Thursday 24th September

12:30 GMT

Forecast says SE-ESE 6/9/12 all day. If this is right 240° it will be hard to near impossible to hit unless it is 6 all day, could be a lot of west gained today. Was on para anchor all night, the wind did pick up so it was the right call, current took me west with a tiny bit of south.

13:00 GMT

Just visited the poop deck, it’s a pretty close call whether it’s rowable. I thought 50/50 when I went out. The wind is actually from the SW, the direction I need to go and blowing 8/10 knots. If it was SE/SSE I would give it a go but I’m sure there’s no point even trying. I need to wait it out a bit and hope the wind swings east. When you decide not to row and it’s a close decision you feel a bit like an errant school boy bunking off (not that I did that of course, too much of a rule follower).

17:30 GMT

Well the decision not to row was the right one. The wind increased over the next hour or so and then really got going, blowing at least 15 knots, throwing the boat all over. It’s eased a bit in the last 30 minutes but it’s still from SW and too heavy to push into. It’s just getting light and the sky is pregnant with storm clouds, the storm that created the 15+ knots is off to the NE but looking south there is a lot to come.

You’d think I’d welcome the chance for a bit more rest but I can tell you it’s impossible to sleep and when you’re being rolled about in the cabin by the swell, your body works quite hard, every time the boat yaws all your muscles tense down one side to act as a counter balance, plus sleeping when being thrown about is impossible. If I’m honest, I find the para anchor / delay situation the toughest to deal with, the physical hard work is just that, hard work. But the mental side of things is where it gets tough, I’m not much of a believer in psychologists and the like, not thinking the word failure and all that. I’m have more of a Yorkshire grit approach which is why the boat is called “Socks”, pull your socks up and get on with it! But there is definitely some psychological stuff going on in my head that’s for sure. One day at a time I guess, there are plenty of places to make for if I run out of time and who knows, I might be hitting 60s again before long.

The current has taken me just under 10nm since 04:00 so at least I’m a bit closer to Australia. However, this is not the start to the last week of September I needed. I need to be under 2700nm to go and as close to 2600nm as possible and I’m currently 2976nm to go. Days like yesterday and today will make this even more difficult to make Cairns.

Assuming I get to 2965nm today (all day on pa), I will need 44.25nm a day to get to Cairns by November 30th, 40.06nm for December 7th and 36.6nm for December 14th. I think the 14th is pretty close to cut off. I know everyone was looking at the 50s starting to pile up thinking this looks like a no brainier but the last two days show how quick things can turn against you. That 44.25nm per day average was 43.9nm two days ago, it doesn’t take long for things to become very difficult. All I can do is work as hard as possible, which believe me I am doing, make good decisions (no point in taking dangerous risks and getting hurt), and take advantage of any opportunity. Last nights a good example, it took two hours to row 5 miles and would have been easy to pass up after a day on para anchor but it may make a difference. Problem is the forecast looks the same tomorrow, even though they are never right on, they are saying there’s south in the weather, doesn’t really matter if that’s SSE or SW it’s still stops me dead unless it very light and that’s not been the case.

I’ll report in later, hopefully after rowing a few miles.

18:30 GMT

The wind has calmed quite a bit, the swell is still pretty big from the SW (the direction I need to go) and it does seem to easing a bit though. Half an hour or an hour and I may be able to row. 9 hours left of the day, even at just 2 knots that’s 18nm and better than nothing. I may just get an hour before the next change or could row all day, who knows. But 5, 10,15 extra miles will all help.

23:30 GMT

Well I got four hours in, not sure you’d call it rowing but 8 miles in the bag, bringing today’s total to 18.5nm. It’s been testing that’s for sure, the sky has been leaden, it’s tipped down bullet rain, I had to wear my full on wet jacket, first time that’s been out since way the other side of Hawaii. Wind has swung from SW to S to SSE a bit of SE and back again. I’ve fought as hard as possible for speed and course but with the wind moving about constantly it’s really difficult. The swell has reflected the wind which has blown 15 knots plus. It was totally confused, crashing up against itself and bumping the boat all over. As I was getting close to taking a break, it swung back south so I now have the para anchor out. I’m loosing a fraction north but I need to eat and work out what’s next. I’ve got 4 hours rowing (if the weather cooperates) left, be nice to get to at least 25nm for the day.

I’ll check in later.

05:30 GMT

Well that was a tough 4 hours, can’t remember how many times the wind changed direction and blew from 1or 2 knots to 15+. I won’t bore you with the minute by minute but it was relentless. I got the day’s total to 25nm but it was touch and go as the wind mainly stuck to SSE or S with a bit of SE, very strong. I was battling for speed and course the whole time. Everything lightened at the end but what wind there is now is from the SSE which means I’m on para anchor or I’ll go NW, it may change but I doubt it. I am actually creeping north on the para anchor so hopefully that’s just a meander in the current and will correct itself. It’s quite slow but will loose a mile or so if it keeps up.

All I can really say about today is I stuck to the Marta of “get the best out of each day”, there was no more to be had. Having said that, it doesn’t help me make quick progress to Australia.

Any other news:

Had an Albert (aka Albatross) and 4 batman birds roost on the boat overnight, don’t mind sharing the ride but wish they didn’t poop so much. Glad it rained hard today to get to the places I can’t reach.

Didn’t see much else other than a few jumping Tuna, not that they aren’t impressive but there are a lot of them.

2960nm to go to Cairns, a doddle.

That’s it for now.

John

Out
Notes:

Brian: You’re a bit busy for someone who’s retired. Bet you can’t wait till Florida!

Amanda: You can play for hours with the numbers, it’s the distance to go that’s the important one, thanks for the support.

Catherine: I regret not bringing my fishing lines, what are they catching the fling fish with?

Steve: Thanks mate, not sure about the dog, a couple of years you’ll have the house to yourselves.