17 Jul 2008, The Brocade
There are some days when it's easy to be motivated, when I'm raring to go, when I feel as if I could row forever.
And then there are days like today.
Maybe I tempted fate this morning when I was recording the podcast with Leo and he asked me about motivation. I breezily said how much easier I'm finding it this time around, having the audiobooks to keep me entertained, and also having had the Atlantic experience that has given me a number of tools in my psychological toolkit for when the going gets tough.
Well (sigh) I was really put to the test today. The conditions were the roughest they've been in several weeks, which made it impossible to row neatly. It was a case of bashing along and trying to stick a stroke in where I could - and this always makes the time drag.
But there was more to it than that. I put it down to having just passed the big milestone of 130 degrees West, and just after a success is often the hardest time to get motivated. You've been all excited about your achievement, and there's a bit of a post-success slump when you have to set yourself a new goal to aim for, but the new one seems so distant when compared with the immediacy of the one you've just passed.
I had fallen into what Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance calls a "gumption trap". I felt weary, and bored, and demotivated. I was totally gump-less.
So I pulled out the old Atlantic psychological toolkit. I bribed myself with extra rations. I changed the edifying audiobook 1491 for the escapism of a novel. I took a post-lunch siesta. And I set myself a more immediate, interim target that I should be able to reach within the next few days.
And it pretty much worked. I didn't row quite as many hours as usual, but I achieved about 80%. And most importantly, I'm not beating myself up over it. There are bound to be days when I feel like this. Any challenge is, well, challenging, and gumption traps happen.
The thing is to carry on doing my best - and to accept that on some days my best will be better than on others. And tomorrow's another day.
Position at 2130 17th July Pacific Time, 0430 18th July UTC: 25 21.109'N, 132 22.819'W.
All kinds of weather today - sun, rainclouds (but barely any rain), rainbows - and lots of wind, fortunately coming from the right direction.
I saw my first flying fish today - a tiddler of about 1 inch that hit me in the side of the head while I was rowing. I would have taken a photo, but I wanted to get the poor little fellow back in the water asap, just in case he had any chance of survival. He didn't look too lively though. Maybe he was scared to death - either by whatever creature had induced him to fly out of the water, or by unexpectedly finding himself on the deck of a small ocean rowboat.
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Hello and thank you to all who write in and/or lend their support to my venture - today especially to Sindy Davis. And to Chris Martin for the laugh! John H - I watched the movie Deep Water last year - made me cry. Fascinating story, and well told in the film. Comments on my visor - a gift from my friend Mariya, courtesy of the Kailua Canoe Club. I may not be there yet, but I've got the headgear already! Hi to Greg K. Thanks, Chuck, for your concern about my weight - but I really don't think I've lost any. Those chubby cheeks are still there!
Owww. Must go. I need somewhere more comfortable to sit to write my blogs! Like a nice dry study somewhere..
Some extracts from a press release by BLUE Project:
Sport met environment at the launch event of the BLUE Climate and Oceans exhibition at Westminster yesterday as Olympic Minister, the Rt. Hon Tessa Jowell MP and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP both made pledges to be BLUE.
The exhibition which was attended by ministers, sustainable energy business leaders, Olympic representatives and sports ambassadors focused on how sport can be a mechanism to engage with people to actively care about sustaining our water environments.
One of the big project ideas to engage our communities that was showcased at the exhibition called The BLUE? Mile, is a mass participation event designed to bring together our coastal communities in the UK on a huge scale to celebrate our natural resources. Inspired by the need to leave a wide-spread environmental legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is hoped that this event will become part of the Cultural Olympiad towards 2012.
Speaking at the launch event Hilary Benn said: "It's astonishing what you have achieved, with initiatives like this that get people involved we have a better chance of making sure that we live in harmony with the Earth, whether on the green of the land or the blue of the sea."
Tessa Jowell said: "By 2012 this has the potential to be engaging 100,000's of children all over the world and I feel privileged to witness the beginning. It's such a pleasure to be here today and I'm looking forward to competing my BLUE mile next year."
Rob Gauntlet, youngest Everest climber and 180 Degree Pole to Pole adventurer said: "This project is young, fresh, ambitious and adventurous. Instead of just discussing the issues, the project gets people directly involved."
Click here to see Day 54 of the Atlantic Crossing January 23, 2005. Questions, Questions - and some answers.
16 Jul 2008, The Brocade
Living on a small boat, I've become very aware of my inputs and outputs. For example, if there isn't enough sun to power my solar panels, I don't get enough electricity. The only food supply is what I have on board (or what I manage to catch). Water has to come from reserves, rainwater (none so far) or handpumping.
And rubbish has to be stored and carried back to land.
Fortunately I don't generate much. Food wrappers form most of it, and they fold down small. Then there are a few empty bottles of toiletries, propane bottles for my cook stove, and that's about it. So far my "trash can" (the hatch underneath my rowing position) contains just two small trash bags - biodegradable ones, of course.
But for immediate purposes, there is no "away" - when something is thrown away, it is still here, on board.
If only more people were brought face to face with their trash this way, it might make them think twice before consigning something to the bin. But in our "civilized" world, we put out the rubbish, it gets taken away, and we probably don't give it another thought.
If you had to keep three months-worth of rubbish in a corner of your kitchen, I wonder if you would try to generate less. Or figure out ways to re-use some of it - composting, mending, finding another use for things. It would be an interesting exercise.
Position at 2200 16th July Pacific Time, 0500 17th July UTC: 25 38.815'N, 131 50.136'W.
Today has been HOT, and I've been glugging water like, err, like I had a working watermaker on board. It's been a long day too - many hours at the oars. Am now dead beat, and writing this blog with my last ounce of energy...
My friend Margo Pellegrino is on a 500-mile journey by outrigger canoe from New Jersey to Washington, DC in support of Oceans 21, a Healthy Oceans Act to save our seas. Well done Margo!
Hi also to Paul Gleeson (Atlantic ocean rower), Aleksey (amp still going strong!), Elena and Konstantin.
Tom Goodman asked what kind of watch I am wearing: a G-Shock Pathfinder. Solar powered, barometer, compass and altimeter. The last not much needed at the moment - I think we can safely say I am at sea level!
Click here to view Day 53 of the Atlantic Crossing Day 53, January 22 2005, A Funny Kind of Freedom - rather different from freedom on land.
Watch Leo Laporte talking to Roz live on http://twitlive.tv on Thursdays, Saturdays and Tuesdays at 10am Pacific Time, 6pm GMT
16 Jul 2008, The Brocade
Today I have been listening to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I've read it before, in March 2004 - it was one of the many books on philosophy and religion that I gorged on during a self-imposed one-month retreat in a cottage on the windswept west coast of Ireland - and which lay the groundwork for my decision in August that year to row the Atlantic.
It's been good to read it again, and to be reminded of certain lessons. One of those lessons was about "stuckness" - something I've certainly been able to relate to recently. According to the book, a certain amount of stuckness is to be expected in any challenging undertaking (be it mending a motorcycle or rowing an ocean) but if you persevere through the stuckness you can always resolve the problem. Eventually.
I got pretty stuck under the Golden Gate Bridge when I first set out from San Francisco. I thought the tide would never let me through. I battled it for about half an hour - then, just as the camera crew was packing up to go home, the tide changed and/or I moved over closer to the north pylon and passed out into the open ocean.
Then I got stuck again at 124 degrees West. For a very long time.
And I may well get stuck again. Weather will do that to you.
But I've accepted that progress is rarely linear. In all kinds of contexts, on dry land as well as on the water, I've often slogged away at something and wondered if I will ever break through. And, 9 times out of 10, I have - although often the breakthrough has come about in a surprising way. Like I'll have been working away on one potential sponsor for ages - and then a generous donation comes from an entirely different quarter.
Or when I was looking for a life purpose - I knew what my values were and knew that they would guide me towards it, but I couldn't find the actual Thing that would meet those criteria - until one day, when I wasn't even thinking about it, the answer hit me like a thunderbolt from the blue.
I sometimes feel like the universe is testing me. I have to put in the donkey work, and eventually I get my reward - just not always from the direction I expected. Einstein once said that problems are rarely solved on the level at which they were created. He also reckoned that he wasn't any smarter than the next person (hmm, debatable), he just stuck at problems for longer.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that often the difference between failure and success is perseverance.
Position at 2145 15th July Pacific Time, 0445 16th July UTC: 25 47.506'N, 131 14.001'W.
Been going great guns today. The wind has been coming out of the NE, and has been strong enough to create a swell also from that direction, both of which have helped me along. Strange weather though - lots of sunshine but also the occasional big black raincloud. I've had my buckets out a couple of times today, but the actual rainfall has been minimal. So no hair-washing just yet!
Any rumours (MarineTrack) that I have been doing 5 knots are probably much exaggerated. 3 knots possibly, but 5 would be the stuff of dreams!
Thanks to all the regulars for the lovely messages.
Click here to see Day 52 of the Atlantic Crossing 21st January 2005, Blue Skies and Cable Ties - more problems with broken oars.
15 Jul 2008, The Brocade
The value of things on an ocean rowing boat is very different from their value on dry land. Out here, the dollar/pound value of an object is totally irrelevant. If I can't eat it, drink it, or row with it, then it's worth very little to me, whereas there have been moments when I would have paid hundreds for a slice of pecan pie.
Actually, that's a slight over-simplification. There are some items on board that I don't eat, drink or row with, but which make my life that much more pleasant. Here are a few examples of things that are enrich my life out of all proportion to their monetary value (including some edible ones):
iPod - I actually have 4 iPods on board, but by far the most cherished is the one donated by Leo Laporte (who does the podcasts). It is loaded with 323 books, courtesy of audible.com. I listen to the books while I row, and they make the time pass SOOO much more easily than the total silence I endured on the Atlantic. Leo's taste is very highbrow. I'm learning a lot!
Lock 'n' Lock boxes - simple food storage boxes with admirably watertight lids. I use them for everything from my Sanyo Xacti video camera (also an excellent item) to my various snacks.
Sleeping bag - my Ocean Sleepwear sleeping bag is my haven. Waterproof outer shell, fleecy lining. Fantastic.
Trusty latte spoon - probably purloined from a coffee shop at some time in the past. I eat every meal with it. It's long enough to reach to the bottom of boil-in-the-bag meal sachets, or to the bottom of the mug I use for freeze-dried food, thus avoiding the unappetizing horror of lumpy, partially rehydrated food that managed to avoid proper stirring.
Tea tree oil - applied neat to the parts of the body (use your imagination) that are susceptible to the saltwater sores that caused me such misery on the Atlantic. It has powerful antiseptic qualities, and smells lovely and fresh and clean.
Boil in the bag meals - so much nicer than the freeze dried meals, because they have proper chunks of meat and veg in them (and even dumplings!) rather than the finely minced dusty rubble of freeze-dried food. Alas, I ate the last one a couple of days ago, so it's freeze-dried from now on.
Sproutamo - my doughty seed sprouter (see photo). It lives in a mesh bag, tucked away in a corner of the deck underneath the gunwales. I've mastered the art of sprouting seeds using the absolute minimum of water, and in less than 48 hours I have fresh crunchy beansprouts. Super-healthy! And environmentally friendly too, as they are fresh and unprocessed so don't have the carbon footprint of freeze-dried foods, nor the packaging.
(Roz was very tired last night after making the most of good rowing conditions - she was unable to attach the picture. I have added one taken on the Atlantic crossing but she uses a different sprouter now. Rita.)
From my ocean perspective it strikes me as pretty funny what people will pay for a Picasso or a rare stamp. Out here it's all about survival and efficiency. Not enough room for a Picasso on the wall of my cabin, anyway.
Position at 2150 14th July Pacific time, 0450 15th July UTC: 25 56.708'N, 130 37.513'W.
Lovely conditions for rowing today, and I'm making good progress. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!
Blue Pledges: today was the grand presentation of the pledges at the British Houses of Parliament. I've asked the BLUE Project to let me know how it went, and will report back.
Glad to hear about all the cool stuff on the internet - the podcasts, 1planet1ocean and so on. I just wish I could see them too!
Today I saw a tiny piece of plastic floating past - it looked like a square inch or so of plastic carrier bag. And there was one of the little blue crabs sitting on it! So now I don't know if the crabs actually swim, or if they just hitch rides on passing debris.but either way I was sad to see the plastic so far from land.
Today I took my first saltwater sponge bath. I can't spare enough fresh water, but I desperately needed a wash - it was hot and windless today and I was sweating. Further to John H's suggestion, I made sure I wiped off all the saltwater when I'd finished to avoid that sticky feeling. And it seemed to work pretty well - I felt clean and refreshed. Thanks, John!
From BLUE Project newsletter: Anne Qu?m?r? (France): Ocean Kite Surfer
As our second BLUE Ambassador set to cross the Pacific Ocean this year, Anne will follow in Roz's footsteps when she sets off alone from San Francisco in three months time. However, this is where the similarities between the voyages end as Anne will be using a kite to propel her tiny craft across the Ocean rather than oars and is heading for the French Polynesian Islands some 4,350 miles away.
That's all for now. It's been a long day at the oars. Thanks again for all the wonderful messages of support and encouragement that continue to pour in.
Click here to see Day 51 of the Atlantic Crossing Friday Night Dinner Party: the 4 guests she would choose for such an imaginary event.