15 Aug 2007, The Brocade
Today I rowed out over the edge of the continental shelf, and into the deep ocean. This is an area especially rich in marine life, and I was delighted to see about a dozen whales at various times - surfacing to spout sprays of water from their blowholes.
But even better, at one point I found myself totally surrounded by dolphins, arcing and leaping through the waves. Some were even jumping clean out of the water, as if jumping for joy on this glorious sunny day.
My camerawork is a bit wobbly a) because my boat is very tippy, even on a calm day, and b) because I was rather over-excited!
15 Aug 2007, The Brocade
I knew even before I finished rowing the Atlantic that I wanted to do the Pacific. I just wasn't sure why. Every time I thought about being confined to a tiny rowboat in the middle of the ocean I would get a huge feeling of dread and trepidation in the middle of my chest - a feeling I hadn't experienced since I worked as a management consultant, 7 years and a lifetime ago, and had to give client presentations. It was a mystery to me (and to my long-suffering mother) just why I needed to repeat what had been the most uncomfortable experience of my life.
As time has gone on, I have managed to come up with some plausible reasons for rowing another ocean. I needed to find out that I had truly learned the lessons that I had figured out by the end of the Atlantic crossing, about how to tackle a major challenge. I needed to redress the balance - the Atlantic had well and truly whipped me, and I wanted to, as the Americans say, "find closure". And horrible though it had been, the ocean still seemed more appealing than the office.
So here I am again, and so far it seems that my trepidation was mostly unfounded. (Isn't it always?) The Pacific has been living up to its name - the seas have been calm, the weather has been benign, and any minor pangs of seasickness have passed.
But if I learned anything from the Atlantic, it is that weather and oceans can be fickle things, so I am not allowing myself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Nor am I allowing myself to extrapolate from current status in order to guess at the future. As the turkey found out, life was great until Christmas came around..Next week could be totally different. So I'm just taking each day as it comes.
[photo: admiring a beautiful sky this evening while I boil up water to rehydrate my supper]
14 Aug 2007, Pacific Ocean
Video blog - possibly the first ever to be sent from a rowing boat at sea. It began as a video clip was sent out into space by satellite phone; picked up by a passing satellite and beamed down to a computer somewhere in England; uploaded to YouTube; embedded in this blog. Of necessity it has to be brief. Enjoy!
13 Aug 2007, The Brocade
It was one of my big hopes for this Pacific row that I wouldn't fall into so many of the psychological traps as I did on the Atlantic. I really struggled out there, and a lot of the trouble was of my own making. Three examples:
1. Instead of looking at the challenge one bit at a time, breaking it down into manageable pieces, I looked at the whole 3000 miles that lay ahead of me and felt utterly overwhelmed. It took me a while to realize that it would be much better just to take it one day, one stroke at a time.
2. I allowed myself to get distracted by other people's objectives. My one cash sponsor had offered me a bonus if I broke the women's record for the fastest crossing, and I put myself under a lot of pressure before I remembered what MY objectives were, which were nothing to do with speed.
3. I wasted a lot of emotional energy asking myself: "CAN I do this?" To which the answer was usually No. Better, I realized, just to get on and DO it, instead of asking myself whether I can.
This time around it helps that I already have that previous experience. I've decided to call it my Pigtail Power. I only ever put my hair in pigtails when I am on the ocean - it is practical and stops my hair getting too tangled. So like Samson with his long hair, I am stronger when I 'm in pigtail mode.
Other: Weather clearer today after yesterday's fog. I can still see the land, but am slowly moving further from it. There is a bit of swell, and I have to row across it, which is uncomfortable. It is also making cabin life more uncomfortable. I thought I'd got away without being seasick this time, but I may have been too hopeful, too soon.
[photo: I was glad of my bimini (not, not bikini) today, as it's been seriously sunny. Picture taken during a sea trial in Hayward.]