Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Messages from Ol' Blighty

Thanks for all your messages everyone, really appreciated. Hayley and Rosanna, thanks for yours, we're fine.

We are trying to use as little power as possible so sorry to ask this but please keep messages to a minimum now, it's not that we don't want to hear from you all, just that we may not be able to recharge the phone if it's battery dies. Also need to ensure we have power for the VHF so we can speak to the coastguard as we near Cape Verde.

A BIG thank you to Caroline and CARPHONE WAREHOUSE for organising the Iridium phone for us. We couldn't have done without it, even if the bill is going to need a mortgage to pay it off. Hope you had a lovely honeymoon in Colarado Caroline. Thanks for all that you've done.

At night we no longer use the main light as it drains the battery too much, so it's very dark! We've got some battery powered lights but they are not as strong. I think we've both adjusted to the nights but it's still as eerie as hell at times.

Thanks to all our sponsors, friends and familes and the kind people that have provided equipment on loan. Wishing you all the best for 2009!

Bye for now, Ken & Aldo xx

New Year's Eve - Rock bottom!

Just a quick update to let you know we are both fine. Jupiter and Neptune are still at war with us and we're struggling to make any headway. We are both absolutely gutted. We just want to be able to get on and row.
The disappointment cannot be put into words. Two years of hard work and detemination to get this far and the Gods of the sea and sky are determined to derail us. The technical problem just adds to our frustration and we really have no choice than to try to get ashore as soon as we can.

We estimate we are about 415 miles off the coast of Cape Verde, which is now our final destination.
Latest coordinates N23 31 707 W20 54 122.
We should be so much further by now but just haven't been able to put in the rowing hours! Urrrrrrgh! Why? why? why? Such bad luck with the weather!
We are aiming to row to the island of Sal. Will keep you posted, but at the moment the conditions are holding us back and it feels impossible to get anywhere. Just need a little bit of luck to get us on our way!

Thanks everyone for your support. It's not going to be the outcome we wanted and I'm sorry. The disappointment feels overwhelming at the moment but that's all part of taking on such a challenge, there are no guarantees and the big challenge now is making it safely to Cape Verde. I guess that in itself is going to be tricky but we're up for it.

Certainly isn't going to be the start we had hoped for to 2009 but I'm looking forward to coming home. Sorry we wont be going to Antigua Dawnie. Hope the funeral was ok yesterday.

Gill, no doubt you'll be pleased to see Ken, as I hear the blow up husband you got for Christmas is a very poor substitute. Ken sends his love to you and all the family.

Everyday is the same out here and I've only just realised it's New Year's Eve. So wishing you all a happy and healthy 2009.

Hope to see you all a bit sooner than planned. Let's hope the weather is kind over the next week or so. Gotta go as trying to preserve what power we have left....

Happy New Year from a very disappointed Aldo & Ken xxx

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Tuesday 30 December - Thunderstorms without charge!

So here we are two days further into the trip and we haven't moved a bloomin' nautical mile! Frustrated, bored and p***d off is putting it mildly. The sun hasn't shone for days and the solar panels are still not working properly so we're running on very low power, so apologies for having to keep communication short.
The wind is still blowing a South Westerly, so against us all the way. It's been impossible to row against but believe me we've tried. Hence the sea anchor has been out more than in!

Last night we had severe thunderstorms and during the day heavy rain, so we beginning to think that Jupiter is determined to give us the hardest time possible. With that said we are considering our options. We're looking to drop south and row to Cape Verde Islands as without power and hence without any form of communication, the risk is too great to attempt the full 3000 miles to Antigua. We're both gutted to think our challenge may be over due to technical problems but we need to make a calculated judgement and think of safety first.

Hopefully we'll be able to give another update soon, power permitting, so keep checking.

Rest assured we're both doing fine, keen as ever to row and are determined to use our frustration to get ashore safely. Fingers crossed we could be there in 10 days or so.

No coordinates today as we've not really moved. We just need some good luck to come our way as we've had a distinct lack of any so far! Hopefully Neptune will be kinder to us now.

Thinking of you all. Ken & Aldo

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Saturday 27 December - technical problems!!

Another very disappointing day, not only has the weather been against us yet again but we're now without any charge from our solar panels. Fingers crossed it's just a little blip and when daylight returns the solar panels will get charging again. Needless to say we are feeling just a little deflated.
We've only managed about a mile per hour today, so it ain't good. We've even changed our routine to doing alternate one hour rows but it doesn't seem to have helped.

Our coordinates tonight N24 16 068 W 20 56 694. Yeah, not moved much have we? Well better not use what little power we have, so going to leave it there....

We're in good spirits and keeping positive but realise it could all be over if the solar panels don't kick in. Please God it's just a little technical blip!

Good night. Ken & Aldo xxxx

Boxing Day & strong South Westerly's

Having rowed about 29 miles yesterday we now appear to be going nowhere again! The strong South Westerly wind is making it impossible and we are bored and frustrated. The rain is back and we've decided to give up trying to row until the weather subsides a bit.

Last reading N24 36 595 W 20 54 168. Ken keeps twittering on about "now we know why sails were invented!!"

Polly, thanks for the Christmas box of surprises. Really at a loss with what we should do with the condoms you packed and more to the point, what's with the willie vibrator?? Getting enough rocking here without adding to it. Hope you've had a good couple of days and thanks for going to the trouble of packing up the goodie box for us.

Well Gigsy you'll be glad to know I wore my Welsh footie socks on Christmas day. All day! Hope you've had a good one.
We've both been reading for most of the day, as little else to do. Haven't even bothered to cook anything as we don't feel we deserve it. Really fed up that we're out of our shift pattern of two hours on, two hours off. Really hope things improve for tomorrow.

Thanks for the book Ziggy, I read it in two days, which is pretty good going for me.

Well going to sign off now. Keep sending your messages and sorry we cannot return them. Trying to keep the phone bill down as this trip is definitely costing an arm, leg, torso, foot et al.

Not sure my body will be worth anything after this!

Love to everyone back home.
Ken & Aldo xxx

P.S. Kiffy has been back and seems to be taking great joy out of the fact that we've hardly got anywhere. He's laughing at us!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas Day 2008 - Santa's helpers, please give us some!

Well sadly the winds have been against us once again today so we've made little progress. Thanks for all your text messages from home. Really odd being away from you all on Christmas Day. Hope you've all enjoyed your roast turkey lurky. We've been dreaming of a nice roast dinner but I settled for Chiken Korma again.

Ken and I had some fun with our gifts from home. We hear you were given a substitute hubby for the day Gill, of the blow up kind! We put tinsel on the deck and wore our Father Christmas hats (compliments of Dawnie)and pulled a few crackers (of the paper kind)but just not the same as being cosy with our loved ones at home as, I'm sure you can all imagine. Missing you all.

Have attempted to row today but may only have travelled about 10 miles as the weather is really not in our favour. I cannot wait to get home. The next six weeks feel like a lifetime away. Looking forward to our time in Antigua.

Well everyone hope you enjoy the rest of your day. How was the Queen's speech? Our coordinates at 2.30 were N24 51 294 W20 31 514. Don't tell me Pete, we're going backwards!!

Sorry our calls home were brief but lovely to speak to you all. Thinking of you.

Ken & Aldo xxxx

Kiffy has hardly been around today. I think he must be partying somewhere else. If only we could fly off for a day for a change of scenery! Saying that we've had some wonderful sunrises out here on the big ocean. My favourite part of the day.

God bless everyone and let's pray for some fair trade winds to blow us in to 2009!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve - going nowhere!

Evening everyone, sorry we can't call to personally send our festive wishes but I already need a mortgage to pay the phone bill - £356 so far! But we are thinking of you all back home and wishing you and your families a very happy time, hope you don't miss us too much as we'll be missing you far more!

No doubt you're all getting into the festive SPIRIT in more ways than one.
Think of us as you tuck into your roast and raise a glass for fair weather and good trade winds to send us on our way to Antigua.
Hmmmm the thought of a cool Guinness, hmmmm.

We've not travelled far today. The weather has been against us and the wind so foul that we decided to throw the sea anchor and stop rowing as all efforts seemed pointless. All in all it's made for a rather boring day. Kiffy has been back with us but even he got bored and scooted off to look for more fun. We even tried a double row - together- but to little avail. Had some lovely tuna today, sadly not one we caught but mixed with mayonnaise on crackers it was a treat. Not sure what we're having for dinner. "What's cooking Ken?"

Thanks for the footie updates Jason. Have to say my interest in footie has been washed away out here, certainly puts life into perspective. Sorry to hear about the loss of your Auntie Elsie, Dawnie. Hope Auntie Pam is better now that she is out of hospital. Send my best wishes to your Dad, what a great fella.

Good news is that we haven't been seasick for days, so long may that continue. If Neptune is kind to us we hope to get a crack on tomorrow. Antigua still feels a long, long way to go and I can't wait to get there.

Every muscle in my body feels sore and every bone creaks under the strain. So difficult to stretch out here and no place to go! My entire body aches and each movement reminds me that my "youthful" bounce must have bounced back and left me! Poor old boy!

So our coordinates today at 6pm N25 03 350 W 20 35 230, but doubt we've moved far from yesterday.

Ah well, Merry Christmas everyone. Have a lovely time celebrating, easy on the sprouts. We'll be thinking of you, I'm salivating at the thought of roast turkey with all the trimmings.... with love Aldo & Ken xxxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Waterworks on the blink! Tuesday afternoon 23 December

Tuesday and we were having a good day and then..... the desalinator pack's up. Hmmmm after about 20 or so minutes fiddling with tubes and wires we call Jim at Mactra and he talks us through the process and in no time it's back in action and we're deslinating again! Yippee!

Started the day on Corned Beef Hash - did miss the HP sauce though - just not the same without it! Ken being the big bear that he is, stuck to his morning oats. We've had an admin day today, getting things 'ship shape' and having a tidy up.

Not a very eventful day really. Kiffy has been back, squawking as usual but very little other life out here today. We thought we saw a sea water croc on the starboard side but it turned out to be a block of six by two!

I'm still finding it difficult to sleep. In fact neither of us has knapped much today, so I hope I might sleep like a log tonight. I still hear voices at night and they certainly bring my imagination alive! The waves continue to lash at RITA and there's just no way of keeping dry for very long, even when the wind subsides a little, the waves keep on coming!

You may be wondering how the old spotty botty's are doing. Well even if you are not I'm gonna tell ya! Not bad actually. A little tender but I'm managing on one seat cushion whereas Ken is taking the luxury throne and has been sitting on two cushions from day one!

Have we lost much? Probably a pound of two, the little ducks that got washed away and today one of my towels blew away. We haven't lost our marbles yet, well no more than the few we were short before we started and agreed to do this darn trip!

Well it's my turn on the oars so signing off now.

Good night and God bless, Ken & Aldo xx

Whining about Maynard's - Tuesday 23 December

It's midday Tuesday and we think we've had quite a successful 24 hours! We think we've travelled about 50 miles. Perhaps it's to do with the hot & spicy dinner we had last night, not the usual trade winds! I had my favourite curry - Chicken Korma and Ken had Chilli con Carne. Still feeling a little peckish I followed that with a Pot Noodle. Well we've been powering on ever since.
Actually I think I had the edge due to my sugar feast. I have been eating wine gums like there is no tomorrow. Ken wont touch them as they are not MAYNARD'S - and you thought I was a fussy eater! Didn't know he was so brand loyal! Anyway he is highly offended that I should have such substandard sweets on board, but hey more for me, so I'm happy as Larry.

Coordinates at 12.30 in the afternoon - it's a hot one today, so we've both slapped on the P20 suncream - N25 18 642 W 20 13 769 - how's it looking on the map Pete?
Hey thanks for the text Scott, yeah could do with a Cornetto off my Italian ice cream van out here in the heat, ha,ha,ha! Anything remotely cool would be very welcome.

It's much cooler at night, especially when we have to go back on shift in cold wet clothes. OK I wont start whinging, I'll leave that to Ken and his lack of wine gums. Getting in and out of the cabin doesn't get any easier as each day passes. The stiff muscles make the contortionist act more of a challenge each time. We've certainly had some entertaining moments. We rely on our own entertainment out here. Haven't had any charge on the IPod for a few days, so not even any music to distract my thoughts, but it's back on charge today! Haven't convinced Ken to listen to my toons yet! Give him time, he'll succumb.

I'm on shift next, so be back later....Aldo & ken

Monday, 22 December 2008

Battleship Grey Monday 22 December

It's grey, grey, grey today. There's been a low mist pretty much all day and no real sign on sunlight breaking through. It's almost spooky being at sea in this envelope of fog. We've been waiting for the Bismark and Tirpitz to appear in the mist, ready for battle. We've been creating stories and imagining what it must have been like all those years ago for those young men at sea going into the unknown. Put's our little expedition into perspective. It's been cold too, very cold, so Ken's over zealous slapping on of sun cream this morning (thanks to P20 we've got plenty of stock on board) was mistimed and a good dollop of goose fat might have done a better job!
Talking of birds...Henrietta still hasn't laid any eggs, so no fry up this morning but we had chicken, sausage and beans instead - compliments of Snowy and the MOD - thanks mate. Not sure what Maynard's kitchen will produce tonight but I've been munching on sweets and chocolate bars for most of the day ( thanks to all those who donated so much sugary stuff including Elin and her boxes of chocolate) - I'm in my element with all this sugar. The store of sweets seems endless. Ken calls the cabin the "novelty sweet and toy shop" (as that's where all our goodies are stored under the bed - sorry sleeping section - calling it a bed is a totally misrepresentation of the facts!!). Daisy Woo my little mascot is tied in the corner, keeping a close eye on the stock control. Meanwhile Animal- compliments of Duncan and Ziggy - sits outside to ward off the creatures of the sea underworld. We did have some cute ducks with us but sadly they got washed overboard and are now bobing somewhere at sea.

We don't feel like we've made much progress today. It's felt like a very long day. It tends to get dark by 6.30pm and it's quite eerie when it's so dark. It's impossible to determine where the sea ends and the sky begins, just one dark black cloak wrapped around RITA as the waves continue to rise and fall. The flickers come quick and fast. you can see them coming in daylight but there's no time to take cover and you end up drenched top to toe. Then there are the rollers that are a challenge to row over but are generally quite mild compared to any of the other waves. The worst are the rogues, that sneak up behind you and they thwak on the back of the head and neck, so strong that they could tip you off the boat. Just now there seems to be some raging white horses building up so I think I'll go take cover and check out the sweet store.

Our coordinates at 4pm today were N 25 44 953 W 19 33 169, too dark to take any readings now!
Sleep well everyone, coz you know I won't. "I can sleep through anything Ken", probably will be giving out the ZZzzzzzzz's in seconds!

Hopefully it isn't costing us anything to receive your messages via the Iridium website, so keep 'em coming. However, Duncan may need your help on a mortgage for the phone bill so far....£240, help! £2.25 per minute, that's daylight robbery. So we wont speak soon but do keep in touch.

Aldo & Ken

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sunday 21 December A Sharky Tail (well fin actually)

Survived Saturday night at sea and fortunately my sickness has subsided but Ken is still feeling pretty rough. We think it is more likely to be some of the food that has upset him this time rather than seasickness, but out here it's nigh on impossible to know as our bodies are still adjusting to such extreme conditions.
The salt manages to get into everything, despite how careful we are when preparing our food. Everything across the deck is encrusted with the white salt.
It's been a sunny but choppy day but we've managed to put in some good rowing hours. If there is one big prize to being out here it is having real time to think. I'm doing so much thinking and coming up with so many different creative ideas, from words to songs to great commercial ads for chocolate bars, that right now I have so much new stuff going on in my head that I'm not really interested in what the footie scores are at home and the general stuff we all spend so much time thinking about back home. I am thinking of the people in my life, including one very special octagenarian that I was introduced to earlier this year. David, I hope you are keeping well, you're a wonderful fella and I look forward to seeing you and Pat in Antigua. Hope you can make it, when we can celebrate both our belated birthdays.
Well, there I was rowing away just before midday with all these great thoughts in my head when I felt something collide with RITA. I looked to the port side and there was Sharky, I got a glimpse of his tail fin and looked a bit closer, a little nipper about four foot long but the way he looked up at me, with his grimacing smile, it was if to say "what the hell you doing in my waters?" Well that was enough for me to take cover, I can tell you!
Fortunately Kiffy ( our cheeky Storm Petrel that has become our mascot) was hanging around and started squawking and little ol' Sharky was soon on his way. At least I think it was Kiffy who saved the day, or was it Hell Boy (aka Ken - more green faced than red faced!) surfacing from the cabin?

Ken is still not feeling great but I did enjoy my Chicken Korma tonight. Almost had fresh crab starter. A little crab got thrown on the deck by the waves this afternoon and scuttled across the deck. Managed to get a little bit on video before washing him back (with a glass of vodka - no only kidding, we haven't got that desperate yet and no we don't have vodka on board), washing him back where he belongs, in that wonderful deep blue ocean of life.

Big thank you to everyone who is sending text via the iridium phone. This can be done via a message/00881641444829. It's good to hear from you all. Thanks too for comments on the blog. Do keep them coming in.

Time to sign off now. Our coordinates at 22.15 Sunday night: N 25 58 160, W 19 07 162

Enjoy your last few days at work (for you office types) and Blue watch, Southall - hope you're not missing me too much!!

Good night. Aldo & Ken

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Throwing up on a Saturday Night

Well we've been at sea for just over a week now and had hoped we seen the last of the severe seasickness but it's come back with a vengeance. It's been a long time since I was throwing up on a Saturday night! Ken's really bad. We actually think it might be our cooking as the sea hasn't been quite so choppy lately. We are both feeling absolutely drained and awful. I just need to SLEEP!

Sploooosh! Oh I'm gonna have to go. Just got soaked. We've dropped the sea anchor for a bit but this means we face the wind and so keeping dry on deck just isn't an option! Thwack! It's no good the sea is coming over in all directions so I'll keep it short.

Our latest coordinates at 21.30 Saturday 20 December: N 24 09 214 W 18 27 991.

Sleep well everyone. Hope your Saturday night out was a good one. Thank you all for your continued support. I know people are adding donations to the justgiving site everyday, so BIG thank you for your generosity.

Aldo & Ken

Week 1 complete - Feeling stiff & sleeping like a baby! Friday 19th December

Another realtively successful night crossing the ocean, although I must confess we dropped the sea anchor and didn't row for 4 hours, it got a bit choppy and we were just so exhausted. It is really hard work - hats off to all those that have done this before us. We're definitely very aware that we ain't young whipper snappers anymore. Every muscle feels stiff and sore, my back is killing me (maybe I haven't mastered the technique yet - perhaps I should have tried rowing a boat on water before we set off).There's no roon to stretch out, so lying in the small cabin just compounds the stiffness. It's impossible to relax. We really do need a masseuse out here pronto! Any offers? The blisters are well and truly in evidence now and that lovely babysoft bottom is no more.

But talking of babies (unusual for a fella I hear you say) Ken has been sleeping like one. Unbelieveable! Nothing seems to wake him. There I lie in the confines of our triangular shaped cabin, with just 3 inches of foam as some form of mattress, the top of the cabin about a foot above my head, the rudder right behind my head, a sleepng bag and a squidgey neck roll (compliments of Cath - thanks Cath) and apart from the heavy, solid banging of the waves against poor RITA, everything conceivable on our small 24 foot boat seems to knock and rattle through the night. I've even been tying socks and T-shirts on to things, including the oars, to muffle the sounds but to little avail. Meanwhile, Ken bless him, is giving it the zzzzzzZZZZZZZ large and is totally oblivious to it all. Even the banging of the rudder which is situated right by our heads, doesn't stir him. Meanwhile I fall in and out of sleep, listening to the voices of the sea and different tales unfold each night. I don't think I've ever had such vivid dreams and the voices sound so real!

We had porridge for breakfast this morning but it wasn't like my Goldilocks makes it. "Sorry Ken, I cannot stomach this, it's going over board". It seems the fish enjoyed it. Ah well a few more biscuits filled a hole and a bit more of the loaf of bread that Antonio's men kindly gave us.

During the day it's been quite breezy so we're rowing in fleeces. The day started with a good westerly so it's helping us along. It's sunny and warm but the wind is keeping it a tad cool on board.

11am Friday 19 Dec N 26 14 927 W 17 51 459. Thanks for keeping a chart of our route Cath and Pete.
By this afternoon we will have been at sea for one full week. What a start we've had! Hmmmm I think I have a special note to open from Dawn - a "one week in" letter - something to look forward to, just hope I can read it as reading so far is nigh on impossible, even taking the coordinates down gives us blurred vision - "should have gone to specsavers". Hey talking of Specsavers I popped in their before we left and you'll never guess who I bumped into...................................................everyone! Hahahaha. Well you didn't think the jokes would get better out here!

Well back to it........think of us tonight when you're down the local having a pint or two.
Aldo & Ken

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Maynard's Kitchen

Well we really dined out big time tonight! Ken cooked pasta with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy (white wine!!) sauce and we had rice too (without the curry). This was followed by Spotted Dick with custard (and I'm not talking about Ken's anatomy) with two cups of tea. Oh it was divine. Best meal in days and we seem to have some very welcome respite from the sea sickness too!

The weather has been relatively mild today and we feel like we are making good headway at long last.
Our coordinates tonight N26 22 657 W 17 41 876

Hopefully the calmer seas will stay. Certainly our friendly Storm Petrel is staying with us. Squawking and swooping over the starboard bow, he spends the day almost dive bombing us. It feels like he's having a cheeky game at our expense. He's so full of energy, looking down on us laughing as we almost expire with the exertion!

BIG Hello to the guys at Len Neville's in Staines, we will definitely go for a foot operated rudder next time. BIG thank you to you for all your help and advice - really couldn't have done it without you. You've been a great support and I appreciate your call to Dawn.

It's been a busy day. The first time we have really had chance to do our ablutions. Ken had his first shave, not for me as I'm going gorilla stylie. We stripped down to our baby suits to freshen every nook and cranny and we feel relatively human again. Even did some washing!

Also BIG thanks to Jim MacDonald at MACTRA for the loan of the water maker, it worked a treat today. We managed to desalinate 14 litres of water.

It's been a good day. Even saw four dolphins playing today, spinning, jumping and twisting in the ocean. Absolutely amazing sight. Certainly all your senses seem to become very sensitive out here. At night I hear voices talking to me. Last night Gary Newman spoke to me. I also dream a lot, probably because you fall in and out of sleep for very short periods of time, but I'm convinced I can hear voices, every night. It's an incredible experience!

Apologies that we are unable to text or email anyone, we still haven't mastered this Satellite phone and it does cost an arm and a leg and we need those, if we are to have any chance of getting to Antigua!!

Well must get back on my shift now. Hope you're all keeping well and getting ready for the festive break. This time next week you'll all be asleep after too much turkey and wine. Think of us.....

Ken & Aldo

18 December 07.27

Just letting you all know our location this morning N 26 34 804 W 17 18 825. Thanks Cath and Pete for logging our dodgy progress - ever felt like you're going the wrong way!
Bit of a North Easterly this morning but the 2 hour shifts are going well.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Satisfying the Spanish "Authorities"

Antonio's men have been with us all day. We've refused to be taken ashore as we know our paperwork is up to date and we are "officially" in the water. It's been a real nuisance having this big orange boat alongside and has really hampered our rowing today but at least we are now into our 2 hours on 2 hours off alternate shift pattern.
By mid afternoon the Guarda Seville arrive by helicopter and insist we go ashore but after some discussion over the swell of the water as I wobble on the deck, I convince them to allow me on board their boat to show them our documentation. They agree and in no time their jetski is zooming over to collect me and take me into the comfort of their warm cabin, with coffee and biscuits.
The crew are very understanding and are just working to Antonio's orders. The Guarda Seville are satisfied and is soon hovering and swooping above us again. Seems his going to follow us all the way!
We're still suffering seasickness but feeling a liittle more normal if that's possible! The hot tea is going down well, but also coming up pretty good too. Guess it's just par for the course.

In the evenings Ken is able to give me some star gazing lessons. It's really quite magical at night. The sea glistens and sparkles from the light of the moon and stars, there's nothing but darkness and sparkles! The imaginary whales continue to bash the boat. It always feels worse at night, feels like the side of RITA might break with the weight of the sea bashing her from side to side.

I'm tired now. Even talking on the phone takes enormous effort, hanging out the tiny cabin, rocking with the boat and continuously bashing my head.
By 7.30 in the evening we've reached 26 56 881 W 16 57 233 N. Gonna try to get some rest back soon.....

Aldo & Ken

17 Dec - Antonio still in tow

Had a better night but still suffering with seasickness. The sea petrel (not pectoral, sorry having a dizzy moment) is still with us and so too is Antonio's boys from La Gomera. They want our papers and to tow us back in, but we have clearance for Gran Canaria and La Palmas so we are "officially" in the Spanish waters. Just when you thought you'd escape the politics and bureaucracy of everyday life, by doing something like this, someone comes to spoil it all.
It's getting really annoying the boat is on our port side and chugging away. The crew are reasonable enough but they say they are under strict orders from Antonio. "We're fine mate, we left from Puerto Mogan and we've done the paperwork so please leave us to get on with it as your hindering us now!" That's why we travelled to Las Palmas and Gran Canaria, so that we could do the necessary paperwork with them, we didn't leave from Antonio's waters so b**ger off now.

We cannot afford to go back in shore now as we wont be able to afford the costs, plus we don't need to, it's all be done! It will just delay our trip even more.

Managing to have hot food now, but it doesn't stay down for long! Still rough waters but much improved on last few days.

Better go. Thanks for all you support everyone.

09.30 N 27 05 073 W 16 31 371

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Day five - RITA goes missing -16th December - David's birthday and it wasn't the smoke from the candles on the cake that kept us awake!!

Well what a 24 hours it has been. We've been thrown about for what feels like months rather than days. There's no respite from the pounding waves. At night it feels like huge whales are in a plot to overturn the boat by thrusting up against Rita. Driving up under her keel. Pushing this way and that, spinning us in every direction. Rising and falling like an extreme roller coaster ride at Chessington but worse and no chance to get off.
After surviving another SWELL day at sea with no decent food or hot drinks we try to rest in the cabin, but that good old fireman snout detects a bit of burning in the air. It's just gone midnight. We've seen a galaxy in the sky and we're praying the weather improves.
It's no good, I can definitely smell something smouldering, so I put my head out the cabin to check. Would you believe it the electrics have seized on the tracker beacon. Luckily I sniffed it out, it could have been disasterous if it had caught fire whilst we were trying to rest in the cabin. We try to settle again, squeezed in to the airless cabin, exhausted, hungry and drained. Please God the weather improves.

Early morning the weather has improved a little and we feel confident it's time to get back in the rowing seat. Little did we know that our technical problem had sent alarm bells ringing back ashore. No tracking signal raised all kinds of questions. Just after sunrise Falmouth coastguard calls home to notify that our tracking poll was lost three minutes after midnight and that two vessels have been sent to find RITA. Has the beacon been switched off? Has RITA capsized? Has the boat lost all power? How's Ken and Aldo, are they fighting to survive? Are they in the boat or floating out at sea? Every scenario imaginable is lived through as the mystery unfolds.
8.30am and still no news from RITA or the two vessels in search. Last reading showed RITA about 40 miles off the Canaries and moving quite quickly. What did this mean?
9.30 still no news or contact. Several messages sent by iridium phone to try to get contact but no replies.
11.00 EPIRB has not been set off so there's every reason to believe that these two ex- bootnecks are alive and well and still fighting the elements as only they know how. Steely determination not to be beaten!
12.30 - it's now been 12 hours but still no news. The alarm is elevated to the next level and a search team are despatched by the spanish coastguard - helicopter, plane and tug boat go off in search but the weather and swell is still so bad that it's going to be difficult for anyone to spot little RITA on the waves. The wind is blowing at 40 knots, by this time RITA may have travelled a long way from the last tracking point, so it could take many hours to search the area and it will have to be called off as the dark night draws in.
13.22 call from Falmouth- they managed to get through on satellite phone and discover that all is fine, just the technical glitch that now means nobody can track us.
HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF BACK HOME and joy that the adventure has not come to an abrupt end in such a short space in time. Tears of relief and elation that put every day worries into true perspective.

I chat to Dawn who managed to get through on the Sat phone and all is well. The water is still very choppy so I struggle to keep the phone from getting wet. Well it's a great excuse to end the call!! only teasing. She says the weather is due to get better and that we've done well to get away from the islands considering the rough seas. Sailing trips had been called off in the last 24 hours from La Gomera due to the extreme weather and we couldn't have had a worse start. I can hear the utter relief in her voice that we've finally made contact and the mystery of RITA's disappearance is resolved.

We're back into our shift of two hours on/off rowing and I'm next. Bloomin' 'eck how does anyone row these darn vessels? It's gonna be a long journey but I'm sure I will have developed a better technique by the time we get to Antigua. Hey first cuppa of the trip and it tastes wonderful. "Get the burger and chips on Ken, any ketchup with that?"

We seem to have adopted a little friend. Not sure if it's a Pectoral (isn't that a muscle?) or an Atlantic Tern (ok a bloomin' seagull) either way he's become our mascot, flying and swooping above us, squawking at me to get a move on.

Ahah, the bright orange rescue boat has arrived and is demanding we are rescued, but we ain't having any of that. We're fine mate, no rescue required. Final score of the day RITA 1 - Antonio 0.
Last reading of the day fed back to ol' blighty at 21.15 on 16 Dec 2008 N27 07 060, W16 19 718. Gotta go, my turn on the oars.......keep tuning in.....

Monday, 15 December 2008

Day four and we're still cabin bound!

It's dark, wet, cold and if only it was smooth and frothy it would be that dream pint of Guinness! Arghhhhhh think I'm gonna throw.......uuuuurk! Sorry, Terry's chocolate orange all over again! Believe me it's a bit more serious than a tap and unwrap and much less fun, especially in such close quarters (or is that segments!). Sorry taking the pith again!

Well the weather hasn't improved, Jupiter is not on our side. We're cabin bound with no hot food or drinks, surviving on oranges, chocolate and water. It's so windy and choppy that we cannot get onto the deck, so even access to other supplies is very limited. We're still being thrown around and suffering with sea sickness like you would never believe.
How we long for a nice hot coffee. It's been the longest four days but we're told it does get better.

The satellite signal is temperamental and only really works when Ken hangs me overboard by my ankles! Well that's what he tells me.

It's very tight in the cabin, no room to sneeze, f**t or keep one's dignity! We're going through it together - brings new meaning to close encounters.

Hopefully the weather will change soon and the sea sickness will subside. Will be back soon for a daily update.

Aldo & Ken (aka Batman & Hell Boy - well madmen whatever name you choose)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

First night at sea.....

...and just too seasick to do very much. It's been pretty scrawly weather and getting accustomed to the motion of the ocean is taking it's toll on us both.
Guess we should have taken the Stur..urrrrrr....gheon tablets before we set off rather than wait until the symptoms hit and boy have they hit hard! Impossible to even look at the charts. Why are all the medications for prevention rather than cure? Oh comes hugheeeeeee.......blurrrrrrh......urrrrh
Certainly haven't made much headway on our first 24 hours but hey plenty more days at me, gotta go.....

be back soon.......

Friday, 12 December 2008

Captain Aldo's log

Captains Log 3 December2008.

Time 05:00 hrs, time to get up?? but my head only just hit the pillow! press snooze have another 9 minutes. Ziggy and Duncan text to say nearly at Gatwick.... bugger me 2nd text......... Robbie, where are you Aldo....ARGH!!!!!!
Ok, day already off to a bad start and it gets worse, yes I`m late, walk in on Ken and he`s fast asleep, ..... Buddy coffee on the side.... Ok car`s packed and yet another text.... yeah yeah were just 20mins away, call from Robbie, sorry buddy no hands free speak soon......little did I know Robbie had to leave at 6:45 to get to work, sorry buddy a massive apology... but thats me Last minute dot com.

Airport.... why is the long term parking so far away.... where's the bus.... why is it when your in a rush things just get in your way to make the day go even worse. Park up the silver pussy and head for the bus stop. Ffffreezing....

Arrive at check-in....Easy jet..... you what!... but man this is for Charity.... how the bugger can you charge £94 for over weight baggage. What just 20kgs per passenger? No pre-booked hold baggage on ticket!! But there must be!

Hell boy (Ken) takes everything in his stride does nothing faze this guy........
Little time to chat to Duncan and Ziggy as we now must hurry through security....

Security gate... belt off, lap top out, empty pockets..change in box how much more do they want ... hold on check the lady with the back pack on her back... no such luck....

Quick dash through airside. Just time to grab some water for the flight coz bugger me flight`s on time.

Now starving as no time for breakfast. Luckily Dawn has packed some sarnies but they got a bit squashed on route. Just like those ones you had as a kid on the beach when you were little...cheese and tomato with the juices soaking through the bread. Fills a gap, perhaps try to get 40 winks....

35`000 feet... the ugliest air stewardesses you have ever seen, we hit turbulance, I have never seen such flex in the wings... I`m not scared, in fact I laugh knowing that whats ahead is far worse than a little bit of cloud spoiling a pleasant flight.....
Landing near perfect... bags collected but still peed off about excess charge... bugger me these bags are heavy.

After an hours walk with monstrous bags we finally get to the ferry crossing to La Gomera, now in Gomera we need to find a place to rest these tired heads, Boats not due for two days.

Bugger that, text from Cath.... seek out The Blue Marlin Bar, no its not a gay bar but a place where other rowers have signed a wall just before they set out on the dumb found challenge.

Four Guinness`s later and having put the world to right`s, we decide that this was a crazy idea.... we need food

Lets not walk too far.... pizza bar next door.... worst pizza I have ever tasted... Is it only me that has taste buds, why cant anyone else get the food right.....

I know I`m fussy but even Polly`s cooking is better than this.

Now its only 21:15 and we are ready for bed, its been a long day. Ouch call this a bed! Every time we turn the bed squeaks.

Can I just say a big thank you to all who have texted called and given me cards......Good night to you all.....

Nugget x

Captain's log 12 December

Ahoy there everyone. Well we finally set off from Puerto Mogan in Gran Canaria at 1pm today 12 December 2008. It's been a long journey just getting this far. We had planned to depart from La Gomera on 9 December but the paperwork was delayed so we had to transport RITA, via a ferry from Las Palmas onto Gran Canaria. So a mini tour of the Canaries at the start and a few more Euros adding to the cost.
Sorry Dawn and Cath that you didn't get to see us off. Thank you both for all your support. Cath you'll be glad to know we got the third arial fitted and the desalinator is working! Just hope we generate enough power from solar panels for our coffee and biscuits!! Just a quick update but keep posted as more to follow......Nugget x

Saturday, 18 October 2008

October Row-a-thon - Soho Fire Station - 24-25th October 2008

We are holding another Row-a-thon for RAFT, it will be held at Soho Fire Station using a water rower, starting at 7am Friday morning, finishing Saturday night.

I hope you can come along and support us there.


Charity Football Match - Sunday 19th October - RAFT

I have a Charity football match this Sunday 19th October at the Chiswick polytechnic football club, kick off is 2pm.

There will be a couple of Ex, Pro footballers playing and again this is for RAFT, please come along and bring some friends. There is a raffle food drinks and you get to see my footballing skills, also my legs.


A huge thankyou!!! September Row-a-thon

I would just like to wish a huge thankyou to everyone involved in our September Row-a-thon for RAFT at Chelsea Fire Station, including Laura and Veronica from RAFT, Chelsea White Watch and rowers from the Thames Rowing Club, who all persisted despite torrential rain. We raised a total of £2618 for RAFT.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Help a London FireFighter - Any want to help? Row-A-Thon 5-6 September

On the 5th and 6th of September I will be organising a 36hour Row-A-thon outside Chelsea fire station, I will be rowing 9 of the 18 two hour stints on a water rower.
I need bucket and leaflet helpers for some and all of the event… please contact me by email or drop a comment on this post.


Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thankyou letter from RAFT

Dear Aldo
I've just come back from a day off to hear the fantastic news that the Fire Engine Pull raised £1,760.35 towards the Atlantic Challenge. What an amazing result!

Laura has also told me how hard you worked to organise and run this event. My deepest thanks to you and your colleagues for being such wonderful supporters of RAFT. Apart from the funds you have raised, your commitment and support gives us all such a boost back here at RAFT. With fantastic supporters like you RAFT is bound to succeed in its aim to change the lives of others. You and your colleagues are such stars.

Thank you very, very much.
Best wishes Leonor
Leonor Stjepic
Chief Executive
The RAFT Institute


David Perkins G24, Julie Keenan, Aldo Diana G24, Bob Gregory G25, Samm Livett, Lloyd Crayden G25, Laura Ripley RAFT, Rick nielsen G25, Veronica RAFT, Paul Gray G24, Paul Morris G24, Darius Tsakalos G31, Dean Carr G25, Knewstead G38, Ken Maynard Row partner, Barry Morris G38, Matt Richards G39D Shek G31. Also, not included in the photo, Gary seale G24 and Gregg Bracken G24.
Thanks to everyone involved in last Saturdays' Fire Engine Pull from Southall to Ealing Fire Station.
See RAFTS report of the event here.


Hi there and thanks for visiting my site.

As some of you are aware, I am going to be rowing 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in a wooden rowing boat. I will be setting off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December 2008 (weather permitting) and heading for English Harbour, Antigua.

I am doing this to try and raise funds for the charity RAFT. Using plastic surgery, RAFT help restore the lives of people who have been disfigured.
If you would like to support my cause and donate to RAFT now, I have set up a page at

If you are interested in sponsoring me or would like any further information, please email me at

All the best, Aldo.