A message from Queen Elizabeth
8th January 2019
It was blooming freezing by sunset yesterday! Quite a lot of cloud cover plus the waves having an annoying habit of landing on my head, equals a chilly evening. I don’t remember reading this in the holiday brochure! I was expecting a day lounging round in a bikini with an evening meal on the aft deck watching the sun set! Instead I am in full waterproofs looking forward to getting into my sleeping bag! Lol!!
My ship’s batteries are getting low due to cloud cover so they are not charging as well. I am doing all the right things – turning down the brightness on my screens, turning off anything non essential and generally managing the power so I can always run my safety equipment.
I have not even listened to any music yet! Just listening to the sound of the ocean! What have I been thinking about? Not a lot really! I have pretty much switched off to the outside world and have been concentrating on my little world here. It’s strange, as I look out to the horizon it looks like the earth only stretches out 3miles around me and I am the only one in it. But I have never once felt alone or scared. After all, I can just ring Jaime to pick me up when I have had enough.
This morning, as every morning so far, I stood up to take a look out over the front of the boat. It occurs to me that I will be crossing the Atlantic facing backwards the whole way!!! I can sea ship in the distance… a massive ship! I take a look on my AIS system and see it is the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth. Radio on……
“Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth this is True Blue, True Blue- over”
“True Blue this is the Queen Elizabeth- over”
“Good morning sir, I am the rowing vessel about 3 miles off your port side. Can you see me on AIS? I am a solo rower attempting to beat the speed record across the Atlantic, over”
“True Blue we have you on AIS (laughs) the very best of luck to you ma’am, have a safe passage – over.”
“Queen Elizabeth, True Blue. Thank you sir, safe passage to you also – True Blue out”
Perhaps the crew will remember me when I get invited on board by the Queen!!
9th January 2019
Today started rather early with my entire body in the aft locker (the space in the back of the boat which contains the steering and para anchor.)
As reported yesterday, my ship’s batteries are lower than I would like due to the cloud coverage. I woke at 2.30am for a rowing shift to discover the port battery at 12.3V (12.2 is the lowest they should be allowed to get.) I decided to turn off the auto helm and steer the rest of the hours of darkness to preserve some power.
This involves opening the rear hatch and disconnecting the auto helm. (A pretty straightforward job, just need to time it so a wave does not get in) Then start rowing and adjust the rudder with the steering ropes as needed. I pulled on the starboard (right of the boat) rope and it just kept coming! The knot holding it onto the tiller had come loose and I had just pulled it out through the pulleys. Arhhhh!!!
So in pitch darkness I now had to climb into the locker, find the end of the rope and re feed it through the pulley. I can tell you that the end of the boat is 5ft 5in from the locker opening because that’s how tall I am and I was all the way in, just my feet poking out the end!!
Needless to say I managed to reconnect it all and got under way. There is something quite magical about rowing under the stars. The phosphorescence is incredible! It’s some kind of plankton which, when disturbed by the oars, glows up bright green. Without any other light pollution around this is quite something to see. I tried to take a photo, but it just comes out black. Might try doing some go pro footage maybe that will work?
Well, the day is beginning to look a lot more like the holiday brochures I have read! As the sun begins to rise there is not a cloud in the sky, not only will that mean I might be able to take my wet gear off at last, but also get some well needed charge in the batteries.
I am really enjoying rowing today, I am getting used to the waves and how to position my oars depending on the size of the wave and what direction it is coming from. I have a few shin bruises from the first couple of days where the oars hit my leg if Itime it wrong. I am also able to take my waterproofs off making it much easier to row. I still get soaked by the odd rogue wave when least expecting it! But this time the sun quickly dries me out.
Talking about rogue waves! I actually shouted at one earlier… I had one of the deck hatches open to get some food out, a wave caught me unaware and water got in the locker. Fair enough, I am in the ocean! So I waited a couple of hours and the wind seemed to have dropped – so I opened the hatch, bailed it out and made it all nice and dry. At the exact moment I was about to replace the lid, guess what? Another wave right in the locker!!!!! “Were you actually waiting till I finished drying that out?” I shouted? Who to I don’t know, but made myself laugh!
Anyway back to the story. About midday pleased with the amount of sun on the solar panels, I went to check how much charge. 12.8V???? What, that’s not good at all. Minimum is 12.2v, max is 14.1. On charge all morning and hardly moved. Slightly concerned I sat back down to row deciding that there must be an obvious explanation! 10-15mins went by whilst I looked at the solar panels directly in front of me on the stern of the boat. Then it hit me… no, not another wave, it was obviously right in front of me!!
My spare oars are tied up one either side of the boat. As the sun rose on my port (left) side it was casting a shadow from the blade of the oar virtually covering the whole panel!!!! I quickly moved the offending oar to the other side of the boat and hey presto! The meter jumped up 0.1 of a volt almost instantly and has continued to charge nicely all day! Job well done!!
Had a brief chat with Charlie from Rannoch HQ via GPS text. The wind is expected to die off later today, this is not a good thing as a bit of wind behind me definitely helps.
I have been on the oars about 8hrs today so far. Am now having a rest before doing the next 4hrs in the tougher conditions. I aim to row 12hrs out of every 24.
Before I go, here is a sighting check list….
- Sea turtles- 3
- Dolphins- 0
- Whales- 0 (although heard them in the night)
- Shark- 0
- Floating plastic- 8
Absolutely gutted to have seen more plastic than wildlife. I know the wildlife is out there, I just have not seen it – trouble is that means I have not seen a fraction of the plastic that must also be out here.
I am rowing an ocean to try and bring awareness, please spread the word to help reduce single use plastics.
Thank you for reading.
More over the coming days.