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December 2002
December 05
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December 16
December 19

News from the route

The following text is via computer translation program, so expect some minor inaccuracies.
For original text in French go to http://www.antreizh.org/fr_lejournal.asp

December 19th Forced to await the Sardine becomes exhausted.
Soon one week that I returned to La Gomera and winds are ever south, to my big despair. This morning I was able to take out into the bay, but it is not very rewarding to fight against head winds and it is no joy, that I noticed, that it took me almost 2 hours to go out and hardly 1/2 hour to return to the port. The weather does not seem much to change by Monday, December 23rd, and I thus consider a forthcoming departure as soon as possible - on Tuesday, December 24th. The Christmas holidays are going to seem quite strange to me this year, but I hope to open my presents to the pontoon. The technical team (Fred and my father) fly away for France next Monday, fortunately some meetings made here are nice and will help me, if need be, the day of the departure. Jose and the team of the Marina implement everything to facilitate things.... One thing is for sure: I did not expect such a reception, I would be on holidays, it would be almost the paradise. Let us not forget that it nevertheless is 25 C on the ground, and the temperature of the water is 20! And the sun now returned after both tornados of the last week. 


December 16th One week of the Sardine.
The last ten days which have just passed, have been at the very least astonishing. Left on Thursday, December 05th from La Gomera, and here we are - the Connetable and myself returned to the firm land to the same point of departure. All has started rather well, even though the first two days I had to fight with doggedness against winds and very particular currents around the Canary Islands. The third day my small boat took off gaily southward (almost compulsory road to catch the famous trade winds) and all with my joy of being finally on the way of the adventure, I remained "scotch-taped" almost 18 hours to the oars.
And then, Monday December 09th, late in the afternoon, things began to go bad: a small West wind (force 2 - 3) appeared to strengthen during the night. No other choice than to install the drift anchor, and to hope that the Connetable would not move back too much. In the early morning - no changes, West wind well installed and two days which followed were similar. Useless to try to row against the wind, I could do nothing but pray for the North wind to return quickly. But my prayer has not been heard, because Wednesday evening, the wind turned in the South and in spite of the drift anchor being in place, I had to face the fact: willy-nilly I was making my way towards the Canarian Islands. Phone call to Marc to work out with the support- team : had I any chance to find good conditions in the days to come? The answer fell like a chopper: wind turning South-West, force 7 to 8, strong sea, violent thunderstorms. We may get ready for it, fasten everything on board in anticipation of the worst, protect ourselves from shocks to come...When the storm got up, I was quite safe - ready to live what fell me above. To undergo and await, listen to the mountains of water smashing on the hull, being dazzled by flashes of lighting invading the horizon and feel the least in the middle
of the unchained elements. Quickly, the team of support, the sponsors and myself decided to repatriate the Connetable towards La Gomera, because after this depression and two others to come, and winds remaining South, we took the risk of seeing this beautiful adventure ending on canariens cliffs.
On Friday late in the afternoon, after hours which appeared centuries to me, a high-speed motorboat finally came up to me, and it was necessary for us to still fight so that the towing be done without breakage. At midnight we landed, morally and physically exausted, but happy to notice that the Sardine had bravely resisted an ill-treatment (much better than me, who was covered with bruises from head to feet). I shall never thank enough Gerry, who did not hesitate a single second to take at sea to come to get me back, thanks greatly also to Doug, Anita and Luis (Gomera Yatchs Service) who waited for us on the quay and offered us all the comfort we needed. Today on Monday, we all resumed our spirits and after having drained the boat and having carried out some minor repairs, we watch the cloudbursts pouring on the port of San Sebastian, and we hope for a departure for the
As Marc has said it to me with humour: consider that these 8 days have been a good training and a good preparation for the next long stage. Marc, if I can allow myself, revise your humor!!!


December 14th 2002 The preparations begin again. 
After a short night sleep it is the moment to make a checklist of what it is necessary to arrange on the boat. The priority is in the GPS. In this connection we would like to decree a "gold out" with FURUNO. Several times contacted for their assistance, the technician-commercial was too busy drinking their small pastis at the Boat-show preferred to say that Anne’s GPS was of an old model and that Anne had only to buy a new one... Thank you thus to these arrant idiots and mark FURUNO that we advise you to boycott it forever. 
A new depression is announced for the next days and we will wait until it passed to give a new starting date. Anne will presently tell you on her site about the week that she has just lived.


December 13th 2002 Arriving at the port of Gomera on Friday morning, we became aware of what Anne had just lived when being towed 45 miles of coasts. 
Beaches are kicked down, covered with trunks of trees and with mud. Marina of San Sebastian is a vast oxbow lake with not identified objects floating. Nothing to do with the idyllic vision that we were keeping in memory since some days earlier. 
We thus organize the towing with little of apprehension. Especially that the swell is strong and there is still strength of the wind 5/6 beaufort. To tie up in high tide a small boat in its conditions is precarious. After more than five hours of navigation, we perceive finally the quite small Connetable, at the same moment about forty dolphins appear from the water. Anne is outside, became thinner, with a little bit wild glance but smiling. She passes in our edge and Gerry our skipper leads the operation of towing with a firm hand.
Anne is covered with impressive overalls, these hands go much better because she does not have to row for two days, letting the Connetable return invariably towards the Canarian Islands. She collapses then, exhausted, in a sound sleep and a recovery. 


December 12th 2002 Way back was set at the end of the evening (Wednesday, 11th), when wind from the South encouraged Anne’s return. It is absolutely necessary for her to be in sight of Canaries’ coasts before Saturday. It is thus a new effort for her, to go back up her road as quickly as possible, and to be able to get a tow as soon as possible. It’s understood, she will not be able to rest and up to the end she will have to stay on the oars. This is a depressing side for her - to have to fight now to return to the point of departure. Morally it was not an easy decision to take. Hat off for having this lucidity.


December 11th 2002 The “Sardine” returns
At about 4 am this morning, a simultaneous contact between Anne, her PC race, and Marc the router, giving a report on a deplorable weather because of the head winds during a new week, - has finally ended in the following decision: Anne returns towards Gomera and will resume a departure after the next depression. It is useless that she still fights another week against winds and currents which would risk to take her on coasts. The team of Anne had hardly posed their suitcases which they will take tomorrow morning on the plane for Tenerife: to prepare her towing and to bring up the morale of the Sardine, who had fought like a lioness for large step thing
This return to dry land is going to allow the revision of the ever blocked GPS, and to make some modifications on the ballast of the “Connétable”.
The new start must be undertaken according to the meteorological windows about December 20.


December 10th 2002 The morale returns.
The communication satellite was difficult because of a strong storm, 50 knots of winds, which obliged Anne to spend her day under cover. At about 8:30 pm GMT the calm settled down. Anne was hungry, she decided to cook a gueuleton (Mediterranean semolina and – of course! -small limps of Connétable sardine). She read numerous letters of encouragement which greeted her departure. She is anxious to thank each for this attention. The morale thus returned and set fair, even if it is necessary to wait still for a while before coming back to oars.
Does it allow her to study the plans of the new boat which she will have built to cross the North … To read also. And especially to look after her hands. Everything seems to come in order since she followed the advices of Anne-Laure Bordet, her dermatologist. The team of Anne arrived from the Canary Islands this morning at dawn, after the crossing of Spain under some whirlwinds of snow…
Anne wanted to thank quite particularly Boris for his irreproachable logistics, and looks forward that he organizes her arrival to Guadeloupe with the same brilliance.


December 9th 2002 West winds got up earlier than foreseen.
At noon, force 2 - 3. Anne thus has no minute to leave oars, otherwise all that she gained in the morning leaves for smoke. She " slaver of the circles of hats " as she says. Today, she did not still eat and seems exhausted. Nevertheless she will have done 51 miles (82km).


December 8th 2002 The morale of Anne is going up.
Having washed herself and eaten proper way, she filmed a part of her new universe. The sea first of all, though it is always stormy, it seems easier to be tamed than Anne thought at the beginning. Her boat then surfs carefree as soon as the wind and the ocean allow it. She then turned the camera towards her own-self, towards the nastily bashed up hands. 40 hours to be pulled at oars without having the time to take a pair of gloves and the fate is thrown by it. She must look after herself, to pay greater attention not to aggravate the situation. We all know that hands are the most invaluable for her now .
She passed nobody, just a small tortoise today. The southern point of El Hierro moves away now, Anne took course 240, the crossing has begun. She rowed 59 miles (95km) today.
Marc, Anne's router, announces a depression for Spain with the West wind for the next Tuesday. Anne is thus going to stay on oars all night long.
What she did besides last night - she slept from 8:00 pm to midnight, and then settled down at her post of rowing. She decided to row 18 hours out of 24. The morale is excellent and we look forward to being able to put on the map her positions GPS to see her progress.
Anne has already lost some kilos but since the seasickness disappeared, she will be able to eat correctly.


December 7th 2002 Second night at sea.

The last night was difficult, too often on the verge of the turn-over in a strong swell. But winds are again established in the right direction. Anne thus crossed El Hiero this morning having lost a day to fight against winds and currents. After 40 hours of oar over 48 hours of navigation, she is going to slow down the rhythm and to look after her hands and her seasickness. On the other hand the GPS is not still functional and Anne waits for a call of her retailer FURUNO. "Connetable" is very unstable and by the moment is rolling and pitching furiously. 


December 5th 2002 The first update. 

At 18:00 GMT we had a satellite connection with Anne. That with the air to function, although envisaged. Winds of south, a swell of north of approximately 2m50 and bulbs full hands. She is still in the south of Gomera.Anne is still far from having exceeded the island of Hiero, also intends to remain on oars all the night and to rest later. The images of the departure sent by satellite connection to France to feed the television news. 

The team present since the beginning of the project draws a great inspiration from Anne, and thanks her for all the revival that it gives us. 


December 5th 2002  The Great Departure

Team of "Connetable" stood a very good hour this morning of 5 December 2002 at the port of San Sebastian of Gomera to prepare the departure. Last preparations and last interviews for French Press, last embraces on the pontoon where it was still dark. With the first gleams of the day behind the peak of Teide, the highlight of Spain which is on the Island of Tenerife, Anne left the pontoon on her own The wind being relatively weak. She exit the port, crossing the official starting line - under the chronometre of Douglas Caroll [ the representative of The Ocean Rowing Society at La Gomera] - at exactly 8:01GMT. 

From the exit of the port the meteorological conditions were exactly those which the router Marc Ginisty had forecasted us the day before: a light wind North 10 in 15 knots, the ideal wind to come down towards the Islands of Cape Verde which aren't meant as a stopover, but as a landmark, to which one has to go a little more South than one would think, in order to catch up with the first possible favourabile currents. 

The rhythm of the strokes of oars was about 18 strokes per minute, to hold the long distances. 
The logistic team was embarked on a large high-speed motorboat which accompanied her during approximately 1 hour and half, but there were also three boats (with veils!) in the water, one of which , 14 meters long, built out of steel ; and her owner Dahouet was surprised by the speed of the "Connetable". Indeed in the light morning breeze Anne was moving at approximately 2,8 knots, while the big steel sailboat had difficulty in making as much of it. Very quickly the breeze was established while remaining "Gentle Breeze" as our Irish skipper said it, and the sailboat resumed bit by bit a little of distance. It was completely moving to see Anne leaving for this great adventure with Jerome Moll's sailboat in the distance - he seemed to take care of her... 

At about 9:45 there came the time for the foghorn of good-bye... 

Safe journey Anne, and bravo to have remained so confident and relaxed until that you disappeared at the horizon on this quite small "Connetable", who too fast became invisible on this sea, which fortunately was the most beautiful that we could wish for the first day at sea. 

Ronan Quemere


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