Saturday, September 05, 2009

Day 104 - See you in the morning, Roz!

From Nicole:

Okay Rozlings, this is it. Tomorrow is the big day, the one we've all
been waiting for. I apologize for the radio silence from me…the lack
of a decent Internet connection has been maddening, especially in such
a critical time. I tried uploading Tweets and Facebook updates
yesterday to keep you looped in on all the great developments, but to
no avail.

So, here's the scoop:

Yesterday was a hugely successful day at the office. My top priority
since we arrived was finding a reliable boat that would be willing and
able to go a good distance out to sea (just in case) and help escort
Roz safely in to Tarawa. As I mentioned in my last blog, things move
slowly here and I was never discouraged, but knew we were running
short on time.

Following a lead, Conrad and I headed over to the Tarawa Sports
Complex and pretty much hit the jackpot. The US Navy was wrapping up a
2-week humanitarian project (called the Pacific Partnership 2009) with
a closing ceremony. We'd met several of the American, Australian and
Canadian soldiers since we arrived – after their work was done each
day, some of them would head over to our hotel for dinner and a beer
before heading back to their ship. They were all really wonderful
guys, and the Navy doctor is the one who gave Hunter the eye drops he
desperately needed for his conjunctivitis. In any case, we went to
their closing ceremony and the President of Kiribati was there! We
could hardly believe our good luck. After the ceremony was over, the
Australian High Commissioner introduced me to the President and I was
able to tell him that Roz would be arriving in the next few days. I
told him about her mission – raising awareness for climate change –
and he was so pleased, as this is an issue that is of the utmost
importance to him. He was warm and welcoming, and delighted that Roz
is coming to Tarawa.

After the ceremony, we were invited to drinks at the Australian High
Commissioner's residence. We had heard through the grapevine that the
High Commissioner of New Zealand is a world-class champion rower and
that he had a boat that might work for us, and we were eagerly trying
to connect with him throughout the day. Lo and behold, he was at the
party, so we were able to chat with him and he graciously offered up
his boat to help escort Roz in safely. We were then introduced to a
lovely guy named Emil who also has a large boat, and he offered up his
time and assistance as well. Both gentlemen gave me their phone
numbers and said all we'd need to do is call. Hooray! Mission
accomplished. Uh, well…not quite. We still need Roz.

Today at 10 am, Roz phoned in to give me her update. She was really
struggling with the currents. They were whisking her hard and fast to
the west, making it increasingly difficult for her to head north to
Tarawa. Not good. I gave her the excellent and
just-in-the-nick-of-time news about the escort boats, and she was both
delighted and relieved. She said the winds were due to change to south
easterlies and wanted to carry on trying for Tarawa, but thought that
most likely, she wouldn't be able to get north of Maiana, which is
just 20 miles to the south of Tarawa. Roz thought the most prudent
thing to do was to schedule a rendezvous point on the south west side
of Maiana, and asked if we could arrange that for 9 am tomorrow. Still
hoping those south easterlies would kick in, Roz and I agreed to speak
again at 4:30 pm to course correct if necessary.

At 4:30 Roz called and gave the final confirmation. Yes, let's
rendezvous at 9 am tomorrow in Maiana. It's a bit surreal. Roz has
been at sea for 104 days now, and as she hung up she said, "thanks so
much for everything Nicole – I'll see you in the morning." Wow. It's
rather funny to hear her say that after so long!

I called Emil and Rob – the gentlemen who have offered up their boats
– and they conferred and decided Emil's boat would be the best option,
all things considered. We will all meet tomorrow at 7 am at Bairiki
Harbour and set out to rendezvous with Roz. She and I will speak again
at 7 am to get her latest coordinates (we have GPS on the boat, too)
and we expect it will take about an hour and a half to reach her.

I just spoke with Ricardo, Roz's weatherman in Portugal—the south
easterlies that Roz needs have kicked in over the past hour, so he
seems to think that she'll be able to row all the way in to Tarawa
under her own steam. I know that's what she'll want, and if she can,
super. We'll be there, right alongside, just in case. If she needs a
tow, we can do that too. All our bases are well and truly covered.

Tomorrow is a very big day indeed. It's very late here, but I've still
got quite a lot more work to do, so I'll sign off for now and just say
a massively huge and very heartfelt thank you to all of Roz's
supporters for following along and encouraging her the past 104 days.
Please know that your positivity and enthusiasm means the world to her
and helps keep her going through the rough times.

I also want to thank those of you who have also been so supportive of
me, especially the past couple of weeks. This has been a wonderful
project to be a part of for the past 2 years – and the moral support
I've received from family and friends (and even some of the Rozlings!)
has been amazing and oh-so-necessary. An extra special thank you to my
Granny, my brother Brian, the Yellin Family, my favorite aunties Aenor
and Melinda, Ian Tuller, Hunter and Traci Downs, Nancy Glenn, Ellen
Petry Leanse and Evan Rapoport.

Good night everyone! We'll put up photos, videos and other updates of
Roz's arrival just as quickly as we can.