Woodside, California

Many thanks to all who have exercised their minds and Googles to help me find lead shot to ballast my boat. It has been a huge assistance and much appreciated. I am happy to announce that, as of today, the problem is resolved.

Ken, whose comments you may have seen on this site, put me onto a supplier in LA. So I then emailed Paul at the LA Adventurers Club (where I spoke last year) to ask if any of his members fancied a journey up the coast to deliver 200lb of lead shot. Funnily enough, they didn’t, but he was able to suggest another company in Santa Rosa, called Santa Rosa Lead Products (!). He also gave me a contact number and suggested I call Adrianne, whom he had already warmed up by telling her my story. Luckily she had also read about me in the local press, so she was delighted to be able to help.

They have given me a discount on the lead, and are also going to deliver it free of charge – which is wonderful, because the shipping would have been prohibitive.

So it is due to be delivered later this week.

Meanwhile, Nancy has been hard at work over the weekend, building a new skeg for the boat, extending the existing shape of the hull downwards to create more stability and hopefully also to keep the stern into the wind, which as well as further increasing stabililty (the waves passing harmlessly along the sides of the Brocade rather than slamming into her from the side) might earn me a few extra miles – making up for the slowing effect of the lead.

We are also looking at the feasibility of taking carbon fibre oars as my spares, rather than the heavy wooden ones that last year added so much weight up high, turning the Brocade into a kind of metronome – all that weight up top made her very unstable and vulnerable to capsize.

The problem here is that the primary oars use a different kind of oarlock than the carbon fibre oars, but one of my noble volunteers, Reuben from the Dolphin Rowing Club, is investigating the feasibility of a sleeve insert that will enable me to substitute one kind of oarlock for another.

The spare oars would only be required if I lose or break one of the primaries – and if the weather is rough enough to break a solid ash oar with carbon fibre wrap, then it’s a bad day at the office…

[photo: what we’re trying to avoid – a carbon fibre oar breaks during the Atlantic crossing. This is why I now have heavy, but well-balanced, wooden oars.]

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