Yesterday was my 27th birthday! We celebrated with my second hot meal of the trip (chicken risotto with a can of tuna courtesy of Charlie Pitcher), and the opening of a couple of presents and cards that I had stashed away long ago in Geraldton. Thank you to those who sent their good wishes, it helped make what will be a birthday I will never forget! The Indian Ocean also gave me a present; not long after hitting midnight on the 3rd, the winds and swell picked up and we spent the day making good headway towards Mauritius. This will hopefully mark a change in the weather for the rest for the trip. The joy of speeding along came with a small price to pay however – rain. And I mean lots of rain! So much rain that I now know how the Indian Ocean got here in the first place.
Throughout the day and last night there was a constant deluge of more water than Ted or I had ever experienced, the footwell of our boat – which is about the size of a small bathtub and where our life raft sits, filled to the brim in a matter of minutes, and due to lack of power to run the bilge pump, one would periodically have to stop rowing to bail out the water with a bucket – so as to avoid hulking an extra 100kg to Mauritius. The rain has also brought other issues; The cabin has returned to its sauna like state and it has been raining so heavily that visibility has been reduced to about 50 yards, so we made the decision to run our chart plotter over night so we could see any surrounding ships on our AIS system and avoid being mown down in the storm. Overnight I am glad to say we came across no ships, but the added power usage hammered our battery situation, and given the rain and cloud cover, our one remaining battery is taking its time to recover. This means no water and no sign of being able to run the water maker for the foreseeable future. So after a quick tot up of how much water we have left on the boat, about 30L in total (enough for 3-4 days rowing) and 500 miles still to cover, we cracked open the hand powered desalinator. This looks like an oversized bicycle pump that dribbles water out at a rate of roughly 4L an hour of hard pumping. Needless to say on first efforts this failed to work too. But after a quick call to water maker guru, Jim Macdonald of Mactra Marine we were up and running. We made 4L of water and hopefully the battery will recover through out tomorrow and we can go back to using some mod cons!
We now have less than 500 nautical miles to Mauritius and we are maintaining some resemblance of boat speed. We are gearing up for the final few days meaning that we are eating as much extra food as possible (hopefully we will have enough) and the focus is very much on really pushing the boat on and fighting to get to Mauritius as soon as we can.
I have also had a few issues keeping myself entertained at night, I was using Spotify for music, however after 30 days this cut out as my phone has not been connected to the Internet so I was left to work my way through some podcasts, desert island discs and one very special audiobook recorded by my close friends, all of which have been particular highlights, however I have now exhausted these. Ted has very kindly lent me an iPod shuffle however there is only so much One Direction a man can endure!
We would like to thank The Foyle Foundation and IDCM both for their hugely generous donations to MSF driving our fundraising efforts forward and making a huge difference to countless lives around the globe.
We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Mark Boullé at Beachcomber Resorts, one of our sponsors who is providing accommodation at their Trou aux Biches Beachcomber resort for when we arrive in Mauritius. Judging from their website and their reputation, this promises to make the memories of the discomfort of our challenge fade, as we focus on replacing the weight we have lost in double quick time – and of course there are the clean sheets and more than an hour of sleep at any one time to look forward to!
Back to the oars/water pump
Jack and Ted