Take Me 2 New York (TM2NY – 22)on June 5, 2014
If you believe you understand something because you did an exam about it, but have never experienced it, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We learnt that this week. So much we have read and researched about the so called dreaded Gulf Stream we believed we were ready for its power. We had no idea.
Simply put the Gulf Stream that begins in the Gulf of Mexico; way down South from where we are; is a phenomenon. It is a gigantic river that runs out in the open ocean. A river that at times is in flood and angry and sometimes a river quietly going about its business. I don’t have the figures at hand but I’ve read that billions of litres of water flow every second. We, on this 6.9m little rowing boat of ours, have discovered the gulf streams raw and unbridled power.
Our first day out of that infamous Haulsover inlet where we nearly sank the boat last week, meant rowing fist easterly direction. We needed to find this north flow of water as soon as was possible. Almost instantaneously we were forced; roughly 6 nautical miles offshore; from an easterly heading to a north easterly one. We rowed as hard as we could but had no control of our direction. The second came very soon after. We began rowing at a speed we had only dreamed of while crossing the Atlantic. Nearly averaging 5 knots (9 km/h). This speed, although welcoming was rightfully concerning as well. If the Gulf Stream could do with us as it wished, how would we cater for any contingency we may encounter?
And here is where this journey is again more so special. We have taken on something others have not ever dared in a rowing boat. Everyone had plenty advice and we although very appreciative, understood their terms of reference was from a Super yacht’s or Sport fishing boat’s perspective. Very very different!
The second day was even more surreal. As we began passing the West Palm Beach coast the current seemed to pick up pace. We were now rowing at an average of 6 knots with absolutely no wind assistance. This was unheard of. At one stage of the day Vasti and I put in a huge effort, the fastest speed we had ever rowed on flat water. 7.5 knots ( 14km/h). For a 1 ton boat to move at that speed, with only human power, something phenomenal has to be happening. That phenomenon is the Gulf Stream. As good as the stream can get so can it turn bad. The flow, where we are currently is due north and having an opposing wind into it, the sea will instantly become dangerous. Wind swell being pitched up by a five knot current will create waves 2 meters high and only a few second apart. Again, for a small craft such as ours, that will mean we will almost be permanently under water.
Fortunately for us the following day had brisk but manageable wind coming from the North, into us. The sea was bumpy and rowing very difficult. So you’d imagine Vasti and I had our progress halted? Nope, not at all. Although uncomfortable the rowing speed stayed above 4 knots. More than we ever averaged while crossing the Atlantic. The other crazy fact which we have experienced firsthand is the water temperature. Ranging from a whopping 27deg Celsius to an almost unbelievable 30 deg Celsius. I mean you could literally make your morning coffee or boil am egg with it. We are just blown away by what this journey has taught through actual doing, and not just reading about.
We are halfway to New York and still super wary of the might of the Gulf Stream. It should, if all goes well, get us to the big apple ahead of schedule. For the final leg of this incredible “Take Me 2 New York” adventure we could have hoped for nothing more.
We are honoured to be living this dream and want as many to share with us the final day. Get in touch with friends and family you know over in the US east coast and tell them about our eminent arrival. We would love as many people at the Statue of Liberty as possible. The Gulf Stream should be one of the seven wonders of the world. Because it is nothing short of it.
Follow us on our Facebook page: Take Me 2 New York and @TM2NY or @riaanmanser on Twitter. For live updates on position and progress visit http://my.yb.tl/TM2NY and www.riaanmanser.com to see the pics and updates we regularly make.
Riaan and Vasti have successfully become first in history to row from mainland Africa to New York, USA.