I awoke before dawn, eager to get myself and Ahyoka sorted. Thankfully the sky was relatively clear, so after a strong coffee and some muesli, I got started on repairing the mainsail, reminding myself to take it slow and “measure twice, cut one”.
After about an hour, the repairs were looking pretty good and I felt far more confident that the main would in fact be OK. I hoisted the sail, casting a nervous eye over my handy work. The Dacron repair was smooth with no air bubbles and seemed to be holding nicely with no impact to the sail’s shape.
Phew!! Now, let’s get back to it!
The sense of relief was palpable, but what was more noticeable was the impact to my mental acuity and motivation. With one part of the boat now in order, I felt like working through various other tasks that had been put off due to the recent storms. I set about cleaning the entire boat, in particular the heads, pulling out and airing all my bedding and doing a full load of washing. I filled up the fuel tank and then did a full stocktake on all my consumables.
The results of the stocktake were particularly promising. By all measures I’m using less than anticipated/rationed and this gave me further confidence that I’m absolutely able to continue the journey and that, bar any major breakages that can’t be repaired, I have what’s required to get us to Cairns, even though it’s going to take close to 6 weeks.
For anyone who’s interested, below is the result of this morning’s audit:
Diesel (used for both propulsion and power generation):
- 260L used:
- 148hrs genset
- 70.5hs main engine
- 540L diesel remaining
- 27 x 5L bottles remaining
- Used 12 bottles so far which averages out at 3.15l/day, so based on current consumption I have 42 days remaining (I have probably about 20-25days sailing so this is plenty as I could reduce rations if needed)
- 20L of emergency water from rain harvesting (only to be used in a truly worst-case scenario)
- Water tank 1 = 90% (approx. 180L)
- Water tank 2 = 10% (approx. 20L)
- I’m now only using the water tanks for washing up, boiling water and brushing teeth, so now I’m not using this for showering there should be about a month’s worth in the two tanks combined.
- 30 days of good quality dry food remaining (all fresh food now consumed)
- Each day’s food is packed in its own bag so there’s no thinking about whether or not I’ve got enough left, which helps to reduce any rationing anxiety
- Breakfasts are either muesli or Weetabix with powdered milk and fresh nuts and honey (all pre-packed)
- Snacks comprise protein bars, dried fruit (mango, dates and apricots) and nuts (almonds, cashews and pistachios), oatmeal biscuits and packets of Doritos or Chips every couple of days as a “treat”
- Lunches are a mix of tuna/sardines/salmon on either puffed corn circles, pumpernickel or rye bread or peanut butter sandwiches
- Dinners are either various freeze-dried options (which actually taste pretty good), pastas with tomato sauce, curries with canned vegetables or various root vegetables which last well (eg mash potato, or my special “hash”)
- I take 1L of electrolytes each day given how much one sweats in the tropics – Pocari Sweat is the brand I have which, contrary to its name, is rather delicious.
- Coffee/tea – though if I’m going to run out of anything its coffee which was by and large an after though to the rationing, though a much appreciated one. I will not, however run out of tea. Certainly, not before I run out of water.
- Desert is either a small ration of dark chocolate, two short bread biscuits or two Tim Tams, which I generally have after dinner (once the washing up is done) while watching a movie or TV series (the only time of day I watch any TV)
- 10 days emergency rations
- 5kg bag of rice (with soya sauce or chicken stock for flavouring)
- 2kg of oatmeal
- 6 dozen eggs covered in Vaseline so they’ll last 6 months
- Cans of condensed milk
- Various cans of things like baked beans and spam
- Still on first canister and I have 3 spares so more than enough
All in all, I live a pretty good life out here and don’t feel like I’m wanting for anything (other than human contact of course).
There’s a typhoon forming to my west. While it’s no danger, I missed it only by a matter of days, which only heightens my feeling of unease. I have approximately 700Nm till I cross the equator so around a week of uncertainty, however the lower I am latitudinally, the less likely there will be a typhoon in my path. I’m also now in motoring distance of land no matter where I am for the rest of the journey, which is a significant improvement to my risk profile. If I was caught out a week ago there was simply nowhere to go. Nowhere to shelter. Nowhere to hide. As you get plenty of warning when typhoons form, if there looks to be the risk of one anywhere near my path I can now simply motor south and/or to a port of refuge, which feels much safer, though I can’t completely relax until I’m across the equator.
To be clear, I was planning on leaving a few weeks before I did, which was just before the typhoon season in the northern hemisphere starts and just after the southern hemisphere cyclone season has come to an end. The main reason for leaving later was the multitude of items I required for this trip either took longer to get to HK or simply didn’t make it due to the significantly reduced air freight capacity from the virus. I always knew I was “running the gauntlet”, but my sense was it was either now or never so after doing all the analysis, I felt the risk was manageable, albeit not zero.
I don’t want to come across as reckless though as I don’t believe this trip is. It is, however, an adventure and adventures always carry risk. That’s what makes them exciting. I needed a sense of adventure in my life again. I wanted to feel alive and I didn’t want to spend another 10 years sleep walking through my forties and early fifties. It was always going to be a gamble coming when I did, but in the end I’m glad I came. I’d much rather be sitting here, getting slammed by squalls and considering typhoon paths than in Hong Kong worried about the economic impact from the virus, the protests and the geopolitical direction of the US-China relationship. All events I have no control over. Even typing those words sounds intensely boring and uninspiring. No dear Reader, I needed a change and I’m immensely glad I’m here, even if I am half terrified at times.
The afternoon and evening had that wonderful calm, stable feel to it and I knew there would be no squalls today. It meant that after all my chores were complete, I was able to spend the afternoon resting and reading which, to be honest, was greatly needed as I’m feeling quite fatigued. My sense is this stability won’t last long as the forecast is for more intense tropical cells in the days ahead so I best enjoy it while I can. And I do. I enjoy it greatly, feeling my heart calmed and body soothed by the gentle seas and the wonderful, constant positive sailing straight towards Pioneer Channel. Step by little step I’m getting closer.