Day 28 – Comrades in Oars
Since Nicole sent me some excerpts from the Golden Gate Endeavour blog,
I've been thinking quite a bit about my friends Chris Martin and Mick
Dawson as they row across the north Pacific from Japan to San Francisco.
And, sorry guys, but mostly I've been thinking I'm happy I'm not you! I
think that rowing an ocean in a pair would be a very different thing
from rowing as a solo.
Mick already has two Atlantic crossings under his belt (both in pairs)
and two failed solo attempts on the Pacific – both of which ended up in
a liferaft. So in determination to succeed this time he has enlisted
Chris Martin, who was the one other solo entry when I did the Atlantic
Rowing Race in 2005.
They are rowing in the shift pattern commonly used by pairs – two hours
on, two hours off, around the clock. I tried this on the Atlantic, and I
found it brutal. The human body (well, my human body, anyway) does not
take kindly to being roused from sleep at godforsaken hours of the night
to go and row. Nor does it respond well to never getting more than about
90 minutes of sleep at a time (it takes a while to get down, and then to
get up again – especially as the north Pacific is decidedly chilly so
the guys are wearing a lot more clothes than I do).
They described in their blog what it is like at changeover time, with
one man desperate to get to sleep and the other trying to drag himself
out of sleep. The resulting lack of coordination resulting in a snack
bar thrown by Mick to Chris landing in the poo bucket. Not good.
I really felt for them. At least my body, sunburned, aching and abused
as it is, gets a decent night's break from rowing and a chance to
recover. And when conditions prevent rowing I get the whole cabin to
myself rather than having to share with a large hairy-arsed crewmate.
Still, each to their own.
Even though Mick and Chris are many hundreds of miles north of me, it's
nice to know they're there. Gives me a feeling of comradeship. So a big
AHOY to the guys, and wishing Mick third time lucky. If you'd like to
follow their blog, it's at goldengateendeavour.com (note English
spelling of endeavour).
[photo: looking out for Mick and Chris – the view north from my boat,
showing the solar panels and aft hatch on the roof of my sleeping cabin]
And a note on ocean rowing:
To put it in context (and this is all from memory, so I hope I'm more or
less right) about 300 people in the world have rowed across an ocean.
Most of those crossings have been in pairs, and most of them have been
on the Atlantic, as contestants in the Atlantic Rowing Race. About 25
people have rowed solo across an ocean, of whom 6 have been women.
Not many people have rowed the Pacific. In contrast to the Atlantic,
most of the Pacific crossings have been solo rather than in pairs. The
ones I can recall are:
Sylvia Cooke and John Fairfax in about 1966, from East to West
Peter Bird, E to W
Gerard d'Aboville, W to E
Jim Shekhdar, E to W
Alex Bellini, E to W, although I'm not sure if his attempt counted
because he got picked up about 65 miles short of the Australian coast,
frustrated by repeated failures to punch through the currents that
whoosh up and down the Australian coast.
And a Frenchwoman, Maude Fontenoy, rowed about half the Pacific, from
Peru to French Polynesia.
I'm sure there are a few more that I can't remember. The definitive
statistics are at www.oceanrowing.com.
Conditions continue rough, with winds of at least 20 knots coming from
the East. I am rowing south, across the waves, which means they often
strike me broadside and give me a drenching. And it's challenging to row
efficiently in such rough seas. But it will be worth it in the end if it
sets me up well for Stage 3 next year, coming in to Australia.
Lazarus the Stereo finally died today. Bit the dust. Kicked the bucket.
Went to the big West Marine in the sky. I'd been managing to coax him
into reluctant action for the last week or so, since he developed a
rebellious streak and decided to ignore all button-pressing. But now he
flatly refuses to work. At all. From now on it's the Aquapac + earbuds.
Thanks to Aquapac for the free gear – seriously much appreciated. Need
to feed my audiobook addiction!
Crave of the Day: a glass of nice cold, ice cold milk
Rave of the Day: the walnut pumpkin rawfood crackers made for me by
Marlene Depierre. Just tried them out for the first time today. Very
Thanks for all the brilliant comments. I've just finished reading the
latest batch. I love hearing who you are and what you're doing, what
challenges you're facing and how you face them. Your comments really
help remind me that there is a real world somewhere beyond the horizon!
A wonderful world with some wonderful people. Thanks for being there for
Position at 2100 HST: 13 36.074N, 166 31.935W
Wind: 20+ kts from E
Seas: 10ft from E
Weather: some overcast this morning, occasional clouds this afternoon
Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:
The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range throughout the
forecast period. Seas 5-8ft.
Temperature: Hot and getting hotter with increasing humidity heading
towards the equator.
Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover next five days.
Very isolated rainshowers. About 11-10N latitude, increasing clouds
approaching the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). These clouds
become convective clouds which increase the chance of heavy rainshowers,
thunderstorms, and lightning normally associated with the ITCZ.
Currently, the convergence area of the ITCZ lies between 11N and 4N
Next Update: Monday, 22 June