29 Apr 2005, Ponta Delgado, Azores
During my 11 years as a management consultant and project manager, I used to be afraid to ask dumb questions, and as a result caused myself huge amounts of stress by having to pretend that I understood things when I didn´t have a clue. Maybe I´ve gone too far the other way now...
My poor long-suffering crewmates on board Steamy have had to put up with what Morgan calls my Roz-isms, i.e. questions that only an idiot landlubber would ask. But hey, I´m here to learn, the best way to do that is to ask lots of questions. We all have to start somewhere. Better to appear an ignoramus now, and emerge better-informed from the experience, than to do an even dumber thing and set out in November still an ocean-going ignoramus...
27 Apr 2005, The Azores
Is the Azores High: a) a stable high pressure system forming annually in the eastern Atlantic, or b) the good feeling you get after your first proper hot shower in 10 days?
Both of the above. I thoroughly enjoyed our passage from Cap Verde and was almost reluctant to make landfall, but the Azores have turned out to be a very pleasant stopover in our journey back to the UK. Yesterday we hired a car and went to explore the island of San Miguel, a compact heap of volcanic cones piled up on each other, dotted with pretty little Portuguese-style villages. The lush green countryside seemed especially vivid after days and days of blue skies and blue seas.
It's lucky that we made the most of the fine weather yesterday, as a gale blew up overnight, filling the marina with the din of clanking rigs and clashing fenders. So today will be an admin day of laundry, provisioning, and checking the weather forecast to see when we can set sail and depart on the final leg of Russ's two-year circumnavigation.
19 Apr 2005, 27 48' N, 25 59' W
Having reached this stage of commitment to the Atlantic Rowing Race - the sponsorship drive well underway and significant amounts of money already invested - it would have been severely embarrassing to find out that I'm a thoroughgoing landlubber with a snowball's chance in hell of surviving an ocean crossing.
However, I am happy to report that we are now six days out from Cape Verde - I can no longer remember a life when floors and beds and tables were horizontal, and when my day didn't consist of 2 hours on watch, 6 hours off - and I'm loving it!
For the first couple of days I was shadowing Russ's watches while I learned how to steer a course. Then I was promoted to watch leader, and allowed to take the helm on my own. Luckily there isn't much to crash into in the middle of the ocean, so my rather erratic early steering attempts managed to avert disaster. I've learned a lot in a very short time, and would like to think I'm now reasonably competent. Sails and sheets and halyards are still a mystery to me, but they're not relevant to my Atlantic row so that's not too much of a worry.
A prime objective of my time on Steamy was to find out if seasickness was going to be a problem. Happy to report that after a bit of queasiness for the first day or so, my stomach seems to be quite reconciled to being thrown around in rollercoaster fashion for 24 hours a day. Appetite unaffected - in fact, I'm feeling rudely healthy in the pure Atlantic air. Apart from a number of very impressive bruises sustained while I was still finding my sea legs, I'm in fine physical fettle and relishing life on the ocean wave. Roll on November!
15 Apr 2005, 150 miles north of Cape Verde
Imagine trying to sleep in a washing machine full of gravel, standing on a creaky floorboard, in an aeroplane going through serious turbulence. That's the best way I can describe what my first night on the open ocean sounded and felt like.
I soon realised this was going to be very different from my previous sailing experiences, in Australia and Thailand, when we would moor up in a sheltered harbour and be gently rocked to sleep by the waves. Steamy steams on, 24 hours a day, our crew of 4 taking shifts at the helm, while the rest sleep as best they can.
Surprisingly, I slept rather well. The other good news is that I haven't yet been seasick, and haven't been fazed by getting out of sight of land. These are things I needed to prove to myself BEFORE I got to the start line in November. It could have been rather embarrassing to discover that far down the line that ocean rowing really wasn't the sport for me after all...