Monday 26th October
12:30 GMT – Forecast, all SE 15/18/15/12, the twelve is not till later however could really do with it early so I can get south. Wind is from same angle as yesterday, it finished so strong it will be tough to get any south early. Lost the predicted 2 miles south over night so need to make that back. I have a few miles start, not a lot but better than the last few days. Looks like a wet morning in the dark.
17:30 GMT – Tough four hours, wind eased a bit but also dropped to 130°/140° or real SE. So it’s still difficult to row a course under 250°, managed 259° in the session, not good but the best I can do for now. I have managed to get all but a couple of tenth’s of the lost south back though so some good news at least. I’m also drifting, not on para anchor but free and going slightly south, if that continues it will save a couple of hours a day. The drag is as bad as ever, subsequently my mileage is poor, just 7.5nm from 4 hours, I’d normally be looking for 9 to 12. The wind is supposed to pick up for a while then ease again. I’m having a double meal again so I can push hard for a while and see what happens.
05:30 GMT – I’m fed up of moaning and rather confused. Ok. Well the drifting south didn’t last long and things got tougher. I’d intended to do 5 hours or so, the first hour was kind of ok, the wind eased and I started getting a bit of south. I got to 10°04, was thinking, be good to get past 10°10 if it stays like this. Never count your miles before they’re rowed. Ten minutes later the wind increases and drops lower on the compass and I’m now struggling to hold 270°. This goes on for two and a half hours and to make it worse the drag is back only stronger. I decided enough was enough, took a fifteen minute break to make another meal and get my head straight. Back out with 7 hours to go, mile time down to 45 minutes and I can’t work it out to save my life. I do the 7 hours with just a couple of water bottle filling breaks and just grind away. Wind is still low, if I stop to pee we lose south , if I fill water bottles we lose south, don’t know how many times I’ve re rowed water today, including the two miles at the start that won’t show anywhere. I was thinking of some of the big chunks I’ve had to re row, like the 300mm I lost before and in the ECC, but I think if you add all the lost miles here, it would bring it to 500 or so. I’d be half way to Vanuatu now if I’d hung on to it the first time. I did manage to get to 10°05 by the end of the day, a whole other mile south. So it was another tough day and no sign of a break in the current issue. Shame as I managed to get a little start.
But here’s the confusing bit. I was seeing if I could get the boat to hold on rudder so I could free drift again. I nearly had her holding but a no go as the wind was too steep. I timed how long it took to loose a tenth of a mile of south so I can calculate the over night loss. I then put the PA out and did the same, however it’s become a bit more complicated. At first the anchor just held us in place no south or west movement. Then we actually started to go a bit SE, which is strange as that’s right into the wind, then we halted for a while. Now I was also thinking this afternoon, this week we’ve had an E current, an ESE current a NW current, couldn’t get much worse. Then I thought, it could always get worse it could be a NE current. Well we’ve done a complete circle on para anchor and are now going NE. There, no wonder it was tough today, if I’ve been pulling against a NE current, plus if it’s all swirls and eddies which is why we’ve done the circles. This creating a confusing picture, even if you use the loo paper principal.
So, I need to work out what to do. Pull in the anchor and drift free NW? I think the wind is trying to move up so it could be ok, but I’d lose two possibly three of my south miles. Or take a hit NE which will be less loss but drag me back into the middle of whatever is going on. I don’t think I have a choice, anchor has got to come in.
So I’ll cut this short for today, just to say it’s less than a 1000nm to Vanuatu now. I’m trying to be positive but after flogging more than one dead horse for a week plus your enthusiasm wilts a bit.
Dave: I was thinking of dropping a note to a couple of people who’s opinion I trusted, guess you beat me to it. I get what your saying, the logistical things are easy to sort out, my real concern is mid to late December cyclones. It’s the start of their season, last year one hit Malaysia in November, killed 100s. I don’t particularly want to be a statistic. We’ll see, I need to escape this mess first and those big days will come back.
Brian: Hot, humid and 72 minutes if I remember. Bermuda has a holiday half, it could be their international marathon in January. I paced that to about 18 miles I think after racing the 10k the day before.
Mike: Halcyon days indeed, I don’t get to see the images, probably a good thing.