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December 2002
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20, 21 December

Ray and Jenny Jardine: news from the route
Days 43-44 Dec 20, 21 at 07:00 GMT
Two gorgeous days of flat water and no wind. Even without the wind's beneficial shove, these very calm conditions make for easy rowing. We are becoming spoiled.

We are seeing more big fish lately, including our returning companion, probably a marlin. Despite our efforts, we still have not managed a very good look at it, although it certainly behaves like a marlin.

UP

Day 42 Dec 19 at 07:00 GMT
Yesterday we saw two large frigate birds, a beautiful species, black in color. Seeing them helped to make up for our lack of fish sightings in recent days.

Conditions were quite calm, with virtually no wind. The moon is nearly full, shining brightly in the sky as we rowed along last night.
Jenny

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Day 41 Dec 18 at 07:00 GMT
The seas were lumpy throughout the day, causing us to bounce around a bit and making for difficult rowing. Seas and winds became calm during the night. Cloud cover is very thick, but as yet without any accompanying rain.

We had trouble staying awake last night. Consequently, once we reached our 60 mile point for the day, we both hit the sack at the same time, taking 1.5 hours off and allowing the boat to drift.

Yesterday we saw a pair of tropicbirds. And in other news for the day, we happened to row past - not into - a drift net, suspended by a red buoy on one end and a green buoy on the other. Possibly a similar net was responsible for our sudden grinding to a halt several nights ago.

UP

Day 40 Dec 17 at 07:00 GMT
It was a very quiet day yesterday, with zero to three knots of wind and glassy seas. Under mostly clear skies, it was also quite hot. To protect us from the sun we erected a small awning - a piece of reflective mylar - and this worked well, particularly with the light winds. However we did have a little help in making progress yesterday, thanks to the south equatorial current. That, along with our hard rowing for 24 hours, granted us a very satisfactory 60 mile day.

Just at sunset, we were visited by a group of [ed. note: Ray's phone call became muddy around this point. But I believe he said 'porpoises.'] swimming about the boat. Also we saw another container ship yesterday, but this one was about 5 miles away, crossing perpendicular to our path. It presented no danger whatsoever.

About 6am GMT the winds started picking up, along with the seas, so it appears our little vacation is about over. Once more we are lumping and rolling along in good-sized chop. But we are well and enjoying the adventure as always.

UP

Day 39 Dec 16 at 07:00 GMT
We had another gorgeous day, with just the lightest breath of wind. Seas are amazingly flat: we estimate the wave height at one inch. Needless to say the view is incredible all around.

Ray went overboard to scrub the bottom of the boat free of barnacles, which had accumulated to half an inch in thickness. When finished, he climbed back aboard and got a freshwater rinse. About this time I noticed a big fish swimming alongside the boat near the stern. While I rowed, Ray went into the aft cabin and put his head and torso through the aft hatch, managing a close-up look at our traveling companion, which he believes was a marlin, about 7 feet long. The fish hung around for 15 minutes, all the while swimming not more than 10 feet away from the boat.

The night was once again beautiful, with an almost-full moon overhead - we call this our Barbados moon. The stars were magnificent as well. We couldn't ask for a more peaceful, serene night.
Jenny

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Day 38 Dec 15 at 07:00 GMT 952 miles remaining to Barbados
A high pressure cell is situated within a few hundred miles of us, depriving us of our beneficial trade winds. The seas are quite flat and almost glassy, undulating with the ground swells coming in from distant storms. So we have to work for our mileage as always, but it certainly feels like more work without the wind to assist us.

We had another glorious night, with the waxing moon illuminating the sea for two-thirds of the night. We also witnessed another meteor shower, perhaps two dozen meteors all told, one of which was brilliant green in hue. [ed. note: this may be the tail end of the recent Geminid meteor shower, one of the most consistent shows from year to year. It is believed that the parent material is from an asteroid rather than a comet, and that the resulting difference in composition and density yields the slow-moving, brightly
colored meteors.]

And speaking of beautiful displays in the sky, we continue to see our tropicbird every few days. We believe it is the same bird each visit.

We don't have a lot of spare time aboard. We row for one hour and when the person comes off the rowing shift he or she tends to do a few tasks and then tries to get some sleep. The bulk of these odd jobs we perform during the morning and afternoon hours, typically averaging between 20 and 40 minutes of sleep during each hour off-row. So it's mostly work and sleep; not until about 4pm GMT do we feel like we've made sufficient headway in our chores to allow us a bit of time for simply relaxing. And this is when we usually record our thoughts on the previous day's journey. Then in a few hours we start to switch cycle again for the evening, with an emphasis on sleeping during our downtime shifts.

UP

Day 37 Dec 14 at 07:00 GMT
Our trade winds seemed to have abandoned us for a time, and we're left with rather calm conditions. The seas are flattened to about a foot and a half, and the horizon now appears to expand on forever without the obscuring waves. For the first time on the trip we're getting a true glimpse of the immensity of the ocean.

Skies continue to be cloudy most of the time, with occasional sunshine. Although last night we had an absolutely magnificent time, with mostly cloud-free, calm conditions - really forcing us to dig in with the oars but we enjoyed the night immensely all the same. It was a spectacular night for viewing meteorites, and we saw literally hundreds of them. A few were brilliant blue in color, streaking across the sky like fireworks.

As this update appears it is now Day 38 of the trip, and at 11:00 GMT we reached the 2/3 point in our voyage, with approximately 1,000 miles remaining to Barbados. So we're on the downhill run now.

I would like to give a special thanks to Brett Tucker for handling these updates, for transcribing our messages from a cell phone answering machine and posting them to the web. I would also like to thank some special friends at the skydiving center: to Chris and Ray for polar bears and penguins, to Omar and Olivia for the little boat that could, and to Astrid for her continued encouragement. And we would like to especially congratulate our friends who completed in the recent world record skydiving formation: a gigantic, 300 person snowflake-like formation, with something like 15 airplanes required for the jump.

UP

Day 36 Dec 13 at 07:00 GMT
The day before yesterday Ray was rowing under total darkness of night when suddenly the boat slammed to a stop and the oars quit working. Mystifying. We got out our flashlights to see what had happened, but within a few seconds the boat was free again and floating along. Apparently we had run into a fishing net or something, although we could find no trace of it. Nor had the boat suffered any damage as a result.

Last night, another dark night, Jenny was rowing while wearing her rain jacket. She had it draped loosely over her, since it wasn't raining at the time, when lo and behold a flying fish jumped from the water and landed in the back of the rain jacket.

And one more item of humor: during Ray's rowing shift in the wee hours of the night, he suddenly fell asleep, falling off the rowing seat and slamming into the deck. He awoke with a start, one of the few times he can recall ever waking up laughing.

UP

Day 35 Dec 12 at 07:00 GMT
A very enjoyable day yesterday, even as we continue to experience big lumpy seas. The wind, what little there is, has veered back to the north, coming in on our starboard quarter, which offers very little assistance.

Last night the rains came less frequently, and we enjoyed rowing under the gorgeous moonlight for a time. Moments like this remind us of how special is this journey, and of how beneficial it is to escape from the distractions of modern life for a while. Out here our minds really open up to the beauty all around us, allowing us to clean out some of those accumulated cobwebs in the
attic.

One of our more difficult decisions on this trip was whether or not to mount any kind of sail to the boat, which was especially tempting given our sailing background. Ultimately we decided against using one at all costs except in an emergency, and we've held firm to this decision throughout the trip. Too, we're thankful that we made up our minds early on, as this has improved our resolve during the more challenging moments out here.

UP

Day 34 Dec 11 at 07:00 GMT
The trip is going very well so far; we are enjoying it and finding it to be every bit the challenge we had anticipated. Even with the stormy conditions, we have encountered no problem that has proven unmanageable, and our bodies are holding up very well. We eat corn pasta for dinner probably three out of four evenings, and think it's the greatest thing in cooked food, such is the go-power that it provides.

We're still rowing in one-hour intervals, meaning one of us rows for an hour while the other sleeps, the next hour we exchange positions, and so on. Yet with all of the rain we've had lately, we sometimes find ourselves extending the shifts by a few minutes, waiting out a storm if possible, in order to allow the "relief" rower to begin under more favorable conditions.

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