Fedor Konyukhov
enru
22.03.2014

Day 90

The ocean is calm and untroubled. A light breeze is from the east. In addition to the booby friends, I’ve got myself a new companion. Since Saturday I’have been followed by a shark, 1.5 meters in length. We met when I was rounding the Motu One atoll.

Details

Fedor via the satphone:“The ocean is calm and untroubled. A light breeze is from the east. In addition to the booby friends, I’ve got myself a new companion. Since Saturday I’have been followed by a shark, 1.5 meters in length. We met when I was rounding the Motu One atoll, and I made a careless gesture by throwing over board a small piece of sheep skin that I use for my rowing seat. The shark accepted the present and left me for few hours preoccupied with it. However, she (or he) returned promptly when got bored playing and now is following me constantly. The shark is not afraid of the oars and a sound they make. I definitely should’ve refrained from offering anything to my guest. By the looks of it, the shark is going to accompany me for a while now.   

According to the weather report, I’m going to have a nice week. The plan is to get down to the 20th degree of the Southern Latitude. That way I’ll be ready for the south-east winds that are expected by the end of the week.  Sunday, March 23, marked my three months on the Pacific Ocean. I started this crossing on Sunday, December 22nd, 2013, and every day since then, the Pacific has been surprising, inspiring and trying me constantly. 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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21.03.2014

Day 89

On Friday I saw land for the second time since my start in Chile. I rowed past Motu One (Bellinghausen) atoll in a 12 miles distance. Before I saw the actual land, I noticed the clouds. They are different than the ones I see every day in the open ocean.

Details

"On Friday I saw land for the second time since my start in Chile. I rowed past Motu One (Bellinghausen) atoll in a 12 miles distance.  Before I saw the actual land, I noticed the clouds. They are different than the ones I see every day in the open ocean. Even without confirming with the chart plotter I knew that this was the land. The change in the horizon was noticeable since I observe the ocean and the sky for 16-18 hours a day. The atoll’s clouds caught my eye immediately. 

The weather was cooperating. The wind was from the north-east at 8-10 knots. I was able to round the atolls and observe its east and south coastal contours. I’m glad the regional storm has passed. The ocean has been quieting down considerably.

After Motu One I am rowing by Manuae, the westernmost atoll of the Society Islands. With God’s help I’m hoping to round Manuae without any complications. That would mean I’ve successfully made it through French Polynesia. Up ahead are the Cook’s Islands.

I had a few visitors from Motu One: a group of boobies discovered Tourgoyak. They are rather clumsy birds, and skittish too. When I’m rowing they are afraid to land on the boat, but right now I’m on the phone inside the cabin and can hear them trying to perch onto the antennas’ arch.  So, from time to time I must raise my voice to let them know I’m the captain of this vessel."

 

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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20.03.2014

Day 88

It’s late evening right now, according to my watch. But during the last few days it’s been hard to distinguish between day and night. The sun cannot penetrate the thick layer of dark clouds. And there is no visible horizon separating the ocean and the skies.

Details

Fedor reports via the satphone: “It’s late evening right now, according to my watch. But during the last few days it’s been hard to distinguish between day and night. The sun cannot penetrate the thick layer of dark clouds. And there is no visible horizon separating the ocean and the skies. Everything is enveloped in this massive grayness. I’ve been using the reserve accumulators since the main ones have been running dangerously low. The reserve batteries don’t run for too long either. After three months and hundreds of charging and recharging the batteries don’t work as well as they used to.

 

The head wind is pushing the boat towards Motu One (Bellinghausen) atoll. There is only 67 miles between us, which is about one day given the circumstances.  It might be impossible to row past the entire Society Islands and leave them at the port side. There is a chance I will have to go in between some of the islands.

The ocean is loud, stirred up; the waves are enormous. The tropical storm in the west has turned into a tropical cyclone. It’s been christened Mike. This is the tenth storm-cyclone development in the 2013-2014 season. (To learn more about cyclone Mike go here). 

If the weather reports are true, I have 24 more hours of these conditions; then it should become easier. I’m with you. Fedor.”

Fedor and Tourgoyak are approaching the New Zealand sector of the Pacific Ocean. The expedition headquarters contacted the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) in Wellington to give the coordinates of Tourgoyak. The New Zealand sector is one of the largest search and rescue areas in the Pacific Ocean, and in the world. Fedor and his boat will remain in this sector until the 163th degree of the Eastern Longitude. After that, they will enter the Australian segment 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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18.03.2014

Day 86

Tourgoyak pulled through another challenge of heavy ocean weather. With every storm I learn more and more about the boat’s capabilities.

Details

Fedor via the satphone: “Tourgoyak pulled through another challenge of heavy ocean weather. With every storm I learn more and more about the boat’s capabilities. Each time I’m pleased to know that she’s got what it takes to withstand the storms, high seas, and strong winds. The last 24 hours are a great testimony to that. The wind and the waves were beating hard, but Tourgoyak would stay the course and emerge from each wave unscarred. The waves were high, more than 3 meters tall for sure. I see on the weather plotter that the storm is moving south. I can also see some sun peeking through the clouds. 

Today I rowed in the traverse of Bora Bora and Uturoa. I’m fairly certain that even if the wind starts to blow from the north, I would be able to leave these islands at the port side. Of course, there are a couple of small atolls along the way, but I will be fine rowing past them should challenging circumstances arise. Today I will try to tidy up the boat and reorganize my stuff. I’ve need to dry some of the clothes and even wash them in collected rain water. I also need to check every hatch for signs of leakage. The tiller can use some inspection as well. Even though Tourgoyak is a small row boat, it will take me a good portion of the day to inspect her from the bow to the stern. 

The numbers are mind boggling: I have covered 5000 nautical miles (or 9000 km) since the start in Chile. That’s roughly the distance across Russia (from Moscow to Vladivostok). Even looking at a hard copy of the Pacific Ocean map it’s hard to ponder that I’ve left 9000 km behind. There is no room to relax, though. I still have more than 5000 nautical miles ahead and dozens of islands along the way. I’m with you, Fedor.”

Weather forecast near Fedor's boat:

 

Tuesday 3/18

 

Morning

Very windy with large choppy seas. Small craft advisory. Moderate long period swell.

Seas: NW 3 to 4 meters at 16 seconds.

Winds: NE 20 to 27 knots.

 

Afternoon

Windy conditions with choppy seas. Small craft advisory. Large long period swell.

Seas: WNW 3.1 to 4 meters at 16 seconds.

Winds: NNE 15 to 21 knots.

 

Wednesday 3/19

 

Morning

Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Moderate long period swell.

Seas: WSW 2.9 to 3.7 meters at 14 seconds.

Winds: NNE 11 to 14 knots.

 

Afternoon

Breezy whitecapping conditions with moderate choppy seas. Moderate long period swell.

Seas: W 2.7 to 3.5 meters at 14 seconds.

Winds: NNE 10 to 14 knots

 

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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17.03.2014

Day 85

There is plenty of wind 20-25 knots, but thankfully it’s a tail wind and I’m staying on course. About 200 miles west of me a serious storm is raging. As a result, Tourgoyak and I are experiencing high seas. The boat is being lifted up and down as if we were on swings. The ocean is grueling, but all is well on board.

Details

Photo: the night before the start. Chile, Concon, December 2013.  

“There is plenty of wind 20-25 knots, but thankfully it’s a tail wind and I’m staying on course. About 200 miles west of me a serious storm is raging. As a result, Tourgoyak and I are experiencing high seas. The boat is being lifted up and down as if we were on swings. The ocean is grueling, but all is well on board. One annoying thing is a saturating and ever present dampness that got into everything.  I don’t have anything left fully dry. I’m unable to open the hatches for ventilation because water would rush into the aft cabin and control panel section. There was a moment when I was unprepared to face a rogue wave. I was just about to step out on deck from the cabin when out of nowhere powerful rogue wave hit the boat so hard that it rolled on its side. Here I was: one leg in the cabin and the other on deck. Thankfully, it took only a few seconds for Tourgoyak to right itself up, although some of the water did get into the navigational station of the cabin.

Today I saw an airplane, a type of business jet. They must’ve seen me because it turned around and flew over me one more time. It looked like they were heading for Tahiti.

I heard the news that my friend Simon Chalk together with his team successfully rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. The team of eight had spent 32 days and 22 hours rowing from Grand Canary to Barbados. It’s an incredible result for an ocean row boat. I’d like to congratulate Simon and his entire team. Well done, guys!” (to read more about this transatlantic crossing click here. ) 

I was told that there was no signal from my Yellow Brick buoy since last night. I went to check what the issue was. A cap for the USB plug-in was loose and letting water in. Most likely this water intake caused the circuit shortage. That’s no good.  I turned a second buoy (3399) on. I only have two of these buoys on board. It’s expected that the ocean conditions will take a toll on the equipment.  Thus far I have been fortunate with small equipment losses in which I carried a spare.  May the Lord and your prayers continue to protect and sustain me.  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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16.03.2014

Day 84

I’m hanging in here. The last 24 hours were stressful. I’ve hardly slept. The wind is vile, with the squalls up to 35 knots. It switches its direction from north-west to north without any warning. The seas don’t have time to adjust. To top it off, the rain is drumming constantly at the surface of the ocean.

Details

Fedor’s phone call at 08:00 (Moscow time) Sunday: “I’m hanging in here. The last 24 hours were stressful. I’ve hardly slept. The wind is vile, with the squalls up to 35 knots. It switches its direction from north-west to north without any warning. The seas don’t have time to adjust. To top it off, the rain is drumming constantly at the surface of the ocean. Tons of water are dumped every minute flattening the waves. The wind is warm, from the equator. I can feel its hot breath. I hope this storm will wrap this heat and take it away from here towards the South Pacific. The coming of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere will hopefully become more apparent, bringing calmer weather and cooler air.

Last night was particularly challenging. The head wind of 25 knots kept pushing me towards the islands and there was nothing I could do about it. I was heading straight to the Mataiva atoll. Working on oars was difficult, at times impossible. The swells and chaotic waves were too much to deal with.

I set the boat on course with the centerboard and the rudder and ballasted the starboard. I tried to hide in the cabin where the temperature is +39 C, according to a thermometer. The ceiling and the walls are growing mold right in front of my eyes.

There is no sun, so the main accumulators are down. I had to switch to a reserve battery, but it wouldn’t start. The on/off switch is broken.

Thankfully,  back in Chile we bought two switches. I removed the broken one from the accumulator and installed another one as best as I could given the circumstances. This project would have to wait until calmer weather.

Right now, it’s the middle of night. The wind is turning east and I’m turning west. What a joy it is to see my course back at 240 degrees. I’m so tired of seeing the 180 and 170 degrees course. The weather prognosis is promising: the wind should be gone into the east. God willing, I’ll be able to pass the islands at a good distance.  My goal is to have the islands and atolls at the port side, including the Bellinghausen atoll (Motu One). If this is too ambitious, I must at least try to keep Bora Bora and Uturoa at the port side. In my experience, you don’t want to pass the islands too close; it's good to keep good separation. The last 24 hours proved that if the wind decides to change and blow from the north-west then the boat turns south, or even south-east right way. With such strong head wind, I’m incapable of changing the course. As of right now, I’m all right and the boat withstood the storm. Praise be to God. I’m with you. Fedor."

With the help of the Chilean Search and Rescue authorities, we were able to contact French Polynesia maritime services asking them to provide Fedor with regular weather updates. Here is a summary of the weather report received from the coastal services of French Polynesia: Herewith local marine forecast for next 12 hours in vicinity of Fedor location:

1- north-west Tuamotu Islands area:
wind: North 16/20 kt. gusts 25/30 kt, moderate sea, showers.

2- Tahiti and west Tuamotu Islands area:
wind: North to Northwest 16/20 kt increase tomorrow 20/24 kt
gusts 35/40 kt, moderate to rough sea, showers and thunderstorm risk

3- Leeward Islands area:
wind: Northwest 16/20 kt increase tomorrow 20/24 kt
gusts 35/40 kt under grains, moderate to rough sea, showers and
thunderstorm risk

Best regards.

--
MRCC PAPEETE
BP 9420 – 98715 Papeete CMP
T?l : (+689) 54.16.16 - Mobile : (+689) 75.75.47
Fax : (+689) 42.39.15
Iridium : +881 641 425 630 - Inm-C: 422 799 192

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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14.03.2014

Day 82

So it begins. The wind has increased to 20 knots. And not only that; the expected few days of a tail wind from the north-east didn’t prove to be true. I’m having a head wind from the north-west right now. The boat has drastically turned south.

Details

“So it begins. The wind has increased to 20 knots. And not only that; the expected few days of a tail wind from the north-east didn’t prove to be true. I’m having a head wind from the north-west right now. The boat has drastically turned south. The closest island in front of me is Mataiva; it's only 92 miles away. If the wind persists, I will reach the island in two days. Another obstacle is Tahiti island, located 250 miles south of me. I was so close to be in the open water. A few more days of  the  north-easterly wind and I would pass the islands and atolls of French Polynesia without any complications.

Photo: Testing sea anchor before the start. Chile, Concon, December 2013

Well, there is no point in wishful thinking. I have to get ready for the storm. On deck everything is tied and secured. The food has been selected for a few days, so I won’t have to search for it in storage compartments. I also prepared a 75 meter long rope. I’m going to release it over one side of the boat when the big seas will rise. I used this ploy when I was going along side of Chile in the winds of 25 knots. The rope acted as a source of drag and kept the stern steady. The week-end is going to be tough. A storm in close proximity to the islands is a serious trial. I’m asking for your prayers. 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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13.03.2014

Day 81

Tourgoyak and I covered 42 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. It’s a good result given the weather conditions. There is hardly any wind; no current; the boat has got a lot of sea growth on the bottom. If I am not rowing, than Tourgoyak sits still. One good thing about the lack of wind is that I can row strictly west. I must stay within the 13th degree of the Southern Latitude until the next storm.

Details

“Tourgoyak and I covered 42 nautical miles in the last 24 hours. It’s a good result given the weather conditions. There is hardly any wind; no current; the boat has got a lot of sea growth on the bottom. If I am not rowing, than Tourgoyak sits still. One good thing about the lack of wind is that I can row strictly west. I must stay within the 13th degree of the Southern Latitude until the next storm. My attention is focused on a storm that is forming in the west. An extensive area of low-pressure is spread out between the 155th and 175th degrees of the Western Longitude, which is equivalent to a distance of 1200 miles. By Tuesday, I’ll end up in the eastern wing of the storm. Thankfully, a tail wind will be from the north-east. Together with this storm I’m planning to head south.   

This sharp turn south towards New Zealand is my next step in the expedition. After that, I’ll be staying in the corridor of the 26-29 degrees of the Southern Latitude heading for Brisbane. It’s easier said than done. Staying in a precise latitude while traveling on an ocean row boat is possible only with complete weather cooperation.  For me, the wind and everything that has to do with the wind (its speed, direction, turns) is very important. To my dismay, the Raymarine wind display got broken today. The arrow inside the display fell off and lays useless. This could’ve happened because of the direct sun exposure or the constant shaking and rocking of the boat. I can still tell the wind power (thanks to the electronic display), but it won’t tell the direction of the wind.  I regret that back in England we installed only one wind display, and we placed it exposed on the deck. It would have been better to put one in the covered area, protected from the sun. Now, looking at the “dead” wind display I feel a bit sad. It’s like I lost a good friend. No matter what I do on the deck I would always glance at the display. I’m hoping that no other equipment will break. It is a big risk to take a brand new boat across the entire Pacific Ocean non stop. After 80 days on the ocean I can easily name a few things that I would change or improve if I had a chance. It might’ve been smarter to cross the Atlantic Ocean to learn the boat, and only then face the Pacific. But then again, what may work for the Atlantic Ocean might not work on the Pacific,  the Atlantic is a sprint but the Pacific is a marathon. I’m just praying that Tourgoyak and I are built for such a marathon.

Last night was quiet, no rain, with almost a full moon. I slept on the deck, using a sheep skin as a mattress. Before Tourgoyak was shipped from England to Chile, my friend Charlie Pitcher gave me four sheep skins. He told me that the British rowers use this material in the ocean and it serves them much better than any polyester or synthetics. I cut some for the rowing seat but kept one intact to sleep on. Its ability to stay dry for a prolonged time on the water makes it a great material for long trips on the sea.  All other fabrics that I have with me stay dry for only a couple of hours. 

I saw, or rather heard, a whale today. He was alone. The water was clear blue and I could see the whale’s body very well. He passed me from north to south without paying the slightest attention to me and Tourgoyak. I didn’t complain about this lack of interest because his size was twice as large as my boat. 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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11.03.2014

Day 79

I have noticed a pattern that bad things typically happen at night time. Last night wasn’t an exception. I got caught in a powerful thunderstorm. The wind was spinning the boat 360 degrees. The rain was as thick as a wall. There was no point to remain on deck. I secured the oars, set Tourgoyak adrift, and batten myself into the aft cabin.

Details

Fedor on the satphone: "I have noticed a pattern that bad things typically happen at night time. Last night wasn’t an exception. I got caught in a powerful thunderstorm. The wind was spinning the boat 360 degrees. The rain was as thick as a wall. There was no point to remain on deck. I secured the oars, set Tourgoyak adrift, and batten myself  into the aft cabin. Despite my exhaustion, I could not fall asleep. The rain drops were drumming on the roof at full volume. Sometime later into the night, I heard another sound. Someone, or something, was scratching on top of the roof. That’s strange, I thought. I can understand hearing a scratching sound underneath the boat, but who would climb on top of the aft cabin? I laid still in my sleeping bag, listening intently. The scratching sound didn’t go away but instead was spreading around the entire roof. There was nothing to do but climb out of the sleeping bag and go investigate.  I opened the hatch and carefully looked outside. What did I see? Three birds, similar to our pigeons, were trying with all their might to hang onto the arch amongst the antennas and windsock. The wind and the rain were mercilessly beating them down. The birds would slide down the solar panels and try to climb back again. I picked up one of them. It was tiny and delicate. I could feel her fast beating heart and the small bones under my fingers. I set her down in the cockpit and went back into the cabin. I turned the music player on and put the ear phones in. That was the only way to block out the noise of the storm and struggling birds. Surprisingly, I slept quite well. In fact, it was one of the most restful nights since entering French Polynesia.  However, during the night, the boat was pushed down south and even turned around eastward. This was inevitable. I was in the middle of a thunderstorm and there was no way I was able to control the situation or the general course of my boat.

By dawn, all became well. The clouds had disappeared into the west. The air was clear. The ocean had calmed down. A light breeze was coming in from the east. Tourgoyak looked shiny clean, after a night long rain shower. My guests had departed me, but they left me a few messy reminders of their visit. Today is Tuesday and I need to catch up on my mileage. I feel like I got stuck in this zone of the Tuamotu Islands. This week, I must leave them for good. 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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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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