Week 7 would have been the last full week at sea it that MTF shark wouldn’t have killed our rudder but that’s not the case. The crossing will take longer. How much longer I don’t know but if I look at the last few days a lot longer. We had lots and lots of rain. Everybody got cold wet in and outside and it was hard to keep course with our going back and forth rowing vessel. Not forgetting the damn eddies and currents and very suddenly and fast changing seas in boiling pots for about 10 minutes screwing up our stable plan of going 50-60 miles a day towards Cayenne. The distance of Thursday day 43 went down to 35 miles. Today Friday day 44 I didn’t dare to look yet because the distance should be so terrible. I think we are lucky if we make 25 miles today.
That brings us to another problem or already existing problem : We don’t have enough food. We’re rationing it already but since today we are bringing it down further to 3 light meals of 500 calories, a few gels and one bar each a day. That’s a diet of a tiny girl who wants to lose weight ! We are losing weight and we don’t want that and with this diet we just have 12 days left. We have to speed up soon or otherwise this will become a major inevitable problem.
We are keeping our VHF 24/7 on now to try to reach vessels in the area for food. Hopefully a fishing boat or best is a sailing boat but that is currently cause of the corona virus looking for a needle in a haystack. Every sailing vessel in the world is at the moment grounded somewhere in a marina. Not allowed to go in or out so that makes us next to a few sailing vessels that haven’t seen land for a long time ; probably the only pleasure vessels in the world out there on an ocean. Well, we are registered as a pleasure vessel. If it’s a pleasure out here that question will be answered for everybody differently. To try to stop a tanker or container ship in full speed is not done at least not for now. If we really run out of food yes then we’ll have a mayday but we don’t want it that way. Maybe I should call the Dutch coastguards in a couple of days for advice. Today we saw a vessel passing by, that came very close. A huge 1100 feet so about 350 meter long tanker. That’s about as large as they get. Well, let’s give them an innocent call: “this is ocean rowing boat Rose, can you see us on AIS? We are an ocean rowing boat rowing from Europe to South-America with a broken rudder running out of food but probably you can’t help us with that?”. The reply was short but clear: “we see you on AIS. Save journey”.
Next to food what keeps us alive. Yes, water! Made with our manual watermaker and we hope that it will hold because it already has some issues for weeks. Not building up pressure, building up too much pressure, leakage and our first filter in metal casing that holds the water intake under water eaten off by a fish. What kind of fish would eat metal? Probably the kind that also loves to eat rudder! But anyhow so far we were able to repair the issues although with painful ears I hear sometimes some weird noises that weren’t there before. What’s the water that we have left? Maybe 70 liters. That’s not much! So I told the crew some days ago that it’s forbidden to use the water for other purposes than drinking water. As so often people act if they didn’t hear things when they are not in their favour so soon somebody was washing his clothes again in our fluid gold. WTF!
The first days of week 7 started rough, wet, cold and slow. Four ingredients that we don’t like while traveling rudderless backwards! And wet it was. It was raining cats an dogs or better said flying fish. We just not got cold and hammered by the tropical rain. No, we got also hammered and slammed by the flying fish. They were everywhere. Hundreds of predators of diverse species and sizes having the hunting party of their lives. Flying fishes flying for their lives and with bad luck ending up with us on deck and yes if you do that it will be your last flight because we need you badly. We caught kilograms again and that resulted in a very well deserved and extra meal in these scarce times. The day after was even wilder. We were bombarded with the flying bastards. Far too much !! The amount was now so large. About 10 kilogram and that was only because we saved the largest. When you would have this daily you could survive on it for a crew of 5. But will it last? We had so much. We made fillets of lots of them and the rest we threw back in the water where the dead corpses where immediately attacked by tuna, mahi mahi, marlin and a lot of other ugly creatures. The fish was good. Damn good but the daily distances where bad. 43 and 35 miles and it started to look even worse. For a moment I was thinking that we would not even make 25 miles so I was still glad and surprised that we did 32 miles.
We are at the start of day 46 and that’s at Saturday the 18th of April 17.00 UTC. The wind picked up well again from the north-east 18-20 knots and because of that our speed is improving the last 24 hours so our daily distance went up to 55 miles. The forecast is that it will drop a bit in the evening till 16 knots and if the forecast stays like that, it will last for a couple of days. Let’s hope that we maintain the 50 mile days for a while and let’s hope we don’t go too much south cause the predicted and much needed ENE winds are not coming anymore so we have to look out now that we don’t go too far south so we end up somewhere remote in the Amazon jungle. Looking back at what this adventure brought us so far I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s going to happen also. Let’s change the sun lotion for the mosquito repellent!
Last night was a disappointment. Not for the speed but where the hell are our beloved flying fish! There are still hundreds of pelagic fish around the boat but the flying fish became suddenly relatively rare. Last night catch was just a disappointing 5 large samples and a few small ones. The less you have the more you handle them with care as I cleaned them this morning making sure the most meat stays on it. The same with eating it with our four. Now you eat the tiniest bit of it what you normally would throw away. The fact that there were still lots of predators around should mean that there are still lots of flying fish. Last night we had our front white top light off to safe the main batteries and the batteries of the tricolor at the back where almost finished so coming night we’re going to attract them again with full lights. Let’s hope it works and that we get hammered again!
And it worked at least the catch improved not as much as the best days but it will be a good meal for the four of us. Yeah you are right we are with five on board. Not that you think we are excluding somebody from eating fresh fish. No, we have somebody among us that has food preferences. One of them is only boneless fish. Yesterday we ended up with the worse catch of the week of 9. This night we quadrupled that to 36 so we had some cleaning to do on deck to kill the time and for off course a lovely lunch.
Yesterday out off a split pen Livar made a beautiful fish hook but the hours of work on deck weren’t appreciated by I would say one thousand fish that follow us now and not even one came close by for the hook with dying flying fish on it. A shame for the flying fish too. He didn’t die in a battle for his life so he will not go to Walhalla!
As for the speed. Speed is what we need! But far more important than speed is our course and that is off course what you would understand a bit of an issue for us rowing rudderless backwards! Last week we got the weather update about a huge strong eddie (circular current) before Cayenne. The advice was to go south of it or straight through it to Cayenne. Yesterday we got the message and advise that the eddie is in the same place and strength about 1 knot and that we absolutely have to go west to pass it to the north. So far we’re going already too far south what means that we can never reach Cayenne. Well that’s confusing! So we have to choose between not arriving and fighting hard to maybe arrive. Let’s do the last. Somehow we manage to set the course more west aside of the waves and wind from the north-east and row in a line of 270 degrees. Sometimes even 280. So far it looks like we are doing good!
Progress is really good again and at late afternoon finishing day 46 we are down to 460 miles from Cayenne meaning that we have rowed so far a bit more than 400 miles backwards and still on a pretty well course to Cayenne!