Thursday 29th October

12:30 GMT – Forecast SE all day, 15/12 knots now and 15 later. There is a bit of ESE right at the end of the day but I’m not holding my breath. That could mean I get high SE though which will be good. Para anchor held us pretty well last night, only drifted 2 miles and looks like I caught the top of the SW current. I need some luck today to get back past 10°, hope I get it. Been up most of the night as the boat has been yawing all night, the mixed swell is pushing hard in different directions.

17:00 GMT – This last session is usually 4 hours but I cut it back to 3.5. I’m exhausted again and the missed sleep in the night is catching up already. I’m going to grab 20 minutes sleep and hope that gets me through the day. Rowed all 3.5 hours with one arm, just over a knot an hour. The SE wind is still low, it’s lighter but I’m still rowing into it as a headwind which is killing any speed. Add to that, the SW current I thought I’d found wasn’t. Just before I set off we’d started to go NW again so it was just some mixed current giving false hope. I’m sure you guys feel like your re-reading the same page everyday and I sure feel like I’m bashing my head against the same brick wall. Rest and then move on, be lucky to get to 20nm today.

17:40. GMT – Just heading out, had a break. Some good and some bad news. I’m in a meandering west current with still a WNW bias so getting closer also explains why the hard water comes and goes. Bad news is the wind is SSE, coming from 160°, may as well be south, that’s where the real problem is. Sky full of storm clouds, in for a rough day.

18:00 GMT – This could be the worst day for a while. It’s just unrowable out there, the wind is strong from 160° or worse and it’s whipped up a swell from due south. No wonder I was struggling this morning. I’m in the west current though so I think the best thing to do is sit tight as see what happens. It’s very stormy so there’s no sun and should be able to rest. There is ESE in the forecast for 03:00 and if that shows up I can row into the night. Won’t add to today’s total but may just help get me south a bit. That luck I wished for hasn’t shown up yet that’s for sure.

None of this gets me to Vanuatu but I have to deal with one thing at a time. Can’t just keep going west with no south. If I have to, this afternoon I will take another 10 miles or so west which may help me find the SW current but if I row now I’ll go north. I’m going no where near 09°30 but I am back in the unpredictable zone. Getting past 10° and taking those strong winds SW was supposed to get me below 11°30 and into the more predictable water. 10 days later and I’m back north. No ones fault just a bit more bad luck, the weather and ocean just carry on doing their stuff, I have to work this out.

19:44 GMT – Wind still too low and too strong but have a good bit of news. We’ve just started going SW on para anchor, could be a meander or could be the current starting and if I can get some less adverse wind I could be ok.

20:00 GMT- Off out to try my luck, you don’t win if you don’t gamble.

02:00 GMT – Back on para anchor. Well I had some luck at first making ok south, wind very tight, at times having to row into a headwind. The current felt smooth for a while and I thought I was off, 2 knots and more. It shows I just need the current not to be against me. The wind however was a real challenge and had to rowed 5 hours one handed. After a while puddles of resistance started forming and things went back to normal, slow, hard water and tougher wind. I was really struggling half an hour ago and the wind picked up, the water seemed harder and I started giving up south. I’ve put the para anchor in to access things and it’s taking me east, no wonder I was struggling. So I’m back to mixed current. The wind is supposed to go ESE in the next hour. I hope it does as I can’t sit on the para anchor all night going east. It’s a mess, I need help to find the SW current again. 8 days ago I was at this latitude and 180 miles east, I may as well just have headed west. Not sure what the outcome of this is going to be but I need to find a solution quickly.

06:00 GMT- Well don’t quite know what to say, I pulled the para anchor in and set off with just an hour until 04:00 which is tracker transmit time. My intention was to row to then, record my numbers and row on for another hour. Hoping like crazy the ESE wind showed up to help me across whatever current we are in and be good enough to drift free without losing any south. The wind did move up but only to SE, it was strong as ever and hard to get south in my course. When I was on PA before we were actually going NE so my intention was to get west and hope to escape the NE current. I’m now stopped after the extra hour, couldn’t drift without loosing south so I’m on para anchor again. Problem is we are going north at a tenth an hour that will be best part of a mile by the time I get going in the morning. It seems the best of the options unless the wind does come up to ESE in the next hour so it’s the one I have to take.

The water when I was in the little bit of SW current I found was great, felt good on the oars, didn’t pull me back and felt like real rowing. The rest of the day is the same as before, hard water and pulling speed back to 1 to 1.5 knots. I’ve just got to grind on, but it’s not that easy, 13 hours rowing one handed is a real challenge. The wind needs to help and the forecast just after I start in the night is ESE-E, so if it gets that far up I should be able to take advantage. However, no drift and fighting the current, it’s a 30nm day at best.

Chin up, one day at a time, just not another like today.

In other news:

Cheryl did a little research on the Orca. Apparently they are in all oceans but the pods mainly stay north and south, sometimes lone males wander anywhere and if it was an Orca that’s why there was just one. It was just a few seconds and in the dark but they are pretty easy to identify.

Running low on treats, 6 days biscuits, two bags of chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and 4 days supply of Werthers at 4 a day. I have some peaches and one custard desert. But thin.

That’s it for today.

John

Out
Notes:

Mike: Good job Wenger is good at crisis management, he always seems to pull it out of the fire though, must like the stress. No one out hear to blame but me unfortunately, I think sometimes the we, is me and the boat, I do feel that you guys are all pushing me along though (could have done with that today).

Steve: I’m a Yorkshire man, I couldn’t eat £1 each ginger nuts if you paid me! Well if you paid me £2 a GN I’d probably do it.

Brian: California is the place for whales Brian, highly recommend it, Santa Cruz down the coast. It’s a great place for other wildlife as well, very quiet and mostly un American, not that being American is a bad thing, but that coast isn’t over developed and stunning views at every turn, highway 1.