See the Opportunity in the Obstacle and Celebrate Your Small Victories

By: Chris Bertish

man on a paddle boat with hands up in air

Last updated April 12, 2024

Our friend Chris Bertish is currently on the first ever, solo, SUP Trans-Atlantic Crossing, and all for charity. Paddling the equivalent of a marathon every day for 120 days, over 4500 miles (7500 km), Chris started his voyage in Agadir, Morocco with the intent to travel around the Canary Islands, across the Atlantic Ocean, towards the Leeward Island of Antigua in the Caribbean and weather permitting, he hopes to end the journey in Florida. Below is one of his especially inspiring updates from his journey.

Captain’s Log Ocean Date Sunday the 8th Jan 17′ See the Opportunity in the Obstacle and Celebrate Your Small Victories

It’s been just over one month at sea now and 2 days, since I paddled off the dock at the Agadir Marina in Morroco on the 6th Dec 2016. Since then I’ve been paddling between 10-16hrs daily, besides when in the two storms experienced thus far, on this epic journey.

I’ve been on the para anchor for 2- 3 days for each one of these storms, when the wind and storm was blowing me North, instead of the direction I need to travel, which is South and South West…

I’ve paddled now, just over 880miles/ 1360km in 33 days.. Averaging around 28-30miles/ 52km a day(24hr period), which includes days/nights I’m drifting backwards in storms, on the sea anchor.

I have just over 530NM nautical miles to my next key milestone waypoint on the GPS, which is SW of me, bearing 240 degrees True, from my current position.

Looking at the forecast after this system passes, which is from the 9th onwards it starts looking really good, with the high pressure building again and becoming more stable, with ENE trade winds for 4-5 days, which is exactly what i need to get me SW, so I’m hoping to cover this distance in 12-15days, with a daily general 24hr projection of over 40miles p/ day.

This will get me down to 20degrees North and 30degrees West, which is exactly 250miles North West of the Cape Verde Islands, placing me right in the Trade winds zone, which will help take me across the Atlantic, with the most stable, trade winds, weather and current to hopefully help me get across the main part of the Atlantic Ocean with the least resistance, with 24hr averages that should be at 10% higher than what I’m currently averaging now…

So far, I’ve been knocked flat in my craft probably, 15-18 times by waves in the night and day, been semi inverted twice, full inverted once…

I’ve been knocked overboard by waves once and dragged by my safety lines/ harness underwater in all my gear, boots foul weather gear and gloves once, till I could get back onboard.. I almost had my finger ripped off once, which I believe would have, but luckily they were all taped with gloves over this, when it got trapped between the centerboard and craft while I was doing a underwater line release of the para anchor line.. I’m still nursing the two big lacerations to my finger daily, as it’s wet all the time, so it battles to heal. My autopilot failed which I had to re- calibrate twice to now finally have working again, Water maker stopped working which I got working after bleeding the system a couple times, my main steering system snapped and I have had to jury rig two of my own systems before I figured out a new system that actually works pretty good.

I have replaced the sea drogue with my own version I made with various Lines and a bridal system which seems far more effective and efficient than the one purchased. I have been dealing with a major power management issue on the craft which means the solar units don’t run all the systems and replenish themselves effectively at all, so I had to work out just the bare essentials to run on a daily basis and get a cloud cover report built into my daily weather forecast, in order to deal with managing the power issue to the best of my ability.. Often not having key systems on all day or night, to conserve power, which slows me down, but has taught me to just manage things the best you can, if you not able to eliminate the problem completely…

Finally over the last 5 days, since having three days of fairly calm conditions, I have managed to find the source of my very concerning three leak points and Silicon and epoxy them both and ductape & epoxy the other, to now minimize the leaking as best as possible.. It’s not able to eliminate it, but now it’s very manageable and I know where the issue is and can constantly check on it and manage it, instead of thinking I may actually sink on a daily basis, which is a very different scenario. I have siliconed all deck hatches and vaselined all hatch covers and threads to stop the leaking and finally managed to move all my gear, anchor and anchor line and much of the food forward, to under my mattress, which leaves me with even less space than I had, but has helped distribute the weight better in the ImpiFish, so now she paddles better/smoother/ faster, as she was sitting in the water stern heavy..

It’s like this constantly, just managing challenges and constantly and relentlessly finding solutions to obstacles on a daily / hourly basis… Like figuring out a puzzle daily, I really enjoy the problem-solving side of things, it gives me a chance to be creative and think out the box and figure out solutions to things, it’s inspiring and motivating when you can figure out new solutions by just being flexible, innovative and creative.. It’s really rewarding…

Welcome obstacles and challenges, they are just opportunities in disguise to be creative, imaginative and flexible to change, so you don’t fear it, you just welcome it as a chance to test and challenge your ingenuity and make a plan.

So there is rarely any down time, when you are paddling 10-12hours daily, then still having to manage normal maintenance checks, making water, managing hydration/ making food, weather and routing/ forecasting etc and apparently sleeping to recover after exercising for the equivalent, the same amount of time it takes most people to do more than two full marathons daily.. Except I have to do that pretty much every day!

Normally, 4x 3-hour shifts or 5x 2-hour shifts… It’s not easy, but I’m getting there slowly and my body is getting use to it, while I’m still trying to find time to do updates for you guys and manage the filming of this project, which I’m doing daily for the film, which will be edited and put together after I’m done, which so far the footage I’ve bee capturing daily looks unbelievably epic..

My craft inside the Cabin is so small, when I’m lying down that each of my shoulders touch the side of the hull, side to side and when I sit up in the cabin my hair on my head just touches the roof of the cabin too, so it’s a pretty tiny space to work/ relax/ cook and sleep in.. And normal things like making dinner/ water & going to the toilet all takes time and is never simple… As the craft is tossing and rolling from side to side ALL the time with waves coming over the deck all the time and the toilet is the sea!! Think abut that for a few seconds, whether that be day or night, calm or stormy.

Just trying to get online to send one post, which I have already written can take sometimes up to 2 hours to connect and send the the really awesome BGAN Inmarsat system needs the craft to hold its direction to keep the satellite signal and my little ImpiFish is all over the place all the time…but it’s pretty incredible I’m able to post anything out here really, so thanks @Inmarsat, it’s awesome to do so, so nothing is simple out here, even the little things. My Inmarsat Satellite phone has been overboard with me and still functions perfectly, which is pretty incredible actually, now that’s a product which works-tried & tested.

Believe me, these challenges give you an immense appreciation for many of the simple things in life we all take for granted daily, which is really great to get a reminder of in life regularly.

After fixing and dealing with finding solutions to most of the calm times I had been looking forward to this little low pressure/ storm system, as it’s been testing all my repairs to the leaks and given me time to finally rest my body, build up the charge on my battery banks and go through the awesome vid footage I’ve managed to shoot so far, which has really inspired me even more and given me new ideas of angles to shoot from. It’s also giving me time to write this update for you guys, so bring on the storms…

There’s always a positive in every seemingly negative situation and an opportunity in every obstacle, it’s just your attitude on how you see every situation and what you make of it…

So next time you’re dealing with obstacles/ challenges/ change and adversity-stuff going wrong, ask yourself how can you see the good in the bad, the opportunity in the obstacle, make a plan, improvise, get creative, let go of the negative and move forward. Celebrate these small successes and give yourself credit for them when you do… I’m always stoked when I figure out little solutions to challenges, it’s super rewarding…

If I finally get through all my little goals on my “to do list” which I have set for myself today/ tonight to get done, I may even get a chance to reward myself and whip out my little ImpiFish guitar tomorrow and play a couple tunes before the wind changes on the 9th… Go, go, go! #theStandUpGuy

One more day of stormy conditions and then I’m going to to be gone, like a rocket ship (ImpiFish) South rocket ship icon


Carrick Wealth

Operation Smile

The Lunchbox Fund

Signature of Hope Trust

What do you #StandUp for?

Re-published from Chris Bertish’s Facebook profile.

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