07 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Tomorrow the Olympics begin - in fact, given the time difference between Beijing and my own personal time zone 800 miles east of Hawaii, maybe they already have begun. I'd like to take this chance to wish good luck to all the competitors, and also to reflect on the spirit of competition.
A friend of mine who knows about these things once told me that the original meaning of the word "competition" implied a coming together of athletes in the pursuit of excellence - through pitting themselves against each other they would spur each other on to ever greater heights of achievement. If an athlete broke a record, the other athletes would celebrate with him or her, taking their share of the credit for having pushed the standard to a higher level, and basking in the reflected glory of the group effort. The new record was the achievement of ALL the competitors, not just the individual who stood on the top step of the podium with the gold medal around their neck.
This contrasts sharply with the "I win, you lose" attitude that often seems to underlie present day competition. I've been as guilty of this as anybody - when I rowed for Oxford against Cambridge (in 1988 and 1989) it was all about wanting to beat our traditional rivals by as many lengths as possible, showing no mercy. Joint efforts were the last things on our minds.
I'm no longer so competitive, although it's an urge I still fight to resist. During the Atlantic Rowing Race I found myself in the discomfiting position of being competitive enough to hate coming last (although as the only solo female it's what you would expect) but not being sufficiently competitive to cut down on my already deficient sleep in order to row for more hours.
So I'm definitely happier in a non-competitive situation, just doing my own thing, as I am on the Pacific. The ocean is a tough enough adversary without adding other humans into the equation as well.
But I digress. Back to the Beijing Olympics. I hope that the older, purer attitude will prevail. Every athlete who has been selected to represent their country is already a winner. I've read autobiographies by athletes who have been to the Olympics, and it sounds like a wonderful and special experience that only the talented few will ever enjoy.
To pin "success" on a gold medal is a very black-and-white definition. I hope that the participants will find a more flexible definition of success, to enjoy the Olympiad for the unique opportunity to meet similarly dedicated athletes from all over the world, and to treasure it as a special experience, no matter what the outcome in terms of medals.
Good luck one and all.
Position at 2100 7th August Pacific Time, 0400 8th August UTC: 23 16.327'N, 144 37.356'W.
Very rough conditions today, with high seas and strong winds making it difficult to steer a straight course for Hawaii. This was rather frustrating after the sterling progress of recent days. But the forecast is for the wind to drop slightly after tomorrow, so hopefully conditions will get a bit easier soon.
Thank you for the ongoing messages of support and encouragement - and also for the kind donations. The next stage of my row is due to start in Spring next year, and the kitty is all but empty - far from adequate to replace the many items (mostly electronics) that have ceased to function since I left San Francisco. So all contributions, no matter how small, are most welcome.
Just like your contributions to a better planet, they all add up!
Click here to view Day 75 of the Atlantic Crossing 13 February 2006: The Perfect Adventure.
06 Aug 2008, The Brocade
I've been interested in food all my life, and interested in raw foods since I went on a retreat over Christmas and New Year this last year - the chef at the retreat centre was very into raw foods, and I gleaned as much information as I could while I was there. It was a relatively new concept to me, but it seemed to make intuitive sense - good for my body as well as good for the planet - and I resolved to incorporate much more raw food into my diet both on dry land and on the ocean.
As luck would have it, my friend Ami turned out to be something of a raw foods guru. She and I met when she was an instructor with the Bay Area Boot Camp (now renamed AlaVie). I trained with BABC last year, enjoying the camaraderie of a bunch of women assembling at unearthly hours of the morning to train in a local park. Great for the weak of willpower! (And yes, that DOES include me!)
So I asked Ami to write a guest blog about raw foods. Here is what she has to say.
I love food! I love to talk about food, eat food, and for the first time in my life, I love making food. My newest passion is raw, or "live," food -- a radically simple and healthy way to eat. Over a year ago, I met Roz as one of her trainers in Northern California, and she recently became interested in raw food as well. Roz is incorporating it into her diet, so she's asked me to write a little about my lifestyle and how to get started with raw foodism.
My introduction to raw food came several years ago, with the opening of Juliano'sRaw in Santa Monica. I was amazed at the potential of raw vegan food and the surge of energy and happiness that came with every meal. I was raised a meat-eater, but switched to vegetarianism 16 years ago, before becoming vegan last year. In the process of my own journey, I've read countless books, taken classes, and paid for nutritional advice -- all to find what would give me loads of energy, lose body fat and increase lean muscle. But it wasn't until earlier this year that I really dove into raw food.
Raw food is nutritious, available and easy. As a rule of thumb, stick to local, organic and in-season ingredients, with a staple diet of greens, green juice, green smoothies, salads, fruit, fruit smoothies, nuts, seeds and sprouts. Sprouts are very easy to grow, even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean! During her row, Roz is growing her own fresh sprouts, providing instant access to a great source of protein and vitamins A, C, E, and B. Raw chef and instructor Kristin Suzanne writes>, "There is no doubt that sprouts are one of the healthiest foods you can consume because they're considered a "pre-digested" food, making them more easily assimilated by your body."
More and more, ready-made raw food products are being offered because of growing demand from raw-curious consumers. Larabar> and Lydia'sOrganics make it easy to not own a dehydrator for this aspiring raw foodist. Roz wrote about her supply of Larabars' "yummy fruit and nut bars" on day 32, writing, "My favourite flavours are Apple Pie, Banana Cookie, Ginger Snap, Chocolate and Chocolate Coffee." Lydia's Organics makes delicious bars, cereals, crackers, breads and trail mix.
But where do you get your protein? Sprouts, seeds, nuts, goji berries, spirulina, quinoa, collards, coconuts and more. Carbohydrates come from vegetables, fruit, and nut butters. Healthy fats are available in flaxseed, hemp seed, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and more seeds. And I'm one of those people that believes a day without chocolate is like a day without sunshine. So yes, I eat chocolate every single day!
[Roz's note:Roz is not vegetarian. She fully acknowledges that a vegetarian diet has a lower environmental impact, but has found that it just doesn't suit her constitution or lifestyle. But she keeps her intake of animal protein to a low level, and uses organic, free-range meat and seafood from sustainable fish stocks whenever possible.]
The raw food community is also abundant. Lovely people at Gone Raw and We Like It Raw post recipes and inspiring stories from all points of view.
I've found eating this way has given me energy, quicker recovery from physical training, sleep improvements, and beautiful skin, which I've struggled with most of my life having some minor rosacea and acne.
Plus, less processed foods mean less waste in the trash can and around the waist!
Position at 2130 6th August Pacific Time, 0430 7th August UTC: 23 26.983'N, 144 12.168'W.
Strong winds and large swells have made for interesting rowing conditions today. After recent record-breaking days the pace has slowed down slightly - although wind assistance is good, too much wind makes it difficult to row well, so the ideal is a balance between brisk wind and rowable conditions, and I wasn't quite there today. This is the problem with oceans - always too much of something or not enough!
Have been making a deliberate effort to look around me a bit more. I noticed several small pieces of rubbish as I passed close to them. Some are on the surface of the water, some visible just beneath - it all depends on the density of the material. This is one of the problems with the pollution issue - so much of it is hidden beneath the surface that it's only through the good work of the Algalita Foundation (of which JUNK is a project) that we have any idea at all of the true extent of the problem, as they take water samples from all depths and measure the quantities of pollution.
I also noticed some little fishes swimming to keep up with my boat. But then I got a crick in my neck from all my rubbernecking, so may need to keep my eyes in the boat tomorrow!
I didn't receive my usual email from Mum yesterday with the comments from the website, so I can't respond to them. I shall have words with the management.
Click here to view Day 74 of the Atlantic Crossing 12 February 2006: Happy Days are Here Again.
06 Aug 2008, The Brocade
One of the things that has really impressed me about the comments and messages I receive is just how good some people are at putting themselves in my place, identifying with my issues, and understanding my life. Considering that most people have never rowed across an ocean, or even seen an ocean rowboat, this is quite a feat of imagination and empathy. Even though I'd spoken to dozens of ocean rowers before I did the Atlantic, I'm not sure I'd formed as clear a mental picture of what it would be like as some of you have achieved..
So, to provide even more information with which you can furnish your mental image of my boat and everyday life, I've decided to do a short 3-part series of blogs about the Brocade, her layout, and what I keep where.
So if you can't imagine anything more boring that the contents of my lockers, come back later!
Part 1: The Cockpit
I am no artist, but this photo is of my attempt to sketch the layout of the rowing cockpit - the middle section of my boat. Overall the cockpit is about 8 feet long and 5 feet wide. This diagram is drawn from my point of view as I'm rowing, i.e. facing backwards, so the stern cabin would be off the top of the picture.
The curvy thing that looks like the Lone Ranger's eye mask is my rowing seat, mounted on a rectangular platform, which coasts up and down on its two runners (the long rectangles). Above it you see my two rowing shoes, which are fixed to the boat, with the compass mounted between them. The compass has a battery-operated backlight for use after dark - red, so it doesn't impair my night vision. On the side decks to either side of the rowing position are mounted the riggers and oarlocks for the oars, and small cleats for the rudder strings.
Just beyond my feet is a grabrail screwed to the deck. This is the one I appropriated as a makeshift cleat for reeling in my sea anchor. It also bears a bracket where I mount the Seacook stove for boiling water.
Footwell: contains liferaft (lashed upright against cabin bulkhead), jerrycan for water, and all-purpose bucket. Also contains 100 lb of lead, sealed into a compartment below a false bottom. Also often contains large amounts of seawater in rough weather. I must have bailed it out about 30 times so far. I will definitely be reinstating the electric bilge pump during the Hawaii layover!
Locker 1: Grab bag (to go with me in liferaft if abandoning ship - contains spare GPS, VHF radio, water, chocolate, flashlight and all kinds of other useful things) Lifejacket Portable bilge pump
Locker 2: the galley locker Beans for sprouting Bags of dinner foods currently in use (freeze dried peas, sweetcorn, kidney beans, expedition meals - I sit on the liferaft and assemble my meal in a thermos mug while the kettle is boiling) Lighters for cooking stove Sauces, herbs, spices Spare mugs, food containers, etc.
Locker 3: empty
Locker 4: freeze-dried expedition meals
Locker 5: Ropes Lifting harness Mask and snorkel
Locker 6: Bags of jerky Bags of freeze dried vegetables which I add to the freeze-dried expedition meals to boost the veg content of my diet
Locker 7: Watermaker
Locker 8: Bucket Cleaning materials Trash Items to be recycled And another 100 lb of lead under a false bottom
Above decks, the seed sprouter lives in the top right corner, in a string bag secured to the boat by a karabiner and tucked under the side deck.
Bathroom facilities (bedpan) live top left, again tucked under the side deck
The sea anchor (sponsored by Zillion TV), along with its ropes and buoy, lives in the bottom left corner.
I have two canvas cockpit bags attached to the gunwales to either side of the rowing position - one for snacks and the other for items that might be needed urgently - marine flares and an air horn to attract attention of a ship that might be about to mow me down.
And that little area, no more than a few square feet, is where I spend most of my waking hours. As I row I face the aft hatch, which takes up most of my field of vision, so my eyes wander from compass, to liferaft, to hatch - and frequently up to the red ensign flag fluttering from the cabin roof, which shows me clearly which direction the wind is coming from.
After 103 days looking at this view on my way across the Atlantic, and 73 days so far on the Pacific, I've got to know it pretty well!
Position at 2145 5th August Pacific Time, 0445 6th August UTC: 23 32.422'N, 143 40.657.
Today has been as fine a rowing day as I could ever wish for. After a squally start the skies cleared and the wind settled into a helpful ENE direction, kicking up a good swell that has been gently propelling me Hawaii-wards. The rowing has been comfortable - no more battling across waves - and the temperature perfect. I've asked my weatherguy to order up more of the same.
After taking so long to cross the first few degrees of longitude, I'm now crossing off another number on my whiteboard every couple of days. It is very, very satisfying.
Thanks for all the messages. Some special mentions: Deirdre - thanks for telling me about the buttery croissants and brioche. Huh. Envious, me?! Looking forward to catching up with you on your lovely boat when I get back to California. John - thanks for the facts and figures. My weatherguy works in nautical miles, but maybe I like statute miles better - the numbers are bigger! Too bad I may not see JUNK. I was hoping to scrounge some water. Bottled?!! Steve and Sky and Nomadness - congrats on the maiden voyage! Have a great time - and I hope our courses intercept soon on dry land if not at sea. Jim - tbanks for the encouraging words about the treats in store between here and Hawaii. Hi to Michael and everybody else at Brocade. Thank you for your ongoing support. And thanks to Sandi, Chris, and all the others who are willing me on with their cries of Go Roz!
Click here to view Day 73 of the Atlantic Crossing 11 February 2006: At Sea Nobody can Hear You Scream - frustration.
05 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Today we have a second guest blog from David Helvarg, founder of Blue Frontier Campaign and author of 50 Ways To Save The Ocean. My row is a project of the Blue Frontier Campaign, and I look to David as my expert on all matters marine. I invited him to write a piece about the unnecessary pollution caused by plastic water bottles, and he has kindly obliged with this very informative yet entertaining blog.
DRINK LIKE A FISH - JUST NOT OUT OF PLASTIC
Next time you hoist one to Roz or some other ocean champion make sure it's not from a plastic bottle.
80 percent of all marine debris comes from land-based sources, while 60-80 percent of that debris, and 90 percent of floating debris, is plastic, and as we know, floating plastic bags are dead ringers for endangered sea turtles' favorite snack food, jellyfish.
It was during World War Two that rayon and plastic were first synthesized to replace cotton and rubber that were then in short supply (the Axis powers were occupying key production lands). Rayon reached its apotheosis with the Aloha shirt that Roz will find many of her friends and supporters wearing when she gets to Hawaii. Plastic on the other hand has become a global plague.
I'm not saying that various kinds of plastics don't make for good aircraft and boat skins, sail cloth, IV bags, prosthetic body parts, bathtub liners, also boogey boards and flak jackets (I have one of each). Some forms of plastic are so useful as metal substitutes that I'd argue we shouldn't be wasting our limited supplies of oil producing greenhouse-generating fuels.
Unfortunately with oil companies like Exxon-Mobil and Shell having grown into the largest industrial combine in human history we're burning more fossil fuel than ever even as plastic has become so cheap to manufacture that over 90 percent of it is wasted as throw away packaging including everything from single-use grocery bags to designer brand plastic water bottles.
Here's a back of the (recycled) envelope calculation I've done. Every year the world's oceans are stripped of about 100 million tons of living biomass to feed the global seafood market. Most of this does not go to feed the world's hungry, but goes to the restaurants, supermarkets and fast-food joints of developed nations where it's appetite not hunger driving the slaughter that's taking fish out of the sea faster than they can reproduce. At the same time we manufacture about 200 million metric tons of plastic stock every year. If half of that eventually finds its way to the sea that means we're replacing living organisms with toxic polymers on a pound per pound basis. Jeez, how long can that go on?
Along with the oil and gas used to manufacture hundreds of billions of disposable plastic bags and bottles we then burn even more oil transporting the heavy weight of water. We burn bunker fuel, the carcinogenic dregs of the petroleum process, to ship containers full of bottled water across entire ocean basins from places like France and Fiji to places like California and Australia. Compared to that, rowing alone across the Pacific with a water maker aboard your small boat seems eminently sane.
While about a billion people still don't have access to clean, potable water, people who do are spending up to $7.00 a gallon for the alleged health and lifestyle benefits of spring water, geyser water, desalinated deep ocean water (Mahalo Water from Hawaii that's mostly marketed in Japan) and filtered municipal water (from Coca-Cola and Pepsi). Or you could turn on the tap and get that same municipal water for about one tenth of a penny-per-gallon (that's 3.78 liters, Roz). Personally I drink Coke. If I'm going to spend that kind of money I want lots of beet sugar, citric acid and caffeine thrown into the deal.
So now here's the good news. There is a rapidly growing global movement against throwaway plastic. From places like the small town of Modbury in Great Britain it's spread to China, Australia, South Africa and 15 other countries that have decided to ban single-use plastic bags.
In California, the State's Ocean Protection Council has just come out with a report on marine debris that says fast-food outlets and coffee shops should not be allowed to distribute polystyrene cups and containers, that supermarkets and other retail stores should have mandatory recycling or else ban single-use plastic bags. It points out that bottles (glass or plastic) with redemption fees of as little as 25 cents are rarely if ever found in beach litter.
There's also a bill in the California State House AB 2058 the "Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act," that would implement a minimum fee of 25 cents per single use plastic bag no later than 2010 while still allowing local municipalities to charge higher fees or, like the city of San Francisco, ban the bags outright.
The Blue Frontier Campaign, along with other seaweed (marine grassroots) groups, has signed a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to support the bill and sign it into law. If you're a California resident please contact your State Senator and express your support for AB 2058. For information on how to do this go to the website of Heal the Bay, www.healthebay.org. For more general ocean updates go to our site at www.bluefront.org
Remember, each of us doing our part can take small but significant steps to use less plastic, to change the laws to reduce plastic waste and to make our societies more sustainable so that the seas around us can sustain their own wondrous diversity of life now and forever. As a friend of mine likes to say, "we do it one stroke at a time." And that's the Roz Savage lesson of the day.
Position as at 2210 4th August Pacific Time, 0510 5th August UTC: 23 34.989'N, 142 56.643'W.
A mixed bag of weather today. Squally this morning, with a few short rainshowers (but no significant amounts of water collected - the showers were too short). Then windy and sunny this afternoon. Another good day for progress. We luuuuurve those trade winds!
Thanks for all the messages of support, encouragement and advice. As I'm rowing later and later in the evenings (I row until it gets dark, and as I head west that time gets later) I'm starting to struggle to mention people individually in every blog, so will take a night off from it tonight. It's been a long day and my bunk is calling! But will mention individuals and answer questions when not feeling so tired..
Click here to view Day 72 of the Atlantic Crossing 10 February 2006: Thoughts on Reaching Triple Figures - less than 1000 miles to go.