Malherbe-Robertson Duo Begin Final Push

Braam Mahlerbe makes final push in the cape to rio row

Cautiously Optimistic
It’s now been two months since Messrs. Braam and Wayne pushed off from Cape Town. And as they row into their third month on the Atlantic, spirits are up, the wind is at their backs, and hope floats with the Mhondoro (their boat). Nearly a week ago, Braam was already mentioning the optimism and excitement creeping in—and he attempted to temper it with reality, worrying that a premature celebration would take his focus off the task remaining (from Day 50):

“There is a long, long way still to row; some 2,000 km. That’s quite a bit further than from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but a lot more dangerous! So, when people say ‘you are nearly there,’ we are not. Yet, in my mind, I am. I see that landmass in my mind, the one I will see in reality some two weeks from today. I see the Sugarloaf of Rio in my mind, the one I will see some three weeks from today.”

Hopes Tempered
If Braam couldn’t talk himself out of the rose-colored glasses then, the weather would do it for him—and quick. A low-pressure system rolled in the very next day and threatened to push the expedition disastrously off course. All Braam and Wayne could do was sit tight and wait, and send positive thoughts to the anchor below (Day 51):

“We have had to put out parachute anchor at mid-day today and are slowed down to 0.5 knots from 1.4 knots. Even with the parachute anchor we pushed 40 miles south in the last 24 hours. We cannot row into a wind of 15 knots… . This is indeed a huge exercise in patience. It’s the first time in 51 days that we are stationary.”

Emergency Procedures
After weathering the days of doldrums on an anchor that came within a cable thread of sending them adrift (true story), the crew had no time to get cheery before an onboard explosion knocked them down another peg. While the explosion didn’t take anyone’s life, it did take their life source (Day 54):

“Our batteries have been taking serious strain with loads of cloud cover. To mitigate the problem, we had resorted to using the reverse osmosis manual water desalinator for the past week or so. That was until yesterday, when it literally exploded in my hands! …The situation is dire and we have implemented emergency procedures. We have 8 liters of water left so are currently rationed to 500 ml [16 oz.] per day each.”

Cause for Celebration
After a few more dire days (no water = no coffee = grouchy Wayne) and anxious nights (AIS and nav system on shutdown to preserve batteries), the emergency procedures paid out. With the sun returned, the solar-powered desalinator pumping, and a proper heading established, celebrations were in order (Day 56):

“Today is indeed a day for celebration, so Wayne and I each had a chocolate pudding and TWO liquorice sweets each! …We pumped 8 liters [of water] yesterday with almost zero depletion on batteries and 10 liters today with little effect on the charge! …This good news is further enhanced by a strong easterly wind behind us, which is doubling our rowing speed!”

New Crew
With so much to manage on deck, the boys gladly accepted a new crewmember to take on barnacle duty and to be their eyes on the ship’s underside. We’re talking, of course, about Raymond the Remora, who has since taken on the additional roles of mascot and entertainer:

“Raymond has been with us for close in three weeks now and it is the highlight of my day to harness up and feed him! He comes straight up to me and pecks my fingers before I can begin popping him a piece of well-chewed salami! Sooo cool!”

The Final Push
With the Brazilian coastline nearing, the expedition’s final hurdles are on the horizon. Coastal weather systems and busy shipping channels mean our weathered warriors will need to be sharp and well-supported—so stay close! Follow the final push via dotchallenge.org and keep the overall mission in mind!