After rowing in Antarctic waters, my fingertips are numb

Jonathan Douglas-Hamilton

Adventurer Jamie Douglas-Hamilton claims that after completing his most recent rowing challenge in some of the world's most dangerous waters, he is now in the worst pain of his life.

He claims, "I still have no feeling in my fingers and toes.".

"I couldn't even get out of bed and go to the bathroom without holding onto things. ".

Jamie was one of a crew of six who navigated the Southern Ocean and Scotia Sea in Antarctica while enduring 30ft (10m) waves, debilitating seasickness, bitterly cold winds, and ongoing terror.

They completed 407 miles in six days before the challenge had to be abandoned due to the blustery conditions and potential for frostbite.

The crew narrowly avoided an oncoming ice flow when leaving King George Island, according to Jamie, who described the conditions as "horrendous" from the outset.

The 41-year-old Edinburgh adventurer experienced frost nip in his hands and feet during the chilly argument, which worsened when he got home.

Due to Jamie's heart condition, which he believes would have killed him during the trip, the trip had to be postponed from its original December 2021 schedule.

Five months after having open heart surgery in August 2022, which left him feeling as though he had been hit by a bus, he decided to take on the challenge.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton
According to Jamie Douglas-Hamilton, the trip was the most difficult thing he has ever done.

The international crew departed on January 11 from King George Island, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the Antarctic coast.

They rowed for six days in 90-minute intervals.

Through Elephant Island, they reached Laurie Island, the second-largest of the South Orkney Islands, which is located about 604 kilometers (375 miles) northeast of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Initially, they had intended to travel another 500 miles to South Georgia Island, but the going was too difficult.

"We all suffered from sea sickness to some degree and one member had chronic sea sickness to the point he couldn't hold any food or liquid down and was evacuated to the supervising vessel following us before getting hypothermia," Jamie said.

We had a less than 50% chance of making it to South Georgia if we had continued due to the strong westerly and north-westerly winds, which made it increasingly unlikely that we would travel that far north.

With one rower injured and several others suffering from frostbite, this became even more obvious. ".

Jamie added: "The waves were enormous and it was like looking up at fast moving walls of water the size of warehouses.

Many times in the chilly water, we were so close to fully capsizing. It was very unsettling.

"These rowing boats are made for warm-weather crossings of the middle of the Atlantic, but the cabins were like cold, humid refrigerators with everything being drenched in water, including our sleeping bags.

"Our torsos would occasionally shake uncontrollably after our legs did, almost to the point of hypothermia. ".

Large 30ft (10m) waves were a challenge for the team during the expedition.

Despite completing the challenge earlier than planned, the crew set eight world records, including the record for the furthest distance rowed across the Southern Ocean.

The expedition, Jamie claimed, was undertaken in memory of Harry McNish, a "forgotten hero" of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition, which sought to become the first to cross the Antarctic continent.

McNish traveled with Shackleton on his tragic expedition, which in October 1915 resulted in the expedition ship being sunk by pack ice.

Even though McNish used his frostbitten hands to construct a new boat on the pack ice, he was denied the Polar Medal because of a rift with Shackleton.

Without him, they would have all perished. He used flour and seal blood to seal the hull.

Jamie is requesting that McNish, who passed away in New Zealand without any means of support and with frostbite on his hands from the journey, receive the Polar Medal posthumously.

Jamie Douglas-Hamilton with Harry McNish's great nephew, John McNish
Jamie Douglas-Hamilton and John McNish, the great-nephew of Harry McNish.

Three other risky rowing challenges have already been finished by Jamie.

In 2019, he was a member of a crew that rowed the Drake Passage and from Chile to Antarctica.

He claimed that even though it only lasted six days, his most recent argument was more difficult than his previous ones and that it might take months for his fingers and feet to fully recover from the frost nip.   .

Despite all the hardship, Jamie noted that there were also beautiful moments, such as being followed by penguins, whales, and orcas and spotting enormous icebergs the size of towns. ".

In less than five months after having open heart surgery, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the world's greatest living explorer," said: "To row in 90-minute shifts, eight times per day, in the world's coldest and roughest seas is inspirational.". ".

  • Antarctica is in the front row.
  • On Scotia Sea, the first row.
  • From south to north, row the Southern Ocean first.
  • Southern Ocean's fastest row.
  • polar rowing fastest.
  • a rowing expedition's southernmost starting point.
  • (407 miles) Longest distance rowed on the Southern Ocean.
  • Jamie Douglas-Hamilton (United Kingdom) and Fiann Paul (Iceland) have the most rows on the Southern Ocean with two.

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