Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 48 - The Booby is Back

Today I was listening to the audiobook of "Left For Dead" by Beck
Weathers, an amateur climber who was caught up in the infamous storm on
Everest in May 1996 when many climbers lost their lives. He was given up
for dead, but later staggered into camp alone, horrendously frostbitten.
He survived, although he lost both hands and his nose. Even as he was
being med-evacced from the mountain he'd quipped, "I knew this trip was
going to cost me an arm and a leg…"

What I found most interesting about the book was not the main drama
itself, but his motivation for adventuring. He'd always battled with
depression, and found an escape in the mountains – partly because of the
need for total focus, and partly because it gave him an external
standard by which he could measure himself successful.

But it came at a price – he neglected his family terribly. His wife had
been pushed beyond even her quite exceptional levels of patience, and
was going to give him an ultimatum when he returned from Everest. He
would have had to choose between her, or the mountains. As it was, the
choice was taken out of his hands (so to speak). Ironically, the
catastrophe probably saved his marriage.

This got me thinking about why people go adventuring. Some people, like
Beck, go to lose themselves. Others go to find themselves. Some
onlookers might think that adventure is all very well, but it's not real
life, is it? Others would say that adventure is as real and intense as
life ever gets.

I suppose, like any other kind of experience, an adventure is what you
choose to make it. Depending on your natural tendency, everything you do
can be a learning experience. If you're always on the lookout for ways
to be a better person, every little thing that life offers you can be an
opportunity. Or, if you're not so open to change, you could be climbing
mountains or rowing oceans and still not really learning anything about
yourself. .

Having adventures doesn't make you a better person. It's not the
experiences you have, but what you choose to do with them.

And here endeth the sermon!

[Editorial note: It's not my fault. Both my parents were preachers. I'm
now at that rather frightening age when not only do you realize that
you're turning into your parents, but you actually don't mind that you
are... With all due respect to my lovely mum!]

[photo: The Booby is Back. This guy has been making a nuisance of
himself the last couple of days. Landed on my fore cabin yesterday and
noisily resisted my attempts to shoo him away before he started pooping.
He also keeps landing on the water just where I'm about to put my oar
in. As Chris Myles commented, they really have to be the stupidest birds
on the planet - birdbrains indeed!]

Other Stuff:

Today has been rather discombobulating. It got off to a good start. I
woke early and started rowing under a bright moon and a sprinkling of
stars, then watched the sun rise in a blush of pinks. But the rowing was
hard going – a lot of work for little reward. My first 3 hours of rowing
netted me just 3 miles to the good. It was going to be a long day. The
situation wasn't helped by a couple of squalls. Both created strong
winds and downpours that had me diving for cover. In their wake they
left an unnatural calm, when the ocean felt more than ever like

So this is the ITCZ. I'd better just get used to it, and win my
southerly miles where and when I can. Meanwhile, I've crossed over 175
degrees west. Just 5 degrees, or a tad under 300 nautical miles, before
I get to the International Date Line. Got to keep pushing south though,
through the labyrinth of currents, winds, and squalls that awaits me.

I recorded a new podcast with Nicole this morning. You can find it via
the RozTracker. We have a good old natter about the huge human impact of
rising sea levels. This is affecting all the Pacific islands - including
Tuvalu and Tarawa - as well as many other parts of the world.

Thanks for all the fantastic comments on the blog and Facebook – and for
the offers of accommodation during my writer's retreat next Jan-Feb.
I've had some very tempting offers, and of course I want to accept them
all, but in the interests of actually getting some work done had better
try and control my enthusiasm for travel. I will ponder as I row and
respond soon to all my wonderful would-be hosts very soon.

I'm also grateful for the updates on the G8 summit. I wish there was
better news on China and India. Hmmmm....

Thanks, Tawita, for extending a welcome to Tarawa. If/when I end up
there I very much look forward to meeting you and your compatriots!
Fraid I won't be much use as a lawyer, though – my degree didn't include
anything of any practical use. Happy to barter day trips on a rowboat

Doug Grandt on FriendFeed – thank you for the Bimini Bobbity Boobity
Moon. Love it!!!

Quick answers to quick questions:

Q: Roz, do you ever see any passing boats or ships of any kind?
A: I haven't seen any for many weeks now. The last boat I saw was a
fishing vessel about 500 miles from Hawaii. Since then I've had the
ocean all to myself. Excellent!

Weather report:

Position at 2120 HST: 06 47.032N, 175 04.677W
Wind: 5-20+ knots, E-ESE
Seas: 5-8ft
Weather: all over the shop

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday, 09 July 2009. Expect widely variable wind speeds and
direction while in close proximity to the ITCZ. NEerly trade winds
continue around the 10-15 kts, but veer to ENE 10kts by tomorrow
morning, then back to NE 10kts by tomorrow night. Periods of lighter
winds. Seas to 2-6ft.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy with low level clouds. Isolated
rainshowers, squalls, and possible thunderstorms. Wind speeds in these
systems 40-50kts.

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has heated up just
south of your present location. Convective clouds have increased
producing squalls and thunderstorms. The axis of the ITCZ is centered on
05 00N between 170W and 180E/W. The northern ITCZ edge is about 06 30N
and the southern edge near 02 00N. As of this morning, winds south of 07
30N to 03 00N were from the NE direction at about 7-22kts. In squalls
and rainshowers winds were 40kts.

Ocean Current: Still looking for the current to become ENE or Eerly
flowing at about 06 00N in the North Equatorial Counter Current. This
current extends to about 01 00N. There are periodic fluctuations in
these dimensions.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
09/1800-10/0000 NE 10-15 4-6
10/0000-10/1800 ENE 7-12 3-5
10/1800-11/0900 NE 7-12 3-5
11/0900-13/0000 E 2-7 2-4
13/0000-14/1800 ENE-NE 5-10 3-5


  1. You must be feeling extremely pleased at how consistent your speed and heading has been on this leg so far. Don't go killing any albatrosses now, or as I used to be told "Leave the boobies alone."

  2. Roz are you discovering yourself, running from something or what?

    Boobies, Bums and a range of strange topics have followed you on this leg in the Pacific.

    Have you seen the green flash at sunset yet, or are you to low in the water? My most memorable nights on a boat in the Atlantic were on moonless nights watching spectacular stars brightly filling the sky. Landlubbers and stargazers will never see what your eyes witness on those night with no artificial light sources and pollution ruining the view.

    Cheers Roz

  3. I am really enjoying your blog and love the birdbrained booby.

    The lack of "noise" from ones life and society is completely refreshing while adventuring and can give perspective fairly quickly.

    My stepmother always says she never grieves anything or anyone until she is sitting by the ocean...

  4. And curiosity... My wife accuses me of wonderlust because I'm always wanting to go places. One day, I hope to buy a boat and sail around the world.
    And, while yes, I would be excited about leaving all of the crazy people behind, my main motivation is curiosity. I just want to see what's out there.
    Isn't that what motivated the early explorers? Find out what's out there and see if they could find it?
    Which, brings us back to an earlier comment. What's your motivation to row across oceans? And, will you take on the Indian Ocean, too?

  5. Sarah Watson1:55 pm GMT

    Hi Roz, following your progress and enjoying the blog. I just showed Jack the photo of the booby and he asked if it was swimming in a duck pond. I told him that it was a body of water somewhat bigger than that...

    Go Roz! Lot of love, Sarah, Bill, Jack and Grace xx

  6. Roz and Nicole, I missed hearing you LIVE! on yesterday, but luckily episode 52 The Tide Is High and Rising has been posted already so I am just now listening. Your mention of reminded me I had not yet signed up. You will be happy to know I just now signed up as you are nattering about the G8 and Copenhagen.

    In response to your natter on negative naysaying, in December 2006 I heard Amory Lovins speak, and he quoted Raymond Williams "To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing." Ever since, I have kept that as a motto. Let's get the choir to sing ... btw Roz, do you sing, hum or whistle while you row?

    The podcast just ended [bloody booby!]
    TTFN - ta ta for now

  7. Now you've got me wanting to read "Left For Dead" again. I was fortunate to see Weathers speak at the Fernbank Center here on his book tour soon after it came out. I, too, was fascinated by his revelations of the practically manic focus and determination he had in preparing for the climb, to the detriment of his family, and how in the aftermath he understood better what was really important in his life and how forgiving his wife had been.

    I think I understand and feel more support for your sort of adventure than for the Everest climbers. You're not doing it just to put your body through a gruelling experience and be the first at something. You're working even harder to make it mean something when it's all over, and do some good for the world.

    I know there are all sorts of causes related to some of the Everest climbs now, but unless they're the attempts to haul some of the tons of garbage off of Everest that climbers leave behind, they don't seem so connected to the act of climbing the mountain itself. It's easy to see how your Pacific row is a very relevant way to teach people about the threats to the oceans' ecosystem and how collective efforts can make real progress in helping the environment. And you're not doing any damage to the ocean in the process.

  8. The porus coral atols are sinking. Darwin wrote a proof on the subject 100 years ago. In Panama we have to big oceans at hand and have not noticed a significant rise in either. Sorry but the ocean rise one place it rise every place. Exception being seismic events. I believe that global warming is a bad thing, but you can't blame it on every thing.

  9. Anonymous3:57 pm GMT

    Texino has a valid point. Sea levels rise in some places and fall in others. The land rises in some places and sinks in others. Atols based on volcanic ejecta are especially prone to sinking. What is the "correct" sea level at any one place?

  10. "Sorry but the ocean rise one place it rise every place."

    No, actually that is wrong. The oceans are not a glass of water with everything at the same level. It *sounds* reasonable but the actual physics in this case run against your intuitive feelings.

    That's because oceans are HUGE and are substantially influenced by other factors in including gravitational tidal influences, centrifugal force, etc.

    This helps explain why the Pacific ocean at the level of the Panama Canal is actually 20 cm higher than the Atlantic.

    So in any increase in the net volume of water within an ocean, there will be much greater effects (and earlier effects) near the equator where the ocean naturally bulges due to the aforementioned gravitational/centrifugal effects, and a greater effect in the Southern hemisphere due to relative water volume and the fact that the earth itself is a bit bottom heavy (not a true sphere).

    If you are interested in learning more you can try a simple faq such as:

    Or read a book such as Principles of Ocean Physics by Apel.

    Good luck to you! :)

  11. That booby isn't stupid. He's just letting you know that you're on his ocean, he's trying to shoo you away. I love that line you said in your other post "to the Pacific we're all just flotsam". How true.

  12. Hi There,
    My name is Antonio, I never heard about you until today. It will forever change my life.
    I will watch your progress daily. It is now my dream to meet you one day.

  13. "Texino has a valid point"- Now I've heard everything! and of course he doesn't- have any point at all that is . . .

  14. It's King Tut's fault ... aka Pharoh Tutankhamen, the Egyptian "boy king" who died mysteriously at age 19.

    Solar energy might already be our source of unlimited renewable power -- instead of our short history of reliance on fossil fuels and resultant global warming -- if Aten, the Egyptian sun god, had not been replaced by King Tut's preferred god, Amun. [My off-the-cuff theory which is a bit of a stretch and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but something to consider nonetheless ... and it adds a bit of levity to an otherwise serious topic.]

    Let me explain. I saw King Tut today and one tidbit of information at the exhibit sparked my creative imagination. Here is what I learned:

    Tutankhamen's predecessor Akhenaten [Akhenaten may have been Tutankhamen's dad in which case, King Tut was probably just a teen rebelling], in his religious revolution, overthrew Egyptian polytheism in favor of the worship of a single god, Aten. Akhenaten went so far as to destroy Egypt's capital Thebes and build a new capital named Akhetaten (The Horizon of the Aten).

    Aten was the sun disk, the life-giving force of light. The full title of Akhenaten's god was The Rahorus who rejoices in the horizon, in his/her Name of the Light which is seen in the sun disc.

    Some speculate that in Akhenaten's monotheistic religion and the creator god Aten were somehow related to the one God of the Israelites. A famous piece of Egyptian religious literature known as the Great Hymn to the Aten presents compelling evidence for a deep religious connection between Akhenaten’s religion and that of the Israelites.

    Who knows what might have been had King Tut not replaced Aten with Amun.

    Talk about unintended consequences ... three thousand years and 150 generations later. World population then was 40 million, 0.6% of today's!

  15. Mike Garrigan1:49 am GMT

    I just heard Roz's podcast where she says "I don't think there is anything to be lost by moving to sustainable energy." Here's what is lost: MONEY! I think you'll find that most people who deny that human activity is causing a major change in the global environment have a financial interest in fossil fuels. It's the ultimate greed to ruin the Earth for future generations for your own personal monetary gain. So totally selfish!

  16. Hey, are there any songwriters out there? Roz is about to "Row Right into Tomorrow."

    ....just to add a little more levity (see UncaDoug above.)

    I don't stop by every day, Roz...but, wow, I sure enjoy your blog when I do!


  17. Congrats on making it to the ITCZ! That's quite an accomplishment. I'm thinking positive weather thoughts for you. That ought to be worth some karma.

  18. Speaking of levity, Tutankhamen is misspelled.
    Correct spelling of his royalty is Tutankhamun.
    The god Amun would be "incensed" for my error.
    I sure would not want to be subject to a curse.


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