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June 4, 2000

Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #7

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Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2000 23:12:38 -0700
Day 6
Wind ENE 10 knots
Heading 190 Magnetic

After the overcrowding and associated hardships of the two ocean crossings Stevie and I did together, I vowed to myself in Hawaii to complete the final 4,500 miles to Australia on my own. But the merits of solitude on the last 73 day crossing to Tarawa - the added space and freedom of movement to whatever part of the boat whenever I wanted - proved to have their price also: the loneliness and 'sameness' of just me, myself and I. Basically I found my own company to be not that good. And making friends with the fishes is OK for a while, but a very poor alternative to the real thing: human interaction.

So I had to think long and hard about inviting anyone else on board for these two crossings to Honiara and onto Cairns. Firstly there was the issue of who I could stand to be on a boat with for more than a few days. Next came the issue of physical stamina. And last came the need for a solution to the sleeping compartment dilemma that had jaded the first two crossings with Steve. There had to be a way of both people being able to sleep at any one time to avoid the grueling rota of three hours on and three hours off throughout the night that reduces a human being to mush after a few days. There is only a handful of people that fit the bill for the first of these two criteria. Chris, who is cranking hard on the pedals as I write this, accompanied me on a 1,700-mile bike trip from San Francisco to Colorado a few years ago when I was recovering from my roller-blading accident. Those three sweaty weeks spent toiling together through the Mojave desert and up through the four corners region of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico convinced me that he was not only up to the physical task in hand, but also good fun to be with. Also, being one of Moksha's original builders, it seemed an appropriate thing for him to have a proper go on the outcome of his love and devotion for 12 months back in 1992-3.

And so far, after 6 days at sea together, this theory seems to be playing out. Apart from having another mind close at hand to sharpen my own edge on, I'm finding myself with time to spend doing things I never had the opportunity for on the last crossing. Things like writing a daily journal, preparing meals properly or just sitting out on the foredeck and taking in the exquisite ocean sunsets. Also, by taking the best part of a week to stow the provisions on board before leaving Tarawa, there's enough room in the stern compartment for one person to stretch out three-quarters in length. So the past few nights one of us has pedaled until around 2 in the morning, crashed in the stern compartment for 3 hours until 5 a.m. at which point the other person comes on shift and frees up the front compartment for the late night pedaler to catch up on a few hours extra sleep. With this system, we both get a minimum quota of 6 hours sleep a night and Moksha is lying idle for only 3 out of any 24-hour period.

On the downside, Moksha still proves to be a dreadful squeeze for 2 people, especially with Chris at over 6"2'. There are still the customary mutters and curses when arms and legs become locked in impossible entanglements each time we change seats - the same as Steve and I used to on our two crossings. And with Moksha being Chris' original 'baby', I sometimes feel the inevitable irritation he feels toward the way Stevie and I laid things out: the food storage system (or the lack of more to the point), the area around the pedal seat etc. But its never going to be easy with 2 x blokes on board who both think they know best how to run ship. We'll have to wait until the next voyage when April takes Chris' place for the final run into Cairns to see what difference it makes having a chick on board...

Jason & Chris,
The Moksha motors

Posted on June 4, 2000 6:04 AM