Clive Tully reports on the slow progress he and his crew are making onboard their RIB, Spirit of Cardiff, as they battle against a head sea:

Clive Tully reports on the slow progress he and his crew are making onboard their RIB, Spirit of Cardiff, as they battle against a head sea:

“The last 24 hours have been slow, painfully slow. And indeed painful. At times very painful. We’ve been labouring into a head sea driven by a 20 knot wind, making around 6 knots through the night. But now the sea has flattened off to the extent that we’re starting to make good headway. With any luck we’ll be in Jeddah before the pubs close tonight. Except of course there aren’t any pubs.

Whilst we’re fortunate to have onboard the very latest in communications technology in the form of Iridium low earth orbit satellite telephones, getting voice and data out of the boat is still not as straightforward as you might think. As we travel further east, we’re getting more and more out of synch with the time in the UK, a point we always have to bear in mind when phoning home, or for our daily weather update.

The computer I use is a Psion Series 5mx handheld. I learned long ago that a laptop or notebook computer is totally unusable on Spirit. There’s too much bouncing around to be able to control a mouse pointer, and backlit screen displays vanish in bright sunlight.

My office, and I use the term guardedly, is one of the two bunks in the rear of Spirit of Cardiff’s cabin, so it’s not possible to use it during the hours of darkness, when two crew are on watch, the other two sleeping. And because the way the night watches work, I can’t expect the last sleeper to vacate my office until mid-morning.

As we head further south, it gets darker earlier, and as the cabin has to remain unlit to preserve the night vision of those on watch, I can’t use a torch to look at my keyboard. So basically, I wind up with an afternoon to write reports, and send and receive emails. That’s further cut down by time spent trying to get a data connection – it’s not always that quick.

But judging by the many comments we’ve received from around the world, the effort certainly isn’t wasted. So whilst I have light in my cabin, and satellites overhead, rest assured the reports will keep on coming.”