Thomas Cremona Blog update

Friday, January 21, 2011, 17:47

5 January 2011

At 2.20pm Malta time (officially 2.30pm), we left Tarfaya where we had been treated as celebrities since our arrival on 3 January.  As we left the Moroccan coast, we initially made excellent progress with light winds throughout the night.  We even had a shift when we maintained 4 knots throughout the whole 2 hours! 

6 January 2011

Thomas Caruana

Thomas Caruana

This is not going too well!  Prior to leaving Tarfaya, weather conditions promised to be favourable over the coming days.  The weather failed to deliver the expected beneficial trade winds, and we were unable to maintain a respectable speed.  Our speed dropped to just 1 knot over a 6 hour stretch.

This slow rate of speed and the movement of the waves have affected me with motion sickness, leaving me low on physical power.  I managed to row throughout my 2 hour sessions at the oars, but my rest periods in the cabin were crucial to revive myself.  Unfortunately, I had been unable to eat for most of the day, with the result that I felt weaker after each rowing session.  As night fell, the wind was beginning to favour us again, and our speed accelerated to 3.5 knots on various occasions.  The team spirit is great, and this speed was encouraging!  

 7 January 2011

What a sight for sore eyes!  We saw a whale and once again the beauty of nature just has to be admired.  After sighting dolphins on our trip from Agadir to Tarfaya, this was great!  The power of nature was also apparent in the force of the wind – unfortunately from the wrong direction for our purpose!  Rather than helping us along, the wind was attacking us from the south with the result that we struggled to row at 1 knot.  As the day wore on, the wind began to shift direction with the corresponding favourable effect on our speed.  The consistent, and favourable, trade winds should kick in late Friday and our pace should pick up once more.  Within 2 days, we should hit the big-time winds.  Hopefully, a record will be broken!

What a day!  A whale comes to check us out, and now a plane!  We heard the increasing rumble of powerful engines as the plane (coastguard/search and rescue) approached us at a relatively low altitude.  Skipper Matt Craughwell told us to quickly check our EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) in case one of us had accidently sent off a signal.  Thankfully, all EPIRBs on board were performing as expected and no signal had left Sara G.  Following radio contact between Skipper Matt and the pilot, the plane circled us and went off to the intended destination flying low above the ocean.

 8 – 10 January 2011

I’m still suffering from motion sickness, though to a lesser degree than the first couple of days.  I seem to be coping quite well as my appetite is returning as I dig into the various food packs to consume all those power-packed calories.  Our rowing technique is going well, and our overall average speed certainly indicates that we’re doing something right!  The wind/current conditions are not yet consistent enough to really have Sara G race along to Barbados!  At times, we’re riding the waves as the current heads south-west, and this surely helps us on our way to challenge the record.  We have occasionally hit close to 7 knots, boosting our average speed.  Unfortunately, we have also hit the other end of the scale and recorded a lowly speed of just 1 knot.  We have had several close encounters, of the curious kind, with fishing vessels that approach us, take a closer look and then move on. 

The wind and current are quite favourable, but this is a situation of the more, the merrier.  And a merry lot we are, rowing along at a decent rate of knots.  But we need more than a decent pace.  We are hopeful that as we approach the 22nd degree parallel of latitude, we should benefit from consistent easterly currents that should take our pace to another level.  It’s still early days and we continue to strive!

 11th-19th January 2011

 It’s been a while since my last update but, dear visitors to my blog, you’ll be pleased to know that I have not been struggling unsuccessfully.  I have various items of news for you – so sit back and relax as this could take a while.

A new world record!  That’s right, we have established a new world record by covering a distance of over 100 miles/160 kilometres for each 24-hour period over the past 10 consecutive days (up to yesterday, 18 January 14.00GMT).  Today Sara G again covered in excess of 100 miles and extended our record by yet another day.  And we have no intention of slowing down!  This record has been confirmed by The Ocean Rowing Society International, the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records.  The previous record was established on 15 December 2007 when La Mondiale had completed 9 consecutive days covering a distance of over 100 miles/160 kilometres for each 24-hour period.  This record was certainly not easy for the team to attain.  One factor that contributed to this wonderful achievement is doubtlessly the terrific team spirit on board.  Rowing in unison; supportive of each other throughout the challenges that arise from day to day – we are a force to be reckoned with!  Another success factor is the weather.

Having said that, my view on the weather is that we presently endure a love/hate relationship.  The weather has caused me agonising hours of sea-sickness, which is now settling down to tolerable levels.  My move from the stern cabin to the bow cabin for my rest periods has helped my recovery as the air circulation seems to be better there.  The weather has delivered a diversity of choppy waters, currents in turmoil and amazing waves.  Soon after we started this expedition, I thought the 4 metre high waves were awesome, and they were!  So then, how can I describe the 7 metre waves?  Seeing is believing, and seeing that size of wave from an angle so close to the water is beyond anything imaginable.  The raw power of those waves is immense.  And struggling to row up those moving mountains is, to put it mildly, tiring and our speed suffers accordingly.  But every ‘uphill’ has a ‘downhill’, and the thrill of accelerating up to 15 kmh / 8 knots on the ‘downhill’ compensates to some extent!  We have also been assaulted by 3 rogue waves over a 24-hour period.  These monsters just appear out of the blue!  Literally!  We were knocked down a couple of times, and one wave swamped the boat.  We were shaken, but strapped in, we suffered no injuries, and no damage was caused to Sara G.  A cautious approach pays huge dividends – safety first!  Always!

We are past one third of the distance, and hopefully by Friday, possibly Saturday, we should pass the half-way point of this 5,100 kilometre voyage.  That will be a most welcome milestone! 

Rowing throughout the day is hot, sweaty work, and the night brings welcome relief with cooler temperatures.  Surprisingly, most sunsets and sunrises have been cloudy, so the hope lives on of enjoying such a spectacular moment.  Other spectacular moments have been the sight of birds flying low above the surface of the water, whales, dolphins and flying fish.

As a team, we remain focused on setting a new world record for the crossing.  However we are not alone in this ambition.  Competition is healthy, and this comes in the form of ‘Hallin Marine’ and ‘Big Blue’, two other boats that are also challenging the current record of 33 days 7 hours 30 minutes established by ‘La Mondiale’ on 17 January 2008.  While aware of the competition, I can do no more than give this attempt my personal best, together with each member of our team.  We are all in great form, but the weight reserves that we had accumulated in the months leading up to the departure date have been exhausted.  We consume our high-calorie meals, and try to maintain adequate rest periods to continue our record-making pace all the way to Barbados!  Weather permitting, of course.

I thank you all for your interest in my Row4Cancer campaign.  I started this campaign to really push my body and my mind.  In this way, I hope to inspire other cancer survivors that cancer can be part of our history, but should not control our future.  Life is to be lived; goals are set to be achieved. 

My campaign also aims to raise funds for the Puttinu Cares Foundation.  While I know many of the visitors to my blog have already contributed generously, I ask you to consider an original method of donating money to this worthy cause.  You may place a bet on the outcome of this Atlantic challenge via one of my sponsors, Betsson, through a link on this website, or directly on their website.  Please note that Betsson will donate all proceeds to the Puttinu Cares Foundation.

While I don’t have direct access to media, I know from my parents that I am receiving numerous messages of encouragement and wishes for the team’s successful completion of our Atlantic crossing.  I truly appreciate your support.  It means a lot to me knowing you’re out here with me!


It would be grateful if members of the media could insert the following in any media releases as this forms an integral part of Thomas’ Row4Cancer campaign:

 Donations may be effected directly to Puttinu Cares Foundation:

 SMS:    50617380 – €2.33; 50618939 – €6.99; 50619225 – €11.65

Phone:  50049543 – €7.00; 50049545 – €11.00; 50049540 – €23.00

Bank:    Bank of Valletta account 400 1812 2134


Thomas is supported by corporate sponsors Betsson, Riverdream, MacMed, KPMG, Satariano, and Josies who are helping to cover the costs of the trip.

Other supporters include the Kunsill Malti għall-iSport, as well as his family and friends who are fully supporting him in his cause.


 About Thomas Cremona

 Thomas J. Cremona is 22, from Swieqi, Malta. Thomas has participated in several challenges including LifeCycle 2006, cycling over 2000km in 10 days, in aid of the national renal unit. Having been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the age of 4, his driving ambition for the 2011 Atlantic row is to raise awareness that there is life after cancer.


  1. I was suggested this web site by my cousin.
    I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble.
    You are incredible! Thanks!


  2. Audrey Gatt says:

    Hi Thomas, Keep up the good spirit!! take care xx Audrey


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