Yesterday morning everything was well with my world. I had carved a
near-perfect course from Geraldton, arcing just north of the Abrolhos
Islands, and making a respectable 60 nautical miles in two days. The sun
was shining and it seemed that finally I was about to get out into the
open ocean where I could start to relax.
Then I decided to recharge my laptop while the sun was at its peak, the
best time to use the power from my solar panels, and while I was in the
cabin setting up the power inverter for recharging it occurred to me
that I really ought to have check the ship’s batteries. I should really
have been doing this every day as part of my routine, but the battery
monitor hadn’t been working since Hawaii in 2009 so I had fallen out of
I turned on the battery monitor. It was showing just 11.4V for each of
the batteries, nowhere near the healthy 12.5V or so that I would have
expected in full sunshine with not a cloud in the sky. There was clearly
I got that horrible panicky feeling in my chest that I get whenever
electricals or technology start to fail me. I resisted the urge to stick
my head in the (metaphorical) sand and ignore the problem. This was
I called Glenn, the electrician in Geraldton who worked on my watermaker
there. We had a sort of conversation, but made little progress. He
speaks electricianish, which is a foreign language to me. Sorry to sound
so, well, blonde about it, but despite my many attempts, I seem to have
a mental block when it comes to electrical matters. We left it that I
would wait another couple of hours and report back on the status of the
Coming back on deck after our call, I spotted a sliver of land on the
horizon. Ah! Maybe this was my lifeline, my last chance saloon for help
before 4,000 miles of open ocean. I checked on the GPS, and
confirmed that I was just 3 miles north of the Abrolhos Islands. I called
Glenn back, he said he could be on the first flight out the next morning
(today) and could even arrange a tow-in to the islands if I wanted it. Cool.
So I found myself on the North Island of the Abrolhos, a beautiful
island of sandy beaches, a few beach houses (or “camps” as they call
them here), and a small population of crayfishermen, temporarily boosted
by a few wives and children still here after the Easter weekend.
And all is now well. It was one of those issues that is difficult to
find, but then thankfully easy to fix. A controller for the solar
panels, which acts a bit like a trip switch, had tripped out and had to
be reset. I felt absolutely vindicated in the decision to stop and call
in Glenn to resolve the problem. There is no way he could have talked me
through it over the phone. I know that in a perfect world I would be
capable of maintaining absolutely every aspect of my boat. What can I
say? I never claimed to be perfect.
Poor Mum. I’m causing her major headaches here in the administration of
sponsored miles. Is that miles from Freo, miles from Geraldton, or miles
from North Island?! So long as everybody gets thanked, at around the
right time, I hope you will make allowances for the administrative
nightmare that this has become!
Many, many thanks to Mike and Cath Davidson, who have provided bed,
board, and crayfish tails during my unscheduled sojourn on North Island.
Mike has towed in two other ocean rowing crews over the last few years,
which just goes to show how common it is for things to go wrong rather
As Mum said when I spoke to her from their phone last night, I seem to
be incredibly lucky at finding the nicest people everywhere I go. A
truer word was never spoken.
Sponsored Miles – rowed by Roz since departing from Fremantle! More coming up when she starts rowing again. (Rita Savage.)