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June 15, 2000

Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #15

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Thu, 15 Jun 2000 01:18:54 -0700
Day 16
Wind ENE 5 knots
Heading 210 Magnetic
Latitude: 07 degs 22.10' South
Longitude: 162 degs 41.69' East

Fatigue is starting to rear its ugly head between us. For the first couple of weeks of the voyage we had a fairly humane routine whereby both of us - one in the front and one in the rear compartment - could be asleep at any one time. In reality this is the only way two people can get enough Zzzz's in a given 24 hr period unless 1. They're they feel like getting to know each other (much) better or 2. Have a penchant for slowly broiling themselves alive in the front compartment during the day which, according to the thermometer in there, has been reaching temperatures of 96+ the last week. But with only a few more days to landfall and wanting to keep on track for making it around the northern point Malaita in one piece, we've opted to slog it out in 4 hourly shifts throughout the nights until we reach Auki.

Consequently we're both a little tetchy in the day right now. Hour after hour of head lolling drunkenly from side to side, occasionally connecting with the hard interior of the cockpit while trying to focus on three red compass lights that spin slowly around each other in maddening circles and refuse to combine into one coherent version does little for one's humour. Like that awful feeling of falling asleep while night driving, there are only so many ways to try and stay awake: slapping oneself in the face, listening to loud music (that becomes an annoying buzzing in the ears after a while) or thinking dirty thoughts. And yet if you allow yourself just 10 minutes of genuine shut-eye (not the head - rolling - around - the - neck - and - occasionally - snapping - upright - in - the - fear - that - you've - driven - off - the - road - and - are - about - to - die sort), its amazing how the brain can fool itself into thinking its had a full quota and ready to go another 12 rounds.

Ironically it's the use of sometimes forced humour that has prevented Chris and I from deteriorating into more genuine arguments. By adopting say a 'broad' Yorkshire or a 'posh' accent - accompanied by stereotyped characters of course- it's possible to air one's grievances in a comical way that makes provision for the other to save face. So for example, by putting on my best Wallace and Grommet Yorkshire accent I can give Chris an ear bashing for being a 'fat, greedy pig' with the M&M's and Chris, retorting either in the same accent or perhaps his seamless version of Michael Caine can respond by giving me a hard time about 'making the sleeping compartment smell like a ruddy farmyard' - and so on and so forth...

Thinking back to the early days of the Atlantic crossing and the stresses that Steve and I dealt with, a couple of characters like this would have faired us well. You have to laugh else it gets to you.

Jason & Chris,

Posted on June 15, 2000 3:11 AM