Archive for May, 2011
Desperate to row but the weather is just …DESPERATE!
As any of you following the tracker will have seen, I am still in the same position, trapped on North Island. Well it is really starting to take on the mantle of prison right now. It’s an amazing place and the locals have been really amazing to me. More of that ANON but I am not here for a holiday. I am here to row an ocean. Unfortunately with all the delays that have happened it has put me a fair bit behind where I would have liked to have been by now. Mentally I can deal with that ok but the problem is that at this time of year all the weather I don’t want is becoming more frequent and is really stacking the odds against me. I need at least three to four days of decent south easterly or easterly winds to get me away from here and at the moment it is looking unlikely that this is going to happen until Friday of this week. I am desperate to get going but the weather is frankly just desperate.
It was a fairly bumpy night on the boat last night with the front passing over. Lots of rain pounding the cabin and a fair amount of lighting also! But I am getting to a stage where that is having less of an impact on me. It’s just a really frustrating time at the moment. I need to feel as if I am progressing towards Mauritius. Sitting about for a few days is all good but it also gives you a lot of time to think when you’re on your own doing nothing and sometimes this is not a good thing. I really just want to get on and do it now.
I have had a nice time since I have been here and as I said before the locals here have been fantastic in inviting to things and taking me out fishing etc. Mind you fishing out here is as someone recently said like digging for gold in fort Knox! It really doesn’t take a huge amount of skill to catch fish. I dropped my hand line in the first time and bang caught a fish inside two minutes. Over the day I managed to catch four. Two bald chin Gropper, A Spangled emperor and one I can’t remember the name of. All good fun!
So I am sitting waiting (albeit not so patiently) for the weather to do me a favour so I can get on with the challenge.
P.S. Please give what you can online to my charity. As that high street supermarket says… every little helps!
There are worse places!
So after getting out to the North Island yesterday I set about getting everything ready for departure this morning at 5.30 am. So I packed the boat and put the new rudder on and was set to go. The locals were all very welcoming and were all very curious to see another rower on the island having had Roz Savage here a few weeks back. As usual they all think I am mad but I am getting used to people coming to that conclusion. They were kind enough to invite me up to the local pub last night for a beer.
The final thing on my agenda was to check the weather one last time. Thankfully I did as there is some fairly bad weather on the way. The worst kind for me.. “WESTERLY’S” and strong ones! Upwards of 30 knots! All of that means, me leaving would be a futile exercise as I would end up back here in a few days anyway after rowing my heart out in the interim period. So discretion is the better part of valour in this case. I will have to try and be patient and wait it out. I need at least 3-4 days of fairly strong easterly or south easterly winds in order to get me far enough away from here that I won’t be pushed back if bad weather kicks in.
Last night I was joined for dinner by a very special guest. The local seal! He took great interest in me and the boat and in particular what I was eating. I tried explaining the freeze dried Spag Bol wouldn’t be his thing. His look seemed to suggest that he was keen on finding out for himself. At one point I thought he was going to climb on board. Made me laugh a lot. Talking to a seal is a new thing for me. So with that in mind I went to the pub as Mr. Seals conversation wasn’t up to much.
This morning I decided to go exploring my new little island. It’s about a half a mile wide and it’s surrounded by coral reef. Let’s face it “there are worse places I could be”! They even have an “airport”, although I would not like to be the pilot trying to land here. It’s a dirt track but I guess it does the job. So that’s about it from North Island, Abrohlos. I hope that my stay here isn’t a long one as I am really getting itchy feet to be back rowing.
Thanks again for all the comments and messages. I would ask one thing of everyone, if you could share my page with all your friends that would be great. As most of you will know while I am doing this row for personal reasons, I am also trying to raise as much money as I can for Keep a child Alive. I really would like to get my online total up as it looks pretty measly at the moment. So I thought if I could get as many people to donate just 10 Euro/£ it would make a massive difference to the lives of so many. While I am going through a bit of stress and hardship, it is nothing compared to what children affected by HIV are enduring in both India and Africa. Your 10 euro can make a massive difference.
Thank you everyone. Your support means a lot.
No rudder…No rowing
Just a quick update regarding my planned departure yesterday. Another spanner was firmly thrown in the works. Or rather rudder!!! If you have been on my Facebook page you will see the damage.
I had my gear all loaded up and had said my goodbyes to Ashely and his family (the family who have helped me so much since I got pushed back on the islands) and then I got a call from Ashely saying he thought the rudder looked like some of it was missing. I really just thought it was a case of his Australian sense of humour but to my horror, no such luck. The rudder was well and truly bashed. The entire piece under water was gone. I really don’t know how this happened but I guess it could have broken off the reef on the way back to Geraldton on Thursday. It’s not something which you would see as it’s under the water but thanks to Ashely it was noticed. I wouldn’t have known anything until instated rowing at north island this morning. By then it would have been impossible to get someone up there to fix it or make a new one. This would have meant coming back to Geraldton AGAIN.
Unfortunately all of this means a further delay. It’s really a test of patience right now. It’s getting more and more frustrating, particularly as the weather is exactly ideal for me to get a good distance away and off the shelf really quickly and finally on the road well and truly to Mauritius.
I took the rudder to a local specialist this morning and he is going to fix it for me. It will take a couple of days which may mean missing my next life up to north island and further delays. Hopefully not. Either way it will take at least three days for the fibre glass to cure, so I won’t be able to use the rudder even when it is made. The other major downside is it’s going to cost me a lot of money. Over 1000 maybe. That’s on top of all the money it’s cost me to get the AIS fixed and replace all of the damaged electrical equipment. Ocean rowing is NOT cheap nor is it for the faint hearted. But keeping positive in spite of it all. I will get to Mauritius. I have to get to Mauritius. Thanks to everyone for all the kind words of support. They mean a lot and are great motivation.
Day 9, 10, 11, 12 etc.
So, I am back on the mainland as no doubt you will have all seen on my tracker. Since my last update the weather has played havoc with my plans. On Sunday, I got my weather report which didn’t make for very good reading. A westerly wind for the next 4 days with North westerly’s thrown in for good measure! I was also told they would get up to 30 Knots and upwards maybe. All that meant the one thing I didn’t want…Going backwards and back on the self towards the islands AGAIN!
Overnight on Sunday I lost about 30 nautical miles that I had rowed even with the para anchor out. Then Monday brought more of the same. I tried to row every way I could to get some west ground but I was just going backwards. Not only that but I was going back fast. I called my weather/support person and we had a chat about what we should do. I knew if the weather played out as it was forecast there was a very real possibility I would be back playing chicken with the islands. Only one winner there to be fair! So instead of trying to get someone out to help me last minute in 30- 40 knot winds, we decided to make an early call and try to get someone to help me back into the islands. So
with a phone call to “duck” the local radio operator and all round man to contact if you need anything locally in Geraldton we managed to find someone who would be able to get to me on Tuesday about 12
midday. It would be an anxious wait overnight hoping the winds didn’t get up too high and push me too close to islands. Thankfully day break came on Tuesday after a sleepless night and I still had some ocean between me and land. About 12 midday “Centre point” arrived; a Cray fishing boat skippered my Ashley. He would tow me into his family camp on the Pelsaert group of islands.
Once I arrived on the islands I tried to work out a plan for departure again. What would be the best way to minimise the risk of having to get towed back to land again?? It would take a bit of thinking and some help from Ashley to sort out a definite plan. I stayed on the island until Thursday and although it was an unwelcome stop on my trip I was certainly made very welcome by all of Ashley’s family and friends. I guess I made for a somewhat unusual house guest.
Ashley would tow me back to Geraldton on Thursday when he was returning to his family home on the mainland. So Wednesday was spent getting the boat ready to be towed.
Unfortunately during the tow to the islands a fair amount of water leaked into one of the food hatches which in turn leaked into one of the interior hatches and in the process destroyed quite a few bits of equipment, chargers for laptop, IPAD, IPOD , Sat phone etc. I thought it was a case of the hatch not being closed but on arrival back in Geraldton I discovered more water in the hatches. So after drying everything out on the islands I would have to do it all again. This time however, they didn’t dry out. So it has cost me a bit of money to replace all the stuff and a fair amount of time.
Once I got to Geraldton on Thursday I realised just how much stuff had been ruined and would need to be replaced. It was fairly disheartening given everything else. It was also disappointing to be back in Geraldton again. But it’s all part of the challenge I guess. Ashley the skipper of the boat who towed me in without any hesitation took me
to his house and introduced me to his family, his two kids, Michael and Elizabeth and his wife Gaylene He was even good enough to have me stay there the last number of nights and has helped me get the boat ready for departure. He helped to find me a tow to the north island on Sunday. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Ashley and all his
family and friends who have been amazing all this week.
So as I have just mentioned I am being towed from Geraldton on Sunday up to the Northern most Abrohlos Island. I will row from there on Monday morning onward to Mauritius. The weather has become some changeable as we edge towards winter on this side of the world that really the best and most prudent decision is to get to north island and row from there. At the moment the forecast is predicting easterly winds for most of next week which means I should be able to make good ground to the west and north next week finally and hopefully getting away from the shelf and far enough away that I will not be coming back if the weather changes after that point. So fingers and toes crossed
everyone. This Monday (weather permitting) I will be back on the ocean rowing 12-14 hours a day.
If you’ve been following Keith’s location tracker you’ll know that he’s had to retreat back to land.
The weather he mentioned in his last blogpost took a turn for the worse and so it was the safest option for Keith. He’s not expecting the weather to change again (for the better) until the end of the week so he will have to wait at the islands for a few days.
In case any of you are wondering, this does not affect his world record attempt as he is not going for a speed related record.
You can also text message Keith for FREE! This is the best way to get your encouragement directly to him.
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In 2011 I am aiming to become the first Irish person to row solo across the Indian Ocean. Although this challenge is vastly different from everyday life for me, I believe I have the determination and sheer single mindedness to achieve my goal of becoming the first Irish person to row across the Indian Ocean, not only that but I will also be the first Irish person to attempt it solo. My other interests include snow boarding, playing guitar (badly), drama, flying and generally keeping fit.
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