THE LATEST FROM PROJECT MANAGER DAVE FIELD
You may have wondered whether the guys had decided to head to Papua New Guinea rather than Darwin, or quite where they are going? To be honest Grant and Charlie are probably thinking the exact same right now! For the last few hours they have had the para anchor out and were trying to get some much needed rest..
About 5 days ago we looked at the currents and winds and decided that the more direct way to the south of Pulau Wetar set us up for a nightmare in the Timor Sea. It would have contained strong unfavourable currents and left the guys tired before the big challenge that is the Timor Sea. So instead, after much deliberation we decided to send them north east over the top of Pulau Wetar with the aim of entering the Timor Sea further east and with more favourable currents. The convey belt the guys had been riding was setting that way and whilst it was longer it would be quicker and less taxing on the bodies.
And it kind of worked….on the 21 Feb they encountered a current setting them to the west which we determined was an eddy and a move just 10nm north put them into a good east setting current again. Going this way was always going to provide a brief period of unfavourable currents, and Grant and Charlie decided to row two-up for a period to push through it and reach the favourable south-east setting current. All was going relatively well until last night when the wind increased from the south-east and the current appeared to also be setting to the north west. After a few hours of utter persistence to get through the guys rang to say they were exhausted and needed a rest so had deployed the para anchor to limit the drift to the north-west. After taking stock of the situation for a few moments they realised they were now being set to the south-west……and it became apparent that the main issue they were facing was the south-east wind at 10knots.
This image is just a snap shot of the data I look at trying to find a way through for the DONKEY – which way would you go?. Nothing on the forecasts and models shows me what the guys are experiencing. At times like this I worry that I have sent them the wrong way and set them up for failure….but at the end of the day mother nature will do what she will do. And I must say, the Predict Wind software we have been using has been exceptionally accurate to date and is an invaluable tool in this expedition.
So the plan now – rest, recover and drift on the para anchor. As both Grant and I said, it could be worse, at least you are drifting in kind of the right direction! The winds will hopefully ease soon and the currents and tide fluctuations will hopefully provide some relief. This has been an unexpected test for the guys and whilst they are in ok spirits, they have been pretty low trying to get through this period.
Keep an eye on the tracker and send them some strong thoughts.