Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oceans: Why Should We Care?

Dr Sylvia Earle is a legend in the world of marine biology and conservation, respected and revered and affectionately known as "Her Royal Deepness". But does she make her case in this speech at TED? I was fascinated not only by the presentation, but also by some of the comments beneath. If even the most distinguished underwater explorer in the US cannot convincingly argue that the ocean is essential to the health of the planet, then where did she go wrong - if, indeed, she did? Or are the doubters the kind of people who would doubt anything?

Next month I will be taking part in a panel discussion at the Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC, alongside Sylvia Earle and Philippe Cousteau, among others. The topic will be how we can communicate so as to make people care about what is happening in the oceans. What will make them sit up and take notice?

Rising temperatures?
Rising oceans?
Population displacement?
No more seafood?
Extinction of species?

I would really welcome comments on this blog, if you can give me any suggestions as to what is most likely to increase knowledge and motivate action. My perception is that education is not the way. There is plenty of information available if people are interested. But most of them are not interested, because the oceans are not perceived as relevant.

Yet all life on earth - including ours - depends on the oceans. How to convey this? And then, once they care, what should people DO?

I have my own ideas, of course, but I would welcome input from all quarters so I can better gauge public opinion and the view of the man on the street. Help me out here - and help me to help the oceans!

Other stuff:

This weekend I made four presentations to around 600 people during the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. The photograph shows me at the Opening Night Gala at the Aquarium of the Bay, indulging in two of my favourite activities - admiring underwater sealife and drinking champagne - not easily combined under usual circumstances, the scuba regulator with inbuilt champagne straw not yet having been invented.

Today I finished the final, final, final round of edits to the manuscript of my book about the Atlantic row. Despite my initial opposition, I have been persuaded to acquiesce to the wishes of my publisher and accept the title "Rowing The Atlantic". It was certainly not my first choice, but I guess I have to pick my battles. Thank you to all who contributed to the long list of fascinating alternatives. A few will make appearances as chapter headings.

The book is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in early October. Hopefully we will be setting up a facility for you to reserve your signed copy. And look out for details of the book tour.

Work continues on the Brocade in Hawaii. Scott has been making good progress, with a view to having the boat almost shipshape by the time I return in April. Thank you Scott!

Nicole and I are currently in San Francisco, working hard and meeting lots of people in connection with PR, fundraising, media, speaking engagements, films and books. We are investigating the logistics of setting up a foundation - tentatively called The Ripple Effect. If anybody is or knows a California-based lawyer or accountant specializing in nonprofits, who might be willing to work pro bono, please let us know!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

San Francisco Ocean Film Festival - Tickets Now Available

This coming Saturday night I will be making a short presentation at the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival. I'll be showing my little 4-minute intro film (sneak preview here, if you haven't seen it already) and then giving a short talk and taking Q&A.

If you're in the area, the program for Saturday night looks awesome. I'll certainly be there in time to see the other films as well.

Tickets are available online now. Look for Saturday 7pm, Program 5.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Forthcoming Event: Blue Vision Summit 7-10 March

My Pacific row is a "project" of the Blue Frontier Campaign, a US nonprofit organization that supports grassroots marine conservation efforts, and organizes global conferences that encourage collaboration amongst the multitude of ocean-focused nonprofits.

In early March there will be a major get-together in Washington DC. I am honoured to be one of the members of a panel discussion on the opening day, alongside such marine luminaries as Philippe Cousteau and Dr Sylvia Earle.

The event is open to all who care about the oceans - a perfect opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, and to help support future oceanic endeavours.

By combining efforts we can achieve so much more. If we pull together, we can save the world - including the oceans!

Change is in the air. Can we bring change to the water, too?

Yes we can. Come to Washington D.C. and help Turn the Tide.
Join the Blue Vision Summit March 7-10, 2009!

Our Ocean Planet is in trouble. President Obama and the new Congress need to be reminded how vital a healthy ocean and coasts are to our economy, security and climate response.

Join the Blue Vision Summit along with hundreds of ocean leaders for three purposes:

  • To ENCOURAGE President Obama and Congress to take positive action on our public seas

  • To ADDRESS Climate Change impacts on the Ocean

  • To highlight SOLUTIONS to marine environmental threats that work and need to be expanded

Panelists include: NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco (invited), White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley (invited), Representative Sam Farr, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and other Congressional leaders, California Secretary of Resources Mike Chrisman, Sylvia Earle, Philippe Cousteau, Roz Savage, Ralph Nader, Thomas Lovejoy, marine artist Wyland, author Bill Mckibben, Sherman's Lagoon cartoonist Jim Toomey and many more.

Sponsors to Date:
  • The Ocean Foundation
  • The Ocean Conservancy
  • Clean Ocean Action
  • Surfrider - D.C. Chapter
  • National Geographic
  • The Henry Foundation
  • Ocean Champions
  • Project AWARE
  • The Baum Foundation

For More Information or to get involved contact:
The Blue Frontier Campaign
T: (202) 387 - 8030
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hawaiian HQ - And Introducing Nicole

I hadn't advertised a situation vacant, but if I had it might have been similar to Ernest Shackleton's 1914 advert:


My version would have been: "Extra pair of hands needed: job security non-existent, boss excessively demanding. Those needing stability - geographical, financial or otherwise - need not apply."

Many times over the last few years I have wished that I could clone myself. Organizing a 2,500 mile ocean row takes a staggering amount of organization, plus there are all the other activities that go on around it - writing books and articles, giving presentations, film-making, raising sponsorship, designing and maintaining the website - plus the time-consuming social media habit which helps me share my adventures with people all around the world who are kind enough to take an interest in the life of a nomadic ocean rower.

But technology has not obliged. There remains just the one of me - which some might argue is more than enough...

But short of a clone I now have the next best thing - or actually, an even better thing, because she's smarter than me - a new right hand woman who is intelligent, business-minded, and uniquely qualified to help me out.

As of yesterday Nicole Bilodeau (pictured) is going to be my PR agent/ sponsorship manager/ speaker agent/ all-round Woman Friday. She used to work for Ogilvy PR, and did a great job on my account in 2007 when Ogilvy were working for my title sponsors Brocade. It was a small miracle that our paths crossed. Nicole had only just joined Ogilvy, Ogilvy had only just been taken on by Brocade to manage their PR (and are now no longer working on that account), and Brocade had only just come on board as my title sponsors. In the sliding doors of life, things could easily have been very different.

Originally from Massachussetts, Nicole has also lived in Britain (during which time she was involved with the ocean rowing scene), Ireland, Belgium, Canada and South Africa, so she's comfortable with the global perspective. Since leaving Ogilvy last year she has done a stint at MySpace, and moves confidently through the world of social media. And as you can tell from the photo, we are also both Mac girls. Technological compatibility may not be essential, but it certainly helps.

In the UK Daisy Hampton and my mother both continue to provide indispensable support - although with Daisy expecting her first baby in a couple of weeks, and Mum going into hospital for a hip replacement, they are going to have other things on their minds for a while.

Nicole and I have hit the ground running, with a hectic program for the remaining 3 months between now and my May 15 launch.

I am delighted to welcome Nicole to the team. And so far, one day into the job, she seems pretty happy to be here - bringing a new recruit out to Hawaii as a first assignment might prove to be a smart move on my part. Job satisfaction is definitely enhanced by warm weather and tropical office environment. We are pictured here in our two places of work, both of which have free broadband and convenient access to food. Nicole is shown in our "uptown" office on the North Shore (the Coffee Gallery in Haleiwa) and I am in our "downtown" office at the Waikiki Yacht Club.

No grey office cubicles for Team Savage!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Testing Times

I'm having a full system test of all my electronics and comms equipment.
The studio is strewn with cables, gadgets and gizmos of all
descriptions. And I'm having to try and get my head out of Mac mode and
into PC. It's a stretch...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Photos of a Naked Boat

My boat is being not so much REfurbished as DEfurbished. We have been busy stripping out all the things that don't work - i.e. almost everything, and now Brocade is nearly as naked as the day she was born.

I haven't quite figured out how to arrange photos in Blogger (for some reason it has loaded them in reverse order), and I am already late for dinner with the team, so please excuse lack of elegant formatting.

1. Me with John Dunning of Powerflare, who swung by today to drop off 4 Powerflares. They look really cool! Onboard disco! (and more seriously, an important safety device)

2. Riggers and spare oar cups have been removed from side decks and sent to Tom in Michigan so he can use them as templates for replacements.

3. Rollbar now denuded of antennae and cameras - I will use handheld and standalone units. Go Pro have sent 3 cameras, which look really cool.

4. Nav instruments removed - I'll just use the compass while I'm rowing, and check the GPS at the end of each shift.

5. Empty fore cabin

6. Empty aft cabin

7. One blushingly naked boat....

Must run - this has been thirsty/hungry work and dinner calls!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Back To Basics

It has been a busy 24 hours here in Hawaii - mostly boat-oriented, with internet sessions topping and tailing the day. I was up at 5am editing my latest podcast of Roz Rows The Pacific, featuring an interview with Lynne Cox, extreme swimmer and author of Swimming To Antarctica. Watch out for the podcast going live within the next week - I email it over to Leo Laporte and he and his trusty staff at upload it to iTunes.

Then I swooped via a quick internet session at the Coffee Gallery in Haleiwa (and a much needed mug of java) to the Brocade's current location on the North Shore. For today was the day that all hands were on deck and work started in earnest to get the Brocade ready for Stage 2 of my Pacific row, due to launch on May 15.

I had already tentatively decided on a new strategy of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). For past stages of the row I had the boat wired for GPS, sound and video - only for most of the equipment to fall victim to saltwater corrosion. Rolling the boat 3 times in 2007 and once in 2008 hadn't helped. Water had got into all kinds of places it had no right to be. And every time I opened up the back of the control panel it made me want to have a nervous breakdown - it was such a nest of (electric) vipers that maintenance at sea would have been very challenging, to say the least.

So I had decided that it would be more sensible, less stressful and less wasteful to use more standalone items, which would be not attached to the boat but rechargeable via the onboard batteries. Only the bare minimum would be left as permanent installations.

But it still took a considerable amount of courage to rip out a large proportion of the existing electrics. Even things that hadn't worked in years caused pangs of nostalgia. But once I got into the swing of it, I became quite ruthless. If in doubt, chuck it out! A lot less junk to lug across the ocean. All discarded items will be offered to others via Craigslist or boat jumbles, so they won't go to waste, so it made me feel less guilty to remember that one man's junk is another man's treasure.

By the end of the day, the chaos of wires behind the control panel was reduced to manageable and less panic-inducing proportions. Brocade was looking stripped down and back to basics. Now we have a clean slate to bring in the new kit, partly donated by sponsors and partly funded by your recent very generous donations - thank you!

So in one sense there were 5 of us working on the boat today - Ian from San Francisco, Scott (pictured) and Morgan from Hawaii, while Morgan's girlfriend Ali recorded our labours for posterity, and me of course - and in another sense you were all there too. I knew you'd be interested to hear how we are getting on, which is why I am sitting here in the internet cafe, posting this blog, even though I am zonked and looking forward to an urgent appointment with my pillow before we start work again tomorrow. But I wanted you to know that we are going great guns here, and hope to have the Brocade looking much more shipshape by the end of this week.

More photos coming soon, but sleepy now after a very constructive (or constructively destructive...) day.

Other stuff:

Ocean in Google Earth launched today. I was invited to the launch event in San Francisco, and would have loved to go - Al Gore was there! But I was here in Hawaii with important work to do, and just couldn't justify the extra airmiles or cost of being there. But I am in ongoing talks with Google and hope to contribute some content to an expeditions part of the new Ocean functionality.

Check out these sources (and thanks to Ellen and Leye for these) - it all looks very cool!

YouTube video of What's New In Google Earth 5.0

The Official Google Blog

Article in The Guardian

I'll be watching with interest to see what new content goes on in Ocean - in the hope that Google will be contributing to the growing awareness that it is COOL TO BE BLUE!

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