Day 62 : Birds and bilge pumps


The last few days have been like rowing in the shower and yesterday was like rowing under the Niagra Falls – we were hammered by waves and after two rather scary broaches (where the boat gets slammed over onto her side) while rowing I decided to call it a day. The whole thing has been rather testing – everything soggy and smelly – mind, body, boat and a bit on the rough side.

So today  stands out as a delicious treat with its sunshine and blue skies, decreased wind with friendly rolly seas, which all allowed both rowing and the chance for some washing and drying of mouldy clothes. Dinner, as ever, was al fresco and because of the happy mood and the impending rough stuff tomorrow I made boat pancakes, slathering them in chocolate spread with a spatula and dollops of blackcurrant jam. The hot thick dough was nothing short of divine.

Duck pancakes, anyone?

Duck pancakes, anyone?

Less tasteful was my first task of the morning – investigating the non-functioning bilge pump. The bilge locker is never a pleasant place to hang about – often home to bits of dead fish (or live squid), and always home to slimy mouldy growth and bits of food and general muck that get washed in. Happily, all the electrics are fine – it was just a case of disassembling, cleaning out all the yucky stuff and then putting it back together. I actually enjoyed it for the troubleshooting and figuring out how it worked and then the relief at knowing that, for now at least, I can use the electric pump rather than manually pumping. I almost forgot – I wanted to tell you about my booby……  

My squatter for the night - a booby

My squatter for the night – a booby

As per my phonecast from 2am, I woke to see a whitish bird shaped figure balancing on the forward cabin, head tucked into wing against the breeze. At dawn I saw that it was a booby – a rather comical thing with bright red feet and a bluey purply beak and a blank gaze. Shortly after a couple of photos my booby flew away, just as a black footed albatross flew over the boat.

Off with the dawn

Off with the dawn

Seeing the alby made the booby look tiny, when actually he had a pretty decent wingspan himself. I rather liked my overnighter until I discovered the surprises that had been left all over the solar panel. Nothing like a thank you gift, eh?

For now, I leave you with the sad news that the Tweedles haven’t been spotted beneath my boat for three days. I think we may have gone too far north and chilled them out of action. Naturally, Happy Socks is quite upset though being consoled by the Blue and Yellows who remain. If anyone sees them, do send them our salty best thanks for the fishcort.

Sarah and Happy Socks x

Ps. My latest blog for the Independent

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17 Responses to Day 62 : Birds and bilge pumps

  1. Sarah – a question. When you have long periods of enforced cabin rest (rough seas, adverse currents & winds etc) does it adversely effect your rowing fitness? If so, do/can you do anything to mitigate this?

    Continue with your fabulous efforts…huge admiration here. T x

    • Mel Johnson says:

      ‘My aerobic fitness and strength are pretty solid now, so they aren’t
      affected. However if I am forced to lie down strapped to my bunk for hours
      on end I emerge the other side of it rather stiff and sore. I have a
      programme of stretches and mobility exercises which I do as often as I can
      when I am outside – and I just do what I can inside, which isn’t very much!
      ‘ Sarah

      • Thanks Sarah. That makes sense. I guess modern spots sciences must go a long way to helping you prepare to full effect & maintain your strength, fitness & suppleness throughout. Mental fitness must be as big a challenge as the physical & it is for that that you gain my utmost admiration. Keep up the amazing work, communication & ….just everything! T x

  2. Christine & Kathleen says:

    Hi Sarah

    You never fail to amaze us, so many talents. We love your comments about everything you do, it makes it sound as though we are there with you. Glad to hear your pancake was good and that you enjoyed it.

    Hope you don’t have too long in your cabin tomorrow.

    All good wishes for now.

    C & K

  3. Shelagh says:

    What a great photo of your booby….I just love the look on his face! Somewhat puzzled perhaps? Maybe when he landed he thought he’d found his own boat and was surprised to see you in the morning.

  4. john marceaux says:

    Here is a little something something to cheer you up, young brave soul who ventures into the unknown. I call it The Birds and the Seas adventure!

    The Birds and the Seas adventure!

    I had a bird he flew away and I guess he’s gone to stay
    But I see him winging on his way my flyaway bird named Yesterday

    He’s over the place of my birth he’s circling a spot that I know
    He’s hangin’ around the where the friendly rolly sea
    is caressed by a gentle summer breezes
    I had a bird he flew away…

    He’s riding on my boat he’s down at the old swimmin’ hole
    He’ll fly till he finds that old gang of mine
    Then he’ll search for a tree a big tall oak tree
    Then he’ll look from his perch at the old country church
    I had a bird he flew away…

  5. Angie Humphreys says:

    I admire your many practical skills for sorting out problems – perhaps your next book should be a do it yourself manual as you have so many talents !

  6. David T says:

    The Tweedles were probably your escort out of Japanese waters. Now you’re far out, I expect there’s a whale just out of sight monitoring you, ready to hand over to a turtle or something as you approach the run-in to Canada.

  7. Edda says:

    Love the booby, he does look somewhat silly!

    Having had a look at the tracker map, I reckon your squiggly line looks like a dog sitting on his rear, if you were to see it from the side aspect:23rg and 24th May is the eye, 15-18th June the nose (complete with a drip 😉 ) 27th May to first of June a fore leg… Anyone got a better idea?

    Glad the sun shines again for you, nothing like wet gear to make you miserable.

    Atta girl, you’re doing great

  8. Bruce Ellen says:

    Hi Sarah

    Sorry to see you heading in the wrong direction again but that will change soon.
    The fish have done their bit and the next fans are going to Alaskan crabs or salmon.
    To help pass the time who sang this song about a musician [ I have changed the words ].

    Keep on rowing.
    Don’t stop rowing.
    Your gonna get there some day.
    And then your gonna make a lotta people happy.
    Just to hear you say.
    I DID IT.

    In answer to Edda the following have come forward from our camp.
    [1] Its a cross between a heron and a duck [upside down ].
    [2] A whale with a lot of water splashing.
    [3] A power tool that some one has not wound up the cable.
    [4] Some one trying to do their maths on a boat [ 8 year old grand daughter ]

    Enough for now.
    Keep rowing and stay safe [the birds are watching over you ]

    Cheers from sunny Queensland.

  9. Susie Hewson says:

    shiver me timbers – therll be many a bilge needs pumping sooner or later me hearty! Best keeps those boobies off the solars lassy elst therll be much scubbing arv decks all need doin……On the pancake front, I think you are a clear winner in the Pacific Bake-off challenge – award yourself a nice pinnie xxxxxx

  10. Roz Savage says:

    Haha! The boobies became the bane of my life on the final stage of my Pacific crossing. Thick as two short planks, and very dubious personal hygiene habits. I had three squatters for a month or so. Tried everything to get rid of them, to no avail. Eventually resigned myself to having to clean booby poop off the boat every morning.

    And then they left one day, and I really missed them!

  11. Mark Clifton says:

    Just listened to Roz Savages latest podcast and she mentioned you were rowing solo across the Pacific. What an extreme endeavor you have chosen for yourself. I’m envious
    A rower went to sea one day
    With the wind and water she will play
    No matter the weather
    She will keep it together
    And finally make some headway

  12. Darcie says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Hello from Canada! I’m a new follower but I’ve been doing lots of reading, “Adrift,” “Rowing it Alone, ” and lots of stories of rows, successful (and tragic) at ORS. I must say I am a bit obsessed! All the best!

  13. Good to hear you found the WD40 (UB40). Quite amazing hearing and reading about this amazing adventure while sitting in the comfort of home. Thanks for keeping us informed. Keep up the incredible work and know we are all with you.

  14. Oh and by the way….your pancake looks like ham.

  15. Colin Angus says:

    Go Sarah! Your updates are making me nostalgic for being out on the high seas. Looking forward to seeing you on the other side of the puddle in a few months.

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