03 Jul 2008, The Brocade
My friend Eric has a theory about human emotional development. He reckons we all reach a particular age, and development stops there, so even though our chronological age increases year by year, a part of us remains forever fourteen years old (or whatever).
Generally I'm rather sceptical about the theory, but it struck me during a thoughtful moment recently that collectively we humans seem to be stuck somewhere in early adolescence when it comes to the environment.
Part of the process of adolescence is to push the envelope, find out what you're capable of - and what you can get away with. And often the only way to find out how far you can go - is to go too far.
And maybe, as humans, we have pushed it too far, without really thinking through the consequences. We seem to have got rather carried away with our ability to conquer nature through science and technology - genetic modification, pesticides, the automobile, and so on. And now that the side-effects of our "progress" are starting to become apparent, we are reacting in a less than mature way.
What does your typical teenager do when they realize they have done something wrong? And is it any different from our response as a species? Continuing with the example of climate change.
Denial: It wasn't me, I didn't do it. ("We can find no link between human activity and global warming.")
Or belittling the significance of the damage: It was a stupid vase anyway. ("Great! Warmer summers! What's the problem?")
Or blaming somebody else: They started it. ("We're not going to sign this treaty if you won't.")
Whereas in fact the more mature response would be to accept responsibility for our actions and their consequences, and figure out how to limit the damage before it gets any worse.
Idealistic? Maybe. But I for one find it embarrassing that we are not responding in a more mature way to the biggest crisis we have ever faced. It is time we stopped behaving like spoiled adolescents and faced up to our responsibilities towards the planet. Or history will not be impressed.
That's my environmental rant for the day!
Conditions still calm and reasonably pleasant for rowing. A good day at the oars. I was listening to the audiobook of "Seabiscuit" about the racing horse, which led to some faster-than-usual paddling during the nail-biting race scenes!
Hello and thanks to all who are sharing my adventures via the blog or podcast. Especially big welcomes to the newbies..
To Aly Roland in Alabama, a 3rd-grader who is being homeschooled. Aly, you go faster in your kayak than I do in my rowboat - well done! I dream of doing 3 miles per hour. but I suspect my boat is a lot heavier than yours. Mine weighs about 2000 lb. I don't usually wear a lifejacket (although I think maybe you should) but I do wear a harness if it gets rough, and clip myself onto the boat. And I haven't seen any sharks yet - and if I do, I just hope that if I leave them alone, they will leave me alone too!
BLUE PLEDGES - 10 DAYS LEFT TO ACT!
I hear from my friends at the Blue Project that lots of people are signing up with Blue Pledges, including a growing number of Americans. Thank you!!
If you haven't yet done so, please go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button.
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Position Thursday evening: 28 47 76N, 126 37 41W
Nautical miles done yesterday: 21.34
Click here to see Day 40 of the Atlantic crossing January 2006.
02 Jul 2008, The Brocade
Some people may be labouring under the misconception that I possess some kind of bravery, or courage, to do what I do. The truth of the matter is, I don't think I am any braver than the next person. I just have a good capacity for not thinking about the things that might scare me.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not like an ostrich, with my head in the sand, assuming that if I can't see it then it can't hurt me.
But I do all my worrying before I set out, while there is still something I can do to address them. I write out all my "what if" scenarios - anything from the boat catching fire to a bout of depression - and identify what I would do, and what items I would require to do it with. Most of these contingencies are covered by a huge first aid kit, a good set of tools, a selection of marine flares, and standard marine safety equipment. Oh, and a list of useful phone numbers.
Then, once I've written out my lists of Bad Things, I try not to think any more about them.
I also deliberately choose not to think about: - how far away I am from dry land (once I'm out of sight of land, it could be 20 miles or it could be 2000) - how deep the ocean is (you can drown in 2 inches of water - so never mind that it is 2 miles deep - all the strange and potentially dangerous creatures that may lurk beneath the thin shell of my boat..
Actually, in connection with the last, I have been quite disappointed not to have seen more wildlife. On the Atlantic I didn't see much either, but there was at least the occasional turtle, and lots of flying fish. Here on the Pacific, apart from birds (which I see most days) I haven't seen another living thing since the bizarre sunfish on 3rd June.
I know the fish stocks are collapsing and many species of sharks and whales are on the brink of extinction, but surely we haven't killed EVERYTHING?
[Photo: in the absence of more interesting wildlife, you'll have to make do with a picture of a Savage]
Relatively calm conditions at the moment, with winds coming from the NNW. Slow but steady progress at the oars.
And hellos and thanks to all who have written in. Special mentions to:
Paul Nordquist for the story about the drunken Swede who tried to row home from Denmark. Not a bad effort for a 78-year-old!
Gordon Christie - good to hear from you!
HSS for the words of encouragement - and the riddle. And I am proud to be associated with your funny old kettle saved from landfill!
DON'T FORGET TO BE BLUE
Want to make difference? It's easy! Go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. (This is not about money)
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Position Wednesday evening: 29 01.118 N, 126 14.694 W.
Click here to see Day 39 of the Atlantic crossing 7th January 2006.
01 Jul 2008, The Brocade
You might be surprised to see a blog about Antarctica written from a rowboat on the Pacific, but one of the real joys of audiobooks is the way they suck you into a different world - and today, for me, that world has been the South Pole, 1914-16.
It's been a long day's rowing, but has passed relatively pleasantly because I've been listening to The Lost Men, the story of the men who were enlisted to support Shackleton's attempt to be the first to cross Antarctica. Their job was to sail to the opposite side of the continent from Shackleton's primary team, and set out from the Ross Sea to deposit caches of food and fuel for the last third of Shackleton's journey.
As it turned out, the whole expedition was a spectacular failure in the finest British tradition, following on from Scott's noble but fatal attempt to be the first to the South Pole (the Norwegian, Amundsen, beat him by a month, and Scott and his men died on the return journey). Shackleton didn't make it to the Pole, or indeed, even onto the continent. And the support team fell into disarray, with half-baked plans and lack of leadership leading to delays.
What the two teams had in common was intense hardship, many of the men spending a total of two years in Antarctica, enduring harsh weather, starvation, malnutrition, frostbite, 24-hour darkness, and uncertainty as to whether they would ever be rescued. The Ross Sea party, particularly, seem to have suffered - when they were eventually picked up, they were almost feral, stinking of seal blood and blubber, and speaking strangely.
There was no way for the teams to communicate with each other, or with the outside world. Nobody would know if they had succeeded or failed until they returned. Or didn't.
Listening to this sorry saga made me feel very humble, and frankly, like a bit of a wimp. On the Atlantic I felt pretty sorry for myself at times, with all my oars broken, as well as my stereo, camping stove, and ultimately my satellite phone. But at all times I had enough to eat and drink, was warm enough, and even after my phone broke my team could follow my progress via my locator beacon. And it was only for a mere 103 days.
So it was good to be reminded of a time when explorers really were pushing the boundaries in a way we can't even begin to imagine now. They were seriously hardcore. Respect!
[If you're interested in reading more about my Atlantic crossing, we're going to start doing a series of links: "This day on the Atlantic.". Mum will be adding the links to my blogs, as I can't do it from here, so there may be a time delay of a few hours between this blog first appearing and the link being added, due to the time difference.]
John in Reno - I would love to tell you more (or show photos of videos) about what I am seeing and observing, but there really hasn't been anything apart from sea and sky, and that wears a bit thin after a while! I haven't seen any wildlife since the sunfish a few weeks ago (apart from a couple of birds). Nor have I seen any ocean debris, although I have been looking out for it. Rest assured, if and when I see something interesting, I will duly report.
Rachel - so after the first 10 days you had no electricity at all on your Atlantic crossing - wow! I'm in absolute luxury, then! You're almost in the Shackleton league.!
Marty U - if you're interested in the weather, check out my weatherguy's blog. I can't see my website from here, but I think the link is on the right of this page.
Special thanks to Chris Martin for the words of encouragement. (fyi, Chris was the only other solo entry in the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005.}
ARE YOU COOL YET?!
If not, do it now. Go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. Let's make this world a bluer/greener/happier place!
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Day 38 of the Atlantic crossing
Position Tuesday evening: 29 16.235 N. 125 55.485W.
30 Jun 2008, The Brocade
I had long hoped to make a film about my Pacific row to help me get across my environmental message, so I was delighted to find the perfect film partner in Bill Chayes. As well as being an all-round great guy, he shares my vision for an environmental documentary, loosely based around my rowing adventures, that we can market on both sides of the Atlantic.
Finances permitting, we hope to have the first episode (covering the California-Hawaii stage) completed by next spring.
Over to you, Bill.
First thing I said to Roz after being introduced to her: -"You did WHAT??!!"
I don't have very much experience with extreme adventure, save encountering a small bear or two while backpacking not very far from civilization. So my first thought was, "what kind of person does something like that?"
After finding out in the next few minutes that she was totally sane, extremely intelligent, quite dynamic and instantly charismatic, the next thing I said to her was:
-"I'm sure I'm at least the 38th filmmaker to ask you this, but, do you have any plans to make a documentary film about this?"
Fortunately for me, although she had had many offers and conversations regarding a film about her Pacific Voyage, she had been following the advice of a good friend to "keep her options open". To make a long story short, we got to know each other better over the next couple of months and wound up forming Chayes/Savage Productions as equal partners to produce a series of non-profit documentary films about her adventure. We're going to do (in fact are already doing!) one 30-45 minute film for each leg of the voyage and then combine them into a feature length documentary for theatrical release. All the films will also be specifically geared for widespread educational distribution. You can read a detailed treatment for the project at www.chayesproductions.com.
I shouldn't think it would be much of stretch for all you who are following Roz's blogs to understand why I was so keen to do this project. I'm at the stage of my filmmaking career (it's been a long one) where I try very hard to make sure that what I'm going to spend a whole lot of time and energy to produce has the potential to meet the following three criteria: 1. It has to have a positive and useful message: "redeeming social value" so to speak. 2. It has to be entertaining and educational, for me to do and for our audience to see. 3. It has to look like it has a good chance of getting the funds to do it properly.
This story meets all those things better than anything I could imagine. It's fascinating, rich and "filmic", and centered on a totally unique and engaging person. I could use lots of other laudatory adjectives to describe Roz but it wouldn't do for her to get a swelled head in that cramped cabin. The inspirational and environmental aspects (as excellently stated by David Helvarg) at the heart of the voyage are vitally important and graphic. She is regularly connected to the land in myriad ways to myriad individuals all with their own interesting stories. She's an excellent and descriptive writer chronicling in detail all aspects of what she's doing, and I mean ALL. All this (and more) plus just her general charisma and it separates these potential films from all other adventure documentaries I've seen.
The first thing people ask ME when I tell them what I'm doing: -"Are you going to be on the boat, or on another boat nearby? "
My answer: No need for me or anyone else to be there. It's totally Roz's journey. I'm happy to just be personally inspired by what she is doing and to help tell her story to as many people as possible. She has three cameras on board, (although one is inoperable at the moment) and the story provides nearly endless opportunity for narrative, descriptive, historical and educational material shot elsewhere. If we have any problem it will be from too much wonderful stuff to put in the film. We already have a great deal of footage; from her past adventures, from the lead up to her departure and from her ultra dramatic midnight departure itself. We had a camera on shore as she left, one on her chase boat (with a big light) and one high above San Francisco Bay capturing her hour long struggle to get through the treacherous eddies under the Golden Gate Bridge. Certainly one of the most exciting filmmaking evenings I've ever had. Sorry Roz, I know you were really stressed but...we got GREAT FOOTAGE! Can't wait to get that Hawaii arrival!
[photo (will be added to this blog by my mother tomorrow morning, UK time): Bill Chayes. Any resemblance to Stephen Spielberg is purely coincidental!]
Today was grey and hot I rowed a lot. Today was hot and grey I rowed all day.
And that's about it, really.
So on to people with more interesting lives - YOU!
First of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAISY FRIDAY!!! An interesting year lies ahead, to be sure! ;-)
And a special hello to Penny and Ben.
Thanks to Jason Lewis for the encouraging news on the 06 watermaker - living evidence that surviving on the "Survivor" is do-able. (For those who don't know, Jason and his crewmate Steve Smith pedaled from San Francisco to Hawaii in 2000, surviving for 40 days with only an 06 watermaker. Jason went on to complete the first human-powered circumnavigation of the world, an adventure that lasted 13 years - see his website at www.expedition360.com.)
Thanks to Alan Sandoval and Mark Reid for their generous donations.
And good luck to Michelle Johnston with her new life. You go, girl!
Gold stars to Nancy for taking the "Filter For Good" pledge (filterforgood.com) and swearing off bottled water forever. And to Caro as well: "Never letting the water run longer than necessary, using baking soda, vinegar and phosphate free products for the cleaning, using ecological bags and avoiding individual wrapping at the grocery, bringing my personal mug for the coffee break and using the back of the sheets for personal memos."
I warned you I was going to nag you every day until July 14th to make your BLUE Pledges, so here we go again: Go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. Please, do it now, and get your friends, families, colleagues, neighbours, classmates, pets, and total strangers to do it too. It's important!
And remember, BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Position Monday evening: 29 34 26N, 125 31 57W