Since my decision to allow the Coast Guard to pick me up on August 23, I've revisited my decision many times. I generally try not to do this - once an irrevocable decision has been made, it's best to commit to the consequences and make the best of them, rather than drive yourself crazy by chewing over the decision again and again - but in this instance I am allowing myself to indulge in "what ifs" in case there is something I should learn for next time.
At the time I made my decision, my head was in charge. It was telling me that the safety of my boat had been compromised by the loss of the sea anchor, the breakage of my bunk's restraining straps, and inadequate water ballast. It therefore made sense to take this opportunity to make the necessary changes and restart.
But immediately after my decision - even while I was dangling on the line from the Coast Guard helicopter - the decision felt wrong. And for days afterwards I was determined to erase the after-effects of my decision by getting back on board Brocade as soon as possible. Then my heart was in charge - the heart that had been set on rowing to Hawaii, and toughing it out, come what may.
You know a decision is a good one when your heart and your head are telling you the same thing. That is how I felt when I first decided to start rowing across oceans. When the idea first came to me I instantly recognized it as the perfect project for me.
But what do you do when your heart and your head are pulling in different directions? Which should take priority?
I don't think there's an easy answer to that. The romantic in me thinks the heart should win. But where safety is concerned, maybe it is better that the head should prevail.
Or is there some technique for reconciling the two? If anybody can recommend a book on the subject, I'd be interested to hear about it.
I put together this slideshow of last week's mission to find the Brocade. You'll see the crew of the White Holly, how we homed in on the Brocade's position, the work that went into making Brocade ready to continue, and the disappointment when the weather made it a no-go until next summer.
A proper (moving) video should be coming shortly - to a website near you.
I am staying at a friend's house on the coast just north of San Francisco, taking it easy - or rather, I'm trying to. It has not been very restful so far.
Yesterday the Sausalito Arts Fair ended, so I was finally able to get to the Brocade. After slogging through traffic (while considering the irony that after all this trouble a car could rear-end my precious boat) the Brocade and I made it safely to the hangar in Hayward where she will live for now.
By the time I made it to my coastal hideout it was 9pm, and I still had to write an article for the Sunday Times (a major British paper), deadline 10am this morning. Then today a TV camera crew from NBC 11 came out to interview me.
But hopefully now I will have a couple of quiet weeks to regroup. I have been running on adrenaline for several weeks (months, actually), and now I have stopped to draw breath I have realized I am feeling rather tired. I will carry on blogging, but if my life seems a little low-key for a while, you will have to excuse me. For now, that is just the way I want it.
One of the perks of my 'job' is that generally I get to see the best side of human nature. There is something about what I do that seems to bring out the good in people in a way that I suspect is rarely experienced by, say, accountants or estate agents.
For example, 10 days ago I arrived unexpectedly on dry land with nothing but a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (oh, and a Pelican case containing laptop, cellphone, three iPods and some video footage). I had no ID, no money and no credit card. Within 3 days of arriving in Eureka I had a group of wonderful new friends, a small but adequate wardrobe of borrowed or donated clothes, and a ticket back to San Francisco.
Another example: last week I needed to salvage my boat. Three friends (two of whom I had met for the first time only about 5 weeks before) dropped everything, rearranged appointments, cancelled social plans, and gave up several days to come with me to find the Brocade.
It is cases like these that make me believe that most people are good and kind and generous, and willing to go out of their way to help their fellow man (or woman).
But I might be wrong. The world I read about in newspapers seems to be a world of very different people - people who kill and rob and rape and lie. Today I compared experiences with a good friend who, while I was battling the elements on the ocean, was being interrogated in a prison cell in Zimbabwe for trying to make a film about sexual abuse in that country. The world she witnessed there was very different from the world that I inhabit - a world where people are desperate and violent.
Are people fundamentally good or fundamentally evil? Which is the reality?
At the risk of sounding syrupy and Pollyanna-ish, all I know is that MY reality is a very fortunate one. Compared with what some people's experiences, my recent trials and tribulations are very minor indeed. I still have my life, my health, and my boat, and it is only a matter of time before I'm back on track.
[photo: Roz with the Brocade on the deck of White Holly]
A few of the comments on this site have expressed sorrow that the story is over until next year, and/or have asked whether I will continue blogging. Rest assured - I have been blogging on this site with varying regularity since April 2003, and have no intention of stopping now.
I am grateful for the huge amount of public interest that my little venture has generated, and would be sad to lose my new-found friends. You have been such a source of inspiration and encouragement during the difficult events of the last week or so, and I hope that you will continue to take an interest in my blog over the coming months.
Although I now have a prolonged hiatus until my row relaunches, my life rarely stands still and I will be blogging regularly about my adventures in the meantime. As well as working on improvements to my boat, I am defining a list of enhancements to this website (including, I hope, a section specifically aimed at the K-12 curriculum to assist the many teachers who have expressed an interest in using my row as a school project).
I will also be working hard to get my Atlantic book into print, and will be taking bookings for speaking engagements during the winter and spring - both in the UK and the US (contact my agent for details).
We will be making a mini-film of my rescue and the recovery of the Brocade, which will be posted to this site - hopefully in the next few days.
I am also lining up a few outdoor adventures - details to be announced when confirmed.
So it has taken a couple of days for me to get over my disappointment, but now I am dusting myself down and picking myself up again. When in doubt, DO something! I am already starting to find the silver lining in the cloud, and so long as I stay positive, things will turn out for the best.