Day 24 – I am a wallowing hippo (but also a speedboat)

4 March 2013

Rest and exertion, dream and reality, loneliness and happiness, danger and safety, these are some of the opposites I am experiencing, but when I cannot see the water and only hear the noise, I feel as if I am a speedboat. In the light, I can see I am a wallowing hippo and it's the noise of the waves passing me that add noise and effect. When the light is taken away, I really feel the strength of the ocean, it's forces and noise and feel somewhat vulnerable. The first thing I do when I put my head out of the hatchway is to belt myself up so that I am always attached to the boat when I am on deck. As long as I do this, it will not matter how violent or rough the conditions are, or if I have a fall, I will be ok as the boat can withstand everything, except maybe a tanker and I'll always be attached to her.

I have a system called AIS which stands for Automatic Identification System. It alerts me when there is another ship in the area. The range can be up to 30 miles, yet I have not seen anything. On my first row in 2010, I came across maybe 6 ships and had a close encounter with one of them. Where are they all now? It really is quite eerie. My next obstacle is The Researcher Ridge which I am due to go over late tomorrow. The ridge has a series of under water mountains which can cause rough seas and opposing currents. It runs east to west for 300 miles, each end being marked by a huge navigation buoy with flashing lights. I will going over the lower mountain which is only 731m below the surface. Just before and after it, the depth is over 3400m, so it's taller than Ben Nevis by a long way. Dramatic? Well it is compared to the rest of the sea bed around here. This could be tough if I don't have any wind, as I remember fighting opposing currents about 300 miles out from Antigua in light airs. And guess what? The wind is down now and not forecast to increase until Thursday or Friday!

I am in the mind "what ever happens will happen" now and have stopped worrying about fighting everything in my path. All I want to do is look after myself sensibly as I think I have done enough to bag some time and put in in the Bank. (Poul Ricard will like this!) I keep on checking all the maintenance issues like the rowing pins and gates, sliding seat, power management and nursing my sores and drinking fluid. Not much else I can do.

Tea bag situation – 7 bags left, not good. I opened the coffee for the first time last night and had one..not good either, the Marvel doesn't mix. Bovril – found it by the centreboard and threw it over the side as there were so many complaints from Bill, Ian, Dottie and many more. My favourite new thing – Mother gave me several bags of bird seed to eat! Quite extraordinary really, but it is actually rather good. There is one called Munchy Seeds covered in Belgian chocolate and mixed with ginger. mmmmm! She thinks of everything, bless her.

I was on BBC Radio Essex this morning, but the line was bad and we were cut off. To all the listeners of The Ray Clark Show, thank you for all your messages and support. Ray managed to read most of them to me. I am an Essex boy through and through and love to share my experiences with you. I hope that you are enjoying following the little marker across the map on the website....nearly there.

How does that work?? I have a special independent box no bigger than a mobile phone strapped to the back of my boat. I charged it up before I left and it is still running off it's own juice. It is called Yellowbrick! It is a very clever tracking device which can transmit signals as much as twice an hour. This signal goes to the office of Yellow Brick Tracking in Billericay, yes another fantastic Essex Business, and they engineer our website to update automatically. This equipment is not expensive, is totally waterproof and almost bomb proof so if anyone wants to track themselves for any kind of adventure, these are the wizards to visit.

Oops, over done my blog and running late, forget the pudding!