Matteo has found it hard to write blogs (due to internet issues) so he has asked me (Becky) to write a summary of the first three weeks at Sea. This is based on his messages, twitter posts and the odd phone call.

During the first few days Matteo had a number of issues to content with, the first was seasickness. Seasickness really affected him until the fifth day (Christmas Day) and he still found it hard to eat for many days after that. Initially when he was feeling sea sick he could only eat simple foods like dried fruit and nuts, gradually he was able to add to this and he is now eating a much more varied diet.

The second issue to affect Matteo was in relation to his auto tiller – it broke, on the second day! As a solo rower this is a key bit of kit, it keeps the boat going where you want to go and makes adjustments automatically so you do not need to worry about steering (while sleeping or rowing). Matteo only has two of these with him so switching to the back up on day two was far from ideal and since has caused a lot of stress as the second auto tiller has also been playing up. The alternative to the auto tiller is using foot steering.  Matteo has tried this a number of times but unfortunately this method has not proved very successful.

The next thing to go wrong (I will get to some positives I promise) was that the water marker broke. This pumps in sea water and filters it so it is safe to drink. Without the water maker Matteo is forced to use a hand pump and when pumping water he can’t be rowing. The dramas of the water maker still continue and did involve a leak in his main cabin resulting in wet bedding.

One morning, Matteo was woken up by a dolphin, this was his first wildlife spot but unfortunately the day held some not so pleasant surprises and Matteo ended up being on para anchor for the first time. The para anchor is like a parachute that the rowers put in the water behind them to stop them losing distance when the weather is bad, during this time of bad weather Matteo sustained his first injury, a leg injury that was made worse by foot steering. Luckily it’s no longer causing too much bother.

The next key milestone was Christmas Day, this was hard for Matteo and his family, I think particularly for Anna (his mother) as this was the first Christmas Matteo had not returned home to Italy. There were a few surprises for Matteo on Christmas Day, a special food package containing Italian foods, sweets and mince pies, a couple of presents, some decorations, a Christmas hat and surprise videos. Before Matteo left I had asked some of his friends and family to record small messages for Matteo to view over Christmas, New Year and generally when it was tough and he needed some motivation. He watched the first video on Christmas day and is now working through them – thanks to everyone who contributed and sorry I could not include everyone. He said the videos were a great surprise and really made his day.

The next few days included more time on the para anchor, continued issues with the steeling and the water maker, however among these difficult times there were fun times, such as watching sea birds fishing near the boat.

On the night of the 28th December Matteo had his first encounter with a large ship, he was woken by the AIS alarm to let him know he was on collision course with Carlos Fischer, which turned out to be a 205m x32m fruit juice tanker. Matteo had a chat to the captain who informed him that they couldn’t pick him up but they agreed they would change course so they passed just under 1nm away from each other. The same boat then met one of the other rowers later in the week.

The next wildlife sighting was a whale…or maybe it was a shark and after this the flying fish started. The fish are worse at night and have hit Matteo on his torso a couple of times. One in the daylight Matteo described as quite small but a beautiful bright blue fish.

New Year’s Eve was a time for phone calls home to family then it was back to the rowing. On New Year’s Day Matteo was treated to some whales, they came past the boat one after the other and were surfing the waves, at least seven or eight probably about 4-5m in length. Matteo did get a video of them to share when he is back.

As Matteo ended the second week at sea the sores (on his bottom among other places) have started and with big waves comes the risk of being bashed about so he has a number of bruises. However these will heal and the memories will last a lifetime. At the start of week three Matteo was joined by a playful pod of dolphins – this really lifted his spirits, seeing these creatures in the wild in their habit is something most of us will never get to experience.

The 6th January was a special day for Matteo, he had a visit from La Befana and was left with a stocking filled with sweets and little treats, he must have got his appetite back by now as the snowman marsh mellows disappeared before Matteo even realized they were snowman shaped! La Befana is an Italian old lady / witch who visits children (and adults) on the eve of Epiphany. She brings good children sweets and naughty children coal.

Matteo has left the safety of his boat once to clean the underside (barnacles build up and slow the speed of the boat), unfortunately this was not a successful dip in the ocean and resulted in a few items finding a new home in the Atlantic.

As the week went on Matteo has continued on his more Southerly route. There is a storm due to hit the

I asked Matteo what have been the best bits, the worst bits and the bits he would do differently so far, here are his answers:

Best bits – Surfing the waves under a full moon – his record is 14.8knots…not bad when his usual speed is between 2-3knots! The wildlife, sea birds still accompanied the boat 1000km from land, the inquisitive dolphins and gentle whales.

Worst bits – issues with the steering and water maker, both could really slow down his progress

What would he do differently – bring another spare auto tiller, better test the water maker

The other best bit that Matteo spoke of was knowing he has support from friends, family and strangers. Matteo has been really grateful for the messages and donations, please keep them coming and help Matteo to achieve his dream while inspiring others to reach theirs.  See for more details of how to get involved and  for details of how to Dontae directly to the charity Matteo is supporting.

Have a great week, I will keep you updated on Matteo’s progress

Best wishes