Yesterday I finally got to meet Steve Roberts, my co-driver (OK, it's his truck) for the next two months while we go to retrieve Sedna (my Atlantic rowing boat) from Miami and bring her back to the West Coast.
Steve and I have been corresponding for the last 6 weeks. He tells me that the volume of our emails now exceeds 1 MB of data. That's the kind of thing that Steve notices.
He was showing me around his workshop this morning - the centre space is dominated by his amphibious pedal/sail trimaran Microship. The rest of the workshop is occupied by cluttered workbenches, cast-off computers, circuit boards, wheels, boxes, books, bric-a-brac, and a new marine toilet awaiting installation.
Steve proudly showed me his assorted creations, particularly the communications gadgetry. I understood most of it, once I'd screened out the acronyms and jargony bits. From what I could gather, there is some pretty cool comms stuff here that would make contact possible from any point on the planet.
The hope is that while Steve is building the comms infrastructure for his new, big, ocean-going trimaran Nomadness (NOT pedal-powered) we will build a duplicate set of comms equipment for me, thus hopefully avoiding the communications blackout I suffered after my satellite phone packed up a month from Antigua.
Tomorrow we hit the road for Miami. As a taster of Steve's geeky genius, he has fitted out NEWT (New Expensive White Truck) with a tracking device so you can follow our progress in real-time as we meander our way across the US.
It has been a trying week. Why is it that life always comes and kicks you in the teeth just when you are really busy and don't have time to deal with any additional hassles?
Admittedly, my troubles were largely self-inflicted. Last Saturday, distracted by thoughts and plans, I left my bag at the gym. I got halfway home before I realised. I started to do a u-turn to head back to the gym and found myself and Mojo in the path of an oncoming truck. Bang.
This was not good.
There then followed a period of acute stress and sleepless nights while I agonised over the situation. A black cloud of anxiety hovered over me. I felt absolutely dreadful, ashamed and embarrassed about damaging Robert's car. After all his kindness to me, what kind of thanks was this? Initially I hoped to get the damage fixed out of my own pocket without troubling him, but eventually decided that honesty was the best policy. If the incident came to light in the future, best that the news came from me, and sooner rather than later.
It was not an easy phone call to make, but he took it incredibly well, all things considered, with only a very restrained rebuke: 'You know, Roz, you really need to be extra, extra careful when you are using other people's things.' I know, I know, I know. Mea culpa.
Fortunately the matter seems to be coming under control now. AAA insurance are dealing with it, and Mojo is in the capable hands of the best-reputed Mini repair specialists in the Bay Area. Gradually the black cloud is lifting.
And I figured out why life always comes and kicks me when I least need it. It's because my brain is so busy buzzing with future plans that it forgets to concentrate on what it's supposed to be doing in the present. That's when I lose things, forget things, or crash things.
So my renewed resolution is to keep my mind on the present, as opposed to being absent(-minded).
[Photo: hard to spot the damage to the bonnet (hood) and bumper, but this is going to cost $4000 to repair. Ouch.]
Tonight is my last night in Woodside, my erstwhile home, for quite some time. Tomorrow morning I fly to Seattle, to meet up with Steve Roberts, and to embark on the next chapter - a road trip across the US to retrieve Sedna from Miami and bring her to the West Coast.
I have spent a lot of time in the States, but mostly on the coasts. I am about to discover the Great American Midwest. What will I find? Will it be fascinating? Will it be boring? Might its boringness be fascinating?
Steve has figured out a way to allow you to track our progress in real time. Coming soon to this website....
This is the kind of ship I thought I was signing up for. (This is actually the ship that starred in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' - we spotted it while out and about in the San Francisco bay.)
And this is the kind of ship I was on - a beautiful custom-built schooner, impeccably designed, just not quite what I had in mind. But if the ship maybe didn't live up to expectations, the crew was better than anything I could have envisaged.
Over the course of the three days, we spent time learning to sail and navigate around San Francisco harbour - which confirmed my feeling that I am much happier in mid-ocean where there is very little to hit. Then we headed out to the Farallon Islands; deserted, barren, guano-rich
(i.e. very smelly) islands 25 or so miles away from San Francisco. The lighthouse-keepers there must have had a tough and unsocial time, even worse than my brief (?!) 103 days on the Atlantic.
For me it was a formative experience. I've been leading a rather insular life, and to be in the midst of a ship's crew of randomly assorted women was a new experience for me. There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when disparate individuals are thrown into a group situation. First impressions are sometimes confirmed, but more often proved wrong. Only over time do personalities emerge, histories reveal themselves, current preoccupations make themselves known.
At the end of our voyage, we were presented with certificates of accomplishment, and our Paper Plate Awards. I believe this is an American tradition, and an illuminating one. Ah, to see ourselves as others see us... and to see others as they are at sea - on unfamiliar territory, with unfamiliar people, adapting to new roles. I came away from it with a renewed appreciation for the challenges that face everyone, every day. My challenges may be more conspicuous, but they are no tougher than those facing anybody else.