Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 85 - Barnacles on my Bottom

I was none too keen on the idea of going over the side to scrub
barnacles off Brocade's bottom, but my little bit of underwater
photography a couple of days ago had shown that the barnacle situation
was getting serious, and I was concerned that my underwater hitchhikers
might be causing extra drag and slowing me down. And obviously with a
high-speed, hell-for-leather expedition like this (???!!!) every second
counts. So it was time to overcome my abhorrence of strange leech-like
fish attaching themselves to my nether regions and brave the waters once

I put on a pair of lycra shorts to protect myself from any particularly
personal assaults, and took the plunge. I could feel some fish tickling
around my legs, but it wasn't too bad at first. Then I saw the first of
the little remoras, wiggling away as hung on to the side of the boat. I
don't know what it is about these small grey fish, but I just find them
absolutely repulsive. There is something about their wiggliness, as well
as their tendency to suction onto me, that gives me a bad attack of the
heebie-jeebies every time I see them. I squealed girlishly, shuddered,
and pressed on with my de-barnacling chores, working as quickly as I

I was shocked by the condition of the outside of the boat. I've never
seen it like this before. I'm used to the gooseneck barnacles, but not
the amount of green growth, presumably algae of some sort, that is
flourishing on Brocade's once-lovely silver paintwork. She looks like
she's been at sea for about 3 decades rather than 3 months. This is
going to take some serious cleaning up when I get to Island X.

Barnacles duly removed, I put my foot on the grabline and pulled myself
up onto the deck using the oars as handrails. Something came with me. It
was a 3-inch remora, attached to my right calf. Yeeeuch. The silly
creature hung on until I was all the way back on board and it had no way
to return to its natural element. I have to confess to a very petty
revenge – I left him until he was almost at his last gasp before I
returned him to the ocean. But I suspect I'll have no more luck training
remoras not to cling than I did training boobies not to poop….

[photo: Barnacles – and not the sort to be found in yacht clubs around
the world, propping up the bar with G&T's from 11am onwards….]

Other Stuff:

After a couple of days of good southerly progress, today the wind moved
from the East into the Southeast, slowing me down. It was a very light
wind, so I was still able to make some southerly progress, but not as
much. I generally row at right angles to the wind, so if the wind is
from the East then I can point due South, but if it is Southeast then I
have to point Southwest – so today my course has been more West than
South. But that's fine too. The forecast is for the wind to shift back
to the East early tomorrow – so it would be nice if that turns out to be

Twitter panic – sorry for any consternation caused by a random Tweet
that was generated by my Dopplr account, saying I was returning to San
Francisco today. I don't really use Dopplr any more, but must have set
up some general dates on my account many moons ago, in which I thought
that Stage 2 might be ending around now. Please be assured, I am NOT
returning to San Francisco today. The row goes on!

Thanks, as ever, for a lovely batch of comments. I am now reaching
terminal discomfort in my cabin after responding to various TeamRoz
emails and writing this blog (try sitting with a hot laptop on your knee
in a rolling cabin in sweltering equatorial heat after a long day's
rowing) so will cut this short – but just wanted to let you know that
Mum is now back online and emailing me the comments on a daily basis.
Thanks to Nicole for standing in while Mum was e-ncommunicado – and
thanks to Mum for yesterday's blog. Yes, we did have to airdrop Mum and
a hairdresser out in mid-Pacific just to get that photo done…!

A quick thank you to Doug for the hike report - and for the
(financial) carrot. Yum!

Weather Report

Position at 2245 HST: 01 25.599N, 178 39.425W
Wind: 0-10 knots, SE
Seas: gentle swell, 3-5ft, SE
Weather: clear, hot and sunny, with a band of small cumulus clouds
passing over during the afternoon

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday morning 13 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there
have been Eerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some
rainshower activity to your north. SEerly winds 10kt is south of your
position to the equator. The SEerlies eventually shift to Eerly 10-15kts
by today. A further shift to the north will keep the winds north of
east until late on the 15th. Then shifting to SEerly for a brief period
before returning to Eerly by the end of the forecast period.

The widespread clouds mentioned in last report have cleared to partly
cloudy skies with minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered moderate

Ocean currents should be light SSWerlies (flowing towards the NNE) at
about 0.1 to 0.2 kts in your area to about 00 30S. To the north of you
beginning at about 3 30N there is a band of Eerly flowing current of
about 0.5 to 0.7kts. South of the equator along your longitude there is
a band of Werly flowing current of about 1.0kt.

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
13/1200-14/1800 E 5-15 2-4
14/1800-15/1500 E-ENE 5-15 2-4
15/1500-15/1800 ENE-E 5-15 2-4
15/1800-17/0600 E-SE-E 5-15 2-4
17/0600-18/0000 E 5-10 2-3

Next Update: Monday, 16 August