08 Aug 2008, The Brocade
Picture: JUNK Learn more -click for their website.
Today, after several days of failed attempts, I finally managed to make contact with the good ship JUNK, on her way from California to Hawaii to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans. Sound familiar?!
Navigator Joel picked up the satphone, and I spoke to him and to Dr Marcus Eriksen. I'd spoken to Marcus before, while we were both still on dry land. He works with Captain Charlie Moore of the Algalita, the two of them having visited the infamous North Pacific Garbage Patch to conduct scientific research. Marcus and I had discussed how we could combine efforts to the greater good of both our ventures, but then my departure date was brought forwards and we ran out of time. But it seems we were destined to meet - and it looks as if it might be sooner rather than later.
Today we compared latitudes, longitudes, courses and daily average mileage, and it appears that we are on converging routes. The JUNK is gaining on me steadily. We are going to try to rendezvous - most likely in 3 or 4 days time - but this is going to be VERY tricky. We are two small, not very manoeverable craft, trying to meet up amidst towering waves on a very large ocean.
But at least we do now have communication, which is a good start. And we want to make it work, which is a good next step.
If we succeed, theirs will be the first human faces I have seen since I passed the Farralon Islands on 26th May. I am now rather thinner, browner, and considerably saltier than I was back then. Time to dig out some clothes and try and make myself presentable!
I also saw an aeroplane today, for the first time on this crossing. It was heading northeast, maybe from Hawaii to California, the reverse of my route.
So after months of seemingly having the ocean to myself, it's starting to get kind of crowded around here!
Position at 2120 8th August Pacific Time, 0420 9th August UTC: 23 09.417'N, 145 06.322'W.
After a rather frustrating day yesterday, it was once again too rough to row this morning. But this afternoon the wind slackened by a couple of knots and I was able to get back to the oars. Yippee! In fact, it turned into a fine rowing day with large swells and helpful winds. I rowed along contentedly while listening to a P.D James book, A Death in Holy Orders. Nothing like a good murder mystery in mid-Pacific!
Thanks for all the messages - encouraging, informative, and supportive.
Special hi to George and Astrid in New Zealand.
And to Bob and Jamie Craft - thank you for the update on the family. Great to hear the news of REAL lives! Hope to see you in DC (or St Louis) during my "lap of honour" of the US this autumn.
And special thanks to John H for the stats - although my weatherguy and I work in nautical miles, not statute miles, so you may want to switch over so we are talking the same language! But my daily mileages definitely sound better in statute.
Louise - wow, what an adventure! Sounds very exciting. Good luck with the new life in Cowes, and with the sailing.
Rog Dodge - good luck with the preps for the Indian Ocean race. I will be watching it with interest!
Richard Dib - good to hear your family is cutting down on water bottles. Congratulations! Unfortunately I can't browse the internet from here - only send emails (which is how I do my blog) but will check out your song when back on dry land.
Melissa - lockers, hatches, holes under the decks with lids on top. whatever. Sorry if I'm getting my nautical terminology wrong. Don't blame me - I'm just a dumb rower! On my boat, the round ones have screw lids and the rectangular ones have hinged lids with pivot handles to secure them closed. All lids are white plastic and opaque. Does that help?! Part 2 (fore cabin) coming up tomorrow. Now just try to contain your excitement..!
Click here to view Day 76 of the Atlantic Crossing 14 February 2006: Ultimate Valentine Greeting - a vist from the Royal Navy!
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.