I can’t feel fingertips after rowing in Antarctic seas

Scotia Sea, Antarctica [image credit: Antarctic96]

Midsummer in the Antarctic – no picnic.
– – –
Adventurer Jamie Douglas-Hamilton says his latest rowing challenge in the world’s most treacherous waters has left him in the worst pain he has ever felt, reports BBC News.

“I still can’t feel my fingertips and can’t wiggle my toes,” he says.

“I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom from my bed without hanging on to things along the way.”

Jamie was part of a crew of six who battled 30ft (10m) waves, crippling seasickness, icy cold winds and constant terror in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean and Scotia Sea.

They managed 407 miles in six days before the strong winds and the risk of frostbite led them to end the challenge early.

Jamie said the conditions from the start were “horrendous” and the crew narrowly escaped a fast-moving ice floe when leaving King George Island.

The 41-year-old Edinburgh adventurer suffered frost nip in his hands and feet during the icy row, which became excruciating on arriving home.

The trip was originally planned for December 2021 but had to be postponed as Jamie discovered he had a heart condition that he believes would have killed him on the journey.

He took on the challenge just five months after he had open-heart surgery in August 2022, which made him feel like he had been hit by a bus.

The international crew set off on 11 January from King George Island, 120km (75 miles) off the coast of Antarctica in the Southern Ocean.

They rowed in 90-minute shifts for six days.

The challenge took them via Elephant Island to Laurie Island, the second largest of the South Orkney Islands – about 604km (375 miles) north-east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

They had originally planned to carry on another 500 miles to South Georgia Island but the conditions were too tough.

“We all suffered from sea sickness to some degree and one member had chronic sea sickness to the point he couldn’t hold any food or liquid down and was evacuated to the supervising vessel following us before getting hypothermia,” Jamie said.

“The strong westerly and north-westerly winds made getting far enough north to reach South Georgia less and less likely, and if we had continued we would have had less than 50% chance of getting there.

“This became all the more clear with one rower down and several others developing frost bite.”

Jamie added: “The waves were enormous and it was like looking up at fast moving walls of water the size of warehouses.

“We came so close to fully capsizing many times in the freezing water. It was very worrying.

“These rowing boats are designed for the warm weather of mid-Atlantic crossings and the cabins were like cold, humid fridges with everything being soaking wet including our sleeping bags.

“Our legs would sometimes shake uncontrollably and then this moved to our torso and came close to hypothermia.”

Full report here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop


February 20, 2023 at 10:22AM

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