Sitting around the saloon table the hot discussion of the morning today is the GPS location and the fact we missed our timing again to drop Ben in the water on our first approach. At the end of each days swim we take the point of when Ben finishes so we can return the next day. Simple in theory but this is one of the biggest challenges for us in supporting Ben and guarantee he swims every mile for the Guinness World Record. It involves constant strategy and planning every night which changes as the weather changes. Our best friend the Kuroshio current which provides Ben with a lot of extra push and extra miles during the day, and then becomes our worst enemy of a night. Fighting 3.5 sometimes 4 knots of current to stay west of the point takes a lot of proactive forethought, it doesn’t take long at the speed of the Kuroshio to drift hours from the point. We spend all night sailing, hove to, sailing, drifting, sailing to hopefully time an approach at the starting line in the early morning. So far, we haven’t had much success in terms of early starts, it requires a lot of things to align and successful coordination between everyone.
We only need one hold up as we drift towards the point and suddenly we have missed it, as little as ten minutes lost somewhere either in the morning prep, dinghy drop or in Ben’s preparation could means hours turning around and trying again. Sometimes we can drive a mile or more in the Dinghy to get back to the point other times it means raising a lot of sailing again and attempting to tack upwind and up current again for another approach.
Everyday the prep team starts at 4am in the morning to help ensure the dinghy team and Ben are good to go, making sure all dinghy gear is ready, Ben’s food is prepared, his gear is accounted for, all the while sailing/drifting to time Seeker’s approach to the GPS point at around 830 – 9 am. However even with the early start sometimes it still doesn’t work out, today was one of those mornings. We are slowly getting better and better, more coordinated and more organized but sometimes it simply doesn’t work out as planned. Nobody on board wants to hold up Ben when he is ready to swim and when it happens it can be pretty disappointing and frustrating for us all. It must be extremely frustrating for Ben, getting told to suit up, mentally and physically prepare yourself for a days swim and then we miss it. As frustrating as this must be for him he rarely shows any sign of it, he is extremely patient with us and understanding.
I think there is a small feeling of accomplishment every day amongst the team once we finally manage to launch Ben and have him swimming. Every successful delivery of Ben back to his GPS point is like winning the previous nights game. Equally, every missed opportunity is a small blow to the confidence and feels like a loss. Today’s loss hurt the most, I think because after two days of no swimming due to bad weather everyone was keen to hit the ground running (water swimming*). Still, everyone remains positive, slightly frustrated by the whole invisible GPS location game, but positive. It is a struggle sometimes but it is what keeps Ben’s swim legit and gives our expedition credit. It also makes the days we do have a successful launch all the more rewarding, after all, if it was easy someone else would have already done it…
Written by: Ty Dalitz, First mate, research manager.
Read more of his blogs from The Swim on his personal website www.lostaussies.com
‘Since 2014 I have been trying to circumnavigate the world without flying (https://www.facebook.com/thelostaussie/), on a bit of an extended underserved holiday. After making it from Australia to London at the end of 2016, the next step was finding a boat to sail across the Atlantic. Fortunately enough, The Longest Swim had just recently purchased DISCO in the UK, and was still desperate enough for crew to consider a hitchhiking Aussie bum.
Originally I was only wanting to get to Canada to find a much-needed job, but the catch for an Atlantic crossing with The Longest Swim was to help with another two Pacific crossings as well. Quite possibly the most roundabout way to get to Canada but an adventure I am stoked to be involved in.
Dusting off my biological science degree I will be helping with the science on board and the unique task of keeping the boat sailing at a breathtakingly slow pace. If I can help Ben achieve his dream while contributing to environmental awareness, something I‘ve always been passionate about, it’s well worth the unwanted stress of writing this bio.’