Monday 28th September

13:30 GMT

New forecast an improvement, show east / ESE all day, if that’s right should be a good day. Held 240 degrees (perfect) drifting overnight and got a modest drift to start the day, things are looking up.

14:30 GMT

Just before I leave the cabin after making porridge and coffee for the first row, my course over ground (COG) moved up to 270° (not good). When I get outside it’s clear there has been a shift in wind direction to SE possibly lower. No matter I need to get rowing as there appears to be a big storm off to my NE. Flashing lightning and the works, could this be coming my way? Not two days luck surely! It turns out not, it tracks NW well north of me and quickly becomes apparent that is what is pulling the wind from the SE. I’m pulling away as hard as I can but struggling to average much above 1.5 knots. As the storm moves away I expected things to settle and have a bit easier time, it’s now 18:00 and it’s the same. Wind from SE/SSE creating headwind, if the boat was a clock, the back 12 and the front 6, the wind is blowing my indicator to 10pm. I make 8.6nm in 4.5 hours, pretty poor return and 50% of yesterday’s speed. It’s a shame because I do think I’ve found the WSW current which is trying to help and if the wind either drops (currently 9-12 knots) or moves east 15°, I’m sure I can still get to 40 for the day. If not it will be a low score, not sure where. So fingers crossed, I’ve got two meals prepared and just need a break.

05:30 GMT

So I left you at 1830, I had 9.5 hours to do 20.5nm. Normally at 2.5 knots I’d do it by doing 2 x 4.5 hour rows and a break in between. I decided to go to ten hours, so off I go. The wind was still SE and low (a headwind), the water choppy, it was still very frustrating. I couldn’t get two oars in the water at the same time to save my life, I just had to grind away. The Sun is full on, no clouds at all now, in fact everything had gone north and there was a long line of cloud west to east clearly identify the equator which was a pretty cool thing to see. Anyway, 5 hours later I’ve got me 10.5nm but I’m exhausted, I need at least a fifteen minute break. I fill up my water bottles, grab some boiled sweats (pure sugar is what you need to fuel the system, no sugar highs and lows as your always low on fuel) and that’s your 15 minutes. 4 hours and 45 minutes to get ten more miles. The wind has eased but it makes no difference. Like yesterday even if the wind is virtually imperceptible, if it’s from the right direction everything is easy, if it’s the wrong direction everything is tough. You hear me talking about sculling all the time because it’s the best way to get speed, get your legs involved (the biggest muscles in your body, they are 80% of the power in your stroke) and you can move along really well. To get going you have to do 4 or 5 big strokes, once you have momentum you can then find a rhythm and cruise along. With a head wind every stroke is the first stroke, no momentum and no cruising. I did everything I could to get to 40, not a riveting total but from a tough day that would do. I ended the day on 39.7nm, only .3nm short but felt like a million miles.

I’m then left pondering what to do about drifting. I fiddle about for a bit and can’t get her to head south, the drift north is slow but there. I tidy up and watch what happens, still creeping north. I decide to put the para anchor out and see if it will take us SW. Nope, creeping north, a bit slower than just drifting but not a lot of change. Again I go back to my chores and watch what happens. Then I notice the back of the boat is pointing straight at the setting sun (west) that means the wind is from the east, (the anchor holds against the wind so the boat points into the wind). Why couldn’t I get the boat to go south with an east wind, I decide to pull the anchor in, fiddle with the rudder and I’m now heading SW. After a full days rowing the wind finally comes from the direction forecasted. Hopefully it remains consistent, I get a good drift close to course and it stays for tomorrow.
Any other news:

Just two days of September left. Cairns is 2811nm away, I wanted to be under 2700 by the end of the month, it will be close but that only counts in horseshoes. It makes Cairns look like a tough call.

Passed under 2° south today and will be west of 169° in the next 10 minutes. 37° of south complete, 14° to go, 47° of west complete 37° to go.

Golden Gate Bridge is 3521nm away (in a straight line, not the one I rowed).

Patrick asked me a few questions about water, here are some facts. I drink 10/12 litres a day, on a day like today one bottle at a time, I don’t use electrolytes, they leave residue in the bottle and things grow (it’s difficult cleaning bottle out here) so just water is fine. My water maker makes 30 litres an hour, I only have 3 five litre bottles so 30 minutes a day does me. I usually make water early so the batteries have time to recharge, the water maker is the biggest power user on the boat. Lastly, with one exception I don’t use vitamins. I read a report years ago saying that tests proved very little of any vitamin is absorbed from tablets, a balanced diet is all you need. The only thing I take out here is vitamin C, just a precaution. At home if I feel a bit under the weather I would just drink more fresh orange juice but that’s not an option here.

Saw a couple of fish pass the boat today. To be more accurate a couple of fish tails, one large yellow, possibly tuna but more likely a big jack and the second a very large iridescent purple, no idea what the fish was as it had gone by the time I got out of my seat. Maybe get another look tomorrow.

That’s it for now.

John

Out
Notes:

Grumpy: Glad to have you back aboard, good to hear the death stare was out, may the force be with you! Thought it was just me with the French thing.

Mike: The equatorial current should help me all the way Mike, it’s weaker and patcher from here but generally in my favour. The wind angles south of the equator are tougher but that’s the game, the reason I was frustrated at slower progress north was because I new I needed miles in the bank. A 50 down here is like a 60 up north.

Brain: Dyslexia noted, probably should be puff because it’s a bit longer that a puff. I’ll steer clear of Brighton for a while.

Catherine: Some big cat fish fishing sounds great!