« Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #10 | Main | Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #12 »

June 10, 2000

Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #11

Sat, 10 Jun 2000 23:22:04 -0700
Day 11
Wind ENE 0-5 knots
Heading 180 Magnetic

Another hot, airless day. It would seem that this is now the way of things from now onto the Solomon Islands and perhaps beyond. The further south we get, the less influence from the brisker NE trades and the more we have to grind out each mile the old fashioned way. It's makes for a very sweaty, smelly boat: the gallon we're each drinking a day complemented with replacement electrolyte salts gradually seeps out of our pores onto our pedaling towels over a 24 hr period. These towels (2 x each) are then hung out to dry after each 3hr (day) and 5hr (night) shift, hopefully evaporating as much of the sweat as possible before the owner comes back on the pedals again. The water is certainly removed, but leaving a residue each time of body salts, dead skin and other delightful body by-products. The result after only 12 days of being out here is a foul smelling thing than can stand up by itself. What we really need is a pedal-powered washing machine.

It never fails to amaze me how elastic time is on the ocean. We've been out here for only 12 days but already Tarawa seems a lifetime ago.

Its not like things are constantly changing. Quite the opposite. But somehow our existence is so very different to that on land that it seems we've been doing pretty much the same things at the same time of day, day in day out, for much longer than we actually have.

The way we're getting these updates, photos and video clips back for you to access on this website is via something called a Mini-M satellite telephone that can send and receive voice, email and fax information via one of the Inmarsat geostationary satellites 26 miles above us. In a minute I'll finish writing this report on the laptop here (see video clip), start up some special compression software and send the files via the white domed antenna you see here in the photo (see pic). This antenna has been specially designed for the marine environment. Conventional flat-screened land antennas do not work out on the ocean because they need to be kept still when pointed at the 'bird'. Marine units get around this problem as they are domed shaped, and although I haven't the foggiest as to what actually goes on inside this dome (apart from a lot of very strange noises not unlike those made by the little droid R2D2 in Star Wars), once it is locked onto the satellite, the boat can pretty much be doing the Fandango in a force 12 and you can still transmit and receive. The key to all this however is the compression software that Stratos Communications of Newfoundland has recently developed and released, allowing a 4:1 ration. Effectively this means on a meager 2400 baud line - which is standard for all satellite terminals of this size - we get data transfer rates of up to 9600 which is enough to browse the internet (just) and send larger file sizes of up to 150K - like we are doing with the photo and video clips. Of the four Inmarsat satellites serving the world, the two serving the Indian Ocean and the Pacific here are only able to take a maximum of 150K. The other two, over the East and West Atlantic, are able to relay much larger file sizes.

A bit of tech talk here, and apologies to those non-geeks who don't really care a damn about connection speeds and the shape of our antenna. But just filling in the picture of our wildly exciting existence out here.

Jason & Chris,
The Moksha motors

Posted on June 10, 2000 2:58 AM