29 Aug 2007, the White Holly
[photo: Roz on the bow of White Holly]
Roz has sent this audio message from the research vessel White Holly. The sound towards the end is not very good, but I think we can hear enough to get a good idea of what she is saying. I hope you enjoy listening to it.
29 Aug 2007
On Tuesday evening Roz departed from San Francisco on a ship armed with tools and spares to repair the damage done to Brocade during the stormy weather she experienced last week. The weather is calm at present and hopes are high that before long they can find her boat and begin work on it.
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.