Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 68 - Something's Gotta Give

You can have a project done:
a) cheaply
b) quickly
c) well
Pick two.

So the corporate saying goes, and generally it's true. Do something
quickly and cheaply and the quality suffers. Do it well and to a tight
deadline, and it will cost you. Do it at low cost and high quality, and
it will probably have to be fitted in around more lucrative projects and
will take a long time.

And today I realized that something similar applies to ocean rowing. You
can do a voyage:
a) quickly (relatively speaking, ocean rowboats not being renowned
speed machines)
b) easily (again, relatively – it's never easy, but we're talking
10 hour days vs 18 hour days)
c) accurately (i.e. to a very specific destination)
But you only get to pick one, not two.

The inevitable conclusion from this realization was that I was going to
have to take a more flexible approach.

The trouble with going quickly, i.e. downwind, is that downwind may not
take you anywhere you want to go. If I go downwind from here I'd end up
in the Marshall Islands, which would make Stage 3 very tough.

And I don't want to put in 18-hour days at the oars. This would be
brutal, and would leave me no time for blogging, videoing, etc – and I
regard sharing my adventure online as a high priority.

So I would have to consider compromising on destination. I realized I
had become fixated on Tuvalu, stressing if conditions were pushing me
west making a Tuvalu landfall more difficult. I was spending time on the
sea anchor going north, obsessed with keeping as much east as possible.

But by mid-afternoon today I was bored with being on the sea anchor, and
fed up with seeing my hard-won miles south ebbing away. Something had to
give. So, with wind and currents conspiring to push me away from Tuvalu,
the time had come to reconsider Tarawa as an option. I pulled in the sea
anchor and started rowing, a southwesterly course the best I could
manage in the conditions. I certainly haven't given up on Tuvalu as a
destination – it may still be possible – but by considering Tarawa I was
able to break the stalemate that I'd got myself into.

As I rowed, the wind lessened and I was able to make a better course. So
I haven't regained much – I've ended today at about the same latitude as
I was this morning – but at least I've stopped feeling that I was
banging my head against a meteorological brick wall – and it feels good!

[photo: Double rainbow from yesterday morning. I will probably post some
another picture of a whale tomorrow, which I hope might identify it as
Minke vs Sei vs Pilot vs False Killer Whale – thanks for all the
comments about yesterday's visitors!]

Other Stuff:

*What's in a name?*

My seven little birds are the subject of conflicting opinions – storm
petrels, or brown noddies?

Storm Petrel sound really cool. Like an avian superhero, maybe like one
of the X-Men. X-Bird Storm Petrel.

Whereas Brown Noddy sounds terminally unglamorous. Reminds me of Noddy
and Big Ears – a little children's character with a round face and
pointy hat. And not even an interesting color. Just… brown.

Given the choice I know which I would rather be. But it could be worse.
Even being a brown noddy is surely better than being a booby.

*Update on the Website*

Following our problems with the new version of Internet Explorer (which
has affected quite a number of websites, not just mine) our Geek
Superhero Evan at Archinoetics has been slaving away to create a new
version of my website on the WordPress platform. It will go live soon –
hopefully within the next week. I am amazed at how quickly he has been
able to turn this around, despite a heavy workload. I will let you know
when the transition to the new site has been completed. Thank you,
faithful Rozionados, for your patience!

Eco Champ of the Day! At long last, UncaDoug, after many eco-comments,
has acquired real life champ status!
"Until several months ago, ]soup in my work cafeteria] was served in
styrofoam bowls, until ... the good news ... they switched to
biodegradable bowls. Normally (in my town of Hayward) to recycle dirty
food containers (plastic or fiber), you just have to wash the food away.
I learned that this building or this town where I work (Sacramento) does
not recycle plastic or fiber food containers, period.

So I now take my own washable porcelain coffee cup and save a quarter,
too! Next tasks: talk to the food service management to post the option
and savings, and talk to the City about recycling policy."

Ellen/chep2m – lovely to hear from you. I've missed you!

Naomi in NY – wow, sounds like you've got some serious momentum going
there – keep it up!

Weather report:

Position at 2245 HST: 03 36.278N, 175 25.053W
Wind: 20 knots this morning, decreasing to 8 knots now, ESE
Seas: 6 feet decreasing to 3 feet, ESE
Weather: sunshine and some clouds. No squalls or rainshowers. I think I
am out of the ITCZ now.

Weather forecast, courtesy of

Feedblitz blog email reported your position as: 03 36N 175 08W as of
29Jul 2200HST (6hrs ago). Eastward motion is the preferred direction
while in the equatorial counter current.

As of Thursday morning 30 July 2009. According to measured data, there
is ESE-SE winds 7-17kts in your area with moderate to light rainshowers.
South of the equator, more of the same. Uncertainty remains, as
previously discussed. Forecast is for wind direction to shift more
ENEerly 5-15kts today then, SE 5-15kts on 01 Aug becoming light and
variable and possibly SW 5-15kts.

According to satellite imagery, there is light to moderate convection
with heavy rainshowers and squalls overhead and south to the equator.

Sky conditions: Mostly cloudy. Scattered heavy rainshowers, squalls,
and possible thunderstorms.

Forecast (low confidence due to extreme variability in equatorial
regions and naturally occurring small scale fluctuations in
direction/speed in the Doldrums)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
30/0600-01/0000 E-ENE 5-15 2-5
01/0000-02/0000 ENE-SE 5-15 4-6
02/0000-02/1200 Variable direction 1-5
02/1200-03/1200 SW 5-15 2-5

Next Update: Monday, 03 August


  1. Any positive ground you make toward your final destination, whatever that final destination maybe is the goal of the ocean rower. Your mental tough is absolutely amazing Roz. How many birds are with you now? As a kid, all of my coloring books of pirates,the pirates had a parrot on their shoulder. Maybe you can create that same trend for ocean rowers.


  2. What a pleasant surprise! Thank you sensei Roz!
    I just had another ah-ha moment.

  3. Anonymous1:44 pm GMT

    That’s terrific news about possibly being “out of the ITCZ”. For some reason, about a week ago, I started humming and then singing the song below on my way to work. Now, I can stop doing it, huh?

    (With apologies to The Village People and YMCA)


    Young girl, you’re out there all alone,
    I said, young girl, with just your trusty sat-phone,
    I said, young girl, ‘cause you’re so far from home,
    It can seem to be real lonely.

    Young girl, you’re surrounded by friends,
    I said, young girl, we’re along ‘till the end,
    I said, young girl, winds will change again
    And you will head for Tuvalu.

    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    Oh the rains will fall and the winds will blow,
    And everything will seem real slow.

    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    It can seem like a jail,
    Until you lasso a whale,
    And head for some iced cold ale.

    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    Oh yes we’re stuck in the I.T.C.Z.
    You must go east to get west,
    Yet still you feel blessed,
    And Tuvalu would be a real rest.

    (fading out)

    Safe rowing!
    Richard, in Austin

  4. Richard in Austin, that's the best custom rendering of YMCA I've ever read. Bravo!

    I finally looked up Tuvalu and Tarawa on google maps and all I can say is "May the Force be with you." Roz Girl, those are TINY little specks out there in the middle of nowhere. There seem to be quite a few options in between the two (hard to read the names but they look like Utiroa, Tabukiniberu, and Rungata). Any reason you're not targeting one of them? Do they not have beer?

  5. Anonymous2:38 pm GMT

    Roz, been reading every day, but know that you have many fans to hello and acknowledge. Still...extremely lovely to hear from you. And love from Niland, too :-)

    Here's to EVAN: he is a SuperHero. What a guy. I'll make sure to ping him separately. Doing the site on WordPress is a great idea and I look forward to seeing his work.

    May the Force indeed be with you. Oh wait – you ARE the Force.

    Love you, Roz. e.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Pretty obvious you want to get out of that boat and in to the pulpit and preach plastic right straight to Hell. Trouble is your present piece of work is to row to Australia (a respectable feat) Once that is accomplished you should be able to hit the circuit with some force. Still the segue from distance rower to environmental speaker is not an easy jump on the lecture circuit. Maybe you can be the one who was so burned by the pollution that you just had to stop your row to save the planet. Why not?

  8. You'll need to pick up and load iBird into one of those many iPods you have. That should help you ID the visiting flying wildlife anyway.

  9. Any good energy that you can get is good. Maybe you need top get a whale book and a bird book for the next part of your voyage, it might answer some of your questions- or drive you mad with anticipation because you have been using it for fun reading and have gone mad hoping that you will see some of the more exotic ones. And sometimes you have to change your plans, I can relate to what you are going through. I had to reconsider careers once because what I wanted just wasn't going to happen for me. It stunk, but I was set off on a more productive and just as rewarding path. It took a huge weight off my shoulders. Follow the principles you listed at the top, I find that they have helped me a lot.

    Hope you don't accidentally row past Tuvalu or Tarawa, that would likely cause much trouble. Good luck.

  10. Anonymous6:54 pm GMT

    My friend Markus suggested I follow your Pacific journey. Each morning I check in and note your progress and send streams of encouragement and support your way.

    I volunteer in the county jail as a teacher/counselor with Earth Hope ( . I took your story into the jail two weeks ago. Eighteen men listened, mesmerized by your successes/challenges and were hungry for more. I cannot hook up to the INTERNET inside the jail so I retell your adventures. I realize the inmates are rowing for a cause: their life purpose. They struggle with much and yes, it is an uphill battle however breaking down their struggles one stroke at a time, one leg at a time, one journey at a time, makes their possibilities palatable. The dedication and effort to break free and become your own living legend, one who leaves a legacy of prints, requires hope, courage and patience; you are providing the modeling for just that kind of path. Soooo....thank you for your patience, your courage and your hope; you and your work are a living metaphor for the world and for the Earth Hope Class inmates in Santa Rosa, California.

    Keep going....Cece

  11. Hi Roz, it's great to have a direction, isn't it? Love the song by Richard in Austin.

  12. Anonymous9:42 pm GMT

    Let's remind ourselves why Roz is doing what she is doing. Her sucesss will depend on how many of us change our lifestyle to preserve nature. We also need to tweak our lifestyles and do our best to happy and fulfilled in our lives daily.

  13. Naomi in NY12:38 am GMT

    Hiya, Roz

    Thanks for that July 30 RozCast ... great to see you! Yesterday you wrote: "By considering Tarawa I was able to break the stalemate ... and stopped feeling that I was banging my head against a meteorological brick wall, and it feels good." I smiled a big smile when I read that word "good," given the grueling, disappointing days you've just slogged through.

    Kudos to Richard for the terrific adaptation of "YMCA"(especially liked the part, "must go east to get west, yet still you feel blessed.") Your spirit shines through, Roz, despite the dreadfully disappointing circumstances you're dealing with. I think I can speak for a bunch of us here ... that there's something profoundly POWERFUL going on for us when we witness your kind of determination. I know for me, it's translating into managing for a week straight to stick to my raw food detox/eating plan (something I'd fallen off of despite my need to continue to drop unhealthy weight in preparation for my walk across England). This is gonna sound a little hoaky, but I really think I did it because of the living, breathing example of your "raw" determination, going on in REAL TIME, right NOW -- not in some book or journal being read by me after the fact, or seen on an adventurer's documentary or some travelogue I happen upon late at night on a cable channel -- but right NOW. Your voyage is an ever-present NOW to me -- because you are out there right NOW ... doing this thing right NOW. Even tho I cannot see you, I know you're THERE, each time I think of you, and that you are continuing on -- one stroke at a time. THAT very reality is somehow helping me do the same w/ my food. I know it may sound zany on the surface -- to compare my diet w/ your incredible FEAT of derring-do and magnitude. Yet ... your derring-do is the juice for me to "keep on keepin on" in an area that has challenged me for YEARS. Seriously ... when I think about going to that snack machine down the hall from my desk, I think about you out there rowing ... ROWING ... ! or sleeping in the pitch dark of the expanse of waves and wind, bobbing up and down in the MIDDLE OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! (tee, hee.)

    PS: Do you have anyone compiling in one place all the questions (and your answers) that are appearing on this blog? Tonight, I'm going to start reading your blog from Day 1 (I only began reading at Day 52 when I stumbled on Roxanne Darling's interview of you in Honolulu just before you took off) and I thought it would make a cool 'mini-project' (if it would be useful to you and your Hawaii team down the road, in terms of a promotional piece or something) to put it together. (Just sorta brainstorming here.) I can match up the question the person asks the day before w/ the answer you give them the next day -- and just type it up for you (hey, I'm a legal secretary, I can type in my sleep.) I'd be glad to do it. Let me know if it would be something useful.

    PPS: UncaDoug ... glad you liked the blog and the Joan Baez song. "Forever Young" has to be one of my all-time faves.


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