Yesterday morning, dosed to the eyeballs to mask the worst effects of my cold, I went to speak to a group of Girl Scouts in Kailua. A frighteningly long time ago, I was a Girl Guide myself (the British equivalent) and I used to love the challenge of working for badges and learning new skills.
I especially loved Guide Camp, although it usually seemed to rain and our campsite was invariably full of cowpats. It was just fun to be out of doors and living under canvas, foraging for firewood and feeling close to nature.
I eventually earned enough badges across a broad spectrum of disciplines to become a Queen's Guide, the highest award in the British Guides. Looking back, it looks like I've always been into setting a goal and working hard to make it happen...
My talk yesterday was based on the Girl Scout mission: "Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place." It may have taken 25 years longer than expected, but I'd like to think that the Girl Guides set me on the path towards achieving those objectives, and I think that the Atlantic experience was another step in the same direction.
It struck me when I read the Scout mission that it neatly sums up the internal qualities that are needed to fulfill the external goal of making a positive impact on the world. In my 'old' life, I felt I lacked all three qualities of courage, confidence and character, so my ability to make the world a better place was very limited. I was very duty-driven and always tried to do the right thing, but I simply didn't have the inner resources. Once I took some time out to focus on myself and to develop those resources, I hugely increased my potential to (hopefully) be of service to others.
So I especially like it that the mission statement puts the inner qualities first, followed by the outwards manifestation of them - in my experience, that is the right way round.
P.S. Thanks to all who have emailed or commented welcoming me to Hawaii - and for the offers of entertainment, hospitality, etc. I would love to get to see everybody but this reconnaissance week is going to be just too short. However once I've arrived here PROPERLY - by rowboat - I plan to spend Jan-Mar 2009 in the islands, and look forward to getting to know the place and the people better then.
[photo: with the Girl Scouts. I am wearing a lei of flowers - the traditional Hawaiian gift of welcome]
Today I arrived in Hawaii, straight into the middle of my friend Mariya's all-day birthday party. She lives about four doors away from the beach, so after a few hours of festivities I felt the pull of the ocean, and excused myself for a solitary walk along the beach in the dark.
I took my shoes off and let the sand and surf explore the spaces between my toes. It felt good to walk along in the strong briny breeze, listening to the ocean surge and swell - the ocean that by now I had expected to have spent about 3 months in crossing, from California to here.
I am looking forward to the coming week, and learning more about the Hawaiian ocean culture. If anything this will strengthen my already-strong resolve to continue the pursuit of my dream - and next year I will try again to get here the "right" way: by rowboat.
As I sit here in the airport, waiting to board my flight to Hawaii, I am thinking about the environmental cost of my journey. I went to the Climate Care website to calculate the associated emissions. It tells me:
The total mileage flown is 5,348 Miles (for the return flight)
The resulting emissions are: 1.19 Tonnes of CO2
The cost to offset this CO2 will be £8.91
Interestingly, to travel the same distance by car gives the result:
Your emissions from this car are 2.81 Tonnes
The cost to offset this CO2 will be £21.06
This really surprised me, as the generally received wisdom is that air travel is substantially more damaging - or does this relate more to short-hop flights? Does it make a difference how full the flight is?
If I had managed to get to Hawaii this year by means of my original choice of transport - ocean rowboat - I would be interested to know what the environmental impact of that would have been. One friend, renowned for making controversial and politically incorrect pronouncements, suggested that my impact would actually be greater, because of all the extra food that I would need to eat to power my voyage - plus the carbon produced in the manufacture of my boat and all its equipment, and possibly the airmiles required to transport some of those items to the US.
This calculation is rather beyond the capabilities of the Carbon Calculator on the Climate Care site, but my feeling is that surely the row has to be lower impact. Even if the difference in marginal, hopefully by setting an example of environmental awareness, my voyage will have a positive impact overall.
But this is a difficult area - there is so much information and misinformation. If anybody can point me in the direction of an authoritative statement on carbon emissions of various forms of transport, I would be very interested.
Oops, better run. Time to catch my flight or else all this analysis will be purely academic!
P.S. Am taking Airborne vitamin C drink and Zicam with me to help combat the cold.
Only 4 days since I hit the road, and already I'm falling apart.
The week got off to a great start - I was feeling fit, healthy, and excited about doing my presentation to the 900-strong sales force for my title sponsors, Brocade. On Tuesday I was shown the venue where I would be speaking. "Wow, it's enormous," I said, looking at row after row of delegates' tables stretching into the distance.
"Hang on," said Michael Klayko, the CEO. "They've put the partitions across. They'll be taking those away tomorrow." Turns out the room was actually twice as large as 'enormous'. Gulp.
But in fact it went really well. I'd prepared carefully, including numerous run-throughs in front of the mirror in my room, and the hard work seemed to pay off.
Ogilvy PR had put together a very good 5-minute video to introduce me to the audience - and that alone got a standing ovation, before I'd even said a word. After my presentation I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me to tell me they'd found it 'inspiring', or to say that they'd been following my adventures online. A speaker couldn't have wished for a nicer crowd.
I left San Francisco the next day, after the gala dinner that marked the end of the conference. On Thursday night I stayed with the new friends I'd made in Eureka when I unexpectedly landed up there after the Coast Guard airlift in August. And last night I stayed with Mick Bird and his family - Mick is the only other rower to have crossed the Pacific by the same route that I am taking. It has been a fun week, but now I've been partying for 3 nights in a row, and I'm flagging...
And somewhere in the course of my travels I have picked up a germ, and now my sinuses and throat are sore. I'm taking time off from training and am gulping down Vitamin C drinks in a last-ditch attempt to fend off a full-blown cold. Tomorrow I fly to Hawaii, inhaling germs from the aeroplane's recycled air for several hours, which is far from ideal. I arrive in the middle of my friend Mariya's birthday celebrations - yet another party. My next presentation is on Monday, to a group of Girl Scouts, so I hope I still have a voice by then.