Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 35 - Attack of the Killer Squid

This morning I suffered an aerial bombardment of the ickiest kind. I was
rowing along in the sunshine with my earbuds in, happily insulated from
the roar of the wind and the crashing of the waves, lulled by Michael
Palin's description of his travels through the Sahara. Then, suddenly
and without warning, I was hit by two missiles. One rocketed into the
cabin hatch just behind me, and exploded in a mass of black gore. The
other thudded into the seat runner next to my left leg, and slithered
gelatinously down the deck into the footwell. It was the attack of the
giant killer squid.

Well, ok, so they weren't giant. They were in fact only about 5 inches
long. But they did nearly give me a coronary, so could very well have
been killer.

Dazed, I hit the pause button on Michael Palin and surveyed the
situation. It looked like a cross between a crime scene and Alien. By
the fore hatch, one silvery squid was leaking more ink than I could have
ever expected to fit into one small body. His tentacles were lying in an
expanding pool of black. His slimy body flashed with a few dying gleams
of iridescence as he breathed his last. His friend was quietly expiring
in the footwell. The cockpit was liberally spattered with black body
fluids. I felt rather queasy.

I felt even more queasy at the thought of having to clean up the mess.
I'm not very good with slimy stuff. But I had to get these corpses off
my boat somehow.

So I took out a small measuring jug from the housekeeping locker and,
with my nose puckered in disgust, scooped up the bodies. The one who had
slithered down into the footwell, under my rowing shoes, proved rather
difficult. His tentacles stuck to the jug and I couldn't get to the
smoother, less sticky end of his body. Eventually I managed to scoop up
both sets of remains and deposit them over the side of the boat.

I hadn't even known that squid could eject themselves from the water
with such explosive force. Even if I had known, nothing would have
prepared me for the onslaught of airborne slimy things as I paddled
along, minding my own business. It was all rather shockingly yucky. A
few hours later just the memory was enough to spoil my appetite for
lunch – especially when I noticed there was still black ink dripping off
the fore hatch. Of course it was much worse for the squid than for me.
Let's just say that none of us were happy with the situation.

Don't get me wrong – I do like squid. But for future reference, I much
prefer them battered and deep-fried with a wedge of lemon on the side.

[photo: Eeeuurch. Messy. I hope this doesn't put you off your
breakfast. I can only post one photo per blog via email, so here's the
nasty one. Tomorrow I'll post the pic of the squid that didn't explode
in a mess of ink. Much prettier.]

Other Stuff:

Good progress today. But I'm still waiting for the wind to subside as
forecast. It's still around the 20kt level. I'm hoping that once it
slackens to around 15kts I'll be able to make a more SSW course which
will set me up better for making landfall. The other benefits of lesser
winds will be that I can once again use the sun canopy to save me from
the worst of the midday sun, and with fewer waves crashing over the side
of the boat it will be easier to keep my still-delicate bottom dry and
free of rashes.

I'm glad that my blog about Michael Jackson seems to have struck a
chord. Some great comments on that – thought-provoking as always. Thank

Stormcloud – interesting perspective. There surely is always room for
improvement, but as you say, lots of room for happiness along the way.
As I have to remind myself on the tougher days at sea, it's important to
enjoy the journey as well as the arrival!

Gregory – I may have to manage your expectations about my MJ dance
moves. I'll use the impossibility of dancing on a rocking rowboat as an
excuse, but in truth I never did get to grips with the moonwalk…

Christa – thank you for the really lovely comment. Made my day!

Maui Bob – good to hear from you. Next time you talk to Marlene, please
tell her that her rawfood crackers are absolutely awesome. Really
enjoying them. Favorites so far are the chia sweet crackers and the
walnut pumpkin. Delicious!

Thanks, Ania, for the great quote. "And if you clear your mind and
cleanse your soul,
listen to what the spirits and nature have to say, and trust yourself
... you will find your own destiny" J.A.H. Very wise words, and yes, it
does sound like the process that I went through. Beautifully summed up.

So the fish was a mahi mahi? And a very handsome fella he was too. If
I'd had a harpoon gun, he might have been in trouble - although I doubt
if it could ever compare with the mahi mahi I had with the Hunks from
the Junk last year. The combination of company, being cooked for – oh,
and being saved from death by dehydration – made for the best dinner
party ever!

Quick answers to quick questions:

What color is the water and can I see far into it? The water is the
color of the sky – whatever that may be – blue, grey, black, pink,
yellow – and it's really hard to gauge how far down I can see. Not to
the bottom, that's for sure!

Have I seen the garbage patch? Last year my row was all about raising
awareness of the plastic pollution in the oceans, so I do know a lot
about it. But I haven't been through it myself. Would have been
seriously off-course if I'd landed up there! But I've heard that there
may be a belt of garbage at the equator. I'll be on the lookout…

Weather report:

Position at 2045 HST: 11 31.166N, 169 25.790W
Wind: 20+kts E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: some cloud, mostly sunny
In other words, same old, same old…

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June


  1. John Kay7:28 am GMT

    “I’d like to be
    Under the sea,
    In an octopussy’s garden
    In the shade”

    (Squid, octopus, whatever)

  2. Wow, what an exciting day! I can't imagine just rowing along and all of a sudden two squid decide to occupy the same space in which you have chosen to occupy. I'm sure I would have had the same reaction as you described in picking them up as well... but I think I'd get used to it if I had to deal with dead fish all the time. >.> I'm glad all turned out well! I can't wait until your next update, I'd like to see the 'pretty' version.

  3. Free dinner!!!

  4. Cleaning the boat of squid parts is not my idea of fun on the high seas. You progress over the last week has been very impressive.


  5. mmmmm, calamari! too bad you don't have any beer batter to fry it in!
    cheers, Roz!

  6. Anonymous1:55 pm GMT

    "Isn't it better just to BE happy, regardless of what you
    own or how you look?"

    I completely agree with your statement from yesterday. Most Americans have a very materialistic sense of worth. I've often heard comments from people returning from 3rd world countries stating surprise that the people there are so happy. "But how could they be happy when they have so little?!" Exactly for that reason they are happy. They can focus on what's really important...friends, family, and living...not STUFF.

    Thank you Roz for doing what you do, and being true to yourself!! May the ITCZ treat you kindly!!

  7. Ika, short-grain rice, rice wine vinegar and wasabi ... Fresh ingredients skillfully prepared by a master chef would be a heavenly handroll or negiri sushi. Sorry for your experience with icky ika.

    Did you stow a rice cooker, rice wine? Next time!

    They say "You can't get blood from a turnip."

    Your assignment: coin a phrase by refining "leaking more ink than I could have ever expected to fit into one small body" with some curt British understatement ;-D

  8. Julie Angus3:48 pm GMT

    Another great story! Thanks for your dedicated blogging, and providing one of the best adventure tales of the year. Congrats on your success and stay strong.

  9. maybe that squid was trying to spell a message in its ink like charlotte and her web? "hey roz! we love you down here!" in any case, still loving your blogs and inspired like crazy!

  10. Anonymous6:24 pm GMT

    If everybody thought like you having squid with lemon on the side and harpooning innocent fish sharing your travels. I would suspect that the oceans would become a lonely place. Stick to your rowing and consevation with all due respect...Jim

  11. Anonymous7:38 pm GMT

    For heavens sake Jim a girl has to eat, espescially if she is rowing 8 hrs a day.The squid committed suicide so they were dead anyway. It is also a solo row so its not like she will eat every living thing in the ocean.

  12. Anonymous7:46 pm GMT

    Wow, Roz! Seems the variety of sea-life you've encountered in and out of the water have been rather metaphoric of the two-legged, keyboard-wielding variety who've graced your blog commentary of late! As always in life, some met are graceful, shimmering pearls, some are living, inky paintballs! (Nothing directed at anyone specific.) Certainly, the life you have created on your rowing blog (or blogging row) is anything but boring!

    As you close in on 500K strokes, have a wild, fun little celebration, but stay safe! (Perhaps a duck and cover drill would be in order!)

    Woodland Hills, CA

  13. Anonymous8:01 pm GMT

    I know now what makes me admire you so. You simply accept life,good times, bad times. Sounds simple, but it is far from simple. I have followed your blogs all the way from the Atlantic row, and have to thank you for opening my eyes to many things below the surface. Thank you.....God be with you....much love for being you.

  14. Anonymous9:36 pm GMT

    This is SO freaking cool! Roz, you are absolutely amazing...I love reading your blogs every day. What an adventure, and how awesome to be able to share in even just a teensy part of it. I love your writing style and look forward to your new posts each day. Please keep 'em coming...
    Isabelle from Illinois

  15. Piranha Pete10:36 pm GMT

    I will have to compliment you on your excellent writing style. Not a bit boring.

    I haven't read all the day-by-day blogs, but I take it you don't ever see other boats or aircraft. Kinda scary.

  16. Wow, icky indeed. My mind shuts off at the thought of cleaning those things . . . YUCK!

    I feel honored that you replied to my comment. That'll be something to brag about! :D I like that you often reply to people. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, even though sometimes the journey gets really tough! I hope it doesn't get tough too often!!!

    So many comments on here are great. And so many are funny, too. You have some really neat fans, Roz!

  17. Anonymous11:42 pm GMT

    Hmm, I think Jim has a point, and a good one. Rowing to bring awareness to the ailing oceans and then wanting to harpoon the wildlife out there, doesn't seem to jive. It starts smelling fishy-(haha).

  18. "Moderation in all things."

    - Andria Terence
    (185 BC - 159 BC)

    ... except the lengthiness of your row
    and the worthiness of your cause ... -Roz

    I cast my vote for you to enjoy a fresh fish meal, Roz
    You are some catalyst for thought provocation. Be safe

  19. Michelle from Canada3:08 am GMT

    You're doing awesome Roz.

  20. Anonymous4:26 pm GMT

    Roz you're simply amazing. Wish I could send you more dried mango, or catch a Mahi Mahi for ya. Anna and I just finished our long bike ride. Thank you again for being there for us at the beginning. And of course, at sea almost a year ago. Our hearts are with you!
    Marcus and Anna


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