07 Aug 2007, Brocade, Hayward, California
[This is a test blog, written on board Brocade and transmitted to my website via satellite phone.]
While I sit and wait for the weather to come round to my point of view, I am tweaking and fine-tuning my preparations. I thought I was already ready, but it's amazing what extra bits and pieces I keep finding to do - another sea trial, another media interview, another page for my website, another dry run with my technology - 'dry run' being the operative term here. It's easy to do physiological tests, psychological questionnaires, blogs, video editing and photographs while I am sitting in the relative comfort of a nice dry hangar in Hayward. It will be considerably harder from a pitching, rolling boat, especially in the first couple of days when I will probably be battling seasickness.
My boat, Brocade, is now looking beautifully ready. Everything is stowed where it should be; spare fuses, batteries and bulbs are attached conveniently in little boxes fixed to Velcro patches, and Wilson has arrived on board. I was very touched when Rich, my long-suffering engineer, presented him to me last Friday.
In case you haven't seen the movie Castaway, starring Tom Hanks, Wilson the basketball becomes his best buddy in the absence of anybody else. One of the saddest moments of the film is when Wilson disappears out of sight across the waves. Hopefully my Wilson, signed by various wellwishers, will be spared the same fate. He is securely bolted to my rollbar, alongside various antennae and cameras and other essentials.
Wilson and I may be the best of friends by the time I reach Hawaii. This is worrying.
[photo: introducing Wilson]
A couple of times recently interviewers have asked me about how, after 11 years in the office, I reinvented myself as an explorer. I've had to confess that I don't regard myself as an explorer - maybe an adventurer, at best.
Explorers, surely, are the ones who have pushed back the frontiers of human knowledge about the planet on which we live, who have forged new trails where none have been before, who have stepped off the edge of the known world into the unknown.
Or maybe there is a new kind of explorer. Now that the world is mostly mapped, and the only new frontiers are the depths of the ocean or the wonders of outer space, maybe we need a different kind of exploration - an exploration of the human spirit, to rediscover of how we should live.
It seems that we have lost our way - we no longer know how to eat without getting fat or suffering eating disorders, how to enjoy the fruits of the earth without raping the planet, how to be happy with what we have, or how to live in a sustainable and fulfilling way. Ancient people knew all these things, but we've got so caught up in our egos and our technology and our agri-business that we've forgotten our fundamental life lessons.
So maybe we need spiritual explorers, who will help guide us back to a better way of life.
A friend sent me the link to this video of a Smirnoff commercial - a film of the sea spitting back at us all the junk that we've dumped into it over the centuries. If only it could....
One of the comments on my last blog (about Quackers the Yellow Truck being up for sale) asked what would happen with my boat once I have finished the Pacific - and why would I not need to ever tow it again. This raises an interesting possibility.
My point was that it is unlikely that my boat and my truck will ever be on the same continent again. As my boat heads westwards around the world, it is not really feasible to ship Quackers - much as I would love to! In an ideal world, Quackers would come along too, to spend time in Hawaii and Australia, before maybe coming on a big land-based adventure with me across Asia.
I cannot imagine a vehicle better suited to an Asian adventure. There is something about a bright yellow truck that seems to make people smile.
There is also the issue of shipping my boat trailer. It was lovingly customized to fit my rowboat by Continental Trailers in Florida, and it seems a shame to leave it behind in California (where it is useless) rather than bring it to Hawaii (where it would be very useful).
But shipping is a costly business. So if anybody knows a shipping company who would like to sponsor one needy ocean rower....
[photo: Quackers in Telluride, Colorado, for Mountainfilm in May this year]