I feel the need to make a confession. There’s something I’ve been keeping very quiet about. (Podcast listeners will already know this.) On 1st July my backup watermaker broke, and has not worked since.

There I was, sitting on deck, pumping steadily on the manual watermaker, when the water stopped dripping from the product pipe and started spouting from the innards of the machine instead. There was no sense of panic – just a weary resignation. I immediately started calculating whether I had enough water to see me to Hawaii, and worked out that I might, but it would be tight.

More out of a sense of due diligence rather than in realistic expectation of a repair, I called the manufacturers of the manual watermaker. They told me that I would need specialist tools and/or parts – which I had not brought with me because the manual watermaker was only ever intended as a backup for use in emergencies. To lose one watermaker may be regarded as unfortunate; to lose two. The customer service representative offered to fix the manual watermaker if I sent it in. I didn’t go into detail, but simply stated that this might be tricky.

So for the last 6 weeks I have been living on my supplies of ballast water. I tried to improvise a solar still but it was not a resounding success – certainly not enough water to survive on. I am now down to my penultimate 10 litre water sac. I could have made it to Hawaii without resupply, but would have had to go on half rations for the last two weeks – which in tropical heat would have been survivable but not fun. I have marveled, every time I look at my 10 litre jerrycan, that while on dry land I probably use this much water every time I flush the toilet, out here on the ocean it would have to keep me going for a week.

The reason I kept quiet? I didn’t want to cause any undue concern. The reason I am telling you now? Because everything is now OK.

For many reasons I was delighted to see the JUNK yesterday. During our phone conversations over the previous few days, we had established that they had a functioning watermaker with which we could refill my jerrycans and waterbags, and also a manual spare watermaker which they were willing to lend me.

In return, their voyage was taking much longer than expected and they were running short on food, while I have plenty. So I donated them three bagfuls (biodegradable bags, of course) containing emergency transfusions of expedition meals, Larabars, and jerky.

I somehow knew that everything would turn out OK, that fortune does indeed favour the bold and that I would not die of dehydration out here. As it is, I got to meet two like-minded individuals who are also crossing the Pacific to raise awareness of marine pollution issues – and the fact that we were able to help each other out by trading food for water was a huge bonus. It was statistically unlikely that we would find our courses intersecting, and yet here we are.

I am constantly amazed and grateful, since I started out on my new life path, how often things turn up just when I need them. It reinforces my chosen belief that this is indeed a benevolent universe, and that potential catastrophes (broken watermakers) are often an opportunity for something wonderful to happen.

[photo: the message on my drinks bottle is pretty uncompromising.]

Other stuff:

Position at 2150 13th August Pacific Time, 0450 14th August UTC: 23 04.302’N, 147 50.325’W.

AMEX GRANTS

I’ve asked a number of favours from you already – to make a Blue Pledge, to donate to my wheelchair-bound friend David’s hand bike – but I have one more. It’s really important to me, and won’t cost you a penny. Amex are giving substantial grants to worthy causes, based purely on popular vote via the internet. We have made an application – if successful, I will be able to carry on with the next 2 stages of my Pacific row to Australia, and we will be able to make an environmental documentary based on the row. Without it. . . .

I need to be in the top 25 by 19th August to make it onto the shortlist, and then in the top 5 to get any funding. So please, please, please register your vote. And get EVERYBODY you know to vote too.

(To Vote: On the home page of this blog, go to the “Members Project” box, on the Amex site find the invitation to sign on as a guest in the column on the right. Having done so, the place to vote is at the top right of their page. Easy, and costs you nothing.)

Thank you.

Thank you also for the lovely messages that continue to pour in. Special mentions to John, Toni, Steve, Bev, Jim, Gene – and especially Sky. I hope to see you and Steve back on the mainland later this year.

Click here to view Day 81 of the Atlantic Crossing 19 February 2006: Silent Sunday. Again no news from 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) or order the audio version for your iPod from Audible.com

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