There will be many decisions to be made over the coming months, but possibly the most important one is exactly when and from where I depart to row across the Indian Ocean. I am extremely grateful to Sarah Outen for most kindly checking out the territory in advance.
In particular, Sarah discovered the hard way just how tough an adversary the Leeuwin Current can be. A strong, south-flowing current that parallels the coast of Western Australia, it swept Sarah too far south. She ended up doing what she calls her “warm-up lap”, an 11-day loop from Fremantle back to Fremantle.
Warmups are all very well, but I will be at sea for around 5 months as it is, taking the significantly longer route northwest to Mumbai in India, so I’d really just as soon skip the warmup and get on with the real thing.
It looks as if my best strategy will be to hug the coast as I head north towards Geraldton, then peel away and out into the Indian Ocean. I’ll just need to make sure that my hug doesn’t become TOO intimate and I end up shipwrecked. This had better be one of those kind of arms-length kind of hugs at a safe distance of several miles, rather than a hello-you’re-my-best-friend-ever kind of a hug. According to my weatherman, Lee Bruce, “It looks like the shoaling is good 20nm wide at the narrowest point, so you should be able to work within that 20nm corridor.”
The good news is that then the winds should in theory be really helpful, whizzing me northwest and India-wards. Look at all those lovely wind arrows. Having had to crab my way across the Pacific Ocean for the last 3 years, always trying to push south, it would be exhilarating to point my bows straight downwind for a change.
I’ve just finished reading a couple of contrasting ocean rowing books – both darned good reads:
A Little Goes A Long Way: James “Tiny” Little’s blog from his mid-Atlantic crossing, told in Tiny’s inimitable, understated style.
A Pearl In A Storm: Tori Murden was the first woman to row solo across an ocean. Favourite line: “Let’s face it: normal, well-adjusted women don’t row alone across oceans.”
Unlike me, Tori looks like a proper ocean rower – six foot tall and most definitely a tough lady. This is why I make sure to correct anyone who mistakenly introduces me as the first solo woman to row the Atlantic. I would not want to get on the wrong side of her.
On her first attempt, in the North Atlantic, her boat capsized 15 or 16 times in 72 hours during Hurricane Danielle. She sustained extensive injuries, and eventually pressed the emergency button on her EPIRB beacon to request rescue. To her great credit, she went back for more, and successfully crossed the Atlantic by the equatorial route.
The book was a sobering reminder of just how different a creature the North Atlantic is from the mid-Atlantic. Rougher, colder, stormier, altogether more dangerous. I certainly don’t under-estimate the challenge that I will be tackling in 2012. My mother gave me this book for Christmas. I wonder if she’s trying to tell me something?
LAST FEW DAYS OF VOTING!
By the way, just 5 days left to vote for your “People’s Choice” National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. You can vote once in any 24 hour period at the National Geographic website. Preferably for me, please!