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.