Ben Update Dec 2016

12 December 2016

Well today is day 30 and to be honest, im lucky to be here and more fortunately, thanks to Pam and my incredible support team, I am quite literally alive.

Of 30 days so far we have lost 4 to medical emergency, 7 to weather and 1 technical boat failures of engine and sail loss (not fixed or recovered from) and electrical failure from loss of generator and engine, allowing only 18 days of swimming. We are sadly 3 weeks behind and the total swim distance to date (in accordance with agreed swim rules with WOWSA and Guinness World Records) at this point is 162km which is approx 350km down on targets.

Mentally, this has been difficult for it would be easy to fold or give up as the task still to be completed is vast. Yet we are resolute and British and will get every single mile of the 1635 nautical miles needed to be swum. To say this has been difficult is an understatement. To say this is a "dip," or not compliant with strict rules set (inc. Wearing only swim shorts and goggles and vaseline) is insulting and sad to hear when fighting hard everyday as a team to succeed. In fact, its demotivating as of all people you'd feel that swimmers would understand what it takes to try and swim 2 swim marathons per day, for 140 days, in an open ocean. Hence the Captain's humorous blog daily to keep us all going. This is no party. This is the culmination of 3.5yrs training (12million meters +) & building this £400k expedition and hard work from myself and my vessel support team.

On a daily basis i'm stung by sea lice and minor jellies, a 10ft shark followed us, Dorado type fish biting me, fatigued completely, & my right arm, chest & leg is yet to recover fully from the Portuguese man of war incident that left me fighting for my life. The pain in my elbow, shoulder and kidney region is slow to go. I continue with left-sided headache and as of yesterday I keep seeing a brown image/obstruction in my left eye. I cannot wear my Arena designed wetsuit for the water temps (28-30c) and air temps (30-35c) are simply to hot.

The Ocean is also taking its toll on me and the current is vicious and unforgiving, pushing against me (400m swam in an hour on occasion) or pulling my legs and lower back whilst six feet waves, not always swells, smash my top half a different way. There is a difference between swells and waves, as is the current different daily. Hence distances of 1100m to 17km in a day.

This is a raw, unsupported expedition and as traditional in British history, pushing me to my limits and the team to theirs. I only hope our efforts are resulting in charity donations. All your support keeps us going.

The ocean herself daily has been awe inspiring yet when she blows up to 10ft plus just seconds apart, the boat cannot see me nor am i able to safely get back aboard and for safety im pulled or not allowed in. Yet 10ft high swells are good to swim in until seconds apart. We have seen large rays, turtles, jellies, shark, fish of every imaginable colour and storms of frightening beauty yet everyday my body is degrading further, despite 120,000 calories to date from military rations, wellman protein and vitamins, 12L fluids per day and the team pushing me on. I've lost 2 stone. The thoughts of my daughter and charities keep me going even when i was under entonox with blood-pressure crashing to 80/40.

Now, our raft (as we affectionately call her) Big Blue is alive thanks to Nigel and Russell's monster hours and imagination, which exemplifies British ingenuity. We have no working engine, 1 headsail and rigging snapped, generator failed and only have enough power from solar for our vital watermaker, navigation and very basic comms use. We have little ability to run trackers, if at all, laptops or anything else. We ensure we are able to send WOWSA documents along with captains log for verification and that my swim watch can charge to capture all swim data for verification too. This is it and frustrates and impedes us further. Our steering cable snapped yesterday but the guys fixed it and will keep our raft moving and afloat for now.

So for now we fight on, swimming every daylight hour safe and possible, forcing the 1979 catamaran raft to work with limited tools and supplies. I thank you from the bottom of mine and my teams hearts for your love, support and prayers. We need you, as do our charities, as Christmas approaches. Captain Nigel will continue his light hearted, moral boosting blogs and I'll update you daily on swim facts and happenings.

I hope this all makes sense and i invite our critics to join me and experience the hostile environment im in daily to show nothing is impossible. To our millions of supporters, sponsors, followers, charities, family and STBB team - thank you. We are determined to complete this world-first. As my expedition patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes told me, "When you are going through hell, just keep going."

See you in April 2017. Ben