Saturday 28th November

13:30 – GMT – Forecast – SE 18/21 until 18:00 then 18/15. So depending on how high or low it is, could be an ok day. Rough night with the 21 knots, the boat was getting side swiped all night, lots of bails to do before I get started. I did get some drift, better than previous nights but not a great start. No super big score today, I’ll have to work hard to get high thirties and that’s subject to current.

Ribs – Not much change I’m afraid, did manage to sit up this morning though.

18:00 – I knew I wasn’t free from this ACRC ( anti-clockwise rotating current) yet, I think I said so last night and the drift overnight was not normal. So I’m back to 1.5 knots, it feels like you’re being robbed, the swell is thundering away, the wind filling your ears and hitting the boat at a good angle and a current pulling you south! What could go wrong? It feels like you should be doing 4 knots and whooping and hollering but you look down and see your doing zero point something knots. It must just be a weird combination of angles that don’t work. If there is any east in the current then it’s pulling against the boat trying to go west, I’d being head south but for the huge swell. The centre of the ACRC is about 40nm above me and 10nm west, if I keep going west I should find some just south current or better some SW. Until then it’s just grind away, it would be great to average 2.5 knots the rest of the day but I doubt it somehow.

07:30 – Had a complete sense of humour failure today. First order of business is to thank Cheryl for supporting me and apologize for being an idiot. I set off at 18:30 and nothing had changed. I was crawling along, the wind was great, the swell was ok but I couldn’t get to two knots. I tried different types of strokes, different angles, waited for a slight change in wind and tried to take advantage of everything. Absolutely nothing I could do, so I grind on then about 21:30 I started to lose the south I had gained through the morning. The one thing I hadn’t had trouble with was my course, I was 0.5nm below my course (which is good) running parallel to it. Within 10 minutes I was loosing ground quicker and heading NW, no choice about it. I fought and fought but by 00:00 I was 1.5nm above my course, my foot strap fitting broke so I stopped to fix it. Now I thought I’d been fighting a SE current, while I’m fixing the footstep, I notice I’m going north, then north east, what a nightmare. In 2 hours I’ve watched 24 hours work disappear.

I sent Tony a quick email for when he got up and copied Cheryl. I couldn’t for the life of me work out if it was a revolving current, how you could be in a SE current one minute and a NE current the next. Cheryl tried to encourage me to grind on but I was, well I don’t really know, frustrated, angry, ready to quit, confused, whatever, I didn’t handle it well. The cliché, ‘some days you can only control your attitude’, I failed today!

Back at the oars after calming down and the only direction I could go was NW. As it happens, that’s the best way out of a NE current, 90°, just like on the beach when you were a kid, if you get caught in a current, swim at 90°! So off I go, now I’m not loosing south, I’m throwing it away! My mind was in complete turmoil, ‘I’ve no chance of getting to Cairns while Cheryl and the girls are there’, ‘I might not even be able to get there’ and on and on. As I’m rowing, I keep trying to go south but no joy. At 02:30 the wind changed a bit and all of a sudden I’ve stopped the rot and very slowly I start making my course again. It’s all very slow but at least it was under control. In the end, the wind turned E/ESE and helped, the original current is still there but not holding things up as much. So panic over, my 04:00 to 05:30 row was actually the fastest of the day.

I should add to the above that the swell has been big and powerful all day and in my defence I’ve been soaked 60/70 times, had the boat full, I mean full of water half a dozen times and I was well and truly hacked off with it all.

The analogy, I think part of my problem is when I rounded Espiritu Santo I thought it was going to get easier, it’s actually got tougher. It reminded me of a steeple chase I did in my youth (20s I think). Can’t remember if it was British League or Northern League but not important. I always ran the steeple chase and the 5000m. Lap three of the race and I’d pulled into the lead, coming into the corner I can remember my mind wandering to who was in the 5000. I thought the race was over, approached the barrier, my spikes grazed the top of the barrier and my momentum sent me over doing a great impression of superman with my arms by my side, I landed chest first on the track curb. By the time I got back up, the rest of the runners were half way up the back straight. I think I set off to get the single point for finishing but because I set off at a sensible pace, within two laps I’d passed a couple of runners and was then at the back of the lead group. Last lap and I get the leader coming out of the water jump and win. An hour later I finish 2nd or 3rd in the 5000m. My point is, I thought the race was won and took my eye off the ball, I think I’ve done the same hear. I need to shake myself up and get what grey matter is still working focused on positive things I can do even if conditions aren’t going my way. Interestingly, the day after the two races I couldn’t walk down stairs, I’d cracked a rib when I fell! Will I ever learn!

Now it was supposed to blow 24 knots tonight, but it’s just 21. Tomorrow is all E – ESE 18 to 15 knots, that should help. It’s actually calming down a bit so if it is going to blow 21 knots it will come up quick.
In other news:

I saw a meteorite this morning, it was so bright I thought it was lightening at first, I looked up and saw it burn out in a massive fireball. Incredible!

I’ve got a green bottom, only just worked it out, I saw a green tinge where I sit in the cabin, it’s the new sheep skins. They are medical grade (whatever that is) and are green, because I’ve got wet so much today the dye has transferred to my behind, not a pretty site at the best of times but now it’s green! Hope that paints a good picture!

Cairns is 1097nm away as I write this.

That’s it for now, bed and a positive day tomorrow.

John

Out

Notes:

Graham: My opinion is, rowing is rowing nothing else, you can do whatever but if you want to call it rowing, it’s oars and a rowing boat. You also need to consider mechanical failure.

Grumpy Mike: I’ve tested Cheryl’s patience enough for a while I think.

Mike T: That’s a great score Mike, I can’t wait for the 1000 either.

Patrick: Thanks for the tips Patrick, I coped a bit better today.

Brian: Now remember as coach you need lots of patience, if you want some inspiration look up Ed Whitlock, holds most of the age group records from 60 to 80.