The birthday girl – in her birthday suit, naturally!

23 Dec, 05 – 20:09

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see
Miles to Antigua: 2088
Progress towards Antigua in last 24 hours: 10

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday dear Rozzie
Happy birthday to me!

My birthday got off to a mixed start. I’d been up rowing half the night, trying to evade these forecast southwesterlies, so was hopeful of some good news when Radio Solent rang for an interview – they always give me an update on my race position – so was slightly crestfallen to find out that Move Ahead had indeed moved ahead and overtaken me again.

But on the upside, Radio Solent were having a Christmas party in the breakfast studio (apparently including Cdr Mike Pearey – my man in the Navy – hello there, Mike!) and the assembled throng gave me a fine rendition of Happy Birthday, so that soon cheered me up, as did a birthday card from my mother and a present from my friend Pauline, plus various birthday greetings sent by email and relayed by Mum. Thanks to all!

After that it was down to business as usual… with a special guest appearance this afternoon by a whale. I haven’t seen much wildlife so far, although I sometimes go into zombie mode when at the oars, so it’s entirely possible that dolphins, sharks, whales, turtles, albatrosses, mermaids, mermen, et al have been doing triple backflips and dancing the cancan just yards away from me and I haven’t noticed.

Anyway, the whale made sure I did notice him by blowing loudly to announce his presence. I looked round and saw a pointed dorsal fin and sleek black back arcing through the water about 20 yards away from me. He surfaced and blew a couple more times, and then no more. Looking in my guide to wildlife of the North Atlantic – so far lamentably underused – I would say he was probably a pilot whale. It was good of him to stop by to say happy birthday – it certainly made the day special.

Other stuff:

Thanks for further suggestions re the camping stove. Rather than work myself into a lather of frustration trying to fix it, I’ve decided to abandon it and concentrate on a workaround solution. It’s actually been fine the last couple of days eating food that has been left to rehydrate for a number of hours (yummy chilli prawns with beansprouts tonight), but if I do want hot food I will try to fashion a solar cooker out of a survival blanket. I think there’s one in my sailingunlimited survival pack, but have been too busy rowing to investigate so far. Thanks, Penny, for the black spot suggestion. Superb idea, and I know other rowers have used it successfully, but unfortunately I left my black spot at home…

I recorded an interview with BBC South Today. I believe it’s due to be forecast tomorrow, Christmas Eve, if you happen to be in the region.

Rita Savage’s PS: I think Roz meant broadcast in the paragraph just above this. She has weather forecasts very much on her mind, as once again the weekend promises ill winds.
Grateful thanks to the many people who sent emails to her today for her birthday.I have told her about them. The Iridium link does not seem to be functioning as it ought, so if anyone sent text messages they may not have got through. Thank you for the support you are giving her in prayers and messages.

Wind: 3-5 kts from the northeast
Weather: sunny and hot
Sea state: calm
Hours rowing: 12

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