It is so good to be out on the ocean again after the calm seas in the lee of Fiji. We broke out last night and my personal nightmare is my sandfly bites. They are driving me nuts! My feet and legs are a real mess and we all suffer together but we are now making 5kts for Vanuatu so no complaints.
Dave W. has been doing it tough over the last few days and it all came to a head on the last day on the island when he decided to leave the expedition. He was happy with the boat, safety and the challenge ahead - even the crew. But he had decided that I was being reckless and irresponsible feeding him tinned corned beef and such short rations?? He worried it would permanently effect his health and he cannot eat it. This all came up during the first night on the island. I had caught a fish and we found a bunch of bananas but the reality of eating corned beef in the weeks ahead was not appealing. During the day a boat arrived from a resort on the opposite side of the island. It was only a one hour walk....they took credit cards. He really wanted to go over there and buy more baked beans but I would not allow it. I had to remind him that not only did he help with the shopping for all the food in Sydney, but we had posted the menu on the web site about 18 months ago! And then he personally was responsible for making and packing the individual weekly food bundles. He then agreed that he did not realise how bad it was at the time. I reminded him we had all signed on for the deprivations a long time ago!
I could see there was going to be an issue and said to Dave Pryce "I think we will lose Dave". The next day in the afternoon he came to us and said he cannot continue. I asked him to think hard about it and give me his final decision in an hour as it would mean some logistics issues for me. Myself, Chris and Dave P. were up for it by ourselves but we still had an emergency reserve - Zach Sunderland from the USA (Abbey Sunderland's brother). The 18 year old solo circumnavigator (whose record was taken by Mike Perham) had been in touch two days after I had chosen Chris. When he heard about the vacancy he agreed to be on standby so I was ready to ring him. But after a tough time looking at all the issues and to his great credit Dave said he had to finish this thing so all ended well. It was a challenging time for all.
This trip is not easy. I am REALLY thirsty and craving a cold soft drink! I am not so hungry and can only eat half my biscuits. I have no appetite. My infected knee gash from launch day (forgot to tell you about that) is nearly better but still cannot kneel and my crutch rot is not getting better. Chris and Dave W. have the same. My little toe that took the hit in the knockdown is not quite fitting in with the other toes as a team ( I am laughing)! My side muscle injury from the knockdown is coming out as a HUGE bruise. I have been in the same clothes for 6 days and all the sandfly bites have made my legs swollen. I just ate marinated mackerel in lime juices - all good but now the thirst sets in with a vengeance and I have only 500 ml of water left for the next 12 hours. The thirst for me is the pits!! Someone said that by now all our food intakes should make all our flatulence the same but I can assure you that is not the case. So there are plenty of reasons to get off this boat but I am happy. Dave was just tempted in his mind on the island by the distraction over the hill - normality! I am so glad he is here with us as I know it would have been his biggest regret not finishing this trip. Anything really worth having is worth fighting for. He cannot get off now!! Dave is great fun and makes us laugh often - I like him.
Things have been calm for the past few days with no water over the boat but we noticed the bilges keep filling. We are technically sinking now with about 2 litres an hour coming in somewhere. Nothing we cannot cope with and we think it must be the centreboard case so cannot fix it till the end when we take the boat out of the water. The centreboard was jammed with sand after beaching it and it took nearly an hour for us to get it down again. Dave W. was underwater with hacksaw blades working it free while we were hammering from above. This may be the cause of the leak. Did I tell you that it is bad luck for a wooden boat not to leak?
Now we just want rain. Winds are from the NE and the sky is overcast so we should get something good soon I hope. We are sailing at 4kts after two days of drifting which feels very fast. The boat hook is holding out our headsail and the solar panels are giving no input so the little boat battery is getting low. Sun or rain? RAIN PLEASE! Bligh is still beating us as we chase him to the west now. He came onboard last night and killed our compass light. We were drifting onto reefs at about 1 kt as the sun set so I decided again things were dangerous and had to use the GPS and compass light to get through. There was total darkness again. Three hours into it the compass light went out. I think Bligh thought we were cheating. I make no excuses for using the torches/GPS when it would be certain disaster without them. It has made me realise how lucky and impressive Bligh was on a few occasions, running straight over reefs without knowing. I am really starting to think he is watching us - strange! Anyway we are doing it tough, but having fun and I would not want to be anywhere else at the moment ...except in Kupang at the end once we have done it. What will the next five days to Vanuatu bring? WATER I hope!..Don