This is it: I'm in Sydney. I'm finding this all quite surreal and, to be honest, I'm filled with nervous anticipation about what lies ahead.
Saying goodbye to my wife and son at the departures gate was probably the hardest thing I'll do this year (I’ll confirm that mid-way in the Tasman), but seeing them again soon is all the motivation I need to row as hard as I physically can and get home before Santa drops in on December 25.
Thomas has already given me his Christmas card and I have some family images that will sit inside the bow cabin to make it feel more like home.
The next week to 10 days in Sydney won't be the normal sight-seeing visit - it's all about getting the boat through customs, quarantine, getting all our food re-packed and ensure we're ready to row. We’re keen as mustard to get underway.
Once we're 100% ready, we'll move into standby mode and ask our weather man, Dr Roger Badham, to start reviewing the weather patterns and assess a likely leaving date. We need at least a few days of good weather (not strong eatery breezes) to allow us to row as fast as our legs will drive us away from the Australian coast and into the East Australian Current (EAC), which will propel us towards New Zealand's west coast.
James and Andrew have been in Sydney since Wednesday last week and have been working hard to round up a few final items we need, including flares and fire extinguishers which we had in our possession but weren't allowed ship in case they went off inside the container.
The main challenge for me has been getting Moana through the official red-tape process as quickly as possible.
Even if the boat is still on the way here, our heads are already in the Tasman and there has been a chain of emails between us as we're also evaluating shift patterns that allow us to row three up to make the most of the best conditions we hope to get. There's no doubt it means more pulling on the oars and less sleep, but this isn't a cruise, so we’ll just have to harden up and get on with it.
Rowing three up gives us higher average speeds which means less time a sea. So while the pain will be higher, it will last less time. I will always remember the words of my Yoga instructor, Vince, "It’s not what the body can do, it's what the mind can take". I'll be telling that to myself 22 times a minute from around day three!
- Nigel Cherrie