Tropical Wet & Cold
30 August 2001 | 42 46.96' N, 157 04.20' W
Well there appears to be nothing Tropical about the Sub Tropical High - it's freezing up here. It rains or drizzles pretty much all of the time so when rowing we are constantly wet and the windchill drops our body temperatures right down. Our hands and feet are constantly white and soggy taking about two of our three hours off watch to warm up, after an hours bliss it's back outside for another three hours. The rowing now leaves us very tired and our bodies ache more each day. So, you'd imagine us to be miserable and feeling a bit down.....not a bit of it, the winds are predominantly Westerly and wearing big boots. At the moment we're zipping along at 2.5 - 3 knots (fast for us) with our daily average of nearly 50 miles taking us just over 40 miles closer to San Francisco each day. Spirits are high and we're looking at a mid October landfall at our current rate of progress.
However, we're not that pleasant to be around during the dog watch - two grouchy old men. Many of you will by now be aware that we've problems with our second laptop which are affecting our email links. XJournal entries from now on will be sent via satfone and transcribed prior to posting to the web. Soon we'll be sending photo's via our live video satellite link with 7E Communications. Luckily we sent Al some extra photos earlier in the trip for just such an occurrence. The down side is that we're not getting all of the messages from you, messages which have always been good morale fuel. We look forward to reading and replying to them all once we're back on dry land.
Another setback has also come to light this week; our stove is on the way out due to salt-water corrosion so we don't know how many days with hot meals we have left. It has started to burn a lot more fuel than it should with a pathetic flame. We've done trials on re-hydrating our food in cold water and leaving them a few hours with successful results. There's nothing like a hot meal and coffee though to boost flagging spirits - dig deep Royal Marines.
The wildlife is not as prolific here at present; we've not seen dolphins or whales for over a week now. The odd timid shark lazily flops his way past us or can be observed chewing barnacles off some piece of flotsam before he spies us and scoots off. They are nothing like the scary fearful killers of the sea we'd expected - more like a bunch of pathetic sharks. Even Dom is starting to lose his fear of them!
Looking back over past XJournal postings I have noticed, as I'm sure you have, that Doms entries always end with a Jerry Springer like "final thought". I don't know where he gets them from, I reckon he brought a list out with him, anyway, I'm not very good at that sort of thing but let's have a go;
"If in life you are ever faced with a difficult problem, go and have a beer and it won't seem so tough, preferably in the Blue Boar Public House where you can toast our health with the best barmaid in Poole".
Until two weeks time our best wishes to you all but especially to Clare (AAD). Tim
Support Team Notes:
Dog Watch - There are 7 watches in the day. The dogs are a 2 hour split of the 1600-2000 slot (1600-1800 and 1800-2000) and ensure that crews do not have the same watch on successive days. The dogs are a classic time for chewing the fat after a working day and before going to bed - hence the slot for whinging. (corrected by Tony Higham).
Whilst the second laptop is to any normal user dead and beyond resurrection - the Team has the good fortune to receive the attentions of several world-class experts to assist in ongoing attempts to revive the system. The Team extends a special thanks to Microsoft UK for a two-hour conference call which linked their support team to our base and the rowers. A special thanks to Paul Goundry a senior Technician who took a personal interest in doing all he could for us before identifying a hardware fault. Paul discussed the problem late one evening prior to arranging the conference call for the next morning, having made this his first priority call of the day after a night pondering, his disappointment was so deep that Tim and I had to spend several minutes reassuring him that he'd done more than anyone could have expected. We'll keep you posted on our progress, (or the depth at which the laptop is finally despatched:-)
The subheading refers to a Royal Marine joke about the age old manner in which Sergeant Majors, Officers and the like enquire after the mens welfare when visiting the "men in the trenches", typically the standard questions to them would be, "boots fit? socks dry? mail getting through?". The same questions are still asked today but with wry smiles all round, the answer is invariably no to all, but it's nice to be asked.
Finally a big thanks from the Support Team for all your kind words and offers of assistance.