Fedor Konyukhov
enru
18.05.2014

500 miles to go!

The Ocean is driving me west, towards Australia. For the last 48 hours the wind would not lower down than 25 knots, and oftentimes the gusts would reach 35 knots. The surface of the ocean is completely white. These conditions are very difficult for an ocean row boat. It’s challenging, or even impossible, to effectively row in such a strong wind. The boat, propelled by the wind and the waves, is already going at 3 knots speed.

Details

“The Ocean is driving me west, towards Australia. For the last 48 hours the wind would not lower down than 25 knots, and oftentimes the gusts would reach 35 knots. The surface of the ocean is completely white. These conditions are very difficult for an ocean row boat. It’s challenging, or even impossible, to effectively row in such a strong wind. The boat, propelled by the wind and the waves, is already going at 3 knots speed.

My attempts to increase the speed are fruitless, and there is huge risk to brake an oar, or something of my own body. At this point, my best contribution is to work as a ballast in the aft-cabin. I’ve been playing this role for two days, strapped in with the harness and wearing the helmet, hoping my weight is enough to keep the stern section steady. Laying here, I feel the boat’s speed, hear shrieking of the wind and slamming of the waves. Waiting out a storm in the aft-cabin is not the best place as far as acoustics goes. The wind and the waves are playing the drums on my boat and I can hear every beat through the carbon walls of my cabin. At times, I must get out on the deck to spot any ships on the horizon and check the rope. I released a 60 meter rope which gives stability and prevents the boat turning sideways. Cooking a hot meal is out of the question; I’m sustaining on dry snacks and sips of water. According to the weather forecast the wind should slow down this week-end. (The weather report is here.)

On photo: Fedor is testing the aft-cabin where he will spend many months. August 2013.

I’m only 500 miles from the finish line: the Mooloolaba Marina, which is located 100 miles north of Brisbane.

I am at the 163° of the eastern longitude, which means I’m exactly 10 degrees away from the continent. I was glad to hear that my land team has already arrived in Australia. I can’t wait to see my family and friends. 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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16.05.2014

Day 144. 700 miles to go!

The wind is south-east, 25-30 knots, with gusts of up to 35 knots. Tourgoyak and I covered 70 miles in the last 24 hours. The port side is ballasted. In general, the boat stays steady when the waves slam at her. In fact, Tourgoyak rises above the waves and only the wind crests plunge hard onto the deck. When that happens, the port side gives a sharp roll and there is a risk of capsizing.

Details

Fedor via the satphone: “The wind is south-east, 25-30 knots, with gusts of up to 35 knots. Tourgoyak and I covered 70 miles in the last 24 hours. The port side is ballasted. In general, the boat stays steady when the waves slam at her. In fact, Tourgoyak rises above the waves and only the wind crests plunge hard onto the deck. When that happens, the port side gives a sharp roll and there is a risk of capsizing. It’s the most important thing right now: preventing the boat from rolling over. I haven’t had a hot meal since yesterday; it’s too violent on board to mess with the propane stove and the hot water.

Last night, I was unpleasantly surprised by another cargo ship in my vicinity. Now it’s clear that the AIS Raymarine stopped working for good. It hasn’t identified any ships for a few weeks now. I have an Active Echo which did pick on the ship. However, it can “see” a ship within the 10 mile radius only if the ship uses Sband and Xband radars. The AIS Raymarine electronics are much better in the sense that I could see the distance between my boat and a ship, its course, size and type; in other words, I’d get detailed information about the ship. After 144 days I have only two units that stopped working: Raymarine Wind display and AIS Raymarine. The rest of the equipment and electronics are still in working conditions.

The ocean water is very cold. It smells distinctly of the Southern Pacific Ocean. I’m dressed warm in a waterproof suit. A harness is attached to me at all times. The Ocean has gotten strong with the waves and the wind moving in the same direction. At this point, in order to keep the course I’m relying on the waves and the wind. If I try to keep my course straight at 270 degrees than the surface waves beat at the boat too violently. The situation is intense but I sure am glad that I’m not facing a head wind. My ticket home is to endure and stay safe in the current weather conditions.” 

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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13.05.2014

Day 142

I left Norfolk island (Australia) at the port side. There are no more islands to pass or to stay away from. The only land ahead is the continent of Australia, but it’s still 780 nautical miles away. The wind is south-east, 15+ knots, and it’s expected to raise up to 25 knots. The week is going to be windy with the gusts up to 30 knots. The formation of a new front will bring steady south-east wind for the next thousand miles. If nothing interrupts this front my boat will advance rapidly.

Details

Fedor via the Iridium satellite phone: “I left Norfolk island (Australia) at the port side. There are no more islands to pass or to stay away from. The only land ahead is the continent of Australia, but it’s still 780 nautical miles away. The wind is south-east, 15+ knots, and it’s expected to raise up to 25 knots. The week is going to be windy with the gusts up to 30 knots. The formation of a new front will bring steady south-east wind for the next thousand miles. If nothing interrupts this front my boat will advance rapidly.

Since yesterday, the weather has been great with clear sky and no rain. The boat’s accumulators are fully charged. The water pump worked great and I’ve got a generous supply of drinking water. I tidied up the aft cabin and even dried some of the clothes, sort of. It’s a full moon, and at last, the ocean is calm, kindly letting me catch my breath.   

Yesterday, I saw two commercial vessels. The first freighter passed me within just three miles at the bow. My radar transponder (AIS) didn’t pick up that there was something approaching and I was startled to see a ship right in front of my boat. I had no idea it was there. I was working on oars and needed to stop for a moment to check the centerboard. That’s when I saw the red hull of the freighter. The day was clear and I could clearly see the vessel’s bridge deck and wheel house. I tuned in to channel 16, but decided not to go on air. Interestingly, no one called me from the ship either. The second time I saw a cargo ship was at dusk. This one was at  Tourgoyak’s stern, slowly going over the horizon, blinking with its lights. I’m concerned that on both occasions the AIS system didn’t signal me about the passing vessels. Is it really out of order? It’s one of the most crucial electronics when one is approaching land on a small row boat. If AIS isn’t working properly I will be in the dark.

This morning a flying albatross was a surprising sight. They usually don’t fly so high up north in the Pacific. In my experience, this seabird finds its home closer to the “roaring forties”.

A clear sky revealed a plane flying high from the north-east towards the south-west. Seeing the large cargo ships and this airplane made me realize that I’m slowly returning back to civilization.

There is a ton of fish in the ocean. I hardly saw any fish during my first three months. But here, they are abundant. Dorados are circling the boat, but I’m done fishing. There is no time to lose. To catch a fish, to reel it in, and to clean it would take at least three hours. I’m too exhausted for such an undertaking as fighting a big dorado; I want to go home now. All I can think of is my arrival in Australia. What route to take, what kind of weather I will encounter, will I be able to enter a city or will end up somewhere on a beach. The unknown scares me. My life on the ocean is tough, but I know it; after 140 days I’ve become one with the ocean. To leave the ocean and enter the coastal waters is something I’m most concerned about at this point. I’m with you. Fedor”

The weather forecast for the next few day 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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10.05.2014

Day 139

It took me 44 hours to cross the 171 degree; almost two days to cover one degree. The weather has been difficult with the wind from the south, periodically coming from the west. The boat has been dragged towards New Caledonia. It’s early Sunday morning, just before the sunrise. I can feel the wind’s shifting, and hopefully it will become easterly. My wind barometer stopped working long time ago. With the wind from the east it will be possible to keep the course at 280-285 degrees, as opposed to 310.

Details

Fedor via the Iridium satphone: “It took me 44 hours to cross the 171 degree; almost two days to cover one degree. The weather has been difficult with the wind from the south, periodically coming from the west. The boat has been dragged towards New Caledonia. It’s early Sunday morning, just before the sunrise. I can feel the wind’s shifting, and hopefully it will become easterly. My wind barometer stopped working long time ago. With the wind from the east it will be possible to keep the course at 280-285 degrees, as opposed to 310. According to the weather forecast, it’s going to be a windy week with the south-east-south wind.

With such wind, Tourgoyak and I will end up much higher than the targeted finish line. Right now, I’m keeping the course to Mooloolaba Marina in Queensland, Australia.  The marina’s coordinates are 26' 41 south latitude and 153' 07 eastern longitude. At this point, I’m at the exact same latitude with the marina, but with the south-east-south wind I’ll be nudged up north daily. Even with the centerboard out, the boat is still experiencing a strong sideway drift. A large wave of 2-3 meters at the port side is a big nuisance. The goal for today is to cross the 170th degree, and for the next few days I’d like to see me pass the traverse of New Caledonia archipelago. I’m with you. Fedor.”

The weather forecast for the next two days 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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08.05.2014

Day 137

It’s early morning, May 9th. It’s WWII Victory Day. My best wishes are to the veterans of my country who fought in World War II. I salute to my father, Konyukhov Philip Mikhailovich, who considers May 9th one of the most important dates in his life. My father was born in 1916. He was drafted as a young soldier as soon as the war began.

Details

Fedor via the satphone: “It’s early morning, May 9th. It’s WWII Victory Day. My best wishes are to the veterans of my country who fought in World War II. I salute to my father, Konyukhov Philip Mikhailovich, who considers May 9th one of the most important dates in his life. My father was born in 1916. He was drafted as a young soldier as soon as the war began. At some point during the war, he was put in command of a machine-gun squad. They reached Berlin. After the war, father went back home to work as a fisherman on the Sea of Azov. To this day he still lives in Ukraine, along the sea. He will be 98 in July. I pray that everything is well with him, and we’ll see each other this summer.

My friends and I built a chapel in honor of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. We built it in the village where my father lives. Despite his old age, he would come out to the construction site to greet us and maybe even give us his insights. It was special seeing him every day and listening to his input.     

Here on the ocean, I am having my own kind of battle. I’m grabbing for the easterly longitude with my might, teeth and nails. I know that as soon as I stop rowing, I’ll be taken back east, and my countdown to the last thousand miles would have to be postponed. Since I have already crossed the 1000 mile mark, I don’t want to lose a single mile. Mentally, it would be very defeating and physically exhausting.

The weather has been unfavorable to put it mildly. The wind is 10-15 knots, from south-west. I know that eventually the wind will become south-easterly, but it is not happening fast enough. The time passes so slowly. I long to see the land, but it is still so far away. 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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08.05.2014

999 miles until Brisbane.

On the night of May 8th, the Tourgoyak boat had crossed the 172 degree of the Eastern Longitude. This information is confirmed by the International Ocean Rowing Society (London). Fedor Konyukhov is now in less than 999 miles from Brisbane.

Details

On the night of May 8th, the Tourgoyak boat had crossed the 172 degree of the Eastern Longitude. This information is confirmed by the International Ocean Rowing Society (London). Fedor Konyukhov is now in less than 999 miles from Brisbane.

The remaining distance of the one thousand miles by no means will be easy. The late autumn in the Southern Hemisphere brings storms and low pressure systems. In addition, the boat is only 13 degrees away from the “roaring forties”. According to the weather map of the South Pacific, the storms have already covered New Zealand and keep moving up north. The wind in the low pressure systems spins clock-wise, which means that in the top area of the system the winds are westerly. Therefore, Fedor and Tourgoyak are facing the head wind and are prevented from advancing westward.

Fedor is expected to call later today to report his current situation. As of today, Tourgoyak has covered 8,327 nautical miles, or 15 kilometers.

The transpacific expedition is supported by the Russian Geographical Society. The RGS flag is on board of Tourgoyak crossing the Pacific Ocean. To learn more about RGS and Fedor Konyukhov’s collaboration click here.

The investors of the transpacific project:

  • Oleg Sirotin (hotel –resort Golden Beach and ski-resort Solnechnay Dolina, Miass, Russia).
  • Sergey Eremenko (car dealership Seyho-Motors, Chelyabinsk, Russia)

The official partner of the expedition: Akros LLC.

The mass-media coverage is provided by the following:

  • Modern Academy for the Humanities;
  • Tour operator Biblio Globus;
  • NTV broadcaster;
  • Russian news agency ITAR-TASS;
  • Educational TV Chanel of MUH;
  • Travel Magazine “Around the Globe”.

Translated by Tatiana Koreski



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06.05.2014

Day 135

It’s early Wednesday morning. I was hoping that by today there would only be 1000 miles left until Brisbane. Unfortunately, at about 1011 miles mark, the wind became westerly, pushing back me towards east. The day has just begun, but I already lost three miles.

Details

Fedor via the Iridium satellite phone: “It’s early Wednesday morning. I was hoping that by today there would only be 1000 miles left until Brisbane. Unfortunately, at about 1011 miles mark, the wind became westerly, pushing back me towards east. The day has just begun, but I already lost three miles. Tourgoyak and I got caught in between two different weather fronts. The wind here is blowing counter clock-wise: from north to west, and later, it is expected to switch from south-west to south-east. My course was at 250, but with this wind starting to turn against me, it became 220-200-180. Right now, as I speak, the bow of my boat is pointing in south-east direction. The ocean is just not letting me through. It keeps me in these latitudes, and I can’t proceed westward. I must accept the situation and wait it out. The ocean is great at teaching you how to accept something that is out of your control, and you have to play by its rules, otherwise you won’t make it.

The weather is foul with a constant cold drizzle. The swells are large, three to four meters high. The ocean’s throng makes me slightly seasick. It’s impossible to work on oars; the boat is pitching from side to side. I’m going sit tight and let the boat drift until the weather improves. I’m at the 28th degree of the Southern Latitude. That means I’m moving too far south, away from Brisbane. There is New Zealand island, Norfolk, in about 230 miles from me.

I pulled a map of Australia and New Caledonia. Looking at the map I can’t help but think that if I were on a good sail boat, the distance of 1000 miles could’ve been covered in just four days. On a solo row boat, the same distance could take me a month. When the land is so near it feels as if not only your boat, but the time as well move very slowly. It’s normal to feel impatient; however, I must be extremely careful and attentive. There is no room for a mistake. The ocean is not very keen on forgiving mistakes. I’m with you. Fedor”.

The weather forecast from Buoyweather.com

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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03.05.2014

Day 132

The wind is from the north-east, 6-8 knots. The boat is moving westward, staying close to the main course. It’s a new moon and I’m thankful for that. The ocean should become a bit calmer and inviting. The new day is promising to be nice and sunny.

Details

Fedor via the satphone: “The wind is from the north-east, 6-8 knots. The boat is moving westward, staying close to the main course.  It’s a new moon and I’m thankful for that. The ocean should become a bit calmer and inviting. The new day is promising to be nice and sunny. The air is crisp, the visibility is great; it’s a perfect autumn day.

I’ve been noticing some debris of white corral drifting alongside the boat. It looks as if the pieces were ripped off the coral reef during a storm. I scooped up a few as a keepsake.

Last night, the radar transponder picked up a signal from a ship. No matter how hard I peered into the night darkness I couldn’t see any lights, but I certainly recognized the smell of burning fuel. Even though the ship was beyond the horizon I was able to get a wiff of it just by smelling the air. After so many months in the open air, my senses are in tune with my surroundings so I pick up on slight differences that are not typical for the ocean.

Unfortunately, the swallow that landed on the deck less than a day go didn’t make it. It was nice having this tiny bird as company.

Compared to yesterday  I’m in a great mood. It’s amazing how little you need to be happy here. I’m alive and well; I lived to see another day; there is no rain; the wind is favorable; the sky is clear so I can see the new moon at night. Such simple things, but they make me feel the happiest person alive. ”

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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02.05.2014

Day 131. 1200 miles until Brisbane

It’s an early morning on Friday, still dark so I am using a head light to move around the cabin. The weather forecast didn’t prove to be true and instead of the south-east wind, Tourgoyak and I ended up at the mercy of the south-west, or head wind. Once again, I’ve been pushed up north. This unfortunate wind was of nothing major, just a small local front, quickly passing.

Details

Fedor via the Iridium satellite phone: “It’s an early morning on Friday, still dark so I am using a head light to move around the cabin. The weather forecast didn’t prove to be true and instead of the south-east wind, Tourgoyak and I ended up at the mercy of the south-west, or head wind. Once again, I’ve been pushed up north. This unfortunate wind was of nothing major, just a small local front, quickly passing. Nevertheless, I got caught in the midst of it, and for a half day I was moving in the opposite direction of the finish line. This weather puts me in a terrible state of mind. It’s a difficult time right now. The finish line is elusive and my exhaustion is colossal. Last night’s thrust northward was quite the opposite of the morale boost. I am discouraged. I know that I must continue pushing myself, but after 8000 nautical miles on the ocean I have to dig deep to get motivated on a daily basis. There are 1200 miles until Brisbane, but that’s a straight line. Of course, I don’t expect to advance in a straight line in the given conditions. Only God knows for sure how many more miles are left to row.

I have a small visitor who brightens my day. A swallow has landed on my deck and actively has been exploring the boat. She’s inspecting my glasses as I speak. It’s a pity that this tiny bird is so far away from land. She must’ve got swept by a wind into the ocean. There is a small island (Norfolk, NZ) ahead of me, no more than 500 miles. I’m hoping the bird will make it until I enter the traverse of the island. I don’t really have anything to feed her: no grains or groats, only dry breadcrumbs. Seasickness is what can really wipe her out; the land birds have a hard time tolerating a motion sickness.

Yesterday, at sunset, before the ordeal with the head wind begun, I was lucky to catch a large dolphinfish (coryphaena). It took me half an hour to reel the fish in. It was 90 cm, I specifically measured it. This is the largest fish that I’ve caught so far since leaving Chile. Of course, this is too much for me; the best size would be 30-40 cm. I cleaned it and caught into small thin slices to hang on the side rails of the boat. Hopefully, they’ll dry well in the constant wind but scarce sun. A pot of freshly made fish soup is a nice addition to my meals. I could probably take a break from fishing for a week or so. I must say that compared to the east side of the Pacific, I’ve had a much better luck with fishing in the western parts of the ocean. 

It’s May already. That means I’ve been on the ocean for five months. Did I think that it would be this hard? No, I honestly can say that I had no idea it would be this difficult. I must continue to row, there is no other way out. Quitting is not an option. The only way out is to arrive at a suggested finish point. 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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30.04.2014

Day 129

There is a storm of 7-8 on the Beaufort scale in about 100 miles from me. The conditions here reflect the fact that it’s a late fall in the South Pacific. I don’t expect any light weather until Australia.

Details

Fedor via the satellite phone: “The wind is 20 knots, from south and south-east. The high seas are 4 meters high and from the south. It’s been a while since I saw such high waves. They are like mountains, rushing towards me and crushing onto the deck. I’ve been wearing a kayak helmet for the last 24 hours. I bought this one back in England and now it comes in very handy. The boat is getting some serious beating from these waves and I’m getting hit as well.

I released a rope to stabilize the boat against the high seas. There is no sun, but a constant rain of various intensity: from a light drizzle to a pure deluge. There is a storm of 7-8 on the Beaufort scale in about 100 miles from me. The conditions here reflect the fact that it’s a late fall in the South Pacific. I don’t expect any light weather until Australia. For the next couple of days the weather is promised to be moderate, but then there will be another storm. This time it will come from the continent, which means I’ll be rowing against the head winds. With God’s help I will continue to plow through, towards Australia. 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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