Hello from the cabin of Simpson’s Donkey on day 74. We are currently 74nm from Cape Fourcry on the Tiwi Islands. We had another tough evening last night. After hauling in the anchor yesterday morning we stole 12nm of distance with some favorably light winds until around 1900hrs, when the wind turned to the south and rose to 16 knots. I rowed as hard as I could and we were still heading north east at a 30 degree heading at 2.2 knots when in fact we needed to be heading south east. So after 30 minutes of waiting to see if the wind would pass through, we threw out the anchor in 67m of water depth. Just as the previous night, the anchor immediately bit and held which was a relief. We rested overnight and managed to sleep much better than the previous evening, probably due to being so tired. On anchor we are concerned about being hit by a ship so we had the navigation (anchoring) light on and also our electronic radar reflector, which also emits an audible beep if it picks up a radar signal. At 0200 hrs this morning it started beeping like crazy, but there was no vessels to be seen on the horizon or on the AIS chart plotter, I stayed up for 45 minutes on the lookout, before finally turning off the alarm and going back to sleep. There was something out there for sure but maybe it was over the horizon.

Every time we drop the anchor we run the risk of losing it, getting it snagged and having to cut the line. Hauling the anchor in is very hard work even for both of us working together. For one person I am not sure if we could even do it. But we managed to get it up and were off again in light winds at 0700hrs this morning. We have slowly picked up progress during the day and are now flying along at 2.5 knots with the most magical forecast of winds from the northwest of 15 – 20 knots expected for this evening . They are meant too last for the next four days! This is our weather window to get all the way into Darwin. 20 knots of wind will be quite windy and we expect some rough sea conditions, but as long as it is behind us it should push us along nicely. We have not made a final decision about the route into Darwin, either through the Apsley Strait or around Cape Fourcry, let us wait and see where we end up as we get closer to the Tiwi Islands tomorrow. I am not yet thinking of reaching Darwin, the distance may seem short if you look at the chart and how far we have come, but it is a tough fight to get there still with crazily strong tidal currents and we cannot get complacent. It was only a matter of time the longer that we were out here, that a cyclone would spring up. Dave Field has just passed us the news there is a cyclone warning out now. Our safety now is in speed to get to the Tiwi Islands and onto Darwin before anything nasty turns up.

I have been allowing myself time to reflect on the journey thus far and how far we have come. From those early days when we departed from Raffles Marina on the 3 January, crossing the crazily busy Singapore Straits, rowing through storms in the Bali Sea, suffering the blistering heat of the Flores Sea, fighting to get into Dili and now this amazing journey of stealing miles between deep water anchorages across the Timor Sea. I have to almost pinch myself to think how we have been able to come, in such a relatively short time, completely by our own human power. I leave you with these words from Captain James Cook:

“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.”
Captain James Cook






Posted on March 18, 2017, in Rowing Home. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Keep it up, guys. You’re almost there.


  2. Jayden Strickland

    The mysterious radar reflection tripping the warnings on your equipment, i’d like to say it’s the metallic sands of Taranaki shores but you probably had company from a lost shipping container or a whale with a bionic knee replacement!

    Take care boys 🙂


  3. Good beards boys. Axe hardly recognise you. Row safe xxx


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