When I was on the Atlantic, an ocean-rowing friend of mine wrote to me about the “sweet water” – his term for the ocean conditions that are a bit like the sweet spot on a tennis racquet, when everything just comes together in a moment of perfection. Today I found the sweet water.

The wind picked up to a nice brisk 20+ knots from more or less the right direction, the sun was shining brightly, the blue waves contrasted gorgeously with their white foaming crests, and the rowing was good. I felt like I was flying along – and I crossed off another degree of longitude on my whiteboard.

But I won’t get too excited about it, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. I keep telling myself.

On the Atlantic I fell into the trap, when things were going well, of assuming that they would continue to go well indefinitely – and of course they didn’t. I ended up virtually becalmed for about two weeks, slowing my progress and delaying my arrival in Antigua.

So I’m certainly not taking anything for granted. I will enjoy these superb conditions for as long as they last, but will try not to get too despondent if and when they change and my rate of progress declines.

Oh but it’s hard! I keep getting all excited and calculating my ETA and planning my celebrations in Hawaii, and have to remind myself that I’ve still got nearly 1,000 miles to go!

Other stuff:

Position at 2150 3rd August Pacific Time, 0450 4th August UTC: 23 39.606’N, 142 06.388’W.

I’ve been really pleased with the way the new extended skeg on the Brocade has improved my ability to hold a course. After consultation with the original designer of the hull, Phil Morrison, I commissioned Nancy, a friend in California who is an extremely skilled carbon fibre craftswoman, to add an extra 5 inches of depth to the fin that runs along the bottom of the boat. It seems to have made Brocade much more responsive to the set of the rudder, both when rowing and when drifting. Definitely worth the investment. And a big thank you to Nancy for a fantastic job.

The death toll on electronic components continues. Today the rechargers for both my satphone and my iPod stopped working. This would be a total disaster… if I didn’t have backup options. I can recharge the iPod from the USB port of my laptop. And it’s the 12V (DC) recharger for the phone that has failed, but I still have the wall socket charger that I can plug into the inverter and charge on AC. Or else, with no phone, it would have been an end to my blogs! (Apart from the fact that, of course, I have a spare phone too…)

Unfortunately, the strong winds that made for a great day’s rowing are not conducive to a good night’s sleeping. I’m being jolted around in my cabin while I’m trying to type this blog. It’s going to be a rough old night…

Thanks for the updates on JUNK’s progress. I keep looking out for them! I am sure they will catch up with me soon – especially once they get into these winds that have helped me along today.

Special thanks to Sean in Australia – your lovely message was the icing on the cake of a very good day for me! Thank you.

Ken’s question: my cabin is watertight, and for air I have 2 small vents that should be above the waterline if the boat capsized. But I tend to close them if conditions are really rough. And I haven’t suffocated yet.

Thanks also to the Johns, Tim, Gene, Dana, Sharon, Jonathan, Ken of the RunnerDuck Review (thanks for spreading the word!) and to all the other people who enrich my ocean experience by keeping me in their hearts and minds.

Click here to view Day 71 of the Atlantic Crossing 8 February 2006: The Gloves are Off – serious effort.

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