Atlantic Challenge 2023

To raise awareness and provide funding to help people live with dementia, George Nelson and Russell Davis of Team Oar Blimey are rowing 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean

We are aiming to raise £250,000

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The Challenge - 3,500 nautical miles of rowing

Setting off from Portugal in December 2023, Team Oar Blimey will independently and unsupported row across the Atlantic Ocean to Sint Maarten in the Caribbean.

To keep the boat moving 24/7, Oar Blimey will take alternating turns at rowing for 2-hours, then resting for 2-hours.

Blisters, salt rashes and sleep deprivation will be the norm for this challenge and every ounce of physical and mental endurance will be required to complete it within 3 months.  

The common link between people living with dementia and rowing across the Atlantic Ocean is……at times, the physical and mental strain will push us to our absolute limits. Because of this…..

 …our Atlantic Challenge 2023 is totally dedicated to people who live with dementia in their lives.

Live Boat Tracker

Progress Updates:

December 1, 2023
And they’re off!
After their long awaited and much anticipated mission to row the Atlantic Ocean to raise an ambitious £250,000 to help people live with dementia, Oar Blimey have launched ‘The Innovation Nottinghamshire Memory boat’ Nick Mellors.
After an initial setback with the water pump which caused a slight delay (and played on everyone’s emotions), the tools came out, the problem was fixed and Oar Blimey were good to go!
A traditional naming ceremony of the boat was followed by a photoshoot of the boys, modelling tees from Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure, It's Been Emotional and Mansfield Town Football Club Fiona Neeham.
It sure was emotional! George and Russ had an impressive send off, filled with love and hugs from some of their nearest and dearest. There were (ugly) tears, laughter and a whole load of waving and shouting!!
May the sea be kind to them, protect them, and carry them safely to the shores of Sint Maarten.
December 8, 2023
1st update from sea
Having a good day today after yesterday’s fight against the wind. The sun is out and all we can see ahead of us are massive rolling swells.
Last night Russ had a pod of dolphins dancing around him whilst he was rowing in the dark…
Had a shout on the radio this morning from a tug boat towing a broken down cargo ship, telling us to change course to let them have priority. They were surprised to find out we were a rowing boat, and changed direction for us! They were over 1000m long and massive!
Our battery (number 2) is not charging fast enough to keep up with our power usage. Low light conditions and only 10 hours of daylight, means we’ve had to use the (standby/emergency) hand held water maker to make our water (to save power consumption). No need to worry; we’ve made 10L in 3 hours! We'll see how the battery responds to a day off! Lol!
375 miles to our waypoint 1 at Lanzarote.
Ps check out their view today!
December 21, 2023
3 Weeks at sea!

This is their progress after 3 weeks. We wonder what their beards will look like after they’ve arrived in Sint Maarten 🇸🇽🚣🤔

December 24, 2023
Pit Stop in Gran Canaria
Update from team Oar Blimey - Friday 22 December
Whilst we’re a wee bit disappointed to be stopping enroute to Sint Maarten, we’re doing it for all the right (safety) reasons. Interestingly we prayed for north easterly winds and got them; only to find ourselves rowing against them to reach the lovely island of Gran Canaria.
Arriving at Las Palmas Marina yesterday morning after a night of dodging giant ships (we never look forward to encountering these giants at sea) Wednesday night was time to face our fears. If there’s ever been a squeaky bum moment…. this was ours….check out the cluster of cargo and tanker ships that we had to weave our way through coming into Las Palmas. That’s why sleep wasn’t an option until we were safely in the marina.
We spent yesterday afternoon with Carlos (Marine electrician) who identified that our rear solar panel is faulty…. However, this work cannot be rectified until Boxing Day! So, it’s Christmas Day on Gran Canaria!
We are desperate to get back out there rowing but recognise this delay at least allows us to slow down a little. We took ourselves out for dinner last night; had Pork and chips, and overloaded with Death by chocolate cake (and just the one beer)! Planning to repeat this again today, but with double eggs! We didn’t take any rocking once we got back to the boat either and slept for 12 hours solid!

 

December 24, 2023
Leaving the island of Gran Canaria!
Absolutely delighted to report that the boat repair has now been carried out; with a brand new solar panel fitted (and a new battery) we can finally leave the beautiful island of Gran Canaria! Russ and I will be rowing into the night, and dodging our way around some big old tankers…
Thank you so much to Rolnatic and Carlos (the marine electrician) and to Bryony, Tony and Paul for giving us (yet another) emotional send off! And Paul, thank you for buying us lunch before we left; you are an amazing guy!
Next stop for team Oar Blimey; Sint Maarten! 🚣🚣
December 28, 2023
Sleep depravation and cold wet nights at sea
We had a really hard, tiring and wet night last night. Every part of our bodies are aching, and with sleep depravation and cold wet nights at sea; we're totally knackered!
Every 10 or so minutes, the waves change and cause the oar handles to hit and scrape the skin off our shins - ouch, ouch, ouch!!!
The compass face now looks like a pac man or a ‘for mash get smash’ robot from the 1970's. Stupid, we know! But our tired minds are playing games with us…
Saying that, our efforts will be rewarded today with a new longest daily distance. We're going to smash 60 miles!!!
We've also got a few stowaways which hopped aboard in Gran Canaria; there's a cockroach and some mosquitos. The cockroach was last seen on deck this morning and the mozzies are in the cabin near the water maker. George's ankles are covered in bites, but Russ is OK as he's got shorter legs! 😂
December 31, 2023
NYE at Sea!
‘Celebration time, C'mon!!’ (you've gotta sing it)!
We made it to our 3rd waypoint (out of 20) at 0210hrs this morning, and had a wee whiskey to celebrate!!
It was a hard slog for the last 20 miles prior to the waypoint and for the next 20 thereafter whilst we realigned to the new bearing.
We're slowly turning to go west. (I’m sure there's a pop group in there somewhere)!
Thought we'd share a picture with one of our water bottles being filled; we’ve learnt the hard way that one of us has to hold it to make sure the pipe doesn't come out and wet the bed again!!
We found another dead fish (sprat) on deck this morning from the waves crashing over the sides last night. I know it's a fish, but for the size of it, it was punching above it's weight with fish smell. The little stinker!!
Happy New Year guys! Let’s make it one to remember!
January 2, 2024
New Year Update!
Our electrical power management is much better today... we've turned everything off (including the chart plotter) and we're rowing to the compass bearing of 240 degrees.
We've also had our AIS (Automatic Identification System) alarming every few minutes or so from about 6am this morning; possibly as a result of there being a bit of damp in it. So we decided to turn it off as we've not seen any other ships within 50 miles of us. (And don’t worry... we check it every 2 hours)!
We’ve been listening to 1970's tunes, reminiscing and sharing our stories from the good old days of school!
All in all, another good day aboard the Innovation Nottinghamshire Memory Boat.
PS
Russ spotted a dolphin swimming next to us in the dark last night. We could hear it breathing next to the boat, then it swam beside our oars before dissapearing into the night. Amazing!
January 5, 2024
One third of the way to St Maarten!
I've got a clean tshirt on today as we're one third of the way to St Maarten! It's lasted from 1st December without my wonderful wife popping it into the wash 😂
We're nicely making progress and on course for another 60 miles rowing distance today. And, we know what the phrase 'fair winds and following seas' means in practice now…And it's good!
The sun rise was once again stunning this morning. There's a bit of sleep depravation kicking in today though; everything seems like such hard work...so much harder than normal. We've managed on about 4 hours each day so far, but because of the good weather, we've pushed on without a break.
In fact, our parachute anchor has been left on deck ready for deployment, but we've decided we’re going to pack it up and stow it away to keep the deck tidy…fingers crossed that we're not tempting fate by doing this!!
January 7, 2024
In-shore Busy Fundraising
Grateful to all the kind souls who came and spoke, followed, and donated to Oar Blimey at Oak Tree Lane Tesco yesterday!
£247.42 raised 🚣🚣
You’re amazing! Thank you!
January 7, 2024
RELENTLESS!
The word 'RELENTLESS' has taken on a whole new meaning for us out here…!!
The sun has been fiercely beating down today, but the sea is fairly calm; and it feels like we’re rowing through treacle!!
Earlier this morning, we had some sort of wreckage drift past us. It was a big sea worn wooden crate (or container) with a ships light strapped to it and as we rowed past, a big creature swam around us. It was about 2 metres long with a dark (almost black) back and white underbelly. It quickly darted alongside us, under us and thankfully, swam away!! It wasn't a dolphin or a shark, but it was certainly a big old ‘fishy’ thing!
Anyway, Russ didn't like the look of it and quickly got his arms going like the clappers to get us on our merry way again!!
We passed waypoint (No5) in the night and have altered our course slightly to a more West heading. The wind is coming from the east and this should help to push us along with ease.
We’ve been debating about how to schedule six hours continuous sleep to give us a bit more energy; we’ve (reluctantly) agreed to reduce our speed and accept that 50 miles rowed per day is ‘good’ rather than pushing for 60 miles and burning ourselves out.
All in all, it’s going great aboard the Innovation Nottinghamshire memory boat!! We had Chicken curry for lunch, washed down with a wee dram to celebrate passing the waypoint!! And…I managed to call my beautiful wife Linda, for a (very) brief (and emotional) catch up! 🙏 Whoop whoop!!
Another waypoint celebration!🥃🥃
January 9, 2024
A dangerous night at sea!
Tuesday 9 January
The wind was coming at 90 degrees to our direction of travel last night, causing the waves to hit us side-on. This made rowing almost impossible and with darkness falling, quite dangerous too as we couldn't see the bigger (and nastier) waves creeping their way towards us…
Defeated, we decided to deploy our parachute water anchor, but it took us nearly two hours to get the lines untangled and the anchor deployed.
And although we desperately needed a good sleep, it was hard to come by; the boat rocked and rolled in the rough sea ALL.NIGHT.LONG!!
When we did eventually manage to drop off, our AIS (alarm) sounded…(at about 0500hrs)!! It warned of a fishing boat on a potential collision course with us. They were going so slow, that the alarm was continously going off every few minutes for nearly 2 hours...and we had to accept and cancel the alert each and every time! Nightmare!!
When the sun came up, we tried to cheer ourselves up by having chocolate muesli for breakfast!
We retrieved the anchor and when we pulled it back to the boat, there were about 40 fish under and around our boat, including a big dorado fish (about 1.5 long)! It had lovely colours on it (yellow and blue) but a face like it had been chasing anchored boats at full pelt! That said, it was beautiful to see.
Today, we’re both suffering from aching backs and shoulders due to being laid down on the mattress for so long… Sometimes, we need to be careful what we wish for!!
Hey ho! Back to rowing again!! 🚣
Drying out the parachute water anchor after its use last night!
January 10, 2024
A hot day
It’s been so hot today, and other than the big gentle rolling swells, the Atlantic is flat calm smooth! But it’s actually quite hard to row in, so we've used our time wisely and pulled in a few ‘admin’ jobs!
1 - George went for a swim and cleaned the underside of the boat. There were hundreds of barnacles sticking to it, which needed to be removed as they slow the boat down.
Thankfully there were no sharks in sight!!
2 - Russ changed the mattress covers to blue and yellow; homage to Stags!
3 - Stinky clothes were washed and dried!
4 - All the food items that we won't (or rather don't)! want to eat, were stored away into the front cabin locker, which is the hardest one to access. We pray we won't need to!!
Feels good! And we're both doing great!
Ps. This is a Dorado which was swimming under our boat this morning - it's about 1m long. Colours are blue and yellow...another reminder of MTFC Stags!!!
January 12, 2024
The weather appears to have it in for us this week!!
The weather appears to have it in for us this week!! It's hot and muggy and the usually predictable trade winds (which blow from the north-east in the Atlantic at this time of year) are notably absent!! The winds are blowing from the south-west, and are pushing us backwards!!
We spent all night on the para anchor last night and drifted six miles backwards...It took a full day of hard rowing to pull this mileage back!!
So with the wind forecast set to remain the same tomorrow, we’ll no doubt be dropping the Innovation Nottinghamshire Memory Boat's para anchor again shortly, in the knowledge that we'll be rowing back on ourselves for a third time!!
Despite this, we believe that sitting at anchor and doing nothing all day will have us drifting much further back, so to keep us closer to the finish point, we'll keep on rowing whenever we can!!
When the both of us get stuck inside the tiny boat cabin with the window shut, it's torture (in the high 20's) but thankfully, we experienced our first rain shower since Gran Canaria last night; it was so relaxing to feel cool rain drops again!!
January 13, 2024
What a struggle
What a struggle it's been trying to prevent ourselves from going backwards. We lost 10 miles yesterday!! Pretty awful!!
Russ also noticed that the water in our large 20 litre container was turning green, so we decided to start using this. We boiled it to kill off any bacteria, but by this morning, it was a much deeper green in colour...so it needs to be thrown away…
We're going to wash the container, and refill it with water. Disappointingly, our electric water maker can't help us, as we only have one working battery and it would completely drain it. So we’re going to use our emergency hand pump water maker. It'll take us at least 5 days to manually replenish this amount of water, plus keep everything else going.
We're determined to carry on though... There’s no stopping us now…!!
January 16, 2024
Birthday day!! 🎈
It's Russ's Birthday today! Whoop whoop; it's party time on board the Nottinghamshire Innovation Memory Boat!!
I sang an oar some rendition of Happy Birthday to Russ at 0030hrs this morning; a whole 30 mins before he was due to start on the oars!! 🎉
Russ didn't sleep much during the day yesterday, and during his night time sleep slots, he kept waking up thinking (or rather he was hoping) it was his turn to start rowing again...!
And no wonder, he's got a large family size packet of M&M's to munch his way through as a birthday treat!!
I was hoping my singing was brilliant enough for Russ to share some of those lovely, sweet, nutty, tasty, scrumptious M&M's with me! But he reckons he's not sharing them!! (Another Davis trait)! Lol!
He opened his cards at breakfast when we had posh pork and beans; a change from the usual porridge and muesli! Russ says 'thanks for all the cards and messages' (and he's defo taking you all up on the offers and promises of white sauce dinners and Chinese meals when we get back!! You know who you are and what promises you've made)!! 😂
Hold the front page! We've now crossed the 2000 ‘miles to go’ mark!
So now WE'RE CELEBRATING this fabulous milestone as well as Russ’s birthday!!
What an achievement considering we've continuously been blown backwards this week!!
Family Bag of M&M's and a wee dram of whiskey to celebrate tonight. Yay! 🎈
January 19, 2024
Intense winds and turbulent seas!
Last night can only be described as a night of intense winds and turbulent seas!
The northerly winds were battering us and creating some fairly big rolling waves, driving us southward (when we needed to go westward)!!
We're hoping for an easterly shift to provide us with a 'push,' but until then, we'll steer the Innovation Nottinghamshire memory boat 24/7 until we move into more favorable weather conditions!
We might need to skip a blog or two this week since keeping a satellite dish steady long enough for messaging is quite challenging; especially with the risk of getting ‘big wave’ soaked! Nonetheless, we'll give it our best effort!
These little fish were flying around like darts throughout the night. They flew over the boat, into the boat, and even managed to hide in the boat!! Sadly we discovered these two little casualties on deck at daybreak this morning…😢

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