Monday 21st December

14:30 GMT – Forecast – E 15/12 until 21:00, E / ESE 12/15. Well I’m not sure what to say, the weather is ok, but if it’s good enough to break 50 I have no idea. We only had a modest drift overnight, this was due to a strong SE wind appearing just after I finished which pushed us north but because I rowed a bit longer in my starter session I have a good base to work from. Got an update from Tony, the weather picture is really complicated and there is another low forming so it’s a cyclone not a monsoon, I got my wires crossed, the cyclone is forming because of a monsoonal trough, weather men! I need 55nm a day and while 52/3nm is possible, I’m not sure 55nm is. I need to row more hours but there aren’t that many left without not sleeping at all. Can’t do that and find big days, except maybe on the last night.

19:00 – Despite getting 9.3nm from that session it’s not good enough really. My estimate was 10-12nm, that was when I thought the wind was 18 knots and that’s reduced but that’s irrelevant really. This next four days is about getting in safe so just distance is important. The session was strange and four separate sets of conditions; first hour was light rain and light wind, just managed to stay close to 2.5 knots, second hour, heavy rain and no wind, 27/8 minutes miles, third hour, wind back to normal, first two 24 minute miles (2.5 knot pace), last hour wind lightening and pace slowing. It’s all a bit frustrating, I’m sure I will get close to 50nm but not sure I’ll be over unless things change and the only change in the forecast is for things to get lighter. Not sure where the day’s going, hope sunrise brings a bit of wind but if I was betting I’d say I’ll struggle to do 2.5 knots all day. My only option is to row longer tonight, I’ll decide on that later. To improve the drift tonight I’m looking at acquiring some XTE so I can drift at 290° or so, this could add a couple of miles, we’ll see.

23:45 GMT – The sunrise did pep things up a bit and a couple of squalls passed to my south that helped too. Only made 11nm but that’s the best speed of the day. The weather is strange, the wind keeps coming and going and we now have a huge blanket of cloud which I don’t like the look of. No option but to grind on. Looks like I may have until midday Boxing Day that’s about 01:00 GMT I think. Only need 45nm a day, easy?

07:30 GMT – So the third 4 hour session was a real toughie, virtually windless right until the end, it was just one long grind. I really need the wind to come back tomorrow. The upshot of the day though is I rowed just short of 48nm, so that’s on target for the waypoint I need to be at by 00:00 on the 25th.

I extended my 04:15 row to two hours forty five, this was actually the best session of the day so I have a 7.5nm start plus whatever drift I can get. Be nice to get to 50 tomorrow, the next waypoint is Henderson’s Reef, just 29nm away, then it’s 114nm and I’m through the reef with 30 some miles to go.

In other news:

– Cairns is 179nm away as I write this, rock on Boxing Day (plan 2).

– Here are two jokes I like from some young followers:

Joke 1 (from a 12 year old):
Three elderly couples are in a cafe having afternoon tea when the following conversations were overheard:
Couple 1; Pass the honey, honey
Couple 2: Pass the sugar, sugar
Couple 3: Pass the tea, bag
(Ba dump bump!!)

Joke 2 (from a 14 year old whose dad is an accountant)
How does an accountant deal with constipation?
They work it out with a pencil.
(Ba dump bump!!)

So a summary, still have to get my skates on but I think I can do the required mileage. My effort is always the same but the conditions dictate how far you get, I’ve extended my evening row and will start early in the morning. Hopefully that will ensure I am there or there abouts. The forecast looks ok tomorrow with the wind heading back to 18 knots, I need that to keep me cool and keep boat speed up in the trough.

This is where we find out if the decision I made to carry on was right, which was really an emotional one, not wanting to disappoint anyone, the investment in time and effort etc. when my head was saying after mid December it’s not safe, is going to have any serious consequences. It was my call, I’m the captain of the vessel, I could have rowed in at Vanuatu but I didn’t. Time to face the music now.

That’s it for now, be back tomorrow.



Notes: I’m running really late, if no one minds I’ll leave comments on messages for a couple of days until I’m sure I’ll get there. I read them all and they make my day, everyday.

Note from Editor: John has a tough few days ahead of him and now is the time to send him a message of encouragement. If you are reading this blog please take the time to send John a message.