… a TRACKER!
This is not the final solution but for now go ahead and enjoy playing about with all the bells and whistles on this rather good tracker:
Sarah is doing well. Her position is positive and she has progressed in the right direction over the last 48h, covering over 70 miles. As the crow flies, she is exactly 60 miles away from Fremantle, her point of departure. This represents a fabulous start, not only for her confidence but for her safety. The further away from land she is the better. This may sound unusual to most of you, as land represents our home, our lives and our relative safety. But when you are at sea you want nothing to do with all the hazards that clutter our coastlines. These include ships, fishing boats, ships, fishing pots, nets, ships, pollution, reefs, islands, funny local winds which aren’t necessarily funny, oh and have I mentioned ships?
In this evenings call Sarah mentioned that her ‘ship detector’ was beeping all over the place. She was surrounded, so she felt, and asked me if there was something I could do about it. I suggested that she uses her VHF radio to make a general “hello I’m here!” announcement every 30mins or so. This can be quite exciting, as suddenly you go from ocean rower to radio dj, and anyone in a 30 mile range can hear whatever it is you chose to say. So hopefully Sarah will have said something along the lines of;
“ALL SHIPS. ALL SHIPS. ALL SHIPS. THIS IS SERENDIPITY. SERENDIPITY. SERENDIPITY. I AM A ROWING BOAT IN APPROXIMATE POSITION BLA BLA BLA. I WOULD LIKE TO KINDLY REQUEST A SHARP LOOK OUT AND PLENTY OF SEA ROOM. ALL SHIPS. ALL SHIPS. ALL SHIPS. THIS IS ROWING BOAT SERENDIPITY. OUT.”
There are two important points here. First of all it gives Sarah a sense of control as she is actually doing something about her genuine and perfectly understandable fear of ships. There are probably only one or two ships close to her position, but her detector doesn’t tell her how many, it just beeps when a ships radar beam hits it. So it could, in fact, be the same ship making Sarah’s beeper beep! Secondly those ships really will hear her and they will do all they can to stay clear. They may even reply back and have a little chat with her. It is always exciting and strangely reassuring, to chat with a complete stranger you will probably never ever meet, who is out there, just like you, in the middle of the ocean. Knowing Sarah, she will probably get very excited indeed if a ship were to respond.
Unfortunately the weather is not looking great. It’s no major surprise and no major storm either, but we just hoped the weather would keep to what it said it would do 4 days ago. There is a low pressure system approaching the South West of Australia. Fast. Sarah experienced the first signs of this low in the morning, as the wind changed from south to north west. She considered launching the para-anchor to prevent her drifting back. Throughout the day the wind shifted to the west and increased. It will then continue around to the southwest and increase further to an approximate maximum of 20 knots. This won’t be fun and the sea state will be confused and uncomfortable for the next 36h at least.
Presently Sarah is resting, with the para-anchor holding her steady and allowing for a southwesterly drift at half a knot. This is a controlled and ideal situation. She won’t lose much ground at all. All things considered the weather window for departure was still good as it projected her quickly away from land. To encounter stronger winds from the wrong direction comes with the challenge and is part of her great adventure. The low is travelling at 35 knots. It will be gone by Wednesday morning and the southerlies will be back, allowing her to continue progress. My only hope is that this weather system doesn’t change its mind yet again and hang around for a day longer or provide stronger winds than forecast. This part of the ocean is known for its dramatic weather and Australian Navy sea rescues. But whatever this low decides to do I don’t think it will get any uglier than what Sarah will endure on Tuesday.
So we hope.