'Groundhog Day' for adventurer

Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is more than a third of the way through his rowing journey to Cape Horn. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov is more than a third of the way through his rowing journey to Cape Horn. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Fedor Konyukhov says his life is starting to feel like Groundhog Day as he rows his custom-built boat across the South Pacific towards Chile.

The 67-year-old Russian adventurer is nearly 2800km off the coast of Dunedin - more than a third of the way through his 7400km journey to Cape Horn.

Via a satellite telephone, Mr Konyukhov told his son Oscar that ''everything is going well''.

''Today is Groundhog Day. It has been a week of grey sky and sea, with the rain, wind and waves.

''Nothing changes besides the time and calendar date.''

Mr Konyukhov said he was working to re-establish order on the boat after recent stormy weather put it into disarray.

''The wind has raised huge waves, which have been coming up against the boat quite severely, coming close to capsizing it.

''The crests of the waves were breaking thunderously on the cockpit and I was concerned that the navigational antenna would be torn from the bridge.''

He did not turn on the gas stove for several days to make hot food because he was scared he might scald himself with boiling water if a strong wave hit the boat, he said.

''There have been many such accidents in the ocean.''

He planned to examine the hull of the boat at some stage this week after ''bumping'' into something during the night last week.

''At one point, for a few seconds, the waves stopped slamming into the hull, at which point came a sharp thump.

''It was as though the boat came down from a wave and landed on to a sleeping whale or large log.

''As soon as the rain dies down, I will try to inspect the hull for scratches or chipped paint.''

It did not appear to be leaking because the cabin remained dry inside, he said.

Mr Konyukhov has made good progress over the past two weeks, but said he was beginning to worry about how difficult it had been to row southward.

''Since the beginning of the year, it has been impossible to cross 48 degrees latitude.

''As soon as I come close, southerly winds blow the boat north, and I have to steer the boat south again.

''In order to traverse Cape Horn, I must get to 57 degrees latitude, despite the wind preventing me from even approaching 50 degrees in a whole month.''

The situation was not critical yet because he still had time and distance in his favour, he said.

His row to Cape Horn is the first of three legs in his 27,000km journey from Dunedin, past Cape Horn, South Africa, South Australia and back to Dunedin.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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