Day 43: HOT AS ……

I have an aquarium thermometer that I use to see what the water or air temperature is. The sea is sitting around 25°, and the air temperature, even at night, never gets less than that. However, the day temperature gets up towards and sometimes above 30°.
I take my breaks from paddling inside Osiyeza. I will have something to eat and drink. I will check in with the shore team. I will type my thoughts down on my cell for the daily blog and often have a power nap.
Today it was uncomfortably warm inside. I decided to use the thermometer to see what the real temperature was. I took two readings. One, the air temperature of 34° and then the temperature against the bubble wrap insulation that covers the whole inside, and it read 37°. I would hate to know what it is on the actual carbon fibre skin. Not quite hot enough to bake bread 🍞 but it was hot enough to bake me. 😰
Coms via old school sms can be a little frustrating. It’s slow to type and slow to get a response. But hey, who am I to complain? At least I have some coms for which I am very grateful.

Ask “AI” Albert

Richard checks in with the world three times a day. Morning session to send the latest blog and images to Carmen, the weather check with “Weather Router” Robin, and then the power system and AIS with “AI” Albert.
Albert monitors Osiyeza’s position and the marine traffic around Richard using “Marine Traffic,” with a small subscription to watch one vessel – Osiyeza. FleetMon also works well and seems to be free, but it may delay the position a bit.
He usually sends Richard screenshots like these to show him which traffic may cross his path. At the moment, we’re watching the three green (cargo) vessels approaching him from NW and SE. They are all within 100 nautical miles (185km) from him and move at around 10 knots on average – let’s say 18km/h. That means they can cover 100 nautical miles in just over 10 hours (roughly). Albert alerts Richard on anything that may reach him within the next 12 hours – i.e. before our next check-in.
Currently, we cannot use screen shots, so Albert has to describe the picture in short messages via the satellite phone SMS.
This one is from last night:
“1x cargo @ 70NM SE, will reach you in 6-7 hours. No one else within 130NM (12 hours) in your direction.”
And this morning:
“Ahoy! AIS: cgo 100 SE 9hrs, cgo 70 WNW 6.5hrs, cgo 90 NW 8hrs. All else > 200NM. All ok your side?”
Richard just replied with: “AOK. no slowing osi. slept thw ship passing lst nite but was 2nm away. sun jst up. pwr 91%”
Coordinates -16.427980° lat -19.786150° long

Day 42: “Am I the last person on earth.”

Maybe I am? I have not seen another human for more than 40 days. I wonder how many people will ever get to experience that in their lives.
I feel a bit like Kevin Costner in Waterworld. Although he may be better looking, and his boat is a darn sight faster than Osiyeza. We are both on a quest to find terra firma.
I can understand why the ancient mariners thought the world was flat. The furthest I can see anything on the water is about five nautical miles away. That’s it! That’s my world. A 5nm circle around me. What’s over the horizon is anyone’s guess. It could be the end of the earth. Those early sailors were very brave souls heading off into the unknown.
The $#@% modern-day cellular phone. It is doing a thousand things in the background and you have no idea about it. After the Netflix sabotage, the shore team arranged a 60meg capped deal for R1000. That will be enough for just daily WhatsApp texting to get through to the 1st of February when the next data package starts.

atilite phone state of the art phone holder so the antenna can have a view of the sky

I log in and do the WhatsApp messages. Unbeknownst, the Facebook app decided to run in the background. Yip, it wiped the 60megs out in a few minutes. Gone just like that!
I think the app must have reset itself when the phone was restarted. So frustrating 😞
It was a pleasant evening with the moon almost halfway to full. Unfortunately, this means star gazing is best in the early hours of the morning after it has set.
What’s in a name? A cargo ship called Sealuck II just passed behind me. I wonder what happened to the first one?
Spotted the first Tropic bird with its long thin white tail this morning. It was flying high and not showing much interest in little old me. Usually, when they fly lower, and you shout, they will do another loop around you. It’s entertaining to see how long you can keep their attention going.
One bird I would like to see again is the Frigate bird. It reminds me of a WWII German Stuka with its kinked wings. It’s a very impressive sight watching them take a flying fish out of the air.
Did the same thing as yesterday to last night’s stranded flying fish, but this time Cheech & Chong did not come out and eat. Maybe they are still full from yesterday’s meal.

Day 41: Data diet

Another day and another mile ticked off. 2256km to go, ETA 20th, 5.3 days ahead of schedule.
Rich is doing well, averaging 110km per day. Unfortunately, he has been put on a data diet until 1 Feb, having reached the data cap for the month. A cheeky Netflix download and Facebook stole all his data in the background. He has disabled all apps for a few days.
We continue to monitor all his AIS, position, power etc., which will use approximately 60MB for the next few days. At R17 per meg, the shore team have requested Rich to communicate via satellite phone and SMS.
Coordinates -16.649700° -18.825770°
Donations received for Operation Smile: R236,012
No of new smiles: 43
Click here to help me achieve my goal of 70 smiles.

Day 41: Netflix Killer

The first message from the shore team.
You have hit your data cap.😱
Guilty party 1.7gig by Netflix.
It turns out that the Netflix app decided to connect to the internet. Not sure what it bloody did, but there is nothing to show for it. FRACKING HECK!
Vincent from SMD Africa Marine, the data sponsor, will try and reconnect with the R17/Meg plan until the 1st of Feb when the rollover takes place. Time will tell if this is possible, so it’s back to the satellite phone and sms for now.
Both Cheech AND Chong are back. 🤗
I found two small flying fish, chopped them up into little pieces, and attempted to feed them again. Only this time, I tossed each piece as far forward as possible, giving it time to sink a little before passing the keel. The little buggers did not hesitate. They were on it like a bull to a red flag. Feeling proud of myself.
Managed to skip 2km passed the daily goal for yesterday’s troubles.
I got some great footage, but it will have to wait till February before I can share it with you.
Late in the afternoon, I had another visit by a Blue Marlin. It did not linger for very long and was gone before I could get my video camera.

Day 40: Another Smilestone; 40 days, 40 nights, 40 smiles

Another milestone. Eight sets of four lines, each with a fifth line crossing them out. 40 days, 40 nights of paddling towards Brazil in Osiyeza. 🎉
I opened a new vacuum packet of droe wors. A little bit of white mould was easily wiped off. This batch was still a little moist, so I hung them up in the cabin where temperatures are the highest to let them dry out a bit more.
Now everything smells of curing meat. Not an offensive smell to me, but probably the reason I felt hungry all day.
It was another day of mixed weather. Cloudy in the morning and clear in the afternoon. I was sure I spotted either Cheech or Chong swimming off to the side to feed on something before returning to slipstream Osiyeza’s keel. I stuck a camera into the water, showing one Pilot 🐟. At least both of them did not go “up in smoke” and leave me. Feeling a little less anxious now that not everyone has left me.
A while back, someone asked in a comment, “how am I always in such good spirits?”
The truth is I am not.
Paddling for all those hours each day, regardless of how beautiful it is out here, is still tough, with or without a following wind. My shoulders, neck, back and, of course, my backside ache from sitting and propelling myself endlessly forward.
Talking about it is, to me, as boring as the act itself, so I have little desire to repeat it here.
Accepting this suffering actually makes things mentally easier as I stop worrying about ways to eliminate something I can’t change.
Remember, attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an experience.
I have just missed the 100km mark for the last two days. Only by a few kilometres, so there is nothing to stress about.
The 🌙 moon is slowly starting to grow, but it’s also started to mess with my star gazing. It’s usually nice to be able to see where I am going thanks to the moonlight, but out here, there is diddley squat to see. 🙃


What’s with the kids wanting to swim at 4 am this morning? Waking me up with their demands. How their minds work sometimes baffles me. At least I was now awake and could pen this blog for you. 
Coordinates: -16.803020° lat -17.841380° long
Donations received to date for Operation Smile: 147
Total raised: R230,512
No of new smiles: 41
Thank you to everyone who has donated to this cause that is so close to my heart. Every little bit helps me reach my goal of 70 smiles in 70 days. With hopefully less than 30 days to go, please open your hearts and help me change 70 kids’ lives.
Click here to find my fundraising page.

Day 39: Cheech and Chong have left me

While sipping my hot morning cup of coffee, I spotted a few small flying fish in the cockpit. They had run out of skills during the night. I thought how kind it would be for me to chop them up and feed them to the Pilot fish. I gathered the stinky flying buggers and chopped them into tiny bits. I dropped a bit over the side one at a time to give the Pilot fish a chance to eat more than one before dashing back underneath. Nothing. The Pilotfish obviously are doing the intermittent fasting trend and are skipping breakfast.
At the end of my morning session, I decided to go for a swim and to scrape some more gooseneck barnacles off the hull. I got everything set up. A long line drifted out the back cause Osiyeza was drifting forward. Set up the cameras and slip over the side.
The first thing I noticed was the Pilot fish, Cheech and Chong, were nowhere to be seen. Maybe they crapped themselves when this thing fell into the water, and they buggered off to watch from a distance?
I spent about 20 min scrapping at pesky barnacles. The water was so clear I watched them float away for ages. Trying to swim under the hull near the stern was tricky and a little treacherous. Osiyeza was lifted up by each little wave and would drop down with a bang pushing me downward. I decided that getting my head bashed this way would not be a great ending, so a few pesky barnacles remain.
Goose barnacles are related to crabs and lobsters living on plankton and detritus in the water. They cost up to R1700 a kg and are considered a delicacy more valuable than lobster.
Should have left them to grow to size and sold them to offset my flight home 🙃
The Dorados left me. (ok, I did upset one when I caught it)
The Marlin left me. (I am ok not having a sword go through the hull)
Cheech and Chong seemingly have left.
I am starting to get a complex. 🥺
A rather large rain squall came on down the track around 11 am and did not leave for five hours. It was pretty extraordinary how much rain fell. I had a great shower which never actually ended. I eventually had to jump down below, dripping wet, to dry myself. I spent about an hour below, all nice and dry, only to get soaked during the next paddling session. Strange how cold it feels, and it’s 25° outside. Inside is a little warmer today at 30°.🌡
I have one of those plastic squeeze water bottles I use for my juice mix. I have a bicycle bottle cage screwed next to my paddling seat that holds the bottle while I stroke my way towards Brazil. We all have these bottles at home, which have been around forever.
I was doing a good thorough clean to get rid of the slimy black mould that started to grow, especially around the bite nipple, when I discovered that the nipple could actually lock in the closed position.
I never knew! Never too old, they say.
Too old, not me!
I am elderly! According to Siviwe of the Cape Times. 😂😜
If you missed the article, here is the link.
Later alligator 
Latitude -16.958070°
Longitude -16.904600

Day 38: My inspiration

I looked at my prison calendar marked on the bulkhead with a permanent marker. Four lines, with the fifth crossing the four denoting five-day blocks. I am now on the 7th block. Thinking back to the first block, I can’t really remember much. I remember the departure and seasickness but not a lot more. Days and weeks have blended into each other.
I am looking forward to reading my own blogs when I get back home, and perhaps they will tease an idea for a book or video.
Who has inspired you to do extreme paddling adventures?
My first interaction with extreme adventuring stuff was in the early ’90 when Anthony Steward became the first person to sail around the world solo and in an open boat. We were sailing instructors based in Saldanha Bay for two years of National Service. I went in after school, and Ant joined after university. (I just did the math, and this was more than 35 years ago. Maybe I am old 🙃)
We became close friends, and when he started building his open boat, I joined him full-time. Then I probably didn’t appreciate the scope of what he was about to attempt because it was sort of what we did. We lived and breathed sailing.
If you have been following my story, you would have seen me casting the lead bulb for Osiyeza’s keel. I learnt to do this with my Dad’s help when we cast Ant’s lead bulb for Zulu Dawn’s keel.
Please do yourself a favour and watch his documentary here. Watch out for me dressed up as a stunt double 😂
 AnthonySteward, when you read this, know it’s all your fault 😂

Today I got to open another weekly bag of food. Soooo much food! The same as each week, but I still get excited to see more salami sticks, biltong and the new stock of junk snacks. Yum!🍭🍬
This bag had mung beans, so I started the next batch of sprouts immediately. Friday, I’ll be snacking on them. 🤗
A word of thanks must go to Robin for his routing skills. He has placed
Osiyeza and I on what feels like a magic carpet. The current has been ripping us towards Salvador for the past few days. If this continues, it will likely move our ETA even earlier.💪
I am fascinated with the Pilot fish. Now and then, one will dart out to the side and then back to the cover of Osiyeza. The paddle does not even bother them anymore. They are very nimble, so it’s unlikely I would knock one with the paddle blade. I finally realised what they were doing when I tossed the crumbs of popcorn over the side. They were immediately onto the popcorn and equally quickly realised that it was not appetising before darted back. They must be feeding when they move out to the side. I have not seen them react when the kids dive overboard. Clever little things. 🐟
Latitude -17.172520°
Longitude -16.102220°
Money raised for Operation Smile R224,512
No of new smiles: 41

Day 37: Rock n roll again

Last night Osiyeza started to move around a bit more than in the previous few days. All locked up inside, I struggled to get some decent shut-eye in. I put it down to not wanting to miss my Cape Talk interview, which was at 03:20 my time.
Only when I went for my first session did it dawn on me that the wind had increased and was gusting 20kt, and the sea was building but from multiple directions. Shows what a lack of sleep can do to the sensors.
The past few days, I have been managing to crack 100km per day. Based on today’s speeds, I am confident I am now on the Easterly conveyor belt. Strong East winds plus up to one knot of current will definitely give me an extra push.
As you know, I try to hide from the sun as much as possible. Midday, I like to hide inside Osiyeza, have something to eat, jot down some thoughts for the blog and read the kindle. This usually knocks me out for at least half an hour. The problem now is the temperature; as it keeps increasing, so does it inside Osiyeza. Today it was 34° inside. It’s still the lesser of two evils, but it’s like a little sweatbox. The mattress looks like a dead body has been outlined and traced in sweat. ♨
The highlight of the trip so far happened in the afternoon. I am not sure what made me look behind, but the first thing I saw was a fin sticking out of the water with a dark shape below.
I jumped inside and grabbed the first camera I could find, which was my cell phone. It was a Blue Marlin and was longer than me. It was cruising up to the rudder and then moving down the side and back again. It must have had its eye on the poor pilot fish that have been with me for many days. They must have been using the keel as protection.
I grabbed one of the waterproof cameras to try and get some underwater video, but before I could, the Marlin took off at lightning speed and proceeded to do three jumps high into the air, one after the other. Slamming down sideways each time and then was gone. I waited and watched for a while and saw another smaller Marlin swim near the stern, but it quickly disappeared.
Marlins use their long award-like bills to stun their prey, and on a few occasions, they have miss judged where the boat is in relation to their prey and have speared right through the hull of ocean rowing boats. Their bills snap off, leaving it sticking through the boat. Luckily most bunks are above the bottom of the hull, and no one has been injured yet, but it’s quite a shocking thing to happen. I am now convinced that it was a Marlin that was shaking Osiyeza’s rudder the other evening.
I wonder if the two Pilot fish are still around. I slipped the waterproof camera over the side, and much to my relief, they were both cruising next to the keel.
I did another interview so check out Die Burger newspaper today and Netwerk24 online.
Please consider donating to Operation Smile here

Day 36: Birthday Hangover

What was it from?
The late night? The disco party? The soet wyn? Smoke from the candle?
I can’t say for sure, but I woke up with a sore throat.
My favourite wife, Judy, would say with conviction that it was from me snoring. I just can’t come to the same conclusion. I never heard a thing!
The wind and sea have slowly increased in strength and size, making it another rollercoaster night. I had to be up at 03:00 to activate the satellite coms for a 06:20 am Cape Talk radio interview with Lester Kiewit. I thought it was a good chat. You can listen to the podcast from my earlier social media post if you missed it. Click here
After the interview, Robin asked me to use a magnet 🧲 to switch the spoor tracker back on if this was indeed the problem. It needs to be done at night, so I can see the LED light sequence to determine if it’s on or not. The unit is glued to the cabin roof in front of the hatch. This position makes it quite precarious for me to reach comfortably and safely. Osiyeza was trying to dip me into the water with each roll to the port side. Add my whole weight leaning over, and around the hatch, she nearly got it right a few times. After a few attempts, I got the LED lights to the correct sequence. A few minutes later, Robin confirmed it had updated itself online. Success 💪
I was awake, so I decided to do some paddling because the sky was clear and the stars were stunning. Orion’s belt had dipped below the horizon, and Scorpio was rising behind me. A stunning session.
As I mentioned in the radio interview this morning, I estimated 70 days for the crossing but wanted to be a little quicker than a rowing boat. Well, let the truth be told. It’s got nothing to do with trying to beat another man’s record. Seventy days would make my arrival on the 25th of February. Look closely at the expiration date of the Fritos crisps on board. Now you know the real reason? Do you think I can chance eating expired crisps, or will I make it in time?
Latitude -17.657250°
Longitude -14.163900°