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Cameron’s Diary – Day 40 to present

After making steady progress since his last update, Cameron has called to announce that the epic trans-oceanic voyage will shortly come to an end. Some final notes and anecdotes appear below, as told to Richard English.

Since Cam’s previous update the crew of Avalon has worked hard to counter the effect of the current and winds, which have pushed them relentlessly northward into hostile waters on their approach towards Africa. One only needs to watch Captain Phillips to understand the dangers they faced.

The final nudge in what must have been a difficult decision came in the form of a warning from the Australian and UK Foreign Offices: Kenya is a no-go and travellers (even crazy rowers) are not advised to travel there. This left the Captain and crew with two destination options: Kenya’s northern neighbour (Somalia – enough said), or one of the African islands to the north of Madagascar.

“There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.”

The decision was therefore taken to cut the journey short and make landfall in the safer of the two options. A detailed Captain’s report on the 29th of July explained the sheer effort required of the reduced crew just to hold course in order to make it to their chosen destination.

In Cameron’s words, the push was “extremely difficult”. They had to change their 2hour / 2hour shift to 2h40 minutes rowing / 1h20 minutes rest – around the clock. This left a maximum sleep time of 1 hour between shifts and less if any tasks need completing whilst off duty.

This has taken its toll on the crew physically. We all eagerly await the first images of the rowers – but we can safely expect long beards, “rock hard” hands, and “some” muscle loss. Cameron thinks he now weighs 80kg, which to those that know him is almost impossible to believe:

A recent Captain’s report mentioned how the boat collided with a blue whale on the 24th of July. At the time, Cameron and another crewmate, Heather, were in the bow cabin, resting. The impact was apparently so jarring that Heather quite literally hit the roof! The whale then continued to circle the boat, apparently trying to remove barnacles from its own back. Maybe it had seen Cameron’s work with the rigger, and wanted a similar service!

Other close encounters naturally include sharks, whose dorsal fins have been circling the boat as they near the island reefs. Cameron also cast a line out that eventually landed a barracuda, and yesterday they were visited by a marlin.

The scenery, particularly around sunset, has been spectacular and the water has been relatively calm. Temperatures according to Yellowbrick are in the 30’s (celcius). As they approach land the wind has calmed, but there are frequent heavy showers.

The crew expect to make landfall at sunset tomorrow (7 August 2014). An escort boat will meet them 6 miles out at sea, laden with family members and well-wishers. The Avalon will then be led to a reserved bay at the local harbour. As the sun sets, the crew will pass through immigration control before being hosted for dinner at the British High Commission as charity ambassadors, record breakers and true adventurers.