Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 44 - A Weird And Wonderful. Watery World

Wildlife sightings have enlivened this voyage much more than my last two
ocean crossings. And here I'm talking about wildlife where it's supposed
to be – in the water rather than on my deck or on my backside.

On both my previous voyages I enjoyed very rare visits from whales and
dolphins, and a couple of times on the Atlantic I was visited by my
favorite creature of all – a turtle – but most days I saw nothing but a
few flying fish, and those usually dead on my deck.

This time around, though, the ocean is a much more populous place. Birds
wheel around my boat, skimming low over the waves or flying higher and
calling to each other as they swoop and dive. Today I saw a school of
flying fish zinging across the waves at low altitude. Most days I'll see
large fish doing a few backflips, sometimes jumping as high as 10 feet
clear of the water. And more often than not I'll see shadowy figures
passing beneath my boat – fish about 2 feet long with yellow tails. I'm
not quite sure what they are, but I've taken to calling anything that
size a mahi-mahi, for the sake of argument.

It's strange to think of all the other life that must be going on down
there. Hunters and hunted, large and small, pretty creatures and ugly
monsters. When I see the mysterious beings swimming beneath my boat it
reminds me of the ghosts in The Sixth Sense – existing in another
dimension, visible but not clearly, glimpsed through the confused
surface interference of the water that sometimes hides, sometimes

I sometimes think about what lurks further down, way down in the
unexplored depths where the sunlight can't penetrate. I'm guessing the
ocean is about 20,000 feet deep here, and it amazes me that there are
creatures can withstand that kind of water pressure and constant
darkness - jellyfish that fluoresce like disco lights, creatures that
hunt by smell alone, animals that look more like monstrous aliens than
citizens of Planet Earth.

'Tis a weird and wonderful watery world indeed.

[photo: what lies beneath... pilot fish under my boat]

Other Stuff:

Firmly back on dry land - I'm on the lookout for somewhere to live
temporarily in January and February next year while I write my next
book. Does anybody have a vacation home or similar that they might be
able to put at my disposal for at least part of this time period?
Ideally it would be:
- self-contained
- have high speed internet access
- be within 4 hours of an airport
- within striking distance of a gym
- and, errr, free of charge, or at a very modest rent.
I'm not very social while I'm writing, so I am really NOT looking for a
guest room in a house. I need more personal space than that, so I really
need a place to myself. I am well house-trained, and will leave it in at
least as good order as I find it. As to location, it can be anywhere in
the world. I don't mind how out of season it might be. I'd love it if it
was somewhere I've never been before, somewhere new to try. If you can
help, please either post a comment.or use the Contact form at
rozsavage.com. I hope to hear from you!

After yesterday's jag south, today has been back to business as westerly
usual. Yesterday's opportunity must have been due to a random current,
or more likely the fact that the winds were slightly lighter than usual.
Today, as yesterday and every day before that, I have been pointing the
boat SSE, but due to the wind have ended up going SW. So I'm glad I made
the most of yesterday's chance while I could.

Within the next couple of days I should start to encounter the ITCZ. I
wait with eager anticipation to see what will happen next…. Check out
today's new weather forecast at the end of this blog for more.

Thanks for all the great comments, particularly the ones following my
blog on sustainable energy sources. Loads of good thoughts, helpful
ideas, and positive suggestions there. Great stuff! I'd especially like
to pick up on the theme of living mindfully – and realizing that energy
is used in almost every aspect of our lives, including the energy cost
of manufacturing and transporting the goods we buy. For example, I've
been told that the CO2 emissions of transporting a gallon of gasoline to
the pump are greater than the CO2 created by the gallon itself. But we
often overlook those "hidden" or embedded eco-costs. Yet another good
reason to wean ourselves off our addiction to fossil fuels that have to
travel half way around the world.

Special hello to Sky. Hope to see you and Steve in WA in the fall.

Quick answers to quick questions:

Q: Roz have you seen any Rays or Skates thus far?
A: No. Only Rays of Sunshine!

Q: What person has inspired you the most on the ocean rowing chapter in
your life?
Harbo and Samuelson, the first two ocean rowers of "recent" times in
1896 when they crossed the north Atlantic. "Tiny" Little, friend,
publican, and solo Atlantic row in 2005. Rosie Swale-Pope, epic runner.

Q: Do you ever see any ships out there? What sort of feelings would you
get if you happened to see one?
A: I did see ships on Stage 1, but no large ones on Stage 2 so far. If I
saw one, I'd go into stealth mode. Especially if they are oil tankers or
container ships. See comment about hidden CO2 emissions above! But if
they're a sailboat I'd get on the VHF and say hi. And ask them if
they've got any cold beer!

Weather report:

Position at 2130 HST: 08 12.679N, 173 35.368W
Wind: 15-20+ kts E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: Couple of brief showers. First rainbows of the voyage. Cumulus
clouds, with sun brutally hot and bright between cloud shadows.

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Monday, 06 July 2009. The easterly trade winds have turned more
northerly still around the 15-20 kts range with periods of lighter
winds. Wind speed gradually abates beginning 08July to become 5-12kts by
10July. As the winds abate they shift to ESE-SEerly direction, which may
make it harder to row southwards in headwinds. Seas abate to 3-5ft.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy with low level clouds. Isolated

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has quieted since last
report so maybe the passage through will be less dramatic. Convective
clouds have become fewer. The northern ITCZ edge has become diffuse but
the axis is along 170W to 180W between 03 00N and 04 00N. As of this
morning, winds south of 08 30N to the Equator between 170-177W were from
5-17kts with only isolated rainshowers of moderate strength.

Ocean Current: Still looking for the current to become Eerly flowing at
about 06 00N in the North Equatorial Counter Current. We will see how
this can aid your passage across the Equator.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
06/1800-07/1800 ENE 15-20 6-8
07/1800-08/1800 NE 15-20 6-8
08/1800-09/1800 NE-E 10-15 5-7
09/1800-10/1800 E-SE 7-12 4-6
10/1800-11/1800 SE-E 5-10 3-5

Next Update: Thursday, 09July


  1. I mostly paddle on dark rivers that have an abundance of alligators and the gators sometime make me feel uneasy when the swim under the kayak. What really startles me are fish when they leap out of the water. Frightened by a fish sounds funny but they do.

    Do fish or whales ever startle or frighten you? What brand electric watermaker would you recommend on an ocean crossing?

    You are ever so close to the equator, you are like a slow approaching hurricane with the daily updates and the degree of latitude counting down is reminiscent of a space shuttle launch 10, 9 and soon 8.

    Regards, Gregory

  2. Seeing all the wildlife just sounds so wonderful. Would be cool if there were some sort of underwater camera under your boat that you could use to take pics or video. :-)

  3. Up late from the effects of arroz y frijoles -- plop plop fizz fizz o watta relief itizzz. Unsustainable indeed. You'd think one would learn. Pondering a gallon of gasoline at this hour is ridiculous, Roz, but you always plant poignant seeds that sprout.

    Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- awake and 'passing' the time I googled and found several very informative entries http://is.gd/1pMq6 . The first entry NRDC Alt Fuel CO2 Chart" is really cool and compares the Well-to-Wheels (or full fuel cycle) emissions from alternative transportation fuels in pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline.

    A gallon of gasoline emits about 25 pounds of CO2 -- that is about one pound of CO2 per mile for a car that averages 25 mpg.

    Need to catch some zzzz's ... Good night Mr. Moon

  4. Eclipse-chasers from around the world are counting down the hours until July 22nd which will be he century’s longest solar eclipse. Great photo op for you Roz.


  5. Thanks for talking about the marine life in the ocean beneath you. Fascinating!

  6. Anonymous1:26 pm GMT

    If you had a can or bottle of beer couldn't you attach it to a line and sink it a 100 feet or so to chill it? Would the water temp 100 feet down or more be much colder than the surface water temp?

  7. Greg, great info on the eclipse. Googling took me to NASA Eclipse Website and if you click on Total Solar Eclipse of July 22 there is a great chart of the eclipse path across the South Pacific. It looks like Roz will see a 50% eclipse 20 miles east of the IDL (on the current trajectory, my guess Roz will cross the IDL July 23).

    I reread my post from the wee hours, and realize that I omitted a key factoid: my condition was probably more related to the cheeses in the enchilada and chile relleno, or simply over doing it -- not to blame the arroz y frijoles exclusively.

  8. Thanks for the insight on the 'wildlife' out there!

    Have you ever read "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel?

    A story of a boy that survives the sinking of a transport ship traveling from India to Canada which happens to be carrying zoo animals (and his family). He's the lone survivor on the life-raft along with an Orangutan, Tiger, and Hyena. He ends up sailing across the Pacific (west to east)...I won't tell you anymore!

    hmmm on second thought, maybe you should read it when you're done this stage?!

  9. Do you see many airplanes overhead?

  10. Harbo and Samuelsen ultimately realized that their row was viewed as a stunt and went back to work.
    Here in Panama we respect someone who is brave, even if their adventure may be pointless. Pointless, because in the 3rd world we do not operate under the same system as the Anglos in El Norte. In our compound you want water you must go and pump some. You want to have chicken someone got to kill chicken. No one would conceive animal's rights and so on. I do not know why Roz Savage don't like teasing from the poorer people. To us her adventure is like a trip to the moon, but I would say some people here are scared because Roz she goes about the world by high altitude jets and no one here but I Texino, has ever been gone over 100 KM. You keep going now with great success!

  11. Love your blog, tweets, and podcasts. This is such a great way to teach geography and oceanography to kids. I just featured you in a recent blog post about internet celebrities. Best wishes and keep safe!

  12. In North America homeless people and the Amish are carbon footprint superstars. I have the greatest respect and admiration for these groups of people and the people of the third world. People from the third world should be invited to our countries to teach us their lifestyles, not the other way around!

  13. Anonymous4:25 pm GMT

    To Tom B - yes Roz has read the Life of Pi, probably more than once. Kind of you to think about her not reading it until her rowing is over. Incidentally, I have read it too, so I know what you mean. Thanks for your interest, Rita Savage.

  14. The creatures far below truly amaze me! It is like a different world. I wish I had my writer's cabin built. You would be most welcome! I'm afraid camping here in Jan/Feb would be a little chilly...

  15. Don't point your camera at the sun, Roz. It can damage the sensor chip. Isn't there some science trick for eclipses? Using a piece of paper with a pinhole in it, maybe?

    Or, I could look it up on the internet for you. Here are directions for the simple eclipse projection onto a piece of paper.

    Get two pieces of cardboard--one piece colored white to project onto (I'm sure there's one in your arts and crafts locker). Cut a square in one cardboard, then tape a piece of foil (or a Larabar wrapper) over the square. Now make a pinhold in the middle of the foil.

    With the sun behind you, hold the pinhole cardboard as far from the white cardboard as you can. The farther you are from the screen, the bigger your image.

    Good luck with that. Maybe you can hold the screen cardboard with your feet, pinhole cardboard with one hand and camera with your other hand. The Brocade would have to be pointed in the proper direction to have the sun at your back, too.

  16. Hi there
    Can you give me your opinion about these?
    Life is like each stroke you take, you make it once but you would never do it again,you can do similar strokes with the same movement or place.
    Life is like a stroke, so make them the best you can.
    I wish the best for you
    Good Luck


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