Day 17 – St Elmo’s Fire

Rowing the Atlantic is a unique challenge and everyone who is able to complete the route returns with an array of unique stories. Although one stint on the oars may sound very similar to another, (hint: it is often identical) every shift does have the capacity to be a one-off. Those who are rowing the next shift can witness entirely different conditions and miss the breath-taking moments you have born witness too, sometimes just minutes earlier. And so it has been on Atlantic Dagger.

The crews have been passing through an area of strong and precipitous conditions. The high CAPE score in the forecasting tools we use, have indicated that there was a high chance of a thunderstorm. Ooh and what a show. Atlantic Dagger reported that during one of the shifts last night that the VHF antenna was glowing! This is likely to have been due to a rare phenomenon called St Elmo’s Fire (which apparently is seen as a good omen). The phenomenon is caused by luminous plasma created from electrical discharge around a mast, antenna etc. Yeah we didn’t know either so have been doing some Wikipedia surfing to learn more. Although this all sounds like something out of ghostbusters it is very real.

This is the first time in 17 years around the sport that I’ve ever heard of an ocean rowing crew experiencing anything like this. The experience which Oscar and Jason had is unique and although a little discombobulating, is pretty cool. We’re very happy to report that despite the antenna glowing like a lightsabre there seems to have been no lasting equipment issue onboard. The fixed VHF onboard Danielle, was having a problem earlier today receiving a GPS position but it appears to have resolved itself. Either it just needed turning off and back on again or the disembodied spirit of “Zuul the destroyer” is biding his time before taking up residence in a host body before ending the world?

Thankfully now that the CAPE score has mercifully reduced to normal levels so there’s unlikely to be any further disturbances in the force at least for the next week or so.

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