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Ray and Jenny Jardine: news from the route
Day 33 Dec 10 at 07:00 GMT
We had lumpy seas, squally winds, rain, and pitch darkness last night, making for a very bumpy ride. It was quite an experience.

"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever
dreamed yourself to be." - Patanjali


Day 32 Dec 9 at 07:00 GMT
The wind is still veering slowly toward a more favorable position, which is nice. We had quite strong wind during the night, helping to speed us along. Also bit of rain - to be expected. Now enjoying a bright new day, which thankfully also features some cloud cover to keep ol' sol off our sunburned hides.


Day 31 Dec 8 at 07:00 GMT
The winds veered toward our starboard quarter, so we loped along throughout the day and night, making satisfactory progress.
Lots of rain during the night, and we took another gusher into the cabin late yesterday afternoon, soaking everything. But we're starting to get used to it now, and we're also beginning to figure out ways to avoid it. One would think that to we could keep the hatch closed, but easier said than done when the weather is sultry and ventilation is so dearly needed. But, no trauma. Just keep the boat moving through the water, we remind ourselves. And it is very warm, as usual, so these conditions are no cause for concern.


Day 30 Dec 7 at 07:00 GMT
The wind veered to NNE at about 10 knots, offering some assistance yesterday. And then in the evening, it came around a little bit more, but remained light, so we still had to work for our mileage. We rowed almost continually for 24 hours, keeping our shift transitions to the bare minimum of about one minute. This is just enough time for us to trade seats and get the boat moving forward again.

We saw a shark yesterday, as well as a number of other fish. Also, our tropicbird came to visit once again. We first spotted this bird, or one like it, several days ago. Its wings are black-tipped, with some black also on the wing feathers. [ed. note: this may be the white-tailed tropicbird. "Tropicbirds forage far from land, sometimes following ships. After the breeding season, many gather in the Sargasso Sea, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean." (see www.enature.com) ]

The satellite phone has been acting up, due to a small amount of corrosion on the battery. Have installed the back-up battery, and it seems to be working fine once more.


Day 29 Dec 6 at 07:00 GMT
Progress remains slow as we continue to experience a cold front coming through. This one seems to be taking its time in passing, although very mildly so, with relatively light winds. Yet it is the persistence of an unfavorable wind direction - out of the NNW - that is slowing us down. We rowed all night long at about 1.5 knots, the best we could do. But otherwise, it was another beautiful night out here.

We cannot say enough good things about the boat. It is performing fantastically well under a wide variety of conditions, in seas and winds both harsh and mild, which is quite a credit to its designer, who obviously put a lot into it. A versatile boat, highly seaworthy, and we're very pleased with it.

We will be selling the boat upon our arrival in Barbados, and for anyone even vaguely considering an adventure like this, here would be a great opportunity. A couple of races are coming up next year, as detailed on the Ocean Rowing Society's website.

Jenny recently performed some scientific experiments that might be of interest to the world at large. She pulled out a thermometer that must measure all of an inch and a half in length (something you might find in a Cracker Jack box), and with this she resolved the daily high temperature to be 85 deg F, with a nighttime low of 72. And this, just to give an idea of what the December air is like out here.


Day 28 Dec 5 09:00 GMT

The wind has veered to the NNW, sending the waves into our starboard beam, and denying us the beneficial push we've had of late. This left us struggling ahead throughout the day and night, working harder for comparatively fewer miles.

Gordo, one of our skydiving friends, suggested that if the Dorado returned we should name him Dinner. And while we did not see the Dorado, we did see a whale, probably a Minke, about 20 feet in length. But we weren't _that_hungry, so we just let him be. We also spotted eight dolphins and a mackarel in the last day.

We have a trough of low pressure coming through, as evidenced by the wind shift. Unable to make much headway during the night, around 4am we finally decided we'd had enough. So we secured the rudder and oars and went to sleep for about three hours; both of us did, which is something that hasn't happened in quite a while. While we were asleep the boat drifted south quite a ways off course, but this is not a problem; there's plenty of room out here. We're coming up on the halfway point now. Will probably reach it later on tonight.


Day 27 Dec 4 at 07:00 GMT
About midmorning yesterday the mountainous seas began to crumble, and soon we had large haystacks all around, which eventually gave way to gorgeous conditions. For the first time in a week we were able to open the aft hatch, allowing us to ventilate the cabin a bit. All told, a very nice day of cruising along, followed by nighttime conditions nothing short of spectacular. It was one of those nights that are just made for rowing on the sea.

Along the way yesterday we saw a loggerhead turtle, 3 feet in diameter, orange in color, boxy in shape. He was swimming with a large plastic bottle (five gallon size), giving the impression that he might be tied to it in some way. But as we passed, he starting swimming for us, and we could tell he was okay. However we were outpacing him, and soon he was gone.

With the good weather last night and likewise our good spirits, we really put a lot of energy into the rowing, which accounts largely for our higher mileage. It appears we are once again rowing across the ocean, and no longer the Himalayas.


Day 26 Dec 3 at 07:00 GMT
Conditions have moderated a bit, but are still somewhat rough. We enjoyed a day of hanging onto the boat, doing as best we could.

I should mention that during the previous night's rough seas, one of the waves that crashed over the boat broke an oar of ours, snapping it like a matchstick. This was a carbon fiber oar, 2 inches in diameter. Which just goes to show the power of these waves sometimes. I vividly remember hanging on, the wave trying its best to throw us off the boat. In any case, we've repaired our wounded oar, and we also have several in reserve.

The following afternoon, with somewhat rough seas persisting, I jumped overboard with snorkling gear to scrub the boat's hull. I found it quite covered with barnacles, and removing them required about 20 minutes of vigorous exercise using a small carpet patch as a scrubber. Ordinarily we just swim along with the boat during this task, while the other rows. But this day the winds were pushing the boat sideways at about 1.2 knots, and so it was necessary to hang on at all times.

While under, I swam for a time with a beautiful Dorado, about 3 feet long. Presumably this is the same fish we saw two days earlier. Managed to get a good look at it this time, noting a few distinguishing scars along its side. Hopefully we'll be able to recognize it again. Sometimes a fish will adopt a boat and swim along with it for a number of days, even for 1000 miles or more on occasion.


Day 25 Dec 2 at 07:00 GMT
A good day's run, but also one of our more difficult days, due mostly to rough seas, which were about 12-15 feet in height. They were running from the east, which is a favorable direction for us, but at that size were difficult to handle nonetheless.

During the night, which was pitch dark, we had about 12 waves break over the top of us. Nothing serious, but it certainly takes one out of the comfort zone momentarily, which is always good for the soul. Following one particular wave, I was sitting on the rowing deck, up to my armpits in water. The whole boat was tucked under the wave as it crashed on top of us. Usually in these conditions, we just have big, breaking seas. But in this case, by happenstance, we were in the wrong place just as the sea broke over the boat.

Another wave threw about five gallons of water into the cabin, rendering our quarters essentially useless, and completely soaking all of our bedding. But then we reminded ourselves that this is a water sport and not a winnebago trip. We are using homemade quilts and happen to have a couple of inflatable camping-type mattresses along. So after mopping up the water as best we
could - sponging it up and bailing it out over the course of several hours - we used these inflatable mattresses to make a sleeping bag, one on the bottom, one on top. This created a dry haven to crawl inside; and then over this we draped our soaking wet quilts. We actually slept quite warm this way.

Our gear, as well as the cabin, are beginning to dry out again, and we're making good progress.


Day 24 Dec 1 at 07:00 GMT
For the last couple of days we've had pretty unruly seas. The winds have been from astern, which is good, but it's kicked up a big swell, which makes for difficult going. Nonetheless, we are making fairly good progress.

Yesterday we had quite a number of fish swimming and darting around the boat; we counted three or four trigger fish among them. These are beautiful, brilliantly colored fish, and their effect was all the more stunning in the aquamarine water. Also there were some Mahi Mahi, sometimes known as Dorado, and I do hope to be able to catch one today for Ray's birthday.

Yes, today, Dec 1, is Ray's 58th birthday. Before the trip, I had stashed away some cards from friends, and his mom had made cookie bars, so we celebrated his birthday this morning with cards, and pictures, and treats. One of his cards was signed by at least 50 of our skydiving friends; opening that was quite a thrill! As was seeing the picture of our friends. Thank you all.


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