Remembering the huge problems we had trying to find a suitable place in Hawaii for Brocade to hibernate last winter between Stages 1 and 2 of my Pacific row, it is nothing short of miraculous that Nicole has been able to find an ideal spot here on the tiny, densely populated island of Tarawa. Brocade’s new home is at the Marine Training Centre, and we will be forever indebted to Captain Superintendent Boro Lucic, the smiling Montenegran who runs the Centre.
To give you some idea of just how miraculous this is, here were our criteria for Brocade’s temporary home:
– facilities for lifting a 1200lb boat out of the water
– under cover storage for boat
– something on which to store Brocade (her trailer is still in Hawaii)
– separate storage for boat’s contents
The MTC has been able to supply all this – and more.
I spent all day there yesterday with Ian and Hunter. Conrad filmed us while we worked hard to empty the boat of every last food ration, waterbag and marine flare. There was an astonishingly large pile of stuff on the ground next to Brocade by the time we had finished. Then everything had to be sorted – stuff to store, to go back to the US, to be discarded. Many things had to be cleaned and/or dried. In the baking sun water evaporated quickly – from our bodies too, and we had to beware of heatstroke. Finally Boro loaned us some new recruits to help carry everything to the cool store room where it will spend the next few months, safe from rats, ants and the intense heat. Apparently Jason Lewis’s supplies were largely destroyed by rats. They don’t kill them here because they are supposedly the spirits of ancestors, but I am keen to avoid having my oatmeal eaten by somebody’s Great Aunt Betty.
It was a long, hot, sweaty day, but now Ian has clear space so he can work on the things that need to be repaired or enhanced before Stage 3. Today he is trying to fix the watermaker. No luck so far. Other things on our To Do list include:
– connect cable to external satphone antenna
– improve storage of sea anchor line (needs to be more secure, as Stage 3 will likely be rougher than Stage 2, with higher risk of capsize)
– add struts to bimini so it doesn’t flap in high winds
– replace stereo (Lazarus was working more consistently towards the end, but is clearly not in perfect health)
– plus, of course, get the boat shipshape and Bristol fashion, all lockers cleaned and bleached, decks scrubbed, and hull de-slimed.
So Brocade’s physique is on the way to recovery – but how is mine? I’ve regained 4lb in 4 days, which is no bad thing. My perception was that I’d eaten more and lost less weight this time around. So you could have knocked me over with a feather (possibly literally) when I stepped on the scales to find that I was 107lb – exactly the same weight as when I arrived in Hawaii last year, and representing a total loss of exactly 30lb in 104 days.
My skin is still rough and sunburned. I suffered from heat rashes and spots the whole way across, but they are diminishing gradually. I also have some nasty areas of sunburn on my face, which are peeling pinkly now. Hmmm, attractive. I am going to be one wrinkly old lady. Anybody know a good dermatologist? I’m not joking!
My hands, though, are the area of my body still showing the clearest evidence of my recent endeavours. I can’t fully extend my fingers nor clench them into fists – the skin is too tough, tight and callused to allow full movement. But they will recover in time. The calluses are already peeling off now that they are no longer needed.
Someone made a comment that I don’t look like someone who has just rowed 3,000 miles, but I’m not sure what such a person should look like. Maybe he expected me to have shoulders like a Russian shotputter’s. But unless I was taking muscle-enhancing steroids all the way across that wasn’t going to happen. I just don’t have enough testosterone in my body to get that kind of muscle growth. I’m sunburned, scarred and skinny – and hopefully a little bit wiser. And that will have to be evidence enough of my latest ocean adventure.
Note: I still have very limited internet access. The technical infrastructure here on Tarawa is not up to US standards, nor is it ever likely to be. We were told that many of the Pacific islands are going to benefit from new cables being laid across the ocean floor to deliver high data speeds and communications links. But Tarawa is truly in the middle of nowhere… and on the way to nowhere. So for the foreseeable future they will have to rely on satellite connections.
For me personally, this means I have not been able to download my emails, and accessing websites or webmail is slow or sometimes impossible. I still haven’t had the opportunity to have a proper look around my own website, which went live while I was out on the ocean. So please bear with me. Thank you!
A HUGE THANK YOU: From what I hear from Mum and others, there has been an amazing outpouring of congratulations in the Rozling community. I just wish I had the connectivity to be able to play a more active part in the celebrations. I feel a bit like the corpse at the funeral – a great party being held in my honour, and I can’t be there! But hopefully I will clamber out of my internet coffin shortly and get back to full online life – and we’ll just have to celebrate all over again then!