Friday 23rd October
12:30 GMT – Forecast ESE/SE 18/15 – much calmer overnight, still bumpy but better. Pulled the para anchor in last night, lost a tiny bit of south, not drifted far but basically due west. Need to get some south today, wind looks a lot better, no where near as big a swell as yesterday, will probably still get soaked a few times though.
18:00 GMT – On para anchor which I’ll come to shortly. Having a longish break and then I’ll try and get through the day with mini breaks. Very rough at the moment so might not get far with this. I think my assessment this morning was a little premature, the wind was better but I think it was a temporary lull as it picked up as I got going but still ok. I did get properly wet half a dozen times, it’s frustrating in the dark as you don’t see them coming sometimes, especially on mornings like today. Not many stars out so a cloudy start and a massive electrical storm to the NW through to NE. Struggling for pace still but passed 175° west. As it got light, there are storm clouds everywhere and just coming to the end of the session a massive squall was approaching with the increased wind that accompanies them. Did not have a choice about para anchor as the wind was eating the south I’d gained. So I have a number of problems to solve. Getting south, I lost a little south last night so had to make that back. I got 0.6 of a mile south in 4 hours, back at 09° 52.000 which I got too yesterday as well but lost it again. The only solution is better wind angle so when that comes I’ll have to chase south at the expense of west which will slow me down but it’s the only option. Second is speed, I’m doing 1.5 knots again today. The way I see it is there are three options, the current has been holding me back, I’ve lost my mojo or it’s the new reality in these conditions. The current definitely played a part over the last few days but the water has felt better on the oars today but still slow going. Interestingly, I’m drifting slightly south west on para anchor which suggests the current is helping. I’m very tight up to the wind and swell but would still expect to get over 2 knots. I need more time with this but if it is the new reality it will be the end of November before I get to Vanuatu. I don’t think I’ve lost my mojo, I am tired but still working hard every day, my legs are struggling a bit but even though the last few days have produced little, I’ve pushed hard so tired legs makes sense. I’ll keep at it and only time will tell.
05:30 – So out I go. It was tricky retrieving the para anchor, the wind was 18/20 knots and the swell too match. I got sat down just before the heavens opened, nothing to do but row. Still slow going but I’m making progress, the wind has moved up to ESE so the angle is good and there’s loads of wind, still can’t get any speed though. I catch some swell, do a big stroke, get high 2 knots in the knotometer and then it’s back to 0.6, 0.7. Anyway the first wave of rain lasts ages, then it stops, the wind bobs up and down between ESE, SE and even a bit of SSE. Just as I dry out I was hit with another wave of rain with strong winds. Depending on where the wind was decided how much XTE (cross track error, the amount off chosen course) I lost. After three hours I’d made .6 of a mile south and lost 2 miles of bad XTE. The wind came back to ESE and let me drift the boat, I decided to grab some food as I wouldn’t have to use the para anchor. Came back 20 minutes later and not much had changed. Got wet a couple of times, I’ve worn my jacket all day except for an hour today, then the wind eased and was ESE. This let me start making a steeper course and get back some XTE, then things got interesting. The wind was forecast to be 15/18 knots all day and tonight 18/20 knots.
At 01:30 I was making back some of the lost course and I’d been watching this line of cloud from the NE. It stretched for miles, was dark and stormy at my end and lightened as it went NE. The wind was still light and getting lighter, then all of a sudden my wind indicator points at the front of the boat and I can see whitecaps coming from the front the north. I can also see heavy rain in the distance, the wind picks up and I drop my heading south. The wind starts and I’m doing 3 knots, I row like billio. I’d actually got my south going again in the previous couple of hours but it was slow going. I’m now praying this hangs about for an hour, I need 4nm to get to 10°. An hour and a half later I’m still going, I get to 10° with ease. I row till finishing time and although I didn’t even make 25 miles (all the south I rowed was parallel to my start so I rowed further than will show). It proved a couple of things to me, one, the boat flew along, the oars glided through the water and I was well up for adding pressure, so whatever is dragging me back on the higher course is not because I’ve lost my mojo, it’s definitely a current issue. I just need to keep going and get free from it and I’ll be fine. I did actually have a couple of patches earlier, just a couple of hundred yards each that felt like normal so maybe I’m close to the edge. It’s still relatively calm, no wind and I’m drifting SW, couldn’t ask for more, it won’t last though, the big weather in the forecast has to come back. I’d settle for a day of north wind tomorrow though.
Any other news:
Cairns is 2312nm away,
Vanuatu is 1058nm away.
Heading to Vanuatu 241°.8, that’s the same as yesterday so good.
26 days to get to Vanuatu, I need 40.6nm a day.
Not seen the sun once today, a proper stormy day at sea.
I need some sleep so that’s if for now.
Steve: Well done mate, for getting to be an old codger oh and the reffing as well.
Brian: Shame you missed seeing the meteors, I know a good spot. Not easy to get too though.