Generally I attempt to maintain an attitude of Zen calm in the face of life's ups and downs. The Atlantic taught me, among many other things, that things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem, so there is no point getting too excited about the good, or too bent out of shape about the bad.
But this last week has tested my Zen serenity to its limits. Last weekend there was a short-term financial crisis that seemed to threaten my expedition - or at least my ability to pay the satphone bill (on which my blogs, videos, and podcasts depend). On Monday the money appeared.
Mid-week it seemed that some crucial pieces of kit had gone missing. After a sleepless night they were finally unearthed in an unexpected corner of the hangar where my boat is stored.
On Friday a friend and I baked in a California heatwave as a we laboured to get various bits of electrical equipment working, including the location beacon (which sends back my position to this website), the onboard camera system (needed so I can record footage for our environmental documentary) and my stereo (needed to keep me sane!). I won't say we "failed", as I was quite rightly reminded by comments on a previous blog that the f-word is simply a matter of interpretation, but I can safely say that we didn't succeed. And all other forms of assistance had dried up.
Then yesterday the cavalry arrived in the shape of Rich Crow, the helicopter engineer who worked on my boat last year. He knows the electrical system better than anybody else.
He was grumbling like mad as he crammed his frame back into my tiny cabin to investigate the problem, but he swiftly traced the likely cause to a battery that had run so low over the winter that even the bright sunshine hitting the solar panels could not bring it back from the dead.
So each and every crisis has caused its fair share of despondency, only to be resolved the next day.
Funny how help turns up just when I need it, and a timely reminder that life has a way of looking after me. So why worry? Be happy!
[photo: Rich Crow manoeuvres the Brocade outside the Hayward hangar]
Various people have been asking me how I am feeling as I prepare to relaunch my Pacific bid. Am I excited? Nervous? Confident?
My honest answer is this: I haven't had time to think about it!! Still so much to do - that is all I can focus on right now. If I start thinking ahead to the row itself, my head would explode. At the moment I see the row as the light at the end of a VERY big To Do list!
For sure, having succeeded once before is a big confidence-booster. But there again, I've also failed once before, so I take nothing for granted. I'm just staying focused in the present and doing what needs to be done to get me to the launch, as well-prepared as I can be for a safe and successful crossing.
One stroke at a time!
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.