25 Jul 2008, Leeds, Yorkshire
I feel that I am really being encouraged to do another blog on Roz's website - after several flattering comments and requests. One request was for more on family history. So, just a little peek into Roz's ancestry. Her maternal great-grandparents emigrated from Holland to South Africa in the second half of the 19th century. More ocean voyagers.
Roz and I seem to be accumulating another sort of family - all you chaps out there, living alongside of us through this voyage. Great to see names that I recognise coming up from time to time in emails, comments and donations. You do begin to feel like family.
Keeping up with Roz has taught me many new things. Somebody described me today as becoming quite "techy". When Roz was on the Atlantic I was thrown in at the deep end, having to learn very quickly. One challenge was how to read the symbols on the weather charts on the internet. If I said that the wind was a North Easterley it was for some strange reason called a South Westerley. If only we had known Rick Shema then.
When Roz was hit by a freak wave and the boat rolled, she sent an urgent message asking me to write a blog for her and upload it. When the panic subsided I dug out her notes and had a go. Quite exciting to see it actually appear on the internet. Since then technology and communications have advanced and Roz is trying to drag me along into further unknown waters. Still occasional moments of panic as I get to grips with Youtube, videoblogs, Facebook and the rest of those weird and wonderful things that Roz uses.
I am not complaining. I enjoy the challenge, and only too pleased to be able to support Roz in any way that I can. I am beginning to wonder what I will do with my time when she is not on the ocean. And I will miss reading all the messages that you lovely folk send. Rita Savage.
Position at 2115, 24th July PST, 0415 25th July UTC: 24 20.075'N, 136
Click here to view Day 61 of the Atlantic Crossing 30 January 2006: Of Toasted Mars Bar Sandwiches and Sporting Glories.
(Picture: The sort of weather chart that I struggled to interpret.)
23 Jul 2008, The Brocade
Sailors are notoriously superstitious. I try not to be, because it can lead to just another dimension of anxiety that I don't need, but at the same time I try not to tempt fate by making assumptions.
Yesterday I made an exception, and started working out an estimate of how many days to Hawaii. The columns in my notebook are:
Line of longitude (starting at 130 degrees West) Date (that I crossed the line of longitude) Days (how many days it took me to get to that line of longitude from the previous one) Cumulative days (again, starting from 130 degrees West) Average days per degree of longitude (i.e. cumulative days divided by number of degrees since 130 degrees West)
Then I take this average and multiply it by the number of degrees still to go to Hawaii (at 158 degrees West) to give me my estimated number of days still to go. At the moment it stands at 40 days, for an arrival date in late August.
Of course, no sooner had I done that than my rate of progress slowed dramatically - for reasons unknown. Although wind conditions have been fairly constant the last few days, my rate of progress while rowing has slowed from approximately 2.5 knots, to 2 knots, to 1.5 knots. This is rather disheartening, and it's tempting - although not very satisfying - to blame it on my premature ETA calculations. I would much prefer that it had a rational reason, like an adverse current or a contrary swell or the fallout from a tropical storm, which would at least reassure me that things will change.
I'm trying to keep a course due West in order to give myself the best possible chance of hitting Hawaii. Ideally I don't want to get south of the islands (at 21 degrees N). But this has made it tough going on the rowing (I'm a poet and I didn't know it!) because I'm fighting my way across the waves, It is difficult to get both oars in the water at the same time, and the boat has felt unbelievably heavy, every stroke like lifting a dead weight.
But, I tell myself, it's better than the alternative - if I get too far south I could miss Hawaii altogether, which would be, errr, a real bummer!
[photo: still smiling - just!]
Position at 2000 23rd July Pacific Time, 0300 24th July UTC: 24 22.240'N, 135 47.804'W.
Thanks and hellos to: Jennifer, Louise, Gene, Kirk, Erin, Pippa, Rod (fraid that pecan pie is going to be well burned by the time I get to Oz!), Brian (do let me know if you find any useful info on waterproofing marine electrics), Nevada Bev (thanks for doing my partying for me! Looking forward to my own glass of bubbly when I reach Hawaii.), Andrew in NYC (you'll know the answer when it hits you - it took me a while), Caro (do have a word with Father Pacific if you have any influence!), John and Patricia (yes, I do log actual hours rowed), Ami (good luck in the marathon!), Andy (sorry about not always posting a photo - I do prefer to send one, but there are only so many things you can photograph on a 23-foot boat surrounded by sea and sky!), John H (way too rough for hull-scrubbing at the moment! last time I was overboard it was still smooth as a baby's bottom.), Jamie (I have a HUGE medical kit, containing everything from aspirin to scalpels), Rochelle (body doing a bit less well at the moment - getting a lot of bruises in these rough conditions!), Buck, Mitch, Jacob, Barth, Michael, and Jan (so sorry to hear about your loss - my thoughts are with you).
And a special hello to Michelle Urquhart, with thanks for the inspiring message and the Maori encouragement: E tutaki ana nga kapua o te rangi, kei rung ate Mangoroa e kopae pu ana. Courage friend - The clouds in the sky close over, but above them spreads the Milky Way.
Also special thanks to Chris Martin, whose regular words of encouragement help keep me going - as does the memory of his own fantastic justdoitiveness during the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005. Chris - I refilled my empty water ballast containers today, in a tribute to you! ;-)
Click here to view Day 60 of the Atlantic Crossing 29 January 2006: The Longest Day - changing time zones.
22 Jul 2008, The Brocade
I almost wish I was on dry land, just so I could check out all the cool things that are happening around this website - I can't see them from here!
When I get back to dry land, I'm especially looking forward to checking out the podcasts. If you're following the blog but haven't clued in to the podcasts, you might want to go to Twitlive.tv and take a look. I thoroughly enjoy my thrice-weekly chats with Leo Laporte, and you may enjoy adding another dimension to your Pacific-rowing-by-proxy experience.
I haven't been able to watch them myself, but apparently if you check in while we are recording (10am PST, or 6pm BST on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) you can actually see Leo sitting in his studio, talking to me, along with all the comments and questions coming in from the chatroom. My mother just discovered this a week ago, and she's hooked!
Plus, you can get a FREE audiobook from audible.com, (I suspect that this only applies to people in the USA - Rita.) AND by downloading the podcasts you help me raise funds to finance the next stage of my row. See the bottom of this blog for details.
I was introduced to Leo last summer by his long-term friend Bill Chayes, who is the producer of our Pacific rowing/environmental documentary. We, and assorted others, were guests of Bill and his wife Michelle for dinner at their beautiful arts-and-crafts home in the rolling golden countryside outside of Petaluma, close to California's wine country. We had a wonderful meal sitting outside at a table on the deck, eating and drinking and chatting. (Ahhhh, how I LONG for an evening like that right now - nothing I like better than a good dinner party.. But I'm 1300 miles and at least 40 days away from any opportunity..)
And Leo was sufficiently interested in what I was doing to offer to do a regular series of podcasts with me. I have to confess, I didn't really know who Leo was at the time, but now I've been in North America for a bit longer I am starting to appreciate just what a lucky break this was. Leo has introduced me to a whole new audience via the podcasts and Twitter, as well as securing sponsorship from audible.com.
So what this means is that the more people that download the podcasts, the more audible.com pay as part of the sponsorship arrangement. And when you sign up, you can get a free audiobook. I listen nonstop to audiobooks while I row - Leo gave me an iPod loaded with 323 books that I'm steadily munching my way through - and during our podcasts he always asks me what I'm "reading". So you can even listen to the same book I'm listening to, and share my experience in a whole new way!
Position at 2100 22nd July Pacific Time, 0400 23rd July UTC: 24 28.173'N, 135 24.224'W.
Conditions the same as for the last few days - grey, chilly, windy and rough. I shall say no more in case I lapse into grumbles. I should be pleased that I am making good progress, and not mind about being constantly wet, salty, and bounced around. But it's sometimes easier said than done. Only those audiobooks are helping me through it - today, on Leo's recommendation, I listened to The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennette - excellent!
It's good to be past halfway, but last night I did feel a little bit lonely. My weatherguy was most insistent that I had to have a halfway party. I looked around my boat. No company. No treat foods left. No bottles of anything interesting. Not much to start a party with at all. I briefly considered making some party decorations out of the silver wrappers from my expedition meals, but then gave up and went to bed. I will make up for it by partying extra hard when I get to Hawaii.
Thanks again for all the messages - especially to Margo, my East Coast enviro-sister! Looking forward to re-toasting with a glass of red wine next time I see you.
Thanks also to Jenny at KWMR - would love to get together for an interview once I've delivered the message in a bottle to the Hawaiian Islands Sanctuary. You're on!
And to Jim, John, Chris, Rod, Currin (why is everybody telling me about what delicious wines they're using to toast my progress?! Making me envious!!), Eric, Karyn, Rodli, Tim, Toni, Gene and Sindy.
Click here to view Day 59 of the Atlantic Crossing 28 january 2006: Fishy Business - flying fish, that is.
22 Jul 2008, The Brocade
(Picture: Graphic kindly provided by Rick Shema - Weatherguy - of Roz's route so far, and wind conditions. For a larger view, go to Roz's Smugmug gallery and click on Sea Scenes and double click on the graphic. To get to Smugmug, click the icon above right - the little black box with a green grin.)
When I am in London, I often stay with my friends Sam and Ella. I've known Sam for nearly 20 years now, since our days at Thames Rowing Club, and during that time he has excelled at all kinds of sports, including sculling (Diamond Sculls at Henley), marathons (sub 3-hours in this year's London Marathon), triathlons, 4-man luge, and motor car racing.
Near their front door, they have this poem hanging on the wall in a frame. I haven't actually asked Sam if it inspires him in his athletic endeavours - but I know it does the trick for me!
If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don't. If you'd like to win, but don't think you can It's almost certain you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost, For out of the world you'll find Success begins with a fellow's will. It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are. You've got to think high to rise. You've got to be sure of yourself before You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go To the stronger or faster man, But sooner or later the man who wins Is the one who thinks he can.
Obviously I'd prefer a more gender-neutral version, but then it wouldn't rhyme or scan. But the point remains that self-belief is an amazingly powerful attribute.
For my first month on the Atlantic I was beset by doubts. What on earth had I been thinking? What had made me think I could do this?
And then I realized that, despite all my doubts, I was 1000 miles into it and actually yes, not only COULD I do it, but in fact I WAS doing it.
And of course now, having done it once, I've got reason to believe that I can do it again.
My point is that the first time you do something new and challenging, it's a leap of faith. You've got no reason to believe you can do it, because you've never done it before. But there's only one way to find out if you can - and that is to try.
As we've already invented the word "justdoitiveness", maybe what I'm describing here is "justdoitosity"!
Position at 2140 21st July Pacific Time, 0440 22nd July UTC: 24 34.231'N, 134 56.615'W.
This morning I crossed the halfway point. 1304 nautical miles down, 1304 still to go. For myself, I'll feel more like celebrating when I can cross off 140 degrees West on the list of numbers on my whiteboard. That will be the line of longitude halfway between San Francisco (122 degrees W) and Oahu (158 degrees W). Then I will really start to feel like I've broken the back of the journey.
I find it hard to believe that I am nearly in the tropics. For the last few days the weather has been overcast, windy and grey. But the good news about this is that it has reduced my water consumption, which almost doubled during the hotter, sunnier weather.
Even though the winds are now helping me, I need to push on, so am still rowing from 7am to 9pm every day. The rowing has been tough and rough, rowing across the waves, which regularly crash against the starboard side of the boat, splashing over me until my left side is encrusted with salt, and on occasions today eliciting some very bad language!
Thanks to all for the comments and messages. A special hello today to Noelle, Rob and Jasper in Australia. Thanks for spreading the word about my row, and I can't wait to see you in Oz. although I'm not due there until 2010, so we have plenty of party-planning time still left!
With love and best wishes to all.
Click here to view Day 59 of the Atlantic Crossing January 27 2006, Cheerfully Miserable.