Day 25: Welcome to my World Part 2: The Logbook

This is Part 2 of my descriptions of little moments from a typical day – my logbook.

I sit cross-legged in the eighteen-inch wide sitting area, my back against a grey Pelican case strapped to the wall of my cabin. This case contains my MacBook, mobile phones, various cables, and an external hard drive. I turn to my right, and pull out a folder-sized black Aquapac from a blue elastic strap that retains both the Aquapac and a large black Pelican case containing my Toughbook PC. For now I don’t need the electronics – just the Aquapac that protects my logbook from the seawater and condensation that get everywhere.

I unclip the waterproof seal at the top of the Aquapac and take out my logbook – an A4 sized notebook in a reassuring, old-fashioned style. I reach across to the opposite wall of the cabin and take a pencil from the wall pockets, and extricate my TomTom GPS device from the pile of snacks.

I hadn’t planned to use the TomTom – I have a proper marine chartplotter that gives me latitude and longitude and a whole load of other information besides – but unfortunately, soon after I set out, the chartplotter stopped being able to fix a position from the satellites and all the other functions depend on that. I suspect that the antenna on the cabin roof did not appreciate its dunking during the capsizes last year, and just chose a bad time to stop working. So now I use the TomTom out of my car. It’s not designed for marine use, but it will do for now. If/when it dies, I have another GPS too.

I have ruled the pages of my logbook into columns to track various aspects of my ocean existence. Date, time, latitude, longitude, wind strength (estimated) and direction, hours rowed, hours slept, and marks out of 5 for state of body and mind. Also some wider columns for what food I have eaten, what book I am listening to, and general notes.

I turn on the TomTom. It also lives in an Aquapac, and I can operate it without taking it out of the waterproof bag. While it busies itself homing in on the satellites, I look out of the hatch at the ocean outside as if looking for landmarks that will give me some clue as to where I am relative to yesterday. But of course, this piece of ocean looks exactly like the piece of ocean where I was last night. Maybe rougher, maybe calmer, but still wet and watery and indistinguishable from any other bit of ocean.

After a couple of minutes the TomTom displays my new position. I may have drifted in a favourable direction (south and/or west) during the night, or I may not. I try not to over-react either way – with varying degrees of success. Good times change for the worse, and bad times change for the better, so I’ll permit myself a small celebration or a small grumble and that’s all. It is what it is.

I copy the coordinates into my logbook. I fill out the other columns, the quality of my handwriting depending on the sea state, and carefully return the logbook, pencil and TomTom to their respective homes.

I repeat this ritual between 4 and 6 times during the day, depending on whether it is a rowing day or not. I find it comforting to slowly fill up the pages of my book with columns upon columns of tiny numbers and words. I may not be in control of my destiny, but at least the logbook gives me some illusion that I – and not the ocean – am running this show.

Other stuff:

Steve – thanks for taking a look at my Amazon wish list (see the Amazon link button top right), and thanks also for the suggestion about paperbackswap.com. I hadn’t come across that one. Sounds a bit like bookcrossing (I think).

If you’re into books, you may be interested to know that I have written reviews of the books that I have been listening to during this crossing. I have sent them to my mother today and she will be posting them to Goodreads.com. My user name is rozsavage.

Rachel, your record stands unbroken. I washed my hair today, not even 4 weeks into my voyage, and a long way short of your 6 weeks record. It wasn’t an easy exercise – kneeling on the rolling deck of the boat, head-down in a bucket – but it was worth the effort. I feel SOOO much cleaner!

And of course I use my lovely organic Green People shampoo and conditioner, so I’m not tipping anything inorganic into the ocean along with the washing water.

The watermaker worked today – hence celebratory bathing extravaganza.

Hellos to Laila and family, Rich Hular, Francesca Bellini (Pacific rower Alex’s wife), James Ruth, Clint, and Rob.

And hellos to those following the podcasts: Richard – NC backpacker, Michael Church – and a special hello to John Stevens, and kudos to you for finding strength in adversity. As I’m sure you know, life is always changing, so bad times never last forever. Wishing you all the best for a brighter future.

Thanks to Russell Manchester for the information that Sunfish mainly eat jellyfish. I suddenly see Sunfish in a whole new light – my friends!

Thanks in advance to Thomas Sweeting for the neoprene socks. I look forward to having those for future stages of the row.

Eric – I am coming to the same conclusion myself, that my two aft batteries are not in good shape. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, provided I use the power-hungry appliances such as the watermaker and the inverter during daylight hours only.

And finally, a special hello to Martine Sevik, and thanks for her wise words: “The trick is to learn to sing while it’s raining.” Absolutely! And I’m learning..

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