Fedor Konyukhov
enru
03.02.2014

Day 43

The trade winds are blowing full on. It feels as if some invisible force tilted the ocean and I'm rolling downhill following the direction of the westward flow. It's been almost a month with east to west wind and the Humboldt current in the same direction. These conditions are perfect for my 24 hour mileage goal which is 60 nautical miles at the minimum.

Details

"The trade winds are blowing full on. It feels as if some invisible force tilted the ocean and I'm rolling downhill following the direction of the westward flow. It's been almost a month with east to west wind and the Humboldt current in the same direction. These conditions are perfect for my 24 hour mileage goal which is 60 nautical miles at the minimum. To achieve this I row for 15-16 hours a day, maintaining an average speed of 3 knots (3 miles per hour). The rest of the daily miles my boat does on its own.  I’m thankful that the tailwind and the current have been in our favor almost from the start. My shift is simple: two hours working on the oars, followed by one hour of sleeping. This results in eight hours of no rowing. Besides sleeping, I spend time working on navigation, preparing meals, pumping fresh water (once every three days), and other miscellaneous works around the boat. I used to set an alarm to wake me up after one hour of sleep, but by now my inner clock has adjusted to this schedule and I wake up on my own. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to sleep more than an hour, but after I'm up it's hard to fall back asleep, and I go back on the deck for another two hours of rowing.

The wind, the high seas and the current are all pushing Tourgoyak west at a speed of 1-1.5 knots. Suppose, I decide not to row for a 24 hour stretch. I still would be able to cover about 30 miles. The difference to row or not to row is striking. If I’m rowing I can cover more than 60 miles, and that's an average. This stretch of the Pacific Ocean is the most favorable and speedy in my entire route from South America to Australia. I'm perfectly aware that this is my high time to cover as much as I possibly can before reaching the French Polynesia. Once in the islands' region, I will be rowing against head winds or in complete stills, I'm certain of this. Before the expedition my land team and I worked on figuring out what would be the best time for the ocean crossing, along with the best route. Deciding on the perfect start location was critical as well. Our studying of the Pacific ocean's weather, its winds and currents are paying off big time. Except for the first 3-4 days when I was getting away from the Chilean coast, I haven't had any prolonged headwinds or stills. According to the long-term forecast the weather and the ocean should continue to allow my steady progress up until the Marquesas Islands . After this way point, it will get increasingly more difficult to keep the steady pace of my rowing.

There was a meteor shower last night. The meteoroids were entering Earth's atmosphere. I could hear their hissing sounds, like bacon sizzling.

During the day, a school of flying fish jumped out the water. There were so many of them; more than a hundred. I was hoping that a few of them would end up on the deck, but they could see my boat well, and dodged it perfectly.

The intense week-end is over. I'm thankful for your prayers and another good day on the ocean. I'm with you. Fedor.” 

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

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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02.02.2014

How Turgoyak (K9) rowing boat is made

K9's hull and fore and aft cabins were built from CNC machined polystyrene moulds, split down the centreline of the boat. The hull below the sheerline was 12mm Corecell foam sandwiched between carbon fibre skins.

Details

K9's hull and fore and aft cabins were built from CNC machined polystyrene moulds, split down the centreline of the boat. The hull below the sheerline was 12mm Corecell foam sandwiched between carbon fibre skins.

The outer laminate in the forward section of the hull included a layer of kevlar fibre to give abrasion resistance in case of collision or grounding. The cabins were 8mm foam and all carbon skins. The hull halves were each resin infused with epoxy resin in a single process.

The structure inside the hull was made up from CNC cut carbon fibre foam sandwich panels for the external bulkheads and cockpit surfaces, with glass and foam panels used for internal bulkheads. Most of the bulkheads and internal structure were fitted before the two halves of the hull were joined.

The two halves were bonded together with carbon fibre tapes inside and out, make the join line as strong as any other area of the boat. Minimal external filling and fairing was required before painting, fitting of a timber centreline keel band and fitting out.

The hull was made by Euan Seel and Matthew Lingley. They based near Ipswich (UK). Boat construction project manager – Charlie Pitcher. 



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01.02.2014

Day 41

As it turned out, the weather report didn't reflect that the wind could be much stronger. The expected 20 knot wind by morning turned into squalls of 35 knots. The ocean is white, the waves are five meters high, the deck is completely drenched with each slamming of a wave.

Details

"As it turned out, the weather report didn't reflect that the wind could be much stronger. The expected 20 knot  wind by morning turned into squalls of 35 knots. The ocean is white, the waves are five meters high, the deck is completely drenched with each slamming of a wave. I've got a waterproof camera here, a friend's gift. It's impossible to capture the intensity of the weather conditions; nevertheless, there will be some fantastic photos from today. Needless to say, sleeping is very problematic here while the boat is pitching and rolling. I turned on an audio book trying to fall asleep under the monotony of a reader's voice. The morning did not bring any relief. It's been confirmed that this weather will continue its course and even get worse during the week-end. I have a couple of stressful days ahead. What makes me happy and confident is how well the  boat is facing this storm. The 9 meter hull size of Tourgoyak is the perfect length for ocean rowing. The boat sits well and feels sturdy. Despite the high waves and strong wind Tourgoyak keeps its course and doesn't waver. Easter Island is 900 miles south. There are 1,800 nautical miles until the Marquesas Islands. I can't help but be fixated on the numbers and miles and constantly find myself checking the map and chart plotter. I can't allow Tourgoyak to jibe or wonder off course. If I were on a sailboat then 20 miles south or 10 miles north wouldn't be big of a deal; with sails getting back on course is fairly easy. However, when rowing an ocean boat, every mile off course means an extra mile of working on the oars. 

Waiting for to the week-end to be over already. 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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31.01.2014

Day 40

Greetings to all. It’s Friday morning, and I have a busy week-end ahead of me. Last night the wind intensified up to 20 knots. Today the squalls reached 25 knots. According to the weather prognosis the strong wind will persist until Monday. The waves will become high and tall.

Details

Friday. December 31. 21:00 Moscow Time. Fedor on the satphone:

“Greetings to all. It’s Friday morning, and I have a busy week-end ahead of me. Last night the wind intensified up to 20 knots. Today the squalls reached 25 knots. According to the weather prognosis the strong wind will persist until Monday. The waves will become high and tall. For an ocean row boat a wind beyond 20 knots is a major struggle. Tourgoyak’s mileage over the last 24 hours isn’t too bad at all; 70 more miles have been covered. In my preparations for the windy weather, I pumped enough fresh water for three days. I already had switched oars from the long to the shorter three-meter ones. And, I am getting mentally prepared for a rough few days. The goal is to hang in there until Monday.

I installed a new power gas canister in the galley. The gas canisters that I selected are made by Primus and rather small in size (220 gm). They are very well suited for mountain climbers and explorers. Before the start I estimated that I would need one 220 gm canister per week. Right now though, it’s obvious that I should’ve packed more. Every time I need to prepare water for cooking I let the water get to a boiling point and before turning off the stove. It’s hard to predict how long I’ll be rowing across the ocean, so to be on a safe side, I conserve everything involving food and gas. Once I reach the half-way point, it should be easier to estimate my remaining time on the ocean. I’m hoping to catch more fish. So far, in my 40 days of rowing, I only once had a chance to catch a small tuna fish. During the first week of the expedition I hardly ate at all, and was able to sustain on coffee and hot chocolate. Now though, my body demands food quite persistently. I’m hungry all the time, 24/7. In bad weather I use a Jet Boil mug by Expedition Foods. It’s a clever contraption made up of an insulated mug attached to a cooking vessel. It’s safe to hold in your hands while waiting for the water to boil which only takes a few minutes.

In my last post I mentioned how empty and void of life this area of the Pacific seems to me. Well, as the saying goes: don’t speak too soon. Today radar identified a ship on the horizon. The automatic tracking system (AIS) displayed information that it was the Japanese ship “Onahama Maru.” I’m not sure if they saw me, because they stayed on course and eventually disappeared to the west. 

That’s it for today. My main goal is to make it safe until Monday when the wind is supposed to die down to 10 knots. 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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30.01.2014

Day 39

As it turns out, the Tropics have very contrasting temperatures. During the night, it’s quite cool and I have to wear pants, jacket and even a hat. However, during the day with the temperature reaching 30°C I sweat profusely, but at the same time can’t strip down for the fear of getting a major sun burn.

Details

Fedor reports on the Iridium satellite phone: “As it turns out, the Tropics have very contrasting temperatures. During the night, it’s quite cool and I have to wear pants, jacket and even a hat. However, during the day with the temperature reaching 30°C I sweat profusely, but at the same time can’t strip down for the fear of getting a major sun burn. There is no amount of SPF sunscreens that can protect the skin against prolonged exposure to a scorching sun, so I’m forced to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tourgoyak and I are in the 12th degree of the Southern Latitude, which is approximately 700 kilometers south of the equator. I’m in the zone of relative inaccessibility which means I’m equally far off from the coast of South America and the islands of French Polynesia. There is not a single piece of land in the surrounding thousands of miles. This is the most void of human life region on my route to Australia. The realization of being in the middle of nowhere is confirmed by the images on my chart plotter. I’m getting goose bumps from just thinking how far away from civilization I’ve gotten myself, once again. In 1986, I was in Dmitriy Shparo’s Arctic team reaching a pole of inaccessibility, the most distant point in the Arctic Ocean from the coastline. When we reached this pole we got a sinking feeling that we might as well be on a different planet or the Moon. There was a complete absence of communication with the land and civilization.

Despite my ability to call to Moscow today, it still feels unreal how far away I am from people. The distance between me and Moscow is simply mind boggling. This feeling is especially acute during the night, when I’m rowing in complete darkness when there is no Moon, like tonight. There is just 12 mm of carbon between me and the ocean. After the Tuamotus archipelago and the Marquesas Islands I will be rowing past the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia, which means I will be only dozens of miles from land. This proximity will be a technical and tactical challenge, but psychologically it will feel easier to be so much closer to people. Right now though, I’m trying not to let my spirit be crushed by the emptiness and lifelessness of the Ocean. My mental preservation is in hard work and prayer. With each stroke of the oars I’m getting closer to the islands. 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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28.01.2014

Day 37

I continue to advance north aiming to enter the 12th degree of the Southern Latitude. This will provide a better angle at approaching and maneuvering through the islands of French Polynesia. Today I had my first visitors from the ocean. For the first time since the start I saw dolphins.

Details

Fedor via the Iridium satellite phone: “I continue to advance north aiming to enter the 12th degree of the Southern Latitude. This will provide a better angle at approaching and maneuvering through the islands of French Polynesia. Today I had my first visitors from the ocean. For the first time since the start I saw dolphins. Unfortunately, they quickly got bored with Tourgoyak’s slow speed and lack of bow wave. After 2-3 minutes of accompanying me they disappeared into the ocean. By midday I was greeted by a flock of the white-tailed tropicbirds. I’ve seen these birds many times during my circumnavigations, when they would escort me into the tropics. Today there were as many as 20 birds, and once again, I admired how beautiful they were. Just like the dolphins they weren’t particularly interested in me either, but were looking for small fish hiding in the shadow of Tourgoyak’s hull. 

Speaking of the hull, the boat’s bottom is quickly getting covered by seaweed and algae. At this point I cannot dive under and scrape off the algae growth.  It’s not for a fear of sharks but rather the ocean is swelled and the wind waves carry the boat up and down tipping it from one side to another. There will be a time when I must venture under to clean the hull; otherwise, I’ll have to pay the price of progressing at a slower speed.  A good and sturdy mop would be very beneficial right now.  I should’ve packed one. 

The weather and the ocean are continually blessing me with a tailwind of 15 knots and the westward current. 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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27.01.2014

Week five

It's been five weeks since I left Concon. I'm still living by Chilean time but eventually I'll need to switch to Greenwich time. I'm starting to count the days until I arrive in the waters of French Polynesia. It's my main focus to get to and pass through the islands, or rather, away from the islands.

Details

It's been five weeks since I left Concon. I'm still living by Chilean time but eventually I'll need to switch to Greenwich time. I'm starting to count the days until I arrive in the waters of French Polynesia. It's my main focus to get to and pass through the islands, or rather, away from the islands. I don't want to get ahead of myself in predicting my passage between the Tuamotus and the Marquesas Islands. Everything depends on the ocean and weather. These two elements can change everything for me in an instant.  

At the moment the wind and the current are in my favor, although periodically, the wind gets me from the north and makes it difficult to hold course, which is 270° westward. The northern wind is temporary, and according to the weather reports it should change from the east soon. The waves have been large and I can only get a glimpse of the horizon when Tourgoyak is lifted by one them. There is a mere 30 centimeters between the surface of the ocean and my working area. I'm seeing some flying fish which means I'm entering the warm subtropical waters of the Pacific. They are constantly flying through the air a few feet above the surface, with their pectoral fins spread out like wings. Watching them fly is mesmerizing and surreal. They perhaps think the same about me and my carbon made wings which I am constantly dipping in and out of the water to propel the boat.

Today I decided to take a break from rowing and other work on board to do some reading. I only brought few books with me, and one of them, by the Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) was particularly interesting and instructive. It felt right to indulge for a short period of time in a simple activity like reading without worrying too much about the mileage and what lies ahead. All that I have right now is my boat, the oars, the general course, and the Ocean which is absolutely in charge of it all. I know for a fact that time spent on the ocean changes a person dramatically. I wonder how it's going to change me after spending month after month in ocean rowing solitude.

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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25.01.2014

The North Wind

All is well without any major changes. Tourgoyak continues to fly across the ocean driven by strong wind and the current. The ocean is loud and the waves are crowned with whitecaps. I crossed the 100th degree of the Western Longitude.

Details

Fedor on the satphone: “All is well without any major changes. Tourgoyak continues to fly across the ocean driven by strong wind and the current. The ocean is loud and the waves are crowned with whitecaps. I crossed the 100th degree of the Western Longitude. I have 80 degrees more before leaving the western hemisphere and entering the eastern hemisphere. Today the wind has changed its direction and for the first time since the start it’s from the north-east. It will take some getting used to having the wind at the starboard. At this point I’m accustomed to the wind from south, south-east or simply from the east, so having it from the north is a bit unusual. My half way point lies in the 12°00' S and 140°00' W which is exactly between the Marquesas Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago. I still have 2000 miles to go to reach this way point, but I’m already pre-occupied with how to approach these islands. Passing through them won’t be easy and I don’t have any room for mistakes.  Too far south and I will be thrown into a chain of islands and the atolls of the Tuamotus. On the other hand, too far north, closer to the equator, and I will be forced to maneuver amongst the Marquesas Islands. There is a narrow corridor between the two groups of islands and I must try to pass right through it without getting to close to the islands. To achieve safe passage I’ll have to pay close attention to any changes in the wind to adjust the course of my boat.  Thankfully, there is no lack of sun, which means my accumulators are fully charged, up to 13.5 volts.  This allows me to use the autopilot throughout the day. I’m grateful for another good and productive day on the 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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24.01.2014

The first 2,000 nautical miles are done

The wind, the squalls of 25 knots, and the intermittent rain kept me occupied all day long. The weather is still stable, in my opinion. The wind is constant, 15 knots, and the current is present. Judging by the mileage left behind, I am over the 2,000 nautical mile mark.

Details

“The wind, the squalls of 25 knots, and the intermittent rain kept me occupied all day long. The weather is still stable, in my opinion. The wind is constant, 15 knots, and the current is present. Judging by the mileage left behind, I am over the 2,000 nautical mile mark. This is a great result for just one month of my tentatively (and hopefully) six month’s ocean rowing saga. These 2,000 miles feel great but they are just one fifth of the journey.  Needless to say, I am in a state of a contained optimism.”

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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21.01.2014

The wind is back

After a short pause for a couple of days, the wind is back with 15-18 knots. The waves are fairly large, up to three meters. The deck is constantly washed off with the waves and I’m staying soaking wet, but thankfully the temperature of the water is much warmer here.

Details

“After a short pause for a couple of days, the wind is back with 15-18 knots. The waves are fairly large, up to three meters. The deck is constantly washed off with the waves and I’m staying soaking wet, but thankfully the temperature of the water is much warmer here. This ocean shower is a pickling medium on my skin, which shall be preserved for months to come.  Tourgoyak is proceeding really fast. I knew that the wind would come back and so I filled every possible container with fresh water.  It should last me for a couple of days. It seems to me that my path until the French Polynesia should be the most speedy and advantageous of the entire expedition. I’m far away from the ocean ships and fishing boat routes. There are no islands for the next thousand miles.  In addition, the waves and the currents are in my favor. Still, ocean rowing is not your typical seafaring and there are plenty of uncomfortable and inconvenient situations. Take for example, my living quarters. The only space where I can lay down and stretch out is the aft cabin, but not before I strap myself to the bunk to prevent rolling from one side of the cabin to the other. The exit hatch is low and narrow; the cabin itself is rather small and low. My back is constantly hunched and feels like I’m developing a chronic case of kyphosis. Creaking knees and pain in the back are my constant reminders that ocean rowing takes a huge toll on my body. On the bright side though, day by day, mile after mile I’m getting closer to my goal, which for now is the French Polynesia, since its location is situated perfectly as a half-way mark. The ocean is turning its colors and at sunrise its azure colors look stunning. It continues to appear that the waters I’m in are completely void of life. I still haven’t seen any birds, dolphins, whales, or sharks for that matter. It’s just the ocean, my boat and myself; and, I really like this arrangement.  When I enter the waters of the French Polynesia I’ll have plenty of sea life, islands and other distractions.”

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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