Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 86 - World's Biggest Sensory Deprivation Tank

The ocean is like sensory deprivation tank tonight – utterly dark and
silent. There isn't a breath of wind, and the overcast sky is hiding all
but the few brightest stars.

It's been a funny old day. It got off to a slow start. You might have
noticed there was a significant delay between my last blog and its
photograph being united online. The reason was that immediately after I
emailed the blog last night I lost the ability to make data calls from
my satphone, so the email bearing the photo could not be sent.

I tried again first thing this morning, again to no avail. So I spent a
while on the phone to Rob at Remote Satellite Systems International
trying to identify the source of the problem. He thought it was probably
the network rather than a problem with my onboard equipment. I'm not
sure if this proved to be the case – I know he was working with the
network people, and it seems to be working okay tonight – so I'll just
be grateful that we're in business again. For a while there I
was worried that we might be blog-less for the rest of the trip!

So with the technical hassles, and a call to base, it was pushing
10.30am by the time I got to the oars. For most of the morning the wind
was coming out of the south, at about 20 knots, so the best course I
could make was west. But during the afternoon the weather has become
progressively more and more subdued, and the wind more and more flukey.

As the afternoon wore on a deep hush fell over the ocean, at one stage
broken by the gentle exhaling sound of dolphins arcing through the
waves. I saw about a dozen dolphins, but they didn't come close.

Occasionally the wind would muster a bit of enthusiasm and lift my red
ensign flag for a minute or two, before lapsing back into calm. The sky
was overcast but far from a flat grey – clouds of all textures, shapes
and patterns created a varied skyscape, and probably accounted for the
weird, lumpy and uneven breezes.

I can't help but absorb the mood of the ocean, so tonight I'm feeling a
bit subdued myself, and tired after a long day rowing. So I'm going to
call it a night. I'm off to my bunk to dream of friends, food and
family. And nice brisk, invigorating easterly winds… Bring 'em on!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 01 30.255N, 178 57.656W
Wind: 0-20kts, S-SSE
Seas: 2-4ft swell, SE
Weather: some big black rainclouds this morning, after that as described

No update to last weather forecast from weatherguy.com.