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                 The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records

 


News from the route 

 
You can read the latest news in English on
The Oceans.net

 
 

The following text is via computer translation program, so expect some minor inaccuracies.
For original text in French go to http://maudfontenoy.free.fr/journal_01.htm

October 10th, 8.15am, Orly Airport, Paris
Maud arrived at Orly Airport and was greeted by her parents, friends, Ocean rower Gerard d'Aboville, Speaker of The House Jean-Francois Cope, Kenneth F.Crutchlow, media/press and a crowd of about 100 well-wishers .

Maison de Radio France, 11.00am
There was a press-conference attended by about 200 press and others. Gerard d'Aboville read a letter of congratulations from The President of the Republic Jacques Chirac addressed to Maud. Kenneth F. Crutchlow also congratulated Maud and confirmed Maud as the first woman to successfully row The Atlantic from West to East; Maud's crossing is added to the ORS statistics as the 101st successful row.
Maud then addressed those present for about an hour, at the end of which she recieved a standing ovation

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October 9th

Maud arrived this night at 4 o'clock at La Coruña after 117 days, 14 hours and 10 minutes of rowing!! Before she tells us herself about the last hours of her voyage, she makes a point of cordially thanking all those who helped her and who helped her team on land during these last hours, in particular BIG THANKS TO:
Alba & Angel Renedo
Jacques Pailleret
Liliana & Walter Simonson
Jerome Marcillet
Le Rotary Club de La Corogne
Le Rotary Club de Gijon
Spanish Navy
Le CROSS Gris Nez and its Spanish counterpart
Finally all the friends French and Spanish, known and unknown, who have worked for 2 days in large chains of solidarity. THANK YOU ALL !

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October 8th

This morning, as soon as the sky was cleared after the night storm, Maud FINALLY could distinguish LAND under the large clouds. SUPER!!!

No boat could have been chartered to join her, so she decided to row along the coasts for about thirty miles to La Coruña where a team was waiting. Expected high-speed motorboat refuses to leave for reason of "too agitated sea"!!!

At present (22h) Maud is obviously in the night, facing the lights of La Coruña port. It's her second sllepless night in a row. She waits for somebody to find a solution - not to let her land by her ownn...

At the request of Mr Jean François Copé, Mr Dominique de Villepint dispatched a French Navy boat to join Maud in order to protect her from the cargo liners.
 
 

The arrival to Spain is expected Thursday morning
to
La Coruña: you still have time to buy a plane ticket!

Maud will then fly to Paris Orly
to arrive Friday morning at 8:10 AM flight AF7481

A reception is planned with personalities and media;
you are welcome.

Finally a great "Press Conference" will be organized Friday at the end of the morning (location still not fixed);
we expect to meet you there!

 

October 7th

A true horror. Maud rowed all night long. The activ-echo radar did not stop signaling; cargo ships everywhere! The night did not arrange anything, it just made the situation more difficult. Three of them passed very closely to PILOT, including one in less than 30 meters at more than 15 knots.

VIVEMENT L'ARRIVEE... let's hope, tomorrow, and than shortly to Paris.
 

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October 6th

It's a hard day: Maud is TIRED. She has sore back and buttocks. This morning, she has given all her energy to advance towards the East, but the wind and the waves push her to the South. The ground of Spain approaches with great strides. Maud believes to feel the wonderful odor of paella, but remains anxious: she wouldn't like to approach the coasts along with strong winds.

This night, as a safety measure, and to slow down PILOT's drift, Maud plans to use para-anchors. She crosses fingers for those last nights at sea pass as quickly as possible and those cargo liners finally stop annoying her. The night is likely to be very long for Maud because she is just in the middle of the cargo route Ouessant/Cape Finisterre - Spain.

So she will row all the night to breake as soon as possible away from this dangerous zone. The arrival approaches and it is so much the better.... for her and for us too!
 

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October 5th

Another night to suffer from the attacks of the wind and waves. Maud doesn't manage any more to maintain PILOT in latitude, she descends a bit more south each day and there is no chance that the winds pass to the South.

The day has just begun, she feels like an apple, which someone left in the boot of his car for 24 hours. Imagine the result!!! It is cold, but abnormal thing, she has her socks wet. Jumping out of her bed, Maud raises her mattress with concern... no doubt, there's a leak in the aft!! Oh no, that's something she missed most of all!! With a sponge and a towel, she tries to evaluate how challenging the problem is.

Impossible to find the source of water, but at first sight, it could only be the external ring, in which passes the end of the drift anchor, which is ragged. The wave strokes were so violent, (they had even broken a mooring rope at the beginning of the crossing) that it wouldn't be astonishing that they end up tearing the ring off.

At the moment, by chance, that does nothing but to leek, Maud tries not to think about the next strong gale. The wind is currently so strong, that it is not possible to do something effective. Maud keeps her eyes open wide...

At the end of the day, the wind and the waves decrease, the stern of PILOT isn't constantly in water any more, the leek slowed down. There is nothing left but to wait for the ocean to became calm (let's dream) so Maud can go acrobatics outside the cabin.

And let's repete again: VIVEMENT L'ARRIVEE !!!!
 

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October 4th

The sky is gray, it rains from time to time, it's cold, a true autumnal day to stay indoors. Maud still rows eastwards... in fact south-eastwards, unfortunately, because of the north wind.

More and more cargo liners and container ships pass by the boat, Maud is on alert day and night, trying not to find herself in their way. She follows them attentively with glance while they carry on, blindfolded.

It will never be repeted enough, VIVEMENT L'ARRIVEE !!!!!!
 

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October 3rd

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! WARNING TO ALL NET SURFERS: Let us proclaim weather sites, programmed not to forecast western winds, NOT trustworthy. Let us repeat: Be extremely vigilant - don't you trust them, even if you want to see Miss Maud arriving soon!

The truth is: PILOT is in a zone of northern winds, turning north-eastern. It pulls up for not to land on a Spanish coast. In three days a depression with winds of more than 40 knots is announced.

Maud is feeling sick about it already. A storm in the Bay of Biscay ready to burst out - it's exactly what she apprehended. Images of the last strong gale still haunt her, she seemed to have aged 10 more years and the boat, capsizing non-stop, barely broke her neck. She doesn't want to go throug it again and especially not so close to the coasts with no possibility to control the situation. What a misery!!
 

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October 2nd

Day 111 was similar to three preceding.

Small summary of the facts:

Maud, for whom good hot bath and dry polar outfit are waiting upon arrival, rowed all night. It wsn't warm enough out there but the gleams of hundreds of stars softened a little the atmosphere by making scintillate the phosphorescent plankton with each stroke of oar, which seemed to be transformed into the magic wand touching the ocean. PILOT was moving East.

But, wait! Just before the sunrise, the mocking wind turned East again. GRRRR!! Maud wonders what drives her fate to retain her for such a long time on this longitude. Not to despair too much of the situation, she is convinced that is surely to protect her from something... the passage of a cargo liner, from a shark killer of oarswoman, or worse, a terrible hurricane. In brief, in spite of her efforts, there she is, she remains there!

Nevertheless,

- positive fact #1: each time, she succeeded in gaining a few miles and approaches, certainly slowly, but still approaches the coast;

- positive fact #2: the sea is not quite rough and the wind speed has not exceeded 25 knots for a few days. Maud keeps hoping for a new change of wind direction to come very quickly.
 

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October 1st

The sombre melancholy which had submerged the boat yesterday is flown away at daybreak at the time when the wind, which became considerably stronger and held Maud on her feet during the night, calmed down. The storm also gave up the spirit early in the morning. The sky bit by bit became less black and the sea more tolerable.

Nevertheless, PILOT is still moving back, Maud keeps an eye on the direction and the force of the wind, waiting for that magic moment, when she'll be able to row again TOWARDS the ARRIVAL!

She had to have patience until the evening to set off again. PILOT thus passed again by this poisoning 11th degree of longitude for 3rd or 4th consecutive time.

The sky wasn't clear, but large clouds, varying from the light gray to dark blue, make it look like a chef d'oeuvre, compensating the absence of the sun. Then, early in the evening, it tore in the south on a one meter height only letting appear its luminous turquoise blue bottom.

Maud literally returned to life. The sea also took again a more pleasing colour and the air became more gentle. The night comes, Maud warmed herself with a Cantonese rice (freeze-dried) and, waiting impatiently for stars to appear, she dreams to catch a falling star.
 

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September 30th

Maud spends the day shivering under the rain. First of all, having no more spare clothes it isn't really funny to be soaked to the bones, then the situation doesn't get better when she returns (from time to time) to the cabin to warm herself up, because despite all precautions there's so little space that nothing prevents her jacket from draining a little everywhere.

Last night she experienced a problem with falling asleep because of the cold, thus she's afraid of the evening coming. Dtermined to return home quickly and to take a quite hot shower, she advances PILOT to the maximum in this anticyclonic stagnation, but from the midlle of the afternoon, like an encouragement, the East wind has risen again. Maud wisely notes her position and prays for her efforts of the last 48 hours not to be completely wasted. Exhausted, she takes refuge in her cockpit, huddles up in her wet sleeping bag and watches the rain falling sadly on the boat. Maud sighs deeply, she forbids herlesf sinking in the melancholy.
 

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September 29th

Maud got a migraine after hitting... the partition by her head. If she would have been on land, someone generous at heart would have surely put his broad hand over her forehead to relieve it. But there, in the middle of the Atlantic, she's all alone, and nothing nor anybody comes to calm her pain. This loneliness stresses her terribly.

The weather today is a bit better. At 3'o'clock in the morning the wind from East calmed and PILOT appeared in the very heart of an anticyclone, with air totally quiet. Maud went to the oars. The wind stayed in bed during the day and thus she could hour after hour crowl few miles towards France. According to the last forecast, to take with tweezers of course - it starts to become usual - the winds sholud switch to the contrary again tomorrow.

Maud refuses to think that the miles, gained with such a struggle, will be traversed in the opposite direction - it's too depressing. She prefers to convince herself that each stoke of oar brings her closer to the goal and that the weather is too uncertain and capricious to trust it 100%. Tomorrow will be another day and we'll see what the tide will bring!

While waiting, it's necessary to keep the thoughts clear, the smile and at the top of the form. She will not let this devil of Eole destroy her dream!

After all if arrived for Halloween, Maud will have a right to get plenty of candies, won't she?
 

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September 28th

8th day on a drift anchor.

The more days crossing takes the more uncomfortable becomes life on board. Each hour the land moves further away. As time passes, the number of the needed things missing increases. Who could have imagined a season with so much disturbed weather? The freeze-dried food became out-of-date today, Maud hopes that it will last until the end of her row.

Time passes so slowly, it makes Maud lose her mind. The simple everyday life becomes a test. PILOT is shaken terribly. Impossible to sleep. Maud is thrown from one side to another without possibility to fix herself.

"To hold on", "to be patient", "not to get discouraged", these words resound in her head at the rhythm of the waves... It's hard not to be affected by this nightmare.

How will Maud set a Christmas tree up, not much of decoration on board? She sighs lengthily like submerged by memories of family meeting.
 

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September 27th

Welcome to the marvellous world of PILOT. The sky is blue, the sun shines, the birds sing, the sea is of oil, PILOT slips at high speed directing to the French coasts. Maud, in her dress of princess Marine Pool made of pearls and gold, awaits a Charming Prince... Charming... Charming... Charming...

Eh yes, dear friends, the fairy tale is not for this weekend. The winds remain contrary. Behaving this way, Eole makes Maud nervous. She tried everything: from the look of steel to the flaming one, passing by languorous smiles - nothing happened, he remains of ice!
 

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September 26th

Yesterday in the evening the wind started to turn, Maud finally could breath. Happy of having this possibility, she started to row.

This morning, you won't believe it, the wind blows from East, leaving her in the absolute distress. PILOT moves back again, passing by these few miles won hardly during the night. It's something to become insane of. The only explanation - Eole must want to test which of two is more determined. Maud thus adopts her usual philosophy, being resigned to have patience one day more... Let us hope that it will be only one day.

Then, like testifying his compassion, Eole, trying to excuse his jokes, sent her... some butterflies!

Incredible but true, more than 300 nautical miles off the coast, three butterflies, golden and orange, danced next to PILOT. From time to time they landed on the boat, offering a mixture of softness, fragility and joy. To find themselfs in such a middle of nowhere because of 4 days of easterly wind did not seem to throw them into a panic. Relaxed, in merry and light mood, they circled, decided well to live the present moment.

At another time Maud would probably share their feelings, but today, contrary, she wants to return home prior to the next storm and not to risk her life in this adventure. Timing is of a cardinal importance; October will soon be there and with him the dangers of a hostile ocean, which is well likely to forget that 3 months ago, it agreed to tolerate this young woman in her small boat struggling to go to the end of her dream.
 

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September 25th

I M moving forward, if the winds forecast proves true.

Maud is dying of impatience. Another 24 hours of imprisonment in this police van, being punched from every direction, and she will take the drift anchors out of water, grab the oars and PILOT will continue its way towards the raising sun.

Today, in spite of the increasingly black sky and the ocean heavily shaking the boat, the hope reappears. Maud draws her charts to count the miles she did yesterday, she looks at the chart, at the GPS, at the calendar, then again at the chart and she hopes, she dreams again and again and she thinks over the approach to this damned 5th degree of longitude.

After having washed herself (in the coooool, brrrr...), Maud tries to forget about pain in her back (which is getting worse), and attentively observes the direction of the wind and the movement of the waves. PILOT is on the starting position. The candle is lit, the positive waves receiver is turned on, prayer books are out of locker: everything is ready for ..th start... but there is still more than 23 hours left to wait.
 

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September 24th

Once again, silence fell down on the small boat. Everything around seems to be painted in a uniform and sad granite gray. Sun didn't show up during the day. So everything remained wet and cold. These long minutes, hours and days of waiting for winds to turn, when nothing comes to distract her, add nothing to her despair to see the arrival. The motto was clear since the first day: keep smiling, though it costs some.

Maud takes refuge in her thoughts, trying to keep self-confidence. It should be acknowledged, this self-control strengthened her body and soul far beyond any expectations.

In the middle of the day, Maud decides what she would like to have as a first meal on land. Worse than Asterix and Obelix when they disputed on the best manner of consuming their mushrooms (soup, omelette, salad)... She came to a question: to ask or not to ask seafood and sushi upon arrival. Why would it be absolutely necessary to want red meat?

In brief, she entreats you, dear friends, to lick your plates twice while thinking of her.

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September 23rd

to Pierre Lasnier, my dear meteorologist, who, unfortunately, is never mistaken.

It is the morning, Maud opens her eyes. She suffered from pain in the back during the night. The boat did not cease jumping on the waves, it's very cold and twice she had to get up as the cargo liners passed next to PILOT.

The winds are unfortunately contrary as forecasted. PILOT moves back again to the West. Maud wonders whether she will see one day the arrival.

It become painful to advance for three days then to go back during two days... She feels herself so little in her square meter of vital space, facing this wind, this sea, which bars the passage to her, and vis-a-vis with this wheater which runs with indifference.

So, what to do? To cry of rage? Hate the drift anchors turned out half-effective? To complain while thinking of the men who left St John (Newfoundland) to get to Ireland in less than 60 days? Why the weather is so disgusting this year?

Definitely, to take her humble place next to those who have already done it isn't something easy to do. The arrival banters at her - such a mirage, it appears then disappears in the sands of fate. Each time that returns Maud to her loneliness. The ocean surely wants to play more.

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September 22nd

Brief summary of the situation on board PILOT: didn't inform you last week for not to worry you, but Maud seriously cut her foot; it seems nevertheless that thanks to Betadine morning and evening, that goes better.

Her watermaker is functioning again, so she's not worrying any more to drink salted water and now can rehydrate without economizing her freeze-dried food.

The sky changes from the clear gray to the dark gray, the sea is rough and the weather forecast for the next three days proclaims wind from the East. The Ocean seems to want to keep her a little more with him.

Perhaps there are still more lessons to learn from this challenge: after all, she wasn't ran over by a cargo ship yet, didn't lose her Argos beacon, she didn't survive a gas explosion and who knows what else...

At least one thing is for sure - Maud's will to cross the finish line, her immense desire to hit the coast, seem to be narrowly pinned to her body since the beginning. Her muscles are tired, but the more the land approaches, the more fire of her desire is flames up. Sometimes it becomes cherishing to calm her pains and to tenderize the atmosphere somehow, sometimes it is sharp, intransigent, giving the body force to fight; but her sorrows do not escape her - they're always there trying to maintain balance, endeavouring her to remain friends with her small arms, her back and her legs which make a good part of the job.
 

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September 21st

This exchange of smiles, these few words of live voice over the noise of the wind, this boat in a few meters from her (and what a beautiful boat is this SILL!!) - Maud lengthily reconsidered it. That was really fabulous.

She was impressed by the dexterity with which Bilou maneuver his 60 feet. Since he left her, Maud feels really lonely. She wants terribly to return to the world. This short visit left a real feeling of 'too brief' and awoke in her insatiable desires of hugs and kisses.

For information: Bilou already returned to his home port, not later than this afternoon.

Besides that, as expected, the depression front passed. But the wind of 30 knots is still here. The sea is rough and PILOT is shaken in all directions.
 

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September 20th

Once upon a time, PILOT and Maud, without fresh water, in the Atlantic...

...We had stopped yesterday in the middle of the valves, membranes and other pieces of the watermaker...
After redoubling her efforts in the morning Maud finally succeeded in making him spit a little water. It is not yet the end, because the beast is very heavy and extremely tired Maud wasn't able to put it at its original place. She had to secure it the way it doesn't strike her during capsize, and this is it; she will place it back when the sea is less agitated (hopefully in 2 or 3 days).

... As a good luck never arrives alone... suddenly, emerging from the fog, such a Zorro on his faithful destrier, Roland Jourdain on SILL his monohull of 60 feet, appeared. He's on his way home after a few days of training and passed by chance not far from PILOT.

Roland Jourdain and SILL - the hero of the dayAs Maud definitely have luck, he had precisely one jerrican of fresh water, which he released very close to PILOT so that she can come to get it. The wind of 30 knots and the rough sea wouldn't allow any other way of transfer. Such is a dream - it always lasts only a few moments. After last wave of the hand, the Knight disappeared quickly... even without leaving his telephone number!!

Whaooou!... Isn't it a fairy tale?!
For a moment, Maud was overwhelmed with joy: she had just ensured a new fresh water reserve (nobody knows, if Mr. W. Maker would start to do his job again) and she had had the pleasure of an astonishing visit...

Unfortunately, there is still a wind which isn't going to cease to gain strenght. It must be around 40 knots in the evening and will last until tomorrow morning at least. Maud realized that the nightmare is not finished yet and the arrival seemed terribly far. Her shoulders dropped down.

As soon as Bilou (aka Roland Jourdain) moved away and Maud slaked her thirst, she installs her small para anchor as stabilizer and starts to prepare her cabin to possible capsizes. There's nothing left to do but wait, in next 24 hours, which are going to be painful, Maud will reconsider this large red boat, slipping on water with more than 12 knots, passing so close to her, while making tinkle its ropes against its mast. It was a magic moment which she is not ready to forget.

Thanks again Roland for this maritime solidarity.
 

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September 19th

As you could probably imagine, the life becomes very difficult on board PILOT. The consumption of sea water isn't really a pleasure and causes digestion problems to our oarswoman. The sporting challenge was gradually transformed into a test of survival at sea.

Maud economizes the small quantity of fresh water remained; unfortunately, in addition to making feel the first signs of thirst, that seriously hurts her already very rudimentary diet. During the night she felt hungry and didn't manage to sleep. Finally, at 3 o'clock in the morning, she resorted to rehydrate a dish. To advance her small PILOT, which require from her to be in good form physically, remains fundamental task. Of course the French coast seem close at first sight, but in fact many days of rowing are still needed to reach it. It's not necessary to weaken now, or particularly to fall in hypoglycemia.

Maud tries to keep her thoughts clear. Each morning she evaluates her situation most objectively possible, adds a bit of humour and prepares morally to her trivial daily battle.

She lives day after day, bounding herself because of the number of uncertainties, extrapolations, forecasts or other estimates which probably could turn out inaccurate and particularly disappointing. All the day, she dreams to cross a cargo liner, but nothing appears at the horizon.

Lastly, as you can suspect, Maud spends several hours of the day endeavouring to repair her watermaker, creating a new water inlet (thus avoiding the doubt about the passability of the old one). She hopes that it recovers to function, but not a breath comes out. The only result is a one more hole in the hull, blocked by now, and that her cut on the finger was reopened. However she doesn't give up her idea to find the problem.

Here, to conclude this small summary from this 99eme day of sea, the wind changed again to the East. Maud thus made few miles to the North, moving away from Spain. Good-bye beautiful dreams of churros and paella!
 

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September 18th

This time, the situation becomes really critical: the 2nd desalinisator, that of survival, is not functioning any more. The 2 legs retaining the axis being used to actuate the handle broke. It was just what Maud needed to face! What a galley!

In brief, since yesterday evening, there's no watermaking facility remained on board. And hardly 8 liters of water in reserve.

The solutions are as follows:

1. To pray for the electric watermaker which worked for half an hour the other day, recovers to function again. From time to time would be enough, nobody asks for more. Then only the problem of the sky, currently completely covered, which prevents the battery from recharging, is left to be solved.

2. To meet a ship passing close enough in quiet sea, to make a VHF contact and to beg for a jerrican of fresh water.

3. Dance in the rain! One can always dream!

While waiting, STRICT RESTRICTIONS applied.

Alain Bombard advises Maud to replace 1/3 of her daily consumption by sea water. She's aware that this theory is controversial, but today it is her only solution. Thus she sticks to it. You could just imagine the taste, for the rest, she will see how well she feels in a few days. Then there remains the problem of the food which is entirely dehydrated. On board PILOT, to survive, one needs water for drinking, but also for cooking.

The night was long, to think and reconsider all that. Maud tries nevertheless to remain most serene possible. The important issue is to keep the thoughts clear and not to sink in pessimism.

All is not yet desperate. The good forecasts certainly will come true tomorrow and PILOT still approaches the deliverance. Lastly, an incredible thing that Maud keeps in mind, it is that in spite of the storm, significant breakage on board and the bad luck, there is something which always functions - the solar panels. Fortunately, the contact with land isn't broken. Besides that, this morning Maud turned her 2nd Argos beacon on, the 1st one was at the end of its lifespan, and she can thus remain 90 additional days at sea! Pleasing, isn't it?

Devil, what a relief this arrival will be!
 

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September 17th

The sun is not raised yet, Maud doesn't sleep when her Active Echo Radar sounds. Head in the bubble, she looks at the cargo liner which crosses her course. The night is so dark that all she can discern are liner's side-lights which - like fireflies - seem to dance in the night at the rhythm of the waves.

The winds are turning. Maud buckles her harness up and without losing a minute settles at her rowing station. Gradually, alarm calmed down and the boat is again all alone in the twilight.

In the morning, taking coordinates, she notes once again, that the small jokes of Eole will have cost her 7 days of rowing. PILOT's position by 8 a.m. comes to be placed just next to the last week one. Maud preferring not to dwell on this subject for too long, quickly folds up the chart and switches to heating water for a freeze-dried breakfast. The coffee with milk and the croissants, uh, no, cherries - unfortunately not today.

The weather forecast is good for two more days, but after... uncertainty.

Though, this adventure enabled her to put an outline of this stoical philosophy in which she is interested so much. Then, who knows, perhaps these hard moments, this sobriety, this exactingness towards herself, this life of few things, next to the wilderness, will allow her, failing to find the truth, become a bit wiser!! Because even if to become a stoical ascetic isn't easy thing, she does her best during each difficult moment, to compensate the weaknesses of the body by the moral strength. May this be her secret?

And yet, God only knows how TERRIBLY she misses the land and its pleasures!
 

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September 16th

Regardless of the forecasts, the winds are always contrary. Maud looks at her small watermaker and wonders how much longer will it be able to stand. This water history does not cease worrying her. And was the problem with old one just a water flow stopped by the barnacles?

With a long stick, Maud tries to scrape the hull, but this process appears ineffective. First of all, she does not manage to reach the lower part of the boat, and then the small beasts are stuck so well that they should be torn off by hand. There is a lot of them on the hull, some measure up to 4 cm. Could you imagine how much that must slow down the boat.

Maud starts to reflect; useless to divide the hair in 4, the solution is simple: it is necessary to plunge. But in fact it's easier to say than to make. Water is very cold, Maud is wearing polar, sharks are not so far, and below: 4000 m to the ocean floor plus the risk not to get back on board.
However, if that could solve the water problem... Well, it is decided, she goes there!

Maud diverShe undresses and fastens her harness; in this swell, a bond with the boat is essential. BRRR... It is cold, go Maud! 1.2.3... Splash! Quickly the mask, no time to lose. In no time she detaches all the barnacles. BINGO! there is one of them which blocks the inlet of the watermaker. Aahh, if that could be that... One moment Maud ventured to look below her... plenty of fish. As starboard of PILOT is clean, she decides to get back on board. Trembling of cold it's a hell of a job. After making it to the deck she has to go down again to the other side. Finally port side is clean, she goes up to warm herself. Here you are - the magic of adrenalin: it's the first time that she manages to leave water so quick!

Recovered, Maud tries to start the watermaker. ... Let's be positive: it's a little better, a filament of water runs for a while, Maud collects 1/2 liter, then nothing... pfff... we'll see tomorrow.

UP

September 15th

The weather conditions remain the same but Maud regained her usual good spirits. Fortunately the blues of yesterday was only momentary and the few sunbeams which filtered today were enough to bring the smile back on her face.

PILOT is still moving back but not so quickly now. Maud is delighted - if everything will be all right, she will be able to withdraw two drift anchors soon and to get back on her way. Ouessant longitude is still well far!

Maud benefits from this day to make some cleaning and refill her water reserves.

 

Let's encourage Maud - rebuild her morale!
To send her a message (for free):
get to the WWW.IRIDIUM.COM
Click SEND A SATELLITE MESSAGE in the middle
her number is
8816 31 55 49 48

 

UP

September 14th

PILOT is on sea anchor to move back the least possible. Maud, sitting in the cockpit, with her look lost in the watery waste. Throughout the day, she observes the sea to be formed gradually and this impetuous east wind grow stronger from hour to hour. Her terrible impotence in this situation makes her melancholic.

Today, once again, the ocean is a Master of the play. To become its puppet - it ruins her mood again. Maud's boat is on drift as any boat left of shipwreck could be, and the passing hours add a little to her anguish to be still in the open ocean in a tiny boat, so late in season.

Her spirit is submerged in uncertainties. Where will she be in one week? In fifteen days? How many more storms will she undergo?

Maud leans against the front cap; what could that force be, that ferment, what makes her stick to her dream?
PILOT is raised by a wave larger than others.

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September 13th

The weather forecasts are bad. On the menu: days of wind from East plus the sky covered by a gray cloudy cluster depriving the boat of the sunlight. The moral of the troops gets lower.

Maud tries to remain the most stoical possible. Groaning would change nothing. It is necessary to have patience and avoid thinking of too close arrival. After all, there's still some food remaining, the manual desalinisator works fine, the interior of PILOT starts to dry and she haven't met a container ship for days. What is certain, it is that the winds always end up turning back. Then, if Eole hoped to intimidate or to discourage her - NO WAY!

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September 12th

This anticyclone becomes a bit aggravating. In the night PILOT moved back again. Maud feels like captured in the trap. It's easy to say with the smile "she was never so close to the land", but it feels well that the winds and the currents tend to lead her towards Morocco. Obviously the Spanish coasts are not more than in 180 nautical miles, but the closer she approaches, the more risk to be struck by the "Great South" increases. What's good in making the big loop!

All the day Maud fights in order to prevent moving too much to the west, but there's nothing she can change. She looks at the meter turning back and reconsiders the long effort needed to make these few miles yesterday. Her muscles are strained, her back and side hurt. Although very tired, it's difficult for her to fall asleep. Today her only remedy resides in hope of a fast arrival.

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September 10th

Today there's nothing to see on the horizon but the thick vapour cloud prohibiting any access to the sun. Neither Charming Prince, nor a beautiful white boat, not even a coast within range of sight. Nothing of nothing, but the vastness of the ocean which, today (what a snake?), undulates calmly southward. The PILOT remains insulated, captive of its anticyclonic bubble.

Maud had to turn over to her romantic daydream, meditating on her condition of tiny spark, on a frail bark only, struggling nevertheless with force, as inhabited by an astonishing boiling, at the same time with her heart heavy of fears and doubts and burning insatiable desire of achievment, quite a small atom that it can be.

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September 9th

The boat is currently in an anticyclonic bubble, the sky has reappeared and the atmosphere has been heated just a little bit up: a treat… It is true that our Miss seriously starts to be cold, especially at night, but with that wet interior there is nothing she can realy do. At midday, Maud thus benefits from these sunrays to wash herself with sea water. The head winds weakening, Maud redoubles efforts on her oars. It is necessary to catch up with the distance lost yesterday. The clouds being very few, present Maud a hope for to-night, that while pumping her daily quota of water, she would be able to enjoy beautiful sun going to bed behind the horizon.

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September 8th

Josephine decided that from now it would not separate any more from its helmet. Any way, Maud never makes use of it (of the bowl): it is all the advantage of the freeze-dried food which is eaten directly from the bag. This morning, after a very difficult night, the winds are still very strong, they turn without scruple to sector NE, what is no good at all for returning home very quickly . Maud tears off the hair. This unstable weather becomes a true torment.

Trying to remain Zen as much as possible, she pulls Marcus Aurelius out from under her pillow. The Meditations, Book IV, Thought XLIX "Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it". Doesn't it make you to await the delivery wisely?

Besides that the sky is gray, there are rains from time to time, but as the cockpit is endlessly submerged by the waves, it is impossible to collect anything not salted...

September 7th

35 knots wind, 5 m waves, 2 upsettings, 1 sleepless night to asphyxiate inside the cabin and always the same anguish to make you catch a jaundice: to see the boat dislocated by the floods. This evening and tomorrow, the forecasts are worse and complete to break on the 9th, what could have been a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Maud clings to her dreams about voyages and children. Trying not to let herself be depressed, she goes with her thoughts to Land. She remembers the freshness of the tiling under the feet, the odor of the apple tart that she cooks, the voices of people whom she loves, her joggings in forest breathing the scents of the flowers and the trees, the pleasure of slipping into a clean tee-shirt which smells the soupline good, the tap from where water runs with profusion when you open it; a few minutes without the din of the beachcombers and these painful ceaseless movements... Storm is reinforced already, the boat has just now been on its side, the log-book made a gliding flight towards the kettle and Maud cannot find her pencil anymore. PILOT lowers the head courageously, it passes from the peak to the trough of the waves while trembling, one would believe that it rolls on gravel. Its pace accelerates unceasingly, as if it hurried so that the next hill is finally the last.

"Capsizings: Gerard d' Aboville compares them with a car accident. Personally, I roll... That very prudently would resemble rather in my eyes with the feeling of being at the edge of sea, when you are embarked in a roller which strikes you to half and which you do not manage to leave: you are lost, you choke, that happens very quickly, but panic has nevertheless time to gain you"

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September 6th

The sky is covered, it starts to be very dark, and the sea assembles and takes a steel colour. The envisaged strong gale is approaching. Maud apprehends, her belly is tightened. Admittedly, she knows what to expect now, it is not her first depression, but this time it is different, her body is still very painful, PILOT suffered much, and then morally, that starts to be too much. In vain she tries to be most positive, as dynamic and enthusiastic as possible - it becomes too difficult after being at sea for 86 days of loneliness and rowing; she is very tired and she really would like to hasten all that has to be finished. Perfectly conscious of the risks, she pays more possible attention, remembering at every moment that there is always a hand for oneself, then only after, a hand for the boat. It is justified with each stroke of oar because prudence today is essential, especially to remain the least long possible at sea. It is true that the weather has not been always sympathetic since the beginning, but it is still regarded nevertheless as lucky being in track... Your positive waves must be there for something!! She crosses her fingers so that that lasts, even though she has to pump a good part of the night, that goes well like that. Josephine on its side is rather content, it will be its first storm inside, it made a bed in the shoes of Maud (Marine Pool, of course) and a super helmet with a bowl. Maud is ready. Something's going to happen pretty soon pretty soon.

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September 5th

 It is approximately 3 o'clock in the morning when somebody knocks suddenly in the roof of the cabin: "No, PILOT, it is not yet the hour to get up, it is necessary to await the sun..." No answer. Maud decides to raise her head and to open an eye. PILOT sleeps deeply. Randomly, she thus launches half asleep: "ENTER! ". Great silence again. She surely has to sleep on...
At daybreak, it is Josephine who awakes Maud while jumping on its berth. Ah yes, because since the storm, when it was traumatized, it's got a permission to sleep inside. Maud leaves open a small port-hole so that it can return and leave its own way "Quickly, quickly, come to see, you've got something new on board!" Maud looks out at once and finds herself nose to nose with... an aglet. It is it that jumped in the cockpit during the night. It is very small, bluish, pretty like all, with a small head ending in a long needle. This small fish was returned to the sea and Maud - to her pasta bolognaise for the breakfast.
Today the sky is covered, the sea is normally agitated (1 to 2 m of hollow). Our oarswoman benefits from it because strong winds are expected at 6 - 7pm.
But there is a great news: after having left her mess tins more than 8 or 9 times for nothing, our Miss came this time to collect more than one litre of rainwater!

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September 4th

Still one more new departure... This morning when looking at her chart, Maud noted that today she is within the same distance from the coast as approximately 12 days ago... and in addition much more south. The storm has really been frightening. This wonderful chart (she tries not to look at it too often) has become a source of constant pain - to see the coast which does not approach at all. Spain seems to be closer than France, but at the present time it is still too early to have any chance to predict where PILOT will arrive. New depressions have been forecasted, and who knows where they will push PILOT to! Maud thus concentrates over each day that passes, being essential for a possible rhythm of life to be more organized, trying to row her maximum and still refusing to make forecasts for arrival date - disappointment would be too big!
The days pass slowly. The interior of PILOT is much less pleasant than at the beginning. All is soaked with salt water, all is sticky. Many things were broken and Maud finds still here or there some remainders of the cereals which were trotted all over the cockpit during the storm. She tries not to pay too much attention to it. There is only one important point - the arrival, and it demands to take care of her body as much as possible, so that to avoid having big problems with health.
But don't you worry, in spite of her wet clothing, not much varied food and impossibility of rinsing herself with fresh water, her morale remains high and she keeps smiling. Her determination even seems to become stronger day by day: GIVING UP IS OUT OF THE QUESTION.

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September 3rd

Good news: Maud succeeds in repairing a ballast pump. It's not yet perfect, but at least it does function. As for the desalinator, unfortunately, the problem remains the same .She is thus destined to spend hours to pump sitted side saddle on bow of PILOT. She would like to make some reserves. In the swell it is not obvious, but this will be even less when the weather gets bad. This question of water is of primary importance and could - can you just imagine it ? - force Maud to give up. Then, though it is a real galley to row and to PUMP, that does not have any importance; which is fundamental is that this apparatus of back up does not let her down as well .
The winds weaken, and the hope of being able soon to take again on a good road returns. Our Miss has the lighter heart. This evening, the sky is almost entirely clear (at last!). Flocculent clouds were formed on the horizon ready to accommodate the sun, letting itself slip towards the ocean. Maud is delighted because she knows that this night, before falling asleep, she will be able to dream by contemplating stars through the bubble. And to think, that in spite of their immense distance, contrary to the so close coast, she can see them! This night as well, she will dream about all these things which she misses, about life on dry land which she seems to have almost forgotten; about all these small pleasures that she will rediscover; about all the people that she is so much looking forward to embrace... In short, about the magic day, when she will make the last stroke of her oars.

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September 2nd

Maud is riveted to her oars…In vain she puts all her determination at it and all her desire to be back on land as quick as possible, the results are pitiful: PILOT keeps moving back. The weather remains the same. To add the fact that she must be just in the middle of the shipping line : cargo liners do not stop passing right under the nose of the boat. This night, when one of them came close to the boat, the active echo radar sounding and the fires of PILOT scintillating could change nothing. Let her leave this zone at last! All the day, Josephine makes a small altar in the honour of the Big God Eole. To be certain that it is effective, each member of the crew sacrifices a valuable object. PILOT thus gives up its tuba (the mask, it is out of question), Josephine yields some of its essential oils for the bath, and Maud offers the small beeswax candle that Jean Jacques D. gave her, and her last but one sachet of freeze-dried couscous. The offerings are in balance on the bubble and Josephine spends all its time relighting the candle. We cross the fingers and pray that that does not take too much time.

- - - - - - -

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August 20th

This morning, it was nobody else but PILOT, who woke Maud up so early. She had hardly enough time to pull a sweater on, and went out in the cockpit. The sun rose, the sky was a soft clear mixture of pink and tender blue. There were however places, in totally opposite direction, of some large black clouds which seemed to be the guards of these innocent colours. But it was not for that seascape, that PILOT had extirpated Maud of her berth: thus leaving her contemplation, she realized that the winds were gently turning. It was almost too wonderful to believe and it was necessary to benefit from it without delay. Having quickly brushed her teeth , without even having any breakfast (there are no more cereals on board), Maud was ready to meet a new day of row! About midday, PILOT shouted that Josephine did not manage to follow them any more and into the bargain Maud started to feel a bad pain in her arms.
A BREAK: talking about menu, the only thing which remains on board is freeze-dried food, but as it is a feast day, she chooses her favourite: couscous with chicken. You may surely wonder what that resembles, so well, it is an aluminium sachet with a pretty photo. You have just to open it, add 250 ml of boiling water, stir, await 5 minutes... and hop! it is ready.
Maud does not find its taste to be so bad, but what is afflicting, it's that all is pre-chewed. How much does our oarswoman dream of a good fresh salad, pretty green vegetables, of something to crunch, a bread end, a fruit... In short, the more time passes, the more she asks you to lick your plates twice while thinking of her. It is true that at the beginning she had planned to have much more variety of food on board (compotes, bars of cereals, soups, condensed milk, and some bars of chocolate). Unfortunately, for obvious reasons of space and weight, she could carry only a small part of all that. Today, she thus does not have anything else besides that pre-digested food and ardently hopes nevertheless to have some until the end of her crossing.

 

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August 19th

THE HEAD WINDS KEEP BLOWING! Maud decides to have a meeting with her team in order to find quickly a solution to the problem. They thus gather, all the three, around the cockpit. It is Josephine, which proposes its plan the first; lengthily it observed the clouds, it does not have any doubt that they advance much more quickly than the boat. It is thus simple: just necessary to catch one of them with a lasso and to let them be involved. PILOT and Maud shake their heads admiring, but quickly PILOT finds the fault: and if they cling to a cloud of bad omen which will drag them in the opposite direction?... Ah, it had not thought of it!
PILOT has another idea. It is necessary to use a small mirror of Maud to make signals, to challenge the nearest ship and to ask a solid ship's boy to come to give them a blow of hand... "HORROR, and if it were a pirate boat" underlines Josephine; Maud is tired too much to fight… Our Miss rubs her head. Definitely, all is quite complicated. After all, she battled hard during more than 67 days, she will not let any character wind to manipulate her. It is necessary to hold out, "thousand ports"! She thus goes back wisely to the oars.
 

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August 18th

Precisely, The WINDS ARE EAST!  PILOT seems to be twice heavier than usually... or, perhaps, its oars have just shrunk…

 In short, the fact is that the boat does not manage to advance. PILOT, persuaded that it has got mixed up in a net, again puts on the mask it used to have at the Big Bank off Newfoundland. Maud wonders even if they are not moving back. Fast glance at the GPS; no, it is just 3 hours that she has rowed and the boat is at the same position!! What to be done??? PILOT has an idea: it sends Josephine, armed with the prettiest smile, to negotiate with the Wind. Half an hour later, it returns with no result: the Wind even condescended to open the door to her, shouting even through the window that if they were not content, they had to only go and see his cousin the Hurricane! Eh well, the situation is not amusing.

Breton coasts are still far from being in sight. Maud thus goes back to the oars, rowing twice as hard and hoping the whole day long that the wind finally turns.

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August 17th

Yesterday evening the sky was entirely covered, the sea agitated,  and the waves came to cherish the horizon. Maud rowed while waiting for the sunset to complete the night. At this moment something very particular occurred. In ten minutes a stringcourse of light was done between the horizon and the vapour cloud. The sky between had quite simply opened on the height of immense and majestic sun which then started his dive towards the ocean.

 It looked as an eye which had suddenly opened. The pupil was of an attractive orange yellow. It released power, magnetism and a so sharp light, that it forced Maud to lower the glance. Its contour was red fire and illuminated the horizon on more than 180°. PILOT and Maud were watching it in silence. What a bewitching spectacle!! The eye looked at them intensely, fixing PILOT which traced its way  towards the East. The sea splashing it, one would have sworn that it cried. The Force seemed to want to leave anonymity. Then the glance seemed to be tired, the eyelid fell down gently; the sky had been closed again, leaving the place only with a mystery, a dream and perhaps with a very long reflection on (so small) - what are we?

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August 16th

All the night the head wind did not cease, becoming stronger up to 30-35 knots. PILOT vibrated inordinately, as if thousands of balls rolled on it from above. Inside the cabin it was like a swarm of bees, that was buzzing without slackening. Impossible to close the eyes. Maud rolled in her berth from one edge to another, and her eyes did not leave the bubble, that powerful and noisy waves were covering violently in persistent order. The night was very dark, the only light was that of the face of her watch fixed on one of the handles. It was 2.46 a.m.
In the morning, Maud left cabin for the cockpit, having decided at any cost to extricate herself out of this hornets' nest. The wind, though still extremely strong seemed nevertheless to want to turn. The sky was inky and from time to time the next storm burst out. PILOT and his oarswoman were entirely washed: the floods filled the cockpit; the rain, pushed by the wind, slapped all, that it could find on its way. The waves, one by one, were drawn up proudly: like walls, that advanced on the boat. Their peaks, blue-turquoise, were hemmed in a milky scum, the shade below them grew darker and then, with only one blow, they were loosing balance and with a howl crushing heavily down, turning the surface of the ocean into white and sparkling.
Maud closed her eyes and clutching at the oars thought only of one thing: The ARRIVAL!

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August 15th

Whereas this morning the sea had almost become beautiful, nobody knows why in the afternoon head winds from 20 to 25 knots suddenly started to blow. Maud tightened her harness and redoubled effort on the oars, wearing the hands and the buttocks more and more. The boat seems to be in a very disturbed zone. It is almost impossible to know what to expect in the next two hours: the forecasts are contradictive.

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August 14th

IT SET OUT AGAIN! When Maud woke up, PILOT had been taken by storm by a thick fog. This misty weather, she knew it too well, when it had been keeping her for one month on the Big Bank off Newfoundland. There was nothing to be done, it was necessary to be patient. Imperturbably she thus laid a narrow path to grope her way towards the East; the wind, blowing on 25 knots, enabled her to end up doing the housework. And then at midday sound off was heard and the fog retreated. The only memories remaining of the storm were heavy, grey and woolly clouds which, fallen on the horizon, constituted like a thick scarf between the ocean and the pale blue sky. A strong swell persisted (3 m); but the sea had finally gotten rid of its frozen dye. The migraines of the almighty power have disappeared and made it possible for the sun to scintillate again.
To celebrate the return of the light, some large dolphins, probably the porpoises, came to play around the boat. As merry as usually, they are intrigued by the movements of the oars as Maud let them slip along the hull. One by one they are approaching, having fun with the blade touching them. As their visits continued, our oarswoman learnt to know them better. She is astonished to see how tender they are towards each others. Always swimming in family, disputing the place closest to PILOT, they pay nevertheless great attention to neither knocking others, nor to obstruct anybody else. After each caper they slip again into the group without pushing. According to Maud, they are the incarnation of cheerfulness, the naivety and softness of childhood.

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August 13th

Ouf, once more PILOT has pulled through. Gently the fever fell. The force of the monster seems now completely exhausted. The sky took off its dark and lugubrious veil and overlapped with thick and opaque whitish cover. The sun thus remained hidden all the day. The sea kept a colour of steel and a weak head wind blows on the boat.

Maud is released from her cage and crawls to take some air in the cockpit. Her back hurts, it is painful to get up. Exhausted and weary, she does not want to move, and the last 48 hours have made her dumb. But the oars awaiting her, she feels obliged nevertheless to start with some exercises, then she prepares a freeze-dried fish meal.


PS: at first sight, the wood trunk does not seem to have damaged the hull.
 

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August 12th

The ocean really seems to suffer, a prey to terrible convulsions. It howls of pain, struggles more and more, creating an appalling froth. It is in fact its cries that made the day disappear. In its rage, it ordered to be left alone and on the other hand decided to paint all the rest in black. In its outburst, it unfortunately involved PILOT, which did not have time to flee. Riding on these dangerous liquid mountains, the frail boat undergoes its cruelty at full. Pushed by the winds she descends the slopes and every moment risks to be swallowed by the floods. She twists under the pressure of the waves. Maud, captive of this monster in madness, seems to have become its puppet: shaken, knocked, exhausted, she is unable to defend herself. But the situation being almost intolerable, still worsened: a violent shock made PILOT tremble through all her length; she had just knocked something heavy. Maud had at once the belly tied by the anguish to see her boat sinking in full storm. A deaf noise resounded again; Maud, the head in the bubble, trying to bore the darkness to understand what was happening, saw the boat to have escaped an enormous tree trunk (3 m length approximately).
At the same time, a wave absorbed the boat again. Maud was pushed on the side, and she could only threw a glance outside to see whether her Argos beacon was still intact. Did the trunk create a water way? Embarked an end of aileron or rudder? In this tumult, for the moment it was not possible to determine.
This fear, she does not wish it to you.
 

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August 11th

The sky was covered gradually, becoming increasingly dark. It would have been said that a fate made it be transformed into stone. The sun initially had been veiled then completely extinguished. A strange force seemed to make flee during the day. The ocean had started to shiver. PILOT, as posed on a monster waking up, trembled more and more extremely. Maud, equipped with her harness and her life line, observed, concerned, the liquid element to become anthracite. With her hands burning she tried to advance to the maximum towards the East. Deep in her mind she resided surely the hope to deviate from this depression which sank on her. However, she knew it well, the situation evolved/moved well too quickly; the fate was inevitable. The wind had already turned to South East. It now whipped the stem of PILOT which did not manage any more to maintain its course.
Our oarswoman had hardly time to thread her jacket (Marine Pool, of course) when the storm burst out. The sky, as it had become too heavy, broke down with force on the small boat.
At this point, the time of the very blow, like exit of a tale, in an attractive grace, a whale (3 times the size of PILOT) appeared. Maud startled by it, the breath cut by this so sudden and so majestic appearance. The tail was very close, its half above the surface of the water. It was as high as PILOT and clearly went to its side. The rain which fell from it in beautiful bubbles, isolated them from reality. One moment, completely subjugated, our Miss forgot about the storm. The immense mammal submerged for the second time only after long minutes, then it gently turned over from there into the depths, as if being sorry for not being able to do anything for the boat which was going to be the prey of excesses of anger of the ocean.

 

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August 10th

"That which rules within, when it is according to nature, is so affected with respect to the events which happen, that it always easily adapts itself to that which is and is presented to it. For it requires no definite material, but it moves towards its purpose, under certain conditions however; and it makes a material for itself out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls into it, by which a small light would have been extinguished: but when the fire is strong, it soon appropriates to itself the matter which is heaped on it, and consumes it, and rises higher by means of this very material." Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations. Book IV.
 

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August 9th

Forecast announces a strong depression to approach Maud. The winds should gain strength up to 35 knots. Our oarswoman thus arranges the maximum in her cockpit to prepare for a possible capsizing. She picked up some stock of food supplements from the storage compartment, because the storm is likely to last until Tuesday. The winds are envisaged East and North-East; Maud knows that it will move her back. She tries to take that with the best possible philosophy.

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August 8th

Maud started to calm down on her oars, when, giving her a start, PILOT howled:" Shark on starboard! "
Our oarswoman, becoming wide awake in a second, scanned the sea in the direction indicated. She shivered violently when she saw IT. Its long and fine aileron split water at high speed, aiming straight on them. Instinctively, one of Maud's hands nervously sought a bar where to cling. "Good, all should remain Zen", she said. "All still goes well".

A black and powerful mass of the predator silently approached. The animal was between 4 and 5 m length; next to as small PILOT, it was impressive. When it was very close, it plunged under the boat in a sharp movement. Maud would have had only to stretch her hand to touch its aileron. It passed very close to the hull, touching it with the fin, making boat to vibrate under the feet of our oarswoman. In a trice Maud picked up one of the oars, and with muscles strained, she got ready to defend herself. Reappeared on other side, it started to circle aggressively around the boat. Its round, shining and lugubrious eye reflected a worrying mixture of force and self-confidence.

On the foot of war, fixed well in her cockpit, attentive to her least movements, our Miss was not reassured too much. She reconsidered at the day when, in the Gulf Stream, under an extreme sun, she had wanted to bathe! The monster, seemingly not knowing from which end to attack, tried a last intimidation while raising the head; then, in a moment, it disappeared as it had come in the depths of the ocean. Maud expected to see it reappearing, but time passed on and it did not return.

Her back started to slacken, her hands to relax, and having turned over towards PILOT to cheer it up with a smile, she realized that it was deathly pale.
 

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August 7th                                                                                                                                   

 Cloudy sky, storms from time to time, 20 knots.
Since this morning, Maud is thinking about the bottle that she put at sea at the sunrise. For a long time she was following with her glance this frail glass vessel that carried away her message toward the horizon. Several times she saw it disappearing in a hollow of a wave, but then it proudly reappeared, bounding out of the streams, its stem beautifully tearing the ocean. She wonders what shore it is going to make stopover on, since this is its real goal: to sail as a long time as possible, free of the ascendancy of the time, to accost where the wind will have carried it. Will somebody read this message one day?

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August 6th

Second half. Maud looks and re-looks at her chart. In vain she tries to turn the problem in all the directions - the number of remaining km to go is monstrous. France is ridiculously far away. She wonders whether her arms, already quite painful, will be able to hold on and to row until the end. With oars in her hands, observing the grey sky this morning, she wonders how many storms and fears are awaiting her. Pilot, on its side, notes that the temperature of water is 17°. It complains that its hull was also smooth only at the beginning and does not promise any heroic deeds on speed level on this second part of the way. It must also be tired and wonders whether it quite simply will not plant a strike picket!!

 

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August 5th

HALFWAY. Various feelings animate Maud today. First of all, she remembers with a lot of emotions  her first week at sea,  these painful moments when, trembling with cold, she tried to make land disappear from the horizon. The middle of the Atlantic was perched so high that it seemed to her inaccessible. In front of her eyes there were only fog, icebergs and many storms to be undergone. And then the days passed, slowly, hardening her body, and reinforcing - stroke by stroke of oar - her will not to take a release.

Getting up this morning, on the longitude 31, our Miss got really conscience that she was all alone in thousands of kilometres from her starting point and in dozens of days to row to her arrival point. But that is it: she managed to this half-way point, that she had been dreaming about so much. Certainly, it was not necessary to have a need for something urgent to this place, but what a marvellous and exciting pleasure to have been able to drive herself to it with her out stretched arm.

Upright in her cockpit, the eyes lost towards the horizon, she was almost gasping: the sea was shining like a silver plated tablecloth folded by the wind. PILOT under her feet danced at a calming rhythm. Enjoying the serenity of this reward, she immediately forgot about the blisters on her hands and swelled her lungs with this great air of FREEDOM. Vis-à-vis to this immense universe, she just could not grasp, how had this ocean, which could be so terrible, been able to let her pass?

Since the beginning, he had been the Master deciding all. Maud had lowered her head, had supported his changes of mood and had boxed his monstrous angers. . And yet, he had half-opened her a narrow path, this gift, Maud measured the whole value of it.

The richness of this moment, this treasure, Maud dedicates it to you, who reads this newspaper each day.

So that never, never ever you do cease dreaming.

 

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August 4th

Won't you ever guess what Maud fished today?
No, not a fish, , she begins to despair... a TURTLE! Yes, it is true!
Same no need for line or fishhook, Maud caught it with naked hand in one minute whereas she passed next to PILOT. It was a pretty small turtle of about 40 cm in diameter with a superb carapace in green brown tones. Our Miss then at once recalled the many accounts which she had read about shipwrecked men on their lifeboat, such as for example the Robertson Family, lost to the large of the Galapagos that ate the meat of the turtles that they succeeded in catching only and that they made dry in the sun after having drunk the cool blood of it.
But this one was so cute!!... and then the freeze-dried food, it is not so bad.
Don't mourn, children, one has just told you that Maud didn't kill it. She put it back of course immediately into water and was besides  well astonished not to see it to take to its heels. The animal remained in the vicinity, its small head turned toward the craft. Maybe it liked the magnificent antifouling orange fluo of PILOT.

Today weather is more clear. The sun even appears for a good part of the day, a multitude of small clouds crackles the sky and gives it an air of grandmother's coffee cup.
The sea is less agitated and our Miss is back to her oars and to her long hours of rowing, hope that that is going to last a little.
 

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August 3rd

Gray weather, covered sky, head wind , but improvement is planned for tomorrow. Keep fingers crosses.

Good news however, the sea is less strong and Maud can venture outside. She has only one thing in her head:  to make THE CAPE AT THE EAST.

Today, she had some visits  nevertheless to distract her. First of all it is her radar detector that sounds from time to time, but not obvious to see much. When she is at the summit of the wave, the boat that she looks for must be in the hollow. It is in general only suddenly that she sees it whereas it is nearby. In fact large merchant ships do not seem to see her and pursue their way quietly.

For the moment it is more pleasant, she came  across one or two birds. Maybe they came from Azores. They got stabilized, turned for a few minutes to the top of PILOT and then left as if some share was waiting for them somewhere else. Maud tempted to coax them with the best of freeze-dried cod, but without success. She then watched them  moving away, enjoying that living presence as a long as possible

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August 2nd

Maud thinks of Sisyphus, his mountain and his heavy stone. This half-way seems to be the top of this hill where our oarswoman does not manage to push PILOT. This morning, the winds are still contrary. Having moved back during all the night, Maud hopelessly tries to clear a passage between the waves and the wind. A little sad, she recalls her long days of galley on the Big Benches of New Land waiting until the weather puts it there, as a combatant like an ant fallen into a honey pot (note: it is surely for that, that she never wants that anyone kills ants).
Today it is the same thing, her efforts seem vain. In the afternoon, the wind has become dangerously stronger, and 3 m high hollows obliged Maud to be locked up again in her cabin.
 

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August 1st

One would like to give you better news, unfortunately weather hardly changes. Today, after having had head winds during more than 12 hours, and to have furiously fought with the oars to prevent PILOT from moving back, Maud is in prey with a new storm. What she saw, you know it already; useless to add anything else. Longitude 31°, real half-way, doesn’t seem to want to approach.

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July 31st

First of all, know that Maud thanks you all a lot for each of your encouragements that touches her a lot.
Your messages help her to fight every day against this fear that mines her and this unceasing anguish to see her boat taking water.
One of the big difficulties when the sea unleashes itself is to be able to keep one's blood cold. PILOT, constantly raised by the waves, falls again heavily in a plunk. Maud does not know any more how to put herself not to have the back broken any more. Inside, she hardly knows how to turn around, every movement brings her a new stroke. It happens to her that she wants just to scream to implore the sea to stop.
In those moments, the body is too quick and she wonders why she is there.
And there are these headaches that don't leave, caused by the lack of oxygen in the cockpit; impossible to open the porthole unless to take the risk to fill the boat with water, to capsize, and of more power to straighten it. In those moments Maud would like she could fall asleep deeply and suddenly, all to forget.
Today, after 36 hours of storm, wind lowered to 25 knots. Maud is soaked, impregnated of salt... only her oars wait outside for her.
Tonight a new depression is foreseen.

 

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July 28th

ONE NIGHT WITH MAUD ONBOARD PILOT.
The coming evening, the night and tiredness encourage Maud to shrivel up inside her small cockpit.. She writes some lines in her log-book, and takes a few long minutes to slacken. Stretched out on her berth, the legs in the air, the feet in the bubble, she reconsiders with the events lived in the course of the day, that this adventure brings to her, with the pleasure of being on water, with the melancholy to be alone there.
On her right there is her compass, raising swings to the rhythm of the waves. Next to it, also, passed in a strap, there is her diving knife, her insulated lamp and her large spoon for freeze-dried food: there is a cooking corner below, a small burner and a simple kettle.
On her left, there is the small electric control panel, where the solar panels are connected. The light of Active Echo Radar flickers. Green = nobody in the neighbourhoods. There are as well some hung photographs and all drawings, colourful and funny, of the children who support her.
On this side there are her glasses and her cap which are trotting. As for the two small nets full of fruits at the beginning, they are now empty, except for a green lemon which survived the last storm and which waits until Maud starts to fish.
The ocean knocks against the frail walls of the boat. In this small boat, the noise never stops. These are waves, of course, but also the axis of rod that slaps, the wind in the sleeve with air, water in the ballast, the drift which before she didn't manage to fix and which types. PILOT, pushed by the wind, leaves to the windward side, goes up on the waves, takes dash, then goes down again at a speed, fleeing the beachcomber. Maud feels the movement of the water which makes vibrate the hull. Exhausted, she tries to forget everything, her eyes are closing, she does not resist because she knows well enough that in less than one hour something will awake her start up; it will be perhaps a wood log which passes under the hull, a wave larger than the others which will lay down the boat, the fear of upsetting, the ringing of the radar, the vents of a whale, the feeling that the boat takes suddenly water...
The nights are short and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there remain dreams; like that to be one day delivered by a charming prince on his beautiful white boat.
 

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June 26th 

To my cherished little brother Roch, whom I love so much: Happy Anniversary!


Each stroke of oars engulfs Maud in a deep fog. Nothing can be seen there, Maud can hardly distinguish the ears of PILOT. It is distressing not to see where you are going. The day doesn't seem to have any intention to rise. The sea is black and heavy. One could almost believe that it wishes to prevent our oarswoman from going on. It falls without stopping - a fine icy rain which soaks Maud to the bones. She is frozen, but curves the back, imperturbably continuing to row while trying to think of something else. Yes, she misses her little brother Roch (quite adult, by the way). During all the trainings, he was sitting there on the bubble, typing in with his hands to give the rhythm and to encourage her. The things appear a hundred and thousand times simpler when one is not all alone... "Eureka! I found. Since I cannot invite anybody on board, I will stain myself to eclipse being Beauty. Attention, the witches are back, then if you feel something in your back, or a tickling in the neck,  don't turn around too abruptly: it may well be that it's me! "
" My very Dear Didier Boden! First of all, you should know that I am one of your most faithful fan. So is Josephine, by the way. Here, everyone calls you "the indestructible one". For this reason I write to you: I've heard from a reliable source that you will pass above us; could you throw us one of the last handbooks of civil law worthy of this name?"

Indeed, we are not running into despair that very soon Maud takes us South in the Gulf Stream. Josephine, which had enough of the cold, chose to accompany us and we decided to be bound forever. I think much about you, and Josephine kisses you.      Signed: PILOT
PS: If you can throw an autograph for Josephine at the same time, she would be very happy "

 

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June 25th

 Day dedicated to the children of the CP of the school Sainte Odile of St Pierre.

Each time there is one and the same annoying refrain: first of all they turn  far  around PILOT, then, having probably noted that it was not a floating mine, they rush directly onto her. Then the echo radar begins its vibrations. Maud's heart sinks again: Is this a military boat? Or a trawler? Are they French? Indonesians? Turkish? The nice ones or the malicious ones? And every time the same reasoning. This time, it is an IMMMMMENSE Canadian blue trawler "Atlantic Sea Clipper" with 10 big strong men on her board, dressed in rich orange colour robes. They are so close, that one of the "arms" of the trawler passes above the top of PILOT. Perplexed, they pose 3 times the same question: "Are you sure you have no problem? "" No, no, all is well, we are a rowing boat" howls Maud through the wind and the waves. Noting that they will not draw anything more out of "the small one", they thus decide slowly to move away. Ouf!

Gerard d' Aboville was encouraging Maud to be speaking about her life to the daily newspaper. Nevertheless, the first thing that she did when she was on line, was to make them read the menu of their meal!

" PILOT does not want to receive anybody on board. As far as I prohibited Josephine (yes, you know well, its girlfriend - jellyfish) to establish her camping in the cockpit, she does not see why I would have the right to have any other visit.

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June 19th

Day dedicated to my dear webmaster, Alain Rigal.
Thank you for all the efforts these days!

A very difficult night: large waves were covering PILOT all the night. Maud feels terrible pain in her back: nothing to be done, but it makes it really impossible to sleep.

She was waken up by the "alarm clock": a thick fog and the alarm of the echo radar which resounds more and more for a long time. Nothing's better to put PILOT into a special mood early in the morning… Maud gets her head into the bulb of the hatch and tries to bore the fog but nothing's going on over there: she can see just drops. The aural signal is now continuous, Maud looks on and on, she finishes to wash the teeth on high speed, threads her 3 polar, her jacket, harness, waistcoat, boots, scarf, gloves... and leaves the cockpit.

 And what's on over there? Does anything emerge out from the fog? A large Canadian trawler. PILOT is now with the aguets, Maud tries to reassure the crew and makes a sign OK to the men. But nothing changes: the boat continues to approach, the men of the crew quite simply take their cameras out and "centre fire" on PILOT which thrusts out the chest. Quite naturally they ask Maud "where are you going? "Maud points her finger to the East and answers: "To France, of course!" Perplexed and admiring they move away while encouraging Maud by large signs.

And our oarswoman goes back to the oars - into 8 new hours of rowing!
"Do I have somebody who would like to come to heat me?Thomas! He would, I know…"
" I changed the direction of my berth and will see if there is more space."

Two long mails from internet surfers confirm: the "blows of guns" heard yesterday by Maud came well from the Concorde.
 

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June 18th

 Day dedicated to Gerard d' Aboville for his small letter "to open after the departure": that makes the morale up. Thank you!

Today swell of 4 m hollow and strong wind of 35 knots. Maud is frozen to death: in her cabin this night the temperature was 2 °. Impossible to sleep, she was shrivelling more and more in her polar. In addition to blisters on her hands, Maud starts to have problem with the buttocks. 

 Today a very astonishing thing took place: whereas Maud hopelessly tried to row in the hollows and the bumps, 2 blows of gun made her start; PILOT still quivers from it. What could it be? The sky was clear, neither rocket nor plane in sight, she seemed to be alone in the ocean... what might have had an idea to attack her? Distressing event remained without explanation.

 "Thought moved for Carole, Jean Louis Bernardelli and Franck who had to stop smoking during the day of my departure" "Large kisses to my favourite photographer. Thank you for your messages. Many of my thoughts each day are dedicated to you. Christmas will arrive quickly... "
 

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June 17th

Large kisses to the 5th College Jules Romains
Today weather is better in spite of very large swell. Maud saw dolphins: they were 8 to play during more than one hour around PILOT and Maud thought about children who would have been delighted to see that.
She finally ate her first "true" meal: freeze-dried pasta bolognaise  with boiled water from the desalinisator. She found it very salted (perhaps because of water, but she is not sure; after several experiments, she rather has an impression that the direction of her taste is a little faded)!
She rowed from morning till late at night (hello, blisters!) to compensate her yesterday's drift and to approach the current - the Gulf Stream, knowing that the weather forecasts are not brilliant for the weekend.

The conditions improved, but it's terribly cold and Maud superimposed 4 polar (thanks to Marine Pool!)
 

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June 15

Day dedicated to Thomas from Marine Pool, thanks to whom she did not transform herself into iceberg during the night.
The weather taken on a Canadian site announced a very strong gale, which explains surely the surprising course of Maud and Pilot.
We did not succeed in contacting her, probably also because of the weather conditions. Normally, there should be a Monday improvement.
 

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June 14

 Day Dedicated To Tori Murden.
Hat off forTori Murden to have held 80 days! It is very hard:Maud has already hands and the back full of broozes. Pilot is unceasingly rolled by the waves. The stomach did not resist, Maud still can swallow nothing. She tried to row a maximum to move away from the coasts which did not want to disappear from the horizon.
The night was difficult because she thought of being able to rest a little, but the echo radar started without stop because of boats present in the close neighbourhood, which obliged her to remain on alert to scan the darkness outside. This morning the coasts finally disappeared.
Still cannot think about food, but besides this all goes well. Maud has a thought for Olga: " Yes, I am always well attached "
 

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June 13

Finally the departure!

 After some hesitations this morning (weather forecast not being ideal for Sunday) Maud left the wharf at 07h50 local time (10h50 UTC) and passed by the land-mark "Bertrand" - official starting point of her crossing - at 08h20 (11h20 UTC)

A beautiful morning sun, which should last for 2 days; North-Western winds of 20 knots are ideal to deviate from the Southern coast of rather inhospitable Newfoundland. 

Winds must pass to North winds tomorrow morning, to calm down in the afternoon, and to transfer into South-eastern at night from Saturday to Sunday. 20 knots on Sunday, which is a bit of concern. Fortunately, Monday morning we can expect the return of North wind for two days or, maybe, even more?

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