I received a very thought-provoking question via my website's contact form the other day:
"Q: Excuse my directness.... Do think that your original motivations and narrow responsibilities of your Pacific rowing challenge are being tainted adversely by the solicitation of sponsors, a book deal, and speaking engagements, etc? Perhaps during your crossing you may allow contemplation that this exercise is now a responsibility to others and a future income, rather than pursuit for self?"
This made me pause briefly, before knowing that I have already arrived at the answer - an answer that I am comfortable with.
"A: I would love it if my row were a purely solitary enterprise, giving me an opportunity to think about what life is all about and what I want out of it.
But I also want to make a point, and that point is: I spent most of my life being materialistic and unhappy, defining myself by what I owned rather than who I was. Now I own a lot less, but my life is much richer. I'm not saying that this will be the same for everybody, but I tried it, and it makes me feel good. If I can help anyone else at least consider this as an option, then I will feel like I've done something worthwhile.
So I do have an inspirational/environmental mission and this necessitates writing and speaking - so I will blog, broadcast, video and interview.
But I can combine this with my need for solitude. I am learning to confine public obligations to set periods of the day, allowing the rest of the day for me to reflect and contemplate.
I could do without the hassle of the sponsorship drive (money buys freedom, and the lack of money restricts it) but I count myself lucky to have a generous and sympathetic sponsor in Brocade, whose values are so closely aligned with my own. I do not think too much about money, or about the future (I believe that, if I carry on doing the right things, for the right reasons, these things will take care of themselves) so the sponsorship money is mostly used to increase the outreach potential of my adventure - to pay the satphone bill, finance the website and so on - not for my own use. Beyond my daily caffe latte, and enough food to eat, I don't need much out of life!
I hope this answers your question.
P.S. If you're wondering what I'm doing with my time while I wait to embark - believe me, it's not a problem to stay busy. Today I finished the latest round of edits to my Atlantic book, and went to the Apple Store to find out how to get my Xacti video camera to talk to iMovie - then spent the rest of the day figuring out how to get my video files as small as possible (I reckon I can send back 30 seconds of video in 30 minutes of transmission time - at a cost of $35. Hmmm.) I could be here another month and still be finding things to do....
Somewhat belatedly (apologies - it's been a heck of a week) here is last Saturday's podcast interview. Click here to listen to the interviewer ad lib impressively because I was late dialling in (!), then I talk about my preparations, the environment, and various other blatherings.
I had a call from Gordie Nash, one of my weather gurus, yesterday. "It's nought to three knots out there, with two foot swells ten seconds apart."
In other words, conditions were dead calm - perfect for an ocean rower trying to get away from the California coast. Unfortunately, my boat was not on the water, she was in the helicopter hangar where she is being refitted.
But it's good to know that these conditions do occasionally happen, and also that Rick Shema, my other weather guru (www.weatherguy.com), had forecast them to a stunning degree of accuracy. So I hope that when he tells me that conditions look good for a 5am departure next Thursday, he proves to be right again.
(It must be tough being a weather guy - you get blamed for the bad weather, ignored during the good weather, and if, heaven forbid, you get it wrong...)
The other good news is that Erden Eruc has managed to get away successfully, after six weeks of trying. I didn't want to go head-to-head with Erden, because being in a race situation was one of the least enjoyable aspects of my Atlantic row - so I am relieved that Erden has a good head start over me, and wish him a bon voyage.
[photo: this is what I want for the first few days - flat seas and no wind. Photo taken on the Atlantic crossing, 2006]
The weather window will close at midnight tomorrow - with me still on the shore side of it. My boat won't be ready in time. Despite the best efforts of Spectra Watermakers and Rich Crow (a helicopter engineer, temporarily reassigned to be my boat engineer) we have been delayed by problems that we had with the watermaker and various other necessary but unforeseen modifications.
So my weather guys tell me that the next possible window will be July 19. This looks good - it will give us enough time to get the boat 99% ready. Brocade will never be 100% ready - it is the nature of big adventures that if you waited to be 100% ready you would never go - so 99% is good enough.
And it is not just the boat - there are so many other exciting developments going on - the extra week will give me a chance to follow up on some of these opportunities, so that Stage One of the Pacific Row will be EVEN BETTER than it would have been if was leaving tomorrow.
So I am feeling zen, relaxed and composed - with a lot of hard work and powerful focus, this adventure will begin in its own good time.
[photo: me and David Helvarg, of Blue Frontier Campaign, at yesterday's launch event under the Golden Gate Bridge]