Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 56 - Dog Days In The Doldrums

I am not a big fan of the ITCZ. The blue skies, wispy clouds and brisk
breezes of the tradewinds seem a long time ago, and I have spent too
long already meandering around in this gloomy Equatorial belt of
lowering black clouds, fickle winds and frequent rain squalls. No wonder
the sailors of yesteryear used to dread the doldrums.

Today has been another day of frustrations.

6am: Wake to find that I have achieved my biggest ever overnight mileage
– in completely the wrong direction. Am now 15 miles further away from
Tuvalu than I was when I went to bed.

8.30am: Have spent two hours slogging into headwind for negligible gain.
Consider putting out the sea anchor for the first time this voyage. Have
morale-boosting breakfast of hot porridge.

10.30am: Fortified by porridge, had decided not to put out sea anchor
but to carry on rowing. Wind is backing from SW to SE, which is not
great but is marginally better.

1pm: The wind carried on swinging around to East, allowing me to make
some good progress south, but now a very big black squall has hit, with
rain and winds gusting over 30 knots. Retreat to cabin.

2.30pm: Squall over, but it has broken the wind, so to speak. Squalls
often leave very changed conditions in their wake. The wind has gone
from easy East back to sodding South. Resume the slog.

4pm: Another squall. Unfortunately it doesn't change the wind back
again. In fact, now there's no wind at all. But that's okay. Manage to
make some progress south.

7pm: Take break for dinner. Another hot meal – freeze-dried chicken pot
pie this time. Discover crunchy veg snacks Ellen gave me in Hawaii. Very
good indeed. Feel quite cheerful, but as I'm eating the wind rises
dramatically. There is nothing else for it – I'm going to have to put
out the sea anchor. Sigh.

Sea anchors and I have a bad history. If you've seen the video of me
clambering over the roof of the fore cabin, knife in teeth, that was to
deal with a sea anchor. I've also had sea anchors fray through their
line, twist themselves into all kinds of unfeasible contortions, and
generally cause me headaches and hassle.

So far this voyage I haven't needed to use the sea anchor, but I'm not
keen to repeat last night's fiasco. So out it went, just as the light
was fading. To my puzzlement and consternation, it has caused my course
to shift from NW to due north, now veering slightly around to the east.
I might even cross over the exact spot where I was about 4 hours ago.
This was not at all the intended effect. But there's not much else I can
do. Lord only knows where I'll be by tomorrow morning… back in Hawaii,
at this rate.

[photo: last turtle picture for now - with a closeup of the fish that is
prime suspect for the indecent assault on my derriere a few weeks ago.
Hunter – a wrasse on my ass, or a remora on my rump?! The wrasse
definitely rhymes better, and looking at this picture the suspect looks
quite wrasse-like to me. There was another one attached to my boat.
Maybe they've set up shop as a cleaning station right here under
Brocade?]

Other Stuff:

Birdbrain the booby bird has deserted me. Maybe he was fed up with the
doldrums too. This afternoon he flew a few circuits of the boat, making
as if to land but then skimming away again. Each time he passed over me
I looked up in trepidation, worried he might choose that precise moment
to release a poop bomb. But he didn't, and then he was gone. It's been
several hours now since I last saw him. I feel almost sad. Abandoned,
rejected, bereft. To remind me of his sojourn on board Brocade I have
only a few white streaks on the fore cabin … and a very bad smell.

For those not familiar with sea anchors (and why should you be, come to
think of it), picture a round parachute, about 10 feet diameter, on the
end of a 100-yard long rope. And that's about it. It's attached by the
rope to the bow of my boat, and is deployed underwater to grab hold of a
big chunk of ocean and stop the boat from being blown too far by the
wind. When I need to pull it back on board, it has a tripline attached
to the apex of the parachute. When I pull on the tripline (which is also
attached back at the boat) the chute collapses like an umbrella being
closed, so it can then be pulled back on board. That's the theory.
Reality sometimes differs.

Thanks, Kevin, for the latest Hawaiian lesson. This week's word is noke
– very apt for today. To persist, continue, repeat, persevere, keep on;
perseverance, persistence. I will, although it's just as well I don't
have any choice in the matter…

Roztafarians.
Rozionados.
Rozlings.
Rozaholics (Anonymous).
So now we're spoiled for choice!

Thank you, wm.spinks, and everyone else who is not only supporting me,
but is telling other people about what I am doing and why. I really
appreciate the word of mouth – it all helps to spread the message in the
most effective way known to humankind. And thanks also to the people who
have signed up to support my mission on a regular basis. You are very,
very kind, lovely people!

Hi, Jeremy Stuart – looking forward to catching up the next time I am in
the Bay Area.

Stuart Coleman in Hawaii – lovely to hear from you! Thanks for the words
of encouragement. Hope the new book is selling well.

Walt – thanks for all the info on turtles as totems. Great stuff. You
asked about my association with NOAA – I've had contact with many people
in the organization, but no kind of sponsorship arrangement as yet –
although I would be very interested to find out more.

Evan – I would LOVE to see a leatherback turtle. 9 foot across – wow!
I'd be tempted to lasso him and hitch a ride! (although if he's
endangered I suppose that would be frowned on). Thanks for the great
info about how to conserve these amazing creatures.

Joan – GREAT idea about the Buy Roz A Drink party! Boy, by the time I
get out of this ITCZ, I'll have earned it…!

Quick answers to quick questions:

Q: I know you have blogged that on this leg of the journey, the
temperature has been quite high, but I was wondering if hypothermia has
been a concern on any of your crossings. Do you have a way to warm up if
you should need to?
A: Leaving from San Francisco I got seriously cold – particularly after
the sun set. Fortunately I've got the world's best sleeping bag for the
ocean, from Ocean Sleepwear. It's lined with super-thick fleece, two
layers, inside a waterproof outer shell. I could crawl in there cold,
wet and clammy, and in a while I'd be all warm and toasty. Bliss!

Q: I am not an engineer but I have been wondering why the aft cabin on
rowing boats are larger than the fore cabin? If the fore cabin was
larger(like on a pocket sailboat) it would seem to handle a headwind
better and give a slight push with a tailwind.
A: I was wondering exactly the same thing myself, as I slogged my way
into a headwind today. I don't know, because I'm not an engineer either.
Maybe some advantage to having the weight (of a sleeping person) in the
stern, and the sleeping cabin needs to be higher?

Weather report:

Position at 2220 HST: 05 08.817N, 175 29.101W
Wind: 0-30kts, mostly S, sometimes W, rarely E, never N
Seas: 3-6ft from NE
Weather: Overcast, low cloud cover, occasional squalls

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com

As of Thursday, 15 July 2009. Wind predictions will be with an added
level of uncertainty due to the naturally occurring variable conditions
in the equatorial regions. From satellite data, it appears enhanced
convective activity was centered along 170W extending past the dateline
to 170E. Winds mostly NEerly direction shift to Serly by 18 Jul
noontime, then back to Nerly by 19Jul0900HST. Speeds should be in the
5-10kt range with periods of calm. Seas 1-4ft.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy to overcast with low level clouds.
Scattered rainshowers, squalls, and possible thunderstorms. Wind speeds
in these systems 40kts.

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has once again become
more active over your rowing area. Southern edge of the ITCZ axis trails
off at 180E/W and 00 30S.

Ocean Current: North Equatorial Counter Current (NECC). No change from
earlier discussions. You are approaching the northern boundary of the E
flowing current. Northern boundary is about 05 00N extending to the
southern boundary near 00 30S. Current speeds increases to Eerly 0.1 to
0.2, then builds to a maximum near 0.6 to 0.8kts from 02 30N to 01 00N
then fades to 0.1 to 0.2 near the southern boundary. There are periodic
fluctuations in these dimensions.

Forecast
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
16/1800-17/0600 NE-E 5-15 2-4
17/0600-18/1200 E-S 0-10 1-3
18/1200-20/0600 S-N 5-10 2-4
20/0600-21/1800 N-S 0-7 1-3

Next Update: Monday, 20 July

13 comments:

  1. Chicken pot pie does sound great after a very frustrating day at sea. How long does it take you to pull the sea anchor back onboard?


    ~ Gregory

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:46 am GMT

    Perhaps Roz opted for wrasse because she was being harrassed by this creature!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good morning, Roz! Looks like the sea anchor was worth the effort. You're not back in Hawaii yet.

    I guess your trip through the ITCZ is likely to look like a drunken stagger through 5 degrees of latitude on the Roz Tracker, so we'll have a party to match when you get through.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thaaaat's the spririttt ... hick!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hang in there Roz you will get there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The boat is designed for getting over waves and depends on a certain amount of weight in the stern for ballast to keep the rudder and keel in place so the craft doesn't experience too much leeway. In the current set up, Roz is pulling her self along, quite like the turtle. Were the bow the bulky part, she would for all intents be pushing into an oncoming swell and have less control in a following sea. Windage does play a part, but Roz's boat has done well so far. Olly Hicks, who recently tried to row in the Southern ocean was unable to row to windward at all due to a design flaw giving his boat too much surface area or "windage" to overcome. Roz's boat has got her this far and will no doubt bring her to safe harbor as she knows what she is about.
    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sorry, Roz, the latest picture almost clinches it...it's a remora. A rear-riveting remora in your case!

    Further digging on the web, I've found that little remoras will attach even into the gills of their hosts.

    Of particular note for the one on your boat is that the remoras relationship with its host is one of commensalism...you as it's host get nothing from the relationship. In fact, in ancient times, the remora was believed to stop a ship from sailing and was called a "ship-holder". All this from this website.

    So, if you start getting a little superstitious out there, remove the remora.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Roz, from the breadcrumbs on RozTracker, it looks like today is another struggle for you. But your bearing seems to be a good strategy ... and this is coming from a total amateur mind you:

    Aim for Tahiti and you may be setting up for Tuvalu.

    Bora Bora is 2,202 miles ESE (129 deg) so don't even think about spending a week in a Tahitian Paradise -- well, not this year! But have hope that you will be in a Tuvaluan Paradise soon.

    One of the trailers at the movies is "Where The Wild Things Are" and it has this theme ...

    Inside all of us is HOPE
    Inside all of us is FEAR
    Inside all of us is ADVENTURE

    You have it all, Roz, and more: TENACITY and COMMUNITY

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous3:03 am GMT

    Not such a good day but a beautiful picture of the turtle. Whenever someone has a challenging time to look forward to, I always tell them...just think of the great story you will have to tell when it is done.
    After your backside attack I mentioned it to a "fish person". His first thought was that it had been a remora. I'm glad to read that one of your knowledgeable followers has confirmed that. Pt Reyes was beautiful today...thought of you out on the ocean. And I'm home now having a cold beer. I know how good that is going to feel when you make landfall. But in the meantime...enjoy the ride. I tell everyone about your adventure and your cause. Take care.
    Cindy M from Marin

    ReplyDelete
  11. Karen of TaoBeez7:51 am GMT

    Hi Roz, New Zealand had an earthquake recently and it triggered a very small tsunami.If a large tsunami came through your rowing area, would you even notice it or just glide over it as over a very big swell?
    Glad to know you are OK and happily following your progress. Karen

    ReplyDelete
  12. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Betty

    http://smallpet.info

    ReplyDelete
  13. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Betty

    http://smallpet.info

    ReplyDelete

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