Day Twenty-Four of Indian Ocean Row
Half asleep I could hear the fumbling of the door being opened to the hatch just before light exploded into the cabin dazzling both James and myself.
Amongst the rays of strong sunshine was the silhouette of Billy’s head…the silhouette then spoke to me in Billy’s voice. I drew the conclusion that this was Billy.
“Baz, do you want to jump in the ocean and scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the boat?”
It’s not the sort of request that normal people get when they’re currently tucked up in bed. And although I am normally only to keen to jump in for something a bit different, when you’re half asleep in a warm sleeping bag, this request did not appeal.
Never-the-less, seeing as I had managed to get so ill that I missed a shift the other night, I felt that I owed a debt of gratitude, and dragged myself out of bed, grabbed the scraper, clambered onto the roof of the boat, and dived right in.
It was colder than I had imagined it would be. It’s not cold by British standards, but again, I was in a sleeping bag 30 seconds prior so it got the breathing going pretty quick! It was very blue under there, its 18,000 feet deep here and looking down into the blue abyss with the shards of light all around was pretty cool. I front crawled back to the boat to grab the dive mask and set about swimming under the boat to see if there was much growth under there.
There was actually a fair bit, particularly on the starboard side which gets the sun. Mostly Goose Neck Barnacles, and algae and the occasional snail. These little critters attach to the underside of slower moving vessels and they ruin the hydrodynamics of the boat so will actually slow you down by quite a large percentage. It is far better to take time off the oars to scrape them off than to try and keep ploughing ahead with them continually building up.
It was tricky to get them all off; despite being a pretty calm day the boat kept moving up and down on the waves and donking me on the head as I was under there, but I managed to clear off all the big stuff and have cleared off the rudder.
I swam around to the side of the boat and very ungracefully clambered back onto the boat flopping on the deck like a seal (I still seem to be carrying a lot of the fat that I put on that I was expecting to burn through on this row!!) Mission accomplished; the boat is clean again, we’ll check again in a couple of weeks to make sure we keep on top of it.