Fedor Konyukhov
enru
10.03.2014

Day 78

The wind has changed once again. Now it comes from the north-west creating a head wind and head seas. To top it off, the swells are pushing the boat from side to side. Yesterday evening, I witnessed a rare natural phenomenon: a powerful waterspout passed the boat in about two miles at the port side. A funnel shaped spout was swaying slowly until it disappeared in the south eastern direction. To see this tornado was very frightening.

Details

Fedor on the satphone: “The wind has changed once again. Now it comes from the north-west creating a head wind and head seas. To top it off, the swells are pushing the boat from side to side. Yesterday evening, I witnessed a rare natural phenomenon: a powerful waterspout passed the boat in about two miles at the port side. A funnel shaped spout was swaying slowly until it disappeared in the south eastern direction. To see this tornado was very frightening.

Tension is in the air. Nature is thick with anticipation. The grueling heat is on during the day but thankfully the air cools off close to midnight. The weather demands the release of this tension. In the ocean, unfortunately for me, the release comes in the form of a storm.  

According to the weather report, the wind should turn back to north-east. The swells and the head seas are to remain from the west. There are some powerful storms raging ahead of me and I am experiencing their echo in the form of head seas.  I’m just about done with rounding the Tuamotus archipelago. The next part of French Polynesia that I must pass through is the Society Islands, including Tahiti. Ideally, I need to leave Motu One (the Bellinghausen atoll) at the port side. It might be difficult to achieve due to the north wind. It’s going to be a tough week. With God’s help, I shall overcome.”

A message from the Moscow headquarters:

Presently, there are three tropical storms (Gillian, Lusi and Hadi) are stirring in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. The Lusi and Hadi storms are expected to cross Fedor’s route. More information is here.

Before the start of the expedition, we knew the statistics: tropical storm season in the Pacific Ocean runs from November to April. We estimated that if Fedor started in the middle of December, he would reach the part of the ocean known as a birth place for tropical storms by mid-April, close to the end of their season. However, due to the ideal weather conditions for 60 days almost from the start, Fedor was able to get ahead of schedule. Had we known for sure that the trade winds and the Humboldt Current would be so favorable to Fedor’s rowing, we would recommend postponing the start until mid-January. Arriving to the zone of storms and cyclones a month later would be a lot safer. The CycloneXtr?me company has compiled data for the last 40 seasons. Statistically, by April 1st, the possibility of a new storm or cyclone is fairly low. The next 20 days will be very stressful for Fedor. He has explored the possibility of using sea anchor in order to slow down his progress and wait out the stormy season.

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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09.03.2014

Day 77. Sunday. The Feast of Orthodoxy

The easterly wind is 5-10 knots. I’m trying to keep up with my new general course of 255 degrees. The 43 miles in the last 24 hours was a good result. Today I entered the traverse of the Manihi atoll, which is 120 miles south of me. This is a good distance.

Details

“The easterly wind is 5-10 knots. I’m trying to keep up with my new general course of 255 degrees. The 43 miles in the last 24 hours was a good result. Today I entered the traverse of the Manihi atoll, which is 120 miles south of me. This is a good distance. It would be nice if I could pass all maintaining this separation. It’s getting cooler. With every mile south the air gets fresher, especially at night. During the day, it’s still hot and humid, but at night time the coolness of the air is a welcoming relief. The nights are beautiful, with the half of the moon looking like an enormous piece of cheese that is growing each night. The Pacific Ocean is calm. It looks just like we always picture it when talking about the tropics: majestic and tranquil, visually appealing, warm and enormous.

My exhaustion is beginning to take a toll on me. The life of an ocean rower is hard, confined and lonely. On a sail boat, there is a variety of tasks you perform that gets you out and about the boat. You could walk and stretch out on a deck;  trim the lines; work with the sails, etc. You could even read a book or watch a movie while the boat is on autopilot. On an ocean row boat though, you either cramped inside of an aft cabin or sit on deck, exposed to the elements. The small quarters of my row boat are psychologically pressing on me.  My solitude and vulnerability in the face of the ocean is more apparent than if I were on a large sail boat.   

There are 3500 miles until Brisbane. I’m looking forward to the next 500 miles. After that I will have “only” 3000 miles. In a scheme of the entire transpacific rowing, the distance of 3000 miles is more or less conceivable. I can mentally grasp how much this distance is. It’s about as long as a transatlantic crossing. I have done 22 transatlantic sailings: mostly solo and solo rowing across the Atlantic in 2002 proved it that I could withstand such distance alone on an ocean row boat. The light at the end of the tunnel will become mover visible once I begin my count down of the remaining 3000 miles.”

 

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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07.03.2014

Day 75

The weather is improving. The wind turned east once again. My situation is looking up now. The weather reports say that the easterly wind will continue until March 12th. This should be enough time to round most of the islands of Tuamotus Archipelago.

Details

“The weather is improving. The wind turned east once again. My situation is looking up now. The weather reports say that the easterly wind will continue until March 12th. This should be enough time to round most of the islands of Tuamotus Archipelago. My next way point is Motu One (also known as Bellinghausen) atoll, which is located at 15° 49' S and 154° 30' W. At this point, the island is still 620 miles away from me. After that I will keep my course trying to pass between Aitutaki atoll and Palmerston island (Cook’s Islands). That’s my plan of action for the month of March.

There are 3600 miles until Brisbane, but of course that number is only true when you row in a straight line. My route will be closer to 4000 miles due to the ever changing weather and wind.  For the second half of my expedition my average speed will be around 40 nautical miles in 24 hours.  Optimistically speaking, I have 100 days until the finish line. Last night I took an inventory of my food supplies as well as propane canisters for cooking. I have enough food to last me 140 days if I consume a hot meal twice a day. The number of propane canisters is 30. I usually use one canister a week. I have plenty of gas to cook. Before the start of the expedition I was planning on catching fish for making soups or frying up some sea delicacies.  But for the last 75 days I’ve had to be satisfied with the deconstructed dried freeze packaged food.  I do, however, enjoy a cup of coffee and hot chocolate a few times a day.

So my fishing hasn’t been successful at all on this voyage. Last night, though, something big and dark rose from underneath the ocean depth. It was most likely attracted by my fluorescent fishing line. This deep sea creature was about one meter long, with a black snake-like body. What impressed me the most was the long and crooked teeth. Once its belly was sliced open out rolled 10 small calamari. Evidently, this kind of fish lives deep in the ocean and raises up to the surface to feed on calamari. I would rather eat a tuna fish or dorado, but the ocean decided to treat me with one its lesser known specialties.

I’m constantly checking the weather prognosis. Tourgoyak and I are entering the zone where the tropical storms and cyclones are predominant. They move from north-east to south-east. Their course would definitely cross my route. There is a storm brewing 1000 miles away from me. It’s expected to hit New Zeeland by March 13th. The question of the day: Will I be able to sneak past the storms that are so common in the area? My answer is my prayer to the Lord to keep me safe.”

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski

 



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05.03.2014

Day 73

The wind is north-west. This head wind slowly and persistently is carrying me towards the Tuamotus archipelago. When I’m rowing the boat develops speed and can keep its westerly course. But as soon as I stop rowing, immediately the boat turns south.

Details

“The wind is north-west. This head wind slowly and persistently is carrying me towards the Tuamotus archipelago. When I’m rowing the boat develops speed and can keep its westerly course. But as soon as I stop rowing, immediately the boat turns south. Thankfully the boat has good contours. Despite the head wind, Tourgoyak and I covered 41 miles for the last 24 hours. There are less than170 miles between me and the Takaroa and Takapoto islands. Here is what I’m thinking: if the wind continues from the north-west, I will turn around and start rowing north-east. I’ll be going backwards but away from the islands. These last 2 days were more exhausting than the previous 70 in the open ocean.  I hardly sleep at all. Once every couple of hours I get ambushed by a squall in 25-30 knots. The rain is cold. The last thing I need is to get sick.

I received a message that my friend Simon Chalk and his team have 885 miles left until the finish line in Barbados.  Simon is a captain of the “Toby Wallace” light-weight 8 man ocean rowing boat that left Canary Islands on February 10th. I’m impressed with this man; this is his sixth transatlantic rowing expedition. (More about the “Toby Wallace” transatlantic race is here.)

I have all 3700 miles until my finish in Australia. It could take 100 more days based on the current weather conditions. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but one thing I know for sure is that the first half of this transpacific rowing was like a song. Based on the weather map of where I am heading, the tune of my song is likely to change. I’m with you. Fedor.”

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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04.03.2014

Day 72

The northerly wind of 17-20 knots is pushing the boat south, towards the islands. Despite it being an early hour, the sky is pitch dark with multiple cloud layers. Due to the luck of sun, the accumulators don’t get enough energy, so I’m cutting my phone calls to the bare minimum.

Details

“The northerly wind of 17-20 knots is pushing the boat south, towards the islands.  Despite it being an early hour, the sky is pitch dark with multiple cloud layers. Due to the luck of sun, the accumulators don’t get enough energy, so I’m cutting my phone calls to the bare minimum.

I’m successfully improvising with the water ballast. There are three hatches on each side of the boat for storing food and equipment.  I emptied all three of them on the starboard of the boat. Then I filled them with dozens of liters of ocean water. As a result, the starboard side is now sufficiently ballasted. The centerboard and the new ballast allow me to keep the course at 250 degrees, despite the north wind. The starboard gets a lot of beating from the waves, but Tourgyak is able to stay on course. Hopefully, the wind won’t intensify; otherwise, I’ll face much higher waves.

Today I received a message from Sergey Pechenegov, my comrade since the 1989 expedition to the North Pole. The expedition started on March 4th, 1989 and 65 days later we reached the North Pole. That Arctic expedition was incredibly difficult with no air supplies. On the 55th day of the expedition we lost our friend Alexandr Rybakov. He was 37 years old. He will remain in our hearts and prayers forever.

Through out my life I’ve had many opportunities to learn that the ocean, mountains and the Arctic cannot be attained by force. You must adjust yourself and your expectations to the element’s rythms and nature.You are the one to constantly ask and compromise with the nature in order to reach your destination. When you are traveling solo it is even more apparent that in order to survive you must become one with your surroundings. I’m hoping and praying that with God’s help the Pacific Ocean will grant me passage to the other side. I’m with you. Fedor.”

For more information on the 1989 Soviet Expedition “Arctica” to the North Pole click here.

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski

 



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03.03.2014

Day 71

The north wind is making my life quite stressful right now. You probably had already noticed my sharp turn south. I can’t fight the northerly wind. It keeps pushing me south, towards the Tuamotu islands and atolls. The wind is north-north-east, 15 knots. When the squalls hit, the wind reaches 30 knots.

Details

Fedor reports via the Iridium satellite phone: “The north wind is making my life quite stressful right now. You probably had already noticed my sharp turn south. I can’t fight the northerly wind. It keeps pushing me south, towards the Tuamotu islands and atolls. The wind is north-north-east, 15 knots. When the squalls hit, the wind reaches 30 knots. The squalls are charged with the drenching rain and the deck receives a ton of water, which doesn’t run off fast enough through the scuppers and the deck is in a constant pool of water. The sea salt that has been accumulating on the deck and solar panels has been washed away by these constant showers. When the rain clouds pass above me it gets dark as if it were night time. According to the weather report, the northerly wind will continue until Friday. I must endure this week and resist being pushed dangerously close to the islands. If I get too close to this chain of the islands it will be very difficult to row back into the open ocean.

On the map of Tuamotu I see a lot islands and atolls that were named after great Russian ocean explorers and mariners: Krusenstern Island (Tikehau), Rumyanzov (Tikei), Lazarev atoll (Mataiva), Arakcheev (Fangatau), Volonsky (Takume). I, however, would like to row past these islands keeping 100 miles of separation.

Once again, I’m so happy that Tourgoyak was equipped with a centerboard. If it wasn’t for the centerboard, I would be moving south twice as fast. But this genius addition to the hull helps a lot to keep my boat on course and minimizes a sideway drift. Of course, my general course will no longer be directly west, at 270 degrees. However, the 230-240 degrees is a good course given the situation. My goal this week is to stay within the 12th and 14th degrees of the Southern Latitude and leave the range of the Tuamotu islands. After this archipelago there will be fewer islands and I can confidently row south. 

This morning, I noticed a random coconut passing at the port side, but couldn’t fish it out. That’s too bad. I’m missing the taste of fresh food.

Today, March 3rd, marks the beginning of the Great Lent. The first week of Lent is going to be challenging, but I pray that with God’s help Tourgoyak and I will carry on. I’m with you. Fedor. 

The weather map of the northern region of the Tuamotu Archipelago is here. 

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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01.03.2014

Day 69. The half-way point

Today I crossed the 140th degree of the western longitude. Reaching this important way point means that I’m now closer to Australia than to Chile. I can begin my countdown. My next important event will be leaving the Western Hemisphere and entering into the Eastern Hemisphere.

Details

Fedor on the satphone: “Today I crossed the 140th degree of the western longitude. Reaching this important way point means that I’m now closer to Australia than to Chile. I can begin my countdown. My next important event will be leaving the Western Hemisphere and entering into the Eastern Hemisphere. This way point is located at the 180-degree meridian. 

The Pacific Ocean has changed quite a bit. There are no more large high seas, no swells. The conditions remind me of the Caribbean sea. The sea-surface is pretty smooth, with some wind waves. Each day the wind is turning more from the north. According to the weather report, in a couple of days the wind will be straight from the north. To keep the course as westerly as possible I’m rowing hard with my left oar, but even so, the boat is being pushed south. For now, moving south is acceptable since the northerly wind is no more than 10 knots. The temperature of the air raises to 30C, and during the day my aft cabin turns into a sauna. The relief comes at night. It’s wonderful spending nights on the deck. I remove the rowing seat and sleep in the open air. There are no waves that would spray me. The deck remains dry. The milliards of stars are above me. The boat quietly slides on the ocean. So far, the French Polynesia has been a very nice and welcoming host to me. The only bad thought that is always on the back of my mind is tropical storms. There is a tropical cyclone Kofi raging in 30 degrees away from me (1800 miles). Its speed is 65mph. According to the meteorologist reports, Kofi’s will be moving in south-east direction, towards Antarctica. It’s a relief to know that this cyclone doesn’t pose any real danger.

Up until the 180th degree of western longitude I will be rowing in the zone of tropical storms and cyclones. With God’s help I’m hoping to row safely across the second half of the Pacific Ocean.”

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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27.02.2014

Day 67. Fedor passed Fatu Hiva

February 27th was a significant day in Fedor’s transpacific expedition. For the first time, since his start in Chile 67 days ago, Fedor saw land. It was Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island of the Marquesas archipelago.

Details

February 27th was a significant day in Fedor’s transpacific expedition. For the first time, since his start in Chile 67 days ago, Fedor saw land. It was Fatu Hiva, the southernmost island of the Marquesas archipelago.

Fedor shares via the satphone: “The night before approaching Fatu Hiva I saw the clouds on the horizon, and knew that I was getting close to the island. It was a sleepless night. The wind would switch from north to south pulling the boat in opposite directions. By morning though, the wind became stable, coming from the north-east which allowed me to pass the island at a safe distance at starboard. What are my emotions after seeing land for the first time in over two months? I have to admit, it’s a bit sad to leave such an enormous part of the Pacific Ocean behind.  For more than two months I rowed without the worry of running into any land masses. But now I’ve left the empty ocean behind. Passing Fatu Hiva marks a new stage of my expedition. From now on, my carefree rowing has to become much more strategic in order to safely pass the Tuamotu Archipelago that is spread out at the port side of Tourgoyak. We are talking about 700 miles of large and small islands, atolls and reefs. My goal is to leave the archipelago without a glitch; otherwise, I risk landing at the beach of some small island. It was great to see the contours of the island. It’s been too long since I saw trees or green earthy tones. My eyes were soaking in all of the richness of the Fatu Hiva colors. Another sight, less welcomed, but much closer to the boat, was two sharks. They approached my boat circling around it, as if they were checking me out. This is definitely a new addition to the scenery around me. Ready or not, but I’m no doubt in a new part of the Pacific.”

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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25.02.2014

Day 65

All is well on board. I@@apos@@m staying on schedule: 55 nautical miles in 24 hours. The ocean is tranquil: no waves, no wind, and the sea-surface is really warm. I had a visitor last night. She looked like a pigeon. The bird decided to camp out on the solar panels, and then she was gone by morning.

Details

Fedor reports via Iridium satphone: "All is well on board. I@@apos@@m staying on schedule: 55 nautical miles in 24 hours. The ocean is tranquil: no waves, no wind, and the sea-surface is really warm. I had a visitor last night. She looked like a pigeon. The bird decided to camp out on the solar panels, and then she was gone by morning. There are only 90 nautical miles left until I enter the surrounding waters of French Polynesia islands. I hope that I'll be there by Thursday. I@@apos@@m with you. Fedor.”

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski

 



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22.02.2014

DIY bottom cleaning

All is well on board. The ocean is calm, the waves are less than one meter, and the wind is no more than 10 knots. Today I decided to take the risk and clean the bottom of the boat. Equipped with a harness belt, a life vest, a snorkel mask, gloves and cleaning tools I submerged myself under the boat.

Details

Fedor reports: "All is well on board. The ocean is calm, the waves are less than one meter, and the wind is no more than 10 knots. Today I decided to take the risk and clean the bottom of the boat. Equipped with a harness belt, a life vest, a snorkel mask, gloves and cleaning tools I submerged myself under the boat. There was a significant growth on the bottom of the boat, which I expected after a month in tropical waters. I'm happy to report that Tourgoyak got a proper scrubbing. After cleaning the hull, I wanted to take a few photos of the boat. I released the harness belt to five meters so I can have some distance from the boat for a good view. It looked surreal: a row boat all alone in the middle of the ocean without her rower on board. It felt rather unsettling to be drifting in five meters from the boat, albeit attached by the harness. Needless to say, I didn't linger in the water and after a very short photo session promptly climbed back in."

The map of the Tourgoyak's course: http://yb.tl/konyukhov2

The detailed map of the course: www.oceanrowing.com/Konyukhov/Pacific2013/dist_map.htm

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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