Sailors are notoriously superstitious. I try not to be, because it can lead to just another dimension of anxiety that I don’t need, but at the same time I try not to tempt fate by making assumptions.

Yesterday I made an exception, and started working out an estimate of how many days to Hawaii. The columns in my notebook are:

Line of longitude (starting at 130 degrees West) Date (that I crossed the line of longitude) Days (how many days it took me to get to that line of longitude from the previous one) Cumulative days (again, starting from 130 degrees West) Average days per degree of longitude (i.e. cumulative days divided by number of degrees since 130 degrees West)

Then I take this average and multiply it by the number of degrees still to go to Hawaii (at 158 degrees West) to give me my estimated number of days still to go. At the moment it stands at 40 days, for an arrival date in late August.

Of course, no sooner had I done that than my rate of progress slowed dramatically – for reasons unknown. Although wind conditions have been fairly constant the last few days, my rate of progress while rowing has slowed from approximately 2.5 knots, to 2 knots, to 1.5 knots. This is rather disheartening, and it’s tempting – although not very satisfying – to blame it on my premature ETA calculations. I would much prefer that it had a rational reason, like an adverse current or a contrary swell or the fallout from a tropical storm, which would at least reassure me that things will change.

I’m trying to keep a course due West in order to give myself the best possible chance of hitting Hawaii. Ideally I don’t want to get south of the islands (at 21 degrees N). But this has made it tough going on the rowing (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!) because I’m fighting my way across the waves, It is difficult to get both oars in the water at the same time, and the boat has felt unbelievably heavy, every stroke like lifting a dead weight.

But, I tell myself, it’s better than the alternative – if I get too far south I could miss Hawaii altogether, which would be, errr, a real bummer!

[photo: still smiling – just!]

Other stuff:

Position at 2000 23rd July Pacific Time, 0300 24th July UTC: 24 22.240’N, 135 47.804’W.

Thanks and hellos to: Jennifer, Louise, Gene, Kirk, Erin, Pippa, Rod (fraid that pecan pie is going to be well burned by the time I get to Oz!), Brian (do let me know if you find any useful info on waterproofing marine electrics), Nevada Bev (thanks for doing my partying for me! Looking forward to my own glass of bubbly when I reach Hawaii.), Andrew in NYC (you’ll know the answer when it hits you – it took me a while), Caro (do have a word with Father Pacific if you have any influence!), John and Patricia (yes, I do log actual hours rowed), Ami (good luck in the marathon!), Andy (sorry about not always posting a photo – I do prefer to send one, but there are only so many things you can photograph on a 23-foot boat surrounded by sea and sky!), John H (way too rough for hull-scrubbing at the moment! last time I was overboard it was still smooth as a baby’s bottom.), Jamie (I have a HUGE medical kit, containing everything from aspirin to scalpels), Rochelle (body doing a bit less well at the moment – getting a lot of bruises in these rough conditions!), Buck, Mitch, Jacob, Barth, Michael, and Jan (so sorry to hear about your loss – my thoughts are with you).

And a special hello to Michelle Urquhart, with thanks for the inspiring message and the Maori encouragement: E tutaki ana nga kapua o te rangi, kei rung ate Mangoroa e kopae pu ana. Courage friend – The clouds in the sky close over, but above them spreads the Milky Way.

Also special thanks to Chris Martin, whose regular words of encouragement help keep me going – as does the memory of his own fantastic justdoitiveness during the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005. Chris – I refilled my empty water ballast containers today, in a tribute to you! 😉

Click here to view Day 60 of the Atlantic Crossing 29 January 2006: The Longest Day – changing time zones.

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