Day 76 : Challenger 4

1 October 2010

Location : Lake Fu Xian to Yuangyang

Low Point : On the day that China launched a lunar probe into space (Chang’e 2), the stage 3 crew had bigger fish to fry : to fully circumnavigate the island in the middle of Lake Xian in a rubber dingy (Challenger 4). This would test our team ethic, physical endurance and mental strength. With confidence high the first hurdle was just to hire the boat.  As per normal in China, it takes at least 9 people far too long to perform a task that would warrant just 1 person in normal money. The usual, “no no no no maybe maybe no no no maybe yes” fun and games kicked off until we finally got the sign off for launch. Dominate !!!  Let’s take this island doooown

About 30 minutes into the voyage, Challenge 4 and the crew were already showing signs of weakness. The boat was taking on water, the crew looking exhausted and the island getting no closer. The executive decision to abort the mission of circumnavigation was taken as safety of our vessel comes first (nothing to do with the fact that we very tired and couldn’t synchronize our rowing strokes). Our revised mission of touching the island and retreating immediately was achieved but failure for the intial task sat heavy for the rest of the day. A full enquiry is pending and it just goes to show how hard circumnavigation is right ?

High Point : Our new tyre and rim was delivered. The local mechanics and crew gave the old girl a proper check again, and amazingly, Martha is in incredible shape after her big big knock. Suspicion of damage to the front diff, brakes, tracking and gear box, all unfounded. Lucky boys, lucky girl. From a personal point of view, the crash yesterday was a strange strange moment. As is common with such events, time slows down (just like it did with the Latvia crash). I had time to contemplate the truck going over and even worse consquences. My mind however was quite clear with a shout of “here we go, hang on” from the back as we smashed through the central reservation. Odd to say the least. Barham did a world class job of keeping his head and kept the truck on the road. For that and lady luck looking down on us once more, thank you.


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