HMS Southampton – Desperately seeking Sedna

15 Feb, 06 – 20:31

Apparently HMS Southampton had some difficulty in locating me yesterday, despite having some of the best radar equipment money can buy.

It’s not really surprising – I was perfectly camouflaged. A small silver boat on a glittering sea (as it was until shortly before they launched the RIB), hidden by huge waves.

So if anybody wants to stage an invasion of Britain, they could do worse than deploy a fleet of small silver rowing boats on a sunny day…

Other stuff:

For the benefit of regular texters, and maybe of passing interest to others, this is how my ocean-going comms setup works, or occasionally doesn’t….

If you send me a text via the Iridium website, it comes straight through to my satphone. Now when I say satphone, I want you to visualise a mobile phone circa 1990. It’s big and chunky, and it’s a nightmare to text from (press 1 three times to get ‘c’, for example). That’s why I acknowledge your texts in my dispatch rather than texting back to you.

When I connect the satphone to my iPaq the phone is acting purely as a modem. My iPaq can’t ‘see’ the satphone as your PC might ‘see’ an iPod or PDA. So I can’t download texts from the satphone to the iPaq. If I want to keep a note of your words of wit and wisdom I have to copy them by hand into my logbook.

Iridium satphone courtesy of Gcomm, iPaq PDA from Explorers Web.

Another limitation of the satphone is that it can only hold a maximum of 29 text messages, which is why it causes me a problem if someone sends a message spread over 4 or 5 texts. I get my weather info via text and sometimes this can’t get through because the satphone has hit its mailbox limit. I have to clear down the messages a couple of times a day to make sure the vital ones can get through.

So if you have a longer message, it’s better if you use the Contact form on my website. This will also mean I have a permanent record of your email address, which I don’t have if you text me (unless I copy it down manually, which I haven’t been doing). Messages from the Contact page go to my land-based email address and my mother picks them up daily. She’ll either tell me about them, or forward them on to my top secret only-my-mother-knows expedition email address.

The reason I don’t give out the expedition email address to all and sundry is not because I’m getting above myself. It’s because these emails come through to my iPaq via the satphone link, and this link is extremely slow and extremely expensive ($1.50/minute).

This may all sound painfully low-tech, but believe it or not this is just about as good as expedition comms get. The Iridium satphone handset isn’t cheap – about ?1000 – but technology-wise it’s a long way behind land-based mobile phones.

Which reminds me… one final note. I think some of my friends have tried texting me on my normal mobile phone number. Errrr, it doesn’t work in mid-ocean. Not too many mobile phone masts out here. I’ll get those texts if/when I reach Antigua!

Text messages
Pro – I generally get them the day you send them, unless my phone has hit its limit of 29 messages
Con – only suitable for short messages, and I have to clear down the messages daily.

Contact form
Pro – better for longer messages, and I will have a permanent record of your email address and words of wisdom
Con – my mother gets to read it first, and may or may not send it on to me, depending on content and length (definitely nothing over about 8K)

And finally, if you do send me a text, do please remember to sign it, or at least enter your email address, or I won’t know who it’s from!

AH: you texted me about the difference between 100% and 99.23% being a very zen concept. I need to know more – very relevant to my next project. Can you send more (via contact form, please) or refer me to further reading?

Thanks for texts and/or Valentine wishes from Molly the teddy at Southbourne Juniors (I’ll get Monty back to you just as soon as I can), RJA, Julian, Celina & Barnaby Hamm, Penny, Nick, Matthew & Ben Collier, Malcolm Brookes, Sandi and the US fanclub (?!), Keith and Isabel Martin, Alasdair from Team Sevenoaks, Sarah Whittingham (you’re a dark horse! Great to hear from you), John T, Jeff (I’m sure it would be the only boat in the world called ‘Baboon Balls’. But I’m sure there are easier ways to become a celebrity!), Tim Ratbag (mmm, eating those yummy miles!), DB, Lizann, Ian Jackson, Rick, Margaret and Bob, Kevin, Natalie (four seasons in one day yesterday – didn’t know at the start of each shift whether to wear waterproof, windproof, t-shirt, or nothing!), HSS, Steve Duffy (keep me posted!).

B – I knew the rose was from you, really. You are daft – I’m not even there!

Rita Savage’s PS: A party to welcome Roz back from her voyage is being planned for March 23rd in London. See her Home Page for details.
Incase you haven’t discovered this: if you click on the pictures above you can see a larger version – much clearer- you can see Roz’ smile!

For GPS position, race position and miles from La Gomera, see

Wind: E, variable (estimate)
Weather: sunshine, squalls
Sea state: rough
Hours rowing: 12

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