One of the comments on my last blog (about Quackers the Yellow Truck being up for sale) asked what would happen with my boat once I have finished the Pacific - and why would I not need to ever tow it again. This raises an interesting possibility.
My point was that it is unlikely that my boat and my truck will ever be on the same continent again. As my boat heads westwards around the world, it is not really feasible to ship Quackers - much as I would love to! In an ideal world, Quackers would come along too, to spend time in Hawaii and Australia, before maybe coming on a big land-based adventure with me across Asia.
I cannot imagine a vehicle better suited to an Asian adventure. There is something about a bright yellow truck that seems to make people smile.
There is also the issue of shipping my boat trailer. It was lovingly customized to fit my rowboat by Continental Trailers in Florida, and it seems a shame to leave it behind in California (where it is useless) rather than bring it to Hawaii (where it would be very useful).
But shipping is a costly business. So if anybody knows a shipping company who would like to sponsor one needy ocean rower....
[photo: Quackers in Telluride, Colorado, for Mountainfilm in May this year]
The time has come for me to part with my beloved yellow truck, Quackers. I first saw him on a rain-soaked dealership forecourt in Portland, Oregon. He had a flat tyre and a flat battery and looked rather sorry for himself. But he has turned out to be an absolute star performer.
We have travelled the length and breadth of the US together, driving from Oregon to Florida to collect my boat, and then towing the boat back to San Francisco. Although I try not to become attached to material possessions, I have to confess to a major soft spot for my Quackers.
But I really can't justify keeping him any longer. Once my boat and I depart for Hawaii, there will be no more boat-towing to be done and I won't need such a large vehicle if I come back to visit the mainland US. A smaller rental would be much more appropriate.
And so it is with much sadness that I am putting him up for sale. Thanks, Quackers, it's been a great adventure.
For Sale: 2001 Ford Ranger, yellow. Full details and price in downloadable file (Kelley Blue Book Report) on the downloads page
Photo album - happy memories!
By now I had hoped to be on the verge of departure. Instead, I am staying at a friend's house in Bolinas, looking out over the Pacific but not yet about to embark upon it. My go-date has been postponed yet again.
The weather situation has fluctuated so many times in the last few days that I have lost track. I have to check my journal to remind myself.
Friday 27th July - departure moved up from Tuesday night to Monday night
Saturday 28th July - I consult with my two weather gurus - and it seems to be All Systems Go. I come to Bolinas to take 'time out' - a final chance to regroup and refocus and prepare myself for the challenge ahead
Sunday 29th July - I make final phone calls to friends and set up my email autoreply - 'gone rowing'. But then a call from Rick - the window of opportunity diminishes, and departure seems unlikely.
Monday 30th July:
6am - I check the weather conditions. Unacceptably windy. I resign myself to a few more days on land. But pack up all my possessions into the back of my truck - just in case.
11am - a health check at a hospital downtown, and a stop-off to pick up some sponsored chocolate from Tcho at Pier 17 - all relatively relaxed and mellow
Noon - a call from Rick Shema, and everything changes - of his 3 weather sources, 2 imply that we are good to go. Adrenaline surges. But the most important source of weather information suggests otherwise. He needs clarification, but cannot get it until 3.30pm. I drop everything and get over to the boat.
2pm - hectic time at the hangar - lots to do and the clock is ticking. Rich is still putting the finishing touches to the boat, Margot and John are fitting the devices that will monitor my solar energy systems, Perry dashes over from Davis Instruments to help out on an issue with the weather station. I transfer the essentials, ready to go - passport, driver's licence, my remaining few dollars, and the 'ducks in a row' from my truck.
4.15pm - the phone calls start. I speak to Rick in Hawaii, for his latest weather information. I speak to Gordie in San Francisco, for the local forecast. One hour later, I have been given lots of information, but the decision is still mine to make. Nobody is going to tell me what to do - it is down to me. It is a tough call.
It seems that I am good to go, but only for the first 48 hours. On Day 3 and Day 4, I am likely to run into strong winds, from an unfavourable direction, and I won't yet have crossed the 'Line of Death' - the boundary between being swept ashore and NOT being swept ashore.
I might get away with it, but I might not. Chances are... not.
While I am debating my course of action with Rick, a phrase pops into my mind, a phrase I once heard from a sailor: 'Better to be in port, wishing you were on the ocean, than to be on the ocean, wishing you were in port'.
So I say no. There will be enough stress later on in the voyage - probably. The one element I can control is my departure date, and there is no point setting out into marginal conditions. I need to maximise my chances of success. I want to do this once, and I want to do it right. To be 3 days out, at maximum exhaustion, and having to battle headwinds and big seas - that is not a good start to a voyage.
So here I stay - but still on my knees and praying to those weather gods.
[Photo: tense times. Photography by Deborah Dennis of Black Rhino Photography]
Tomorrow night's departure was always going to depend on fine timing. I would need to stick to a tight schedule in order to slip through a series of closing weather windows before the winds rose and pushed me off course and onto the shore. The latest forecasts show that the windows are getting smaller and smaller, so the timing is moving from merely tricky towards impossible.
Below are the stop-light weather charts prepared by my weather guy, Rick Shema. They show the weather conditions I can expect to encounter in the first few days, assuming that I manage to get 20 miles further from shore each day (note that I will probably travel further than this, but it is the distance from shore, not overall distance travelled, that matters).
You can see that yesterday's chart (top) shows a lot more green and yellow than today's chart (bottom) - this is not a good thing.
I remain zen about it all, accepting that we will know when the time is right - and leaving poor long-suffering Nicole to break the news to the media and business people who already had their flights booked to come and see me off tomorrow.