"bergy bits"
Rowers keen to make a splash – not a crack!

Rowers keen to make a splash – not a crack!

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Anyone back in the UK who thinks that May is proving ‘a little inclement’ should think again. Sure, here in Canada, we know that you’re currently undergoing the ‘wettest drought since records began’ but if you stop peering dolefully out from under your umbrellas for a moment and spare a thought for what’s happening out here in St John’s Newfoundland, you may feel you’re facing a storm in a teacup.

The weather here is so bad that the start of the epic row has been delayed. Yes, the crew expected to face mountainous seas. Yes, they expected the looming threat of ice bergs. But they didn’t expect to meet the truly chilling prospect of undersea ice.

Reporting from his vantage point overlooking St John’s Harbour, OAR crew Andrew Morris, explains:

“More significant than the ice bergs themselves, are the ‘bergy bits’ – lumps of ice floating just beneath the surface of the water that won’t be visible to us as we row backwards, particularly at night. We are currently exploring all of our options. Until the weather improves to a point where it is safe for us to depart, we’ll be staying on dry land.”

Who can blame him? The ‘bergy bits’ represent a major hazard to a boat this size and finding yourself suddenly capsized or holed and taking in the freezing black waters off the Newfoundland coast are too awful to contemplate. The crew has to take the safe – and sane – option.

But where do these treacherous undersea floes come from? Back in 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier of North West Greenland ‘calved’, leaving a giant floating ice island, travelling inexorably southwards. Over the last two years, fragments have broken off, creating icebergs and literally thousands of lethal ‘bergy bits’. Strong south easterlies have blown the bergs onto the coast of Newfoundland and increased their break up. Please visit  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0hYScmwHp0&feature=related for an overview of the Peterman Glacier.

What does all this mean for the future of the O.A.R. effort? At the moment the team is in the position of ‘hurrying up’ and ‘waiting to see’. Time is of the essence, of course, and waiting for the weather is always a morale-sapping experience, but they will set off as soon as a window of opportunity opens. Go to http://www.olympicatlanticrow.com/2012/05/10/press-release-icebergs-and-strong-winds-delay-departure-of-oar/  to read last week’s press release covering the situation.

Overall, the OAR story has been covered by media across the UK and Canada, as well as further afield, so you can gain an overview of the print coverage generated by visiting the website. The team has also been interviewed on a number of TV and radio shows including Channel 5’s the Wright Stuff and CBC, the Canadian National Broadcast.

We’d be delighted to hear from you. For the latest updates regarding departure, and any  questions you might have, please see the OAR twitter feed @OAtlanticRow . Comment from the team and more information about the ice situation can also be found on the OAR website at www.oar2012.com .

 

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