Shades of Grey
It’s been days since I saw a sunrise! The past few days have just been different shades of grey (isn’t that a book?!) depending on what time of day it is, today is no exception. But nothing can dampen my spirits today as the wind is changing in my favour.
Overnight and this morning were still hard going but with the expectation of some faster days coming up I got my head down and kept at it. During the morning I passed a quite large piece of fishing net about 10m off my port side. It was very lucky I did not get tangled in that. Fishing net round my rudder would prevent the boat from moving properly and if I could not release it could be an expedition finisher.
About two hours later I passed a rather large yellow buoy, I am not sure if they are connected but I was lucky not to hit either- thousands of square miles of ocean and I nearly run into them both!!
By the afternoon an ominous whistle starts to sound around the boat as bits of rope, aerials and safety lines start to move with the quickening of the wind speed. Within an hour I had what I had been waiting for, and some!!
With 33kts of wind now blowing it was one hell of a ride. The waves I am sure reached 20-25ft at times, it’s a real art to getting this right or I could capsize the boat. I have to manoeuvre the boat to make sure that each wave catches the boat from behind, picking it up like a toy car then shooting it off over the other side.
I am pretty sure I hit 9kts at one point which is pretty impressive for a rowing boat. However, if you see Charlie from Rannoch, it was at least 20kts as he pledged £10 for every knot over 5.5 to my charity the Marine Conservation Society.
This was a very exciting, adrenalin fuelled afternoon, I was in my element!! There was often a rogue wave that would hit from the side and send the boat sideways setting the whole deck completely awash.
It’s been hard work at times whilst rowing on flat ocean just to reach 1.5kts. Now I was doing an average of 3.6kts and it’s still hard work but in a totally different way. I have to have my wits about me at all times staying as safe as possible whilst heaving the oar through the water to change the course of the boat ready for the next wave.
I have very good seamanship skills and never take anything for granted when it comes to being at sea, so everything on deck and in the cabin was tied down, secure and in its correct place meaning I lost nothing overboard. Well I thought everything was secure!!
I have 5 lockers in the deck of the boat where I store my food. Each locker has a round watertight screw on lid – well they are watertight if you do them up properly.
I noticed that my ginger nut biscuits seemed to be tapping at the see-through lid, as if to try and get out? Erm, that’s not right? That locker is only half full so I should not be able to see anything at the lid height.
I realised that the locker was full of water just as a gummy sweet snake swam past the ginger nuts.
As I took the lid off I could see that it was full to the brim and everything inside, including 5llb of gummy snake sweets, was swimming round in it. Now comes the task of bailing it out. Keep in mind I now have 20ft waves, the deck quite often being awash and the boat not always being level.
I quickly emptied out the food content onto the deck and began to bail as fast as I could before it filled up with water again. I don’t know how, but apart from a couple of small splashes I managed to empty the locker of water and re pack the undamaged food pretty quickly and without anything going overboard!
Needless to say my daily checks now include ensuring the hatches are tight. It’s so easy to loosen them with your foot as you go past.
This amazing wind and thrill ride lasted well into the night and as much as I want it to stay it’s pretty exhausting.
It does not matter what the conditions are like, out here it is going to be a tough day, if it’s flat calm extra strength is needed to drive the boat through the water, or strong winds bring other challenges to deal with the conditions. This is an incredible challenge and one I feel grateful to be experiencing, I have worked so hard to get here and will take in every last part good and bad.
Until tomorrow land lubbers!