12 Jul 2008, The Brocade
After a tough week, today was outstandingly wonderful. It all averages out in the end!
It got off to a good start when I woke up to discover that the wind direction, for the first time since I left San Francisco, had an E in it. It was coming from a whisker East of North, helping me towards Hawaii. This was Very Good News.
Then, while I was doing my podcast with Leo Laporte this morning, I saw my first piece of ocean debris since I got away from the immediate vicinity of land. It was a small black mooring buoy, bobbing by about 10 yards away from my boat. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph it because we were in the middle of recording. Although it was obviously not a good thing to see, it was noteworthy for being the first object I had seen - other than sea, sky, and the contents of my boat - for many weeks.
But the best "first" was this afternoon. I heard a snuffling sound and looked around to see a black fin arcing through the water just 20 yards away. I squealed and dashed to the cabin to get my camera. I just about managed to capture the creature on video, although I don't think I'll be winning any awards for cinematography any time soon. Then there was another one, and another. In all, five of the creatures passed by, most within just a few feet of the Brocade.
I think they were whales, about 8-10 feet long and black. Or it could be a porpoise or a dolphin, not sure. But the fact that they were traveling so far apart, and the snuffling sound, make me think whale.
Although, obviously, I remain zen and calm about these new developments, appreciating them as a privilege and not as a right - after weeks and weeks of unrelenting west winds, and an absolute dearth of marine life, today was almost more excitement than I could cope with, and while it lasts, absolutely fantastic!
Must run now. Want to make the most of these NNE winds while they last, so am off back to the oars.
The deadline is 14th July - UK time. So best do it now!
Go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. Costs you nothing, and it helps save the oceans - and the planet!
Thank you to all who have made the pledge already - and those who haven't, please do it now! It's all in support of the Marine Bill currently going through the UK parliament, but people of any nationality can make a pledge. After all, the oceans connect all of us!
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Position at 1920 Pacific Time, 0220 13th July UTC: 26 25.248'N, 129
Click to see Day 49 of the Atlantic Crossing Frustrated Idleness - Roz coping with broken oars.
and another blog for Day 49 of the Atlantic Crossing
11 Jul 2008, The Brocade
There is a human tendency to assume that good times (along with sources of fossil fuel and places to dump landfill) will last forever - and recently I fell into this trap too. It's frightening just how easy it is to start taking good times for granted, accepting them as the norm - and then get all indignant when things take a turn for the worse.
Thus it is with weather.
Until a couple of days ago, I'd enjoyed a spell of really nice conditions - light winds, calm seas, comfortable rowing. Then, just as I was foolishly extrapolating from the current rate of progress and hoping for an August arrival in Hawaii, conditions have changed and progress has slowed down dramatically.
Today has been another day of fighting hard to stand still, my disgruntlement (is that a word?) compounded by rough seas and grey skies. And also the word from my weatherguy that the trades are not trading as usual this year. There is, of course, no such thing as a "usual" year in weather terms, only historical averages - and it seems to be my luck to have drawn a below-average year in terms of favourable winds.
So, hey ho, I am reminded yet again by the unpredictable caprices of the ocean that I should be thankful for the good conditions, but to regard them always as a privilege, not a right. And that it makes no sense to hope for better winds "when I reach 130 degrees" or "when I hit the trades" - because hope is the mother of disappointment. Best just to accept what is.
An appropriate moment to recall one of my favourite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."
Position at 7pm Pacific time, 0200 12th July UTC: 26 38.212'N, 128 50.379'W
[photo: a wildlife sighting at last! About 5 of these little blue crabs came aboard with my sea anchor line yesterday. All have now been returned to the ocean.]
Just 3 days left to make a pledge. If you're really stuck for an idea, why not read a book (or listen to an audiobook from audible.com) to expand your environmental mind? My recommendation would be the classic "Ishmael" - a thought-provoking view of human behaviour as seen through the eyes of an outsider (a gorilla in this case), which reveals just how unsustainable is our current course.
Go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. Costs you nothing, and it helps save the oceans - and the planet! Thank you to all who have made the pledge already - and those who haven't, please do it now! It's all in support of the Marine Bill currently going through the UK parliament, but people of any nationality can make a pledge. After all, the oceans connect all of us!
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Anne and Pete in Jersey - I will miss you (and your buckets and sponges) when I get to Hawaii. Fancy a holiday?!
Benn Fraker - selected for the US Olympic whitewater slalom CANOE (sorry if I said kayak! I of all people should be careful to get these things right, because it bugs me when people call my boat a kayak!)
John H - already carrying out his Blue Pledge - well done! Thanks for the tips on washing in saltwater.
Well done to my cousin Diane on her 3rd placing in the Skiddaw Fell Race. We're not doing so badly for old 'uns, are we?!
Rochelle - Austin in Texas is now on my hit list of places I must go. The promise of a massage and a smoothie is too good to resist!
Also to Terry Scott, Antti, Gene, Currin in Dunedin, Chris in rainy UK, Slim, Greg, Rachel (thanks for the quote) and Alex.
Click here to see Day 48 of the Atlantic Crossing Make Do and Mend - where Rita describes some of Roz's problems with oars and bad weather.
11 Jul 2008, Yorkshire, England
(Picture: Girls' night out in Las Vegas. Our last evening together before Rita returned to the UK, and Roz set out on the Pacific.)
Recently I watched the Speaker Showreel which is on the Media page of Roz's website. As I watched Roz, I thought: "She is no longer my little girl. She has grown in maturity and wisdom, far beyond anything I could have given her." From time to time people do ask whether anything in her childhood might have indicated the sort of life she lives now. Not really.
She does blame her genetic makeup - my father was an adventurer of sorts. Living in South Africa all his life, he explored every natural site that he knew about , waterfalls, caves, rock formations, canyons, and he always had a boat of some sort. His grandfather emigrated from England to New Zealand in 1842, returning to England in 1843. Later, in 1849 he took the family off to South Africa. On these long voyages there were two births at sea in the family. Further back in history, a soldier fought against the Americans in their war of independence, and as the wives travelled with the soldiers, my great-great-grandmother was born at sea near America. The sea must have seeped into our genes.
Having married a Yorkshireman, Roz and her sister were both born in England. From an early age we taught them to be independent, perhaps succeeding too well. From about ten years of age onwards, Roz was always self-disciplined and organized, planning her life and succeeding in what she set out to do. When she married I suppose we heaved a sigh of relief. She had a good husband, a good job, and eventually a lovely big house in London.
It was shock then when she announced that she was leaving all that behind to go adventuring. When she first mentioned rowing across the Atlantic, I just shrugged my shoulders and thought that if I ignored it, this idea would go away. It did not, as you know. I was especially troubled when she said that she did not want to be a part of the Atlantic Rowing Race. I could not imagine her going out there all on her own. Her hopes were overruled by the organisers of the race and she did take part.
Looking back, I think it was a scheme on her part to invite me to spend a month with her near Portsmouth Harbour, to work on the boat in preparation for the race. Perhaps she knew that if I got deeply involved in the project I would become a real part of it. The rest is history.
When she arrived near Antigua at the end of the rowing race, her first words to me when we went out to meet her "We've done it!" I am proud of Roz and what she is doing, and pleased to be able to do what I can for her. In fact, the more I do, the less I worry!
Position at 2110 Pacific time, 0410 11th July UTC: 26 58.756 N, 128 47.140 W.
Click here to see Day 47 of the Atlantic Crossing 16 th January 2006, Wet but Safe
10 Jul 2008, The Brocade
It's been a long and very hot day. The wind has been against me most of the time, but varying in strength, so at times I could make headway, and at other times I couldn't and it was best to put out the sea anchor to try and prevent myself being blown too far backwards.
So I rowed most of this morning, then when the wind picked up this afternoon I put out the sea anchor and spent my time tidying and drying out my 23-foot home. I dragged out the mattress and sleeping bag from the cabin to dry them in the hot sun, and dangled a few damp clothes from various antennae on the cabin roof. I mopped out hatches and bilges, and generally put things in order.
Then around 4pm the wind dropped so I pulled the sea anchor back on board and got rowing again. It was a perfect evening for it, especially after the sun set. Most nights have been overcast and the stars have been hidden, but tonight was beautiful - a bright half moon casting a path across the ocean, and stars twinkling above me as I rowed across the calm waters.
As for actual progress, the final score was Wind 5, Rower 5. After being blown back a bit I'm back to the same longitude where I was this time last night. So it hasn't been the most productive day miles-wise, but I've got a drier, cleaner boat, and hey, I got a good workout.
[photo: drying the laundry - Brocade style]
Position at 11pm Pacific time, 0600 10th July UTC: 27 07.782' N, 128 39.167' W.
Today the ocean has been a beautiful place to be - so let's preserve this wonderful wilderness. Simply go to www.theblueproject.org and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button. Costs you nothing, and it helps save the oceans - and the planet!
BE COOL, BE BLUE!
Thank you for all the lovely messages of encouragement. It all helps! Thanks especially to Deanna, Antti, Erin, Joan, Ken, Mark, Gene, Dana, Chris, Linda, Ryan, Ian, Dale, Helena (thanks for the fantastic Henley Regatta story - rowing suspended for rain? Pah! Wimps!), Skip, Roger (all trash stays on board to be brought back to land, and recycled if possible), James, John, another Roger (finger still about twice the size it should be, and tender, but I'm surviving! Thanks for asking.), Jennifer, Claus, Duane, Humphrey (thanks for the inspiring life change story!), Steve, Tricia (great pledge!) and Abigail.
I've been informed that I'm in the current issue of Departures travel magazine. Honoured I'm sure!
And a special hello to Sarah, Bill, Jack and Grace - hope your wedding is a wonderful and happy occasion. And that the sun shines on you literally and metaphorically!
And congrats to Gus and Cathy on the impending new arrival. How exciting!
Congrats also to Benn on his selection for the US Olympic slalom kayak team!!
Lovely to hear news from dry land, and lives moving on and changing. Marriages, babies, Olympic selections.. Nice to be reminded what real life is like!
Click here to see Day 46 of the Atlantic Crossing Fundamentals