DOT Challenge Duo Enter Coastal Waters off Brazil

Crossing the Invisible Line to Intensity

An uptick in tanker sightings offered the first sign that the open ocean was now behind our DOT Challenge duo. As Braam and Wayne now row—and anchor—through another open shipping lane, the intensity of their journey has spiked. Rowing in the shadows of supertankers means more sleepless nights on adrenaline alert, but it also carries a promise of dry land, stability, civilization, safety, success—and a September date with ASEA!

In case you missed it, Braam Malherbe has recently been confirmed as a guest speaker for this year’s Global Convention in Salt Lake City. Within days of the announcement (as if to further prove he has the storytelling abilities worthy of the big stage), Braam shared a beautiful account of his breathtaking experience from the stillness of one Atlantic night:

“Here on the deep ocean, there are no shadows creeping towards us. The sun, like a stone falling in slow motion, simply drops out of sight—no dunes turning orange then red as the light shifts; just the blue sea turning rapidly grey then inky black.

“Then quickly the night brings on, not a 5-star show, but a billion-star spectacular. I rowed west—Jupiter at my stern with the southern cross off to the port beam with the 2 pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri, keeping me on the right heading. The sea was the smoothest of the entire voyage thus far—gentle bulges of silky smooth water.

“The brightest stars lured on the surreal stillness, the only sound being a plop and swish of the oars and the soft slides of the rowing seat. Then, at around 3 a.m., it seems the stars grabbed at my oars in a magnificent display of phosphorescence.”

Read the rest of Braam’s prose.

Awoken from the Open Ocean Trance

The large middle of the journey, the open ocean phase, was low on visual stimuli. Its unbroken 360º view of unadorned water held scarce few obvious signs of life. Days and nights blurred together, leading inevitably to a trance-like state. On Day 69 of the voyage, Braam briefly described the resulting mood and method:

It’s ‘vasbyt’ time; we are digging really deep and are changing shifts in methodical silence. We know what needs to be done and [are] behaving somewhat like robots.”

This highly introverted stretch was punctuated by the failure of their data-transmission apparatus, leaving them with no means to post photos or updates directly. They still have their last functioning emergency sat phone, however, which keeps them in touch with their team on shore—who in turn keep the public apprised.

As their robotic rowing eventually pushed Braam and Wayne into the different world of the coastal approach, the routine changed almost at once. They were awoken from their trance—and they weren’t the only ones. As the oceanic activity around them has risen, so has the apparent support and media coverage. Over the past week, new articles on the transatlantic crossing and the DOT message have cropped up from international outlets. To date, they have seen encouraging write-ups from Germany, Italy, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and of course, South Africa and Brazil.

Close Encounters of the Friendly Kind

Throughout the journey, unexpected interactions with living creatures have been the most rare and uplifting highlights. Notably, Raymond the Remora and his friend Spot kept our rowers good company and provided entertainment for those long, isolated days. A recent close-up with an oceanic sun fish provided yet another rare treat. But as the open ocean gave way to coastal shelves, Raymond and Spot were forced to part ways with the team, leaving them to fend for themselves among man-made surface traffic.

Happily for Braam and Wayne, at least one of their shipping encounters took a surprisingly friendly turn when a glimmer in the distance proved to a be an 80-foot yacht whose kind crew delivered an early “Welcome to Rio” gift, as recounted by Braam on Day 77:

“A massive 80-foot super yacht en route to Salvador… came up really close to us… and threw overboard a gift with a note, Welcome to Rio—it was a bag, and in that bag were biscuits, dried apricots, fresh bananas and a slab of chocolate. That was our welcome to Brazil—great, great moment. [They] wished us all the success and went off on their way, away from us. We hope we will have more friendly encounters with boats as we get closer to Rio.” 

Braam and Wayne are days away from their arrival in Rio! Keep following their journey using the DOT Challenge app to see their long-anticipated arrival.