Or The Day Of Storms

Sunday 20th September

12:30 GMT

Weather forecast ok, ESE then going east. My course over ground (COG) was high again last night 252° so I have some work to do to bring that back. Good mileage while at rest though, might be the last of those as I’m heading out of the stronger current. It’s a bit of a double edged sword though with being high all the time and then making rowing tougher.

17:30

Set off and things were great, nearly three nautical miles in the first hour. Then got hit a big squall. Had to rest for 20 minutes as it was quite cold and in the dark you have no idea of the size of the squall. I’m also pretty pooped and getting cold and wet at night is an extra drain. That passed and the wind returned to normal only to have a second squall. I couldn’t afford to loose more time so got my jacket, fortunately this was a small squall and was gone quickly. When it got light I saw the large squall in the distance. It was a massive storm system which I was just under the back edge of, fortunately it was going north and kept doing so. So a messy session but still did ok. 7/8nm from the next three sessions will make a good day.

I’m now 8nm north of the equator, about 14/15 to row (as I’m rowing SW), so sometime in my third session I should be there. More important though is I keep this run of fifties going.

21:00 GMT

What a strange 3 hours, started under storm cloud that messed up the wind, then we had no wind and then wind from lower than forecast and then stronger. So holding on to COG has been a challenge. The wind was supposed to come from the east 5 hours ago but no sign of that and I think the local effect (storms) drove it off. I’m still under 235° for the day and 242° since last 04:00. Plus I did ok for mileage, a good day is building.

Good news is the equator is 3nm south, about 6nm to row (SW) so in the next couple of hours I’ll be there.

05:30 GMT

Where do I start, from my overnight to relatively good sessions, I was sure I could get close to 60. I set off after the equator, knocked the first three miles off in a few minutes over the hour, dropped Cheryl a text and as I turned round saw the sky was darkening. Another large storm approaching, this one lasted well over an hour, soaked to the skin with rain, dumped by two massive side swipe waves and I lost nearly a mile west off my course. The wind being sucked along behind it lasted ages. I’m struggling along, hardly going south at all. Took another 2 hours to make those three miles. The boats yawing all over, I’m trying to text Cheryl, set the cameras up, trying hard not loose hard won COG, it was a nightmare. I finally cross the equator there’s no big white line, no gift shop, no where to tie the boat up and have a look round! Was it worth it?

I’m being pushed so far west I don’t even have time to relax. I have to go straight back to the oars, another squall appears, smaller this time but with really strong wind. I soldier on for two hours and make 1.3nm south. I’m exhausted after 5 hours at the oars, fiddle about with the rudder to try and drift while I eat and just get dragged WNW. I decide the only option is the para anchor so out it goes, WNW. Looks like I might go back across the equator and become the first rower to cross 3 times. Eventually I can’t stand the loss of ground any more, I pull in the para anchor and struggle at the oars for an hour and a half. I made next to no distance but slowed down the drag west. The wind has eased a little and I’m now drifting at 260°, but at least it’s not WNW and it looks like I’ll stay this side of the equator. This drifting problem is purely down to wind strength, with the current and swell going west or WNW, it takes just a bit extra east wind to push you along with it. There’s no angle where you can get the boat to cut across the wind, your either up against it being pushed sideways or it spins you to run with the swell and current.

I did in fact make 50nm, just disappointed it wasn’t the sixty it could have been. I guess we need to see what tomorrow brings.

In any other news:

The sunrise this morning was stunning, you couldn’t see the sun but the sky was a burnt orange, looked like the reflection of a bushfire, with the darker storm clouds as the smoke.

No swimming at the equator, I had a bigger shark circling the boat last night and this morning.

So I’ve actually become only the second person to row solo from mainland North America and cross the equator, pretty cool. But like I said to Cheryl, no one remembers the second person to walk on the moon (it was Buzz Lightyear, I think).
That’s it for now, I’ll do messages tomorrow, I’m running late today.

John

Out