Tuesday 22nd December (23rd Dec in Australia)

14:30 – Forecast – ESE 15/18 until 21:00, ESE/E 18/15 until 00:00, ESE/E 15/22. So I asked for it to blow and it certainly is doing that, there’s a massive squall passing through and it must be blowing 20 knots and raining like crazy. The forecast looks ok, hope it sticks to plan, it did yesterday on direction just not on wind speed. Drift was ok, just the same as prevous night but with my extra row I’m a bit ahead. 20nm to go to Harrison’s Reef waypoint, should be there in less than 8 hours. 3 days to get to the Barrier Reef waypoint.

19:00 GMT – Bit of a disappointment, only got 10nm from four hours, there’s plenty of power in the swell but it’s typical down wind rowing I’m afraid. If the wind gets either side of the boat you end up 30° off course so most of your time is spent correcting that rather than focusing on speed. Add to that, I was 10 minutes late starting because the four birds on the boat had made a royal mess and then I had two hours solid rain. It’s the same result as yesterday’s first session but I’m nearly two miles ahead of yesterday’s schedule.

You can tell we are closing in on land, the sea state is changing and the swell in particular is becoming quite violent. Not a comfy ride at all.

23:45 GMT – Incredibly tough 4 hours. The swell is big and I’m rowing straight downwind. The wind has turned me lots of times so it’s eating time plus I’ve caught two of the biggest waves of the trip. One knocked me clean off the rowing seat, it’s like a contest, how many ways to leave your seat. The upshot is tough with bailing out and fighting the wind, I probably lost a mile in the session. I’m past the Harrison Reef waypoint though and heading for land, 112nm to the inside of the reef.

08:00 GMT – You can see from the time I’m running late, it’s been a busy day. The 00:00 to 04:00 session was a bust, the wind started to ease off but the swell was all over the place. I think it was Harrison’s Reef, there must have been some current issues. As I got further away later in the afternoon things started to settle down. The upshot though was poor mileage, I managed just under 48 again for the day, not great but above target.

Strangely the last session of the day was the best again, I’ve got a good start for the morning and hopefully some drift. The weather looks ok tomorrow as well, there’s some feisty east wind in the morning, we’ll see how that goes.

In other news;

– Cairns is just 114nm away, should be under 100 early in the morning.

– Tony sent a new reef crossing waypoint, that’s just 70nm away. I have to be there no later the 00:00 on the 25th.

– I think Tony’s weather and routing skills are being given a good work out with this tropical cyclone. The weather forecast is constantly changing making it difficult to plan more than a day or so ahead.

– The rest of the team have been rained in all day, it’s very cloudy where I am and looks like I could have a long wet couple of days ahead.

– Did an interview with ABC news earlier, Australia’s BBC.

Summary, I really thought 50 was on until that approach to the reef but I’ll take the 47 something. I’m finding it hard now, my legs are shot after the last few days, trying to force the pace is a killer. I know I’ve just got 3 days left, really tomorrow is the big day. I need to get as far as possible to make the reef crossing day easier. One day at a time, keep calm and keep working hard.

Should be able to give you an idea of the arrival plan tomorrow.

Not a lot else to report at the moment, I need to get a move on, didn’t get much sleep last night so need to sleep well tonight ready for a big day.

John

Out

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