Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 99 - Bula from Fiji

Bula from Fiji…and from the other side of the international date line!

Team Roz arrived safe and sound at Nadi International Airport just before 3:00 pm local time. Please forgive my mistake on the blog this morning – I said we were arriving on Monday, September 1st and of course, I meant Monday, August 31st. That blog entry was rife with errors, and I can only ask your forgiveness – it was a rather hasty entry written at the airport gate and I was a bit sleep deprived!

The 7 hour flight was great – very smooth and the plane was practically empty. As you can imagine, the view from the sky as we descended into Fiji was pretty spectacular. Conrad got out the camera and did some filming – I hope the video captures the incredible colors from the various depths of water. Just stunning!

We breezed through customs and were all relieved that none of our food rations were confiscated. (I think I brought enough granola bars and dried fruit to feed all of Tarawa for a week!) We waited for about 20 minutes for a shuttle to our hotel, which is just a few minutes down the road. We checked in quickly, unloaded our bags in the rooms and headed immediately for the restaurant – we were all famished. Cold beers and a good lunch was just what the doctor ordered.

Sitting outside, we all remarked how similar this part of Fiji is to Hawaii – Hunter noticed that the plants surrounding us are just like the ones in his backyard at home. The hotel has a lovely little pool surrounded by a nice garden, and since our flight to Tarawa isn’t until noon tomorrow, I think we might get a little dip in the morning.

So, I know this is all terribly fascinating stuff (wink, wink) but the reason you’re all here is Roz and you’re itching to hear more about her! Our girl is doing great, not to worry! Many of you are wondering why her position is no longer being posted to the RozTracker, and why she’s not blogging and Tweeting anymore. Don’t worry – this is just temporary. Roz is taking a few days to collect her thoughts and just enjoy some peaceful, contemplative time alone before arriving on Tarawa. She’ll be back to blogging in just a couple of days.

It’s important to point out that I’ve asked Roz to grant her Team one really big favor. In fact, it’s a huge favor. I’ve asked her to slow down. That’s a big ask of someone who has been alone at sea, rowing for nearly 100 days. But I had to make the request – I only found out on Thursday that we’d be going to Tarawa and as you know, we’re scrambling to make all the necessary customs and immigration arrangements for both Roz and her boat.

The other reason I’ve asked her to slow down is for her Team. The earliest we could get the rest of them to Tarawa is Tuesday, September 8th. They’ve been a huge support for Roz throughout this amazing mission of hers and are now coming halfway around the world to support her and toast her arrival – it would be an incredible shame if they missed it by just one day! So Roz has graciously agreed to slow down.

One last great piece of news that I just received: Roz is featured today on CNN! You can take a look at the excellent story by journalist Matt Ford here. Okay, I’d best run, my battery is just about to die. More to come tomorrow…from Tarawa!


UPDATE (8/31): Just got an email from Linda in Tarawa and learned that we won’t need visas after all – whew! ;o)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 98 - Team Roz is on the Move

Up and at 'em everyone! Today's the big day! Team Roz is on the move…

Saturday was a fantastically busy day. I raced around getting clothes and gear packed for Roz and myself, and spent lots of time on the internet and on the phone, tying up last minute details. New contacts and very helpful information from Tarawa continued to trickle in about clothing requirements, accommodations, phone service, and immigration. As the updates came in, I forwarded it all on to the other members of Team Roz so we could accommodate accordingly. Finally, I packed up the Yellin's studio where I've been staying since Roz and I arrived in February.

I was all ready to go, but…did I mention that my car chose this week of all weeks to explode? Well, it did. Billowing smoke on the highway, followed by a powerful explosion and my little Corolla's pathetic. But I digress. This inconvenient turn of events only meant that I was marooned on the North Shore without a ride into Honolulu. It's about an hour away. I finally managed to convince two lovely friends to give up a prime Saturday night and schlep me into town – hooray!

At Hunter and Traci's house, we opened up our cases, spread everything out and downsized in a big way. I ended up leaving half the clothes and half the dried nuts and granola bars behind. We exchanged emergency contact details, scanned our passports and booked our hotel in Nandi, Fiji, where we'll arrive at about 1 pm on Monday, September 1st. Whew! We said our goodnights and set alarms for 5 am. After a much needed shower, I popped open the laptop, ready to type up the day's blog, but I couldn't get on the password-protected wireless network. Everyone had gone to bed exhausted and I just didn't have the heart to be a pest. My apologies to all of you for not getting a blog posted on time!

That brings us to today. Check in at the airport went perfectly and we're now waiting, bleary-eyed but excited, at the Air Pacific gate. Some new information came in overnight from our new friend Linda in Tarawa: apparently we may actually need visas. Yikes. The information we found on the state departmentwebsite, visas aren't required, but Lisa says she's seen Americans get sent back on the very same plane on which they arrived. Ugh. I'm really hoping we get lucky…in any case, we've scanned all of our passports and emailed them on to Lisa. She's very graciously offered to take these to immigration for us straight away and get the process started. She and her husband John have even offered to pick us up from the airport in Tarawa! We are so grateful for their help.

They're getting ready to board, so I'd better get this posted. I'll write more on the plane...that is, if I don't pass out from exhaustion within five minutes of boarding!

Aloha from Honolulu – we'll update you again once we get to Fiji.


[photo: L-R Conrad, Nicole and Hunter waiting at the gate in Honolulu, just before boarding...yes, we look SLEEPY!]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 97: Operation Tarawa


"Whatever I say in the next 10 minutes, please promise me you'll still be my friend…that you won't hate me?"

When you hear such a plea, you just know that whatever follows will be some pretty serious news. The fact is, I knew it was coming. Wednesday's rowing conditions were so wretched for Roz that I was certain she'd call me very soon to discuss a different strategy.

The call came the very next day. Roz agonized over the decision, but with a broken water maker, leaky reserves and dwindling food supplies, attempting the Herculean effort necessary to hit Tuvalu seemed to be far too dangerous. We just had no way of knowing how long it would take for Roz to push far enough south and east, or frankly, if it was even possible. Beyond the safety issues, Roz's very first book tour is just around the corner – she just couldn't miss that!

Yes, truthfully, I was a bit crestfallen to hear the news. I wanted to see her reach that goal of getting as far south of the equator as possible on Stage 2, because I've learned just how important that will be for setting her up for a successful Stage 3. I suppose it's selfish to admit, but I was bummed that we'd have to start from square one – especially because after so much time and effort, things had finally just fallen into place with Tuvalu. The country was positively buzzing about Roz's impending arrival. She was to be given the warmest of welcomes along with safe haven for her boat until Stage 3. But that's how these things go. It really only took me a few seconds to get over the disappointment – I didn't have time to mope about it! There was far too much to be done.

The minute I hung up with Roz on Thursday morning I hopped on Skype with her weatherman, Ricardo, in Portugal. He informed me that with the currents and winds now totally in Roz's favor, she could easily average 40 miles each day and make landfall as early as September 5th. My stomach twisted into knots and my palms started to sweat. I had little more than a week to get Conrad the cameraman and myself there and make all the necessary arrangements for Roz's arrival. That may not sound like such a big deal, but with only 2 flights each week into Tarawa, I knew this wasn't going to be easy…

Today (Friday) was unbelievably hectic. I managed to find flights for us after all, on Air Pacific, the only airline that flies to Tarawa. After much rather enjoyable back and forth with a heavily accented Fijian named Alex, I was able to book the seats just before the office closed for the weekend. Hooray!

At noon, I met up with a former Peace Corps volunteer named Darin, who lived on Tarawa for three years and is now married to an I-Kiribati woman. What an amazing font of knowledge he was! I took copious notes, the details of which I'll share with you tomorrow. Trust me when I say that the information gleaned from Darin is worth a blog on its own…

Shortly after my meeting with Darin, I raced over to Bank of Hawaii before the close of business to collect all the Australian currency I'd ordered the previous day. We need to take loads of cash because there aren't any ATMs on Tarawa, and in fact, none of the businesses there even accept credit cards. As the teller counted out the rainbow colored bills (it looks remarkably like Monopoly money) I started to exhale. Things were falling into place…at last.

I must say here that ever since Thursday, I have been thanking my lucky stars (several times a day) for J. Maarten Troost. Maarten's first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, is about his life on Tarawa. He was there for two years while his wife worked for a nonprofit. He is a brilliantly funny, exceptionally talented writer – I can't recommend his books highly enough. If you're a regular to Roz's blog, you may remember that earlier in the voyage, she listened to an audio book called Getting Stoned with Savages. After reading her blog, Roz's friend in California decided to contact Maarten and let him know that Roz just might end up on Tarawa, and perhaps we should all connect. Lo and behold, he replied! I've been picking his brain ever since. He's been so gracious, not to mention an absolutely priceless resource for Team Roz. He's made invaluable introductions to people living on Tarawa that can help me arrange logistics for storing Roz's boat, and he's given me very helpful tips on dress, social norms, telecommunications, and transportation around the island. Please join me in sending a huge thank you to Maarten!

One last piece of excellent news: the Team Roz contingent on Tarawa is rapidly growing! Hunter Downs, CEO of Archinoetics (the company that developed the RozTracker) will be accompanying Conrad and me on Sunday morning. What a relief…his wife Traci, COO of Archinoetics, will join us a week later. The entire Archinoetics family has been an absolute rock for me and Roz the past couple of months. Their unwavering support of time, resources and most importantly, a whole lot of love, is so gratefully appreciated. Rounding out our happy little team is Ian Tuller, our dear friend from San Francisco. He was here with us in Hawaii before Roz's departure in May to oversee the refurbishment of the boat, and will resume his role as director of boatworks. We absolutely could not do this without this amazing group of people…and it certainly wouldn't be nearly as fun, even if we could!

So buckle your seatbelts, kids! Off we go, to one of the most remote places on planet earth. (Really, before Roz, had you even heard of Tarawa???) Yes, we've had to scramble to accommodate the new game plan…that's an understatement. But it's going great so far, and no matter what, this promises to be one heck of a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I'm so glad you're all coming along for the ride!


By the way, I'll continue to send updates from our journey. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @nics_dolcevita.

[Photo: Roz and Nicole aboard the Brocade in San Francisco in 2007]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 96 - Announcement: Changing Course

It seems to be my karma in this lifetime to be faced from time to time
with tough decisions – and this one is up there in my Top Ten Tough
Decisions Of All Time. I spent most of last night agonizing over it. The
night seemed hotter than usual in my cabin, and I was – literally and
metaphorically – sweating over my options.

It had been just a week since I declared my intention to head for
Tuvalu. My weatherman had assured me it was possible, although certainly
not easy, requiring me to cut directly across the prevailing winds. And
I wanted to believe it was possible, not least because Tuvalu has become
synonymous with the human impact of climate change, which is the key
message of this stage of my row as we approach the crucial summit in
Copenhagen. I knew getting to Tuvalu would be challenging, but I was
prepared to put in the hard work to make it happen.

However, a few things had changed during the course of the last week. I
had discovered that the coordinates I had for Tuvalu were for the
westernmost island, not the capital Funafuti, which is the easternmost
island. This would make it much harder to reach the capital than I had
realized. Then some brisk easterly winds had halted my progress for 36
hours while I waited on the sea anchor – this had two implications.
First, it would only take a few more days of such winds to put Tuvalu
beyond my reach. And second, if I had to use the sea anchor on a regular
basis to stop westward drift, it would take me much longer to get to
Tuvalu. And time was limited – by my water supply.

Since my watermaker stopped working I've been relying on my reserves of
water, but some of my water bags had leaked. And my water consumption is
much higher than it has been on my previous rows, due to the heat. So
less water supply + higher water requirement = bad news. I do have a
backup manual watermaker, but I was already going to have to row 16
hours a day to maintain the necessary tight control over my course, so
then pumping water for 2 hours a day (manual watermakers produce water
drop by drop, rather than a steady stream) was not an attractive option.

So the worst case scenario was pretty bad. There was now a substantially
increased risk of running out of water, and possibly missing Tuvalu
altogether and spinning off into the great blue yonder. Oh, and the food
situation wasn't looking too good either. I was concerned.

After churning all this over and over in my head for half the night,
part of me still resisted changing my mind. I wanted to go to Tuvalu! My
imminent arrival had been announced on the radio, I was due to meet with
members of the government, we had storage arranged for my boat… and of
course I wanted to find out more about how they plan to be the world's
first carbon neutral nation.

I was unbearably hot in the cabin, so I went out on deck to cool down. I
looked up at the stars and the setting moon. They helped me get a sense
of perspective on the issue. Ultimately, although the message is
important, it helps if the messenger is a) alive, and b) has not had to
rely on some fossil-fuel guzzling means of transport to come rescue her
if/when she seems in danger of disappearing over the horizon with no
water and no food. So, it seemed, the choice was clear. The sensible,
responsible thing to do would be to change course for Tarawa. I could
reach it relatively easily (or as easy as ocean rowing ever gets) well
before I ran out of sustenance – and without having to rely on outside

So I swallowed my pride and admitted to myself that it made sense to
change course. First thing this morning I rang Ricardo, my Lisbon-based
weatherman, and we talked it through. He was totally supportive of my
decision. Then I spoke with Nicole, my program director. She, too, fully
supported me – even though this meant that a lot of the fantastic
preparations she'd lined up for Tuvalu were now moribund, and she'd have
to start over again with Tarawa. By the end of today she had already
worked miracles – people had been informed, flights were booked, and
plans were coming together.

I feel hugely relieved by this decision. It has been a tough one, but
the cold dread and anxiety of what might happen if I missed Tuvalu has
been lifted from me. It would otherwise have hung over me every day
until I made – or failed to make – landfall.

So now it is all suddenly very imminent, and the energy levels in
TeamRoz have skyrocketed. With just 300 nautical miles to go, I am
hoping to arrive in about 2 weeks, around Sept 9th, so this doesn't
leave much time – and lots to do. On Sunday Nicole and Conrad (our
filmmaker, who by the grace of the many generous Rozlings is going to
come out to Tarawa to film my arrival) will leave Hawaii for Tarawa to
start lining up the multitude of logistical arrangements.

I'd like to take a final opportunity to enjoy some "alone time" before I
make landfall. Call this my Walden time. So I'm going to go
incommunicado and take a few days out from social media, and hand over
to Nicole to do the blog. Her life is going to be much more interesting
– and hectic – over the near future anyway. She will be posting updates
on this blog from tomorrow until Sept 2nd, when I'll return from my
self-imposed exile, and from then until my arrival Nicole and I will
blog on alternate days. Amongst the trials and tribulations of an
expedition program director, she'll be sharing details of the
preparations for my arrival, her first impressions of Tarawa, and how
she is being assisted by celebrity contacts (thank you to author J
Maarten Troost!).

I hope you'll enjoy these final stages with us. I'm really excited to
see how everything develops over the coming 2 weeks. Nicole and Conrad
are going to have their work cut out – to find boat storage, boat
transport, accommodation, even internet access – and, of course, a
source of ice cold beer! So join with me in wishing them huge amounts of
good luck in pulling all this together in an impossibly short timescale.
They are going to need it, but if anyone can pull off a miracle, it's

[photo: Go west, young woman! Tonight's sunset was a bit drab, so here
is one from the archive…]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 95 - Putting A Brave Face On It

Conditions were perfect today – if I wanted to go west. I could have
made 40 miles to the good. But unfortunately more west is the last thing
I want, so I have spent the whole day with the sea anchor out. The oars
have lain idle, and I've finished the day further away from Tuvalu than
I was at the start. I wonder if Neptune didn't like my equatorial
offerings. Perhaps Ginger Snap isn't his favorite flavor Larabar,
because he was not being generous to me today.

It's ironic. Today I have been listening to "The Astonishing Power of
Emotions" by Esther and Jerry Hicks. They are talking about aligning
with your better self – the idea is that when we want something, we only
have to allow it to happen. The universe WANTS our wishes to be granted.
When we allow this fulfillment of our desires to take place, we feel
good. When we resist, we feel bad.

And the analogy they use is a canoe on a river – and they urge their
listeners to "let go of the oars" and go with the flow.

As I sit here on the sea anchor, resisting the strong tradewinds that
are trying to push me west, this analogy seems either too apt – or not
apt at all. I'm all in favor of going with the flow – but which flow am
I meant to be going with? The natural flow of the tradewinds heading
west, or the man-made flow that is drawing me towards Tuvalu?

I really appreciate all the comments urging me to focus on the positive,
take it as it comes, etc. It's all fine in theory, and knowing myself as
I do I know that they will eventually filter through into my attitudes
and thinking. But just at the moment, as I come up on 100 days on the
ocean and with no end in sight, it's sometimes a struggle to put it into
practice. Today I have been a total grouch. Nothing more you guys can do
– apart from keeping the encouragement coming. And allow me my pity
party for now. With your help, I'll get through it. I just need to keep
my head together and keep on pushing.

[Photo: I'm told that when you smile, the smiling muscles actually
interact with your emotions and make you feel better. So here I am,
giving it a try. Hmmm, not convinced. Another bottle of bubbly would
probably be more effective!]

Other Stuff:

I've tried to stay busy today so as not to get too introspective, but
there isn't an awful lot to do on a 23-foot rowboat. I scrubbed the
decks, and tried once again to fix the watermaker but was unsuccessful. I
edited and uploaded a video of my Equatorial celebrations for tomorrow's
video RozCast on YouTube (with me performing traditional ocean dance...!).
It was too hot in the cabin to spend much time in there, so I mostly lay
on deck in the shade of my bimini between my rowing seat runners and
listened to Jerry Hicks. Lying on the deck is not super-comfortable,
especially now I'm a bit more bony than I was at the start of the voyage,
but it's not bad if I manage to arrange my limbs in just the right way
around the runners and the rowing seat. I had to duck into the cabin from
time to time to avoid sudden rainshowers, but otherwise it was quite
pleasant – when I managed to forget the fact that I was heading the wrong

Thank you for all the really fab comments on my last blog. They
seriously cheered me up – a much-needed tonic. Especially liked the idea
about having Johnny Depp greet me in Tuvalu – now THAT would be a
powerful motivator! Although he may not be that impressed by a
semi-starved, grimy, sea-spotty waif with matted hair pitching up on the
beach. Where is a floating salon when I need one?!

Great to see comments coming in from the people in Tuvalu. I'll be with
you just as soon as I can. Please reach out across these last miles and
reel me in!

UncaDoug – I really appreciate the trail of carrots scattered across the
ocean. Bit I wonder if you could let me know where they are? Maybe by
latitude would be easiest? There might be some nights when the prospect
of an upcoming carrot motivates me to spend a bit longer at the oars!

Weather report:

Position at 1950 HST: 00 22.169S, 178 49.774E
Wind: 20kts ESE
Seas: short, steep wind waves about 6ft
Weather: sunshine and showers

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 94 - Shooting the Messenger

Another hasty blog, while I wait for the heat to go out of the day
before starting my night's rowing…

Today has not been an easy day. Poor old Ricardo, my weather guru, has
been taking an e-bashing while I berate him via text for contrary winds
and adverse currents. It is the unhappy lot of the weatherman to take
the rap for the weather that he predicts – as if he had personally
selected and inflicted the frustrating conditions on me.

I would normally be a bit more reasonable, but I today was tired and
cranky. On the ocean I like to get into a routine and stick to it, but
as I near the final stages that is not going to be an option. I will
have to seize opportunities when they arise. I was rowing until 2am last
night to make the most of the cooler conditions and calmer winds after
dark. By the time I'd bathed and put the boat to bed, there was time for
just 4 hours of sleep before getting up at 6.30 to start rowing again –
and those precious few hours were disturbed by the new
booby-in-residence tap-dancing on the roof of my cabin every time a
swell came along. This booby is quieter and less belligerent than his
predecessors (although just as poopy), but has taken up a regular position
on the sleeping cabin rather than the storage cabin, so it gets a bit
annoying when he patters around to regain his balance when the boat

So today I've been a bit discombobulated, my mood not improved by rowing
just to stand still. If I was making 40 or 50 miles a day I could row
till the cows come home (or should that be till the boobies roost?), but
rowing many hours a day to make 15, or even 5, miles, is psychologically
challenging, to put it mildly.

The other drawback with less sleep is that there is less recovery time
for my poor body. In these sweltering conditions there is a significant
risk of the return of the baboon-bottom rash that plagued the early
stages of this row. I have two seat covers, which I usually rotate and
rinse at the end of each shift. But now I am rotating them as soon as
the spare one is dry, to try and avoid this very painful affliction.

So I plod on, trying to remind myself of all the good reasons to go to
Tuvalu, and not to think about Tarawa, just 440 miles away straight
downwind… I'll keep the faith, and I really do believe it is all going
to work out in the end – and then this difficult stage will be just a
memory, and it will all have been worth the effort.

Postscript: I was psyched up and ready to row most of the night. I'd had
an extra-big dinner followed by a Jocolat (chocolatey organic Larabar)
and a rocking soundtrack ready on my iPod. But ze weather, once again
she spit on my plans (to be said in French accent). The wind rose – and
from the wrong direction. So the sea anchor is out. I'm all caloried up,
and no place to go. Boo.

[photo: the new booby-in-residence]

Other Stuff:

Thank you to the Good Vibes Team and all the others who have sent such
wonderful words of encouragement. Thanks especially for the reminders to
stay present in the moment and not worry about the future. Very wise
words. Too easily forgotten – so keep reminding me, because it is SO
true. And the one part of this situation that I have control over(ish!)
is my mind.

Apology: Although I mentioned them both in the same blog, I did not
intend to imply any connection between my having the incorrect
coordinates for Tuvalu and the transition to a new weatherman. So, in
case there was any misunderstanding, I would like to take this
opportunity to apologize to Rick Shema of I'd also like
to thank him deeply for his professionalism and accuracy in guiding me
through the first stage of my Pacific row, and thus far in the second.
Thanks also to Rick and his family for all the kindness and hospitality
they have shown to my mother and me during our time in Hawaii. I wish
Rick all the very best for the future.

Weather report:

Position at 2220 HST: 0028.678S, 178 56.319E
Wind: for most of the day 10kts SE-SSE, now 18kts SE
Seas: 2-4ft swell SE
Weather: hot and sunny, scattered cumulus and some cirrus cloud

Ricardo's Update:


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 93 - The Fortune 500

As I enter the final 500 nautical miles to Tuvalu, I will be counting on
some good fortune - and some seriously hard work.

Just a very quick update tonight – really just to let you know I am
still alive and rowing like a woman possessed. As Ricardo put it, the
next few days are "mission critical" – if I am going to make it to
Tuvalu, I need to make the most of the relatively calm conditions
prevailing at the moment to try and make some progress back to the east.
So I will have to spend longer hours at the oars – around 16 hours a
day, not including time for meal breaks.

This was quite challenging today. The good thing about calm conditions
is that there is little wind to push me the wrong way. The bad thing
about calm conditions is that there is no wind to cool me down – and at
one stage this afternoon I seriously started to worry about the
potential for heatstroke. The sun was shining intensely, and although
most of my body was in the shade of the bimini (sun canopy) I could feel
the heat scorching my shins. And I was glugging water like it was going
out of fashion – certainly not like a woman with a not-yet working

But now the sun has set and it is a lovely night for rowing. The
crescent moon is keeping me company – as is a bird that has taken up
roosting rights on my aft hatch for the night. I feel well, and am
rowing strongly. I'm only taking this break now to recharge my GPS. So
far this voyage I have confined the GPS to the cabin, but as I enter the
final 500 nautical miles and steering becomes more critical, I've taken
to placing it near my rowing position so I can see more accurate
information about my actual course than my compass alone can provide.

It's also very motivating to see the miles ticking away on its little
screen – and with a tough rowing schedule ahead of me, I'm going to need
all the motivation I can get.

So I'd like to ask you, my dearest Rozlings, to continue to give me your
support and encouragement during this final countdown. I'm afraid I
won't have time to respond to your comments as I have done in the past –
all non-rowing activities are being curtailed – but I will be reading
them nonetheless. Keep me in your thoughts – and send me some good
vibes, good weather, and good wishes!

Weather report:

Position – as on RozTracker
Wind: during the day mostly 10kts, ESE-ENE. Since sunset, no wind.
Seas: 3ft swell from E
Weather: some scattered cumulus, but mostly clear skies

Other notes: as at 8pm, combined effect of wind + swell + current
resulted in a SW drift of 1.0kts, resulting in a westward movement of
0.6kts when not rowing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 92 - From Pollywog to Shellback

If I was underwhelmed by crossing the International Date Line, today I
have been overwhelmed by crossing the Equator. It has been quite an
emotional experience - and that's not just the bubbly talking - and I'm
trying to figure out why this might be.

It could be because crossing the Equator had assumed such massive
significance in my mind as a Very Difficult Thing. I had maybe allowed
myself to get just a bit freaked out by the difficulties encountered by
my predecessors in human-powered vessels. And sure, I've had my fair
share of battles with the elements in trying to get through the lower
latitudes, as the winds and currents thwarted my attempts to get south.
But, as with so many things in life, the reality was not as bad as the

Or it might be because the Equator, unlike the IDL, is actually a
geographically significant line. The IDL is a man-made line, allowing us
to segment our world into convenient time zones. It could have been
located anywhere, and is just where it is because it lies opposite the
equally random line of the Prime Meridian at Greenwich – set by British
geographers in the days when Britannia ruled the waves. The Equator, on
the other hand, is a natural line marking the mid-point between the
Poles. It is the line where the Earth is nearest the sun. It is where
the Earth is spinning the fastest on its axis. It has a greater sense of
significance and reality than the IDL.

Anyway, for whatever reason, today felt very special. I am now a Trusty
Shellback, a Pollywog no more. And now I am in the Southern Hemisphere
the water will be going down the plughole the opposite way - or would be
if I had any plugholes on board.

Crossing the Equator was actually quite a busy and time-consuming thing
to do. I had to pay homage to Neptune and his cohorts (Squishie the
Dolphin, with his courtiers Quackers the Duck, the Robin, and the Other
Duck). I had to offer gifts – a Larabar (Ginger Snap flavor), and a
dollop of California sunshine (a spoonful of Lemon Ladies marmalade). I
had to make a sacrifice (I wasn't prepared to offer a chunk of hair, for
fear of spoiling my elegant coiffeur (???!!) so Neptune had to make do
with the leavings pulled out of my hairbrush). And I had to deploy the
"coconut" for Project Niu – and then jump in after it to photograph it
in the water.

The coconut is actually a high-tech data-gathering device created by the
team at Archinoetics, one of several devices that have been let loose in
the Pacific to send back information and photographs. The one I deployed
today is called something in Hawaiian (Evan, help me out here) which
translates as "Pink Savage". It felt strange to deliberately deposit a
large and non-bio-degradable object into the ocean, but as an
educational device the end justifies the means, so I am sure Squishie,
sorry, I mean Neptune, will understand. I just hope the Niu doesn't
travel faster than I do. That would be embarrassing.

Then, duties done, it was time for my treats. With a sense of eager
anticipation I opened up the yellow drybag that Liz and Nicole had given
me before I left Hawaii. The girls had done me proud. There was the
"bling" – a many-stranded necklace of plastic beads, and some pink face
paint, both of which I promptly put on. There was the jokey gift – a
cooking spatula with a wooden handle. There was the declaration
admitting me to the ocean domain as a Trusty Shellback, a Pollywog no
more. There were the edible treats – a snack bar and some Sharkies. And,
oh bliss, there was the miniature bottle of bubbly. Thank you girls!

I must be the world's cheapest date at the moment (had there been
anybody about to take advantage – which there wasn't). After 3
booze-free months, the 2 glassfuls of bubbly went straight to my head in
the nicest possible way. As the sun set I was sitting on deck feeling
happily woozy, admiring the pink and grey clouds, full of oceanic
bonhomie and thinking there was really nowhere else on earth I would
rather be than at the Equator on such a beautiful day.

[photo: Pulling the bubbly back on board after a brief chilling in the
ocean (in the net bag that usually contains my beansprouter) – while
Neptune/Squishy the Dolphin looks on]

Other Stuff:

After not seeing another vessel for 3 months, today, on MY Equator,
there were intruders. A container ship was just sitting there, doing
nothing much. I think I could hear a faint sound of a bell ringing
repeatedly, so presumably they were having their own Equatorial
celebration. I tried hailing them on the VHF radio, in hopes that they
might cruise on over and bring me some additional water supplies – or
even some more bubbly – but there was no reply. Guess they were too busy

Although I've taken the evening off – largely due to the after-effects
of the bubbles – tomorrow it will be back to the oars with a vengeance.
I've still got 500 miles to go, and I need to make some East if I'm
going to have any chance of hitting Tuvalu. Ricardo tells me conditions
are going to be calm, so it's a prime opportunity to head back towards
the IDL and set myself up for the final push for home.

For the record, I crossed the Equator at 18:42:02 Hawaii Time, at
longitude 179 12.359E.

Weather report:

Position at 2210 HST: 00 00.860S (yayyyyy!), 179 09.371E
Wind: variable but light throughout the day. Generally 0-10kts, S-E.
Seas: swell of about 4ft, SE
Weather: sunny and fine, scattered cumulus cloud. Very hot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 91 - Approaching Latitude Zero

Today, with the Equator so tantalizingly close, everything seemed to
slow to a snail's pace. A snail with a ball and chain attached, even.
The wind was in the southeast (not helpful) and I'm still in a
north-flowing current (also not helpful) so the oars felt heavy and
every stroke felt like a weight-lifting exercise.

Truth be told, I was getting pretty fed up with the whole business.
Progress is very motivating. Lack of it is not. It's a bit like trying
to lose weight, and when the scales are being cruel the temptation is to
say "forget it" and have a cake to cheer yourself up. But of course the
only way to make progress – whether it be losing pounds or rowing oceans
- is to keep the faith and carry on.

Morale was given a boost mid-afternoon when I picked up a text message
on my satphone. It was from Ricardo, my new weatherman, saying "GOOD
GOOD AVG SPEED ALSO. RIC." His assessment was maybe too flattering, but
just then I needed those sweet little lies. Sometimes it's just good to
know that there are people watching, and that my efforts are being
recognized – especially when my course on the GPS screen looks so

This is a funny thing, because under normal circumstances I would have
said that I don't care too much for the opinion of other people. Of
course, we all want to be liked, even approved, but generally I now
steer my own course in life without considering whether it will please
others. I just do what I do and they can like it or lump it.

But even the most independent-minded of us still appreciate some
positive feedback from time to time, and that is why I cherish the
comments and Tweets of the Rozionados. It's good to know I am not alone,
and that my every mile, my every effort, is monitored, appreciated, and
commented on.

Meanwhile, during breaks from the oars, I've been getting ready for my
Equatorial celebration. With less than 15 miles to go, I hope it's not
premature. I've dug out the mysterious yellow drybag labeled "DO NOT
OPEN UNTIL 0 LATITUDE". It was given to me by Nicole and Liz before I
left Hawaii. I'm dying to take a peek but am resisting the urge –
although I have given it a few squeezes, like an impatient kid with a
Christmas present.

My gift and my sacrifice are at the ready, and in the absence of a
crewmate or captain to represent Neptune, I have pressed Squishie the
Dolphin into service as his representative. I didn't happen to have a
trident on board, but a fork makes a passable quatrent (or whatever it
is called). I think Squishie looks rather regal, and look forward to
paying him homage when I reach the magic Latitude Zero, which, with a
bit of luck and more slogging, might be tomorrow.

Other Stuff:

This afternoon I saw a shark swimming alongside my boat. A proper
Jaws-type shark, rather than the blunt-headed, vegetarian whale shark I
saw a few weeks ago. But this one was just a tiddler – about 3 feet long
– so I didn't feel too apprehensive that he might eat me/my boat/my oar.

Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive response to my decision to try
for Tuvalu. Good to hear I've got you on the edge of your seats. Me too!
I do wish I had a crystal ball so I can see how all this is going to pan
out. Or there again, maybe it's just as well I don't…

Marv asked if there is a backup plan. Of course there is. I always have
a Plan B! First, if within the next couple of weeks it becomes evident
that Tuvalu will be impossible, I can still change course for Tarawa.
Second, if I can get close to Tuvalu but not quite make it, there is a
research vessel due to be in the Tuvalu area in early-mid September, and
they have offered to assist if required. Pushing on to the Solomons or
Australia are not really options – not without a functioning watermaker,
although I still hope to resolve that problem. Also, as it has taken me
so much longer than expected to get through the ITCZ, I would require a
resupply of food if I was to extend my voyage all the way to Australia.
And I would have to cancel my book tour – and possibly all our plans for
Copenhagen. So I very much hope it won't come to that. It really IS
Tuvalu or bust!

Will – for sure, I will give it my bestest. In fact, I think that is
what I would want to be able to say on my deathbed – that I always did
try my bestest. Nobody can do more than that. Thanks for giving me the

Tom B – your wife might just be right! But I hope that the eventual
result will speak for itself. The Richard Byrd book sounds really
interesting. I always love reading about people having a worse time than
I am!

Christa – thanks for the info on Tuvalu. Only 6 prisoners? Mind you, I
don't suppose there's much mischief you can get up to on a sandspit –
and making a getaway would be quite a challenge too!

To Richard, my minstrel. Funny that recently I've been listening to
books by George R R Martin, set in the court of some imagined
medieval-ish place and time. So jesters, troubadours, singers and
minstrels are very vivid in my mind right now. And you perform the role
admirably – I very much appreciate your contributions to the Rozling
community, as well as your thoughtfulness in considering how best you
could enhance our enjoyment of the adventure. Thank you!

Donna – great questions. I've made a note of them for a future blog –
and/or they are answered in depth in my book, Rowing The Atlantic, due
out Oct 6. Available for pre-order on Amazon, and if you send your
Amazon confirmation email to you can claim your
special, limited edition Larabar bookmark, made from the wrapper of one
of the many Larabars I am munching my way through on this crossing!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 00 13.624N, 179 27.693W
Wind: 15kts SE this morning, backing slightly this afternoon. Dropped to
9kts briefly after a squall, then revived to 15kts E.
Seas: swell from SE-E about 4ft
Weather: morning sunny and hot. More cloud this afternoon. Couple of
passing rainshowers.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 90 - Fortune, Neptune, and Loony Tune

As I approach the end of my third month on the ocean – and with the
Equator less than 30 miles away – things are hotting up. I feel like I'm
entering the final phase, as I will soon be into the last 500 nautical
miles of my row, and have finally decided on the identity of Island X.
In case you haven't already watched my announcement in the RozCast on
YouTube, here it is…

I am going to aim for (cue drum roll) – TUVALU.

It's an interesting choice, that's for sure. Bordering on the insane,
some would say. Given the option to take a straightforward run directly
downwind and down current to Tarawa in the west, I've decided instead to
aim due south – across prevailing winds and currents - for Tuvalu.

So, why am I making life so difficult for myself? Well, I'd already
mentioned that it would set me up better for next year's Stage 3 to
Australia. Plus, this stage of the row is all about climate change, and
nowhere on earth symbolizes that better than Tuvalu, which is already
being impacted by rising oceans and has declared its intention of being
the world's first carbon neutral country.

But I knew all this before, and yet was still reconciled to aiming for
Tarawa instead, as I just couldn't see how it could be physically
possible to get to Tuvalu.

So what caused my change of heart? It was all due to an email from a
Portuguese weatherman, with the subject line "GUT FEELING". In the
message Ricardo Diniz explained that he believes that even at this late
stage, and at this longitude, I can still make it to Tuvalu.

At first my reaction was "He must be on drugs if he thinks this is
possible", but over the course of the next few days the idea took hold –
not least because Ricardo is an expert on weather and ocean routing, and
I trust his opinion implicitly. I first worked with Ric during my
Atlantic crossing in 2006. My friend Adrian Flanagan, who was attempting
a solo vertical circumnavigation of the world in a sailboat (i.e. via
the polar regions) had been doing my weather forecasts for me as he
sailed, but then he made some pathetic excuse, like having to navigate
around Cape Horn or some such thing (??!) and handed me over to his
weatherman – Ricardo. And Ricardo and I have stayed in touch ever since.
He has just recently routed my friend Sarah Outen in her successful solo
row from Australia to Mauritius, as a result of my referral.

So it is with delight that I am able to announce that Ricardo is now
joining TeamRoz as my weather guru for the final stages of my row to
Tuvalu. After all, it was he who talked me into this crazy decision, so
it seems only fair that I should give him the responsibility for helping
me make it happen.

It's lucky I have such faith in Ricardo. Or else, quite frankly, I would
be terrified. When I decided on Tuvalu it was before we discovered that
I had been given the wrong GPS coordinates, and in fact there is even
less westerly wiggle room than I had realized. To make it across the
tradewinds to Tuvalu really is going to be an enormous challenge. It is
a go-for-broke, out-on-a-limb, OMG-what-am-I-doing kind of a commitment.
It's scary and crazy. But it just might work. I couldn't have a better
team behind me, so we're going to go for it.

Please give me your good luck wishes, hopes, prayers, whatever you can
to help me and my team make this happen. We're going to need all the
help we can get. As I said in the RozCast, I just hope that Fortune -
and Neptune - will favor the bold. Or my decision will look Loony Tune.

[photo: Ricardo Diniz]

Other Stuff:

For most of today the winds have been light, but mostly southerly. A
light headwind is better than a strong headwind, but still not ideal.
The wind rose towards sunset and is sending me in an unwelcome westerly
direction, but Ricardo assures me it will die away by Monday so I can
regain some ground to the east.

Overall the day has been notable mostly for its temperature. With no
wind to cool me, it has been almost unbearably hot, and I've been
covered in sweat and sunscreen. Pheweee. Even sitting in my cabin now I
am sweating away, and the wind is warm and muggy.

UncaDoug – you'll be so proud of me. I am going to report my crescent
moon sighting. I first saw it at 2010 Hawaii time, just as the sun was
setting. About 30 degrees above the horizon, and a bit to the left of
the setting sun. Cloud cover was about 20%. And I can see it now, from
my cabin, a slender crescent just now being swallowed up by a cloud.
Oop, there it is gone. I hope this is all the information you need to
report the sighting. Oh, and my position at 2010 was approx 0 28.5N, 179

Laurey – I seriously wish I could turn the temperature down! Today was
sweltering, and even now that it's dark it's still sultry and stifling.

Joan – thanks for buying the round of drinks for Roz's Regulars – and
for the suggestions for Neptune. I've now got the perfect present lined
up – wait and see!

And thanks to Jer, Amy, Miss Inquisitive, Meg and Chris, too, for your

Walt – I like your view on my entitlement to be a Golden Shellback, but
I have to take issue with you on my "downwind, down current ride to
Island X". I don't know which Island X you are thinking of, but for sure
it's not the one I'm aiming for! Nope, I've decided to make life REALLY
interesting for myself… check out the YouTube video for the
announcement! Ah, now I've just seen your later comment, and see that
you have. I know, I know. It's borderline insane. But it has to be worth
a try, at least….

And finally, another beautiful contribution from Richard in Austin,
Texas. Richard, I don't know what you do for a living, but if you're not
a full-time poet or lyricist, you've missed your vocation!

The "muse" for this poem was actually one of your posts, a few weeks
You brought up the International Date Line, and the environment, and
suddenly this little story came into my head. I could have used a few
weeks to work on it, but asking you to "hold your position" just east of
IDL (while I work on it) was obviously an impossibility.

Congratulations on your amazing progress, and on reaching the IDL!


Years ago,
When we were young,
Our love burned brighter,
Than the sun.

We were in love,
And cared for the land.
And the stars and the seas,
Ate from our hand.

Our passion did last,
For quite a long while,
As I loved your humor,
And you loved my smile.

But, I loved the planet,
And you loved your things.
Our goals became different,
For whatever life brings.

I looked to the future,
And saw a green earth.
You looked at our checkbook,
How much are we worth?

I believed in the future,
What our planet could be,
I saw crisp clean air,
And a crystal blue sea.

You believed in "things",
You wanted much more.
A procession of "stuff",
Coming in through our door.

We started to differ,
We started to fight,
Our once happy ending,
Now in need of rewrite.

And sometimes one crosses,
An invisible line,
Things suddenly change,
And the planets align.

Without even speaking,
We know it is time,
To follow our hearts,
To recapture springtime.

I am rooted in the future,
You are rooted in the past.
I care about greenness,
You care about cash.

So now, out of love,
I must go my own way,
Because, I am tomorrow,
And you're yesterday.

Bravo, Richard!

Weather Report:

Position at 2200 Hawaii time: 00 27.734N, 179 50.460E
Wind: 0-5kts, S-SE most of the day, 12-18kts E late evening
Seas: 3ft swell from SE
Weather: hot and sunny with very little cloud. Some rainclouds around
mid-afternoon and again towards sunset, but I dodged the showers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 89 - So Far West I'm East

An Irish friend of mine once said something was "so far east it's west"
which I'd never heard before, but it made perfect sense. Like something
being so bad it's good, or so embarrassing it becomes funny, or so insane
that it's genius. And today - I am so far west I'm east. Because this
afternoon I crossed the International Date Line.

I didn't really mean to. I'd rather hoped that I would manage to cross the
IDL and the Equator at the same time. Of course, I might still do that, if
I wiggle back east a little bit, to reach that magical intersection, but
it would have been fun to cross them both for the first time at the same
time. But ah well, the weather has long since shown her utter contempt for
my plans and schemes, and today was no exception.

The day had been still and calm until about 2pm, when the clouds came
over and a strong wind blew up from the south, sending me off on a
sudden westwards trajectory – heading straight for the IDL. There wasn't
much I could do about it. No matter how hard I rowed, I was still
heading west, whether I liked it or not. If I rowed I would only get
there even faster.

So I decided to sit it out and watch the countdown on my GPS from the
dry refuge of my cabin, so I hunkered down, watching the numbers tick
away on the little screen as the distance narrowed between me and

It's funny – you imagine that you ought to be able to feel something
when you cross over the IDL. Like in a Hollywood movie when someone
steps through the mirror into an alternative reality, there ought to be
some kind of strange ripple effect like a tremor passing across a pool
of still water. Or at the very least there ought to be a big black line
across the ocean, stretching away into the distance towards the North
and South Poles.

But no – there's nothing. The GPS goes from 179 59.999W to 180 00.000E –
and that's it. No chorus of angels (or mermaids), no special effects,
nothing. Just another gust of wind and another heavy spatter of
raindrops. And the weather in tomorrow is remarkably similar to how it
was in yesterday (cloudy, rainy, and windy).

Just goes to show – there's no point putting off until tomorrow what you
can do today – because from someone on the other side, I can tell you
that tomorrow is not so different. The world (and I) are just one day
older. So you may as well do it today, because you'll rarely regret
doing something sooner rather than later.

[Photo: For the record, I crossed the line at 15:57:02 Hawaii time – and
here is the proof.]

Other Stuff:

Note: I am going to continue using Hawaii time for the remainder of this
crossing – otherwise it will get too confusing trying to figure out when
I am due to record podcasts, call Nicole, or whatever. So I'll continue
to post weather reports as at Hawaii time. FYI, the sun now rises at
7:59am my time, and sets at 8:07pm.

Another note: apologies for the problems with the Tracker. Solaradata,
who provide my tracking unit, have been conducting a server transfer and
it has evidently generated some random location points. Apparently the
issue was that positive latitudes between 0 and 1 were being displayed
as 0 to –1. Evan has been working closely with them and assures me the
issue is now resolved. To be sure, it couldn't have happened at a worse
time – just as my lat and long are getting interesting! Thanks, Evan,
for getting it sorted out so quickly.

Yet another note – and this is the IMPORTANT one! I've come to a
decision on Island X. But I'm not going to post it on this blog just
yet. If you want to know NOW what I've decided, check out today's video
RozCast on YouTube. You can locate it via the RozTracker – or maybe
Nicole or Evan can post a link to it as a comment on this blog. Yes, I'm
trying to get more of you to view my RozCasts!

And final note: you might observe that in the photo the distance to Tuvalu
is excessively optimistic. This was based on incorrect lat and long - an
error which has now been corrected.

Apparently I need to think of a gift AND a sacrifice to offer to Neptune
when I cross the Equator. I'm not feeling very inspired. Any ideas? I
thought of sacrificing a cuddly toy, but that would leave some very
upset schoolchildren somewhere. I realize you don't know what I have on
board, but maybe some suggestions as to generic kinds of gifts or
sacrifices that Neptune might find acceptable?

Commiserations to Peter Bray, a former British commando who was
attempting to row the North Atlantic. His attempt had to be called off
when Hurricane Bill threatened his safety. His boat is apparently only 3
metres long – or about 10 feet. That is TINY! I hope that he will get
over this setback, and better luck next time.

Eco Champ of the Day is Judy:
"Oh Gosh, Roz, there are a lot of us lurkers out here. I featured you on
blog over a month ago, and I know some of my readers are following you.
for your purpose … we've switched to reusable grocery bags, we already
two hybrid cars but now we are grouping our errands to use the cars more
efficiently. Of course, we recycle. And we've raised the thermostat for
house during the day to 79F, and are trying to wean ourselves from it on
but the most humid days. It's a small token, we know, but the
of eco-saving is now one of our "household words". I'm not much of an
athlete, but I'm a champion rooter! Ra! Ra! Roz!

Thanks, Dale, for your message. Your granny sounds like quite a lady! Do
feel free to contact my team at

Walt – a good estimate on the crossing of the IDL. But we both reckoned
without the squall!

Amy – thanks for spreading the word. Nice to hear about fellow Rozlings
meeting up!

Jennifer – those links sound interesting. Thank you. I can't follow them
up from here (I have email only – no internet browsing capability) but
will try to find time to take a look when I'm back on dry land.

Doug – thanks for your suggestion about the solar kettle – but my kettle
only has one orifice, and that is the very small water spout. I have
been using a thermos mug to rehydrate my meals, and that works just
fine, thank you. As I said, the ambient temperature is extremely warm!
Achates, Seattle Dave and Meg – thanks for the tips. Will see if I can
resurrect the stove when I get back to dry land. As I said, I'm really
not missing it for now, so will spend my energies on rowing rather than
stove maintenance! As I said, I really don't need any advice or
suggestions, as I still have plenty of those left over from my
stove-less state on the Atlantic!

Texino – now THERE is a novel approach for solving the overpopulation
problem. Cannibalism. Can't think why the global leaders aren't pushing
that one…!!!

Weather report:

Position at 0850 HST: 00 47.061N, 179 58.950E
Wind: very light this morning, 0-5kts E. All over the shop this
afternoon, 20+ kts from S or SE mostly.
Weather: hot, sunny morning. Heavy cloud and frequent rainshowers
throughout the afternoon and evening.

Forecast is for wind to back to the East, and drop to almost nothing by

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 88 - Casualties

It's that stage of the journey. The stage when Stuff Breaks. I hesitated
before telling you about these things, as I didn't want to cause any
consternation, but hey, I just can't keep a secret from my Rozlings. But
before I go on, I'd like to say most emphatically DON'T PANIC!!! There
is no need for airdrops, rescue missions, or even advice. These matters
are NOT serious, and will have very little impact on my ocean lifestyle.

About a week ago, my cooking stove stopped working. It was a veteran of
Pacific Stage 1, and despite Scott's heroic achievement in cleaning it
up when it looked to be beyond salvation, it had never regained its
nice, strong, clean blue flame. I hadn't used it very much, being mostly
on my rawfood diet, but just recently had rediscovered the joys of hot
porridge or a hot dinner at the end of the day. But the flame was yellow
and sooty, and soon my kettle was coated with a thickening layer of

And then the stove stopped working altogether. Propane was coming
through, but it wouldn't light. It probably needs no more than a good
clean with a gas stove maintenance kit – but I don't have one on board.

But it's really no big deal. On the Atlantic I managed for 3 months
without a stove after my camping stove (very different model) broke.
Freeze dried food can still be reconstituted – it just takes longer.
I've had several delicious curries since the demise of the stove, that
suffered not at all from being served at a very warm ambient temperature
rather than piping hot.

Mick and Chris of are now on their THIRD cook
stove, so that shows just how vulnerable these things are when exposed
to salty ocean conditions for extended periods.

The second casualty is – yet again – my watermaker. It isn't the same
problem as on the San Francisco-Hawaii leg. I do try not to make the
same mistake twice, so after that bad experience, when the watermaker
locker flooded and caused the electric pump to corrode, I have two spare
pumps on board this time. So, naturally, this time the pump is still in
fine fettle, but something else has gone wrong. Not quite sure what it
is. The pump runs but neither fresh water nor waste brine emerge from
the two outlet pipes.

I spent a couple of hours this morning trying to fix the problem – first
of all on the phone to Spectra Watermakers in San Rafael, then
underneath my boat, braving remoras to check the through-hull intake for
any possible blockages (jellyfish have been known to get sucked in and
cause a problem), then mucking around in the bilges to dismantle, clean
and reassemble various pipes and filters. But all to no avail.

But no worries. I have enough water on board to keep me going for a
couple of months – and I hope to be making landfall well before then –
and also a manual watermaker kindly donated to me by the Hunks of the
JUNK raft with whom I traded food for water in mid-ocean last year.

So (sigh), this is just the way it goes. Even the most robust equipment
is rarely designed to spend several months at a time exposed to such
harsh conditions.

The good news is that Lazarus the Stereo, having been extremely
temperamental almost since Day 1 of this row, is being good as gold at
the moment. But I'll say that in a very quiet whisper, as it seems that
I no sooner praise a piece of equipment than it packs up on me…

[photo: Yet another sunset – but this one is pretty dramatic, don't you
think?! I wish I could share the Pacific skies with you more
effectively. One little rectangular photo just doesn't do them justice.
They are often spectacular, frequently breathtaking!]

Other Stuff:

I see there is a lot of speculation going on about when I might cross
the International Date Line and/or the Equator. As I write, I am now 58
nautical miles from the Equator, having crossed 1 degree North this
evening (woohoo!), and 13 nautical miles from the IDL. Current course is
southwesterly…. But when I pick up the oars in the morning I might
change course to aim more for one than for the other. In fact, I know I
will be – but I'm not quite ready to tell you about my decision yet, as
there are some external dependencies. Sorry to be such a tease, but all
will become clear in due course. So for now you'll just have to carry on

Meanwhile, there is a special International Date Line Sale going on in
the Store at So it would be a great time to mosey on over
there and check out the special deals, which also raises a bit of money
to support my projects. And we'll just rename it the Equatorial Sale if
that becomes more appropriate!

Eco Champ of the Day (and we haven't had one for a while – where are all
the Eco Heroes?) is Connor. Thanks for your message, Connor! Here is
what he had to say…

Hey Roz,

Love what you are doing! We are trying to recycle more, carpool more
we do have to drive) and use less water (especially hot water). We wash
clothes with cold water, and I have started taking cold showers,
after a hard workout (I am a rower too), and I actually find it

A tip for all the rozlings who do have to drive, especially on long
After telling them about it for just about ever, my parents (I am only
realized the benefits of cruise control. On a trip from our home in
Pittsburgh to Toronto, my mom used cruise control on the highway, and
fuel economy went from 28 to about 36!

Great job Connor – and thanks for sharing!

Richard in Virginia – a loyal but lurking Rozolyte – thanks for your
message, and for introducing yourself at last. I find it so strange, but
also very flattering, to think that there are people like you that I
will probably never meet, but in some small way I am a part of your
lives. Thank you for speaking up!

Doug – thanks for the carrots. I hope my rate of carrot consumption is
going to accelerate over these final stages. Chomp, chomp! (And good for
my night vision too…)

Weather Report:

Position at 2300 HST: 00 57.786N, 179 47.233W
Wind: very variable. 10kts E this morning, 0-8kts S-SE this afternoon
(was rowing into a headwind for a while), then back to the E
Seas: 3-5 ft
Weather: generally fine and sunny, some cloud, including one huge
raincloud this afternoon that was probably responsible for the headwind

Weather forecast, courtesy of

Latest tracker reported your position as: 01 31N 179 02W as of 18Aug

As of Tuesday 18 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there have been
SEerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some light rainshower
activity. The heaviest of rain was north of 05N. Lighter SEerly winds
are to
your west to Tarawa with heavier and widespread rainshowers. South of
equator there are stronger ESE winds 17-20kts. The SEerlies shift to
5-10kts by late tonight. Then shift to SEerly and increase in speed to
range with 20kts possible. Winds return to Eerly and abate to 5-12kts by
morning of the 21st.

Widespread clouds with deep convection are north of your position along
ITCZ axis. West and south of your position, skies are partly cloudy with
minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered, light to
moderate rainshowers.

Ocean currents: No significant change from last report

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
18/0800-18/1200 SE-E 5-12 2-4
18/1200-19/0000 E-N 5-10 2-4
19/0000-19/1200 N-SE 5-10 2-4
19/1200-19/2100 SE 7-15 2-4
19/2100-20/2100 SE 10-20 3-5
20/2100-21/0600 SE-E 10-15 3-5
21/0600-23/0800 E 5-12 2-4

Next Update: Thursday, 20 August

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 87 - The Fifty Dollar Question

You might be wondering what the latest news is on my selection of Island
X – will it be Tarawa? Or will it be Funafuti in Tuvalu?

I wish I could tell you. The question is still being hotly debated in
TeamRoz. It would be the million dollar question – except that our
budget isn't that big. It's at least a fifty dollar question though.

Distance-wise, there is not much in it. 482 nautical miles to Tuvalu,
517 to Tarawa (approximately). But on the ocean not all miles are equal.
Some are upwind, some are downwind, some are across-wind. Although the
ocean may look flat, it is more accurate to think of it like a ski
resort. Downwinds are like well-groomed ski slopes. Upwind I'd need a
chairlift. Across the wind I'd be cross-country rather than downhill
skiing. I'm not sure what the ocean equivalent would be for off-piste,
but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to try it.

On the one hand, I would prefer to go to Tuvalu:
a) because it would set me up better for making it to Australia next
year, and
b) because it would be better for my climate change message – Tuvalu
being the current "poster child" of climate change thanks to their
recent announcement that they intend to be the world's first carbon
neutral country, with a target date of 2020.


From where I am now, I am doubtful that it is possible. Given that the
winds are generally E-SE, I suspect that I would get pushed too far west
before I could get far enough south. For example, see the RozTracker for
the last couple of days. My bows have been pointed as south as they can
be, but the best I can do is 90 degrees to the wind – and the wind has
been from the south, so the best I can do is west. No nicely groomed ski
slopes heading the way I want to go.

There is a fine line between being adventurous and taking unnecessary
risks. If I got tempted into trying for Tuvalu, but ended up missing
landfall altogether, or having to be towed some significant distance to
make it into port – either of these would NOT be cool. I would
definitely be off-piste (and piste off).

But then will I end up cursing myself next year – if I find myself
heading for Papua New Guinea instead of Australia? Will I wish I'd tried
a bit harder for Tuvalu?

So, when in doubt, postpone the decision until there is more information
available. Even if I was set on Tarawa, my plan would still be to push
south beyond the Equator to get south of all these tricky old currents
and weather systems, and then to take a sharp right and row downwind to
the west, before looping up slightly to get to Tarawa, which lies just
north of the Equator. By happy coincidence, this is also initially what
I would do to get to Tuvalu.

So I'm going to go south as much as I can, and see what longitude I'm at
when I reach the Equator. By then I'll have new weather information and
can make a better informed decision.

Of course, this doesn't make life easy for Nicole and the rest of
TeamRoz who are planning to come out and meet me. The suspense
continues. Meanwhile, I am heading rapidly towards tomorrow – the
International Date Line is now just about 35 miles away.

[photo: My rather old chart donated by Captain Vince of the White Holly,
printed back in the days when Tuvalu was still called the Ellice
Islands. But hopefully they're still in more or less the same place,
although they might be getting smaller as the seas rise…]

Other Stuff:

Thanks for all the messages from the Rozling community. Wouldn't it be
amazing if we were all able to assemble, from all around the world, and
get together in one room for a huge party when I finish this row? I
would love that! Maybe we can figure out a way to do it in virtual

Naomi – don't worry about your knees. I try to take the strategy of NOT
worrying about things – just preparing for them. Only time will tell if
your knees will bear up. But do take some painkillers and
anti-inflammatories with you just in case… and if your walk has to turn
into a drive, well, never mind. It won't be worse, just different!

I especially enjoyed this message, which I think also came from Naomi,
although it was a bit difficult to tell from the way it was formatted in
the email I received:
"I thought of you when I read this today on my FaceBook page: "The
between "try" and "triumph" is the UMPH!"
Isn't that just a GREAT message?!

Hi to Carol, Greg, Sue, Brennan and Conor – thanks for your messages!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 01 23.451N, 179 25.178W
Wind: 0-20kts but generally around 15kts, S backing to E during the day
Seas: 3-6ft, SE, quite steep and choppy at times
Weather: mostly blue skies, some cloud – cumulus and cirrus. Could see
some rainclouds around but they kept their distance several miles away.

Weather forecast, courtesy of

Latest tracker reported your position as: 01 31N 179 02W as of 18Aug

As of Tuesday 18 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there have been
SEerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some light rainshower
activity. The heaviest of rain was north of 05N. Lighter SEerly winds
are to
your west to Tarawa with heavier and widespread rainshowers. South of
equator there are stronger ESE winds 17-20kts. The SEerlies shift to
5-10kts by late tonight. Then shift to SEerly and increase in speed to
range with 20kts possible. Winds return to Eerly and abate to 5-12kts by
morning of the 21st.

Widespread clouds with deep convection are north of your position along
ITCZ axis. West and south of your position, skies are partly cloudy with
minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered, light to
moderate rainshowers.

Ocean currents: No significant change from last report

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
18/0800-18/1200 SE-E 5-12 2-4
18/1200-19/0000 E-N 5-10 2-4
19/0000-19/1200 N-SE 5-10 2-4
19/1200-19/2100 SE 7-15 2-4
19/2100-20/2100 SE 10-20 3-5
20/2100-21/0600 SE-E 10-15 3-5
21/0600-23/0800 E 5-12 2-4

Next Update: Thursday, 20 August

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 86 - World's Biggest Sensory Deprivation Tank

The ocean is like sensory deprivation tank tonight – utterly dark and
silent. There isn't a breath of wind, and the overcast sky is hiding all
but the few brightest stars.

It's been a funny old day. It got off to a slow start. You might have
noticed there was a significant delay between my last blog and its
photograph being united online. The reason was that immediately after I
emailed the blog last night I lost the ability to make data calls from
my satphone, so the email bearing the photo could not be sent.

I tried again first thing this morning, again to no avail. So I spent a
while on the phone to Rob at Remote Satellite Systems International
trying to identify the source of the problem. He thought it was probably
the network rather than a problem with my onboard equipment. I'm not
sure if this proved to be the case – I know he was working with the
network people, and it seems to be working okay tonight – so I'll just
be grateful that we're in business again. For a while there I
was worried that we might be blog-less for the rest of the trip!

So with the technical hassles, and a call to base, it was pushing
10.30am by the time I got to the oars. For most of the morning the wind
was coming out of the south, at about 20 knots, so the best course I
could make was west. But during the afternoon the weather has become
progressively more and more subdued, and the wind more and more flukey.

As the afternoon wore on a deep hush fell over the ocean, at one stage
broken by the gentle exhaling sound of dolphins arcing through the
waves. I saw about a dozen dolphins, but they didn't come close.

Occasionally the wind would muster a bit of enthusiasm and lift my red
ensign flag for a minute or two, before lapsing back into calm. The sky
was overcast but far from a flat grey – clouds of all textures, shapes
and patterns created a varied skyscape, and probably accounted for the
weird, lumpy and uneven breezes.

I can't help but absorb the mood of the ocean, so tonight I'm feeling a
bit subdued myself, and tired after a long day rowing. So I'm going to
call it a night. I'm off to my bunk to dream of friends, food and
family. And nice brisk, invigorating easterly winds… Bring 'em on!

Weather report:

Position at 2300 HST: 01 30.255N, 178 57.656W
Wind: 0-20kts, S-SSE
Seas: 2-4ft swell, SE
Weather: some big black rainclouds this morning, after that as described

No update to last weather forecast from

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 85 - Barnacles on my Bottom

I was none too keen on the idea of going over the side to scrub
barnacles off Brocade's bottom, but my little bit of underwater
photography a couple of days ago had shown that the barnacle situation
was getting serious, and I was concerned that my underwater hitchhikers
might be causing extra drag and slowing me down. And obviously with a
high-speed, hell-for-leather expedition like this (???!!!) every second
counts. So it was time to overcome my abhorrence of strange leech-like
fish attaching themselves to my nether regions and brave the waters once

I put on a pair of lycra shorts to protect myself from any particularly
personal assaults, and took the plunge. I could feel some fish tickling
around my legs, but it wasn't too bad at first. Then I saw the first of
the little remoras, wiggling away as hung on to the side of the boat. I
don't know what it is about these small grey fish, but I just find them
absolutely repulsive. There is something about their wiggliness, as well
as their tendency to suction onto me, that gives me a bad attack of the
heebie-jeebies every time I see them. I squealed girlishly, shuddered,
and pressed on with my de-barnacling chores, working as quickly as I

I was shocked by the condition of the outside of the boat. I've never
seen it like this before. I'm used to the gooseneck barnacles, but not
the amount of green growth, presumably algae of some sort, that is
flourishing on Brocade's once-lovely silver paintwork. She looks like
she's been at sea for about 3 decades rather than 3 months. This is
going to take some serious cleaning up when I get to Island X.

Barnacles duly removed, I put my foot on the grabline and pulled myself
up onto the deck using the oars as handrails. Something came with me. It
was a 3-inch remora, attached to my right calf. Yeeeuch. The silly
creature hung on until I was all the way back on board and it had no way
to return to its natural element. I have to confess to a very petty
revenge – I left him until he was almost at his last gasp before I
returned him to the ocean. But I suspect I'll have no more luck training
remoras not to cling than I did training boobies not to poop….

[photo: Barnacles – and not the sort to be found in yacht clubs around
the world, propping up the bar with G&T's from 11am onwards….]

Other Stuff:

After a couple of days of good southerly progress, today the wind moved
from the East into the Southeast, slowing me down. It was a very light
wind, so I was still able to make some southerly progress, but not as
much. I generally row at right angles to the wind, so if the wind is
from the East then I can point due South, but if it is Southeast then I
have to point Southwest – so today my course has been more West than
South. But that's fine too. The forecast is for the wind to shift back
to the East early tomorrow – so it would be nice if that turns out to be

Twitter panic – sorry for any consternation caused by a random Tweet
that was generated by my Dopplr account, saying I was returning to San
Francisco today. I don't really use Dopplr any more, but must have set
up some general dates on my account many moons ago, in which I thought
that Stage 2 might be ending around now. Please be assured, I am NOT
returning to San Francisco today. The row goes on!

Thanks, as ever, for a lovely batch of comments. I am now reaching
terminal discomfort in my cabin after responding to various TeamRoz
emails and writing this blog (try sitting with a hot laptop on your knee
in a rolling cabin in sweltering equatorial heat after a long day's
rowing) so will cut this short – but just wanted to let you know that
Mum is now back online and emailing me the comments on a daily basis.
Thanks to Nicole for standing in while Mum was e-ncommunicado – and
thanks to Mum for yesterday's blog. Yes, we did have to airdrop Mum and
a hairdresser out in mid-Pacific just to get that photo done…!

A quick thank you to Doug for the hike report - and for the
(financial) carrot. Yum!

Weather Report

Position at 2245 HST: 01 25.599N, 178 39.425W
Wind: 0-10 knots, SE
Seas: gentle swell, 3-5ft, SE
Weather: clear, hot and sunny, with a band of small cumulus clouds
passing over during the afternoon

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday morning 13 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there
have been Eerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some
rainshower activity to your north. SEerly winds 10kt is south of your
position to the equator. The SEerlies eventually shift to Eerly 10-15kts
by today. A further shift to the north will keep the winds north of
east until late on the 15th. Then shifting to SEerly for a brief period
before returning to Eerly by the end of the forecast period.

The widespread clouds mentioned in last report have cleared to partly
cloudy skies with minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered moderate

Ocean currents should be light SSWerlies (flowing towards the NNE) at
about 0.1 to 0.2 kts in your area to about 00 30S. To the north of you
beginning at about 3 30N there is a band of Eerly flowing current of
about 0.5 to 0.7kts. South of the equator along your longitude there is
a band of Werly flowing current of about 1.0kt.

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
13/1200-14/1800 E 5-15 2-4
14/1800-15/1500 E-ENE 5-15 2-4
15/1500-15/1800 ENE-E 5-15 2-4
15/1800-17/0600 E-SE-E 5-15 2-4
17/0600-18/0000 E 5-10 2-3

Next Update: Monday, 16 August

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 84 - Mothers' Day

Today would have been my father's 80th birthday. But he died 5 years
ago, so he will be forever 75. Given this special date, today seemed an
appropriate day to post a guest blog by my mother. Those who have been
following my blog since the Atlantic will be well acquainted with Mum,
especially after she had to step in and update my blog after I lost all
communications 24 days before the end of the crossing. She had no more
idea what was going on than anybody else did, so there was some
impressive improvisation and ad-libbing on her part that would have made
any TV presenter proud – even while she was worried sick about me.

So, without further ado, over to my poor long-suffering Mum…

Some Mothers Do Have 'Em is the name of a TV show in the UK- but not
many mothers have a daughter like Roz. Yes, I am proud of what she has,
and is, achieving, but she has given me some heart-stopping moments
along the way. Like the day she first told me she was going to row
across the Atlantic.

A few months before she set out, Roz invited me to go and stay with her
in Emsworth on the south coast of England, where she was living at the
time, to help with fitting out the boat. What a wise move that was on
her part. She got me so involved in the whole project that it was no
longer what she was doing, but what we, together, were doing.

This involvement came at a good time for me. It was just a year since my
husband had died, and gave me a new purpose in my retirement days. Many
a time people asked if I was worried about her. I think that we were so
closely involved, that she was not a separate entity – out there on the
ocean- but very much a part of our togetherness. I hope you can
understand what I mean. I lived all the time with the reality of what
Roz was doing.

However, in her various ocean crossings there have been tough, worrying
moments. Leaving out some of the minor shocks, there came the day that
her satphone packed up, leaving me without any communication with her.
The boat rolling over three times during her first time attempt to
depart the Californian coast. Watermakers packing up on the first leg of
the Pacific crossing.

Even when our sons or daughters are adults, it is still the longing of a
mother to protect and guard her family. It can be hard when we feel
helpless, that nothing that we do can solve the problems; I am sure that
many a mother has felt this, in all sorts of circumstances. We have to
try to raise our children to be independent, capable of making their own
decisions, and looking after themselves. To quote a book that I know
well: "Now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of
these is love." The greatest gift we can give, no matter what they do.

I have not been quite so closely involved with Roz's activities this
year, for several reasons (I have been busy with a double hip
replacement, and two weeks ago I moved house), and just so grateful to
Nicole for being there for Roz. I am standing on the side-lines,
watching, yet Roz is still very much in my thinking and feeling, my
daily life and tasks.

Thanks, Mum – I can't even begin to imagine the emotional hell I put you
through while I am out on the water, and I can only say – thank you,
you're one in a million.

[photo: Mum and me]

Other Stuff:

On this crossing no two days have been alike – until today. Which was
very much like yesterday. Very, very hot, calm conditions, with the
weather pretty much leaving me alone to do my thing – my thing being to
row steadily and sweat profusely. I've made another 18 miles south
towards the Equator.

Finally at around sunset today I finished uploading my video messages,
so normal Tweeting service should be resumed tomorrow.

Thank you to Roz's Regulars for some great messages!

Doug – your message about the Booby Training Center gave me a good
laugh. No boobies today though – in fact only one solitary bird all day
to break the monotony. Only other wildlife sighting was a few jumping

AH – loved your take on the 7 Habits – thank you! I listened to "Three
Cups of Tea" a few weeks ago – and can definitely vouch for the fact
that having a powerful sense of purpose allows people to overcome all
kinds of inhibitions.

Gary – "Take it easy, but take it" – wise words. And to share a secret,
I find motivation a huge problem too. It was so much easier in the days
when I was rowing crew and had a coxswain yelling at me to keep going.
But actually, having said that, I'm finding motivation easier and easier
the closer I get to my goal So I suppose one idea is to have interim
targets and milestones – like keeping tally of how many meters you have
rowed overall, and reward yourself every once in a while. Has to be
worth a bottle of champagne, surely! (Champagne isn't too calorific
either – that's why the supermodels drink it! Or maybe it's just because
they can….)

Weather Report:

Position at 2240 HST: 01 33.737N, 178 16.106W
Wind: 0-5kts, E
Seas: 2-4ft, E
Weather: hot and sunny, clear skies, hot. Towards sunset ranks of little
fluffy clouds passed over, then cleared again.

Weather forecast, courtesy of

As of Thursday morning 13 Aug 2009. According to measured data, there
have been Eerly winds up to 7-12kts over your position and some
rainshower activity to your north. SEerly winds 10kt is south of your
position to the equator. The SEerlies eventually shift to Eerly 10-15kts
by today. A further shift to the north will keep the winds north of
east until late on the 15th. Then shifting to SEerly for a brief period
before returning to Eerly by the end of the forecast period.

The widespread clouds mentioned in last report have cleared to partly
cloudy skies with minimal convection.

Forecast sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy. Scattered moderate

Ocean currents should be light SSWerlies (flowing towards the NNE) at
about 0.1 to 0.2 kts in your area to about 00 30S. To the north of you
beginning at about 3 30N there is a band of Eerly flowing current of
about 0.5 to 0.7kts. South of the equator along your longitude there is
a band of Werly flowing current of about 1.0kt.

Forecast (low confidence)
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft) est
13/1200-14/1800 E 5-15 2-4
14/1800-15/1500 E-ENE 5-15 2-4
15/1500-15/1800 ENE-E 5-15 2-4
15/1800-17/0600 E-SE-E 5-15 2-4
17/0600-18/0000 E 5-10 2-3

Next Update: Monday, 16 August