Monday, November 29, 2010

Waiting for better weather

Last 10 days was very hard for Aleksander. He sent a message: Storm by storm. They hit every few hours, all day and night. I can't keep direction.

10 days track

Currently he is paddling to the north. Probably (we don't have confirmation) he wants to run away the from storm zone and wait for better weather.

Todays weather map. It seems that is should be better for few days.
In my opinion he needs one week window, to jump across the storm zone. Weather in South Atlantic is stable, and much more friendly for the paddler. Moreover he will finally catch South Equatorial Current, which will take him directly to the Brazil.

Todays satellite image is quite optimistic. Sky over Gulf of Guinea is nearly clear, so forecast is promising. We will see ... keep fingers crossed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Storms, storms

It is not a piece of cake.  For 6 days Aleksander is constantly attacked by tropical storms. He is unable to keep direction and speed. First loops appeared in GPS track.
GPS track, November 20th-26th

Sitting in the front of computer, we are in much more comfortable position. Let's check whats the current weather there. We have easy access to satellite images.

Weather from the satellite. Red cross marks current location of kayaker.
  It doesn't look nicely. Aleksander is in the middle of storm zone. This is area where the most of tropical hurricanes starts. Luckily hurricane season 2010 ended recently, so we are not expecting any severe storms.
 Take a look on animated weather map.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photos & Videos

I've received several questions about photos from the expedition. You are right, one picture says more that hundreds of words. The problem is that I'm only commenter, I don't have right to publish photos from Aleksanders official webpage. All I can do, is give you direct links. There are two galleries:
We know that Aleksander is using cameras during expedition. But I'm afraid that to see photos and videos from the ocean, we have to wait till he will be back.

BTW: Official webpage is finally translated (partially). Take a look.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stormy weekend

Saturday's and Sunday's tracks are strangely directed to the North. Last message from Aleksander is explaining everything: "Night storms on weekend pushed me strongly to the North despite of my resistance. Now weather is better, I'm back on my track."
That's true, todays GPS plot looks much better.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

25 days report

Next week has gone and now Aleksander is paddling for 25 days. Current position is 680 miles (1100km) from Dakar, and 1200 miles (1900km) to Fortaleza, what means that he has passed over 1/3 of the whole route.
The strong east winds (average 4B) are compensating drift caused by Equatorial Counter Current, so Aleksander decided to slightly change his strategy. Now he directing his kayak to Brazil, not to the turning point (what was planned before expedition started). This is very reasonable decision since turning point was set to make shorter paddling against Equatorial Counter. With east wind, current is not a problem any more, so the shortest, straight line route should be chosen.
Nothing special happened during last days. Days are similar, very hot and a lot of hard paddling. We know that all equipment is working perfectly (especially watermaker). We also know about one severe storm, which made him feel like a snail hidden in a shell.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fighting with Equatorial Counter

Kayak OLO is now 390 miles (630 km) from the coast of Africa. Nearly 330 miles (530km) left to the turning point, but this will take two or three weeks of hard paddling. Currently Aleksander is breaking trough  Equatorial Counter Current which is pushing him South-East. Just beyond the turning point he will catch South Equatorial, and situation will improve dramatically.
South Equatorial is strong current with surface velocity up to 30 cm/s = 1 km/h  = 15 miles/day. It's quite interesting how scientists track currents using buoys. As a result we get very detailed map of the current.

Ocean currents on Atlantic (from Wikipedia).
To read more about currents on Atlantic visit Wikipedia topic "Ocean current". Explanation why Aleksander chosen such way of crossing, you will find on Route page.

Remember that map on this blog is updated manually, but you can always check the most current location of Aleksander using SPOT website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Safe from malaria

The malaria was serious risk.  Starting from Africa was one of the major aims of this expedition (direct continent-continent route), but before leaving coast paddler could be infected by mosquitoes. Luckily this risk has gone away.
Today Aleksander is over 15 days on the ocean. Severe malaria is almost exclusively caused by P. falciparum infection, and usually arises 6–14 days after infection. He feels right, no symptoms are observed, so we can say that he is safe now. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

News from Twitter

New Twitter account for Aleksander has been created. It is updated by his son Chez Doba, currently living in UK. They have nearly every day contact using satphone, so I belive that this way we get most current (and nearly direct) information from Atlantic.
I've decided to display 3 top tweets in the right columns of this blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slowing down?

If you are careful follower on our Transatlantic paddler, you realized after speeding in the first week (daily average 40mi / 65km), last last 4 days was slower (daily average 27mi / 45km). The weather has not changed significantly, so I was wondering if this kind of slow down is normal for long distance paddlers.

To answer this question, let's take a closer look on "Crossing the Ditch" expedition. In 2007, James Castrission and Justin James crossed Tasman Sea in tandem kayak. During 62 days they did over 3300km(2100mi), what makes daily average 53km (33 mi). They were paddling in tandem boat which is definitely faster, but on the other hand they had rough sea conditions.

We also have to remember that real day distance is longer, comparing to straight line distance of locations taken for every midnight. I predict that extra mileage is about 20 per cent. So after short calculations current daily milleage for Aleksander is 32 miles /  55 km. This is nearly the same what we get for Crossing the Ditch challenge.

Conclusion: Current speed is natural for long distance ocean paddlers. It should be around 30 miles (50 km) per day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Night paddling

Aleksander reported recently about the weather. Heat during the day is so high (36C/100F) that it is more comfortable to paddle after the sunset. Night paddling is nice, but sleeping in the day is also difficult (because of high temperature).

Short, but intense, tropical storm hit yesterday. It was visible long time before, so Aleksander could prepare himself and the boat. Kayak manage storm very well, it was stable and dry inside. After storm Aleksander spotted shark, but it was not interested in posing for picture ;).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

He is not a policeman

Some of you realized that ocean kayak OLO is marked by polish flag and two inscriptions "Police" and "Poland". The first thought could be that Aleksander is polish policeman, or at least that he is sponsored by some police department.
This is not true. Explanation is different. 
"Police" is the name of Aleksanders hometown. It's a small city in north-west part of Poland, close to Baltic Sea, and German border. He told me many funny stories how his town helped him with contacts with police during expeditions.  
Polish word "Police" should be pronounced as "politze".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First week summary

The first week of expedition has finished. During last 7 days Aleksander paddled over 270 miles (430 km) in open ocean. This gives strong daily average (40mi / 60km). With this speed he should get to the Brazil in 50 days.

Another good news is that currently he is over 160mi (250km) from Africa coast. Such distance is enough to say that he is safe from accidental contacts with pirates boats.

According to the official webpage: Aleksander has reported that the weather is nice. He spotted several dolphins, sharks and natives boats. There are no any problems with kayak and other equipment.

Actually, real track length is 310mi (500km).  So we should expect that total length of the challenge will be around 3800 miles ( 6100 km ). With this result, it definitely will be the longest kayak non-stop, ocean challenge in the history.