Unusually, I am writing this blog mid-afternoon. Normally I wait until my day’s rowing is over and get out my laptop at about 9.30pm, but today the JUNK has asked me to stop rowing for a while so they can catch up with me, so I find myself with time on my hands – and even on the ocean I don’t like to waste time.
It would be amusing to watch the progress of our two vessels as radar blips or on a MarineTrack chart. Their top speed is about 2.8 kts, mine about 2 kts. We are two very slow-moving objects converging on each other ever so slowly, like two garden snails about to mate (do snails mate?!).
We met. Although for a while it looked as if it might be tomorrow. The wind dropped right off this afternoon, which isn’t a problem for a rower (apart from getting very hot without the cooling effects of the wind) but it is a problem for a sailboat – especially one built for a purpose rather than for speed – like the JUNK.
After hanging around for an hour waiting for them to catch up I spoke again to the JUNK, and we realized that if we wanted to meet today, and before dark, I would have to turn around and row back towards them. This caused me a minor personal crisis. After nearly three months of heading west, west, always west, it felt totally unnatural to turn the Brocade’s bows deliberately to point east.
But in the overall scheme of things, it seemed to be best to get over this mental obstacle and row back the way I had come. I was finding it unsettling today to be in close proximity to another boat, and much as I was looking forward to meeting Marcus and Joel, I was also looking forward to getting back into my routine and pushing on towards Hawaii. To extend this episode into tomorrow would mean another compromised day at the oars.
So east I went (and north) – and it was well worth it. It took some hard rowing to get close enough to the JUNK – and eventually Marcus jumped into the water and swam over with a thin line so we could connect the two vessels. I used my makeshift cleat to reel in the line to bring Brocade close enough to the JUNK for me to jump aboard their vessel.
And what a vessel she is. I am so glad to have seen her – or I may not have believed her. A raft supported by thousands of plastic bottles lashed into cargo nets, the fuselage of a small aircraft as a cabin, a plush pile bucket seat as a captain’s chair. The JUNK is very, errr, home-made, but all the more impressive for that very reason. I thought she was very cool indeed.
The Brocade bobbed around about 10 yards away at the end of her line. It was strange to see her from the outside – for the last 3 months she has been my entire world. She’s weathering well, and I felt quietly proud of her as she waited there patiently for me.
Marcus pulled up their dredger, which skims the surface of the water to gather plankton and debris. He showed me the results. They are finding more plastic than natural matter -which is sad. Tiny pieces of plastic, still recognizable, dotted the dredger’s haul.
After that it was on to the social part of the evening. I had a great time. Not so different from your average suburban dinner party, except that Joel hopped overboard with mask and snorkel to harpoon our main course – a huge mahi mahi, which went from ocean to stomachs in less than an hour. Joel kept asking if I wanted any more, and I kept saying yes, with the result that we had mahi mahi cooked 3 different ways. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I’d like to think it was my body craving protein, but more likely I was just being greedy!
Conversation revolved around the environment, the Garbage Patch (which Marcus knows well, after 3 trips there), and our respective plans for Hawaii. There is much overlap between our goals and objectives, so hopefully we can maximize the impact of our message by combining forces. We took a load of photos, recorded a video blog for their website, I wrote a good luck message on the fuselage, and just before sunset I returned to the Brocade. The guys had been wonderful hosts, and I went back to my oars with a full belly and a smile on my face.
As I rowed off into the sunset, I reflected that it had been a great evening, and quite surreal in its way – a dinner party on board a pile of junk in mid-Pacific, hundreds of miles from anybody or anywhere – but I still have many miles to go to Hawaii, and I can’t afford to ease up yet. It was good for the soul to have a night off, but tomorrow it will be back to business as usual.
[photo: Dr Marcus Eriksen inspects the haul from the water-skimmer: a mix of plastic and natural debris]
Position as at 2300 12th August Pacific Time, 0600 13th August UTC: 23 05.760’N, 147 15.961’W.
So today has been a bit of a disaster mileage-wise, but well worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a very special mid-ocean rendezvous with a couple of great guys.
Thanks to everyone who has voted for my project in the Amex awards. I can’t tell you how much a cash grant like this would help. Without it, I don’t have enough funds for the next 2 stages of the Pacific row – so do please spread the word amongst your friends and family – enabling me to carry on spreading the word about the oceans!
Hi Dana – no, no major muscle cramps. Just a few twinges from time to time – knees, fingers, back – but nothing serious. On the Atlantic I used nearly all the painkillers in my first aid kit. This time around, not one!
Eric – thanks for the recipe, but I brought only the main meals from the MRE packs. On the Atlantic I would make a kind of chocolate mousse from organic hot chocolate drink mixed with a little cold water, which was great. But very sugary, and I am now sworn off refined sugars! (unless we are talking about caramel syrup in a latte.)
Sandi – the Cotswolds? Lovely! I’m enjoying my virtual journey from Land’s End. Thank you!
Well done, Jonathan, on your epic bike ride for a good cause. Happy to be of service!
Hi also to Jennifer, JD, Ruth, Gene, George, Bev, and John.
Click here to view Day 80 of the Atlantic Crossing 18 February 2006: Waiting For News – but none came.
Thanks to Tim (webmaster) for putting the AMEX information on the home page – please remember to vote for the film project about Roz.
Also, take a look at the Books box on the website – it contains all the books that Roz has listened to while rowing – and if you wish to buy one, click on the title to go straight to Amazon (USA).
(These last 3 notes from Rita.)