Ahem. Today did not go quite according to plan. A couple of days ago I alluded to a scheme that was developing, with details to be announced soon. Today I was rather overtaken by events. So I apologize enormously if you have already heard this news from another source. The Rozling community should be the first to know, so I am seizing this first opportunity to get online to tell you what happened, and hope that you are hearing it here first.
The situation was this: after rowing 350 miles, with all my loops and turns I was still only about 100 miles from Fremantle and about 20 miles from the Australian coast. This was not a surprise – it was equally difficult getting away from the coast of California at the start of the Pacific row. But in the meantime it had become apparent that the locker containing my watermaker was not watertight. During that rough weather a week or so ago, the locker had flooded. This also happened during the departure from California, and I know from that experience that watermakers do not like being swamped. They tend to progressively deteriorate until they grind to a rusty halt.
So…. as I was still only 20 miles from land, and had 4,000 miles to go, and didn’t fancy having to hand-pump water for 2 hours a day if my electrical watermaker failed, it seemed sensible to return to port to pre-emptively head off the watermaker problem. I reckoned I could come in to shore, get the watermaker moved to a drier, safer location under the sleeping cabin, and then be on my way. I had asked June to stick around in Australia for an extra week to help coordinate, and she was on the case.
The coast here is liberally dotted with reefs and rocks, waiting to ambush the unwary ocean rowboat. So we decided, in the interests of safety, that I would come in at the earliest opportunity. So today I took a tow in to the coastal town of Leeman with a crayfish boat called Point Break.
However, this mundane little stopover for maintenance turned into rather a drama. The first clue came when a news helicopter turned up overhead as I was being towed in. As I arrived at the jetty in Leeman (pop. 300) a fair proportion of the town was waiting for me, as well as several camera crews. I don’t know how the word got out, but get out it certainly did. It was all very embarrassing.
I actually felt quite bad for the news crews. Headline: “Ocean Rower Stops For Boring Boat Maintenance”. It must have been a quiet day for news. And it was the Anzac national holiday too, so all in all, if it was a quiet little stopover I was looking for, I couldn’t have picked a worse day.
Yet, even though I would have preferred a low profile, the people of Leeman have been wonderful. All and sundry mucked in today for the rather complicated operation of getting the boat out of the water and onto a flatbed. (I had to close my eyes during this. It was touch-and-go whether the boat would come up, or the crane truck would go in. Visions of truck landing on boat and both going to the bottom of the harbour.) Tonight June and I are staying at the home of Don and Margaret Ferguson, my boat is on a trailer parked at the front of their house, and tomorrow we will drive her up to Geraldton. The plan is to get the work done asap and be on my way in less than a week.
So there we go. That is my news. Not really worth the 3 helicopters and numerous reporters that covered it. They say that all publicity is good publicity, but all I wanted to do today was demand to know why they weren’t covering the really big story: “Human beings render planet uninhabitable for their species”. Now THERE would be a headline worthy of the name.