The more observant of you will have spotted that Cockleshell’s route yesterday took a rather rapid southerly turn. We were a bit concerned so got in touch with the team and they replied.
The current became super strong against us. We tried for 9 hours, the last 3 hours we made 1.5 miles. Thinking this patch could last for a while and no swell. We thought head S, make a bit more ground before heading SW when it’s a tad easier.Cockleshell Endeavour 2021
The odd thing is that the current model which we’ve been studying doesn’t show any strong adverse currents in their area. Just take a look at the image of the model above. On the contrary the models show strong favourable current in the crew’s location. The super still conditions which the crews are experiencing at the moment will highlight any ocean current as the effect of wind is removed. The models forecasting ocean currents do tend to have quite a large resolution. So it’s likely that the adverse current the crew were feeling wasn’t shown on the model, as it was a small flake of current heading towards the east wedged inside the rest of the current which is generally moving towards the south and west.
Unless we’re taking about one of the big ocean currents the water isn’t flowing like a river, it’s a flaky, patchy mess. Nothing lasts forever, and the currents change every hour of every day. Having said that without the wind to help push them over the top of the back flowing current, it will be a slog. In the same way that swimming into a rip tide will only serve to exhaust the swimmer, rowing into oncoming current will exhaust the rowers. Sometimes that’s the only way forwards but heading south yesterday does certainly seem to have paid off for the crew as their pace has certainly improved from their 0.5kt pace yesterday.