27 Jul 2008, The Brocade
This is what my weatherguy wrote to me in his daily email yesterday, comparing where I am now to my wiggly meander down the coast of California and Mexico. I only wish I could see it myself on my chartplotter (not working) or on Marinetrack (not accessible from the boat) so I could appreciate the progress for myself.
But it also got me thinking about some major progress of a different kind. If you'd have told me ten years ago that I'd have rowed the Atlantic and be part way across the Pacific, I'd have told you that you were crazy. I was 30 years old, just another office worker, unmotivated, lacking in self-esteem, with no sense of drive or purpose. There was a faint feeling that there was something missing. I just wasn't that kind of a person to undertake what could be a dangerous expedition. Only brave and adventurous people did that kind of thing.
And although there have been a few moments of "life vertigo" along the way, when I suddenly look down and wonder how my life got to be this way, generally the progress has been without terror or stress - in fact, as my life has become more in tune with my core values, my stress levels have decreased.
Most of the changes have been incremental, each one providing a stepping stone to the next. And it's amazing just how much you can achieve, how far you can travel, how much you can change your life, when you take it in baby steps.
One stroke at a time!
Position at 2130 27th July Pacific Time, 0430 28th July UTC: 24 17.170'N, 137 46.659'W.
Conditions today have been rough, but otherwise not bad at all. Lots of sunshine early in the day, but with enough clouds passing over from time to time to stop me getting too hot in my waterproof jacket - my guard against saltwater and sun. The wind has been brisk and from the NE, so it's all good!
Thanks for the nice comments about my progress and course. It's nice to know you're keeping an eye on me, and that my efforts at the oars are recognized. It's a tough stage at the moment - so many days at sea, but so many still to go - the encouraging comments are most welcome. In common with most people, I appreciate being appreciated!
A message for Sarah Outen: yup, do what you need to the oars. We'll sort out the finances when we meet over that G&T. OS sleeping bag superb. Have removed one of the layers of fleece as I've headed south into (marginally) warmer climes. Metabolic Conditioning sounds daunting - you can do 100 pull ups?! Flippin' heck!!
Click here to view Day 64 of the Atlantic Crossing 2 February 2006 Magnificent Absurdity - about rowing at night.
26 Jul 2008, The Brocade
I dream a lot when I am at sea - something to do with the constant rocking, and my sleep being occasionally interrupted by a particularly large wave slamming into the side of the boat. Most of the dreams - as on dry land - are random rehashes of recent experiences and memories, but once in a while there's a different kind of dream - exceptionally vivid, that seems to bear more significance. A couple of nights ago I had one of these dreams.
I was on a beautiful beach with a group of friends, and we decided to go swimming. We dived down under the waves into an amazing underwater world. There were sea urchins and fishes and all manner of marine creatures, each one a myriad of colours and textures and incredibly gorgeous in its own way. I was wearing no scuba gear or snorkel, but was able to breathe easily and simply look around me and marvel at all the natural beauty.
It was a bit crowded underwater, with lots of swimmers, but I assumed that this was just because we were close to the beach, and that it would thin out as we swam further.
But then we reached a sign, saying "No Through Road" and we were funneled upwards, out of the water, to a staircase that led up into a depressing shopping mall. We had to sit on a jetty just outside the mall to wait for a ferry to take us back to the beach. Some of the people were eating fish (!) while they waited, and appeared to see nothing wrong with this scenario, but I was disappointed and appalled. It seemed that my amazing diving experience had been nothing more than the marine equivalent of a Disney ride, and that most of these people were oblivious as to the connection between what we had just seen underwater, and what they were now eating.
When I woke up, the memory of the dream was still unusually strong, and I had the feeling that the dream was a reminder of what my message is and why I am here. After having struggled through the last few days, with disappointing mileages and uncomfortable conditions, it was just what I needed to remotivate me.
It reminded me of a thought I had when I was invited on a safari in Tanzania 18 months ago. The safari, although we saw some wonderful things, also made me very sad. It made me wonder when the world changed from being a few human habitations surrounded by wilderness, to being a few bubbles of preserved wilderness surrounded by human habitations.
I do hope that we never end up in a situation where the oceans are as dominated and exploited by humans as the land, and where a few isolated marine sanctuaries are the only places where ocean life survives. But I fear that unless we take action, and soon, we are heading that way.
Position at 2130 26th July Pacific Time, 0430 27th July UTC: 24 19.863'N, 137 09.350'W.
[Photo: barnacles on the Brocade. They are not as bad as they look - this is just a narrow band of barnacles along the waterline. Covered by the water in this shot is the start of the antifoul paint that coats the bottom of my hull, which is still as smooth as a baby's bottom!]
Conditions today have been rather more rower-friendly. For the last few days it has been like rowing through treacle, to the extent that I even checked the rudder to make sure I hadn't accidentally picked up a stray fishing net or other bit of flotsam. Each stroke felt like a weightlifting exercise. But today was considerably better, and my rate of progress has gone back to more like "normal" in the trade winds.
Thanks from both me and Mum for all the great comments - especially in response to Mum's blog.. She is doing a great job and I'm very proud of her!
Glad that people are enjoying the podcasts. I also really enjoy my thrice-weekly chats with Leo. He is always so cheery and positive that even when I am having a lousy day our phone calls cheer me up. Thanks, Leo, and also to all the people who download the podcasts or tune in to watch them live on TwitTV.
Click here to view Day 63 of the Atlantic Crossing February 1 2006 Day 63: Life on Mars. Roz selects some favourite adventurers.
Do take a look at http://losfarallones.blogspot.com/ describing their encounter with Roz at the beginning of her Pacific row.
25 Jul 2008, The Brocade
Zillion TV has generously come on board to sponsor my sea anchor - one of the most important devices on board the Brocade, both as a safety device to stabilize the boat in rough conditions, and as a navigation aid to mitigate backwards drift.
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Position at 2130 25th July Pacific Time, 0430 26th July UTC: 24 17.359'N, 136 35.447'W.
Progress still slow - today I checked out the barnacle situation to see if that was the cause. There is a line of gooseneck barnacles just along the waterline - I scraped off all I could reach from the cockpit, it being way too rough to go overboard - but the antifoul is doing its job and the hull is still completely clean from the waterline down. So still no explanation for the decreased rate of progress, as I'm putting in just as many hours at the oars. I'll just keep ploddin' along, and hope to row my way out of trouble.
The weather has been in a very fickle mood today. Rain, sun, high winds, no wind - it's been hard to keep up. I don't have a large range of garments on board, and I've been through just about my entire ocean wardrobe today - windjacket, waterproof, t-shirt, nothing..
I had a pretty amazing dream last night. I don't usually read too much into dreams, but this one was special.. But I don't want to sell it cheap, so I'll save it and tell you about it tomorrow. Teaser!
Thanks for all the messages - and thanks EVEN MORE to the people who are spreading the word among their friends, families and colleagues and getting them to check out the blog and/or podcasts as well. It all helps to spread the environmental message and save the oceans! Always remember: IF WE PULL TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!
Chris Martin - sorry to confess this, but I don't know how to play Mornington Crescent. Give me a clue!
Tom Johnson - wow, sounds like a great trip! A real life Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance! Wish I could come too!
Thanks also to Geri, Carol Mone and Jacob (best wishes in your new home!! - and yes, I'd love to be involved in a party when I get back!), Mike Milzz, Nevada Bev (do you know how I would contact Joan Ocean - is that her real name?!), Ed (yes, I'm hoping to get back in touch with Steve Roberts when I get back to dry land), Greg, Brayden, Dylan Also to Sarah, Bill, Jack and Grace. And to Noelle - and her friend Xenia at Brocade. I didn't actually meet Xenia - but there were 900 delegates when I spoke at the sales conference! Sindy, John, Cheryl, Karyn, Tod ,Carol, and all the regulars.
And a special hello to Sarah Outen, aka Outey, preparing to row across the Indian Ocean. Can't wait to see your boat when I get back! I'll be in the UK in November and would love to come to your and Alex's talk at St Hugh's - what date is it? And yes, up for the documentary, too. And of course you can borrow the oars. Be my guest!
And thanks to Allan for his Google Earth script (not sure if someone else had already done something similar?) - see http://allanville.com/rozrows/map.kml.php (should automatically open in Google Earth, otherwise add this as a network link in GE) It is live updated, you can when I was at each position, and if you play the timeline in Google Earth you can apparently get a pretty good impression of how the progress been.
Click here to view Day 62 of the Atlantic Crossing 31 january 2006: Of James Cracknell's Bottom and Others.
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.)