Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 37 - High Seas and Heffalumps

I'm now within 10 degrees of the International Date Line, and 11 degrees
of the Equator, and I'm starting to wonder just where I'm going to land
up. I'm really not too fussy, so long as it has an airport, a
restaurant, and a bar. A bar with beer, and lots of it.

I've been aiming for Tuvalu, although it's far from ideal – very
difficult for my shore team to get to, most likely nowhere to store my
boat, and very little infrastructure. Beer situation currently unknown.

There are lots of other options – the South Pacific has lots of islands
- but there are also very big gaps between the options, so if I miss one
I could be out here for a long time. Which would not be good. I have
places to go, people to see. With my book coming out on October 6 and
the march to Copenhagen (for the climate change summit) setting out from
London on October 24, I'm keen to be back on terra firma long before
then.

I don't have as much maneuverability with a rowboat as, say, sailors
have. I can influence but not totally control my direction. Say the wind
is blowing me west (as it is) and I point my boat south (as I do) then I
end up going southwest, or south southwest, or west southwest, depending
on the strength of the wind and, I suppose, the strength of my rowing.

For the last couple of weeks the east wind has been strong –
consistently around or over 20 knots – so my trajectory has been west
southwest. On my current bearing I would miss Tuvalu, passing too far to
the north.

But here's the joker in the pack, or in fact two jokers – the Inter
Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), and the Equatorial Counter Current.
Both will come into play soon. But both are shifting and changing all
the time – see the latest forecast at the bottom of this blog. The
previous forecast was that I would be spared the worst of the ITCZ, but
alas 'tis not to be. It has moved, and now lies in my path. And we won't
really know how it will affect me until I get there. As far as rowboat
voyages go, this is uncharted territory, and the variables are too
complicated to predict with any degree of certainty.

So who knows? I'll keep pushing south as much as I am able, which is the
best way to keep my options open. Failing Tuvalu, other options are
Tarawa, or somewhere in the Marshall Islands, but both would leave me
with a tougher task for Stage 3 of the row next year, which I very much
hope will end up somewhere in Australia..

I should know by now that oceans are no respecters of human schedules.
I've never yet been on an open ocean voyage, either by sailboat or
rowboat, that ended up where it was supposed to be, at the time it was
supposed to be.

And that's just the way it is. To paraphrase Winnie the Pooh's comment
on heffalumps – you never can tell with oceans. .


Other Stuff:

More wildlife encounters today. I found a dead squid tucked behind my
sea anchor. I think he must have arrived at the same time as the other
two. He was looking a bit dried out and crispy. Not very appetizing.

Then there was a very pretty flying fish that flew in and bounced off my
neck while I was rowing. I would have taken a picture but he was still
very much alive, and it seemed more important to keep him that way than
to ask him to wait for a photo opp, so I swiftly chucked him back into
the blue.

And tonight, towards sunset, there were some birds being very excitable
and noisy, diving down at some fish within a few yards of my boat. The
fact that the fish were huge mahi mahi, about 10 times the size of the
birds, didn't seem to deter them in the slightest. Needless to say, they
didn't catch one, and I don't know what they would have done with it if
they had.

My, what an inquisitive lot you are! Answer 7 questions, get 14 more…
I've made a note of them for future blogs. I don't have time to answer
them all now, but here are some of the quicker, shorter ones.

Someone asked if I have children. Oh do pay attention! I said yesterday
that I don't, and I can assure you that the situation has not changed
since then.

Have I had my appendix removed? No. Let's hope appendicitis doesn't
strike while I'm at sea.

How do I get connection in the middle of the ocean? Satellite phone.
Very expensive, and when used as a data modem, very slow.

More answers coming in future blogs, including the answer to the Number
One Most Frequently Asked Question Of All Time – what do I eat? If I had
a dollar for every time I've answered that one….!!

But seriously, it's nice to know you care. Keep the great comments
coming. Thank you!

Weather report:

Position at 2130 HST: 10 52.484N, 170 27.400W
Wind: 20 knots E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: overcast morning, sunny afternoon, some small clouds

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com

As of Monday, 29 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds 20+kts hanging on
a little longer. Expect a brief period of lower winds then back to
20+kts. Seas abate to 8-9ft.

Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with multilayered clouds of low
to mid level. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
has drifted westward to 175W between 2N and 8N. There are widespread
areas of wind 30-40kts in heavy rainshowers have been measured. These
systems are often times accompamied by thunder and lightning. You may
observe these conditions. There are some holes in this activity of
lesser conditons.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
29/1800-30/0600 ENE-E 17-22 8-9
30/0600-30/2100 ENE-E 12-17 6 -7
30/2100-04/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-9

Next Update: Thursday, 02July

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 36 - 7 Things You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

There may be a few questions that have occurred to you, but for reasons
of propriety, politeness, or respect for my privacy, you have chosen not
to ask them. I know, if I were you, there would be a few things about me
that I would want to know but would hesitate to put in writing.

But I feel I am amongst friends now, so I am going to offer up some
tidbits of information for your delectation. But feel free to skip to
Other Stuff if this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know!

Q: How do you go to the loo?
A: Colloquially known as "bucket and chuck it". Or in fact I use a
bedpan instead of a bucket – takes up less space and fits under my side
deck. For, ahem, liquids only, I use a female urinal – a jug with a
shaped top. Dr Aenor gave it to me last year, and it rocked my world! So
much easier to use on a wildly pitching boat.

Q: How do you keep your toilet paper dry?
A: No hope of keeping normal TP dry, so I use wet wipes instead. First
use is as a general cleansing cloth – for face or whatever – then
recycled as loo paper. The ones I have for this trip are impregnated
with tea tree oil for extra antiseptic qualities.

Q: How do you finance your adventures?
A: A combination of donations through the PayPal button on my website,
corporate sponsorships, and revenue from speaking engagements. For this
trip I had quite a shortfall, but the advance on my book (Rowing The
Atlantic, due to be published on October 6 this year) helped keep the
show on the road. My overheads are really low – I don't have a home or a
car, so that saves me a heap of money – and people are often very kind
in offering accommodation and meals. So somehow it all works out.

Q: Are you, or have you ever been, married?
A: Yes, I was. My ex-husband and I were together for 11 years, but had
no children. We're still on very amicable terms. He has remarried and
lives in London.

Q: Do you ever miss, errr, male company while you are on the ocean?
A: Yes, but not often. It's not a very sexy situation living on a
rowboat! And it might sound strange, but I don't especially think of
myself as a woman out here. I'm just a human, focusing on survival. But
it's nice to rediscover my femininity when I get back to shore, and
return to being a woman rather than a rower.

Q: Do you shave your legs while you're on the ocean?
No. But I'm not a very hairy person so you wouldn't be able to tell.

Q: Armpits?
A: Absolutely!

[photo: taken yesterday – the other squid. The one that didn't land in a
mangled heap of inky gloop. It's quite pretty, really – certainly a lot
prettier than yesterday's gore-fest.]


Other Stuff:

Conditions remain as windy (20+ knots) and splashy as ever. It's like
trying to row a mogul field. I fell off my seat a couple of times today,
when broadsided by particularly large waves, and I never know where the
water is going to be. Airshots with the oars are common, while at other
times the oar digs too deep as a wave rises. Through advice and
experience the oar length is designed so that when a wave catches the
oar there is enough room for the oar handle to swing past the side of my
body, rather than jamming itself into my midriff. It doesn't always work
that way – if the boat is off-balance the handle still sometimes scrapes
my thigh or punches my stomach – but it's better than it would be if the
handles of my two oars overlapped as they do in a conventional sculling
boat.

Crave of the Day: a massage!

Rave of the Day: Richard Russo. I love his books. I listened to Nobody's
Fool on Stage 1 of my Pacific row, and am currently listening to The
Risk Pool. I just love how very, very ordinary the people and places
are. If reading about my ocean adventures is your escapism, reading
about normal life in small town America is my escapism!

Quick answers to quick questions:

Can I post a picture of the night sky? No. The only way to take a
picture of the stars with a normal camera is to use a very long exposure
– absolutely not feasible from the deck of a rolling rowboat!

Weather Report:

Position at 2110 HST: 11 11.177N, 169 57.338W
Wind: 20+ knots E, no signs of easing
Seas: 9-10ft waves, steep and choppy
Weather: mostly cloudy, some sunshine

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 35 - Attack of the Killer Squid

This morning I suffered an aerial bombardment of the ickiest kind. I was
rowing along in the sunshine with my earbuds in, happily insulated from
the roar of the wind and the crashing of the waves, lulled by Michael
Palin's description of his travels through the Sahara. Then, suddenly
and without warning, I was hit by two missiles. One rocketed into the
cabin hatch just behind me, and exploded in a mass of black gore. The
other thudded into the seat runner next to my left leg, and slithered
gelatinously down the deck into the footwell. It was the attack of the
giant killer squid.

Well, ok, so they weren't giant. They were in fact only about 5 inches
long. But they did nearly give me a coronary, so could very well have
been killer.

Dazed, I hit the pause button on Michael Palin and surveyed the
situation. It looked like a cross between a crime scene and Alien. By
the fore hatch, one silvery squid was leaking more ink than I could have
ever expected to fit into one small body. His tentacles were lying in an
expanding pool of black. His slimy body flashed with a few dying gleams
of iridescence as he breathed his last. His friend was quietly expiring
in the footwell. The cockpit was liberally spattered with black body
fluids. I felt rather queasy.

I felt even more queasy at the thought of having to clean up the mess.
I'm not very good with slimy stuff. But I had to get these corpses off
my boat somehow.

So I took out a small measuring jug from the housekeeping locker and,
with my nose puckered in disgust, scooped up the bodies. The one who had
slithered down into the footwell, under my rowing shoes, proved rather
difficult. His tentacles stuck to the jug and I couldn't get to the
smoother, less sticky end of his body. Eventually I managed to scoop up
both sets of remains and deposit them over the side of the boat.

I hadn't even known that squid could eject themselves from the water
with such explosive force. Even if I had known, nothing would have
prepared me for the onslaught of airborne slimy things as I paddled
along, minding my own business. It was all rather shockingly yucky. A
few hours later just the memory was enough to spoil my appetite for
lunch – especially when I noticed there was still black ink dripping off
the fore hatch. Of course it was much worse for the squid than for me.
Let's just say that none of us were happy with the situation.

Don't get me wrong – I do like squid. But for future reference, I much
prefer them battered and deep-fried with a wedge of lemon on the side.

[photo: Eeeuurch. Messy. I hope this doesn't put you off your
breakfast. I can only post one photo per blog via email, so here's the
nasty one. Tomorrow I'll post the pic of the squid that didn't explode
in a mess of ink. Much prettier.]

Other Stuff:

Good progress today. But I'm still waiting for the wind to subside as
forecast. It's still around the 20kt level. I'm hoping that once it
slackens to around 15kts I'll be able to make a more SSW course which
will set me up better for making landfall. The other benefits of lesser
winds will be that I can once again use the sun canopy to save me from
the worst of the midday sun, and with fewer waves crashing over the side
of the boat it will be easier to keep my still-delicate bottom dry and
free of rashes.

I'm glad that my blog about Michael Jackson seems to have struck a
chord. Some great comments on that – thought-provoking as always. Thank
you.

Stormcloud – interesting perspective. There surely is always room for
improvement, but as you say, lots of room for happiness along the way.
As I have to remind myself on the tougher days at sea, it's important to
enjoy the journey as well as the arrival!

Gregory – I may have to manage your expectations about my MJ dance
moves. I'll use the impossibility of dancing on a rocking rowboat as an
excuse, but in truth I never did get to grips with the moonwalk…

Christa – thank you for the really lovely comment. Made my day!

Maui Bob – good to hear from you. Next time you talk to Marlene, please
tell her that her rawfood crackers are absolutely awesome. Really
enjoying them. Favorites so far are the chia sweet crackers and the
walnut pumpkin. Delicious!

Thanks, Ania, for the great quote. "And if you clear your mind and
cleanse your soul,
listen to what the spirits and nature have to say, and trust yourself
... you will find your own destiny" J.A.H. Very wise words, and yes, it
does sound like the process that I went through. Beautifully summed up.

So the fish was a mahi mahi? And a very handsome fella he was too. If
I'd had a harpoon gun, he might have been in trouble - although I doubt
if it could ever compare with the mahi mahi I had with the Hunks from
the Junk last year. The combination of company, being cooked for – oh,
and being saved from death by dehydration – made for the best dinner
party ever!

Quick answers to quick questions:

What color is the water and can I see far into it? The water is the
color of the sky – whatever that may be – blue, grey, black, pink,
yellow – and it's really hard to gauge how far down I can see. Not to
the bottom, that's for sure!

Have I seen the garbage patch? Last year my row was all about raising
awareness of the plastic pollution in the oceans, so I do know a lot
about it. But I haven't been through it myself. Would have been
seriously off-course if I'd landed up there! But I've heard that there
may be a belt of garbage at the equator. I'll be on the lookout…

Weather report:

Position at 2045 HST: 11 31.166N, 169 25.790W
Wind: 20+kts E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: some cloud, mostly sunny
In other words, same old, same old…

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 34 - On Michael Jackson: Shock Waves Reach Pacific

Today has been a strange day. The sea has been rough, really rough.
Chastened by the news of Sarah Outen's capsize on the Indian Ocean
yesterday (sarahouten.co.uk) I've been very careful.

But more than that, I've felt a little off-kilter, and have struggled to
figure out why. It seems strange, but the most likely cause appears to
be the death of Michael Jackson. I wasn't even particularly a MJ fan.
Yes, when I was 13 my best friend and I spent hours practicing the dance
routine for "Thriller" – but hey, who didn't? ('Fess up – surely my
friend Helen and I weren't the only ones?!)

My overwhelming feeling is one of sadness – not so much about his death,
but more about his life. He was so talented, so successful, so rich –
and yet apparently so unhappy.

Of course, I didn't know him. And I don't read the celebrity mags
(except at the dentist's, when nobody is looking) so I don't even have
those facts / factoids at my disposal. But my assumption is based on the
radical way he changed his appearance, from the cheery little black boy
who sang "ABC" with the Jackson Five to the strange, gaunt, pale ghost
of his final years. What does it say when you have such an uneasy
relationship with the man in the mirror?

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the rights of every
American. But why does it have to be the PURSUIT of happiness? All too
often the pursuit seems to involve conspicuous consumption and cosmetic
surgery – and as routes to happiness these seem sadly superficial and
ineffective. Isn't it better just to BE happy, regardless of what you
own or how you look?

Again, I'm aware that I'm not an American, and I don't want to sound
critical. I think the same ethos has spread worldwide, including the UK
– we just haven't ever codified it in quite the same way as the US. And
it concerns me. There are values much more important, much more
conducive to true happiness than the accoutrements of celebrity – values
such as integrity, strength of character, right livelihood and empathy –
and I'd love to see these values prized more highly.

In many ways, Michael Jackson epitomized the American Dream, but his
dream seemed to go sour. I hope we can pass on rather different
aspirations to the next generation – aspirations that will lead them
towards TRUE happiness and fulfillment.

[photo: on a different subject entirely – I took these stills from a
video shot over the side of the boat this morning. I can't identify the
fish. Can anybody help me?]

Other Stuff:

Thanks for the comments on my last blog. I'm glad you didn't mind
indulging me and my favorite movie scenes. And honestly, I will get back
to talking about rowing again soon.

Eco Champion of the Day! DrKatyLancaster via Twitter: "Love the blog!
The car stays at home far more often as a result."

Thanks to Gregory for the quotes – I just love good quotes. Especially
like the ones from Tin Cup and Dead Poets Society.

Sinead and Cheryl – well done on the running, and I'm happy to provide
some inspiration. And you inspire me back too, so we're all happy!
Cheryl – thanks for the reminder to "Keep Faith, Expect Miracles"

Vern – great to hear from you. Hope our paths cross in the autumn.

Amyran – thanks for the hypothetical ship's log if you were to row an
ocean. Made me laugh! Totally agree on the Starbucks – oceans are
lamentably lacking in coffee shops. Amongst many shortcomings this is
surely the most egregious.

Rob Moir – thanks for the update on the Climate and Energy Bill. Good
news. I have some comments in response to the debate that seemed to rage
on this blog following my call to action, but will hold them back for
now in the interests of balance. When the time is right...


Weather report:

Position at 2000 HST: 11 56.402N, 169 02.011W
Wind: 20+ knots E
Seas: 7-9ft E, steep and rough
Weather: mostly overcast

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 33 - Movie Moments

Thursdays are media days – when I record my podcast with Leo and also
make a short video to be inserted into its prepared shell and posted to
YouTube. But apart from my mulitmedia activities today was fairly
unremarkable. I tried listening to the audiobook of Revolutionary Road
but it was too depressing.

So I decided to amuse myself by compiling a list of my favorite film
scenes. Not the movies themselves, note, but most
entertaining/amusing/dramatic scenes. Kept my brain busy for several
hours. Sometimes you just have to make your own entertainment!

7. Four Weddings and a Funeral – the first scene, where they have
overslept and are late for the first wedding. Never has the f-word been
so entertaining.

6. Apollo 13 – Ed Harris, tipping a random selection of objects onto the
table at Mission Control: "Come on people, let's work the problem" With
Ed Harris on their side, failure is indeed not an option.

5. Indiana Jones (can't remember which film) where the Arab-type guy is
threatening Indie with an impressive and lengthy show of swashing and
buckling with his scimitar. Indie pulls out his gun and shoots him.
Violent and pointless, I know, but very funny.

4. The Sound of Music: Julie Andrews is making her way from the convent
to the Von Trapp house for the first time, full of trepidation. She
sings "I Have Confidence" and talks herself into an ebulliently positive
frame of mind. Then she arrives at the gate to the mansion. Her
confidence waivers. She whispers "Oh help" I know that feeling so well….

3. Blade Runner – the Rutger Hauer death scene as the rain pours down
his face: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe…" etc. I wish I
could remember all the words. It's so beautiful.

2. The Commitments – Billy the band manager goes to visit one of the
band members, who lives on a run-down housing estate in Dublin. He gets
into the lift, which is already occupied by a small boy and a horse.
"You're not going to take that horse in the lift, are ye?" "I got to,
sir. The stairs'll kill him." Love it!!

1. The Life of Brian – Brian has been rather surprised, when he flings
open his bedroom shutters, to find a crowd of several thousand people
waiting below. As he's trying to persuade them to clear off and stop
following him around, he says, "You're all individuals". "We're all
individuals," they chorus in unison. Then, with perfect comic timing, a
solitary little voice pipes up, "I'm not". The more you think about it,
the funnier it gets!

Ahhhh, I do like a good film. I'm sure there are lots of other classic
movie moments, but these are the ones that came first into my head.
Sorry if you wanted a blog more about ocean rowing, but there's a limit
to how much can be written about rowing 10,000 oarstrokes a day….

[photo: the cancan-dancing porpoises didn't show up today, so here is a
pic taken yesterday of the procession of fish that swam under my boat
for a while]

Other Stuff:

Devastated to hear about the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah
Fawcett. (Nicole emailed me to let me know.) As a little girl I was a
big fan of Charlie's Angels, although for some reason I wanted to be
Jaclyn Smith rather than Farrah. But Farrah was, of course, the icon.
And Michael Jackson - what a talent, but in so many ways what a tragic
life. Someone who, literally, found it impossible to be happy in his own
skin. Farrah battled cancer, Michael fought his own cultural identity.
Both are now at peace, their battles over.

Other bad news reaching the rowboat Brocade today - my friend Sarah
Outen, rowing the Indian Ocean, suffered a 360 capsize, injuring her
wrist, breaking an oar, and spending some time in the water before
managing to get back into her boat. She was understandably quite shaken,
according to the email I received from her weatherman Ricardo Diniz. But
she is a strong and resilient young woman and I am sure she will get
over this scary episode. If you have a moment, please go to her blog (at
sarahouten.co.uk) and post a message of encouragement and support to
cheer her up.

I am informed that I crossed the 1,000 mile mark at 11:20:50pm Hawaii
Standard Time on June 24, 2009. Approximately. To the nearest second. I
think Nicole will be announcing the winner of the sweepstake in due
course…

If you haven't already, please sign the petition and make your views
known on the Waxman Markey Bill - also known as the American Clean
Energy Security Act - which goes before Congress tomorrow. Details in
yesterday's blog.

Thanks to Julie Johnson for the beautiful excerpt from "Down the Nile".
I really enjoyed it. Sigh. Reading such evocative prose makes me feel
like I should give up writing altogether and leave it to the
professionals!

Answer to Ann Onimous's question: How would you feel if you weren't
using your rowing adventure to bring attention to environmental issues,
and you weren't setting any records? Would you still want to row oceans?
(I'm guessing you wouldn't, it wouldn't be as much fun).
A: Records are not a significant factor at all. Eco awareness is a much
bigger motivation, but actually I probably would still have rowed at
least one ocean. I learned so much about myself, and about life, and
about facing challenges, when I rowed the Atlantic – I wouldn't have
missed that experience for anything! The main reason I've carried on
rowing, as you say, is to use what influence I can to bring attention to
eco issues. Just trying to do my bit to help.

And thank you all so much for the comments posted on Blogger, Facebook
and Twitter. I love reading them, and wish I had time to respond to all.
Be assured – they are VERY much appreciated!

Weather report:

Position at 2000 HST: 12 10.269N, 168 35.254W
Wind: 20kts E
Seas: slightly less than yesterday – 7-8ft E
Weather: hazy this morning, hot and sunny this afternoon. Sun lotion and
sweat running off me in rivulets!

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Thursday, 25 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds gradually abate
throughout the forecast period. Expect winds to subside to around the
15kt range (possibly less) by Saturday, 27Jun. Seas abate to 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy with consistent cloud cover next five
days. Very isolated rainshowers.

ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
lies between 3N to 8N along 160-170W. In this area, winds in heavy
rainshowers have been 30-35kts. To the west of this area, the ITCZ is
relatively quiet.for now. If projected southwestward, Roz's current
coursetakes her west of 170W south of 10N and into the more quiet area
of the ITCZ. However, this could change depending on Roz's progress.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
25/1800-27/0600 ENE-E 17-22 6-9
27/0600-01/1800 ENE-E 12-17 5-7

Next Update: Monday, 29 June

All sounds good to me. Lighter winds would allow me to head on a more
southerly route, improving my chances of landfall sooner rather than
later. And I'm also quite happy to skip the heavy rainshowers and 35kt
winds. Ouch!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 32 - Fishy Filmstars

Day 32

Today was a good day for fishy-spotting. The ocean was rough, and as a
big wave passed under my boat and out the other side I noticed several
fish silhouetted in the peak of the wave. I got out my waterproof video
camera and dangled my arm over the side, trying to get shots of the
ghostly forms as they filed past under my boat, heading from east to
west.

Unfortunately my faithful followers got jealous of these
Johnny-come-latelies stealing the limelight and kept getting in the way,
hamming it up in front of the camera lens. These are the dark stripey
chappies who regularly hang out in the shade under my boat, using it as
a kind of mobile marine parasol. My friend Sarah Outen (currently rowing
the Indian Ocean – see sarahouten.co.uk) tells me these are pilot fish.
More like prima donna fish if you ask me.

But they're quite cute – and in fact, because they were so keen to get
up close and personal with the camera I got much better shots of them
than I did of their more aloof cousins cruising lower down.

Later on this afternoon my eye was caught by a blue fish doing a
backflip. Twice. Not quite sure what it was up to, but it leaped clear
of the water in a vertical motion – maybe to escape a predator, or maybe
just for the sheer joy of it. But it didn't do it again, and so remained
unphotographed.

So, attention-seeking little critters that they are, the pilot fish are
the ones that make it into tonight's photo slot. If nothing excitingly
photogenic happens tomorrow (like a row of porpoises dancing the cancan,
or a shark eating my rudder for breakfast) then I'll post a pic of the
other guys on my next blog.

[photo: pilot fish against the underside of my boat. The black loop is
the grabline that I use to get back on board. Hmmm, looks like it's time
to go scrub barnacles again!]

Other Stuff:

IMPORTANT ECO UPDATE FOR AMERICANS

Here's the scoop: there is a seriously important climate change bill
going before Congress this Friday for a vote. When I was in Nashville
for the Climate Project conference just before I embarked on this
voyage, this bill was the topic on everybody's lips. They were very
excited about its potential to put America at the forefront of action on
climate change.

It's called the Waxman Markey Bill - also known as the American Clean
Energy Security Act. This historic piece of legislation is long overdue
and would be a major step in the right direction. This bill will achieve
REAL carbon reductions by 2020 and passing it would send a message to
the world that the U.S. is serious about solving the climate crisis NOW.
Not only that, but it would help create a new green economy, creating
about 1.7 million new jobs.

Now, I'm not American so you could say this is none of my business, but
climate change is everybody's business, no matter what country we're
from. This issue does not recognize national boundaries. As Al Gore said
yesterday, "The rest of the world will follow OUR lead. The next
generation is counting on us. Our economy and our planet cannot afford
to wait."

So please call or write to your Representative, asking them to vote in
favor of this bill. A very easy way to do this is to go to
www.repoweramerica.org and add your name to the petition. Nicole tells me
that she called her Representatives in Arizona and left a voicemail this
afternoon urging their action on this as a registered voter and taxpayer.
You can do the same.

And if you're not an American, you don't need to feel left out. This
December in Copenhagen representatives from all over the world will be
gathering to decide what to do about climate change. Let them know you
care. Let them know what kind of a future YOU want. Write to your
government and your representatives and make your views known. It all
counts!

Other, Other Stuff:

Nicole is going to be on the Andy Bumatai show tomorrow to give everyone
an update on my progress. You can watch it at www.TheAndyBumataiShow.com
at 1 pm Hawaii time. She will probably be up at the top of the show. The
video will be posted to YouTube shortly thereafter.

Nicole predicts that I will cross the 1,000 mile mark at about 1am Hawaii
time tonight. So raise me a glass and wish me luck for the next 1,000!

I seem to be in the wars. Following on from yesterday's strained
pectoral, today I took a tumble and found myself sitting down rather
abruptly – and not on a seat, unfortunately. I landed on the end of one
of my seat runners, where lives a removable pin with a ring on the top –
the imprint of which is now firmly embossed on my right buttock. It bled
a little so I duly daubed it in disinfectant but am having extreme
difficulty in applying a band-aid to a wound I can't see. Most
inconvenient.

Conditions continue rough and windy, with all the weather coming from
the East. But I continue to plod stoically south as much as I can. It
would be much easier to go with the wind and the waves. But then I'd
probably end up in the Philippines – which isn't the game plan.

Crescent moon: was sighted at sunset, around 1930 HST or 2030 local
time. But I suspect this is too late to be of interest to the crescent
moon spotters. Sorry!

Weather report:

Position at 2100 HST: 12 28.815N, 168 11.212W
Wind:15-22kts, E
Seas: 7-9ft, E
Weather: sunny, about 5-10% cloud, cumulus and cirrus mostly


Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Monday, 22 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds bump up a notch
above 20kts and seas increase to the 10ft range until tomorrow. Then
abate to below 20kts, increase again on the 25th. Seas 7-10ft.

Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with variable cloud cover next
five days. Very isolated rainshowers. The Inter-Tropical Convergence
Zone (ITCZ) has quieted down since last report. This is an area of
converging winds from the northern and southern hemisphere which can
cause convective activity which increase the chance of heavy
rainshowers, thunderstorms, and lightning. Presently, the ITCZ lies
between 8-10N.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
22/1800-23/1200 ENE-E 17-23 7-10
23/1200-25/1800 ENE-E 13-18 6-9
25/1800-27/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-10

TEAM UPDATE: Roz to hit 1,000 miles...SOON!


Hi Everyone,  

Great news...our fearless friend Roz is making amazing progress and in the next 24 hours, she'll cross the 1,000 mile mark!  

Show your support, help us raise some money for Roz and join in a fun game: make your guess as to the exact time (to the nearest second) that she'll hit that mark. Use the RozTracker to inform your guessing.  

Submit your guess in a Tweet (use #roz1000 so we can track it) or on her Facebook Fan Page wall.  

If you make a donation to Roz's PayPal account (see the right side of her website for the link) between now and the time she hits 1,000 miles, then Roz will give you (and your website if you want!) a BIG shout-out to thousands of people all over the world in a blog, Tweet, and on her website.  

The winner will be announced tomorrow.  

How we'll calculate: Please make your guess to the nearest second in Hawaii time (GMT-10, or 3 hours behind the US west coast). We will calculate the exact time she hits 1,000 miles by using the two GPS points that come immediately before and after it happens, according to the RozTracker. Hint: if you click on Roz's icon on the map, her distance logged is listed to the nearest tenth of a mile under "Voyage Statistics".  

Spread the word, and GOOD LUCK! Thanks so much for your continued support.

Nicole and the rest of Team Roz

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 31 - Still Smiling

Day 31 – Reasons to be Cheerful

I'm feeling rather beaten up today. I've developed a twinge in my right
pectoral, which is causing discomfort on every stroke. But where
there's a will there's a way. I've had to adopt a rather different
rowing style, placing the blade carefully in the water with my arm at
full extension and using the muscles in my shoulders, back and legs to
complete most of the stroke, only using my arm to finish off the stroke
once the other parts of my body have created enough momentum.

This is more like the classic rowing stroke I would use on flat water –
on rough ocean water it's usually easier to take the catch with bent
arms to help compensate for not knowing quite where the water is going
to be at any given time. It means that I've been able to put less power
into it than usual, but at least I've been able to keep myself on a more
SW course than I would be on if I'd just taken the day off.

An incipient patch of baboon bum has also been causing me concern, and
eating a couple of last year's falafel crackers for lunch might have
been a mistake. I felt a bit queasy for the rest of the afternoon, so
the rest of the batch went overboard as fish food. I hope it didn't give
them gippy tummies too.

So all in all I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. But no day is totally
without redeeming features, and today has had several.

I optimistically decided to try Lazarus's On button, and surprisingly
the stereo popped into life, having steadfastly resisted all attempts
over the last couple of days. And the weather was sunny without being
too hot. And I saw a few birds (terns? with black caps on their heads,
white bellies, and black backs and edging on their wings). Also a flying
fish making an impressively long flight across the waves, his silver
body gleaming as he skimmed just inches above the blue water.

So all in all, life isn't too bad. Nothing that can't be remedied by a
good night's sleep, a few painkillers and a dollop of hydrocortisone
cream applied liberally to my nethers.

[Photo: still smiling. Ish. Tonight in my cabin.]

Other Stuff:

Nicole tells me I'm coming up on 1,000 miles. And tomorrow marks the end
of my first month at sea. I tend to focus on how much still needs to be
done, rather than what I've already accomplished, so it's nice to be
reminded that a small celebration might be in order. Yayyyy!

Today's Eco Champ is Megan L in Chicago, who posted this comment:
Roz, I'm working on being more green and this is what Ive done since you
started on this leg:
-Installed two rain barrels so I can use rain water in my garden.
-Set up two double compost bins. I eat a lot of veggies (local-from the
Farmers Market) and I used to put the scraps down the disposal.
-Put up a clothesline to use sunshine and wind to dry the laundry.
-Put solar lights around my patio.
Thanks for the inspiration!

All fantastic ideas, Megan – and don't you just LOVE Farmers' Markets?!
So much more friendly than a supermarket, great to know where your food
is coming from, good sense to save on those food miles when food has
been flown halfway around the world – and best of all when they give out
free samples!!!

UncaDoug – I've been looking out for the crescent moon all day, but not
a glimpse, alas. Sorry! Maybe the sun was just too bright? It's been
dazzling today…

Some swift answers to questions:

Do I worry about lightning strikes? No. What good would worrying about
them do?

Does the boat drift off course when I go to sleep? Kind of, yes. But I
have a very flexible concept of the word "course", so I don't lose sleep
over it – literally or figuratively. Provided I go a bit west and a bit
south, I'm reasonably happy.

Would I consider stopping at another island en route to Tuvalu? No.
Ocean rowboats and land do not get on well together. Landfall is the
most difficult and dangerous bit. Best avoided until required.

Have I seen the space station? No, but will look out for it now I know
it's there. Have I seen the zodiacal light? No, not that I'm aware of.

What happens if the boat flips over? It flips back upright again.

Do you ever feel like the "noise" from the blogging and twittering and
facebooking, and other communications is too much - that it distracts
from getting into a zen-like meditative state? No, not any more –
because I don't let it. But the ocean itself often interferes with
zen-like meditative state by being constantly rough and splashy!

Been doing much inner soul searching and having discussions with God?
Did enough of that during 103 of silence on the Atlantic to keep me
going for a while. Still check in regularly, but even in the Bible they
drew the line at 40 days and 40 nights!

Why do I row without clothes? Why not?! But seriously, because:
a) clothes chafe
b) clothes get in the way of applying sun lotion
c) clothes get sweaty and smelly, and/or soaked in saltwater, and I
have limited laundry facilities
d) easier to go to the bathroom with no clothes, while still
maintaining 3 points of contact with boat
e) it's too bloody hot!

And thanks for all the feedback on my questions yesterday about
meridians and the equator. A quick digest of the responses:

Where the prime meridian crosses the equator: they cross in the Gulf of
Guinea at a point about 380 miles south of Accra, Ghana, and 640 miles
west Libreville, Gabon.
(Thank you Michelle Driskill-Smith and aquaphoenix)

(And I quote SV Billabong): I couldn't find the name of 0 180, but you
do drop the NSEW designation as no clarification of hemisphere is
required (you're right on the edge).

(Thanks to Tom B): Regarding your 0deg N/S and 0deg E/W...not sure about
the answer. But I do know you'd be a "Goddess" on the "Degree Confluence
Project"
http://confluence.org/

Basically, (from the site) "The goal of the project is to visit each of
the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world,
and to take pictures at each location."

There are A LOT of points along your path that nobody has been to
before! You would rack up quite the list if you managed to take a
picture showing your coordinates at each point of confluence!

And if you happen to hit 0deg N/S and 0deg E/W at the same time AND get
a picture...I don't know what will happen! (parties? people fainting?
children named after you?!)

(And to JohnH for this): I do not think that there is a specific name
for the point where the date line crosses the equator, but if you do
cross at that point you will be entitled to the title of "Golden
Shellback". Crossing the equator at the Greenwich Meridian (360 miles
out in the ocean south of Ghana, Africa) you would be entitled to the
title of "Emerald Shellback". So maybe we should name them the "Golden
Point" and the "Emerald Point"?

Very good ideas for the names, JohnH, although a bit too sensible for my
tastes. I'm trying to think of something a bit more entertaining, but am
feeling rather devoid of inspiration. Any offers?!

Weather report:
Position at 2035 HST: 12 46.240N 167 49.211W
Wind: 15-20kts E
Seas: 7-10ft E
Weather: sunny, some cloud

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Monday, 22 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds bump up a notch
above 20kts and seas increase to the 10ft range until tomorrow. Then
abate to below 20kts, increase again on the 25th. Seas 7-10ft.

Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with variable cloud cover next
five days. Very isolated rainshowers. The Inter-Tropical Convergence
Zone (ITCZ) has quieted down since last report. This is an area of
converging winds from the northern and southern hemisphere which can
cause convective activity which increase the chance of heavy
rainshowers, thunderstorms, and lightning. Presently, the ITCZ lies
between 8-10N.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
22/1800-23/1200 ENE-E 17-23 7-10
23/1200-25/1800 ENE-E 13-18 6-9
25/1800-27/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-10

To answer some of your follower's questions regarding moon rise and set,
and time zone. On June 23, the moon rises about 6:50 AM (HST) and sets
8:39PM. New moon was 22Jun and the next full moon is on Jul 06. So the
night skies should be dark next couple of weeks. The time zone Roz is
currently in is one hour behind Hawaii time (HST). She will cross the
next time zone upon passing 180E/W.

Next Update: Thursday, 25 June

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 30 - Rowing Naked in the Rain

Day 30 – No Such Thing As Bad Weather?

The British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes once famously declared, "There
is no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing." I may
beg to differ. My clothing today was eminently appropriate – as usual I
was au naturel – but the weather was decidedly bad as far as I was
concerned.

I was woken this morning by a teeth-rattling blow to the side of the
boat from a big wave, which was shortly followed by a torrential
downpour. I lay on my bunk for a while, procrastinating. I'm usually at
the oars by 6am but this morning it was 7.30 by the time I put blade to
water. It was heavily overcast and I could see more bad weather
approaching from the East.

I'm not sure if it was hail or rain – the wind was throwing it at me so
viciously that it felt like bullets (not that I'd know) but maybe it was
just rain. Very hard rain. And that's the way the day has gone. Cloud,
rain, and more rain. With a few bakingly hot intervals.

I'd been prepared for this kind of thing once I get to the
Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, but that is supposedly still a couple
of degrees away to the south. To be honest, I'm not quite sure just what
the ITCZ is going to bring. In my mind it's some kind of meteorological
Twilight Zone, where anything could happen. Squalls, doldrums, flukey
and surprising winds. I guess I'll find out when I get there. (See also
the latest forecast from weatherguy.com at the bottom of this blog –
interesting.)

Looking at my current course, I'm not sure which I'll cross first – the
International Date Line (at longitude 180 degrees) or the Equator (at
latitude 0 degrees). It would be pretty cool to cross both at the same
time – a bit like being at the North Pole or the South Pole, it would be
a very special set of coordinates.

A few questions if anyone is inclined to do some research to satisfy my
curiosity:

1. Does that place have a name? The place at 180 degrees W and 0
degrees N?
2. Is it correctly 180 degrees W or 180 degrees E? And is it 0
degrees N or 0 degrees S? Or neither – does it drop the W/E and N/S
designation?
3. And where does its opposite lie? The place where the prime
(Greenwich) meridian crosses the Equator? Is it somewhere in Africa?
What country? Is there anything to mark its location? Or is it in the
ocean?

I get fascinated by this stuff, like celestial navigation - anything
that reminds me that we're living on this spinning ball, whizzing
through space, running laps around the sun while the sun itself hurtles
through space.

Is there a Google Universe yet, like Google Earth but bigger in scope?
Now that really would be something, to look back at our solar system
from, say, the middle stud of Orion's Belt.

Oooh, I'm suddenly feeling very small indeed….

Other Stuff:

A very special hello to Bernadette in Australia – today's Pull Together
Champ! She wrote this comment on my last blog:

Thanks to you Roz I am now walking to work each day. It's about 5.5kms
which I used to drive (if it's pouring with rain I take the bus which is
also how I get home unless I feel extra energetic). I figured if you can
row across the oceans to help save the planet the bare minimum I can do
is get up early and forgo the daily drive. I've found it quite a joy
actually and am also developing a nice audio book addiction.

Great going, Bernadette. I'm SO proud of you! Reading your comment has
made my rowing seem so much more worthwhile. Thanks for sharing.
Everyone else – please check out pulltogether.org. I'm encouraging
people to try and match my 10,000 oarstrokes a day with 10,000 steps,
preferably by walking instead of driving for short journeys. Even if you
can't manage to do 10,000, every bit helps – it all helps reduce your
environmental impact. Good for your body and good for the planet!

Great also to hear from my friend Olli – what are you doing in Austin?!
Anyway, good to hear that you're still on your bike, and saving on paper
towels too. Keep spreading the word!

Answers to questions:

When do I decide it's time to retire and batten down the hatches? Pretty
much a gut feel When I start thinking, oooh, this is a bit dicey, that's
about the time! But so far the boat has felt really solid. There have
been some big waves (like the one this morning) but she hasn't even
hinted at going over. Long may that last!

Do I have any pets back on dry land? No, I don't – mostly because I
don't have a home so I don't have anywhere to keep one! One day I'd love
to have a mynah bird, or parrot, or some such. And teach it to say all
kinds of rude things!

Do I have a tether? Yes, I do. It's err, around here somewhere. I don't
use it much.

UncaDoug – I'll see if I can spot the moon tomorrow. Totally overcast
tonight. Please don't count on me though – got a few other things going
on here, so want to manage your expectations on moonspotting!

And thanks for all the comments and sympathy I got on Facebook and
Twitter this morning when I Tweeted about rowing naked in a hailstorm.
Especially enjoyed Peter Hatley's comment:
Think of it as God giving u acupunture, but using hail instead of
needles lol

OK, all for now. Just finally:

Crave of the Day: Cornish cream tea (inspired by message from Dr Aenor
about being on holiday in Cornwall)

Rave of the Day: beansprouts with rawfood chocolate syrup. Sounds weird
but I'm not kidding – it's really good!


Weather Report:

Position at 2100 HST: 12 58.125N, 167 25.776W
Wind: 20+ kts E
Seas: 8-10ft E
Weather: think I've already covered this one!

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As of Monday, 22 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds bump up a notch
above 20kts and seas increase to the 10ft range until tomorrow. Then
abate to below 20kts, increase again on the 25th. Seas 7-10ft.

Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with variable cloud cover next
five days. Very isolated rainshowers. The Inter-Tropical Convergence
Zone (ITCZ) has quieted down since last report. This is an area of
converging winds from the northern and southern hemisphere which can
cause convective activity which increase the chance of heavy
rainshowers, thunderstorms, and lightning. Presently, the ITCZ lies
between 8-10N.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
22/1800-23/1200 ENE-E 17-23 7-10
23/1200-25/1800 ENE-E 13-18 6-9
25/1800-27/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-10

To answer some of your follower's questions regarding moon rise and set,
and time zone. On June 23, the moon rises about 6:50 AM (HST) and sets
8:39PM. New moon was 22Jun and the next full moon is on Jul 06. So the
night skies should be dark next couple of weeks. The time zone Roz is
currently in is one hour behind Hawaii time (HST). She will cross the
next time zone upon passing 180E/W.

Next Update: Thursday, 25 June

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 29 - Old Man of the Sea

Oh dear. This blog is supposed to be about me rowing across the Pacific.
But today I haven't been me - I have been Michael Palin following in the
footsteps of Ernest Hemingway. That's problem with a really good book.
It totally sucks you in so you forget who you are. And where you are.
And what you're doing.

Since the demise of my stereo I have to listen to audiobooks with
earbuds connected to my iPod in a waterproof Aquapac. So the effect is
even more potent - it's like I'm mainlining the book straight into my
brain.

On the upside, it did make the day's rowing pass much more easily. I
even rowed an extra half hour so I could get to the end. Then I emerged
from the book to find myself rowing along under the stars, rather
disoriented, like I sometimes feel when I come out of a cinema after a
gripping film.

So it was a darned good book. Michael Palin (ex-member of Monty Python
team, also star of A Fish Called Wanda) was commissioned by the BBC to
visit the places where the writer Ernest Hemingway lived – in Chicago,
Key West, Africa, Spain, Paris, Italy, Cuba and Montana. I learned a lot
about Hemingway, as well as what his old haunts are like now.

Hemingway sounds like a powerful character – one of those people I had
in mind when I did my ideal obituary exercise several years ago. He was
passionate, adventurous, larger than life, and intensely alive. All good
things, in my book. Also accident prone and a hard drinker, with a habit
of bagging both wildlife and wives in excess. Not things that I aspire
to (I like to drink, but would struggle to keep up with his prodigious
intake) but the thing I admire about him is that he lived life without
reserve. He held nothing back. He just went for it headlong.

I love to learn about people I admire. It helps me figure out the kind
of person I want to be. Nobody's perfect, and I would never model myself
100% on just one person. But an amalgam of 20 or so different people
creates a kind of idealized role model – the spirit of this one, the
courage of that one, the curiosity of another. It all helps me visualize
my ideal future self. It's fun – like pick 'n' mix for the personality.

[photo: tonight's sunset - photo taken with my Xacti waterproof video
camera since demise of Pentax Optio WP]

Other Stuff:

Some quick answers to questions raised in comments:

Do I run a light on my boat at night? Yes, I have a solar-powered bright
white light that comes on automatically at sunset and goes off at
sunrise

How often do I wash off the salt from my body? Many times a day! I have
plenty of water from my watermaker, and plenty of sunshine to power the
solar panels that keep it running, so I have more than enough fresh
water to bathe frequently with bucket and sponge.

How do I avoid getting burned to a crisp? I use copious amounts of my
Green People organic sun lotion. I'm nearly through my second large
tube. And I do have a small sun canopy, although I haven't been able to
use that much recently because it's been too windy and it flaps around
when the wind gets over 20 knots.

Do I wear sunglasses? I should, but I don't. My friend Ellen lent me
some really cool glasses but they slide down my nose when I get hot and
sweaty. So I just wear a baseball cap and that seems to do the trick.

How much sleep do I get and how many hours do I row? Sleep is a flexible
concept. I get about 7-8 hours of lying on my bunk each night, some of
which is spent asleep, but it gets pretty bouncy out here much of the
time. Noisy too. As for rowing, I'm taking it easier on this leg. Around
10 hours a day. That's all.

Can I post temperatures? No, not at the moment. I don't have anything to
measure temperature – or at least, I do, but I'm not planning to
download the data from the devices until the end of the voyage. But I do
happen to know that the temperature in the forward cabin (where my
Project Niu device awaits deployment) reached 100 degrees F the other
day. I'd say that's pretty warm.

Eve – I remember! Well done on your dissertation. Glad the photo helps
provide some inspiration. I think we both know a lot about the value of
perseverance!!

UncaDoug – if I see the moon, I'll report it. Do you know what time it
is due to rise on June 23? As for my time zone, I have no idea! I'm
still using Hawaiian time as ship's time, but I don't know what time
zone I am in officially. I suspect I might be an hour behind Hawaii. You
will have to check using my longitude.

Thanks to Anna and Karen for the lovely messages. Anna – I hope the back
gets better soon! You want to watch out for that gardening – truly
dangerous!

Earl-Baldwin – go for it! And good luck with the swimming. You are now
the second adult (that I know of) who has decided to learn to swim after
reading about my adventures. Thanks for letting me know!

Gary – sounds like an amazing project with the Navajo. I look forward to
hearing more about it. Keep me posted!

OK, all for now. Ernest Hemingway has kept me up past my bedtime and I
need to hit the hay.

Weather report:

Position at 2215 HST: 13 14.922N, 166 58.248W
Wind: 15-20kts E
Seas: 6ft E
Weather: occasional clouds, hot and sunny

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range throughout the
forecast period. Seas 5-8ft.

Temperature: Hot and getting hotter with increasing humidity heading
towards the equator.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover next five days.
Very isolated rainshowers. About 11-10N latitude, increasing clouds
approaching the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). These clouds
become convective clouds which increase the chance of heavy rainshowers,
thunderstorms, and lightning normally associated with the ITCZ.
Currently, the convergence area of the ITCZ lies between 11N and 4N

Next Update: Monday, 22 June

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 28 - Comrades in Oars

Day 28 – Comrades in Oars

Since Nicole sent me some excerpts from the Golden Gate Endeavour blog,
I've been thinking quite a bit about my friends Chris Martin and Mick
Dawson as they row across the north Pacific from Japan to San Francisco.
And, sorry guys, but mostly I've been thinking I'm happy I'm not you! I
think that rowing an ocean in a pair would be a very different thing
from rowing as a solo.

Mick already has two Atlantic crossings under his belt (both in pairs)
and two failed solo attempts on the Pacific – both of which ended up in
a liferaft. So in determination to succeed this time he has enlisted
Chris Martin, who was the one other solo entry when I did the Atlantic
Rowing Race in 2005.

They are rowing in the shift pattern commonly used by pairs – two hours
on, two hours off, around the clock. I tried this on the Atlantic, and I
found it brutal. The human body (well, my human body, anyway) does not
take kindly to being roused from sleep at godforsaken hours of the night
to go and row. Nor does it respond well to never getting more than about
90 minutes of sleep at a time (it takes a while to get down, and then to
get up again - especially as the north Pacific is decidedly chilly so
the guys are wearing a lot more clothes than I do).

They described in their blog what it is like at changeover time, with
one man desperate to get to sleep and the other trying to drag himself
out of sleep. The resulting lack of coordination resulting in a snack
bar thrown by Mick to Chris landing in the poo bucket. Not good.

I really felt for them. At least my body, sunburned, aching and abused
as it is, gets a decent night's break from rowing and a chance to
recover. And when conditions prevent rowing I get the whole cabin to
myself rather than having to share with a large hairy-arsed crewmate.
Still, each to their own.

Even though Mick and Chris are many hundreds of miles north of me, it's
nice to know they're there. Gives me a feeling of comradeship. So a big
AHOY to the guys, and wishing Mick third time lucky. If you'd like to
follow their blog, it's at goldengateendeavour.com (note English
spelling of endeavour).

[photo: looking out for Mick and Chris – the view north from my boat,
showing the solar panels and aft hatch on the roof of my sleeping cabin]

And a note on ocean rowing:

To put it in context (and this is all from memory, so I hope I'm more or
less right) about 300 people in the world have rowed across an ocean.
Most of those crossings have been in pairs, and most of them have been
on the Atlantic, as contestants in the Atlantic Rowing Race. About 25
people have rowed solo across an ocean, of whom 6 have been women.

Not many people have rowed the Pacific. In contrast to the Atlantic,
most of the Pacific crossings have been solo rather than in pairs. The
ones I can recall are:

Sylvia Cooke and John Fairfax in about 1966, from East to West
Peter Bird, E to W
Gerard d'Aboville, W to E
Jim Shekhdar, E to W

Alex Bellini, E to W, although I'm not sure if his attempt counted
because he got picked up about 65 miles short of the Australian coast,
frustrated by repeated failures to punch through the currents that
whoosh up and down the Australian coast.

And a Frenchwoman, Maude Fontenoy, rowed about half the Pacific, from
Peru to French Polynesia.

I'm sure there are a few more that I can't remember. The definitive
statistics are at www.oceanrowing.com.


Other Stuff:

Conditions continue rough, with winds of at least 20 knots coming from
the East. I am rowing south, across the waves, which means they often
strike me broadside and give me a drenching. And it's challenging to row
efficiently in such rough seas. But it will be worth it in the end if it
sets me up well for Stage 3 next year, coming in to Australia.

Lazarus the Stereo finally died today. Bit the dust. Kicked the bucket.
Went to the big West Marine in the sky. I'd been managing to coax him
into reluctant action for the last week or so, since he developed a
rebellious streak and decided to ignore all button-pressing. But now he
flatly refuses to work. At all. From now on it's the Aquapac + earbuds.
Thanks to Aquapac for the free gear – seriously much appreciated. Need
to feed my audiobook addiction!

Crave of the Day: a glass of nice cold, ice cold milk

Rave of the Day: the walnut pumpkin rawfood crackers made for me by
Marlene Depierre. Just tried them out for the first time today. Very
yummy indeed!

Thanks for all the brilliant comments. I've just finished reading the
latest batch. I love hearing who you are and what you're doing, what
challenges you're facing and how you face them. Your comments really
help remind me that there is a real world somewhere beyond the horizon!
A wonderful world with some wonderful people. Thanks for being there for
me.


Weather report:

Position at 2100 HST: 13 36.074N, 166 31.935W
Wind: 20+ kts from E
Seas: 10ft from E
Weather: some overcast this morning, occasional clouds this afternoon

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range throughout the
forecast period. Seas 5-8ft.

Temperature: Hot and getting hotter with increasing humidity heading
towards the equator.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover next five days.
Very isolated rainshowers. About 11-10N latitude, increasing clouds
approaching the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). These clouds
become convective clouds which increase the chance of heavy rainshowers,
thunderstorms, and lightning normally associated with the ITCZ.
Currently, the convergence area of the ITCZ lies between 11N and 4N

Next Update: Monday, 22 June

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 27 - Paddlers Passions (and another pet peeve)

Day 27

Paddler's Pet Pacific Passions

As the flipside to yesterday's gripes about my pet peeves, here are some
of the compensations to life on an ocean rowboat (and in case this is
all a bit too Pollyanna for you, skip to Other Stuff where I once again
get something off my chest…)

Good things about ocean rowing:

7. Getting an all-over suntan – I even alternate my feet in my rowing
shoes now so that they get a bit of color. Didn't have this figure out
on the Atlantic crossing and arrived in Antigua looking like I'd stepped
up to my ankles in whitewash.

6. I get to eat as much as I want without getting fat. Quite the
opposite in fact – I tend to lose about 25 pounds on a crossing.

5. I do what I want, when I want, with very few restrictions apart from
scheduled calls on the satellite phone.

4. But having said that, I like having the steady routine that I never
seem to find in my nomadic existence on dry land. I even remember to
take my vitamin pills.

3. Glow of virtue from eating healthy food and getting lots of fresh air
and exercise.

2. The stars at night have to be seen to be believed – so bright, so
many, so very humbling.

1. Simplicity and purity – I have what I need (give or take a few tubes
of shower gel) and not much more. I often think of my boat as my little
floating nun's cell, in a good way. My time here reminds me what is
important in life – and what isn't.


Other Stuff:

Eeeeah. Aaarrgh. Eeeaawww. (Imagine lots of Jim Carrey-like face pulling
to indicate inner conflict.) I'm going to have to do it. I know you're
not supposed to dignify negative comments with a response, but I just
can't help myself. Two days ago someone (and we all know who you are)
posted a comment on this blog that I just have to reply to.

So you feel like this voyage so far has been "flat"? Disappointed
because so far I haven't been airlifted by helicopter (2007), had both
my watermakers fail (2008), broken all my oars or lost my communications
(2006)? You may be disappointed, but personally, I am quite happy about
this state of affairs, and would like it to continue. Dramas? Been
there, done that, got the press clippings.

Before every voyage I catch myself thinking "I hope it's not boring" and
then very quickly tell myself to be careful what I wish for. At sea,
drama = bad. It is life-threatening, stressful, and sometimes very
expensive.

This is not a Hollywood movie. It is REAL LIFE – you know, that thing
that happens when you get away from your computer keyboard and go and do
something more interesting instead. I am not a screenwriter, I am a
blogger. I don't make this stuff up.

I bare heart, soul and backside for your entertainment and edification.
I invite you to share my life, thoughts and adventures, and to abuse
that invitation strikes me as bad manners.

But just to keep you happy, I have arranged for some dramatic new
developments. In a few weeks time I will be hit by a giant killer
tsunami, resulting in an unrecoverable capsize. Then I get rescued by a
galleon, only to discover that it is manned by bloodthirsty pirates.
Luckily I manage to melt the heart of the ruthless pirate captain (who
bears an uncanny resemblamce to Johnny Depp). He whisks me off to a
tropical island where we make our own rum and live happily ever after.

I booked the tsunami for July 23, 6pm UTC. I do hope you can wait that
long for things to get less "flat".

I think I've made my point.


Meanwhile, thank you to the vast majority of people who have been
posting lovely, supportive, encouraging and entertaining comments on my
blog. I truly appreciate them. Especially enjoyed yesterday's comments
from Maria Pomponio, Anna Farmery, and the Old Man. Thanks also to
chep2m for the link to the Google Blog. Sindy – keep up the good work, I
know you'll find a way to fit those steps in somehow – and even if you
don't make it to 10,000 steps in a day, know that every bit helps!

On the question about sharks – yes, every time I go for a plunge I check
for ominous shadows around my boat. Haven't seen any yet, but can't be
too careful. A big shark bite is one drama I could definitely do
without.

And hello to Guam and India!

OK, time to get this blog posted. If you haven't yet checked out
yesterday's video RozCast on YouTube, please do. It took me 2 hours to
get the 30 second ocean bit uploaded because I kept losing the
connection to the satellites, so please make it worth my while! Easiest
to find it via the RozTracker. Enjoy!

Weather report:

Position at 2030 HST: 13 50.199N, 165 59.602W
Wind: over 20kts - very inconvenient. Lots of walloping around the head
by sun canopy until gave up and took it down
Seas: 8-10ft, often coming over side of boat
Weather: overcast morning, blistering afternoon

Weather forecast courtesy of weatherguy.com:

The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range throughout the
forecast period. Seas 5-8ft.

Temperature: Hot and getting hotter with increasing humidity heading
towards the equator.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover next five days.
Very isolated rainshowers. About 11-10N latitude, increasing clouds
approaching the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). These clouds
become convective clouds which increase the chance of heavy rainshowers,
thunderstorms, and lightning normally associated with the ITCZ.
Currently, the convergence area of the ITCZ lies between 11N and 4N

Next Update: Monday, 22 June

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 26 - Pet Peeves of the Pacific

Day 26 – Pet Peeves

Generally I like to look on the bright side of life, focusing on the
positive rather than the negative. But once in a while it does me good
to have a quick rant, and a problem shared is a problem halved, so here
are my 7 top pet peeves of ocean-going existence:

7. Phantom noises – things that go bump in the night, or click, or beep,
or roll, or knock… and defy all efforts to identify the source of the
noise. Boats are noisy places, with things rolling around in lockers or
swinging against cabin walls, and it can drive a soul to distraction
trying to find out where the noise is coming from.

6. Losing things that, like the noises, can't be found. (Today I found
my shower gel – woohoo! But only one tube, and I know I had at least 4,
and I can't figure out why they aren't all together. Why would the black
hole suck all but one tube through into the parallel universe? The
mystery deepens….)

5. A stereo that won't play when I want it to, and won't stop when I
want it to either. Today before my podcast with Leo I had to open it up
and pull out the iPod from its slot, as the only way to get it to shut
up.

4. Being clobbered around the head by the sun canopy when the wind gets
to over 20 knots. But if I take the sun canopy down I get scorched by
the harsh tropical sun. If only the weather would choose between high
winds and sunshine, but not both at the same time…

3. Dropped satphone calls – Leo and I lost contact during the podcast
this morning, and when I tried to call him back my phone just kept
saying "Please try later". Doesn't it KNOW when I'm on an important
phone call?!

2. Finding decomposed flying fish in unlikely corners of the deck. If
they don't get returned to the waves pretty soon after death, they go
rather crusty if in sun, or horribly slimy if concealed behind sea
anchor or liferaft, or if hiding in the bilges. Yuck!

1. Inconsiderate waves that come crashing in unannounced just as I've
switched over to a fresh, dry seat cover. Or while I'm preparing my
lunch. Or at an otherwise inconvenient moment. They watch, they wait,
and then they come and get me. Or am I just getting paranoid?!

Phew, feels better to have got those off my chest. In the interests of
balanced reporting, tomorrow I will try and come up with 7 good things
about being on the ocean.

[photo: rowing action today]

Other Stuff:

And here's another pet peeve – winds that blow me the wrong way. If you
look at my route on the RozTracker you'll see that in the last 24 hours
it has taken a sudden jag to the west. This is very strange. The wind is
coming from the same direction, the rudder is set the same as it has
been for the last week, and as usual I have been rowing with my bow
pointed due south. But instead of heading nicely SSW, suddenly I am
going due W. Not amused!

REQUEST FOR FEEDBACK:

On a more positive note: we're talking with Archinoetics about the next
incarnation of the RozTracker. We are compiling a wish list to see what
might be possible. I think it would be fun to use a motion sensor so you
can see how much my boat is pitching about on any given day, maybe with
a little gauge like they have in airplanes so you can see how my boat is
moving relative to the horizon.

If you've got any special requests for features you'd like to see –
weather, moonphase, whatever – then let us know. Please send your
suggestions to roztracker@rozsavage.com. We can't promise that they will
all be feasible, so let's look on this as a brainstorming session.
There's no such thing as a bad idea. Apart from the ones that are.

I'm uploading my latest video contribution as I write this, featuring
some rowing action. Dawn will probably have it edited into the prepared
shell and live on YouTube in the next 12 hours or so – so look out for
it there!

Weather report:

Position at 2045 HST: 14 09.940N, 165 39.826W (and heading WNW – grrr!)
Wind: 15-22kts ENE
Seas: 7-9ft, rough
Weather: some cloud, mostly sunny

Weather forecast courtesy of weatherguy.com:

The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range throughout the
forecast period. Seas 5-8ft.

Temperature: Hot and getting hotter with increasing humidity heading
towards the equator.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover next five days.
Very isolated rainshowers. About 11-10N latitude, increasing clouds
approaching the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). These clouds
become convective clouds which increase the chance of heavy rainshowers,
thunderstorms, and lightning normally associated with the ITCZ.
Currently, the convergence area of the ITCZ lies between 11N and 4N

Next Update: Monday, 22 June

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 25 - With A Little Help From My Friends

Seems that so far this voyage's blog has been dominated by boobies,
bums, and bird poo. I felt it was time to raise the tone a bit, and talk
about my boat – or, more specifically, some of the people who have
worked on her.

I often feel like a bit of a fraud when I claim to be a "solo ocean
rower" because although the rowing bit is totally down to me (sigh… if
only it COULD be delegated, at least a bit of it!) there are countless
other people without whom I couldn't do what I do. Literally hundreds of
people give me support – financial, technical, psychological and moral.

Today I'd like to single out a few who have given very practical
support. I hope they don't mind. I know they didn't do it for the
recognition – and certainly not for monetary reward, because there
wasn't any.
I think of them often as I look around my boat, and see the evidence of
their contributions.

Ian Tuller is a retired educator living in San Francisco. He emailed me
some time back to introduce himself and offer some help. As well as
letting me stay on his boat and drive his car while I am in the Bay
Area, he came out to Hawaii to help work on my boat. Twice.

Ian is an amazing can-do kind of guy. He just gets on with it. I was
being a bit of a wimp about stripping all the defunct electrical
equipment off my boat – a clutter of stuff had accumulated over the
years, most of which had worked briefly before falling victim to
saltwater corrosion. "But we might be able to fix it," I pleaded. "We
might," he said, "but if it broke the first time it's going to break
again." The logic was irrefutable. The broken kit was duly stripped and
went to the next boat jumble.

I think of Ian each time I admire the clean lines of my newly
uncluttered cabin roof, where much of the dead stuff used to live.

And each time I look at my nice clean deck, newly painted in Seattle
Grey, I think of Liz Fischer, who I met for the first time only about a
month before I left from Waikiki. A professional woman and enthusiastic
paddler, Liz connected with me via Facebook. I don't know how we'd have
been ready in time without her help. No task was too big - or too small.
Sometimes it's easier to find someone to paint a deck than to find
someone to do the mundane, unglamorous jobs like buying batteries. Liz
would just dismiss all proffered thanks with a brisk "Girls gotta help
girls."

And last but not least, huge thanks to Scott Burgess, who I met at the
Ala Wai Paddling Challenge earlier this year. As well as being the
possessor of the most distractingly amazing set of abs I've ever seen,
Scott has been incredibly generous with his time and energy. During the
couple of months that I was away on the mainland, Scott toiled away in
his spare time in the Black Hole of Calcutta that was Pier 21 – the only
place we could find to store my boat at the time, a gloomy, grimy
warehouse - chipping away at the long To Do list. He also stored the
unbelievable quantity of stuff that came off my boat in his small
apartment. I think I had more possessions there than he did.

Scott got the worst job of all, the one nobody wants to do – sanding and
repainting the bottom of the boat. Covered in blue paint dust and
wearing a white paper overall, he looked like a hard-working Smurf. A
Smurf with great abs. Did I mention those already? (Sorry to embarrass
you, Scott!)

I can't possibly name everyone else who helped out, but would just
quickly like to acknowledge Morgan Kavanaugh, Ellen Petry Leanse, Aenor
Sawyer, Melinda Griffith, Nancy Glenn, Lyla Kempker and Brian Bilodeau,
all of whom contributed their unpaid labor during those last frenetic
days on dry land. I see little signs of your care and affection all
around me on this boat, and it helps keep me motivated to know that you
all believe in me.

And if any of you can remember seeing my shower gel on board…. Let me
know where to find it!

[Photo: I think my trusty old Pentax Optio WP is on its way out. This
photo I took today is looking decidedly psychedelic. And the ocean
wasn't. Sigh. That's the second camera I've killed so far this trip….]

Other Stuff:

32 miles today – not bad. Conditions rough but I've been in worse. Heat
continues to be the main issue.

Nicole sent me some extracts from the blog of GoldenGateEndeavour.com –
my two friends Chris Martin and Mick Dawson who are rowing the north
Pacific from Japan to San Francisco. They are suffering from the cold –
woolly hats and warm socks being their most cherished items. While I
swelter. Funny to think we're on the same ocean. But also quite
reassuring, in a way. They're a couple of thousand miles north of me,
but nice to know I'm not the only lunatic out here!

Thanks for a great batch of comments on my last blog. Too tired to reply
to all (and need to get off my bum – still taking good care of it), but
here are a few hellooos:

Sindy – so my average is up to over 30 miles a day. Woohoo! (not in
danger of breaking any water speed records any time soon though!)

Beau – getting a bit crowded on this rowing seat. You might have to take
the night shift!

Pegola – hi to all in Hood River. And have fun at the Guac Off! I hope
to be there in October on my book tour – see you then?!


Daniel Dion – I can't believe I've managed to connect with someone in
Gravelbourg! Your town, I'll have you know (with a smile) was the bane
of my planning exercise. About 1000 miles out of my way, the back end of
beyond, on the way to nowhere. Exactly the kind of place I would LOVE to
visit! I will be sure to look you up if I get around to my Johnny Cash
adventure.

Weather report:

Position at 2120 HST: 14 18.444N, 165 05.104W
Wind: 10-20kts ENE
Seas: 6-8ft ENE, breaking, rough, generally inconvenient
Weather: some welcome cloud towards the end of the day, otherwise hot,
hot, hot

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com:

As for Monday. New forecast arriving tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 24 - Danger: Low Flying Fish

This morning when I went out on deck, it was dotted with the little
corpses of about 10 flying fish. It was my solemn duty to give them a
burial at sea, by picking them up and rather unceremoniously chucking
them over the side. It's a sad and rather slimy chore, and a sure sign
that the seas are getting rougher.

Most of the fish, as far as I can tell, don't arrive by flying –
although occasionally this does happen, as I know from the times when
I've found myself on the flight path and have been struck on the side of
the head by a flying fish, to our mutual surprise.

No, most of them come up through the scuppers. The scuppers are six
little oval holes arranged along the sides of my boat at deck level,
each with an elasticated trapdoor. The idea is that these trapdoors act
like valves, allowing water to escape from the deck but not allowing
water back in.

But it doesn't always work that way. Forceful waves sometimes burst up
through the scuppers, bringing a flood of seawater and a few unfortunate
flying fish, seriously spoiling their day. One minute, there they are
swimming along, minding their own business. The next moment they're
lying thrashing on my deck, probably failing to appreciate its fresh new
coat of paint in Seattle Grey.

If I'm on deck when they arrive I try to throw them back in before they
asphyxiate, but I rarely succeed. My attempts to pick them up send them
into a frenzied wiggle that makes them impossible to get a hold of. So
they die. Over the side they go, to be recycled as somebody else's
dinner. That's life.

Other Stuff:

Hmph. Most indignant. Back to business as usual today, with a full day
at the oars. But I wonder why I bother. I did the same number of miles
today (full day of rowing) as I did yesterday (2 hours rowing before
sore bum stopped play). So I can only console myself with these facts:
1. I would have gone even fewer miles if I hadn't rowed all day
2. I'm still 24 hours closer to my goal
3. It could be worse – I could be a flying fish randomly washed up
on the deck of a passing rowboat.

The good news is that the posterior was perfectly well-behaved today and
caused no trouble. Time is a great healer – as is hydrocortisone. And I
reconfigured my seat cover too, which may also have helped to some
extent.

I can't find my shower gel. I had about 6 tubes of Mint and Tea Tree
Shower Gel – my absolute favorite – to use when I've finished my current
tube. And I can't find them. They're not in the same locker with all the
other toiletries, sun cream, wet wipes, toothpaste, etc. So if they're
not there, lord only knows where they are. Probably hiding out with my
second deck bag and Kestrel wind gauge, wherever those ended up. Maybe
on board, maybe not. Sigh. Amazing how easy it is to lose stuff on a 23
foot rowboat. I swear some of these lockers have black holes in them
that swallow my stuff and spit it out into a parallel universe.

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's blog about the list of
adventures. Peter Corless – your idea of the Welsh B&B sounds absolutely
wonderful. I know a couple of fantastic B&B's in Devon that would
probably serve just as well. Must add that to the list!

Also great to hear from cousin Juliet, adventurer Leven Brown, Michelle
Urquhart from NZ, and Sindy and her new t-shirt – and everybody else as
well, of course! Thanks for all the feedback – I can't tell you how much
it means to me to know that you are all there and pulling for me!!

Weather update:

Position at 2040 HST: 14 46.950N, 164 46.429W
Wind: 15-20kts ENE
Seas: 6-8ft ENE, rough
Weather: sunny, hot, few clouds

Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com: as for yesterday

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 23 - 10 Adventures Before I Die (Or Get Too Decrepit)

I rowed for a couple of hours this morning, and took a real drenching –
from waves over the side of the boat and from a passing rain squall.
Normally this would have been very welcome – some nice fresh rain to
cool me down. But wet conditions make skin much more fragile, and my
drenching did me no favors, given my current delicate condition.

So I went exploring in my first aid kit (see photo) and found a bag
nestled amongst all the medical terminologies, labeled simply "For The
Bum". It contained a veritable treasure trove of ointments and salves.
Thanks, Dr Aenor!

To while away the long, long hours while I heal, I decided to compile
some lists. Lots more in my notebook, but here is the first. Since the
Daily Telegraph named me as one of "Britain's Top 20 Adventurers" a few
weeks ago, I've been pondering a lot on the nature of adventure and
adventuring, with some philosophical thoughts that I'll share some other
time. But for now, here are 10 adventures I'd like to have before I die.

In no particular order:

1. North Pole (geographic, not magnetic) – so I can say, "I always
knew the whole world revolved around me"
2. South Pole – ditto, but upside down
3. London to Beijing by train via Moscow
4. Beijing to London by Land Rover via any country ending in "stan"
5. 3 months in a Buddhist monastery, somewhere in the Far East
6. Alaska/Yukon, maybe along the old Gold Rush route
7. Four Corners States (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah) to get
to know the culture of the Navajo and Hopi tribes
8. Visit every place named in the Johnny Cash song "I've Been
Everywhere" (I've actually planned this one out. It would be huge –
26,000 miles, all over North America)
9. Trekking in Patagonia (the region, not the store)
10. Trekking in Nepal

Maybe due to some misguided Protestant work ethic I can't just have an
adventure. It's not enough to say simply "Because it's there" – there
has to be a reason. I have to justify it to myself – or else it's just a
vacation. At the very least to write a blog or a book – at the most
maybe something very personal and meaningful.

I suppose that, for me, that is part of the essence of having an
adventure. It should change me in some way – expand my horizons, teach
me new things, change my outlook. It's more than an experience, it's an
evolution. And being an adventurer is not just what a person does – it's
who they are.

Having said that, you don't have to born an adventurer. I left it late
in life to start adventuring – my first proper adventure (Peru, 2003)
was when I was 35. But I've got a few years left in me yet. And a lot of
world to cover. So I'd better get a move on!

Other Stuff:

Update on Mum after her hip replacement got an email from my sister
today to say that Mum's operation went just fine. She is still groggy
from the anesthetic but otherwise in good shape.

Just the quickest of quick hellos to Anna Farmery (and the other Podcast
Sisters). Enjoy that cold glass of cider for me – ooh, why did I think
of that! Now my Crave of the Day….

And thanks to everyone else for the comments and questions. (UncDoug –
I'm posting videos every week – there are now about 20 or 30 of my
videos on YouTube. So hopefully you can find what you wanted there. To
post even a 30 second video involves half an hour of upload time and
close to $50, so I won't be able to post a video specially – sorry!)

Right, I've had enough. I can't tell you how uncomfortable it is sitting
here in this tiny cabin with a hot laptop on my knees. A muggy wind
blowing and I'm covered in a sheen of sweat. Yeurch. So I'm going to
post a quick weather report and then I'm done.

OK, now on to that weather:

Position at 2030 HST: 15 06.043N, 164 32.621W
Wind: 15-20kts ENE
Seas: 6-8ft, choppy
Weather: 50% overcast today, but still hot and humid

Weather forecast courtesy of weatherguy.com:

The easterly trade winds persist in the 20kt range with a slight
increase mid period . Seas 5-7ft.

Sky conditions: Partly cloudy and consistent cloud cover. Very
isolated rainshowers.

As coordinated with Roz, weather reports will normally be posted Mondays
and Thursdays each week.

Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
15/1800-19/0000 E-ENE 15-20 5-7
19/0000-19/1200 E-ENE 17-22 5-7
19/1200-22/0000 E-ENE 15-20 5-7