Yesterday was spent in a hectic whirl of activity - not only by me, but by various supporters, sponsors and friends who rallied to the cause.
By lunchtime a number of phone calls had secured important pieces of kit for the continuation of my voyage: a new sea anchor at a discount from Para-Tech of Colorado, 8 new bags for water ballast from Cascade Designs, and a batch of new electronics from Simrad.
Rich Crow, the engineer who did most of the work on my boat, had helped me buy new bolts, screws and fixings to ensure that any future capsizes don't send me flying. And friends Aenor and Melinda (Aenor is also my medical advisor) had bought up half the contents of the local West Marine.
But all this new kit would be for nothing if we could not get out to sea to find my boat, and at the start of the day this looked like a major obstacle. I needed a sizeable boat to cope with extreme offshore conditions, with a crane so that we could winch my boat on board to carry out repairs. It would be too difficult to do the necessary repairs with the Brocade rolling around in the waves, so the plan would be to attach her lifting harness, winch her up, and place her on her boat trailer which we would have secured to the deck of the larger vessel.
Ideally the boat would be based in the Bay Area, as the Brocade had continued to head south since I left her and was now drawing level with San Francisco.
Lorenzo Lamaars had generously offered the use of his vessel via the comments on this website - a truly generous offer at a very reasonable price, sacrificing his shore leave. Yesterday he was still out at sea but we exchanged a large number of emails as we discussed logistics.
I needed to have a Plan B as well, in case Lorenzo's boat turned out not to be suitable. With Aenor's help and many more phone calls we found the White Holly, a 150 foot boat that specializes in salvage and research operations. They have a huge amount of experience in hoisting boats, buoys and other objects from the water, and skipper Vince Backen knew exactly what we would need to do to rescue the Brocade. The drawback was the cost - even with Vince's generous discount, just the cost of fuel would be considerable. (And yes, I do realize the irony of having to use so much fossil fuel in order to recover my environmentally friendly boat - and it pains me.)
The upshot of my dilemma was this: this morning Vince will come with me to look at Lorenzo's boat. If it seems that Lorenzo can lift my boat without causing further damage, then that is by far the cheaper of my two alternatives.
But if it seems that it would be a false economy then I will try to find the large number of thousands required to charter the White Holly.
Ideally, my intention would be to fix up the Brocade and jump straight back in the rowing seat - but ONLY if I am 110% sure that this is safe to do. If I have any reservations about safety then I will bring Brocade back to land and regroup for a later attempt, which at this stage of the season probably means waiting until next year.
If I resume my row from the present location of the Brocade, I blow my chance to officially become the first woman to row solo the whole way across the Pacific, but the record was always a secondary goal. More important to me is the environmental message, and the pursuit of the spirit of adventure. This is turning out to be more of an adventure than I had bargained for. It would be a relief to put present dramas behind me and get on with some rowing.
I must dash - it's time to leave for my rendezvous with Captain Lorenzo.
This short video shows excerpts of the action from last Thursday afternoon that led up to the helicopter airlift by the US Coast Guard. What it doesn't show is the minutes I spent crying after I eventually succumbed to the repeated offers of assistance.
There has been a certain amount of negative comment about my rescue by the US Coast Guard. Most of these comments have been based on a misconception of what actually happened, and so I'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
First, I did not call the Coast Guard, nor did any member of my team. The Coast Guard was called in by a wellwisher who was concerned about me. I did not authorise or even know that this had happened - the first I knew of it was when the USCG plane appeared overhead and hailed me on my VHF radio.
Once the USCG had been made aware, events took on their own momentum. The USCG made it clear that they were concerned about my welfare, and that they felt it would be best for me to agree to an evacuation. It was only with the greatest reluctance that I eventually agreed after several hours of stating that I was not in need of assistance.
Second, before I embarked I had taken out an insurance policy with the company Global Rescue, who specialise in medical evacuations from inaccessible locations.
One of my team members had extensive discussions with Global Rescue about what would happen in the event of an emergency while I was on the ocean, and we had clearly defined procedures governing what should happen in the event of a crisis. Unfortunately, once the USCG became involved, these procedures were no longer applicable - it would have been inappropriate to call for Global Rescue when the USCG was already on the scene.
I had taken out this private insurance policy with the specific intention of avoiding cost to the US taxpayer.
Third, I was not "ill-prepared." I successfully rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in this same boat, which took me 103 days. The safety standards in the Atlantic Rowing Race are extremely high. In preparing for the Pacific, my standards were even more rigorous, and informed by the lessons I learned during the Atlantic crossing. Many months of careful preparation preceded my Pacific bid. Click here to see the full inventory of safety equipment I had on board, as documented on this website.
I hope this clarifies the situation.
Once again, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the men and women of the USCG who picked me up from my boat and took care of me once I got to dry land. I admire their courage, their professionalism, and their commitment to public service. America can be justifiably proud of her Coast Guard and the magnificent service they provide.
After rowing the Atlantic as a competitor in a race, I was very much enjoying my Pacific row without the added pressure of a race situation. And yet now I find myself once again pitted against the clock.
The area of the ocean where the Brocade is drifting is still beset by high winds and waves. If we are to do repairs on the water, the calmest day in the foreseeable future is this coming Wednesday, 29th August. The seas will still be 6-8 feet, but this is the best we can expect.
But as yet we have no vessel capable of taking us over 100 miles offshore to go in search of the Brocade. Ideally, I am looking for a craft about 100 feet long with a crane, so we can hoist the Brocade onboard and do the repairs there, giving us a marginally more stable platform than simply climbing aboard Brocade to do the work. We have put out many lines of enquiry, and hope that at least one of them might come good.
But time is running out. In order to travel that far from shore and find the Brocade before 0600 on Wednesday morning, we need to set out on Tuesday morning - just 36 hours from now.
Today I travelled back to the Bay Area in readiness for the recovery operation. Tomorrow will be spent dashing around trying to secure sea anchors, containers for additional water ballast, a new survival suit, replacements for various items that have been broken or lost, as well as the ongoing pursuit of a suitable salvage vessel. Friends and team members have been mobilised to help, and are rallying to the cause.
We are racing against time not only to catch the weather window, but also to get to the Brocade before anybody else does. If I am to keep alive my dream of rowing to Hawaii this year, we need to make the repairs out on the water. To bring her back to land would take too long and blow my chances of getting to Hawaii before the winter storms. So we need to get to her before anybody attempts to tow her in.
But at the same time it is of paramount importance to make sure that she is safe and capsize-resistant before I continue. Everything is in the balance, and the clock is ticking....
P.S. More than ever I am indebted to friends old and new for their assistance. On Thursday night I arrived on shore with no clothes but a t-shirt and shorts, no money, and no ID. Without the kindness of strangers I would be hungry, almost naked, and marooned in Eureka. From the bottom of my heart I thank these good Samaritans for their kindness, hospitality and generosity.
Thanks also to all those who have sent messages of support and encouragement by email and via this website. Your words have given me enormous strength in these testing times.