Monday 21st September

12:30 GMT

Weather forecast ESE 15/12 knots, moving east later (believe that when I see it). Forecast ok for the next couple of days but then has south in it, however one day at a time. My course over ground (COG) while at rest was high again, 258°, it’s just wind strength pushing me west, not a lot I can do about it. After visiting the poop deck I decide to alter my COG target to 240° because the wind is so strong I’ll never make anything less.

17:30

Well, at least these pre dawn sessions are becoming predictable, messy with a bit of everything. Started with the strong wind, fighting to hold my COG, made 3nm in one hour five minutes, I’ll take that all day. Stopped for a 2 minute break and a slurp of coffee, loose 2 tenth’s of a mile west. Fighting to get it back but in that short break the wind has dropped south a fraction and I’m now rowing into a slight headwind to hold my course. The wind seems strange over the last couple of weeks, it dithers about even when it’s strong. Anyway this costs me a bit more west and slows me up a bit. The next hour brings a loss of wind altogether and as dawn breaks I can see why. A massive squall is on the way, it does however give me chance to get a few hundredth of course back. I now need to decide if I stay out and invest the energy to keep warm or take a break. I decide to stay out, if I want my 10nm I’ve no option, plus the direction of the squall seems ok and may help get some more course back. Row through bullet rain for 20 minutes, really cold but get good speed and do regain course. Last 45 minutes, wind stays light, I get just over 10nm and all my lost COG back plus a bit. The sky is heavy with cloud but the suns trying to come out and things change fast so I’ve no idea what’s next on the agenda. I have a base now for a good result today, 7/8 miles from the next three sessions will see a good posting.

Also gone under 3100nm, that’s 3000nm made good, I’m not working out the daily average or I may not row anymore.

Also got to say I’m pretty beat, struggling to keep my head up this morning. The storm helped in a strange way, difficult to nod off when you’re being pelted with rain hard enough to strip paint from a car.

22:00 GMT

Two big storms but still got the miles in, this session had everything! The first storm skirted south of me but brought a really nice ENE wind, made good progress off that for an hour. Then things went a bit slow but still making 2.75 knots. Then a massive storm front appeared, this one hit me side on and the wind angle was not good so it was a big fight. I was soaked, cold and very tired. Other than that I’m set up for another 50 plus but it’s so changeable I don’t count on anything. A 10° shift in wind makes a massive difference. I’ll keep plugging away though.

01:00 GMT (Tuesday)

Don’t normally write at this time. If I’m scrabbling for miles I skip this break but I’ve just passed 50nm with 2 3/4 hours to row and there is yet another (3rd in this session) big squall. If I can get away without fighting through it I will, may have to go and save some COG though. The last session despite the squalls, heat and humidity produced good speed. Depending what conditions this squall leaves, I should get to 55nm maybe a bit more. Tired of getting wet though, I think I said before it’s really draining on top of the effort of rowing.

I’ll check in later.

05:00 GMT

I did go out and save some cog and it rained on me for an hour and a half for my pains. However I was getting good speed, I ended up having to get a jacket, it got quite cold. Then the wind went all weird and then stopped blowing and then was a head wind. I started this morning surrounded by squalls and ended surrounded by squalls. The good news is I did 58nm so it’s another one in the book.

I’m drifting in light conditions at under 250° which will do nicely. The sky is still heavy with dark cloud though so anything could happen.

Cairns is 3065nm away, tomorrow will see me under halfway at 3050, I think it will be Wednesday before I go under 3000nm. Then a push to the end of the month, 7 days and then we can make some decent decisions about where we are, timing, food and all that.

In any other news:

I was so tired last night I forgot to mention the Coxless Crew crossed the equator as well. They are about 120nm east of me at the moment fighting south to get to Samoa. They may end up with an advantage over me when they leave Samoa. They will have ground out all that south and have a nearly due west run to Cairns. Depending on how far I’ve got by then could be interesting.

So here’s today’s excitement. As I finished, I saw something in the water, turned out to be a small shark, then I saw another and another. I had 6 or 7 sharks around the boat, a couple decent size the others smaller. As I was typing I heard a bump, thought it was the rudder (it moves sometimes if it’s not tied off), then again. Now I’ve read that sharks don’t attack boats but people sometimes mistake sharks rubbing against boats trying to remove parasites as an attack. I popped outside and as far as I can make out (it’s dark now) there are even more. What the bumps were is they are trying to catch the heard of fish that live under the boat and they clunked the bottom of the boat. Pretty impressive watching them chase the varying size of fish, can’t count how many but there must be 10 or 12 at least. Thank goodness I didn’t take that dip yesterday.

I did kind of celebrate, I had a can of ginger ale, with all the malarkey going on there wasn’t really time.

That will have to do for now if the sharks don’t get me! I need another good day and that starts with sleep.

John

Out

Notes:

A massive thanks to everyone who sent me a well done message, nearly made the four months effort getting there seem worth it.

Brian: As always thanks, by the way, other than a jar of coffee it may only be ginger nuts.

Mike T: Thanks Mike, probably at the time he meant it but in years to come I bet he changed his outlook. I’m chuffed really it’s a pretty cool achievement and a story I can live off for years.

Terry: Tell Georgina well done from me, sore hands happy heart.

Glen: They couldn’t brake a fifty, you need to stop in next time you’re passing.