Thursday 24th December (25th Dec in Oz)

14:30 – Forecast – ESE/E 9/12 until 18:00 then ESE 9/6.  The wind has gone a lot lighter than previously forecast so it’s going to need effort today, it gets even lighter still late afternoon so I really need to get within 10 nm, currently 45 to go.  Had a good drift and a good row in so in a great place.  Need 10nm from each session plus 5 after 04:00. It’s misty this morning not raining yet, have to wear damp clothes to start as I didn’t get them dry last night, it’s like going back to the start of San Francisco.

Rare treat this morning, I found a bag of porridge last night, looks good enough to eat, can’t wait.

19:00 GMT – A bit of a disappointment unfortunately, only managed 9nm.  The wind was about 6 knots when I started, within 15 minutes it was windless and has been the same ever since.  That means sculling, I’m doing ok but with no help from conditions it’s a challenge, 2.3 knots an hour, the last hour of the four was most difficult.  Can’t work out if that’s me waning or the conditions tightening.  For those new to the blog I enjoy sculling and you can get power behind your stroke but it’s basically squats with a one ton boat as resistance, at a conservative 20 strokes a minute you get, 20 x 60 x 15 = 18,000 strokes, so in a 15 hour day if I scull all day that’s a lot of squats and at this stage of proceedings I’m not sure how I’ll do. As Rob said, you’ve spent 7 months training, get on with it!

I also think I need to get under 19nm from the pass, there won’t be much drift tonight, this is where the extra 6/10 miles yesterday would have given me an easier day. The fat lady needs to go gargle for a while.

Porridge was great, I also found a mars bar and a clif bar in the same hiding place, they went last night while I had some coffee.

08:30 GMT – What a day, what a catastrophe, it was definitely the conditions tightening.  I’ve ended up with a low pressure area right above me all day, no wind other than just hints and all of it west, W, NW, SW just enough to add to the misery.  The current got harder to fight all day and with no help I was under 1 knot for ages.  Now I’m drifting I can see why, the current is running ESE so it was basically head on. There was enough wind in the forecast 3 days ago to blow a million hats off, just when I need it, it evaporates.  We’ve also had to change the plan, I’m now heading for Grafton pass, it’s more south so should have been easier with a south / SSE  current.  The wind unfortunately doesn’t look like helping the next two days either.   I have 54nm left and it could take 3 days, not sure my mind was built to take this amount of frustration.

Add to the above, rain so hard and cold I had a thermal, wet pants and rain jacket on.  Rained for a solid couple of hours.  The sun never came out afterwards but made its presence felt, the heat and humidity were horrendous.

All I can do is keep grinding, at least this close there’s help if it goes pear shaped.

In our news;

– Saw a Dorado jump today and think he was by the boat, but gone by the time I got out of my seat.  He was an incredible navy blue, their ability to change colour is mind blowing, same as the Blue Marlin.

– There was also something big jumped by the boat, I only saw the splash, it could have been a ray I think.

So, all in all a disappointment today, even at the end of the first session I was still positive, it’s amazing how fast things can turn on you. I want to thank everyone for their good wishes, there have been 100s of messages in the last few days, all read and appreciated, thank you.

That’s it then, let’s see what tomorrow brings, 23nm till I start negotiating the entrance to Grafton Pass. Might be there by end of day!

Received a Message from McVities asking me to watch out for a surprise on my return to Canada. Wonder what that could be said the man who loves his Ginger Nuts!




Note from Editor:  Special shout out to the following who have helped John’s shore support team. 
Gemma Gould from Cairns Regional Council.  Thank you so much for all of your help before we arrived in Cairns. The information/advice that you have shared has made things so much easier for us and a special thank you for being on standby throughout the holidays should we need anything 
Des, who as I type is taking Tony out on his Catamaran to ensure John’s safety as he crosses the Great Barrier Reef.  Des is a sailor who knows the local waters and has given up part of his Christmas Day and Boxing Day with family and friends to help us out.  Words can not even begin to express how appreciative we are that someone we didn’t know before coming to Cairns has stepped up to offer his services, his boat and his time.  Thanks a Billion because a million just isn’t enough.
Penny, thank you for letting Des help out. Sorry he will be missing your Boxing Day get together with family and friends.
Brett, has offered his boat to take out family members and press a few miles out to meet John and escort him into the marina. Looking forward to meeting you Brett and thank you, this means a lot.
Ports North for providing a berth in the marina when John arrives (when ever that may be!).
Peter Thoren from Cairns Rowing Club for helping get the word out about John’s adventure to the press and club members and for rallying to get a welcome committee on the water for John’s arrival.
Patricia Chalmers from Cairns Yacht Club for spreading the word and for rallying to get a welcome committee on the water for John’s arrival.
Last but not least, thank you to everyone who is sending John messages.  These messages are keeping him going.
We will update the blog Saturday morning local time with arrival details for John. Our apologies that we have to been able to give a precise arrival time as of yet.