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May 15, 1999

Hawaii to Tarawa Voyage, Update #13

Day 12. Saturday, May 15, 1999, 0313 GMT
Wind ENE Force 2-3. Heading 195M.
Latitude: 16deg 26.833N
Longitude: 162deg 38.072W

Another scorcher today. The air around the pedal seat is heavy to inhale and smells sweetly of sweat like the air around me did while roller-blading through the deep south of the US three years ago. Today is worse than yesterday on account of less wind. If it wasn't for the regular coolings-off in the ocean, now becoming even more frequent, I really don't know what I'd do. It gets a little scary when you start losing control over body temperature as I found out while biking through southern Mexico the year before last. But the ocean is always here if levels get out of hand.

There's always something niggling at me on this boat. And maybe that's a good thing to keep me on my toes. A few days ago it was the current taking us north, now no longer a problem. For the past two days however it's been power. The failure of some extra solar panels to arrive before departure means I'm now struggling to meet the 24hr power requirements of the essential on-board equipment. With the additional drain of an all-round white light on while I'm asleep (obviously a must now I'm alone) and a most excellent PUR Powersurvivor 40 electric desalinator (freeing an hour a day for pedaling), there is often barely enough juice to cover the writing of an update on the PC and collection of email via the Galaxy inmarsat. And this causes problems because if the battery voltage drops below 11 volts, my base-camp crew can't email me, and the machine won't send out the automatic latitude and longitude positions it's supposed to on a regular basis - the only way people and my family know I'm OK. And it that happens, worry on their part sets in etc etc. All this from a few panels not showing up in time!

One alternative is strict power management. Today for example the water-maker got the chop, and I pumped my day's water manually. This robbed my pedaling shift of an hour, but it means I'll have enough juice for the all-round light tonight and the inmarsat in the morning, both which take priority over an hour's worth of pedaling. If the voyage takes three days extra - so be it. The price will be to arrive in one piece!

It is a sharp contrast to life in the modern home where when power is needed, a switch is flicked and power is magically provided. But out here it becomes a real headache. Good training for Y2K perhaps?

Jason Lewis,
The Moksha motor

Posted on May 15, 1999 1:07 AM