The latest update from Rick Shema, my weatherguy, is that there will be no suitable weather window for a departure before May 22. The winds here blow mostly onshore, so we are waiting for a period of at least 4 days of winds less than 5 knots.
The plan is to be ready at a moment's notice to drop everything (although by that stage there should ideally be little left to drop), tow the Brocade to the departure point, put her in the water, and then row like billy-o to put as many miles as possible between me and dry land before the headwinds pick up again and try to blow me back onto the California coast.
The dream is to leave from under the Golden Gate Bridge, but if time is wearing on and there is no sign of suitable weather, anywhere on the western seaboard will do. The main objective is to get away cleanly and safely, with a fully functioning boat. The final checklist will be something like this:
Calm conditions for 5 days - check.
Watermaker working - check.
GPS working - check.
Cameras working - check.
Row like buggery...
Or does it?
This is one of the pictures taken by Russian photographer Elena Zhukova, in possibly the wettest but most enjoyable photo shoot I have ever done - on either side of the camera (I was a pro photographer for a couple of years in a previous life). Click here to see more photos from the same shoot.
Back in March we spent an afternoon in Half Moon Bay, getting increasingly cold and wet. "Just a bit closer to the water," she'd say, "a bit closer."
Whoosh. Big wave, big splash, a bit wetter - until in the end there was nothing left to lose, so I just lay down in the surf, as requested, and had done with it.
To be fair, Elena and her husband, also a photographer, were nearly as wet as I was. Fortunately a) their cameras survived, b) the end justified the means, and c) we had some whisky on hand to warm ourselves up (I'm sure I knew at the time what Russian for "Cheers" was, but the word now escapes me...)
There's nothing like total commitment to the cause.
Life has been busy. I go on standby on Thursday, so most of the activity at this stage should be directly related to getting my boat ready and provisioned - conducting sea trials, final testing of electronics and communications, checking off kit lists and preparing mentally for the challenges that lie ahead.
But instead I seem to have spent far too much time at my laptop, dealing with administrative stuff. Important, but unrewarding, and at this stage, increasingly hard to take seriously. If it is not going to help keep me alive and happy while at sea, it seems increasingly irrelevant.
Watching Row Hard, No Excuses for the second time on Friday night (at the Santa Cruz Film Festival), I was reminded how it feels to be at sea, when the things that seem so important on dry land fade into irrelevance, and life becomes amazing in its simplicity. Food, water, sleep - and weather. These, and these alone, are the focus of life on the ocean.
Or maybe one other thing too - my daily blog. Because for me, my adventure is meaningless if I don't share it via my website. I know there are people who would love to be doing what I am doing but for various reasons they can't.
And there are other (in my view, much more sensible) people who would never in a million years think about rowing an ocean, but enjoy watching somebody else go through it, happy to be armchair adventurers.
My mother is one of the latter. She is with me now, helping with final preparations. She sent me an e-card today, which although very cute, was almost painful to watch. Let's hope I don't have to resort to harnessing seagulls...
Click here to view the card
[Photo: Mum at the cottage in Woodside where I temporarily live]
P.S. Porridge situation now in hand, thanks to the power of the blog. Thanks to Ken for his help!
I am appealing for help from anybody who is going to be flying from the UK to San Francisco between now and May 15 (or, at a push, May 20).
If at all possible, I would like to accept an offer of sponsorship from Mornflake to provide me with 200 sachets of organic oatmeal (Oats2Go), but they can only ship within the UK.
I had tried to get this deal in place before my mother flew out to help me with final preparations, but we missed that deadline due to the relevant Mornflake staff being away at the time. So now I have a generous offer from them, but the porridge is there and I am here and I need to figure out how to get us both in the same place!
If it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world. They do have organic oatmeal here, but I have not so far managed to find an alternative that is:
- comes in sachets
- has no added sugar or other additives
- is "instant", i.e. will cook sufficiently just by adding hot water, without the need to cook in a pan for several minutes.
So if you, or anybody you know, is planning to fly from the UK to San Francisco, please let me know, and I will arrange for the sachets of oatmeal to be delivered to your address in the UK.