Yesterday afternoon I arrived in Perth, Western Australia, for the final three months of preparation for Eat Pray Row, my bid to row from Australia to India. June arrived from San Francisco a day before me – she will be working with me over few months to help with logistics and anything and everything else. She and one of our local helpers, Margot, picked me up from the airport.
I didn’t have much time to recover from the flight – we had to head straight from the airport to the P&O Terminal to pick up my boat and move her to the Royal Perth Yacht Club Annexe before P&O closed for the day. Craig Rourke, who has been babysitting my boat since she arrived in the container from Papua New Guinea showed us to a corner of the huge warehouse – and there she was, looking very familiar but rather more shabby than I remembered her.
We hadn’t had the time or the infrastructure to refurbish her in Kiribati, and the final stage of the row + a 2,700 mile journey + a few months in a busy commercial warehouse have done little to enhance her looks. She is rusty, dirty, and badly in need of repainting. In theory it doesn’t really matter what she looks like, but in practice it’s very important for crew morale (not to mention photo opps) that she looks shipshape and pretty. So I hope I can raise enough money for a paint job.
But the more immediate problem was that the trailer’s towing hitch had got dinged during her stay in the warehouse, breaking the pin, so there was no way we could attach it to the towbar of the car. So she has had to stay put for now. Craig very decently confessed that the damage had happened after her arrival, and promised that they would put it right. It will just take a day or two.
So the first task now is to mobilise the Australian network. Sarah Outen has been really helpful in introducing me to her local contacts, amongst them Brit Clem Rogers at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, who was our next port of call (so to speak) yesterday. Dubbed by Sarah “the man who can”, he could not have been more helpful.
And many more folks are coming forward to help. In the car yesterday Margot, June and I were talking about the perils and pleasures of travel, and how when you get into a fix someone or something always materialises to help out. I will never cease to be amazed, impressed, and heartwarmed by the kindness of strangers.
First things first. I needed to get my iPhone fully functional, because the next few months are going to be intense and I need my personal technology up and running. June and I spent a very productive half hour in the Telstra store this morning securing Australian prepaid SIM cards for our iPhones, and a mobile WiFi unit.
At last I have a semi-decent internet connection. I’m sitting in a cafe next door to Perth’s Apple Store, freeloading off their WiFi connection. So at last I’ve been able to upload my slideshow of the highlights of 2010. Enjoy!