Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 88 - Casualties

It's that stage of the journey. The stage when Stuff Breaks. I hesitated
before telling you about these things, as I didn't want to cause any
consternation, but hey, I just can't keep a secret from my Rozlings. But
before I go on, I'd like to say most emphatically DON'T PANIC!!! There
is no need for airdrops, rescue missions, or even advice. These matters
are NOT serious, and will have very little impact on my ocean lifestyle.

About a week ago, my cooking stove stopped working. It was a veteran of
Pacific Stage 1, and despite Scott's heroic achievement in cleaning it
up when it looked to be beyond salvation, it had never regained its
nice, strong, clean blue flame. I hadn't used it very much, being mostly
on my rawfood diet, but just recently had rediscovered the joys of hot
porridge or a hot dinner at the end of the day. But the flame was yellow
and sooty, and soon my kettle was coated with a thickening layer of

And then the stove stopped working altogether. Propane was coming
through, but it wouldn't light. It probably needs no more than a good
clean with a gas stove maintenance kit – but I don't have one on board.

But it's really no big deal. On the Atlantic I managed for 3 months
without a stove after my camping stove (very different model) broke.
Freeze dried food can still be reconstituted – it just takes longer.
I've had several delicious curries since the demise of the stove, that
suffered not at all from being served at a very warm ambient temperature
rather than piping hot.

Mick and Chris of are now on their THIRD cook
stove, so that shows just how vulnerable these things are when exposed
to salty ocean conditions for extended periods.

The second casualty is – yet again – my watermaker. It isn't the same
problem as on the San Francisco-Hawaii leg. I do try not to make the
same mistake twice, so after that bad experience, when the watermaker
locker flooded and caused the electric pump to corrode, I have two spare
pumps on board this time. So, naturally, this time the pump is still in
fine fettle, but something else has gone wrong. Not quite sure what it
is. The pump runs but neither fresh water nor waste brine emerge from
the two outlet pipes.

I spent a couple of hours this morning trying to fix the problem – first
of all on the phone to Spectra Watermakers in San Rafael, then
underneath my boat, braving remoras to check the through-hull intake for
any possible blockages (jellyfish have been known to get sucked in and
cause a problem), then mucking around in the bilges to dismantle, clean
and reassemble various pipes and filters. But all to no avail.

But no worries. I have enough water on board to keep me going for a
couple of months – and I hope to be making landfall well before then –
and also a manual watermaker kindly donated to me by the Hunks of the
JUNK raft with whom I traded food for water in mid-ocean last year.

So (sigh), this is just the way it goes. Even the most robust equipment
is rarely designed to spend several months at a time exposed to such
harsh conditions.

The good news is that Lazarus the Stereo, having been extremely
temperamental almost since Day 1 of this row, is being good as gold at
the moment. But I'll say that in a very quiet whisper, as it seems that
I no sooner praise a piece of equipment than it packs up on me…

[photo: Yet another sunset – but this one is pretty dramatic, don't you
think?! I wish I could share the Pacific skies with you more
effectively. One little rectangular photo just doesn't do them justice.
They are often spectacular, frequently breathtaking!]

Other Stuff:

I see there is a lot of speculation going on about when I might cross
the International Date Line and/or the Equator. As I write, I am now 58
nautical miles from the Equator, having crossed 1 degree North this
evening (woohoo!), and 13 nautical miles from the IDL. Current course is
southwesterly…. But when I pick up the oars in the morning I might
change course to aim more for one than for the other. In fact, I know I
will be – but I'm not quite ready to tell you about my decision yet, as
there are some external dependencies. Sorry to be such a tease, but all
will become clear in due course. So for now you'll just have to carry on

Meanwhile, there is a special International Date Line Sale going on in
the Store at So it would be a great time to mosey on over
there and check out the special deals, which also raises a bit of money
to support my projects. And we'll just rename it the Equatorial Sale if
that becomes more appropriate!

Eco Champ of the Day (and we haven't had one for a while – where are all
the Eco Heroes?) is Connor. Thanks for your message, Connor! Here is
what he had to say…

Hey Roz,

Love what you are doing! We are trying to recycle more, carpool more
we do have to drive) and use less water (especially hot water). We wash
clothes with cold water, and I have started taking cold showers,
after a hard workout (I am a rower too), and I actually find it

A tip for all the rozlings who do have to drive, especially on long
After telling them about it for just about ever, my parents (I am only
realized the benefits of cruise control. On a trip from our home in
Pittsburgh to Toronto, my mom used cruise control on the highway, and
fuel economy went from 28 to about 36!

Great job Connor – and thanks for sharing!

Richard in Virginia – a loyal but lurking Rozolyte – thanks for your
message, and for introducing yourself at last. I find it so strange, but
also very flattering, to think that there are people like you that I
will probably never meet, but in some small way I am a part of your
lives. Thank you for speaking up!

Doug – thanks for the carrots. I hope my rate of carrot consumption is
going to accelerate over these final stages. Chomp, chomp! (And good for
my night vision too…)

Weather Report:

Position at 2300 HST: 00 57.786N, 179 47.233W
Wind: very variable. 10kts E this morning, 0-8kts S-SE this afternoon
(was rowing into a headwind for a while), then back to the E
Seas: 3-5 ft
Weather: generally fine and sunny, some cloud, including one huge
raincloud this afternoon that was probably responsible for the headwind

Weather forecast, courtesy of

Latest tracker reported your position as: 01 31N 179 02W as of 18Aug

As of Tuesday 18 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there have been
SEerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some light rainshower
activity. The heaviest of rain was north of 05N. Lighter SEerly winds
are to
your west to Tarawa with heavier and widespread rainshowers. South of
equator there are stronger ESE winds 17-20kts. The SEerlies shift to
5-10kts by late tonight. Then shift to SEerly and increase in speed to
range with 20kts possible. Winds return to Eerly and abate to 5-12kts by
morning of the 21st.

Widespread clouds with deep convection are north of your position along
ITCZ axis. West and south of your position, skies are partly cloudy with
minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered, light to
moderate rainshowers.

Ocean currents: No significant change from last report

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
18/0800-18/1200 SE-E 5-12 2-4
18/1200-19/0000 E-N 5-10 2-4
19/0000-19/1200 N-SE 5-10 2-4
19/1200-19/2100 SE 7-15 2-4
19/2100-20/2100 SE 10-20 3-5
20/2100-21/0600 SE-E 10-15 3-5
21/0600-23/0800 E 5-12 2-4

Next Update: Thursday, 20 August