Monday 23rd November

14:00 – Forecast – ESE-ESE/SE-ESE, 12 to 15 to 18 to 15. Will be interesting to see what happens as it’s a lot calmer than forecast at the moment. Definitely not 3 knot weather that’s for sure but it’s a good angle and if it stays high SE, ESE all day I should be out of here by dark. Bit disappointed with the drift, very modest, it is on course though and gives me a good angle. Think it’s a mid to high 40s day but way too early to commit.

18:30 GMT – Heavy cloud and lots of rain so I’m a bit cold, the suns up so it should warm up now even if the rain keeps coming. Started off at just under 2.5 knots, wind ESE/SE but not strong, there is still plenty of power left in the swell though from yesterday’s blow. After an hour, the wind picked up and move to the east, since then it’s dropped ESE a few times but held mainly east and is strong enough to help me do some fast miles. Without the rain I’d call it a perfect rowing morning. I’ve only got 18nm to go to the Espiritu Santo waypoint, that’s about 7.5 hours at 2.5 knots and I have 8.5 rowing hours before 04:00. Should be there in good time and with the 04:00 to 05:30 row I should get well round the corner heading straight for Cairns. I’m currently passing over the shallows (3200ft) around the top of the island so that could have an effect but if the wind holds I should be ok.

Fingers crossed the conditions hold as they are. My backs ok but needs an easy day.

07:00 GMT – What a long day with lots happening. The wind has been all over the place and constantly changing so I won’t try and remember them all. Once back at it and moving along ok, I started thinking 50 was a slim possibility. I’d need a couple of purple patches and no interruptions. Not long afterwards, the wind which had been ok at ESE, went east and it blew well to. This picked up the pace and I was certain now I could get there. This lasted an hour or so, then back to ESE and 2.5 knots. All good! I can see Espiritu Santo in the distance and see the headland I’m aiming to skirt round. One of my concerns was the long thin but high island would divert any wind and turn it into south wind heading for the headland. As I’m thinking this, the flag starts to waiver and things tighten up. The wind is now SE, pretty low and very strong. It starts pushing me north of my course, stealing the cross track error I’ve built up to get me to the waypoint. I fight as hard as I can, no option really but to limit the damage until things change. This really kills my speed and is the interruption I didn’t need. An hour and a half later it eases and turns back ESE. To late the damage is done, no fifty possible but making the headland is 45. I can be there by 2:30 if I push and then get three or more additional miles. I stop to fill my water bottle and as I get up from the seat I see algae growing in one of the scuppers. I grab the loo brush (it’s the only thing I have that does the job) and scrub it away plus I do the other five scuppers and the outside of the boat as well. This stuff develops fast and can be hard to get on top of if you leave it. On the starboard side to my horror I see barnacles on the side of the boat. I checked about 3 weeks ago and have been meaning to again but it’s been ruff or I’ve been busy. I have to check the bottom, this could be a nightmare. I get my scrapper, hang over the side, forget I have a bad back/shoulder and put my weight on my left arm holding the grab rope and nearly go in head first when the pain sets in. Eventually I work out its just the few on the side and I scrape them away. There are two small individuals on the rudder which I will need to get to them soon but not around the islands.

Another 15/20 minutes gone. I get going again, wind is good, flitting back and forth from east to ESE and I’m doing nearly 3 knots. The island is getting closer 7, 6, 5nm to go. Looks like I’ll be there by 03:00 and be able to add a couple more miles. The wind is good, there a big swell, I keep catching good surf rides and all of a sudden despite the wind and swell my speed is slowing, eventually to less than a knot and a half. I’ve ran into a head on current that lasted all the way to the waypoint which I reached at 03:25 and nearly killed me. I’m now off the tip of the island getting pushed north. I row on until 04:00 and do the log. Before I start the next session I change the foot straps. My make do method was ok but the real thing is better. Took me 15 minutes but was worth every second. I now strap in and have a firm base to work from. The next hour and twenty minutes produces 3nm. I’ve just had a delayed text from Tony saying the current model show a SW current here so that’s what I’m in. While writing this, the wind has eased greatly, I’m drifting under 260° and the sun set was a stunner plus I have this amazing tropical island to my left. All is well other than the text mentioned the current turning NW, not sure that’s allowed.

So, a mixed day, I’m in the Coral Sea, heading to Cairns, I feel like I lost a few miles but still did ok. Can’t change it so it is what it is.

So, I said I’d do some rough arrival dates so here goes. According to my GPS, Cairns was 1211nm away at 04:00. I’m going to put local time of arrival so if you are in Canada or the UK it will be early morning on that day when I arrive in Australia it will be early evening.

If I do 35nm per day, that’s 34.6 days, that gets me to Cairns on the 29th December.

If I do 38n per day, that’s 32 days, that gets me to Cairns on the 26th December.

If I do 41nm per day, that’s 3o days, that gets me to Cairns on the 23rd December.

If I do 44 per day, that’s 28 days, that gets me to Cairns on the 21st December.

These are rough and ready but gives an idea of what I need to do. Get my foot to the floor is what I need.

In other news:

Big day tomorrow, Cheryl’s birthday, many happy returns CB. I won’t reveal the number but if it was my daily average I’d be more than happy.

IMG_7721

Wildlife, I know you’ll think this weird but I saw a fly today. I’ve lived in a big free world for six months. Other than that it’s been quiet on the wildlife front.

That’s it for now, loads to do still and need to get cracking tomorrow, next milestone 1000 to go.

John

Out

Notes:

Mike: It’s a privilege when you get an interaction, they are just minutes though out of days and days. You need to tread carefully or your Canadian visitation rights may be withdrawn, say no more.

Catherine: Not my kidneys, definitely a muscle issue.

Colin: Enjoy Spain, give Brian a few one liners please.

Brian: I’ll take the Daniel Craig but Popeye? Give me a break, missed the headland, not by much!

Graham: I feel the force Graham, good story.