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Indian Ocean

Most difficult days

Anyone who is looking for more about our journey so far should check out the other crew members' blogs. They can be viewed here and here.

The following blog entry has been transcribed from a series of voicemails that Fiann recorded from the boat. The team's computer recently broke, making it too impractical to continue sending blog text by email. Instead, Fiann recorded the following message to be shared on his website:

July 17

These have been the toughest, most difficult days of the whole journey. We are down by two rowers, facing frequent storms and missing some important equipment.

But let me start from the beginning: Recently, we have crossed three major types of midpoints:

Number one is the distance-rowed midpoint. We actually passed this quite a few days ago.

Another is timeline midpoint, based on average speed, which we passed some days ago.

The third, we passed yesterday, which is midpoint in a straight line.

Now, I must explain why I am not writing so much:

It is because we are only four rowers rowing in an eight person boat. One person, Shane, got injured and had to be evacuated. One more is also always busy taking care of manual steering, because our steering broke. And if you're doing the math, we only began with 7 rowers to begin with… So that's four or even 3 of us pulling a boat built for eight all the way to Africa and keep in mind half of this number is rowing at once. However, despite the challenges, we are still doing really well- the fastest row for half of Indian Ocean ever.

Additionally, the computer also broke a few days ago, so I can't send emails for the blog. Even if I found time to write, it is impractical. It's too complicated… These recordings will be my only correspondence for some time.

There is a lot to write and I am sorry for not writing it. I'll do it when I get back to land and write all of the funny bits and pieces and other important details…

But, some highlights just for now… I broke four oars. Three of them in a storm, and the other in our evacuation action when Shane was injured. We were a few inches from the propellor of a tanker ship. It was the most dangerous moment of the journey so far. When we were trying to connect to the ship, the second oar was broken.

Also, we experienced a shark circling our boat once.

More, we have had to go completely through 3 storms and 2 hurricanes.


Some beautiful things mixed into these intense days:

We saw a moon-bow a few times. Like a rainbow, but reflected from moonlight.

We also saw lots of dolphins.

Also, the intense effort that we have been pushing with these days is not without incentive….

Indeed, we broke the one-day speed record. That is, highest amount of miles rowed in one day….

The current 1-day milage record is 115. We rowed 130 in a curve. However, the record counts in a straight line. Even still, in such a straight line, we rowed 117.

But, what we got to know later is that the record counts from 4am GMT, to 4am on the next day.

In this 4am-4am measure, we rowed 113 miles. Too short. So by the books, we missed it- but, in a 24-hour measure, we definitely got it. 4am GMT just wasn't the right window to measure our record. So, I would say that the Ocean Rowing Society could improve their jurisdiction criteria…

The record would be nice. The days are very difficult…. To make it simple, we are kind-of rowing against the weather. When our boat broaches perpendicular to the waves, in order to put it back in the position of the angle that we need, we sometimes need to pull each stroke with the power equivalent of about 100kg (220lb) dead-lift in the gym… These strokes definitely do not serve your spine well. This, I really do not like.

Until next update-

Hydration comes after acidity

I elaborated on the subject of acidity briefly before, in regards to sugars. Another acidity regulating aspect, one of many worth mentioning is hydration. Proper hydration helps to prevent increased body acidity as it gives the body enough of water to keep the internal organs “hygienic”. Pathogens breed on acidic environment and the less place for the pathogens to breed, the less likely we are to have injuries during the extreme performance.

Hydration though is much more complicated. I add sea water to my food and my electrolyte, as the sea water is much more complex and natural hydration source than the electrolyte. I see some crew members followed this idea with good results. However it is incomplete when used alone, needs to be topped up with the electrolyte. I have especially prepared electrolyte with low natrium chloride, that allows the sea water to be added and along with all the benefits of the sea water create very advanced hydration drink, as hydration is also about the structure of the water.

We can become dehydrated not only by not drinking enough as the first association with the definition indicates, but also by:

-drinking too much of hypotonic fluids, means “too thin” fluids such as normal water, which will cause the loss of electrolyte

-drinking too much of hypertonic fluids, means “too thick” fluids such as salty water or too much electrolyte in the water

-sweating too much and not replacing the electrolyte lost in sweat while drinking normal amounts of water

-loosing too much water through breathing, sweating and urinating, while drinking normal amounts of water

The best athletes can sense and react to the electrolyte and hydration imbalances. There are natural ways to monitor it, but there is also a way to feel the body requesting the adjustment of the electrolyte or hydration.

Sea sickness

Sea sickness has been sorted on the boat. Some of us got sick some didn't. Understanding sea sickness is actually a very interesting thing. Here is what I wrote about it a few years ago in the oceanrowing workout section. Seasickness refers back to a reaction rooted in our biological heritage.

Another important thing rooted in our biological heritage, and another very important topic for this expedition, is the craving for sweet taste. Most people on an ocean row include sugary and sweet meals as a big part of their food rations (not me though). Originally, way way back when we were hunters and gatherers, cravings for sweetness could only be satiated by eating fruit. Such cravings meant that the body was calling to lower its acidity, as almost all fruit create an alkaline environment which automatically reduces body acidity... It is important to mention that acidity and alkalinity have nothing to do with taste. For example, lemon is a form of acid and tastes very sour, but is one of the most effective alkalizers. Acidic foods are mostly those foods that we think of as heavy, such as meat, bread, nuts, cheese and sugar. These foods cause the body to create an acidic environment while processing them, not because these foods necessarily taste acidic.

In a human body, acidity is an environment that allows anaerobic bacteria to breed. Anaerobic bacteria are one type of microbe that does not benefit your body in any way. In fact, anaerobic bacteria cause diseases and other troubles. So, when we feel cravings for sweet taste and we eat candy, we actually create an even more acidic environment contrary to the alkaline environment that our body is calling for! This, of course, will only increase our more craving for the sweet taste, and on and on and on while the body gets sick. What is the conclusion? When you feel cravings for sweet taste, eat fruit. Do we have fruits on board? No. So better skip sweets at all.

But this is not the only reason why I avoid sugars in my rations. The main reason actually comes from understanding different forms of energy. If you want a fire to last for a few hours, burn wood. If you want it to last 24h/7 burn coal. Compared to a human body, wood would be carbohydrates, and coal would be fats. Sugars in this metaphore would be comparable to maintaining the fire by adding tiny bits of fuel every few minutes... The fireplace is your body and the burning is the metabolism.

Given this understanding, fueling the body on an expedition like this with tiny little bits of sugar fuel is really silly. Another reason to avoid the sweets comes from understanding insulin and how it affects ones performance and shape, especially when on ultra-long endurance feats when one's cortisol level is elevated to the extreme. We know that cortisol “disturbs” the work of insulin and you can't really utilize all the glucose. What is the best alternative for eventual necessity of fast energy? Not sugars, but MCT and cortisol blockers. To make it short, as I spoke a bit more about it in the workout section, this is a fat that impacts your body like a sugar, carries more energy than any fat and doesn't need insulin. However, enough of this chemistry talk because we are almost getting into another “battle with nature” field.

P.S. One could also ask about burning protein as a fuel source, but protein is comparable to burning wet wood or even garbage on the fire. They make a lot of mess when they burn, don't produce that much energy, and therefor are not a good choice of body-fuel. But in the end, remember, you are more than a machine.


When I look into the stars, I quickly figure that I am nobody. On the boat, I am staring at the stars at least 6 hours per day, so it is hard to forget this simple message... I am not a math or astronomy genius, but in this infinite space around us, there are probably billions of planets just like ours. And here we are, six, small little creatures on the ocean trying to make our short presence in this world more significant by crossing part of this piece of sand called Earth that we ended up on.

You are probably thinking that I overdosed on sea sickness patches, hmm? Not at all! Or not yet... But again, I reflect, there is also this inner world of ours- our inner infinity. This is where you can really be an expeditioner- where your truth and your joy are the greatest things. To be an expeditioner here is one of the greatest achievements that even the stars and infinite cosmos will envy There, I see a door to become The Somebody



Laughter, in my hierarchy of values, is number one above all else. Yesterday we reinforced this value quite heavily. You see, there is no big event in my life that ever happens without being accompanied by a comparatively big prank. This week, waiting on standby for our departure, the crew and I properly built up a prank in which the captain was made to believe that our main support of this extreme challenge would consist of HGH injections. But let's describe it from the beginning, as it deserves more words. A longer telling is the only way to deliver a teaser of this prank that led to so much laughter. We (crew) were sitting at the table after dinner chatting about natural medicines. Suddenly (and it was not planned) Tim pulled the opener of the prank. In quite complex sounding athletic/medical gibberish, he properly introduced the diversity of methods by which to support oneself in extreme settings such as our row. Most importantly, he alluded to everyone at the table that we might have some stuff worth looking at. Here I chipped in with some motivational gibberish, mentioning how intense of a challenge we are about to undertake and how every extreme achievement goes along with sacrifices. As we are going to achieve something superhuman, we need to perform superhuman, I said, and the most superhuman that a person can become is through the application of Human Growth Hormone (HGH).

Having set the stage, I started to explain how amazing HGH is and how harmless and effective it can be at the same time. Everybody was engaged in the talk, and slowly, as to appear believable, each of the guys eventually became convinced that taking HGH is a good idea. During the conversation, we described a story in which Tim got 0,5kg of HGH (which, for the information of readers, would cost up to 6 digits). In the tale, the supplement was busted on the Australian border coming in from Thailand (Tim is a copper). Now we had it, and those of us doing the talking explained that we could use the supplement up now. We argued that this was the perfect opportunity, and a great way to save money. We explained the considerations, but upon mention, all of the guys enthusiastically agreed that ending up 2 inches taller per head by the end of the expedition is not a bad deal. Another thing that they agreed on was that we could all enjoy improved muscles mass by approx 20kg each.

After a moment's thought, Cameron said that he wouldn't mind being 6'4 but was wondering how it will influence our sleeping during the voyage. "It's no concern", I replied, "in fact, we could row 4 hours and rest 1 hour!" (compared to the usual 2 hours of rowing followed by 2 hours rest). Tim added (as he also works as a rowing coach for the kids and teenagers) that he used to give it to the kids and one of them would "rip the shit off the erg!".

Heather, now sufficiently pranked, raised an objection, mentioning that this is cheating. I responded that when we are crossing ocean we are not swimming but supporting ourselves with oars which is also a form of cheating! (I think that when you prank someone it is cool to gradually keep narrowing the distance toward complete absurdity). Tim piped up, adding that "we also need to cleanse in order to be able to benefit fully from the supplement. So here, the frog venom application will come in handy, allowing us to purge and prepare our bodies properly." (By now, everyone present knows that I really do use frog venom, so it didn't sound as unreal as it might to one reading the story). Cameron proceeded, "I will email my mom and ask her to research everything". He pulled out his phone out and started typing quickly. I added that by using frog venom, we can actually amplify the efficiency of HGH by about 5 times, so, we could benefit from it even more and save a lot of money and a lot of HGH itself. We could even use it for the recovery mode after the row itself once we arrive in Africa!

At this stage Heather was crying (with tiny bits of laughing). The captain (also pranked) went with a glass of whiskey and with Heather out for a chat. Inside, all of us pranksters now plotted how we could bring this situation into even deeper absurdity. I suggested that with the same amount of scientific gibberish we could suggest and argue the method of HGH application.

Heather and the captain eventually came back in. Straight away, Captain started to become motivational, beginning a moralizing speech with the words: "I want to assure that all of you understand that you either you don't take the supplement, or you don't go." He added: "we will have a thorough discussion on it tomorrow". I interrupted saying, "Okay, so tomorrow we discuss it, but today we could already start a cycle, and by tomorrow, everyone could see what it works like!"

From there, as if nothing was wrong with my idea, we started explaining our solution to oceanic HGH application. "You don't wanna lose a dose because it messes things up" said Tim.

"However," continued Cameron, "handling needles on a rocking boat that might swing left and right and inject in a wrong place is risky".

"So," I said, "we found an alternative to it."

After a pause, Shane addressed the captain, "Leven, what is the easiest way to get drunk?". The captain blinked. No response. "Through an enema!".

I continued, "following this simple fact, Shane, within his knowledge of biochemical engineering (his real profession) and basic kitchen utensils (motioning toward the dining room), could convert the HGH IV (intravenous) into an IR (intrarectal)!"

At this point, it was really difficult not to burst into laughter but we were making it. Captain responded sarcastically: "Oh, in this case it is not a problem". At that, we all burst into laughter, but it only camouflaged the situation more as he was sure that we were laughing at nothing else than his joke.

The Captain then switched back to the moralizing speech. At that point we had to reveal the prank. Upon disclosure, Captain said nothing. Only after quite a few seconds in a frozen state did he raise his fist at me. This whole event lasted total, about 30 minutes. Although this shortcut can't deliver all the stupid small sentences that were spoken, the funny discussions and the hilarity of the crew pretending to gradually buy into the idea, it is enough to illustrate a precious moment between everyone involved in the row, to share a glimpse into our pre-departure purgatory, and perpetuate the laughter which I value so much. Luckily captain, we didn't proceed on to the next point of pranksters agenda which would convey that the most beneficial HGH assimilation happens when combined with fecal transplant (research fecal transplant on your own, Aussies know how to make things economical, simple and effective).

Heroes of Western Australia


(Tip: Try to imagine it is read by David Attenborough) History is being cruel. Sometimes more intense than the most frightening script of a horror movie. Especially when it comes to wars. Hardly any land manages to maintain the history of no war record. Australia declared only one war. The Great Emu War (click to read wikipedia article). It was "Great" in fact as stated. Nature can be cruel too. Australia lost. To acknowledge the victory of the superior species, I surrender in a gesture of deep respect and admiration in front of the oppressors and unconquered soldiers, Emu of the Western Australia. May them wish me good luck in the coming voyage and share the strength and strategic genius with me.

Pre departure entry

Pre departure entry: Maps I want to remember and follow, and are equally important to me. And I will write this blog reporting my progress within all of them.

1. Wide context

2. Heart

3. Surface