Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 53 - Oh Smile On Me, Lady Luck

RozTracker junkies might have noticed that today I've dropped like a
stone, heading due south. Wind and currents were conspiring to help me,
so I've made the most of the opportunity. I'm keeping my options open
for either Tarawa or Funafuti, and heading south is the best way.

I asked Mum to do some research for me by reading through the blog of
Erden Eruc, who rowed from California to Papua New Guinea in 2007. He
didn't mean to row to PNG – he wanted to go to Australia. So if Erden
managed to miss something as big as Australia, you get some idea of how
difficult it's going to be for me to hit a teeny weeny little coral
atoll.

I read the extracts from Erden's blog that Mum sent me, and it was not
encouraging reading. He got to 7.5 degrees North in mid-November 2007,
at 159 degrees West, heading happily for the Equator. Then he ran into
the counter current. And the ITCZ. He crossed in the International Date
Line in late January 2008, still 3 degrees north of the Equator.

He finally crossed the Equator – wait for it – on May 8, 2008. SIX
MONTHS LATER! By then he was at 144degE, nearly 3,500 miles west from
where he first encountered the conditions that I am now facing. Eeek.
And that despite putting in some brutal 18-hour rowing days.

Of course, winds and currents are different every year. My boat is a
different design from Erden's so may hold its course better (or worse).
He may just have been really unlucky. I might get lucky (or unluckier).
Only time will tell.

Mountaineers say that climbing the mountain is the easy part – it's
coming back down safely that's the challenge. I'm starting to feel the
same way. Anyone can set out to row across an ocean (although funnily
enough, not many do) – it's making landfall that's the tricky bit. It's
going to take careful navigation, likely some hard rowing, and most
definitely an enormous amount of luck.

[Photo: Birdbrain booby getting in a flap on the poop deck]

Other Stuff:

I was really pleased I was able to make so much progress south today.
Problem is, I don't fully understand why! I thought it must be because
the wind from the East and the current from the West were equally
balanced so I could just kind of navigate down the middle. But now the
wind isn't blowing at all – dead calm out there – and yet I'm heading
SSW, which is good, but mystifying. Blows my theory about the
counter-current.

I don't like it when there's no wind. Whether on dry land or sea, I find
a good strong breeze bracing and energizing. Combined with the heavy
overcast and frequent showers today, the calm conditions feel rather
oppressive. Plus the wind carries away the pungent pong of the poop deck
– so without it the smell hovers in a cloud around the boat. Pheweee.

I shot some video of the boobies today, behaving in typical birdbrain
fashion. Rather amusing. Watch out for it in tomorrow's installment of
my Pacific RozCast on YouTube!

Mum is having problems viewing the RozTracker. Is anybody else having
problems, or is the gremlin infestation local to Cookridge, Yorkshire?!

I've got a lovely blurb for my Atlantic book (imaginatively entitled
Rowing The Atlantic) from the wonderful Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to
Antarctica. She writes:
"It's a grand adventure, mind boggling, inspiring, and a book that I
just couldn't put down. A fantastic read!"
Thank you Lynne! (The book is published by Simon & Schuster on Oct 6,
but is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com. Errr, hope I make
landfall in time for the book tour!)

UncaDoug – no wiggling westerlies today – just streamlined southerlies!
Alas, your idea about the wind generators is probably not practicable.
Great in theory, but they would have a bad effect on my boat's center of
gravity, and after my washing-machine simulations of 2007 I'm very aware
of keeping the Brocade bottom-heavy. Liked your thoughts on the
collective noun. Booby Nights made me laugh – but I'd rather be having
Boogie Nights!

Sindy – no, not scared by the squalls. They're just inconvenient as I
have to take down the sun canopy because of the strong winds they
generate. But at least they do wash the solar panels on the poop deck –
like going to the carwash!

Aquaphoenix – thanks for the Emerson quote. I hadn't heard that one
before.
And Gregory, thanks for the Churchill quotes. He's one of my very
favorite quotables! Didn't notice the tsunami, so I guess it must have
been not much more than a ripple by the time it got here…

Heather from Wiggly Wigglers – thanks for the comment, and the awwwwful
joke! Let me know if you decide to do a Wiggly Roz special. I would be
honored!

Ami – spooky! I was thinking of you just the other day too! NY – sounds
exciting! I'm probably going to be in Portland in October on my book
tour, but will be in NY too, so hope to see you in one or the other!

Rozheads. Rozrowers. The Roz Crew. Boobie Bunch. Rozlings. Rozettes.
Brocadaderos. Crew Roz. Savages. The Rozter. Rozcales. I like them all,
but Rozlings has a nice ring to it. Sounds like goslings though – does
that make me Mother Goose?!

Quick answers to quick questions:

Q: Are there any similarities between being a consultant (or a
solicitor, for that matter) and rowing across the Pacific?
A: I never practiced law, so I wouldn't know about being a solicitor. As
for management consultancy vs ocean rowing, the project management
experience is really useful in the preparation stages. I couldn't manage
without my spreadsheets to keep it all organized. But when it comes to
the rowing itself…. No, not so much!

Q: Roz- what do you do about storms?
A: Retreat to the cabin, hunker down, and wait for them to pass. But it
hasn't been an issue on this leg of the Pacific. Long may that last!

Weather report:

Position at 2010 HST: 05 37.080N, 175 54.689W
Wind: 0-15kts, mostly E
Seas: 3-6ft, mostly E
Weather: frequent showers, cloud cover, some outbreaks of sunshine

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com

As of Monday, 13 July 2009. Wind conditions should be highly variable
the next several days. Winds may have shifted to slightly south of east
today. As of this morning, winds over your position were E 10-20kts.
There is a slight chance the wind could shift to light Nerlies, in the
next five days, which should assist in pushing you southward across the
equator. Wind speeds from calm to 15kts. Seas flat to 3ft.

Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with low level clouds.
Scattered rainshowers, squalls, and possible thunderstorms. Wind speeds
in these systems 40kts.

ITCZ: The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) has been quiet these
last few days as indicated by the absence of convective clouds. Still
you are in the prime generation area for heavy squalls and
thunderstorms. Southern edge of the ITCZ is drifting between 02 to 03
00N.

Ocean Current: North Equatorial Counter Current (NEEC). Still looking
for the current to become ENE or Eerly flowing south of your position.
Northern boundary of the NEEC is about 05 00N extending to the southern
boundary near 00 30S. Current speeds increases to Eerly 0.1 to 0.2, then
builds to a maximum near 0.6 to 0.7kts from 02 30N to 01 00N then fades
to 0.1 to 0.2 near the southern boundary. There are periodic
fluctuations in these dimensions.

Recommendation: The light winds, lack of convective activity, and Eerly
flowing current provide and excellent opportunity to move eastward to
enhance an equatorial crossing. Suggest maximum effort to try to stay in
the Eerly flowing current as long as possible by rowing eastward. Or if
you have decided on Tarawa as destination, suggest rowing southwest
towards Tarawa to avoid the maximum NEEC current. You probably will have
an opposing current of about 0.5 kts.

Forecast
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
13/1800-15/1800 E NE-E 5-15 1-3
15/1800-17/1800 E-NW 0-10 1-2
17/1800-19/1800 NW-N 5-12 2-4


Next Update: Friday, 17July

20 comments:

  1. You have survived storms, equipment failures, crashing waves,a tsunami and I think the birds have gotten more under your skin than anything. I think with your expertise and experience that landfall will not be a problem. Roz you are one determined lady. Can women be knighted?

    ~Gregory

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  2. Tracker is working fine here. (If the data displayed is correct of course).

    Perhaps if anyone can answer this question: I always imagined the currents as staying the same all the time, but I guess they change constantly in direction and speed?

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  3. Cape of Storms10:05 am GMT

    Hey Roz,
    Love checking in on you every few days or so... the bird brain naming thing made me laugh so much! Just couldn't figure out which four-letter swearword went where...and then laughed more as I realized both versions worked! Hahaha! Really fun moment that...
    Yesterday I got a tweet from @PBSNature about a newly discovered migration...it's being billed as the longest migration of an insect, longer even than the Monarch Butterflies. They're Dragonflies that use the ITCZ to their advantage....I'd never heard of the dreaded ITCZ... only through your blogs, so it was fascinating to read. Very interesting indeed and can't believe it's only been discovered now...who knows what else is out there that we haven't picked up. Here is the site if you have time (access?): http://ow.ly/hjDj
    Hope the southward journey continues and please keep the tweets as well as the blogs coming... love getting ones like "squall approaching" while I'm on a super-long conference call! Just great!
    Cheers,
    Susan.

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  4. Anonymous10:23 am GMT

    Problem solved. I can now access Roz Tracker, and hopefully upload a comment without the usual hassle. My solution: downlaod Firefox and Adobe Flash 8, and use that instead of Internet Explorer. Perhaps a lesson to be learned: mothers should do what their daughters tell them to do. Roz told me weeks ago to try Firefox. With a title like Cape of Storms, I can understand why you appreciate "squall approaching!". Greetings to all Roslings, Rita Savage (Mum).

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  5. Oh dark thirty - woke up, fell out o' bed, had the urge to ... skip to the loo my darling ... hate it when that happens

    Ahhh, butt now, I am a raving Rozling reading Roz's Blog

    RozTracker works wonderfully, lately ~40 minutes past the even hours. Are GPS breadcrumbs automatic or do you trigger them manually? Posts are sometimes delayed and occasional gaps [perhaps the boobies eat the breadcrumbs].

    CG is important! but didn't enter my mind -- Sindy's idea of "vertical wind twirlies" just set me mind free [happens more often these days]. The image of "washing-machine simulations" kept me awake when you tweeted “huge black cloud approaching. we're in for the mother of all squalls.” Do you wear head-gear during a tumultuous tumbling justle ... or do you have tie-downs to restrain you from becoming air born up against the ceiling? You mentioned a bump on the head in one of the Atlantic YouTubes ... would hate for you to lose consciousness -- unable to enjoy the Mother of All Giant Dipper coaster rides :( seriously ): so please take care.

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  6. Rita, we posted simultaneously. What you said! And now Susan is suggestion a migration of dragon flies is coming Roz's way! That would be worse than birdbrain boobies. Duck and cover for sure!

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  7. Dame Roz has a really nice ring to it. I wonder if, when one gets knighted (if that's the correct term), they hand you the private phone book of all the other Dames so that you can hang out together. You could ring Dame Judi and go round to the pub.

    I'm glad you liked Rozlings. It has an affectionate ring to it that reminds me of how Dame Edna calls her audience Possums. I would never think of Roz as a mother goose, though she does have a way of leading her followers gently in the right direction as far as our eco decisions and behaviors go.

    My difficulty, as Roz is hitting the confusing ITCZ, and which some of the more nautically knowledgable readers could answer for me, is getting the actual direction of the wind and current directions right in the weather portion of the posts. I thought I had it figured out, thinking that an easterly wind was a wind COMING from the east, thus blowing the boat west. Now today Weatherguy recommends that the Eerly current is an excellent opportunity to move _east_(?). I'm so confused.

    Is current direction stated in the opposite way of wind direction? Does an east wind blow from east to west (moving the Brocade westerly) wile an eastern current moves from west to east (moving the Brocade toward the east)?

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  8. Caroline12:36 pm GMT

    Hello Roz (and Rita)

    Just dropped in to the Comments box to send greetings from a Rozling. I've been reading your blog every day and have also been having problems with the RozTracker recently (and I have Firefox, Rita) but today it's working perfectly. Just one of those glitchy things, I guess.

    Dame Roz? I'll second that. I wonder how we can bring that about?

    It's wonderful reading and sharing your adventures - boobies and all! I followed Erden's voyage and he did have a really tough time so am wishing you all the luck in the world as you approach the ITCZ. You're doing wonderfully so far, long may it continue. Working from the 'chaos' theory, perhaps if we all blow together facing South-West we could whistle up a wind in the right direction for you ...?!!

    I'm trying very hard not to use plastic bags (I've got one of your canvas rainbow turtle bags amongst my other eco-friendly ones) and am trying to spread the 'rozmessage' whenever I can.

    Keep going ...

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  9. Wow!

    When blogger featured you as a blog of note, I tuned in and haven't stopped since. Due to the time difference, I find myself waking up mid sleep just to see if there's a new blog post yet. I read some of them (esp. the boobie ones) to my 7 year old, and he thinks its amazing.... and that he would "just tell those birds where to go!" If only the confidence at 7 that you could change the world continued on for everyone!

    Here in Toronto Canada, we are on day 24 of a garbage strike, which has led to public parks and sides of the road becoming popular dumping grounds. Determined not to add to the HORRIFYING impact all the sudden garbage will cause at the end of the strike, my son and I have set out use, reuse and vaporize what we can.

    So far we've started a garden compost to take care of our food scrapes, we're crafting daily, including an army of robots out of tin cans for the neighbourhood kids, tote bags out of our dog food bags, recycled newspaper for 101 paper mache crafts, a box to hold our old newspaper made out of old newspaper, iPhone and iPod holders out of juice boxes, chip bag purses and bracelets and the list grows. We are determined to make this strike a chance for our family to grow green. So much so, that we've informed all our family and friends that any gifts for occasions this year will be homemade and recycled.

    Reading your blog every day is an extra boost for those times when I just want to toss an old egg carton, or when the thought of churning the yucky mush that is becoming our compost makes me sick... I think... its the least I could do for this planet that has given me so much.

    Thank you SO much for opening up your adventure to help the rest of us discover our own.

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  10. The roz tracker isn't showing up on the right of the blog like it usually does, and I'm in South Korea so definitely not Yorkshire.

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  11. Naomi in NYC2:50 pm GMT

    You continue to inspire many ... thanks for this blog and your YouTube updates.

    From here in NYC I'm envisioning angels under, over and all around your boat ... you know, those (sometimes seen but mostly unseen) messengers sent to help in times of need! TRUST is all! :-)

    Today I'm liking "Rozlings" (rather than "Roscals" which I voted for yesterday) as the collective noun describing your growing cadre of fans. It rolls nice and smoothly over the tongue.

    All hail, Roz!
    (my anachronistic way of saying, "You go, Girl!")

    Naomi in NYC

    PS: Your commitment, courage and spirit of adventure have inspired me to resume in earnest my fitness plan (via a raw-foods lifestyle) to drop weight and begin to train for my 2010 walk across England. Thank you!

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  12. To Sharon, about your 'yucky mush' compost: If you mix in a bunch of shredded newspaper or paper, your compost heap will work much better. The smell will improve, too.

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  13. Naomi in NY3:25 pm GMT

    Sharon, above, wrote: "Thank you SO much [Roz] for opening up your adventure to help the rest of us discover our own."

    What a terrific turn of phrase, Sharon ... I'd venture to guess that is EXACTLY what's going on for many of us lucky enough to have stumbled on Roz's blog and YouTube vids ... as she takes time out from ROWING ACROSS THE PACIFIC to post them!! What a gal. Dame Roz for sure.

    Naomi in NYC

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  14. Janice, thanks so much for the tip! With nothing getting picked up from our friendly neighbourhood trash man, and newspaper delivery 7 days a week (which we'll soon be cancelling as we can read it online, and save some precious paper consumption) we've got more then enough old newspaper to spread around.

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  15. For those who might be having issues with the RozTracker, please do follow Roz's mom's advice (mother always knows best) and try it in Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. There are some issues with the new version of Internet Explorer that we're still working out. And, of course, you must have the Adobe Flash player. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

    Also, we'll be releasing a new version soon that should clarify the new types of points on the map. The "S" icon appears each day and contains all of Roz's social media for that day. If you click on an "S", it will show you the other items. We have some things to do to improve this, but the goal was to speed up how fast the tracker loads while also making it more easy to see each marker. Roz is just so active in her postings that it was looking like a thick catepillar of icons on the map.

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  16. Cape of Storms6:11 pm GMT

    Wow Sharon, I agree with Naomi...what a great way to put it. By Roz opening up her adventure, we feel a part of it and also able to do the small silly things like NOT buying plastic bags b/c it's one LESS in the ocean. Well done Sharon...very inspiring what you're doing...keep it up!
    Susan (in Cape Town -- hence the 'Cape of Storms' -- normally in Joburg)

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  17. I was at South Ponte Vedra Beach, took a swim. Guess what, I thought of Roz rowing away.

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  18. If I may add, I saw a pack of Boobies!

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  19. I pick up one empty plastic bottle water without a cap at the beach, threw it in the recycling bin at the parking lot. It felt good.

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  20. So, how about Rozta's (like gangsta's...also sounds a little like Rastafarian)?

    I tell everyone who stands still long enough for me to say it...I'm a BIG fan of Roz...and I tell 'em all about what you're doing and why.

    You go, girl!...prayers follow you, too.

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