Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Massage Me Like a Pina Colada

There is a lot to do while I'm here in Tarawa, but – lazy cow that I
am (?!) I grabbed the opportunity for a day off yesterday. By a "day
off", I mean an opportunity to stop, think, and clarify before
hurtling on regardless. I suppose you'd think I'd had all the time in
the world to think while I was rowing – and I did – but I always do my
very best thinking when I have my pen in hand, blank page of my
journal in front of me. And ocean thoughts don't always make so much
sense on dry land. It was time to get real.

But first let me tell you a bit about the sheer pleasure of being back
on dry land. One of the best things about spending long periods of
time out at sea is that it makes me appreciate the simple things of
land life so much more. To wake up in a comfortable, clean, soft bed…
to feel the warmth of the shower jets on my skin… to open a fridge and
take out a bottle of refreshing cold water…

So it was with an immense feeling of wellbeing that I woke up in my
hotel room yesterday morning. I lay on the floor to do my morning
stretch-and-breathe routine, trying to remember how it goes. I went to
sit out on the balcony overlooking the lagoon, which is actually very
polluted, but from a distance it's a gorgeous light blue, so different
from the deep blue of the open ocean.

I flipped through my trusty spiral-bound notebook while I ate a
breakfast of granola bars. I am a great maker of lists and notes, and
it was half-full of the lists I'd made in the month or so before my
departure from Hawaii. I felt the need for a fresh start, so I tore
out the used pages, neatly trimming away the perforated edges before
archiving them. Now I had a book of blank pages, ready for the next
chapter of my life.

Continuing my theme of simplicity and fresh starts, I next cleared out
my backpack. I'd been shocked when I took it off the boat, safe in its
drybag, to feel how much it weighed. Did I really used to carry this
around on my shoulders all day, every day?! No wonder I'm getting
shorter! I found all kinds of junk that had accumulated in its many
pockets – useful junk, put there "just in case", but now some cases
seemed too unlikely to justify the weight. Simplify, simplify, said
Thoreau. So I did.

Feeling fresh and organized and ready to face the day, I joined up
with TeamRoz and we got going. We headed over to the office of David
Lambourne, the Solicitor General, to use his relatively good internet
connection so Nicole could post the press release and Conrad could
upload his video footage of my arrival for the media. The poor guy had
been up all night editing 6 hours down to 6 minutes.

David, originally from Australia but now a permanent resident of
Tarawa is fast becoming our local angel, as well as being a local
mover and shaker. His wife, Tessie, is the Minister of Foreign Affairs
for Kiribati. Somebody (oops, could it have been me?) made mention of
massage, and he said that one of Tessie's relatives does a great
traditional Tarawan massage. A quick call to his house, and it was
arranged. It was definitely one of the more unusual massages I've ever
had. I was introduced to a multitude of David's wife's relatives,
sitting in a row of small shady thatched cabanas on the lagoon side of
the island, whiling away the hot hours. Two of them tended to me,
while a small audience of aunts, sisters and children watched nearby.
I sat on the palm matting under the thatch while I was rubbed down
with oil and water, and my aching back muscles soothed with long,
gentle strokes. Then I was sponged down with a wad of coconut wrapped
in muslin and dunked in hot water. Coconut milk ran down my skin. A
gentle breeze wafted in from the lagoon. It was all very nice indeed.
I smelled like a pina colada.

My masseuse and I chatted as best we could across the language
barrier. She is the same age as me – 41 – but has 8 children and 3
grandchildren. Her eldest child is 26 and the youngest is 7. Her
husband died of cancer 4 years ago. What different lives.

I spent the rest of the afternoon communing with my journal in the
cabana, covering several pages with thoughtful handwriting while the
relatives around me chatted amongst themselves in the melodious
language of Kiribati, played dice, crocheted, ate and snoozed in the
shade. A litter of new puppies slept in a furry heap underneath the
cabana. A pig lay in its pen, also comatose. Island life.

Towards dark David's wife Tessie came home, and David himself arrived
with Nicole, Hunter and Conrad. We sat in the cabana drinking toddy,
the diluted sap of the palm tree. It's unlike anything else I've ever
tasted, but very delicious. It smells strangely of hot dogs, but
tastes much better – sweet and fresh. David told us they gather it by
climbing to the top of a palm tree and shaving the bark at the site of
a new palm frond to get to the rising sap beneath. As you drive around
the island you can see the jars they attach to palm trees to gather
the juice.

After sunset we sat on the beach under the palm trees, watching the
moon rise over the lagoon as we ate a dinner prepared by the
relatives. This is how their household works – David and Tessie work
to support the relatives, in return for which the 20 or so members of
the extended family provide them with cooking, cleaning, and massage
services. Everybody's happy.

The food was the best I'd had so far on the island. There is nowhere
on a coral atoll to grow vegetables, so they are in scarce supply.
Cabbage is about the only fresh veg available. So we had coleslaw with
local tuna and chicken, and the ubiquitous white rice, washed down
with coke, cold beer or a very nice New Zealand Pinot Noir according
to choice.

Conversation was varied and interesting – including a lot of talk of
climate change, which is very much on the minds of the Kitibati
government. But more of that later. This blog is too long already.
Ciao for now – more tomorrow. We have to go to the airport to collect
Ian, who is arriving from San Francisco to help with the boatworks.

[Note: All travel by members of TeamRoz is balanced by carbon offsets
to maintain our carbon neutral status.]


Other Stuff:

Just so you know… I still have very limited internet access. Tarawa is
progressing fast, but its infrastructure is still a way behind US
levels. David's office has the best data speeds, but it still took
Conrad 7 or 8 hours to upload his 6 minutes of video footage. I'm
still having to post blogs via email, and Tweets via my satphone, and
it's not easy for me to see comments and other responses. So please
forgive me if I seem a bit remote from the online dialogue. A more
normal service will be resumed once I leave Tarawa in a couple of weeks.

Some facts on Tarawa – as gleaned by Nicole from the internet:

Tarawa Overview

Latitude: 1° 25' North, Longitude: 173° 00' East

Tarawa atoll is the capital of Kiribati, previously capital of the
former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.

Tarawa is not a single town but a group of 24 islets (of which at
least 8 are inhabited) surrounded by a coral atoll. Apart from the
south where causeways link the islets, one needs a boat to
navigate around the main features.

The largest islet (South Tarawa) extends from Bonriki (southeast
corner of the atoll) along the entire south side of the lagoon to
Bairiki. A causeway now connects Bairiki to Betio (Japanese causeway).
The largest town, Bikenibeu, and the only airport on Tarawa, Bonriki
International Airport, are on the southeast corner of Tarawa.

Betio island, the chief commercial center of the country, is a port of
entry. The main hospital is located at Bikenibeu. The central
Government offices, Parliament building, President's Office and
Residence, Central Post Office, Telecommunications Services Kiribati
Limited (TSKL), Library and Archives, and various other official
buildings are all on Bairiki islet.

The population is mainly Micronesian. Tarawa was occupied by the
Japanese (1941-43) and fell to U.S. marines after a bloody battle. In
the early 1990s the southern part of the capital, particularly Betio,
had one of the highest population densities in the world, leading the
government to resettle residents on less crowded islands.

They are 2 hours behind Hawaii Standard Time. (ie when it is noon in
Hawaii, it is 10 am in Tarawa)

Travel

Flights: The only flights into Tarawa (TRW) are Air Pacific flights
from Nandi, Fiji (NAN). They leave twice a week, on Tuesdays and
Thursdays.

From Honolulu (HNL), there are a few more carrier options. Air
Pacific flies from HNL to NAN as does Qantas, American, United,
Hawaiian and Air New Zealand.

Ships: Supply ships occasionally go to Fiji and Tuvalu.

Accommodations

There are a few options for lodging on Tarawa but we are staying at
Hotel Otintaai. It is the main hotel in Kiribati. Fully owned by
Government, the hotel is on South Tarawa with a good view of the
lagoon. It is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the hotel to the
airport. They have a restaurant, running water, clean rooms and
Internet (ish).

Massage Me Like a Pina Colada

There is a lot to do while I'm here in Tarawa, but – lazy cow that I
am (?!) I grabbed the opportunity for a day off yesterday. By a "day
off", I mean an opportunity to stop, think, and clarify before
hurtling on regardless. I suppose you'd think I'd had all the time in
the world to think while I was rowing – and I did – but I always do my
very best thinking when I have my pen in hand, blank page of my
journal in front of me. And ocean thoughts don't always make so much
sense on dry land. It was time to get real.

But first let me tell you a bit about the sheer pleasure of being back
on dry land. One of the best things about spending long periods of
time out at sea is that it makes me appreciate the simple things of
land life so much more. To wake up in a comfortable, clean, soft bed…
to feel the warmth of the shower jets on my skin… to open a fridge and
take out a bottle of refreshing cold water…

So it was with an immense feeling of wellbeing that I woke up in my
hotel room yesterday morning. I lay on the floor to do my morning
stretch-and-breathe routine, trying to remember how it goes. I went to
sit out on the balcony overlooking the lagoon, which is actually very
polluted, but from a distance it's a gorgeous light blue, so different
from the deep blue of the open ocean.

I flipped through my trusty spiral-bound notebook while I ate a
breakfast of granola bars. I am a great maker of lists and notes, and
it was half-full of the lists I'd made in the month or so before my
departure from Hawaii. I felt the need for a fresh start, so I tore
out the used pages, neatly trimming away the perforated edges before
archiving them. Now I had a book of blank pages, ready for the next
chapter of my life.

Continuing my theme of simplicity and fresh starts, I next cleared out
my backpack. I'd been shocked when I took it off the boat, safe in its
drybag, to feel how much it weighed. Did I really used to carry this
around on my shoulders all day, every day?! No wonder I'm getting
shorter! I found all kinds of junk that had accumulated in its many
pockets – useful junk, put there "just in case", but now some cases
seemed too unlikely to justify the weight. Simplify, simplify, said
Thoreau. So I did.

Feeling fresh and organized and ready to face the day, I joined up
with TeamRoz and we got going. We headed over to the office of David
Lambourne, the Solicitor General, to use his relatively good internet
connection so Nicole could post the press release and Conrad could
upload his video footage of my arrival for the media. The poor guy had
been up all night editing 6 hours down to 6 minutes.

David, originally from Australia but now a permanent resident of
Tarawa is fast becoming our local angel, as well as being a local
mover and shaker. His wife, Tessie, is the Minister of Foreign Affairs
for Kiribati. Somebody (oops, could it have been me?) made mention of
massage, and he said that one of Tessie's relatives does a great
traditional Tarawan massage. A quick call to his house, and it was
arranged. It was definitely one of the more unusual massages I've ever
had. I was introduced to a multitude of David's wife's relatives,
sitting in a row of small shady thatched cabanas on the lagoon side of
the island, whiling away the hot hours. Two of them tended to me,
while a small audience of aunts, sisters and children watched nearby.
I sat on the palm matting under the thatch while I was rubbed down
with oil and water, and my aching back muscles soothed with long,
gentle strokes. Then I was sponged down with a wad of coconut wrapped
in muslin and dunked in hot water. Coconut milk ran down my skin. A
gentle breeze wafted in from the lagoon. It was all very nice indeed.
I smelled like a pina colada.

My masseuse and I chatted as best we could across the language
barrier. She is the same age as me – 41 – but has 8 children and 3
grandchildren. Her eldest child is 26 and the youngest is 7. Her
husband died of cancer 4 years ago. What different lives.

I spent the rest of the afternoon communing with my journal in the
cabana, covering several pages with thoughtful handwriting while the
relatives around me chatted amongst themselves in the melodious
language of Kiribati, played dice, crocheted, ate and snoozed in the
shade. A litter of new puppies slept in a furry heap underneath the
cabana. A pig lay in its pen, also comatose. Island life.

Towards dark David's wife Tessie came home, and David himself arrived
with Nicole, Hunter and Conrad. We sat in the cabana drinking toddy,
the diluted sap of the palm tree. It's unlike anything else I've ever
tasted, but very delicious. It smells strangely of hot dogs, but
tastes much better – sweet and fresh. David told us they gather it by
climbing to the top of a palm tree and shaving the bark at the site of
a new palm frond to get to the rising sap beneath. As you drive around
the island you can see the jars they attach to palm trees to gather
the juice.

After sunset we sat on the beach under the palm trees, watching the
moon rise over the lagoon as we ate a dinner prepared by the
relatives. This is how their household works – David and Tessie work
to support the relatives, in return for which the 20 or so members of
the extended family provide them with cooking, cleaning, and massage
services. Everybody's happy.

The food was the best I'd had so far on the island. There is nowhere
on a coral atoll to grow vegetables, so they are in scarce supply.
Cabbage is about the only fresh veg available. So we had coleslaw with
local tuna and chicken, and the ubiquitous white rice, washed down
with coke, cold beer or a very nice New Zealand Pinot Noir according
to choice.

Conversation was varied and interesting – including a lot of talk of
climate change, which is very much on the minds of the Kitibati
government. But more of that later. This blog is too long already.
Ciao for now – more tomorrow. We have to go to the airport to collect
Ian, who is arriving from San Francisco to help with the boatworks.

[Note: All travel by members of TeamRoz is balanced by carbon offsets
to maintain our carbon neutral status.]


Other Stuff:

Just so you know… I still have very limited internet access. Tarawa is
progressing fast, but its infrastructure is still a way behind US
levels. David's office has the best data speeds, but it still took
Conrad 7 or 8 hours to upload his 6 minutes of video footage. I'm
still having to post blogs via email, and Tweets via my satphone, and
it's not easy for me to see comments and other responses. So please
forgive me if I seem a bit remote from the online dialogue. A more
normal service will be resumed once I leave Tarawa in a couple of weeks.

Some facts on Tarawa – as gleaned by Nicole from the internet:

Tarawa Overview

Latitude: 1° 25' North, Longitude: 173° 00' East

Tarawa atoll is the capital of Kiribati, previously capital of the
former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.

Tarawa is not a single town but a group of 24 islets (of which at
least 8 are inhabited) surrounded by a coral atoll. Apart from the
south where causeways link the islets, one needs a boat to
navigate around the main features.

The largest islet (South Tarawa) extends from Bonriki (southeast
corner of the atoll) along the entire south side of the lagoon to
Bairiki. A causeway now connects Bairiki to Betio (Japanese causeway).
The largest town, Bikenibeu, and the only airport on Tarawa, Bonriki
International Airport, are on the southeast corner of Tarawa.

Betio island, the chief commercial center of the country, is a port of
entry. The main hospital is located at Bikenibeu. The central
Government offices, Parliament building, President's Office and
Residence, Central Post Office, Telecommunications Services Kiribati
Limited (TSKL), Library and Archives, and various other official
buildings are all on Bairiki islet.

The population is mainly Micronesian. Tarawa was occupied by the
Japanese (1941-43) and fell to U.S. marines after a bloody battle. In
the early 1990s the southern part of the capital, particularly Betio,
had one of the highest population densities in the world, leading the
government to resettle residents on less crowded islands.

They are 2 hours behind Hawaii Standard Time. (ie when it is noon in
Hawaii, it is 10 am in Tarawa)

Travel

Flights: The only flights into Tarawa (TRW) are Air Pacific flights
from Nandi, Fiji (NAN). They leave twice a week, on Tuesdays and
Thursdays.

From Honolulu (HNL), there are a few more carrier options. Air
Pacific flies from HNL to NAN as does Qantas, American, United,
Hawaiian and Air New Zealand.

Ships: Supply ships occasionally go to Fiji and Tuvalu.

Accommodations

There are a few options for lodging on Tarawa but we are staying at
Hotel Otintaai. It is the main hotel in Kiribati. Fully owned by
Government, the hotel is on South Tarawa with a good view of the
lagoon. It is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the hotel to the
airport. They have a restaurant, running water, clean rooms and
Internet (ish).

Monday, September 07, 2009

Arrival Day + 1: HELLO TARAWA!

I stepped ashore, setting foot on dry land for the first time in 105
days. This was now my third arrival after prolonged periods at sea, so
I wasn't surprised when the ground seemed to lurch beneath my feet. My
brain had adapted to being on a constantly pitching boat, so now it
was over-compensating when I stood on terra firma. I looked up at the
crowd of several hundred people that had come to greet me, and
wondered if my first act on arriving in Tarawa would be to topple over
like a drunkard.

Then two big hunky men in traditional island outfits approached and
knelt in front of me, forming a cradle with their arms. "Thank heavens
for local tradition" I thought, as I sank gratefully onto the
proffered cradle.

I was carried to a plastic chair, and the hunky men were joined by
several more who performed a local dance of traditional welcome. I
felt like visiting royalty as I smiled appreciatively. They presented
me with a coconut, its top lopped off so I could drink the cool,
refreshing, sweet coconut water inside. It was exactly what I needed.
I was feeling a bit woozy after my exertions. It had been an
exhausting 3 days.

As I approached Tarawa from the south on Sept 4th, I hadn't been sure
if I would manage to make landfall under my own steam. Given the
strong easterly winds that had prevailed over the previous few days, I
thought it much more likely that I would get close to the island but
miss it by several miles, and would need a boat to come out to catch
me as I whizzed past.

But finally Neptune decided to give me a break. I had already made it
safely past the island of Abemama (where Robert Louis Stevenson lived
for a while). I was making good progress in a northwesterly direction,
but there was a problem. Unless I managed to shift course to north-
northwest, I would run slap into the island of Maiana. I had to choose
whether to go south of it, which would mean I had no chance of getting
to Tarawa under my own steam, or else east of it – which was the way I
wanted to go, but was it possible? Under present wind conditions, no,
it wasn't.

Then, finally, the long-awaited southeasterly wind arrived. Woohoo!
Now I was in fine shape. The wind only lasted a few hours, but I was
able to ride it all the way up the east side of Maiana, which lined me
up nicely for Tarawa.

I rowed late into the night until I was reasonably sure I was clear of
Maiana and its reefs. Then I tried to grab a quick nap, but I kept
opening one eye to squint at the GPS to make sure I wasn't going to
shipwreck. At one point I got up and rowed some more, just to make
doubly sure. It would have been a real shame to get this far only to
end up on a reef within sight of the finish.

So as I approached the final 20 miles into Tarawa, I had had less than
6 hours of sleep in the previous 48 hours, and the heat was brutal.
The wind had dropped away to nothing and the sun was intense. When I
got to 9 miles out, I really wondered if I was going to make it. After
rowing 3000 miles, the last 9 seemed to loom very large. I put some
good rocking music on to help me through.

And finally, mile by mile, I crossed off the final hours of my voyage.
After each mile I posted another Tweet and had a bite of food. A boat
arrived to escort me the last mile or two to land. On board were
Nicole, Hunter (from Archinoetics) and Conrad (our cameraman). Also
Rob, the New Zealand High Commissioner, who put his sea kayak in the
water and paddled alongside me.

But I could feel that I was getting depleted. As I always seem to do,
I get over-excited on my final day and push myself too hard. I arrive
on land dehydrated, sunburned and exhausted.

The last mile was really tough. I wondered if it would ever finish.
Rob told me I was rowing against the incoming tide. I was reduced to
counting tens. Just ten more strokes. Then another ten. Then another
ten. As I crossed my finish line of latitude, I collapsed backwards
off my rowing seat.

But nothing that an ice cold beer wouldn't cure (oops, ignore this
bit, please, Dr Aenor!). Nicole knew what was needed. I heard some
splashing as I lay on the deck with my eyes closed, and then Nicole's
head popped up over the side of the boat. She had jumped off the
escort boat into the water and swum over to Brocade, beer in hand. It
was a bit warm after its time in the water, but tasted pretty darned
good regardless. Now that's what I call a dedicated Program Director!

So now I am on Tarawa, quite possibly one of the most remote places on
the world. I'm dying to tell you all about it, but this blog is long
enough already, and the Solicitor General's wife's aunt is waiting to
give me a much-needed massage. So I'll sign off now, but will tell
more tomorrow. I intend to blog every day until we leave Tarawa,
probably Sept 17th. But internet access here is very limited, so
please forgive me if I miss a day or two.

Photos and videos coming soon. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Plans for Arrival TODAY!

TeamRoz back in Honolulu relaying the plans for today...

As of 10:30am Hawaii time (which is what is displayed on the
RozTracker), Roz is just 11 miles from the southern tip of Tarawa
where she'll be arriving. Nicole just called in via sat phone to let
us know that the plan is for the film crew and support crew to leave
by boat from Tarawa at around 2pm Hawaii time (12pm Tarawa time) to
rendezvous with Roz.

From there, the boat will guide Roz through the treacherous reefs that
surround the atoll to help her get safely to shore. This will be
tricky, so it'll take all of Roz's efforts to stay on course and safe.
She's been rowing hard all morning... she can almost taste the cold
beer, no doubt!

RozTracker GPS updates are now every 20 minutes, so check back often
to see exactly where Roz is!

As soon as we have any photos, videos, and updates, we will be sure to
post them to the RozTracker. In the meantime, spread the word in
whatever way you can so people can follow these last few exciting
miles!

GO ROZ GO!

GO ROZ GO!

GO ROZ GO!

[Photo: Children of Tarawa welcome TeamRoz to the airport. Can't wait
to see Roz's reception!]

Day 104 - See you in the morning, Roz!

From Nicole:

Okay Rozlings, this is it. Tomorrow is the big day, the one we've all
been waiting for. I apologize for the radio silence from me…the lack
of a decent Internet connection has been maddening, especially in such
a critical time. I tried uploading Tweets and Facebook updates
yesterday to keep you looped in on all the great developments, but to
no avail.

So, here's the scoop:

Yesterday was a hugely successful day at the office. My top priority
since we arrived was finding a reliable boat that would be willing and
able to go a good distance out to sea (just in case) and help escort
Roz safely in to Tarawa. As I mentioned in my last blog, things move
slowly here and I was never discouraged, but knew we were running
short on time.

Following a lead, Conrad and I headed over to the Tarawa Sports
Complex and pretty much hit the jackpot. The US Navy was wrapping up a
2-week humanitarian project (called the Pacific Partnership 2009) with
a closing ceremony. We'd met several of the American, Australian and
Canadian soldiers since we arrived – after their work was done each
day, some of them would head over to our hotel for dinner and a beer
before heading back to their ship. They were all really wonderful
guys, and the Navy doctor is the one who gave Hunter the eye drops he
desperately needed for his conjunctivitis. In any case, we went to
their closing ceremony and the President of Kiribati was there! We
could hardly believe our good luck. After the ceremony was over, the
Australian High Commissioner introduced me to the President and I was
able to tell him that Roz would be arriving in the next few days. I
told him about her mission – raising awareness for climate change –
and he was so pleased, as this is an issue that is of the utmost
importance to him. He was warm and welcoming, and delighted that Roz
is coming to Tarawa.

After the ceremony, we were invited to drinks at the Australian High
Commissioner's residence. We had heard through the grapevine that the
High Commissioner of New Zealand is a world-class champion rower and
that he had a boat that might work for us, and we were eagerly trying
to connect with him throughout the day. Lo and behold, he was at the
party, so we were able to chat with him and he graciously offered up
his boat to help escort Roz in safely. We were then introduced to a
lovely guy named Emil who also has a large boat, and he offered up his
time and assistance as well. Both gentlemen gave me their phone
numbers and said all we'd need to do is call. Hooray! Mission
accomplished. Uh, well…not quite. We still need Roz.

Today at 10 am, Roz phoned in to give me her update. She was really
struggling with the currents. They were whisking her hard and fast to
the west, making it increasingly difficult for her to head north to
Tarawa. Not good. I gave her the excellent and
just-in-the-nick-of-time news about the escort boats, and she was both
delighted and relieved. She said the winds were due to change to south
easterlies and wanted to carry on trying for Tarawa, but thought that
most likely, she wouldn't be able to get north of Maiana, which is
just 20 miles to the south of Tarawa. Roz thought the most prudent
thing to do was to schedule a rendezvous point on the south west side
of Maiana, and asked if we could arrange that for 9 am tomorrow. Still
hoping those south easterlies would kick in, Roz and I agreed to speak
again at 4:30 pm to course correct if necessary.

At 4:30 Roz called and gave the final confirmation. Yes, let's
rendezvous at 9 am tomorrow in Maiana. It's a bit surreal. Roz has
been at sea for 104 days now, and as she hung up she said, "thanks so
much for everything Nicole – I'll see you in the morning." Wow. It's
rather funny to hear her say that after so long!

I called Emil and Rob – the gentlemen who have offered up their boats
– and they conferred and decided Emil's boat would be the best option,
all things considered. We will all meet tomorrow at 7 am at Bairiki
Harbour and set out to rendezvous with Roz. She and I will speak again
at 7 am to get her latest coordinates (we have GPS on the boat, too)
and we expect it will take about an hour and a half to reach her.

I just spoke with Ricardo, Roz's weatherman in Portugal—the south
easterlies that Roz needs have kicked in over the past hour, so he
seems to think that she'll be able to row all the way in to Tarawa
under her own steam. I know that's what she'll want, and if she can,
super. We'll be there, right alongside, just in case. If she needs a
tow, we can do that too. All our bases are well and truly covered.

Tomorrow is a very big day indeed. It's very late here, but I've still
got quite a lot more work to do, so I'll sign off for now and just say
a massively huge and very heartfelt thank you to all of Roz's
supporters for following along and encouraging her the past 104 days.
Please know that your positivity and enthusiasm means the world to her
and helps keep her going through the rough times.

I also want to thank those of you who have also been so supportive of
me, especially the past couple of weeks. This has been a wonderful
project to be a part of for the past 2 years – and the moral support
I've received from family and friends (and even some of the Rozlings!)
has been amazing and oh-so-necessary. An extra special thank you to my
Granny, my brother Brian, the Yellin Family, my favorite aunties Aenor
and Melinda, Ian Tuller, Hunter and Traci Downs, Nancy Glenn, Ellen
Petry Leanse and Evan Rapoport.

Good night everyone! We'll put up photos, videos and other updates of
Roz's arrival just as quickly as we can.

Nicole

Friday, September 04, 2009

Day 104 Down to Davy Jones’ Locker.

September 4, 2009
The trickiest bits of any ocean row are the beginning and the end. Of course it is not all that easy in the middle either, but at least there is no land to bump into there, so that's one less thing to worry about. My main concern right now is trying to make a safe landfall. At the moment I am only twelve miles from land, but unfortunately that is not the land I want to go to.

It is  (?)  island. I don't know what's there, but probably not very much. Certainly no airport, and definitely no members of my team. They are on Tarawa which is 90 nautical miles away from me, at an increasingly challenging angle. I need to be about 50 miles further north ideally, but I'm being whisked rapidly west by the winds and current. It looks as if I might run out of west before I make enough northern progress.

We do have a back-up plan: we'd already intended to have a pilot vessel to guide me through the reef . It is apparently very difficult to navigate even for those who know it well. So it would be very hazardous for said rowboat and rower better adapted to the mid-ocean. So if needs be, the pilot boat can come out a bit further and lasso me as I whizz past to the south of the island. The only problem being that we don't yet have a pilot boat. But Nicole is working on it and I can only hope that she succeeds before I disappear past Tarawa into the great blue yonder.

So I am doing everything I can to hang onto those precious westerly miles. For every mile west I want to be making a mile north and I'm using the sea anchor to try and hold ground while I sleep. Last night this resulted in a very sad loss. It was about 10pm and I was just putting out the sea anchor for the night. As I untied the main line from a D-ring on the boat, there was a small clink and a gentle splosh. I looked in disbelief at my wrist. My watch was gone – my lovely, trusty, beloved G-shock Pathfinder watch. Solar powered, given to me by Casio a few years ago. It and I have been through so much together It had survived the airlift of 2007  and my row from San Francisco to Hawaii . I once thought I had killed when I went caving with my sister . Some grit and mud got into its buttons but it rallied even from that, only to be lost at sea just days before the end of this passage.

I still don't know quite how it came to vanish . It had a metal wristband of the sort that should still remain around your wrist even though the clasp might come undone. So when I hooked it on the D-ring the strap actually parted company from the watch . It was like that horrible feeling that you get when the front door slams behind you and you realize that you have left your keys on the inside. Just too late to do anything about it. I would have given anything to rewind and replay the last three seconds.  There are not many possessions that I am attached to: my laptop, my iphone and my watch are the three that come to mind. I loved the watch for the fact that it was solar-powered and never needed a new battery. It just lived on my wrist, telling me time, date, the day of the week,  should I need it, the altitude, not that relevant at the moment living mostly at sea level,  compass bearing,  and barometric pressure. No fuss, no bother, just dependable. I even wear it quite  conspicuously in the photo on the front cover of my book. But now it is no more, well it is, but by now probably 2 miles away under the sea. I hope that it doesn't get eaten by a shark or a sea creature  it wouldn't do them much good at all. Having survived all that it has, I wonder whether it will ever turn up on a fish-monger's slab somewhere, still working.

Oh well, watches can be replaced. It was only a thing, I keep reminding myself. Only a thing.

(Editor's note: I could not make out the name of the island when listening to the voice recording. It sounded like Bite Island, but searching Google failed to find the information. Rita.)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Day 102 - The Pieces are Locking into Place

(Update from Nicole)

It's been a very busy day here in Tarawa, and I'm going to keep this
short because I'm absolutely beat and I know that it will probably
take at least 10 minutes just to upload this blog. The Internet
connection here has been…well…let's just say a challenge. Everywhere
we go on the island, we whip out the laptops hoping to snag a signal,
even for just a few moments, but with the exception of a couple of
hours this afternoon, we've largely been unsuccessful. Believe me, the
irony isn't lost on us that Roz is at sea and has marginally better
connectivity than we do on dry land!

In short, we have accomplished a lot, but there remains much to be
done. Tarawa is a place where you have to know people to get anything
accomplished…and we're getting there. Here's how it works: we meet one
person, who will introduce us to someone else who works for the person
that is exactly the person we need to know to accomplish X. This all
happens on Tarawa time, which FYI is even slower than what we've all
come to know as "island time." The good news is that we've been
getting really lucky. We're meeting exactly the right people that can
make miracles happen, and our new friends are bending over backwards
to help us – we are so fortunate.

Today we had lunch with a wonderful Australian gent named David. He is
the Attorney General of Kiribati and has been tremendously helpful.
His wife is the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, and she
essentially made it possible for all of us to enter the country and
has also fast-tracked the necessary approvals for Roz's arrival. She
reports directly to the President, so now we know that we're legal!
David also invited us to sit in his air-conditioned office and avail
ourselves of the very best Internet connection on the atoll, so for a
few sweet hours this afternoon, we were able to get much-needed work
done online.

Another big thank you to our Kiwi friend, John who gave up an entire
day guiding us around the island and making important introductions.
He helped us secure the assistance of the merchant marines – they have
generously agreed to help us extract Roz's boat from the water and
provide safe storage for us during the months between Stage 2 and 3.
Roz's boat weights about 1200 pounds and has a custom-built trailer,
which we couldn't transport to Tarawa. We'll have to put something
together here before we can take it out of the water, and the merchant
marines are helping us assemble a crew to custom build a "cradle" for
Roz's boat – something that will be absolutely necessary for storing
it safely.

The other very important piece of this puzzle is a safe landing area.
We've consulted a number of on-island experts about the exact approach
Roz needs to make to arrive here safely. It won't be easy – there are
tricky currents and shallow waters with boat-busting reefs that she'll
need to navigate, so my top priority remains lining up an escort boat
in the next couple of days that can safely guide her in. The boat
needs to be able to go at least 20 miles out to sea (just in case) and
finding an able vessel on Tarawa is proving to be a challenge. I have
a good feeling that today this piece of the puzzle will lock into
place. Cross your fingers for us!

There seems to have been quite a bit of hubbub the past few days about
the timing of things on Tarawa so I feel it's necessary to make
something absolutely clear: asking Roz to slow down was MISSION
CRITICAL. It is not for party planning or PR purposes. When Roz made
the call the call that Tarawa was the destination, we had less than 24
hours to move. We are in a third world country right now, and while
the people here are incredibly warm, generous and accommodating,
making the necessary preparations for Roz takes time. She can't just
show up. If she did, she'd be putting herself and her boat in very
real danger. Roz has plenty of food and water, and is not at all in
harm's way by slowing down a bit to allow us time to make the
absolutely necessary arrangements. I should also point out that since
she's changed course for Tarawa, she's logging record mileage, so
she's not actually slowing down at all. Please know that this Team has
nothing but Roz's safety and best interests at heart. I would hope
you'd also have some faith in your heroine – over the past few months,
you've gotten to know her through her soul-bearing blogs. Do you
really think she'd do something doesn't want to do? There are a lot of
moving pieces here, so I just ask that you be respectful of the
process and the people that are working hard to make this happen.

Speaking of the team, many of you have been asking how we're holding
up. We're okay, but definitely dealing with a few little health
issues. Today I woke up feeling lousy with a bad headache, a terribly
sore throat and blocked nose. Hunter managed to get conjunctivitis,
which is really unpleasant. We managed to track down the US Navy
doctor who is here through Saturday on a special project and he gave
Hunter the medicated drops he needs to fight this off. I'm hoping my
little bug buggers off soon too!

Well, that's it for now. Roz and I will now be speaking every day at
10 am on our satphones. From now until she arrives, Roz and I will
alternate days on the blog, so you can be kept up to date on both the
land and sea parts of this grand adventure. Thanks all for your
continued support and best wishes!

Nicole

[photo: amazing sunset captured on the lagoon side of Tarawa]

Day 100 - Mauri from Tarawa



TeamRoz Note: This blog by Nicole was for September 1st, but couldn't be uploaded at the time due to lack of Internet access.

Mauri from Tarawa!

Right now I'm sitting in my room at the Otintaai Hotel, watching the
sunrise. It's a bit surreal being here. I'm about as far away
from…well…anywhere, as one could possibly be. I've lived all over the
world and traveled to about two dozen countries, but for the first
time in a long time, I now feel like I've really gone somewhere. These
days when you travel, you can expect to see more or less the same
things that you have at home. Experiencing something truly different
these days takes quite a bit of effort. I feel so incredibly fortunate
to have the opportunity to see Tarawa; low-lying islands and atolls in
the Pacific don't have much time left. Most estimates say that by
2050, places like Tarawa will be uninhabitable…they'll be under water.
Standing on terra firma here now and meeting the wonderful people who
call this home, makes that even harder to wrap my head around I'm so
looking forward to what the next couple of weeks have in store for us.

Let me back up a bit and fill you in on what transpired yesterday.
Hunter, Conrad and I boarded the 737 jet in Nandi, Fiji and were
surprised to see that it was packed full – who knew so many others
were heading in this direction? The 3 hour flight was smooth and
uneventful. I had a window seat and every once in a while, I'd look
down at the glittering blue expanse of open ocean. It can be
mesmerizing and certainly humbling… The last 30 minutes of our flight
provided jaw-dropping views of tiny little islands and atolls
scattered like marbles across the sea. I've just never seen anything
like it.

The moment I stepped outside the plane, it was very clear we were on
the equator…it was stiflingly hot and humid. There was a pretty strong
breeze, but it didn't make a lick of difference. As Conrad said, "this
is the first time where I've felt wind that just doesn't help." We
were greeted at Bonriki airport by our new friends, John and Linda.
John is from New Zealand and has lived here for 14 years with his wife
Linda, who is I-Kiribati. They've been a tremendous help to Team Roz –
they booked our hotel, a rental car, and are helping us secure a
filming permit as well. They drove us to the hotel last night and
after we dropped off our things, they joined us outdoors for a drink
and we plied them with questions. We'll be meeting up with them again
today – we are so grateful for their help! And thank you Maarten
Troost for the introduction!

To give you a little more context about Tarawa, the following are a
few brief excerpts from Maarten's book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals:
Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific:

"Located just a notch above the equator and five thousand miles from
anywhere, Tarawa is the capital of Kiribati. Kiribati is a country of
thirty-three atolls scattered over an ocean area as large as the
continental United States."

"To picture Kiribati, imagine that the continental U.S. were to
conveniently disappear leaving only Baltimore and a vast swath of very
blue ocean in its place. Now chop up Baltimore into thirty-three
pieces, place a neighborhood where Maine used to be, another where
California once was, and so on until you have thirty-three pieces of
Baltimore dispersed in such a way so as to ensure that 32/33 of
Baltimorians will never attend an Orioles game again. Flatten all land
into a uniform two feet above sea level. The result is the Republic of
Kiribati."

"The total landmass of Tarawa is twelve square miles. This figure is
illusory, however, for it creates the impression of a block of land,
and this Tarawa is decidedly not. Its twelve square miles of coral are
divided into elongated slivers, narrow islets crowned with the tufts
of palm trees, prevented from becoming a unified whole by myriad of
channels linking the ocean with the lagoon, and stretched out over a
reef extending nearly forty miles. The reef itself is shaped like a
tottering inverted L, with the western side open to the ocean."

"There are, simply, too many people on South Tarawa, particularly on
the islet of Betio, which has the world's highest population density,
greater even than Hong Kong. Unlike Hong Kong, a city in the sky,
there is not a building above two stories on Betio. Some eighteen
thousand people, nearly a quarter of the country's population, live on
Tarawa."

Roz will be posting the next update, and will continue to do so from
now on. In the meantime, Team Roz will be busily preparing for her
arrival some time next week. We have to scope out locations for her to
come in safely, and meet with a few people we're told might be able to
help us arrange for an escort boat to see that Roz navigates through
the reef safe and sound. Today is going to be a big day…we have lots
to do. Wish us luck!

[photo: A bird's eye view of one of the many atolls in Kiribati]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Day 101 - Landing a Parachute on a Penny

I'm back! Well, sort of. I'm having technical problems with my email
which is how I post my blog. So I'm reading my blog over the satphone
and I hope that Mum gets my message asking her to transcribe it for
me, and I gather that I am not the only member of Team Roz having
technical difficulties. I haven't heard from Nicole since she arrived
on Tarawa so they must be having problems there too.

I spoke to Evan today who is back at base on Hawaii and he says he has
just had the one email from her since she left, so they were having
some issues. So all in all it has been a challenging day for the
Rozters. Right this minute, though, email is far from the biggest of
my worries. My much greater concern is trying to hit Tarawa. Such a
tiny speck in such a huge ocean and my boat is so difficult to
maneuver with any precision so reaching Tarawa was always going to be
like trying to land a parachute on a penny from 40,000 feet, Oh and
given that I am not due to arrive there until September the 9th to
give my team time to assemble. It is like trying to land a parachute
on a penny at 3.23 and 35 seconds on a Wednesday.

If the weather was nice and calm as predicted with a gentle 8 knot
wind from the east, this might be looking quite do-able, but as I
speak at sunset on Wednesday – I'm on Tarawa time now - I am looking
out at some of the roughest conditions I've seen on this stage so far.
The wind is blowing at 20 plus knots and the seas are rough and steep.
So life is erm . . . interesting.

Hopefully soon these communications issues will be resolved and this
reminds me of Shackleton and his men when they had to split up the
team. Some of them had to set out across the Antarctic to try to raise
a rescue mission. The ones left behind had no idea whether the rest of
the party had succeeded or perished in the attempt.

Obviously in the early days of the 20th century they had no satellite
phones. So suddenly Nicole has been thrust back several decades into a
world without internet. Ironically, even though she is now just 150
miles away from me, closer than at any other point in the last three
months its never been more difficult for us to communicate with each
other.

I left a message with Evan that I will try to call Nicole at 10am
tomorrow so hopefully we can manage to make contact then. Meanwhile
there is this wind to worry about . . .

Signing off now, next blog from me in a couple of days. Hopefully
Nicole will manage to get on line to post her blog tomorrow. In the
Meanwhile, thank you Rozlings for your ongoing support, love and
encouragement, and its going to be an interesting final week, that's
for sure.

All the best for now. Roz.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 99 - Bula from Fiji

Bula from Fiji…and from the other side of the international date line!

Team Roz arrived safe and sound at Nadi International Airport just before 3:00 pm local time. Please forgive my mistake on the blog this morning – I said we were arriving on Monday, September 1st and of course, I meant Monday, August 31st. That blog entry was rife with errors, and I can only ask your forgiveness – it was a rather hasty entry written at the airport gate and I was a bit sleep deprived!

The 7 hour flight was great – very smooth and the plane was practically empty. As you can imagine, the view from the sky as we descended into Fiji was pretty spectacular. Conrad got out the camera and did some filming – I hope the video captures the incredible colors from the various depths of water. Just stunning!

We breezed through customs and were all relieved that none of our food rations were confiscated. (I think I brought enough granola bars and dried fruit to feed all of Tarawa for a week!) We waited for about 20 minutes for a shuttle to our hotel, which is just a few minutes down the road. We checked in quickly, unloaded our bags in the rooms and headed immediately for the restaurant – we were all famished. Cold beers and a good lunch was just what the doctor ordered.

Sitting outside, we all remarked how similar this part of Fiji is to Hawaii – Hunter noticed that the plants surrounding us are just like the ones in his backyard at home. The hotel has a lovely little pool surrounded by a nice garden, and since our flight to Tarawa isn’t until noon tomorrow, I think we might get a little dip in the morning.

So, I know this is all terribly fascinating stuff (wink, wink) but the reason you’re all here is Roz and you’re itching to hear more about her! Our girl is doing great, not to worry! Many of you are wondering why her position is no longer being posted to the RozTracker, and why she’s not blogging and Tweeting anymore. Don’t worry – this is just temporary. Roz is taking a few days to collect her thoughts and just enjoy some peaceful, contemplative time alone before arriving on Tarawa. She’ll be back to blogging in just a couple of days.

It’s important to point out that I’ve asked Roz to grant her Team one really big favor. In fact, it’s a huge favor. I’ve asked her to slow down. That’s a big ask of someone who has been alone at sea, rowing for nearly 100 days. But I had to make the request – I only found out on Thursday that we’d be going to Tarawa and as you know, we’re scrambling to make all the necessary customs and immigration arrangements for both Roz and her boat.

The other reason I’ve asked her to slow down is for her Team. The earliest we could get the rest of them to Tarawa is Tuesday, September 8th. They’ve been a huge support for Roz throughout this amazing mission of hers and are now coming halfway around the world to support her and toast her arrival – it would be an incredible shame if they missed it by just one day! So Roz has graciously agreed to slow down.

One last great piece of news that I just received: Roz is featured today on CNN! You can take a look at the excellent story by journalist Matt Ford here. Okay, I’d best run, my battery is just about to die. More to come tomorrow…from Tarawa!

Nicole

UPDATE (8/31): Just got an email from Linda in Tarawa and learned that we won’t need visas after all – whew! ;o)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 98 - Team Roz is on the Move



Up and at 'em everyone! Today's the big day! Team Roz is on the move…

Saturday was a fantastically busy day. I raced around getting clothes and gear packed for Roz and myself, and spent lots of time on the internet and on the phone, tying up last minute details. New contacts and very helpful information from Tarawa continued to trickle in about clothing requirements, accommodations, phone service, and immigration. As the updates came in, I forwarded it all on to the other members of Team Roz so we could accommodate accordingly. Finally, I packed up the Yellin's studio where I've been staying since Roz and I arrived in February.

I was all ready to go, but…did I mention that my car chose this week of all weeks to explode? Well, it did. Billowing smoke on the highway, followed by a powerful explosion and my little Corolla's pathetic. But I digress. This inconvenient turn of events only meant that I was marooned on the North Shore without a ride into Honolulu. It's about an hour away. I finally managed to convince two lovely friends to give up a prime Saturday night and schlep me into town – hooray!

At Hunter and Traci's house, we opened up our cases, spread everything out and downsized in a big way. I ended up leaving half the clothes and half the dried nuts and granola bars behind. We exchanged emergency contact details, scanned our passports and booked our hotel in Nandi, Fiji, where we'll arrive at about 1 pm on Monday, September 1st. Whew! We said our goodnights and set alarms for 5 am. After a much needed shower, I popped open the laptop, ready to type up the day's blog, but I couldn't get on the password-protected wireless network. Everyone had gone to bed exhausted and I just didn't have the heart to be a pest. My apologies to all of you for not getting a blog posted on time!

That brings us to today. Check in at the airport went perfectly and we're now waiting, bleary-eyed but excited, at the Air Pacific gate. Some new information came in overnight from our new friend Linda in Tarawa: apparently we may actually need visas. Yikes. The information we found on the state departmentwebsite, visas aren't required, but Lisa says she's seen Americans get sent back on the very same plane on which they arrived. Ugh. I'm really hoping we get lucky…in any case, we've scanned all of our passports and emailed them on to Lisa. She's very graciously offered to take these to immigration for us straight away and get the process started. She and her husband John have even offered to pick us up from the airport in Tarawa! We are so grateful for their help.

They're getting ready to board, so I'd better get this posted. I'll write more on the plane...that is, if I don't pass out from exhaustion within five minutes of boarding!

Aloha from Honolulu – we'll update you again once we get to Fiji.

Nicole

[photo: L-R Conrad, Nicole and Hunter waiting at the gate in Honolulu, just before boarding...yes, we look SLEEPY!]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 97: Operation Tarawa


HONOLULU, HAWAII

"Whatever I say in the next 10 minutes, please promise me you'll still be my friend…that you won't hate me?"

When you hear such a plea, you just know that whatever follows will be some pretty serious news. The fact is, I knew it was coming. Wednesday's rowing conditions were so wretched for Roz that I was certain she'd call me very soon to discuss a different strategy.

The call came the very next day. Roz agonized over the decision, but with a broken water maker, leaky reserves and dwindling food supplies, attempting the Herculean effort necessary to hit Tuvalu seemed to be far too dangerous. We just had no way of knowing how long it would take for Roz to push far enough south and east, or frankly, if it was even possible. Beyond the safety issues, Roz's very first book tour is just around the corner – she just couldn't miss that!

Yes, truthfully, I was a bit crestfallen to hear the news. I wanted to see her reach that goal of getting as far south of the equator as possible on Stage 2, because I've learned just how important that will be for setting her up for a successful Stage 3. I suppose it's selfish to admit, but I was bummed that we'd have to start from square one – especially because after so much time and effort, things had finally just fallen into place with Tuvalu. The country was positively buzzing about Roz's impending arrival. She was to be given the warmest of welcomes along with safe haven for her boat until Stage 3. But that's how these things go. It really only took me a few seconds to get over the disappointment – I didn't have time to mope about it! There was far too much to be done.

The minute I hung up with Roz on Thursday morning I hopped on Skype with her weatherman, Ricardo, in Portugal. He informed me that with the currents and winds now totally in Roz's favor, she could easily average 40 miles each day and make landfall as early as September 5th. My stomach twisted into knots and my palms started to sweat. I had little more than a week to get Conrad the cameraman and myself there and make all the necessary arrangements for Roz's arrival. That may not sound like such a big deal, but with only 2 flights each week into Tarawa, I knew this wasn't going to be easy…

Today (Friday) was unbelievably hectic. I managed to find flights for us after all, on Air Pacific, the only airline that flies to Tarawa. After much rather enjoyable back and forth with a heavily accented Fijian named Alex, I was able to book the seats just before the office closed for the weekend. Hooray!

At noon, I met up with a former Peace Corps volunteer named Darin, who lived on Tarawa for three years and is now married to an I-Kiribati woman. What an amazing font of knowledge he was! I took copious notes, the details of which I'll share with you tomorrow. Trust me when I say that the information gleaned from Darin is worth a blog on its own…

Shortly after my meeting with Darin, I raced over to Bank of Hawaii before the close of business to collect all the Australian currency I'd ordered the previous day. We need to take loads of cash because there aren't any ATMs on Tarawa, and in fact, none of the businesses there even accept credit cards. As the teller counted out the rainbow colored bills (it looks remarkably like Monopoly money) I started to exhale. Things were falling into place…at last.

I must say here that ever since Thursday, I have been thanking my lucky stars (several times a day) for J. Maarten Troost. Maarten's first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, is about his life on Tarawa. He was there for two years while his wife worked for a nonprofit. He is a brilliantly funny, exceptionally talented writer – I can't recommend his books highly enough. If you're a regular to Roz's blog, you may remember that earlier in the voyage, she listened to an audio book called Getting Stoned with Savages. After reading her blog, Roz's friend in California decided to contact Maarten and let him know that Roz just might end up on Tarawa, and perhaps we should all connect. Lo and behold, he replied! I've been picking his brain ever since. He's been so gracious, not to mention an absolutely priceless resource for Team Roz. He's made invaluable introductions to people living on Tarawa that can help me arrange logistics for storing Roz's boat, and he's given me very helpful tips on dress, social norms, telecommunications, and transportation around the island. Please join me in sending a huge thank you to Maarten!

One last piece of excellent news: the Team Roz contingent on Tarawa is rapidly growing! Hunter Downs, CEO of Archinoetics (the company that developed the RozTracker) will be accompanying Conrad and me on Sunday morning. What a relief…his wife Traci, COO of Archinoetics, will join us a week later. The entire Archinoetics family has been an absolute rock for me and Roz the past couple of months. Their unwavering support of time, resources and most importantly, a whole lot of love, is so gratefully appreciated. Rounding out our happy little team is Ian Tuller, our dear friend from San Francisco. He was here with us in Hawaii before Roz's departure in May to oversee the refurbishment of the boat, and will resume his role as director of boatworks. We absolutely could not do this without this amazing group of people…and it certainly wouldn't be nearly as fun, even if we could!

So buckle your seatbelts, kids! Off we go, to one of the most remote places on planet earth. (Really, before Roz, had you even heard of Tarawa???) Yes, we've had to scramble to accommodate the new game plan…that's an understatement. But it's going great so far, and no matter what, this promises to be one heck of a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I'm so glad you're all coming along for the ride!

~Nicole

By the way, I'll continue to send updates from our journey. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @nics_dolcevita.

[Photo: Roz and Nicole aboard the Brocade in San Francisco in 2007]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 96 - Announcement: Changing Course

It seems to be my karma in this lifetime to be faced from time to time
with tough decisions – and this one is up there in my Top Ten Tough
Decisions Of All Time. I spent most of last night agonizing over it. The
night seemed hotter than usual in my cabin, and I was – literally and
metaphorically – sweating over my options.

It had been just a week since I declared my intention to head for
Tuvalu. My weatherman had assured me it was possible, although certainly
not easy, requiring me to cut directly across the prevailing winds. And
I wanted to believe it was possible, not least because Tuvalu has become
synonymous with the human impact of climate change, which is the key
message of this stage of my row as we approach the crucial summit in
Copenhagen. I knew getting to Tuvalu would be challenging, but I was
prepared to put in the hard work to make it happen.

However, a few things had changed during the course of the last week. I
had discovered that the coordinates I had for Tuvalu were for the
westernmost island, not the capital Funafuti, which is the easternmost
island. This would make it much harder to reach the capital than I had
realized. Then some brisk easterly winds had halted my progress for 36
hours while I waited on the sea anchor – this had two implications.
First, it would only take a few more days of such winds to put Tuvalu
beyond my reach. And second, if I had to use the sea anchor on a regular
basis to stop westward drift, it would take me much longer to get to
Tuvalu. And time was limited – by my water supply.

Since my watermaker stopped working I've been relying on my reserves of
water, but some of my water bags had leaked. And my water consumption is
much higher than it has been on my previous rows, due to the heat. So
less water supply + higher water requirement = bad news. I do have a
backup manual watermaker, but I was already going to have to row 16
hours a day to maintain the necessary tight control over my course, so
then pumping water for 2 hours a day (manual watermakers produce water
drop by drop, rather than a steady stream) was not an attractive option.

So the worst case scenario was pretty bad. There was now a substantially
increased risk of running out of water, and possibly missing Tuvalu
altogether and spinning off into the great blue yonder. Oh, and the food
situation wasn't looking too good either. I was concerned.

After churning all this over and over in my head for half the night,
part of me still resisted changing my mind. I wanted to go to Tuvalu! My
imminent arrival had been announced on the radio, I was due to meet with
members of the government, we had storage arranged for my boat… and of
course I wanted to find out more about how they plan to be the world's
first carbon neutral nation.

I was unbearably hot in the cabin, so I went out on deck to cool down. I
looked up at the stars and the setting moon. They helped me get a sense
of perspective on the issue. Ultimately, although the message is
important, it helps if the messenger is a) alive, and b) has not had to
rely on some fossil-fuel guzzling means of transport to come rescue her
if/when she seems in danger of disappearing over the horizon with no
water and no food. So, it seemed, the choice was clear. The sensible,
responsible thing to do would be to change course for Tarawa. I could
reach it relatively easily (or as easy as ocean rowing ever gets) well
before I ran out of sustenance – and without having to rely on outside
intervention.

So I swallowed my pride and admitted to myself that it made sense to
change course. First thing this morning I rang Ricardo, my Lisbon-based
weatherman, and we talked it through. He was totally supportive of my
decision. Then I spoke with Nicole, my program director. She, too, fully
supported me – even though this meant that a lot of the fantastic
preparations she'd lined up for Tuvalu were now moribund, and she'd have
to start over again with Tarawa. By the end of today she had already
worked miracles – people had been informed, flights were booked, and
plans were coming together.

I feel hugely relieved by this decision. It has been a tough one, but
the cold dread and anxiety of what might happen if I missed Tuvalu has
been lifted from me. It would otherwise have hung over me every day
until I made – or failed to make – landfall.

So now it is all suddenly very imminent, and the energy levels in
TeamRoz have skyrocketed. With just 300 nautical miles to go, I am
hoping to arrive in about 2 weeks, around Sept 9th, so this doesn't
leave much time – and lots to do. On Sunday Nicole and Conrad (our
filmmaker, who by the grace of the many generous Rozlings is going to
come out to Tarawa to film my arrival) will leave Hawaii for Tarawa to
start lining up the multitude of logistical arrangements.

I'd like to take a final opportunity to enjoy some "alone time" before I
make landfall. Call this my Walden time. So I'm going to go
incommunicado and take a few days out from social media, and hand over
to Nicole to do the blog. Her life is going to be much more interesting
– and hectic – over the near future anyway. She will be posting updates
on this blog from tomorrow until Sept 2nd, when I'll return from my
self-imposed exile, and from then until my arrival Nicole and I will
blog on alternate days. Amongst the trials and tribulations of an
expedition program director, she'll be sharing details of the
preparations for my arrival, her first impressions of Tarawa, and how
she is being assisted by celebrity contacts (thank you to author J
Maarten Troost!).

I hope you'll enjoy these final stages with us. I'm really excited to
see how everything develops over the coming 2 weeks. Nicole and Conrad
are going to have their work cut out – to find boat storage, boat
transport, accommodation, even internet access – and, of course, a
source of ice cold beer! So join with me in wishing them huge amounts of
good luck in pulling all this together in an impossibly short timescale.
They are going to need it, but if anyone can pull off a miracle, it's
TeamRoz!

[photo: Go west, young woman! Tonight's sunset was a bit drab, so here
is one from the archive…]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 95 - Putting A Brave Face On It



Conditions were perfect today – if I wanted to go west. I could have
made 40 miles to the good. But unfortunately more west is the last thing
I want, so I have spent the whole day with the sea anchor out. The oars
have lain idle, and I've finished the day further away from Tuvalu than
I was at the start. I wonder if Neptune didn't like my equatorial
offerings. Perhaps Ginger Snap isn't his favorite flavor Larabar,
because he was not being generous to me today.

It's ironic. Today I have been listening to "The Astonishing Power of
Emotions" by Esther and Jerry Hicks. They are talking about aligning
with your better self – the idea is that when we want something, we only
have to allow it to happen. The universe WANTS our wishes to be granted.
When we allow this fulfillment of our desires to take place, we feel
good. When we resist, we feel bad.

And the analogy they use is a canoe on a river – and they urge their
listeners to "let go of the oars" and go with the flow.

As I sit here on the sea anchor, resisting the strong tradewinds that
are trying to push me west, this analogy seems either too apt – or not
apt at all. I'm all in favor of going with the flow – but which flow am
I meant to be going with? The natural flow of the tradewinds heading
west, or the man-made flow that is drawing me towards Tuvalu?

I really appreciate all the comments urging me to focus on the positive,
take it as it comes, etc. It's all fine in theory, and knowing myself as
I do I know that they will eventually filter through into my attitudes
and thinking. But just at the moment, as I come up on 100 days on the
ocean and with no end in sight, it's sometimes a struggle to put it into
practice. Today I have been a total grouch. Nothing more you guys can do
– apart from keeping the encouragement coming. And allow me my pity
party for now. With your help, I'll get through it. I just need to keep
my head together and keep on pushing.

[Photo: I'm told that when you smile, the smiling muscles actually
interact with your emotions and make you feel better. So here I am,
giving it a try. Hmmm, not convinced. Another bottle of bubbly would
probably be more effective!]

Other Stuff:

I've tried to stay busy today so as not to get too introspective, but
there isn't an awful lot to do on a 23-foot rowboat. I scrubbed the
decks, and tried once again to fix the watermaker but was unsuccessful. I
edited and uploaded a video of my Equatorial celebrations for tomorrow's
video RozCast on YouTube (with me performing traditional ocean dance...!).
It was too hot in the cabin to spend much time in there, so I mostly lay
on deck in the shade of my bimini between my rowing seat runners and
listened to Jerry Hicks. Lying on the deck is not super-comfortable,
especially now I'm a bit more bony than I was at the start of the voyage,
but it's not bad if I manage to arrange my limbs in just the right way
around the runners and the rowing seat. I had to duck into the cabin from
time to time to avoid sudden rainshowers, but otherwise it was quite
pleasant – when I managed to forget the fact that I was heading the wrong
way.

Thank you for all the really fab comments on my last blog. They
seriously cheered me up – a much-needed tonic. Especially liked the idea
about having Johnny Depp greet me in Tuvalu – now THAT would be a
powerful motivator! Although he may not be that impressed by a
semi-starved, grimy, sea-spotty waif with matted hair pitching up on the
beach. Where is a floating salon when I need one?!

Great to see comments coming in from the people in Tuvalu. I'll be with
you just as soon as I can. Please reach out across these last miles and
reel me in!

UncaDoug – I really appreciate the trail of carrots scattered across the
ocean. Bit I wonder if you could let me know where they are? Maybe by
latitude would be easiest? There might be some nights when the prospect
of an upcoming carrot motivates me to spend a bit longer at the oars!

Weather report:

Position at 1950 HST: 00 22.169S, 178 49.774E
Wind: 20kts ESE
Seas: short, steep wind waves about 6ft
Weather: sunshine and showers

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 94 - Shooting the Messenger

Another hasty blog, while I wait for the heat to go out of the day
before starting my night's rowing…

Today has not been an easy day. Poor old Ricardo, my weather guru, has
been taking an e-bashing while I berate him via text for contrary winds
and adverse currents. It is the unhappy lot of the weatherman to take
the rap for the weather that he predicts – as if he had personally
selected and inflicted the frustrating conditions on me.

I would normally be a bit more reasonable, but I today was tired and
cranky. On the ocean I like to get into a routine and stick to it, but
as I near the final stages that is not going to be an option. I will
have to seize opportunities when they arise. I was rowing until 2am last
night to make the most of the cooler conditions and calmer winds after
dark. By the time I'd bathed and put the boat to bed, there was time for
just 4 hours of sleep before getting up at 6.30 to start rowing again –
and those precious few hours were disturbed by the new
booby-in-residence tap-dancing on the roof of my cabin every time a
swell came along. This booby is quieter and less belligerent than his
predecessors (although just as poopy), but has taken up a regular position
on the sleeping cabin rather than the storage cabin, so it gets a bit
annoying when he patters around to regain his balance when the boat
lurches.

So today I've been a bit discombobulated, my mood not improved by rowing
just to stand still. If I was making 40 or 50 miles a day I could row
till the cows come home (or should that be till the boobies roost?), but
rowing many hours a day to make 15, or even 5, miles, is psychologically
challenging, to put it mildly.

The other drawback with less sleep is that there is less recovery time
for my poor body. In these sweltering conditions there is a significant
risk of the return of the baboon-bottom rash that plagued the early
stages of this row. I have two seat covers, which I usually rotate and
rinse at the end of each shift. But now I am rotating them as soon as
the spare one is dry, to try and avoid this very painful affliction.

So I plod on, trying to remind myself of all the good reasons to go to
Tuvalu, and not to think about Tarawa, just 440 miles away straight
downwind… I'll keep the faith, and I really do believe it is all going
to work out in the end – and then this difficult stage will be just a
memory, and it will all have been worth the effort.

Postscript: I was psyched up and ready to row most of the night. I'd had
an extra-big dinner followed by a Jocolat (chocolatey organic Larabar)
and a rocking soundtrack ready on my iPod. But ze weather, once again
she spit on my plans (to be said in French accent). The wind rose – and
from the wrong direction. So the sea anchor is out. I'm all caloried up,
and no place to go. Boo.

[photo: the new booby-in-residence]

Other Stuff:

Thank you to the Good Vibes Team and all the others who have sent such
wonderful words of encouragement. Thanks especially for the reminders to
stay present in the moment and not worry about the future. Very wise
words. Too easily forgotten – so keep reminding me, because it is SO
true. And the one part of this situation that I have control over(ish!)
is my mind.

Apology: Although I mentioned them both in the same blog, I did not
intend to imply any connection between my having the incorrect
coordinates for Tuvalu and the transition to a new weatherman. So, in
case there was any misunderstanding, I would like to take this
opportunity to apologize to Rick Shema of weatherguy.com. I'd also like
to thank him deeply for his professionalism and accuracy in guiding me
through the first stage of my Pacific row, and thus far in the second.
Thanks also to Rick and his family for all the kindness and hospitality
they have shown to my mother and me during our time in Hawaii. I wish
Rick all the very best for the future.

Weather report:

Position at 2220 HST: 0028.678S, 178 56.319E
Wind: for most of the day 10kts SE-SSE, now 18kts SE
Seas: 2-4ft swell SE
Weather: hot and sunny, scattered cumulus and some cirrus cloud

Ricardo's Update:

YOU WILL HAVE
GOOD PROGRESS AS SOON AS YOU FEEL THE PRESENT WIND BACKING, ALL THE WAY
INTO
MONDAY AT LEAST. WED WONT BE VERY GOOD AT ALL. YOU MAY WISH TO TRY THE
DROGUE AND SEE HOW THAT GOES. WHEN FACED WITH 13KN FROM SE GO FOR SPEED
IF
YOU CAN MAKE UP TO 210 BUT SLOW DOWN IF YOU ARE PUSHED TO MORE THAN
THAT.
THU WILL BE DUE EAST MOST OF THE DAY 14KN AVG GRADUALLY DROPPING AND
BACKING
TO WHAT WILL BE A SUPER START TO THE WEEKEND. WIND WILL DROP TO ALMOST
NOTHING ON SATURDAY AND WILL CONTINUE VERY LIGHT THROUGHOUT SUNDAY, WITH
A
TENDENCY TO PICK UP FROM ABOUT 160. THIS WILL QUICKLY SHIFT TO 090 BY
MONDAY
AT LESS THAN 6KN. SHOULD THESE CONDITIONS MATERIALIZE AS IT SEEMS, YOU
HAVE
HERE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WEATHER WINDOWS FROM NOW TO TUVALU AND
YOU
HAVE TO GIVE IT YOUR ALL TO GAIN PRECIOUS METRES IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
EAT
UP. POWER UP AND SHOW ME THOSE MUSCLES!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 93 - The Fortune 500

As I enter the final 500 nautical miles to Tuvalu, I will be counting on
some good fortune - and some seriously hard work.

Just a very quick update tonight – really just to let you know I am
still alive and rowing like a woman possessed. As Ricardo put it, the
next few days are "mission critical" – if I am going to make it to
Tuvalu, I need to make the most of the relatively calm conditions
prevailing at the moment to try and make some progress back to the east.
So I will have to spend longer hours at the oars – around 16 hours a
day, not including time for meal breaks.

This was quite challenging today. The good thing about calm conditions
is that there is little wind to push me the wrong way. The bad thing
about calm conditions is that there is no wind to cool me down – and at
one stage this afternoon I seriously started to worry about the
potential for heatstroke. The sun was shining intensely, and although
most of my body was in the shade of the bimini (sun canopy) I could feel
the heat scorching my shins. And I was glugging water like it was going
out of fashion – certainly not like a woman with a not-yet working
watermaker.

But now the sun has set and it is a lovely night for rowing. The
crescent moon is keeping me company – as is a bird that has taken up
roosting rights on my aft hatch for the night. I feel well, and am
rowing strongly. I'm only taking this break now to recharge my GPS. So
far this voyage I have confined the GPS to the cabin, but as I enter the
final 500 nautical miles and steering becomes more critical, I've taken
to placing it near my rowing position so I can see more accurate
information about my actual course than my compass alone can provide.

It's also very motivating to see the miles ticking away on its little
screen – and with a tough rowing schedule ahead of me, I'm going to need
all the motivation I can get.

So I'd like to ask you, my dearest Rozlings, to continue to give me your
support and encouragement during this final countdown. I'm afraid I
won't have time to respond to your comments as I have done in the past –
all non-rowing activities are being curtailed – but I will be reading
them nonetheless. Keep me in your thoughts – and send me some good
vibes, good weather, and good wishes!

Weather report:

Position – as on RozTracker
Wind: during the day mostly 10kts, ESE-ENE. Since sunset, no wind.
Seas: 3ft swell from E
Weather: some scattered cumulus, but mostly clear skies

Other notes: as at 8pm, combined effect of wind + swell + current
resulted in a SW drift of 1.0kts, resulting in a westward movement of
0.6kts when not rowing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 92 - From Pollywog to Shellback



If I was underwhelmed by crossing the International Date Line, today I
have been overwhelmed by crossing the Equator. It has been quite an
emotional experience - and that's not just the bubbly talking - and I'm
trying to figure out why this might be.

It could be because crossing the Equator had assumed such massive
significance in my mind as a Very Difficult Thing. I had maybe allowed
myself to get just a bit freaked out by the difficulties encountered by
my predecessors in human-powered vessels. And sure, I've had my fair
share of battles with the elements in trying to get through the lower
latitudes, as the winds and currents thwarted my attempts to get south.
But, as with so many things in life, the reality was not as bad as the
anticipation.

Or it might be because the Equator, unlike the IDL, is actually a
geographically significant line. The IDL is a man-made line, allowing us
to segment our world into convenient time zones. It could have been
located anywhere, and is just where it is because it lies opposite the
equally random line of the Prime Meridian at Greenwich – set by British
geographers in the days when Britannia ruled the waves. The Equator, on
the other hand, is a natural line marking the mid-point between the
Poles. It is the line where the Earth is nearest the sun. It is where
the Earth is spinning the fastest on its axis. It has a greater sense of
significance and reality than the IDL.

Anyway, for whatever reason, today felt very special. I am now a Trusty
Shellback, a Pollywog no more. And now I am in the Southern Hemisphere
the water will be going down the plughole the opposite way - or would be
if I had any plugholes on board.

Crossing the Equator was actually quite a busy and time-consuming thing
to do. I had to pay homage to Neptune and his cohorts (Squishie the
Dolphin, with his courtiers Quackers the Duck, the Robin, and the Other
Duck). I had to offer gifts – a Larabar (Ginger Snap flavor), and a
dollop of California sunshine (a spoonful of Lemon Ladies marmalade). I
had to make a sacrifice (I wasn't prepared to offer a chunk of hair, for
fear of spoiling my elegant coiffeur (???!!) so Neptune had to make do
with the leavings pulled out of my hairbrush). And I had to deploy the
"coconut" for Project Niu – and then jump in after it to photograph it
in the water.

The coconut is actually a high-tech data-gathering device created by the
team at Archinoetics, one of several devices that have been let loose in
the Pacific to send back information and photographs. The one I deployed
today is called something in Hawaiian (Evan, help me out here) which
translates as "Pink Savage". It felt strange to deliberately deposit a
large and non-bio-degradable object into the ocean, but as an
educational device the end justifies the means, so I am sure Squishie,
sorry, I mean Neptune, will understand. I just hope the Niu doesn't
travel faster than I do. That would be embarrassing.

Then, duties done, it was time for my treats. With a sense of eager
anticipation I opened up the yellow drybag that Liz and Nicole had given
me before I left Hawaii. The girls had done me proud. There was the
"bling" – a many-stranded necklace of plastic beads, and some pink face
paint, both of which I promptly put on. There was the jokey gift – a
cooking spatula with a wooden handle. There was the declaration
admitting me to the ocean domain as a Trusty Shellback, a Pollywog no
more. There were the edible treats – a snack bar and some Sharkies. And,
oh bliss, there was the miniature bottle of bubbly. Thank you girls!

I must be the world's cheapest date at the moment (had there been
anybody about to take advantage – which there wasn't). After 3
booze-free months, the 2 glassfuls of bubbly went straight to my head in
the nicest possible way. As the sun set I was sitting on deck feeling
happily woozy, admiring the pink and grey clouds, full of oceanic
bonhomie and thinking there was really nowhere else on earth I would
rather be than at the Equator on such a beautiful day.

[photo: Pulling the bubbly back on board after a brief chilling in the
ocean (in the net bag that usually contains my beansprouter) – while
Neptune/Squishy the Dolphin looks on]

Other Stuff:

After not seeing another vessel for 3 months, today, on MY Equator,
there were intruders. A container ship was just sitting there, doing
nothing much. I think I could hear a faint sound of a bell ringing
repeatedly, so presumably they were having their own Equatorial
celebration. I tried hailing them on the VHF radio, in hopes that they
might cruise on over and bring me some additional water supplies – or
even some more bubbly – but there was no reply. Guess they were too busy
partying.

Although I've taken the evening off – largely due to the after-effects
of the bubbles – tomorrow it will be back to the oars with a vengeance.
I've still got 500 miles to go, and I need to make some East if I'm
going to have any chance of hitting Tuvalu. Ricardo tells me conditions
are going to be calm, so it's a prime opportunity to head back towards
the IDL and set myself up for the final push for home.

For the record, I crossed the Equator at 18:42:02 Hawaii Time, at
longitude 179 12.359E.

Weather report:

Position at 2210 HST: 00 00.860S (yayyyyy!), 179 09.371E
Wind: variable but light throughout the day. Generally 0-10kts, S-E.
Seas: swell of about 4ft, SE
Weather: sunny and fine, scattered cumulus cloud. Very hot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 91 - Approaching Latitude Zero



Today, with the Equator so tantalizingly close, everything seemed to
slow to a snail's pace. A snail with a ball and chain attached, even.
The wind was in the southeast (not helpful) and I'm still in a
north-flowing current (also not helpful) so the oars felt heavy and
every stroke felt like a weight-lifting exercise.

Truth be told, I was getting pretty fed up with the whole business.
Progress is very motivating. Lack of it is not. It's a bit like trying
to lose weight, and when the scales are being cruel the temptation is to
say "forget it" and have a cake to cheer yourself up. But of course the
only way to make progress – whether it be losing pounds or rowing oceans
- is to keep the faith and carry on.

Morale was given a boost mid-afternoon when I picked up a text message
on my satphone. It was from Ricardo, my new weatherman, saying "GOOD
EFFORT GIRL. I CAN TELL YOU ARE TWEAKING YOUR COURSE AS MUCH AS POSS.
GOOD AVG SPEED ALSO. RIC." His assessment was maybe too flattering, but
just then I needed those sweet little lies. Sometimes it's just good to
know that there are people watching, and that my efforts are being
recognized – especially when my course on the GPS screen looks so
discouraging.

This is a funny thing, because under normal circumstances I would have
said that I don't care too much for the opinion of other people. Of
course, we all want to be liked, even approved, but generally I now
steer my own course in life without considering whether it will please
others. I just do what I do and they can like it or lump it.

But even the most independent-minded of us still appreciate some
positive feedback from time to time, and that is why I cherish the
comments and Tweets of the Rozionados. It's good to know I am not alone,
and that my every mile, my every effort, is monitored, appreciated, and
commented on.

Meanwhile, during breaks from the oars, I've been getting ready for my
Equatorial celebration. With less than 15 miles to go, I hope it's not
premature. I've dug out the mysterious yellow drybag labeled "DO NOT
OPEN UNTIL 0 LATITUDE". It was given to me by Nicole and Liz before I
left Hawaii. I'm dying to take a peek but am resisting the urge –
although I have given it a few squeezes, like an impatient kid with a
Christmas present.

My gift and my sacrifice are at the ready, and in the absence of a
crewmate or captain to represent Neptune, I have pressed Squishie the
Dolphin into service as his representative. I didn't happen to have a
trident on board, but a fork makes a passable quatrent (or whatever it
is called). I think Squishie looks rather regal, and look forward to
paying him homage when I reach the magic Latitude Zero, which, with a
bit of luck and more slogging, might be tomorrow.

Other Stuff:

This afternoon I saw a shark swimming alongside my boat. A proper
Jaws-type shark, rather than the blunt-headed, vegetarian whale shark I
saw a few weeks ago. But this one was just a tiddler – about 3 feet long
– so I didn't feel too apprehensive that he might eat me/my boat/my oar.

Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response to my decision to try
for Tuvalu. Good to hear I've got you on the edge of your seats. Me too!
I do wish I had a crystal ball so I can see how all this is going to pan
out. Or there again, maybe it's just as well I don't…

Marv asked if there is a backup plan. Of course there is. I always have
a Plan B! First, if within the next couple of weeks it becomes evident
that Tuvalu will be impossible, I can still change course for Tarawa.
Second, if I can get close to Tuvalu but not quite make it, there is a
research vessel due to be in the Tuvalu area in early-mid September, and
they have offered to assist if required. Pushing on to the Solomons or
Australia are not really options – not without a functioning watermaker,
although I still hope to resolve that problem. Also, as it has taken me
so much longer than expected to get through the ITCZ, I would require a
resupply of food if I was to extend my voyage all the way to Australia.
And I would have to cancel my book tour – and possibly all our plans for
Copenhagen. So I very much hope it won't come to that. It really IS
Tuvalu or bust!

Will – for sure, I will give it my bestest. In fact, I think that is
what I would want to be able to say on my deathbed – that I always did
try my bestest. Nobody can do more than that. Thanks for giving me the
word!

Tom B – your wife might just be right! But I hope that the eventual
result will speak for itself. The Richard Byrd book sounds really
interesting. I always love reading about people having a worse time than
I am!

Christa – thanks for the info on Tuvalu. Only 6 prisoners? Mind you, I
don't suppose there's much mischief you can get up to on a sandspit –
and making a getaway would be quite a challenge too!

To Richard, my minstrel. Funny that recently I've been listening to
books by George R R Martin, set in the court of some imagined
medieval-ish place and time. So jesters, troubadours, singers and
minstrels are very vivid in my mind right now. And you perform the role
admirably – I very much appreciate your contributions to the Rozling
community, as well as your thoughtfulness in considering how best you
could enhance our enjoyment of the adventure. Thank you!

Donna – great questions. I've made a note of them for a future blog –
and/or they are answered in depth in my book, Rowing The Atlantic, due
out Oct 6. Available for pre-order on Amazon, and if you send your
Amazon confirmation email to bookmark@rozsavage.com you can claim your
special, limited edition Larabar bookmark, made from the wrapper of one
of the many Larabars I am munching my way through on this crossing!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 00 13.624N, 179 27.693W
Wind: 15kts SE this morning, backing slightly this afternoon. Dropped to
9kts briefly after a squall, then revived to 15kts E.
Seas: swell from SE-E about 4ft
Weather: morning sunny and hot. More cloud this afternoon. Couple of
passing rainshowers.

SUNDAY EVENING WIND WILL DROP AND BACK TO SLIGHTLY NORTH OF EAST WITH
SPEEDS OF 3 TO 6 KNOTS. AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABLE, HEAD 170. THIS IS MY
SUGGESTING AT A HEALTHY COMPROMISE BETWEEN WIND ANGLE AND EFFECTIVE
SPEEDY COURSE TO TUVALU- WHILST STILL KEEPING YOU IN A SAFETY NET. I
WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU ABOUT 40 MILES FURTHER EAST BEFORE WE START
CONFIDENTLY CURVING YOU AROUND TOWARDS TUVARU. THINGS WILL BE GREAT
UNTIL TUESDAY AND YOU SHOULD MAKE GOOD PROGRESS DURING THAT TIME.
WED/THU NOT IDEAL AS WIND WILL GRADUALLY INCREASE TO 9-11KN FROM EAST
AND THEN FROM ABOUT 110 DEGREES (SE). FRIDAY AND SATURDAY HAS A 30%
CHANCE OF PROVIDING YOU WITH NE WINDS 12 KNOTS. IF THEY DO MATERIALISE,
THEY SHOULD STAY AROUND FOR AT LEAST 4 DAYS.