Daily Archives: March 18, 2015

News from Serge on board -

Yesterday was tiring. You can listen to what Serge had to say on « galerie audio ».
09H00: telephone call: Serge had cramps in his buttocks and felt sunburned. He ate quite a bit of Coppa, prepared at home by Brigitte, our friend and neighbor (see the photo taken a few weeks ago in her kitchen in Bréaute). Serge was afraid he had brought too much but I think it will be gone by the time he reaches Madagascar. He has been drinking a lot. During the night: 5 hours of half-sleep from midnight to 5 am, broken by messages from the VHF (for novices like me, I will explain what it is and why it is used).
During the 5 hours when he did not row, there was not much drifting because there was little wind and the current was not unfavorable, which is good news.
Another piece of good news, Serge has not been seasick, which we feared, for then he would not have been unable to row and the first days of rowing are important to get away from the coast.
Breakfast: coffee + Trinitaine brand biscuits and Lyo Food brand Petit-déjeuner, which he mixes with orange juice.
He complains about the taste of the water (rotten egg he said). We must clean the system, something miniature we did not do before departure.
He took on board mineral water, Coca Cola, orange juice and bicarbonate of soda, lemons and small bottles of syrup to flavor the distilled water.
He was happy that a kind of brown, dark headed gull came to sit on the boat and didn’t move for ten minutes.
This morning Serge was sorry he was still so close to the coast, he felt he had made no progress. When Serge began rowing in 2013 it bothered him to turn his back on his destination. When he runs, he sees the direction he is heading, whereas when he rows he sees only what he has rowed past but not what lies ahead. This morning the frustration was strong when he saw Reunion Island so close. I detected great disappointment in his voice. It’s true, Serge has twisted and turned but the tracking today confirms that he really has started.
15H00: Serge is worried about his heading. He talks to Michel Meulnet of SeaRoute, who will be one of his primary contacts at sea, for Michel is a router and has previous experience with rowers. He has been the router for Charles Hedrich and Mylène Paquette. Here is what Michel said:
“Hello, I just spoke to Serge and everything aboard is OK. There is a difference between his compass heading and his GPS heading (in fact, I think his route is south of the optimal) but we are in the process of changing that. In fact, he must keep his heading north for the moment because of the current and expected change in the prevailing wind. The aim is to maintain a correct angle during the entire climb to destination”.
Even if I try reading between the lines, I don’t understand everything but what I do understand is that 2 measuring instruments do not give the same information and that Serge is a bit too far south to catch the good currents and winds that will help him reach Sainte-Marie in Madagascar.
Another thing to keep in mind is something I learned by listening: when you row you cannot fight cross currents and headwinds and if you are not at the right place at the right time it is unlikely, even impossible, that you will reach your planned destination. Due to this, it is essential to keep your heading thanks to waypoints given by the routers.
Another subject I will talk about later is “the drift” and for that I will use my preferred consultant, Pierre Katz, thanks Pierre. I hope by using simple words and explaining difficult words like “compass” or other sailing terms, we will be able to understand why Serge is doing all this twisting and turning.
At sea, distances are not calculated in kilometers, even though you have seen the kilometer count on the website changing. At sea distances are calculated in nautical miles (=1.852km). Sea Route and Sat Ocean, by using sophisticated software are able to send me the number of kilometers Serge has covered. For example: the first 24 hours, Serge covered 18 nautical miles, which included his twists and turns, caused by the currents, wind and waves, before he could get on the heading he wished: 360°N. After 24 hours, as the bird flies, the number of kilometers should be less. So, on a daily basis we will calculate the numbers of kilometers covered by Middleton and Serge.
I have a lot of things still to say but I will keep them until probably the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow, René and I will fly to the capital of Madagascar for the continuation of the adventure and I will not be able to update the website before Friday. I urge you to follow Serge’s tracking, which will now post positions every hour and not every 20 minutes as it did at the beginning.
Something else, Serge did not power up his computer and did not take any photos. He was dealing with the essentials: rowing, eating and resting, with a few brief phone calls, once or twice a day with me and his routers. So, I have no photos of the sea or of the bird. I just have to close my eyes and use my imagination!
20H00: Brief communication: Serge is exhausted « I feel nauseous and I’m drifting because there is an east wind”!