, and he's made good progress. As you can see from the GPS tracker, he's well west of La Gomera and south of El Hierro. He's been traveling in a southwestly direction (rather than straight south, as he had originally planned), but he's been doing that in order to take advantage of the prevailing winds. So far, so good.

Paul also expected to have difficulty sleeping. But on his very first night at sea, at least, the cause was a surprise. He was repeatedly awakened by the sound of his collision-avoidance alarm going off. On investigation, it appears to have been warning him that Liv was near herself, not some other vessel. Paul's confident that the alarm can be trained to behave properly, but for last night, at least, he just turned it off and set a timer to awaken him every 20 minutes, so he could go out and scan visually for approaching vessels. A tough way to spend the night, especially if you're seasick!

Despite the above, Paul sounded in good spirits, and he's obviously looking forward to settling into more of a routine. He didn't say so, but I'm sure that prayers for relief from the seasickness would be appreciated!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Day 1: Here We Go!

[Sigh!] Ok, it's Joy again, here's what I know (spoiler alert: it's all good so far):

Paul left the port of San Sebastian de la Gomera at about 6 minutes before 8:00 this morning, marking the first recorded instance of a Ridley being early for anything. He crossed the line of longitude that serves as the official start of the route about 10 minutes after 8. He's had a beautiful day for rowing, and the forecast remains good.

Since then he's been heading south and slightly west, hoping to set a course that will take him south of the island of El Heiro. He called home at about sunset to say that he'd had a good day so far, and is feeling queasy, but not as dreadfully ill as he'd been afraid of (there's still plenty of time to feel dreadfully ill, of course). So in short, so far so good!

Thanks to so many of you whose prayers and well-wishes have brought us this far. I'll be passing along messages to Paul, including comments that are posted on this blog, so keep them coming! And now's the time to help us spread the word about Row for Hope. We have two monumental goals ahead of us; Paul's row, and to raise over $500,000 for cancer research. We're off to a great start on both fronts, but we can't get there without your help!

Many thanks also to Simon Chalk of Woodvale Challenge, who among infinite other things he's done for us, was there to see Paul off this morning, and took these pictures:

...and he's off!

Happy New Year!

This is Joy with a very quick note to let everyone know that Paul left the port of San Sebastian, and is off to a good start. I'll get back to you with more details in the morning!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from La Gomera!

Last update from Gomera, I promise!

Quite the spectacle here with fireworks displays going off from competing corners of town - really impressive when witnessed from my perch up on the hill. The town was dead before midnight when apparently everyone was resting up for the real party, which from the sound of it has started downtown.

I guess that means I won't have too many spectators for my early departure tomorrow - a good thing from my point of view.

Now hopefully a few hours of sleep before what may be the biggest challenge of my life.